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From The iMac G3/233 To The iMac G4/800 - iMacs & eMacs: A Performance Review

Wednesday, July 24, 2002

By David Engstrom

Below you will find performance results for most of the currently shipping iMacs machines, and a some from previous generations.
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This will hopefully give you an impression of relative performances. We will be adding new machines on an on-going basis ... so check back once in a while. We are gradually moving to a testing program based on OS X, however the results below were done under either OS 9.1 or OS 9.2.1 or 9.2.2. If you would like to see test results for most of the machines below, when running OS X click here. If you would like to review the raw data upon which these graphs are based check out this page.

Individual Tests

The tests below are from our suite of real world application tests. These tests feature a diverse selection of applications commonly used by the Mac community. The test suite was designed to render an accurate and well rounded picture of a machine's performance. All of the tests below (with the exception of the Quake III & CineBench 2000 tests) were timed with a stopwatch. The times were then converted to percentages relative to the Blue & White G3/350 MHz Power Mac, which is set to 100%. For all scores higher numbers are better

Additional Resources

iMac Buyer's Guide
eMac Buyer's Guide
iMac InfoZone
eMac InfoZone
Mac Reference Desk: iMac
iMac/eMac Specifications & Features
Performance of All Macintoshes

Finder Tests


The test above copies a folder containing thousands of files. This type of copying requires more processing overhead than a single, large file duplication

Processor performance is less of a factor here and the drive performance is more important.

AppleWorks 6 Tests

The graphics sub-system and processor influence the scores above. The drive is not a factor


The machines without a L3 backside cache are really hurt in this test (all the machines with low scores). This will be true in any processor intensive tasks in large documents or databases. If you work in mainly smaller documents you will note see this kind of performance difference

Quake III Tests
These scores are relative.

At 'fastest' setting the processor plays a bigger role (the G4/800 iMac achieved 75 fps)

Most, if not all, the processing is being done by the graphics card in this test. The speed difference more or less disappears in machines that have the same graphics card. The G4/800 iMac achieved 64 fps.



Photoshop 6 & Other Data Crunching Tests


OK, this is why graphics professionals need a G4 machine ... the faster the better!

The performance advantage of the G4 is erased when the software is not written (or cannot be written) to utilize the chip's unique performance abilities

This is pure, raw data crunching. Program does not take special advantage of the G4


This is a combination of both processor and graphics card performance

Encoding/Decoding Tests

Again another multimedia program that really takes full advantage of the G4 - probably the best example we have come across

Another App tuned to the G4's capabilities. However CD drive speed is also a factor


Main factor here is the burn rate of the CD drive. For These results the iMac G4/800 is set to 100%

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