Mossberg: New Intel-based iMac the best consumer desktop with the best OS and best software bundle

“Is the new Intel iMac as good as its predecessor? Does the machine’s raw power offset the translation slowdown? To find out, we’ve been testing an Intel-based iMac against an iMac G5 only about a month old. The two machines look identical and sport nearly identical features. The major differences are hidden under the hood,” Walter S. Mossberg and Katherine Boehret report for The Wall Street Journal.

“For days, we ran a wide variety of software on the two iMacs, and performed all of the common tasks mainstream consumers do — surfing the Web, emailing, instant messaging, word processing, using spreadsheets, editing photos, playing music, managing personal finances, playing simple games. Our verdict: The brain transplant was a success. The two machines behaved almost identically in our tests. Compatibility is excellent. The new model easily handled all the major consumer software we threw at it. We never noticed the translator software, called Rosetta, and any slowdowns it imposed were so slight as to be indiscernible,” Mossberg and Boehret report.

“The new model was actually a little faster at a few of the tasks we tried, but nothing like the two to three times as fast that Apple claims. A mainstream user who didn’t know what was under the hood couldn’t tell the difference between them, even after using them for hours. It appears that the faster chip roughly balances out the translation effect,” Mossberg and Boehret report. “So, if the new model works only about as well as the old one, what’s the advantage for consumers? Well, the slight, scattered, speed gains we saw should grow greater over time, as Apple and third-party software makers tweak their applications to take full advantage of the dual-core Intel chip. A year from now, an Intel iMac purchased today will likely be notably faster, if you update your software to newer versions.”

Mossberg and Boehret report., “But, even now, this is a terrific computer. It’s still the best consumer desktop on the market. It still runs crisply, still is free of viruses and spyware, still has the best operating system and the best built-in software of any desktop we’ve tested. Given how smoothly the new machine works, and how likely it is to get even better, we would prefer it today over the iMac G5, which Apple is still selling for the same price until inventories are gone. The G5 is still a fine machine, but the Intel model has a brighter future.”

Full article here.

[Walt Mossberg is the author and creator of the weekly Personal Technology column in The Wall Street Journal, which has appeared every Thursday since 1991. Newsweek magazine calls Mr. Mossberg “the most powerful arbiter of consumer tastes in the computer world today.” Time magazine calls him “the most influential computer journalist.” And Rolling Stone calls him “the most powerful columnist in technology.” The Washington Post declared Mr. Mossberg “one of the most powerful men in the high-tech world” and “a one-man media empire whose prose can launch a new product.” And the New York Times calls him a “protean critic of the new economy’s tools and toys.” Mr. Mossberg was awarded the 1999 Loeb award for Commentary, the only technology writer to be so honored.]

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Related MacDailyNews article:
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27 Comments

  1. So Apple new that the speed perception of the average user would not be 2-3x otherwise those iMac owners who bought since the last update (including me) would feel really pissed. As it is, I’m not too unhappy as the G5 works fine for me, although still more beach ball than Id’ have expected…

  2. Sigh, Jobs specifically said the 2-3X faster were benchmarks, not real-world application speed. The speed of an application depends on so many variables, including how it’s written, whether it’s universal binary, what kind, etc. I wish they’d get their facts straight. These writers sometimes baffle me.

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