Sunday, 12 August 2007

New iMacs - Graphics Update 2 (Benchmarks)

Updated 16 August

Benchmarks for the new iMacs are starting to appear. I'll update this post as I see new reviews that include graphics benchmarks, so check back periodically! (NOTE - due to problems with my ISP's server that's blocking some sites I've not been able to access Inside Mac Games for some weeks now, so I won't be able to include any IMG articles until that's fixed. If it's fixed... UPDATE 13 August - I now have access to IMG! It wasn't my ISP, rather IMG's server was blocking an IP range that included my ISP, but it took a long time to get sorted...)

Macworld's first look at benchmarks.
This one is very interesting. They don't yet have the 2.8GHz Core 2 Extreme to test, but Macworld included one game benchmark on the other three new iMacs - Unreal Tournament 2004. These were using the new ATI HD 2400XT/2600PRO graphics with 128MB and 256MB memory respectively, compared to the previous 24" 2.16GHz with GeForce 7300GT 128MB graphics.

NONE of the three new iMacs tested could match the 2.16GHz Core 2 Duo with the GeForce 7300GT - even though the 7300GT was only using 128MB memory compared to the HD 2600's 256MB! And don't forget that the GeForce 7300GT/128MB was the lower graphics option in the previous model iMac - the 24" could be upgraded to the GeForce 7600GT/256MB graphics which were significantly better! So at first glance it seems that the previous model white iMac with either the GeForce 7300GT or 7600GT graphics is a better gaming machine than the new aluminium iMacs! And I don't expect much improvement with the 2.8GHz Core 2 Extreme in the new 24" as it uses the same graphics as the standard 24".

Mac gamers, now might be the time to think about getting the previous white iMac 24" with the GeForce 7600GT graphics and 2.33GHz CPU, before stocks run out! There should still be some available on special order from Apple or Apple retailers at this date (12 August), but it won't last long. I wish I could afford one because I'd buy it in a flash now I know more about the new models!

14 August Update

There were a couple of reviews posted for the new iMacs yesterday:

Macworld Review
AppleInsider Review

Both these reviews have reservations about the new ATI graphics and the glossy screen. Although not comprehensive graphics reviews they both voice disappointment at the lack of improvement to the graphics over the previous GeForce 7300GT/7600GT options. Note that the AppleInsider review shows benchmarks for the old G5 iMac against the new aluminium Intel model, so the gains are NOT over the previous Core 2 Duo iMac and are somewhat misleading!

16 August Update

There is now benchmarking comparing the new top end aluminium iMac 2.8GHz Core 2 Extreme/Radeon HD 2600 Pro 256MB with the old top end white 2.33GHz Core 2 Duo/GeForce 7600 GT 256MB:

Bare Feats Benchmarks

I've been hanging out to see these top end models compared, and I have to say I'm not surprised to see that the old white iMac absolutely FLOGS the new aluminium iMac in most games! In fact the only way to beat the old top end iMac is with a Mac Pro with Radeon X1900 XT graphics!

So serious Mac gamers who want the best Mac game box but can't afford a Mac Pro, should seriously consider trying to get a white iMac 24" 2.33GHz Core 2 Duo with the GeForce 7600 GT 256MB graphics before stocks at Apple run out. If you already have one, then congratulate yourself for not waiting for the 2007 iMac revision, although you would have payed more ;-)

The old white iMac pricing has now been discounted so there is a big saving over its price before the new model was released, making them around the same price as the roughly equivalent aluminium iMac.

Saturday, 11 August 2007

New iMacs - Graphics Update

In my previous post I originally suggested that the new 256MB ATI graphics were more powerful than the previous top end iMac's GeForce 7600 GT 256MB graphics. But I've since seen comments that this may not be the case, and that the ATI graphics could actually be less powerful!

Much of this depends on Apple's implementation and whether they've limited the clock speed, but it is a fact that in PC gaming ATI are lagging behind nVidia with Vista drivers so the ATI's DirectX 10 support could well be limited at this time for those who want to dual boot into Vista for gaming (DirectX 10 is Vista-only).

The 2600 Pro is also a poor brother to the 2600 XT which has 512MB memory, but Apple's decision to slim down the iMac case may have made the 2600 XT non-viable due to space and cooling issues. But I would have thought that if Apple are throwing a 2.8GHz Core 2 Extreme at the iMac, then couldn't they at least have given it high end graphics as well, even just as an option..?

Is this yet another case of 'form over function' with Apple..? And even though we know Apple don't take gaming seriously, when are they going acknowledge that there are some serious Mac gamers out here and give us decent graphics in the consumer model Macs..?

Wednesday, 8 August 2007

New iMacs - 7 August 2007

As expected, Apple has announced the new iMac range. They are now cased in aluminium (also as expected), offset with a black screen surround and back. I have to say they look rather nice! But I'm not so sure about the keyboard which is a very thin laptop style with low flat keys (which was leaked some days ago so has also been expected). I've yet to check out the new glossy screen - similar products I've seen have looked all right at a casual glance, but it's a very personal preference that won't suit everyone. The 17" model has been dropped (widely predicted) to concentrate on the 20" and 24" models. One thing that didn't transpire was a model with a larger screen than the 24" but you can't have everything.

I was a little surprised to see the new CPUs - the top 24" model now has a 2.8GHz Core 2 Extreme! The other three models keep the Core 2 Duo now at 2.0GHz and 2.4GHz. All models now have dedicated ATI Radeon graphics, and all but the base model now have as standard the Radeon HD 2600 Pro with 256MB memory (512MB would have been nice though...) The top 24" now comes standard with 2GB RAM, with 1GB for the other three models. And the top 24" now has a 500GB hard drive standard, with options for up to 1TB! The full range now comes with an 8x dual layer Superdrive.

As a comparison, the previous model top end 24" upgraded to the faster processor, 2GB RAM, 500GB hard drive, and 256MB graphics memory, is broadly the same specs as the now standard top end 24", except the CPU has been significantly boosted with the new model, going from the Core 2 Duo to the much faster Core 2 Extreme. And all that comes with a price drop of about $800 Australian for the significantly more powerful machine!

I suspect some of the price drop is due to the lower manufacturing costs of LCD screens these days, but the new top end 24" is priced around 20% lower than its predecessor, which makes it a very attractive option!

It shouldn't be too long before the new models start getting tested against the old, and I'd guess that they will compare very favourably.