Benchmarks show 2019 iMacs significantly outperforming previous model

Adopting Intel's new Coffee Lake CPUs gives the Early 2019 iMacs a significant edge over the previous generation, though this remains ultimately a minor refresh.

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Apple announced—in a rather understated way—a series of product refreshes in the third week of March, providing minor specification bumps for a handful of products. Among these include the iMac, which last saw a refresh in June 2017.

The new iMac, nicknamed the "Early 2019 iMac" in Apple support documents, uses Intel's Coffee Lake CPUs, which increases the number of processor cores, marking the biggest change in core counts for mainstream Intel processors in nearly a decade. With the addition of more cores, the multicore performance of the new iMacs necessarily outstrips that of the previous generation.

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Consumer hardware benchmarking standard Geekbench released their overview of how the new iMac models fared compared to the previous generation in Geekbench 4, finding the single-core performance of the i5-8500 equipped 21.5" iMac even with the i7-7700 model from 2017. In a comparison of multicore performance, the i5-8500 received a score of 20,539, while the i7-7700 received a score of 17,850.

Benchmarks for the 27" iMac were somewhat more pronounced, owing in large part to the addition of a Core i9-9900K model, featuring 8 cores—shortening the distance between a high-end iMac and a low-end iMac Pro. Though the single core performance increased 6-11%, according to Geekbench, multicore performance increased 43-49%, and 66% for the eight-core model.

Though John Poole, founder of the company that owns Geekbench, wrote that "I don't think the increase is enough to justify upgrading from a 2017 iMac," users of older iMacs and users looking to switch to Mac may find the update worthwhile.

Of note, Apple decreased the price of SSD upgrades during the refreshes, following the industry trend of falling NAND flash prices.

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