Apple 27-Inch iMac (Late 2013) Review, Haswell Inside

Max OS X Performance Testing

Our Test Methodologies: We've recorded two sets of benchmark numbers for various metrics here in our evaluation of the late 2013 edition 27-inch iMac. The first set of tests were run on Apple Mac OS X with either cross-platform capable benchmarks or Mac-only benchmark suites that limit us to comparing reference data only from other Apple products.

However, on the next page, you'll find benchmark results of the iMac running Windows 7 64-bit using Boot Camp. This allows us to see how the iMac compares to several Windows-based systems.

CineBench R11.5 (64-bit)
Content Creation Performance
Maxon's Cinebench R11.5 benchmark is based on Maxon's Cinema 4D software used for 3D content creation chores and it tests both the CPU and GPU in separate benchmark runs. On the CPU side, Cinebench renders a photorealistic 3D scene by tapping into up to 64 processing threads to process more than 300,000 total polygons; while the GPU benchmark measures graphics performance by manipulating nearly 1 million polygons and huge amounts of textures.

Cinebench is one of those benchmarks that doesn't take any prisoners, and as you can see, some of the previous generation all-in-one systems really struggled here. The iMac did really well comparatively, especially in the OpenGL portion where the NVIDIA GeForce GT 755M was able to flex its muscles, posting the third best score among AIOs we've tested.

Mac OS X Performance Benchmarks:  Geekbench
General system performance
To touch on overall system performance, we chose Geekbench, by Primate Labs. This is a widely used, highly respected Mac benchmarking suite that "provides a comprehensive set of benchmarks engineered to quickly and accurately measure processor and memory performance."

We know it's not really fair to pit an all-in-one against notebook machines running lower power processors, but it's what we have to work with in the Apple category. Regardless, we can see how performance scales as you move up to higher end desktop parts where Haswell is able to spread its wings, as well as NVIDIA's GeForce 700 Series graphics architecture.

Mac OS X Performance Benchmarks:  XBench
Individual Subsystem Performance
XBench, created by Spiny Software, is another widely used, respected Mac benchmarking suite that touches on nearly every aspect of performance, from CPU to graphics and storage subsystem metrics.

Xbench was able to root out a relative weak spot in the 27-inch iMac by exposing the performance of the mechanical hard drive versus systems running NAND flash-based solid state storage solutions. Even though the drive is spinning at 7200 RPM and not 5400 RPM, it's still not nearly as fast a solid state drive or one of Apple's Fusion solutions. Meanwhile, the fast Haswell chip and burly GPU were able to showboat.

We decided to take a closer look at the iMac's storage performance. Read and write transfers both averaged a little better than 190MB/s, though you can spy some pretty low dips depending on the type of transfer being tested. As configured, the 1TB hard drive trades raw performance for storage capacity and a friendlier price tag. However, if you want faster storage (or more capacity, you can configure the 27-inch iMac with one of several alternative options:

  • 3TB Serial ATA Drive @ 7200 RPM [Add $150]
  • 1TB Fusion Drive [Add $200]
  • 3TB Fusion Drive [Add $350]
  • 256GB Flash Storage [Add $200]
  • 512GB Flash Storage [Add $500]
  • 1TB Flash Storage [Add $1,000]

Choose wisely at the outset because you can't pop open the iMac and swap out the storage at a later date on your own.


Related content