iMac, eMac benchmarks: New models turn in speedier times

Apple’s consumer desktop lines were recently updated and include faster processors, bigger hard drives, and new graphics cards—not to mention a spanking new operating system. Macworld Lab tested the entire new lineup and the results are in—not surprisingly, the new machines topped their predecessors.

First, the iMac: Apple announced an upgrade earlier this month that gives the top-of-the-line iMac a 2.0GHz G5 processor. In addition to the faster CPU, the update also added faster graphics with the ATI Radeon 9600 graphics processor with 128MB video memory, a new 8X SuperDrive with double-layer support, and 512MB of memory across the line.

Here’s how those changes affected the iMac’s performance, using an older 20-inch, 1.8GHz iMac G5 and a single-processor 1.8GHz Power Mac G5 as our reference systems.

iMac Benchmarks

SpeedMark 4 Cinema4D 9.1 iMovie HD Render iTunes 4.7.1 MP3 Encode Photoshop CS2 Suite Unreal Tournament 2004 Compressor MPEG2 Encode
iMac 1.8GHz 17-inch 163 3:05 0:38 1:50 1:34 29 10:17
iMac 2.0GHz 17-inch 174 2:46 0:32 1:33 1:28 31 9:22
iMac 2.0GHz 20-inch 174 2:46 0:37 1:33 1:29 32 9:40
Power Mac G5 1.8GHz 160 3:06 0:40 1:49 1:33 27 10:04
iMac G5 1.8GHz 20-inch 155 3:07 0:38 1:49 1:35 23 10:12
>better <better <better <better <better >better <better

Best results in bold. Reference system in italics .

Speedmark 4 scores are relative to those of a 1.25GHz Mac mini, which is assigned a score of 100. Photoshop, Cinema 4D, iMovie, and iTunes scores are in minutes:seconds. All systems were running Mac OS X 10.4 with 512MB of RAM, with processor performance set to Highest in the Energy Saver pane in System Preferences. We converted 45 minutes of AAC audio files to MP3 using iTunes’ High Quality settings. We used Unreal Tournament 2004’s Antalus Botmatch Average Frames Per Second score tested at a resolution of 1,024-by-768 pixels at Maximum settings. The Photoshop Suite test is a set of 14 scripted tasks using a 50MB file. Photoshop’s memory was set to 70 percent and History was set to Minimum. Go here for more information on Speedmark 4.—Macworld Lab testing by James Galbraith and Jerry Jung

With the help of faster processors in all but the entry-level 1.8GHz 17-inch iMac, it is no surprise that both 2.0GHz models out-performed the previous top-of-the-line iMac. But with the help of the other internal improvements, the latest 17-inch, 1.8GHz iMac also performed markedly better than last year’s model.

Apple announced updates to the eMac line at the same time it unveiled the revised iMacs. This round of updates bumped the eMac’s processor to a 1.42GHz G4 chip and increased hard-drive capacity for both the SuperDrive- and Combo Drive-equipped configurations. Both models now feature 512MB of standard memory.

eMac Benchmarks

SpeedMark 4 Cinema4D 9.1 iMovie HD Render iTunes 4.7.1 MP3 Encode Photoshop CS2 Suite Unreal Tournament 2004 Compressor MPEG2 Encode
eMac 1.42GHz (SuperDrive, 160GB HD) 142 4:53 0:44 2:30 1:46 20 12:06
eMac 1.42GHz (combo drive, 80GB HD) 140 4:54 0:46 2:31 1:46 21 12:15
eMac 1.25GHZ 117 5:38 0:55 2:56 2:02 13 12:56
iMac 1.8GHz 17-inch 163 3:05 0:38 1:50 1:34 29 10:17
>better <better <better <better <better >better <better

Best results in bold. Reference system in italics .

Speedmark 4 scores are relative to those of a 1.25GHz Mac mini, which is assigned a score of 100. Photoshop, Cinema 4D, iMovie, and iTunes scores are in minutes:seconds. All systems were running Mac OS X 10.4 with 512MB of RAM, with processor performance set to Highest in the Energy Saver pane in System Preferences. We converted 45 minutes of AAC audio files to MP3 using iTunes’ High Quality settings. We used Unreal Tournament 2004’s Antalus Botmatch Average Frames Per Second score tested at a resolution of 1,024-by-768 pixels at Maximum settings. The Photoshop Suite test is a set of 14 scripted tasks using a 50MB file. Photoshop’s memory was set to 70 percent and History was set to Minimum. Go here for more information on Speedmark 4.—Macworld Lab testing by James Galbraith and Jerry Jung

The two new 1.42GHz eMac G4s fared much better in our tests than their 1.25GHz G4-powered predecessor. However, the iMac turns in a much better performance than the eMac—not surprising given that it runs on a G5 chip with a faster clock speed.

Look for more details in a full Macworld review of both consumer desktop lines soon. You can stay on top of the latest iMac and eMac news by visiting the Mac Desktops page.

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