My First 30 Minutes with the Intel iMac

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by ericschmerick, Jan 15, 2006.

  1. ericschmerick macrumors regular

    ericschmerick

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2004
    Location:
    China
    #1
    Finally had a chance to go by the Apple Store at Valley Fair this eve for a first look at the Intel iMacs. I think they had three there, two 17" (1.83), and one 20" (2.0), but there may have been more - I didn't browse much. I placed an order for the MacBook a soon as I had a chance after the keynote, so I was anxious to see how the 1.83 / 17" performed.

    My reaction was . . .

    1. Way way way way way way faster than my (now aging) 1.25Ghz Al Pbook. Way faster. Way, way faster. I stepped between the 1.42 mac mini (my wife has one, and it has similar, I guess slightly faster perf than my PB, so it's a good proxy) and the iMac, and I just couldn't believe the difference. iCal, iTunes, Garageband, iMovie, all launch in 1/4 the time or so. iCal for example takes about 4 seconds to load on the mini/PB, and it seemed almost instantaneous in the new iMac.

    2. Generally snappier that what I remember the G5 to be, though I didn't have a chance to bounce back and forth between the G5 on display and the Intel. I would say, though, that it didn't seem "radically" faster than the G5 iMac as I remember it. Just a bit faster, in practical terms. Apps launched faster, web pages loaded (maybe) a little faster, etc. There wasn't really a "wow this machine is a screamer" reaction during the time I was just poking around with launching apps, etc. Well - it was a "wow" reaction compared with my PB, but I had the same wow reaction with the G5 when it came out too. With several programs running at once it still slowed down and gave beachballs, etc, pretty much just like the G5. However, the display model had only 512MB of Ram, so with 2GB who knows. It definitely wasn't like everything was magically zero-delay instant response, that's for certain.

    3. It played 1080i superman trailer at ~50-60% (x2, i.e. both processors at 50-60%) utilization. Rock-solid 24fps. My 1.25 PB chokes on the 720p trailer, and plays it at ~ 15fps tops. This is where my "wow this machine has some horsepower" reaction kicked in.

    4. With itunes, safari, mail, ical, ichat w/isight on, and a couple of other programs running, it still played 1080i superman trailer at ~80-90% cpu with no dropped frames. I've heard maybe the h.264 is decoded in the new fast video card - dunno, but it certainly can play the hell out of the HD trailers. Tears welled up in my eyes at this point. Hallelujah, I am so happy I'm going to have a "powerbook" that performs like this.

    5. The biggest stunner for me was how well Rosetta ran. Word, Powerpoint, Excel were _as fast or probably 50% faster_ than they are on the mini, and on my PB, even emulated. Totally seamless, ran great, just as fast as native (on my 1.25ghz G4). Now, if you own a G5 today, then you'll probably feel like they're 2x slower, but for me coming from a 1.25 ghz, I can wait all year for an intel version of Office and still be satisfied with the perf. Unfortunately PS wasn't loaded, so I couldn't poke around with it. My sense is that it'll be adequate for what I do. Frankly, most of what I do is process RAW files, so jumping to Aperture or Lightroom when they're native will be no prob, if they're native first.

    6. Other than that, my only other reaction was that it was a totally seamless experience. I would not have known whether I was using Intel or PPC, nor Universal or Rosetta, if I didn't care to know. Seemed stable with no weirdness during the 30 min or so I was there.

    I'm SO HAPPY. Presuming the MacBook performs similarly to the iMac, I've been waiting for this day for a long long time - a PB that actually performs as well as my windows desktop! How exciting!

    Eric
     
  2. Aaon macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2004
    #2
    Eric, Thanks for your excellent review! It gives me more confidence that buying a MacBook is the right thing to do! I'm especially glad to hear that it performed so well with only 512mb of memory. Be sure to add a review of your MBP when it arrives. Which MBP did you choose, and what ship date was quoted to you?
     
  3. NewbieNerd macrumors 6502a

    NewbieNerd

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2005
    Location:
    Chicago, IL
    #3
    Yeah, thanks a bunch; that was great! I've got my 20'' coming eventually, so I'm excited to see this thing at work. I wonder if 256 video card will produce any better results at all. Hmmmmm... I'm sure I'll be happy. :D
     
  4. matperk macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    May 6, 2004
    Location:
    Milwaukee, Wisconsin
    #4
    good review.

    I can't wait for my macbook.
    You made me want it more than I already did. I didn't think that was possible. :D
     
  5. eXan macrumors 601

    eXan

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2005
    Location:
    Russia
    #5
    App lunching time is totally dependant on hard drive type/speed. As far as I can tell, new Macs (all G5s and Intels) have SATA 7200 RPM drives, so loading speed is the same.
     
  6. eXan macrumors 601

    eXan

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2005
    Location:
    Russia
    #6
    In games VRAM is needed only for storing textures (+ a few MB for screen resolution), so if the game u play doesnt use more than 128 MB (like most of the games, excluding doom 3), u will see no performance benefit. it's Core and VRAM speed that really matters :)
     
  7. JHipp macrumors member

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2005
    Location:
    GA
    #7
    Good review, eventually I might try to sell my iMac G5 and get whatever the newest iMac out at the time is.

    Until then - I'm very happy with the G5.
     
  8. Roy Hobbs macrumors 68000

    Roy Hobbs

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2005
    #8
    -

    7200 are still optional on the MacBook Pros
     
  9. Marlon_JBT macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2003
    Location:
    Detroit, Michigan
    #9
    Skip the app loading times... how does a Intel chip equipped Mac boot? How long does it take?
     
  10. Mitthrawnuruodo Moderator emeritus

    Mitthrawnuruodo

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2004
    Location:
    Bergen, Norway
    #10
    Minis have 4200 disks, officially, although there has been some getiing 5400 disks (if I remember correctly). A 3.5" 7200 disk usually smokes any 2.5" 4200 or even 5400 disk... ;)
     
  11. ksz macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2003
    Location:
    San Jose, CA
    #11
    Good summary by the OP.

    I also ventured out to the Apple Valley Fair store this weekend and played with the 20" Intel iMac for about 30 minutes. My enthusiasm is a bit more tempered. As the OP mentioned, it didn't seem "radically faster" than the G5 iMac, but all the native apps ran very well and smoothly. No hiccups of any kind.

    I then decided to download and install Firefox to test Rosetta emulation. Startup time for Firefox was noticeably long, as was the time to render the first page (store.apple.com). Subsequent page renderings were much faster. I don't know how Rosetta works, but if it is a Just-in-Time compiler, then there will be an initial performance penalty as the binaries are compiled to native instructions then cached. Microsoft's .NET works in a similar way: As IL (non-native) code is encountered, it is dynamically compiled into native code, which replaces the original IL instructions. As you continue to run a .NET application, more and more of it gets compiled to native instructions and performance for repeat operations becomes noticeably better.

    I think the new Core Duo iMacs have a lot of potential, but I will wait until more software is running natively before passing judgement.
     
  12. johnnybluejeans macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2006
    Location:
    New York, NY
    #12
    Firefox

    First off, thanks to the OP. I went in to my local Apple store on Friday but they didn't have the Intel iMacs on display yet. I'll go back today to play. I am sure it will feel much faster than my 800Mhz G4 iLamp, or our 600Mhz G3 iBook.

    As far as Firefox goes, the official release date for the Universal binary is March. However, you can download the most recent development version which is Universal. It is very stable, but they have a couple of kinks to work out with the plugins (like java and quicktime).

    http://wiki.mozilla.org/Mac:Intel#Latest_Intel_Mac_Builds
     
  13. mjstew33 macrumors 601

    mjstew33

    Joined:
    May 29, 2005
    Location:
    Illinois
    #13
    Great! Hopefully we have more positive feedback than negative with this Intel switch. So far, that's not the case...
     
  14. smwatson macrumors 6502a

    smwatson

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2005
    Location:
    London, England
    #14
    Nice work. Seems the new intel iMacs are as good as they seem. I hope that they dont disapoint over the long term (reliability issues etc). I didnt know app launch was purely Hard Drive speed, and the VRAM info is news to me. Man are you mac guys good...
     
  15. Epicurus macrumors 6502

    Epicurus

    Joined:
    Apr 28, 2005
    Location:
    Minneapolis, MN
    #15
    This is the clearest analysis of the situation I've read so far. It makes me all the more comfortable with just buying the stock 20" iMac rather than upgrading. I figure the money is better spend upgrading the system RAM anyway.:D
     
  16. tomacintosh macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2005
    #16
    That isn't true
     
  17. smwatson macrumors 6502a

    smwatson

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    #17
    explain
     
  18. spencecb macrumors 6502a

    spencecb

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2003
    #18
    Yes, please explain this. I don't think that it is true, either, because when an application is launched it must do it's "thing" on the CPU to render the code and everything.

    Therefore, I do not believe that launch time is soley HDD dependent.
     
  19. tomacintosh macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2005
    #19
    Put it this way, would an iMac G3 with a 7200rpm hard drive open Safari quicker than a Powerbook G4 with a 5400rpm drive? His theory is crazy.

    Let me expand:

    Opening a program takes up CPU power, anyone with a brain knows this. The faster the CPU, the faster it can respond to your actions, open Activity monitor then watch CPU usage as you open iTunes, the bar will go up. So CPU is one factor

    If you have limited RAM the program you open might no be able to run entirely in physical memory, and will have to use virtual memory on the hard drive to load, slowing down the open time. So RAM is another thing that affects it.

    As I mentioned above, if you haven't got enough RAM the program will need to load in Virtual Memory, a faster hard drive will help a great deal there. It also helps having a quicker hard drive in that it is quicker to 'find' the files to open the program in the first place.

    So really those are the three main factors that affect the opening of programs
     
  20. ericschmerick thread starter macrumors regular

    ericschmerick

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2004
    Location:
    China
    #20
    Hi Aaon -

    I ordered the 1.83 stock (1GB, etc). My shipping status page says Feb 15 for shipment, so we'll see. Fingers are crossed! I'm going to China for a month on March 7th, so I definitely hope to have it before then.

    Take Care,
    Eric
     
  21. ahunter3 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2003
    #21
    You're both right.

    The fastest processor can't launch a program faster than the hard disk can sling bits and bytes at it. But to the extent that the program code reguires lots of CPU activity to execute initial conditions and fill the RAM with executed results rather than raw data read direclty from disk, the fastest disk you can buy isn't going to get your app going if the CPU is old and slow.

    When you have an older computer you want to keep using, and you're upgrading it so it can keep up decently well with more modern offerings, you want a processor upgrade and a faster hard disk, generally speaking.
     
  22. BlizzardBomb macrumors 68030

    BlizzardBomb

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2005
    Location:
    England
    #22
    The amount of pipelines and bandwidth can also make a big difference especially in demanding apps, which is the reason why PCI-E is used, preventing bottlenecks.
     
  23. tomacintosh macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2005
    #23
    You can't technically say he was right as he stated the speed of program opening, and I quote "totally depended on hard drive speed"

    Therefore he was/is wrong :p
     
  24. smwatson macrumors 6502a

    smwatson

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    Sep 30, 2005
    Location:
    London, England
    #24
    lol
     

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