Benchmarks: Apple Mac mini Core Duo vs. Mac mini G4 vs. iMac Core Duo

“We expected the new Intel Mac mini Core Duo to perform well enough in CPU crunch tests (iMovie HD, Cinebench), but we were really more curious about how well it performed in GPU crunch tests (iMaginator, Doom 3, etc.). We included the PPC Mac mini G4/1.42GHz we previously tested as well as an Intel iMac Core Duo 1.83GHz,” rob-ART morgan writes for Bare Feats. “We also configured the Core Duo mini’s memory in two ways (matched and unmatched pairs) to see if there was any great advantage to having matched pairs.”

“The Mac mini performed better than the old PPC mini in the two CPU crunch tests. It would have matched the times of the iMac Core Duo if it was running at the same clock speed,” morgan writes. “In the Core Image test, it bested the old mini but lost to the iMac Core Duo due to the general weakness of the GMA950 graphics processor. In two of the 3D Game tests, it actually lost to the PPC mini. I’ve read reports of how well the GMA950 handles HD playback, but that’s doesn’t make up for poor performance on other graphically intensive functions… In my humble opinion, the Mac mini is a poor investment unless you have a display, keyboard, and mouse you can’t part with. You may pay more for the iMac Core Duo 1.83, but you get a lot more.”

Full article with benchmarks here.

MacDailyNews Take: Obviously, the Mac mini is not designed to be a gaming machine. It’s for music, photos, movies, a little iLife, some web surfing, a dash of basic personal computing, and to entice Windows-only switchers/adders to try out a Mac. To recommend an iMac over a Mac mini based on 3D game performance ignores the different target markets, form factors, price points, and likely uses for each model.

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Related articles:
PC Magazine review gives Apple Mac mini 4 out of 5 stars – March 08, 2006
Chicago Tribune: Apple’s new Intel-based Mac mini might make you switch from Windows – March 07, 2006
Mac mini 6-button remote, Front Row typify Apple’s ‘sophisticated simplicity’ strategy – March 06, 2006
Reader report: 1080p 24fps playback on Mac mini Core Duo plays fine – March 03, 2006
Apple Mac mini’s Intel GMA950 Integrated Graphics Core reviewed – March 01, 2006
Apple’s new Mac mini a HDTV media center in disguise? – March 01, 2006
Apple’s new Mac mini: perfect for HDTV – March 01, 2006
Analyst: Apple’s new Mac mini ‘a good first step into the living room’ – February 28, 2006
Apple introduces new Intel-based Mac mini – February 28, 2006


  1. Actually, the argument that computers shouldn’t be considered by game performance is fading fast. Since PC makers (including Apple) are clearly positioning their systems as living room multi-media servers, I don’t see a reason why game performance wouldn’t be considered. Hell, if I could get a Mac mini that could play video, get the photos and music off my office Mac, and could also be used as a game console and TV tuner, I’m so there. The two aspects still missing from the Mac mini are a TV tuner, and the ability to handle games. When they’ve got that in the box, I’ll probably buy 3.

  2. “For all intensive purposes,” I thought it was “Little lambs eat ivy.” That’s on the lyric sheet I found in my “chester drawers.”

    ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”grin” style=”border:0;” />

  3. ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”cheese” style=”border:0;” /> The Mac mini is not meant to be a hard core gameing machine. Both versions are awesome. Can’t wait to get my core duo in.

  4. I got the first one of the new minis that hit Philadelphia and can’t complain about the review.

    I don’t think we’ve reached anywhere near the point that reviewers should assume that a home will have multiple computers–I’ve got five desktops and five portables at home, but most people don’t. It is perfectly reasonable for a reviewer to point out that the iMac is better value. Certainly if I didn’t already have an iMac G5 I wouldn’t have gotten the mini.

    What reviewers should point out in addition, however, is that the built in airport on both the intel minis and imacs is just a little bit better than broken, that this renders useless the mini as a machine to wirelessly stream media, and that even when plugged into a server through ethernet Front Row has a bad habit of failing to stream media and then locking up. These are software issues that I assume will be addressed in the coming months, but make the intel mini kinda like dating a cheerleader that won’t put out—enticing, but highly frustrating.

  5. Ampar: Yes . . . yes it is.

    Just trying to fit in with the whole “MacDude can’t spell worth a damn and misinterprets every written word” zeitgeist going on around here.

    I guess it was just too . . . subtle . . . damn . . . [hangs head in anti-obvious shame] . . .

  6. Why is it that the GMA 950 looks OK in paper but performs so badly? The chip would be capable of using up to 224MB of video memory but Apple supposedly locked it to 64Mb … WHY? WHY? WHY? Can anyone answer this simple question because I really can’t comprehend.

  7. I was set to get a Mini for my teenage daughter do I could save a fortune each 3-5 years, but once I priced the extra RAM, iSight, hard drive options needed the iMac was cheaper!

    I wish they’d kept the old price points, or go back to them. The lack of VRAM and VCard must make up for the new additions (sound in, WiFi, BlueTooth). I love the Mini, but only wish I could justify it!

  8. Key spinning it MDN.

    How come everyone says the Mac Mini is a poor choice, except you? Getting a kickback from Apple we don’t know about?

    Intel 950 is crap…don’t support Apple’s poor decision…but an iMac.

    “In my humble opinion, the Mac mini is a poor investment unless you have a display, keyboard, and mouse you can’t part with. You may pay more for the iMac Core Duo 1.83, but you get a lot more — an LCD screen, a faster CPU, a much faster GPU, a faster/bigger hard drive, easy to install memory, and an iSight camera. And it takes no more space on your desk than a mini when you include the mini’s display and keyboard.”

  9. HEY, “durr” — SMOKE THIS!


    “I know a ditty nutty as a fruitcake
    Goofy as a goon and silly as a loon
    Some call it pretty, others call it crazy
    But they all sing this tune:

    Mairzy doats and dozy doats and liddle lamzy divey
    A kiddley divey too, wouldn’t you?
    Yes! Mairzy doats and dozy doats and liddle lamzy divey
    A kiddley divey too, wouldn’t you?

    If the words sound queer and funny to your ear, a little bit jumbled and jivey
    Sing “Mares eat oats and does eat oats and little lambs eat ivy”

    Oh! Mairzy doats and dozy doats and liddle lamzy divey
    A kiddley divey too, wouldn’t you-oo?
    A kiddley divey too, wouldn’t you?”

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