CPU Performance

I ran the entry level iMac through our normal OS X CPU test suite. I don't have a ton of Mac desktops in the database but I do have results for last year's 27-inch iMac that'll help put things in perspective. Also keep in mind that the 21.5-inch iMac came equipped with a HDD, while nearly everything else I'm comparing it to has an SSD inside.

Cinebench R11.5

Single threaded performance is about on par with an upgraded 13-inch Haswell MacBook Air, which is sort of insane when you think about it. The Core i7 upgrade in the 13-inch MBA can turbo up to 3.3GHz, compared to 3.2GHz with the entry-level iMac’s Core i5. The amount of L3 cache dedicated to a single core is actually the same between both parts (at 4MB). In the case of Cinebench, the 128MB L4 cache doesn’t seem to do much.

Cinebench R11.5

Multithreaded performance is obviously much better than what you’d get from a MacBook Air. You’ll notice the entry-level iMac’s performance here is actually quite similar to that of my old 2011 15-inch MacBook Pro. Although the Core i5-4570R has higher IPC and more TDP to work with, since it’s a desktop Core i5 it doesn’t support Hyper Threading and thus is only a 4 core/4 thread part. The Core i7 in my old MBP however is a 4 core/8 thread part, letting it make better use of each core’s execution resources in heavily threaded applications. This is really no fault of Apple’s, but rather a frustrating side effect of Intel’s SKU segmentation strategy.

iMovie '11 (Import + Optimize)

iMovie '11 (Export)

Looking at our iMovie test we see another 50% advantage comparing last year’s highest end 27-inch iMac configuration to the entry-level 21.5-inch model. The explanation boils down to lower max turbo frequencies and fewer number of simultaneous threads supported. There’s also the fact that I’m testing a HDD equipped system and comparing it to those with SSDs, but most of my OS X CPU test suite ends up being largely CPU bound with minimal impact from IO performance.

iPhoto 12MP RAW Import

iPhoto import performance runs pretty much in line with what we’ve seen thus far. The entry-level iMac is a good performer, but power users will definitely want to push for a faster CPU.

Adobe Lightroom 3 - Export Preset

Our Lightroom export test is perhaps the most interesting here. The gap between last year’s 3.4GHz Core i7 and the Crystalwell equipped Core i5-4570R is only 12%. My first thought was to attribute the difference to Crystalwell, but if we look at the gap vs. the 1.7GHz 2013 MacBook Air the iMac’s advantage isn’t really any different than under our iPhoto test. Instead what I believe we’re seeing here is yet another benchmark where Haswell’s architectural advantages shine.

Adobe Photoshop CS5 Performance

Performance in our Photoshop test is similarly good, with the entry-level iMac coming relatively close (within 20%) to the performance of a high-end 2012 27-inch iMac.

Final Cut Pro X - Import

There aren’t any surprises in our FCP-X test either.

Xcode - Build FireFox

I'm slowly amassing results in our Xcode test. What's interesting about the 21.5-inch iMac's performance here is just how inconsistent it was due to the HDD. Subsequent runs either gave me similar performance to what I'm reporting here, or much, much higher build times. If you needed a reason to opt for an SSD, this is a great one. Even looking at the best performance the iMac can deliver, you can see it's not tremendously quicker than the MacBook Air. With an SSD I'd expect to see far better numbers here.

Introduction & The CPU GPU Performance: Iris Pro in the Wild
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  • elian123 - Monday, October 7, 2013 - link

    Also wondering when (and where) the 4770R will ever turn up.
  • elian123 - Monday, October 7, 2013 - link

    Well, one thing Google shows me is that Gigabyte has shown (though not announced) a Brix with 4770R: http://blog.laptopmag.com/gigabyte-brix-iris-graph... and http://www.pcgameshardware.de/CPU-Hardware-154106/...
  • mavere - Monday, October 7, 2013 - link

    I think it'd make for a pretty sweet Mac Mini.
  • Penti - Monday, October 7, 2013 - link

    Interesting to see were Apple wants their starting point to be.

    Obviously they don't want that much choice in their iMacs, still waiting to see what they do with their mac mini's too.

    Can't help but wonder if you can actually separate the glass and LCD though, has anybody tried? What technique and adhesive does LG/Apple use here? Has anybody tried to run another LCD-panel from the newer iMacs (2012/13)? Older panels might actually be drivable, would be a paint to rebuild a new iMac for those though.
  • Dennis Travis - Monday, October 7, 2013 - link

    Everything I have read says it's one integrated unit with the Glass/LCD together. I am also interesting and will keep looking but it does not look possible so far.
  • Dennis Travis - Monday, October 7, 2013 - link

    Oops Interested! :D Grin
  • Penti - Monday, October 7, 2013 - link

    It's sold as one unit, but obviously it's bonded with an adhesive, depending on how it might not be possible to separate the two. It should maybe be able to drive older iMac displays though. But those are a few mm thicker.
  • Dennis Travis - Monday, October 7, 2013 - link

    Knowing Apple you would probably crack the glass if you tried.
  • Penti - Monday, October 7, 2013 - link

    As it's gapless the adhesive covers the whole panel which probably ruins it anyway, or will be hard to clean as you can't really use (strong) solvents on the LCD, but it's fully doable on phones which also adheres the screens with adhesive. Would be interesting to know if that kind of adhesive can be loosened by heat though. Plus it would probably be harder then a small screen here.
  • pdffs - Monday, October 7, 2013 - link

    "I’ve heard some developers complain about this in the past, partly blaming it on a lack of lower level API access as OS X doesn’t support DirectX and must use OpenGL instead."

    Wait, doesn't OpenGL get you *closer* to the hardware than DirectX??

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