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


View All Comments

  • saarek - Monday, October 7, 2013 - link

    The problem is that you are looking at this from a technical spec based point of view.

    It is true that you can build a more powerful computer for less, some may argue far less. Still, these calculations usually fail to take account of the design of the chassis, build/material quality and value of the overall design of the iMac/MacPro/Whatever other Apple product you can think of.

    One must consider that the average person does not wish to build their own computer and is not interested in a specification check list.

    Most people want a fast, reliable and user friendly computer and are willing to pay a fair price for this experience. The entry level 21" iMac is a perfect fit for the large majority of the market.
  • DukeN - Monday, October 7, 2013 - link

    Yes, you need to look at it from an iDouche point of view.

    Besides, you can't put an intrinsic value on having an iFaeces Pro on your desk so you can look cool and smug, and feel good when you see all the Apple commercials on TV.
  • nerd1 - Monday, October 7, 2013 - link

    So your logic is "average' person is ignorant. It's sad the apple's sales proves that.. Reply
  • web2dot0 - Monday, October 7, 2013 - link

    I guess if you think people who spends $100 for jeans are "idiots", "ignorant". You are correct. But that doesn't mean that designer jeans manufacturer stops making them. In fact, they are highly profitable.

    They are also not idiots.

    The #1 reason why people why designer jeans is because THEY LOOK BETTER. They all do the same thing .... cover your crotch. But there's value in style .... if you don't care of it, it doesn't mean that other people who value it are "ignorant" or "idiot".

    That's alot of idiots running around the earth ..... have you thought maybe it's the other way around?
  • squirrelboy - Monday, October 7, 2013 - link

    i guess i'm too rational to prioritize computer design above price/performance. if i want a pc for general office tasks, spending more than €400 seems like a waste of money. If i were to spend 1,3K on a pc, i'd prefer it to be good at it's purpose. i dont look at the pc, but at what it displays on the screen. Reply
  • web2dot0 - Saturday, October 12, 2013 - link

    Your ignorant comment tells me that you walk around like a caveman. Why buy shampoo? Make sure own. Why why toothpaste? Make your own.

    Why go out to eat? Stay home, it's cheaper. It's all about what goes into your mouth right?

  • foolio5 - Monday, October 14, 2013 - link

    Your analogies are poor. Reply
  • tipoo - Monday, October 7, 2013 - link

    The 21 inch IPS display costs something too. Reply
  • nerd1 - Monday, October 7, 2013 - link

    21" 1080p display are dirt cheap nowadays. Reply
  • Dug - Monday, October 7, 2013 - link

    Not a calibrated IPS Reply

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