New i7 iMac isn't as fast as I thought it would be

Discussion in 'iMac' started by smirk, Jul 15, 2011.

  1. smirk macrumors 6502a


    Jul 18, 2002
    Orange County, CA
    Hey guys, I bought a new Sandybridge i7 3.4 GHz iMac a couple weeks ago, with the stock 1 TB drive and 4 GB RAM. It's a beautiful machine, but it just doesn't seem to be as fast as I thought it would be.

    I upgraded from a 1.8 GHz Core Duo iMac (early 2006 model) so I was expecting the new Mac to blow it out of the water -- and it does with certain things, but subjectively the "snappiness" doesn't seem to have increased enough to reflect five years of technological advances. I'm starting to wonder if something could be wrong.

    The CPU seems fine. Handbrake crushes a movie in like 40 minutes. Booting up and launching apps doesn't seem too much faster than my old computer, though. iMovie still takes forever and a day to load clips in. The worst thing is that my wife has been complaining lately that iPhoto and other apps have been pinwheeling on her. Once I checked Activity Monitor shortly after her complaint and there was still free memory available (the green part of the pie chart). Oh, and I ran memtest all night last night and it came up clean.

    I realize that hard drives are the slowest part of a computer, but I'm starting to wonder if something is not quite right with mine. There are no suspicious entries in the system log regarding pinwheeling, and the SMART data checks out ok. I can't figure out why we'd get so many pinwheels when there's still free memory. I think (but am not sure) that it happens most often when two users are logged in, but like I said there was plenty of free memory at the time.

    So obviously this is kind of a lame post because it's all subjective, but for those of you with the new iMacs and the standard hard drive, is this computer crazy-fast across the board, or does disk I/O seem lacking? I'm not at home now but I'm happy to post disk I/O and boot time benchmarks, if that would help.

    Thank you!
  2. antman2x2 macrumors 6502a

    Mar 1, 2011
    New YAWK
    Hey, we have the same iMac, top of the line 27" in with the i7.

    I play alot of games, and im having SOMEWHAT the same issues your describing.

    I find that everything runs like a champ however, the disk I/O just cant keep up with the speed. I find myself waiting 2 minutes for a game to load.

    I really feel that the hard drive is the blame for all this.

    All I know is that the second Thundebolt SSD's arrive, im buying one.
  3. OptyCT macrumors 6502

    Nov 9, 2008
    I have the same iMac and the bottleneck is the HDD. Not to worry though. Once the first Thunderbolt SSD peripherals are released, that'll fix the bottleneck.

    Why don't you benchmark your iMac using Geekbench? It should score in the 10,500 to 12,000 range if it's running properly.
  4. RedTomato macrumors 68040


    Mar 4, 2005
    .. London ..
    Hard drive speeds are more or less the same as 5 years ago. As you noticed, it slows down whenever it needs to retrive a large wodge of data from the disk, or retrive a bunch of small files (iphoto thumbnails).

    SSD is your friend.

    I have a 4 year old macbook (2007 SR) and I may or may not get a new macbook when they are released. Mine is still blazing fast, just runs out of RAM with Chrome or virtual machines. I strongly suspect that getting a SSD for my old macbook will be far more effective than getting a new machine.

    Damn pricey though.
  5. smirk thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Jul 18, 2002
    Orange County, CA
    Hi, thanks for your input, you guys. Yeah, I'll run Geekbench, but it only tests CPU and memory, right? Ok, I just ran it (the 32 bit version) and got 11,816.

    I swear, it almost feels like there's a faulty SATA cable or something, what with the random pinwheels and borderline-slow app launches. But if antman's identical iMac takes 2 minutes to load a game, I guess maybe there's nothing wrong with mine.

    Maybe I'll find a benchmark program that charts disk speed and run that on both the new and old iMac to see how different it really is. I should also time the bootup speeds on both machines to compare. Still, it's so hard to believe that we've hit the wall with drive speeds to the point that they're such a noticeable bottleneck.
  6. thebignewt macrumors regular

    Jun 10, 2011
    How much are the SSD's supposed to cost, and how big?
  7. nutmac macrumors 68040

    Mar 30, 2004
    Just because you have free memory doesn't mean OS X isn't paging out (using hard disk as a virtual memory). Check page outs figure. If it is significant, then you will need more memory or quit apps and run fewer apps.
  8. Jason Beck macrumors 68000

    Jason Beck

    Oct 19, 2009
    Cedar City, Utah
    If you put an SSD even on a core2duo it would probably make u gasp if you have not seen performance like that before. If you had that fast of a drive on your i7 I think that you would be extremely pleased with everything.

    My c2d 2ghz macbook from 2009 used to boot snow leopard in under 15-20 secs tops and you never really got pinwheels ever either. I could load all the Adobe programs at once in a matter of seconds. Get an ssd : ))
  9. MacHamster68, Jul 15, 2011
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2011

    MacHamster68 macrumors 68040


    Sep 17, 2009
    the i7 only makes sense if you really push it to its limits not just one handbrake ripp or similar things that only make use of 10%of its potential :D

    see it like that you got at the moment a bugatti veyron super sport but all those impressive figures of 1,200 metric horsepower (883 kW; 1,184 bhp) and torque of 1,500 N·m (1,100 ft·lbf) and topspeed of 431.07 km/h (267.85 mph) are only figures on paper ,but you insist of setting the cruise control to the speed limit on british motorways 112km/h (70mph) , so no wonder you wont see a difference in performance to a volkswagen golf who goes the same 112km/h (70mph) , so go abroad on a german autobahn with no speed limit , forget the cruise control and just floor it ,
    use your iMac i7 to its full potential and dont waste it to perfom things a iMac core duo could do as well , give it a 512gb ssd, and use the hdd only for backups ,only then you might notice its difference in performance ;)
  10. t0rr3s macrumors 6502


    Dec 23, 2010
    May I just slip in here and say how my 2006 mac pro with 2x2.66 intel xeon with 1TB caviar black is snappy as hell; comparable to my mbp 15" with a ssd. ;)
  11. MacHamster68, Jul 15, 2011
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2011

    MacHamster68 macrumors 68040


    Sep 17, 2009
    you should see the performance of my PowerMac g5 2.3 ghz dual core fitted with brandnew 4x 600gb velociraptors and sonnet tempo sata E4i raid controller 16gb ram

    still waiting for my anodized case :(
  12. johnfkitchen macrumors regular

    Sep 7, 2010
    ^^^ This is the truth. ^^^

    Ignore the pie chart, it's just a point in time, and rarely reflects the peaks of RAM demand, and it's the peaks which kill performance.

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