What is the latest Apple all-in-one to include an Intel chip worth?


We would hardly be offended anymore. Once again, this update to the iMac is about the inside, not the revamped exterior. For what seems like an eternity plus a day, about eight years anyway, the iMac therefore displays this design that we know so well, too well, with wide borders like the Pillars of Hercules on either side of it. ‘screen. Not to mention the top and bottom of the display.
But, for all that, this lack of design change has, for once perhaps, a very good justification, here is without doubt the last Intel iMac that Apple will ever release. Why waste a new design for an “old” platform when a big seesaw is approaching? Obviously, that cannot last, because it is hard to imagine Apple continuing for long to avoid borderless display on its iMac, which, historically, is the first Mac to have put the screen so prominently.

A paradoxical flaw … which should not spoil the essential

The good news is that this antique design is the only major flaw in this new all-in-one. A beautiful paradox when we know that Apple is extremely attentive to this aspect of its products. But fallow and innovation do not mix.

This is all the more unfortunate that the 2020 iMac 27-inch still offers an exceptional panel. Better, two exceptional tiles. The native definition of 5120×2880 pixels is still breathtaking and the 27-inch panel is given to display a billion colors.
Our measurements of the Delta E 2000, which calculate the difference between the true value of a color and how it looks on screen, confirm this excellence. The model with the classic “glossy” display has a Delta E of 1.02, which is nothing short of astounding. Remember, the closer the figure is to zero, the less the difference between reality and display. The nano-textured panel shows a slightly worse result, with a Delta E of 1.29. And it is true that colors look less vibrant to the eye. This is undoubtedly due to the fact that the “mat” panel is less luminous. Not in a dramatic or shocking way, but enough to be noticeable with the naked eye.
Thus, the classic screen displays a brightness of 537 cd / m², while the matt panel remains at 490 cd / m². Either way, that’s great, but definitely one is brighter than the other. In a way, that’s good because the reflections of the classic screen sometimes complicate the vision, if you are working with your back to a window or under neon lights, for example. This extra light should help you. A problem not encountered at all by the iMac whose screen is nano-treated, which proves the effectiveness of the process. However, as comfortable as this contribution is, its price (625 euros) is enough to cool down …

Either way, like with the switch to Retina 5K panels, viewing images, watching videos or editing them on an iMac is a real pleasure. Even scrolling through a gigantic Excel table is nice with such a screen and such a comfortable display surface. Those who tend to spend their evenings in front of their iMacs to work or kill time will appreciate the TrueTone feature, which shifts the heat from the screen light to that of the room. A good way to tire your eyes less. The fun is all the more so as the two iMacs we tested are not lacking in resources.

The latest Intel processor?

We therefore tested two versions of the iMac 2020. The first is the top-of-the-range model at 2,599 euros, equipped with a 3.8 GHz Core i7 (5 GHz Turbo Boost) with tenth generation eight cores, and accompanied by 8 GB of RAM (Apple still provides as little RAM by default in 2020, and it is all the more striking that it is possible to go up to 128 GB of optional RAM, for 3,000 euros, all likewise). It also ships a Radeon Pro 5500 XT with 8 GB of GDDR6.

The second iMac is a much more muscular version, since it opts for a Core i9 with ten cores (at 3.6 GHz and TurboBoost at 5 GHz), takes advantage of 32 GB of RAM, displays a Radeon Pro 5700 XT with 16 GB of GDDR6, for a price of 4854 euros. Sorry, but the nano-textured glass option weighs heavily in the casing.
To give you an idea of ​​the progress made and to put into perspective the interest of the two 10th generation Intel chips, as well as the contribution of the 5700 XT, we will systematically compare the performance of these 2020 iMacs with each other and with the (entry-level) model, released in May 2019, which we had tested.

Now that the technical sheet presentations are done, let’s take this moment to say that we have probably the latest Intel iMac that Apple will release. The great transhumance towards Apple Silicon chips is underway. As of the end of the year, the Cupertino giant’s laptops are expected to change flags. So we have on his desk a historical monument, the last of the Mohicans in a way.

If in the past, we may have cringe at the Intel chips embedded in some iMacs, because they heated too much, made the beast ventilate or throttled in an exaggerated way, this tenth generation of chip succeeds flawlessly. The processor part provides a real power gain.

Admittedly, the comparison between the two generations of Intel processors and therefore of iMac is a bit skewed, since we are comparing Core i5s (ninth generation with six cores) to Core i7s and i9s. Nevertheless, between the first two chips, if we trust Geekbench 4, we record x1.5 more performance. We flirt with an x2 when we turn to the Core i9. In this case, of course, we must see in these differences the contribution of the generational leap, but also that of the number of available cores, respectively six, six and ten, as well as their operating frequencies.

Because it should be noted that we did not fault these new chips, they did not throttle, reduces their operating frequency too significantly. Even if the Core i9 sometimes worried us a little by occasionally sagging before returning to a more normal frequency. These chips usually stall at their nominal frequency in the worst case.

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If we refer to another classic of testing tools, Cinebench 15, the ratios in favor of the new models are even more impressive. Indeed, the performance doubling is achieved from the Core i7, while the Core i9 is x2.5 more powerful. On this last test, the number of cores (and their frequencies) obviously works in favor of the Core i9, and the Core i7.

Turning to tests, carried out in everyday applications, we see the same trend, the same domination of the new generation of iMac. The iMac Core i7 is almost 33% faster in our tests with Final Cut Pro which uses the CPU and almost 66% better for computing a fairly heavy render in After Effects.

The iMac equipped with the Core i9, for its part, takes full advantage of the multicore optimization of Final Cut Pro and is more than 50% more efficient … than the Core i7 of 2020. In other words, for those who use a lot of applications compatible with parallel calculations and which require power, choosing the Core i9 option may make perfect sense.

Let us clarify two things quickly. The first is that the 2020 iMac models, especially the one equipped with the Core i9, are sometimes on par or better than the iMac Pro that we tested in December 2017 when it launched, and which was not upgraded. day since. This was particularly the case during our tests with After Effects, which in this case demand as much the central processor as the graphics processor… The second is that if this iMac is the last to be sold with an Intel processor, it is a a priori the last and best choice for those who need to install Windows on their Mac, via Boot Camp.

AMD’s big leap forward

Precisely, if the iMac take advantage of the progress of Intel chips, they also gain by embedding new generation AMD chips. The graphics cards offered in the various models are all based on the RDNA architecture introduced last year and engraved in 7 nm.

The GPU part is therefore not left out, both for pro tasks and for more fun activities. So, you’ll believe it if you will, it’s not only possible to play in Full HD, but our games and testing tools have even shown that on-board graphics cards can be taken a step further.
As an aside, when we see what Apple is about to leave behind, especially as RDNA 2 is even more promising, we can legitimately hope that the Apple Silicon chips will set the bar high, very high …

Anyway, when we compare the performance obtained by the 570X (GCN architecture coupled with GDDR5), which equipped the iMac model tested in 2019, and those of the 5500 XT, we see that the change in architecture and the greater amount of memory are playing their game. As we saw with After Effects, the progress is indeed there.

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The high-end standard iMac is thus more than 42% faster than the 2019 model according to the Car Chase test, by GFXBench Metal. While the 2020 model equipped with the Radeon Pro 5700 XT with 16 GB of RAM is more than twice as efficient as its predecessor and, logically, 1.5 times more powerful than the high-end model without options …
If we refer to the same bench tool but to a more demanding test (Aztec Ruins), the trend is obviously the same and the differences between the 2020 and 2019 models are widening. The iMac 2020, equipped with the Core i7 and the Radeon Pro 5500 XT with 8 GB of RAM, is 63% faster than its predecessor, while the model, which runs on a Core i9 and a Radeon Pro 5700 XT, s ‘proves 2.4 times more efficient.

Professional or consumer applications that use Metal under macOS should therefore truly benefit from this upscaling of AMD cards. If we look at the games, we see that the two newcomers should allow you to play without a hitch, pushing both settings and display definition.
Thus, Tomb Raider, which is not an extremely recent game, it is true, is almost playable at high settings and in 5120×2880 pixels, that is to say the maximum definition displayed by this extraordinary 27-inch screen. It is therefore possible to play more recent titles by limiting yourself to Full HD, and possibly adjusting the graphics settings …

Clearly, when it comes to setup, these two iMacs are really solid. Especially since the good news does not end there.

SSD finally as standard … and what standard

Last year, we pointed out that Apple continued to slip hybrid drives (Fusion Drives) into these 27-inch iMacs. For machines of this standard and very often called upon to meet professional needs, this point seemed very problematic to us.

This year, Apple has finally taken the plunge and all these large format iMacs come with SSDs by default. The 256 GB on the entry-level model is arguably a bit light for a desktop computer, but should cover most of the needs. Our two tested models displayed a different capacity. The first, high-end model without options, integrated a 512 GB SSD. The second, a 1 TB SSD support.

This precision is important, because we have already seen it on MacBook Pro In particular, opting for more storage often comes with better read and write speeds. This finding is all the more appreciated as the flow rates go from extremely good to purely excellent.

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Obviously, when we compare the results obtained with our three iMacs, the 2019 model is well worth it. With BlackMagic Disk, we see a reading speed x2.4 faster at least between the two generations, while the gain in writing is x3.7 … We also note that indeed the 1 TB SSD displays better performance in both directions of data processing.

It is also interesting to take a look at the results obtained with Aja System Test Lite. We notice better performance from the iMac 2019. This is due to the fact that this test used the small flash module of the hybrid hard drive. In other words, we see what gave the most powerful part of the Fusion Drive disc. Despite this, the slower 2020 iMac is still more than three times the write performance and 1.7 times the read speed. In other words, SSD comes without surprise as a much better alternative.

A webcam for a sick world

Finally, to conclude, this overview of the progress of iMacs, hard not to salute the progress of the webcam integrated into the all-in-one Apple. We won’t dwell on this novelty, but it is good in a world where video conferencing spills over from rare family chat sessions to see iMacs switch to a webcam filming in 1080p. The quality is definitely better. Apple indicates that the T2 chip has something to do with it, especially in the management of low light. It incorporates an image coprocessor which will handle the flow from the camera at best. Fortunately, because it is sometimes difficult to be well informed when facing a machine that cannot be moved as easily as a laptop.
The iMac also embeds the triple mic system introduced with the 16-inch MacBook Pro, which improved the quality of the sound recording, of course. Everything will then depend on the bandwidth to avoid sound distortions during your chat sessions.

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