|iMac Intel Dual Core 1.83 GHz (17 Inch)|
May 5, 2006 | Tuncer Deniz
SoftwareOne of the things that sets Apple apart from the dozens of PC clones out in the market is the inclusion of iLife '06. iPhoto, iDVD, iMovie, Garageband, and now iWeb are all included on the iMac and are all well worth the price of admission. You'll also get your own copies of Freeverse's Big Bang Board Games and Comic Life as well as Quicken 2006. Test drive versions of iWork '06 and Microsoft Office are bundled with the iMac, though I really wished Apple would throw in iWork as a freebie.
This new iMac gave me a chance to test out Front Row, which I was unfamiliar with, since my main machine is still a PowerBook. Front Row is activated by the Apple Remote, which comes with the iMac. From here you can watch a DVD, play iMovies, play music, and watch photos. The Apple Remote is simple to use since it contains just six buttons and can be put away nicely on the side of the computer, thanks to a magnet on the side of the iMac.
Overall Front Row is easy to use but a bit clunky. One of the things I could not get to work is Apple's movie trailers. After using the iMac for over two months, I keep getting a message that the "movie trailers server is not responding." A quick look on Apple's support forum confirms that other people are having this problem, but to date, Apple hasn't found a solution to this problem.
I also tried out PhotoBooth, which allows you to take pictures of yourself and use them as iChat buddy icons, in email, etc. The effects are really neat to play with and if you have kids, they'll have a blast making funny faces into the camera.
Testing & BenchmarkingOne of the things that impressed me the most about the iMac is how fast it boots. Compared to my PowerBook 17 1.5 GHz machine, the iMac booted in under 30 seconds. The PowerBook takes more than twice that.
Another thing that was impressive was how fast the Finder felt. Windows move around very smoothly, and launching native apps like Safari, iPhoto, and Garageband takes only a few bounces on the Dock. Again, compared to my PowerBook, there's just no competition when it comes to the iMac.
Running non-native applications under Rosetta is another story and a bit of a mixed bag. Not-so-intensive apps such as Microsoft Office run fairly well under Rosetta. I'm a heavy Word and Entourage user and both of these apps run just fine under Rosetta. Photoshop, though, is another story. I use it almost constantly for work on our various web sites and it's a tad on the slow side. But again, it is something you get used to. So unless you are a professional user that uses CPU-intensive apps like Photoshop 99 percent of the time, running most of your non-native apps will work just fine under Rosetta.
All in all though, I have to give a big thumbs up to Apple for coming up with a solution that works well under the circumstances. With dozens of universal binaries coming out every day, the hesitance that some may feel to hold off on purchasing an Intel Mac will begin to wane. Still, it's reassuring that Rosetta is there.
Unreal Tournament 2004
The first game I tried out to do some benchmarking was Unreal Tournament 2004. I used Stantaduck's benchmarking application and ran Botmatch on DM-Antalus at 1024 x 768 on max settings on the Intel Mac, an iMac G5 1.8, and my trusty but old PowerBook 17 1.5 GHz, all with sound off.
Overall the results are impressive, showing more than double the framerate compared to an iMac G5 1.8 GHz. This, of course, is due to the woeful NVIDIA FX5200 graphics chip on the iMac G5.
I ran the universal binary version of DOOM 3, which is currently at 1.3 rev A, under timedemo demo 1. Settings with at 1024 x 768 with default high settings and shadows enabled.
Again, the iMac Intel Dual Core beats the pants out of the iMac G5 and PowerBook 17 inch.