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Macworld publishes first round of benchmark results for new iMac

Dana Franklin
May 4, 2011
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Macworld posted the results of its first benchmark tests for the newly updated family of iMacs this morning. The publication's tests found Apple's latest iMacs to be generally faster than previous iMacs, although certain build-to-order (BTO) models from 2010 still outperformed the new family of iMacs in some tests.

The new top-of-the-line, quad-core 3.1 GHz i5 iMac bested the previous high-end model, a quad-core 2.8 GHz i5 iMac, in every test. Notably, the 3.1 GHz iMac performed 16% faster in the Speedmark 6.5 test and 22% faster in Macworld's iTunes encode test.

The results were mixed when comparing the new iMac to powerfully configured BTO models from last year. When pitted against a quad-core 2.93 GHz Core i7 BTO iMac from 2010, the new 3.1 GHz iMac performed about equivalently in the Speedmark test but fell short in applications like Cinebench and MathematicaMark. The older, i7-based iMac offered Hyper Threading, a technology that virtually doubled the number of processor cores seen by the operating system; apps that took advantage of this technology worked better on the older machine.

When compared to a dual-core 3.6 GHz i5 BTO iMac from 2010, the current 3.1 Ghz iMac edged out its older relative by 14% in overall performance and finished tasks in Mathematica, an app that makes use of multiple processing cores, up to 67% faster. In many cases, however, the faster clock speed of the older machine helped it complete certain tasks more quickly.

Overall, the new iMacs seem to offer generally better performance in a more affordable package. But, if you frequently use software optimized for fast clock speeds or Hyper Threading technology and don't need any of the new gadgetry in the newest machines, it may be worth tracking down a 2010 BTO iMac with a 3.6 GHz i5 or 2.93 GHz i7 inside.

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