Ever since the iMac G5 arrived, Macworld Lab has seen a steady flow of visitors streaming through the door. And everybody has questions. “Can I touch it?” “Can I have it?” And perhaps most commonly, “How does it compare to the old iMac?”
With everyone being so hungry for information about this latest incarnation of Apple’s famous all-in-one computer, we thought that a look at our testing results might tide you over while we put the finishing touches on our full review.
As you could probably guess, the new G5-equipped iMacs out-performed than their G4-powered predecessors. Still, they weren’t as fast as the Power Mac models that come equipped with two G5 processors. Speedmark, our all-around system performance benchmark, showed that the 1.8 GHz iMac G5s were 35 percent faster than the 1.25GHz iMac G4. Some individual application tests, like rendering a scene using Maxon’s Cinema 4D, showed the new 1.8GHz iMac completing tasks in less than half the time it took the 1.25GHz G4 version.
The results also indicated that the performance gap between Apple’s consumer desktop and professional models is closing. Tests with applications like Cinema 4D and Apple’s Compressor that make the most of two processors showed the dual-1.8GHz Power Mac running twice as fast as the new 1.8GHz iMac G5. But Speedmark also showed that Power Mac was about 19 percent faster than the new 1.8GHz iMac in the suite’s 15 tests; that same system was 61 percent faster than the old 1.25GHz iMac G4.
Speedmark 3.3 scores are relative to those of a 1GHz eMac G4 which is assigned a score of 100. Cinema 4D XL, Compressor, iMovie, iTunes, and Photoshop scores are in minutes:seconds. All systems were running Mac OS X 10.3.5 with 512MB of RAM. We exported a 1-minute-and-40-second movie to QuickTime: Email using iMovie. We tested MP3 encoding with an audio-CD track that was 45 minutes long, converting it from the hard drive using iTunes’ High Quality setting. The Photoshop Suite test is a set of 14 scripted tasks using a 50MB file. Photoshop’s memory was set to 75 percent and History was set to Minimum. We used Unreal Tournament’s Antalus Botmatch average-frames-per-second score; we tested at a resolution of 1,024 by 768 pixels. We used Compressor’s Fast Encode preset. For more information on Speedmark 3.3, visit www.macworld.com/speedmark.—Macworld Lab testing by James Galbraith