There are other noticeable differences. The new iMac is completely silent. I can hear the hard disk in the old one rattling away (and perhaps that's because it is one of the Seagate drives that has been recalled...) and the fan makes a wee bit of noise. The new one? Doesn't make a peep. There's another audio change that became apparent last night when I was a guest on Chuck Joiner's MacJury podcast last night -- although I couldn't seem to route the sound to my headphones so that everything was actually still coming out of the iMac's speakers, it does an amazing job of noise cancellation so that there was no echo.
Although the two displays are identical (according to iFixit's teardowns of the new iMac), Apple has been able to reduce reflection by 75 percent on the new iMac. The LCD sits right next to the glass on the display, and the other day when looking at the iMac when walking up to it, I noticed that the various layered windows looked almost three-dimensional.
One other nice feature -- this iMac runs much cooler than the older model. The old unit would get quite hot; a quick reading today showed that it was at 103° F while in display sleep mode doing nothing, while the new unit was a cool 83.4° F.
The boot time is amazingly fast. Timing it with a stopwatch from hitting the power button to the login screen took 11.6 seconds. Launching frequently used apps like Mail and Google Chrome is virtually instantaneous, since they're all loaded automatically onto the SSD part of the Fusion Drive. If I have one recommendation to TUAW readers, it's that you should get a Fusion Drive if you're getting a new iMac. [Not everyone agrees with me from a price/performance standpoint, however.]
As you'd expect with the latest Intel processor powering this computer, the iMac is fast. I ran Geekbench on both my three year-old iMac and the new device for comparison. Here's the raw Geekbench score for both computers:
iMac 13,2 (Late 2012): 14181
iMac 11,1 (Late 2009): 9913
Yep, the new iMac has 43 percent more raw performance than the model from three years ago. That's not entirely surprising, but it is nice...
The numbers were similar when looking at the detailed performance figures:
Integer Performance (Late 2012): 12275 (40 percent improvement)
Integer Performance (Late 2009): 8771
Floating Point Performance (Late 2012): 21474 (37.5 percent improvement)
Floating Point Performance (Late 2009): 15613
Memory Performance (Late 2012): 7569 (56.4 percent improvement)
Memory Performance (Late 2009): 4841
Stream Performance (Late 2012): 8552 (108.3 percent improvement)
Stream Performance (Late 2009): 4105
As fast as this new iMac is, it still can't hold a candle to the 12-core Mid 2012 Mac Pro, which lights up Geekbench with a top score of 25465. Then again, that Mac Pro configuration starts at $6,199 with two 3.06 GHz 6-core Intel Xeon CPUs and a low end RAM capacity of 12 GB...
Is there anything I'm not thrilled about? Well, the location of the headphone jack and SDXC slot on the back of the device makes it difficult to plug in headphones and cards. And I wish that Apple had gone with a 1080p FaceTime HD camera in the iMac. iMac buyers shouldn't have to buy a third-party HD webcam to get better video input.
There's one other little issue I've run into: a bus-powered external drive that I'm using won't power up when connected to one of the USB 3.0 ports. I have a funny feeling that I'll be buying one of Apple's $29 Thunderbolt to FireWire adapters in order to get my data moved over to the new iMac... or just buy a cheap and speedy USB 3.0 drive.
While I'm still setting up the new machine manually rather than using Apple's Migration Assistant (more about that in a post by Erica Sadun), I'm finding the late 2012 iMac to be a worthy successor to its old office mate. That older iMac? My wife gets it to replace an old MacBook Pro.