2009 Mac Desktop Benchmarks

The latest versions of the Mac Mini, iMac, and Mac Pro all show improvements over previous versions.  Besides a few changes in connections, physically they are relatively unchanged.  The main improvement is in performance.

With the upcoming release of the next Mac operating system, Snow Leopard, the threading performance of your Mac hardware is now more important than ever.  Snow Leopard will be more optimized for multi-threading than any of its predecessors.  The latest Mac desktops will benefit more than previous models since they outperform significantly on thread benchmarks.

The following benchmark scores were collected by the popular Xbench Mac benchmarking software.  The new desktops are all of the entry level models. For all tests, a higher score is better.

Model Thread Test UI Test Memory Test
2006 iMac Core 2 Duo 2GHz 171 257 133
2009 Mac Mini Core 2 Duo 2GHz 231 258 162
2009 iMac Core 2 Duo 2.66GHz 360 379 177
2009 Mac Pro Xeon 3500 2.66GHz 543 409 374

It should be no surprise that the Mac Pro performs the best.  The Mac Mini has always been underpowered but at least it still outperforms some previous iMac models with similar CPU.  The entry-level iMac for $1,199 posts extremely impressive results.  For half the price of a Mac Pro, the thread performance was still great.  However, the Mac Pro truly dominates in the memory test.  The newer nehalem architecture uses tri-channel RAM which is significantly faster.  Any memory intensive applications will see a big improvement on a Mac Pro.  The iMac and Mac Mini won’t use nehalem until the end of 2009 at the earliest.

It is hard to highly recommend the Mac Mini just because it feels like it should come with a faster than 2GHz processor.  For the first time though, you can hook up 2 monitors to the Mac Mini.  The iMac offers the best value by far.  It performs great and isn’t overly expensive.  If you want the best performance and money is no object, the Mac Pro is for you.  Once Snow Leopard comes out, the performance of these new Macs should increase significantly.

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