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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  • foolio5 - Monday, October 14, 2013 - link

    Sammy 840 EVO 128 GB SSD is $99 bucks and up there in the speed/longevity department.
  • akdj - Tuesday, October 15, 2013 - link

    Sammy 840 will read about half the speed of the new PCIe SSD in the 2013 iMac. It'll be at least twice as quick. These aren't 2.5" SATA3 drives. They're PCIe. Big difference. Small price to pay for the upgrade. You'll never know you don't have a 1.15 TB SSD in there for most consumer workflows. They. Flat. Fly. It's a bargain. That said, I'm with you on the RAM. $100 for 16 seems fair and nicely set for three-five years. While still being able to sell it for 50% after a half decade :-)
  • djscrew - Monday, October 7, 2013 - link

    putting a hard drive in, even at a base level, should be considered a crime to computing in this day and age... a 256 gb ssd should be stock... for a company that pushes quality and doesn't concern itself as much with price, apple should have ditched the hdd this generation
  • saarek - Tuesday, October 8, 2013 - link

    256GB is not enough memory for a large proportion of computer users, a more realistic and useful answer would have been for Apple to have made the 1TB Fusion drive the default option.
  • iwod - Monday, October 7, 2013 - link

    I Hope Apple can cut cost in their next model some where and put in SSD as Default.
  • idget - Tuesday, October 8, 2013 - link

    Personally I prefer the design of the '09 models. Sure it doesn't look "pretty" as these ones (subjective), but I feel that on the imacs, Apple's "thin is good" mentality is annoying.

    The "bulge" at the back looks ugly. Also because it's so thin, everything is moved to the back, including the sd card slot, which I feel is better on the side of the computer. It's a pain having to reach around the computer (especially on the 27inch). Also it needs more usb ports

    I feel that Apple has gone for looks and forgot function on these imacs
  • alpha754293 - Tuesday, October 8, 2013 - link

    How much power does it consume at full load and at idle?
  • MF2013 - Tuesday, October 8, 2013 - link

    I'm not sure if the graphics comparison to the DDR3 version of the GT 750m is fair. The DDR3 cripples the graphics performance, and while I don't know what the sales volume numbers are, my impression is that most 750m's that ship do so with DDR5. Also, anybody who games and cares about GPU performance, and is the least bit informed, would make sure to get the DDR5 version. And it's not like the DDR5 version is expensive- the Lenovo y500's that occasionally go for sale around $830 have 2GB of DDR5.

    So all this demonstrates is that Iris Pro graphics can compete with bandwidth crippled discrete graphics. But if you don't care about gaming, you shouldn't care about whether the integrated graphics are competitive with discrete GPUs. And if you do care about gaming, this performance is still not good enough. The positive tone of this review doesn't seem justified.
  • speculatrix - Tuesday, October 8, 2013 - link

    I just hope you never have to have it repaired out of warranty.
  • mschira - Tuesday, October 8, 2013 - link

    nice review, and interesting to see that with Crystallwell there is an integrated GPU that does have acceptable performance.
    Will be interesting to see in a 13" MBR.
    What would also be interesting are performance comparisons of the new real GPUs if and how much better they are than the 2012 level.
    GPU performance is still a bottleneck for iMacs I think (i.e. gaming).

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