10 Replies Latest reply: Jan 15, 2010 3:33 PM by Rick Lang
connie2323 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
A friend, and actually, we are thinking of purchasing an iMac. My hubby's G4 is showing signs of wear. Anyway, I'd like opinions on iMacs and why someone would want one? I've had Macs for about 25 years now, but why would I want an iMac over a Mac Pro.

My friend's hubby wants one but he saw that some PCs are faster than iMacs and wonders why. Can anyone give me a clear answer to this? Are Macs faster than a PC with the same speed, etc., everything being equal?


Message was edited by: connie2323

MacPro, MBP 15", Mac OS X (10.5.8)
  • Kenichi Watanabe Level 7 Level 7 (30,460 points)
    Pure clock speed is relative and performance is affected by many factors. On the software side, the efficiency of the OS and the applications being used are important; Mac OS X is Unix-based, and Snow Leopard is pretty efficient. On the hardware side, the number of processing cores (the iMac current iMac can have either 2 or 4) is the most important, followed closely by the type of graphics hardware (GPU) it has. The amount of RAM also has some impact on performance.

    Unless you are doing things that consistently push the computer to its limits, the iMac is spending 90% of its time waiting for you to take the next action, such as typing the next letter in your post or clicking the next link in your browser. So there will always be a PC somewhere that has higher clock speed than an iMac, but is that really important. That's not the point of the iMac and Mac OS X. The point is to provide a better user experience and greater value, and help users get stuff done more efficiently and enjoyably. I think Apple succeeds, and Apple's recent success with its Macs business is a good indicator that many customers agree - they want value and great experience for their money, not the absolute highest specifications.
  • connie2323 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Thank you, Kenichi, I completely agree with you about the value. I also love the experience of not worrying about crashing or having to worry about a virus or malware, etc. infecting me as my PC friends always do. The value is exceptional with Macs. I'd just like to be able to articulate the differences well to them. I'll use your words.
  • fireman604 Level 1 Level 1 (15 points)
    From my details you see I am new to the Apple community. I bought a 27 g7 because it is a work of art. No really I has a dual processor dual core opteron with 4 gigs of memory. I have run windows xp xp 64 bit vista 32 and 64 bit thru betas and rtms and windows 7 betas thru RTM . My PC gets a Index score of 5.9 if your not familiar a rating of components t tell you how it runs. Snow Leopard on the IMAC with windows 7 using one core and 2 gigs of memory scores about a 5.2 on the virtual machine inside of Snow Leopard. Scanners that I could not run in windows 7 64 bit installed on snow Leopard using drivers that are not available on the PC, And best of all no see your system administrator messages. I a going to keep using both windows and Apple But the IMAC really does work very well and is pretty fast, not a gamer but it is plenty fast for editing pictures and processing video
  • Rick Lang Level 4 Level 4 (1,230 points)
    connie2323 wrote:
    why would I want an iMac over a Mac Pro.

    Connie, I don't think this question was addressed. There are no doubt many opinions about this but I'll try to be fair in my answer.

    Mac Pro
    Pro: very easy to expand, very many ports on front and back, very large memory limits, very large internal disk limits, fast processor options, very large bandwidth to pump through a lot of work.

    So if you have plethora of devices to connect and you need 32 GB of memory and need 8 TB of internal disk storage for things like an internal RAID 5 array, then the Mac Pro is best. It does not come with a monitor and some would suggest then buying Apple's 30" matte LCD display if you need a matte screen or the 24" glossy LED backlit display if you like that.

    Con: Cost, especially if you need to buy an additional large monitor or large amounts of error-correcting RAM.

    iMac 27" or 21.5"
    Pro: includes beautiful monitor; the new "green machine" in terms of recycling and lack of toxins but the screen does require power; 4 USB ports; simple to install up to 16 GB RAM; simply 1 or 2 TB internal SATA II disk; Intel's recently introduced (September 2009) Core i5 and i7 processors with memory management in the CPU die; processor options good (Core 2 Duo dual core 3.06 or 3.33 GHz), better (quad core i5 2.66 GHz with Turbo boost), best (quad core multi-threaded 2.8 GHz with Turbo boost; very decent bandwidth depending upon processor choice; memory is cheaper than Mac Pro.

    All in all, both a beautiful machine on many levels in terms of engineering and aesthetics, but also a very capable and productive machine depending upon your needs.

    Con: some people have had problems with the the new screens without a clear determination if the screen or the graphics card is faulty in certain conditions (we all hope these problems are solved conclusively with several people reporting good results lately but time will tell - remember most people with flawless machines don't even use the discussion groups so we don't hear from them); only one Firewire port (FW800) but you can always daisy-chain more devices - if you do that all devices except the last on the chain must be self-powered and best if even the last on the chain is self-powered).

    Hope this helps compare the two. I used to be a Pro user thinking the iMacs were historically underpowered, but now very happy with the new iMacs, at least my i7. You didn't give us much information about what your needs may be, but compared to a G4, you are in for a treat.
  • connie2323 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Well, thank you, Rick. I was asking one question but for 2 different people: my friends who are going to switch from PCs and truly do want a Mac and for me and my hubby as we're going to need a new computer for him. I do much more on the computer than he does. He just reads news and surfs actually. I do a lot of photographs and editing with PhotoShop Elements 8. So I'm definitely the more active user.

    BUT for our friends, they were looking at specifications and told me that some PCs have "faster" Ghz, so I just wanted to give them as much information as they need. They only surf and email. Maybe their college age kids will play some games and like to download music but they are ALL wanting a Mac. I guess they're thinking Macs are slower, but I don't see that in our 3 Macs we have now (G4, Mac Pro and MacBookPro) compared to the 2 PCs that we're ready to throw out the door.

    Can you address that issue that I can talk relatively intelligent to them?
  • Mark Thornton Level 3 Level 3 (580 points)

    I've had Macs for many years and my most recent is a standard 27" IMac and it's great. I initially bought the Quad i5 and it was amazing but it had a fault so i took it back and had to switch it for the standard 27" model. I expected to be dissapointed after the i5 but in reality it's brilliant!
  • dwb Level 7 Level 7 (21,265 points)
    I've been building my PCs and/or buying mid level Mac towers for most of my computing career. Two years ago when it was time to replace my G5 tower I came to a startling realization: In the 3.5 years I'd owned the tower I'd upgraded its memory and nothing else. Meanwhile the difference between the consumer iMac and the professional tower had narrowed to the point where, in terms of power, the high end iMac was more powerful than the low end MacPro while costing significantly less.

    My two main justifications for buying a tower were performance and upgradability and clearly my last Mac hadn't been upgraded in any way an iMac couldn't. Indeed, going back one model, the upgrades I'd done to my G4 tower could all have been done on an iMac except for the video upgrade. With iMacs gaining in power and features to match the low end and encroach on the mid level towers, my performance justification was eroded too. And then I looked at the money. I concluded that I could almost buy an iMac every 2 years for the same amount of money I'd spend on a MacPro I intended to keep 3.5 to 4 years. Factoring in the fact that the resale of a 2 year old Mac would recoup more than the resale value of a 4 year old tower made the iMac even more economically sensible.

    Two years later I don't regret my decision to buy the iMac and making the economic argument even stronger, it continues to hold its own. I'd been thinking I might be champing at the bit within two years to get a more powerful computer but I'll easily hold on to this iMac at least another 6 months and probably more.
  • inandoutofgrace Level 3 Level 3 (520 points)
    Here's my take: processor speed will barely be noticed by people who primarily email and web browse (assuming they aren't heavy users of things like YouTube, streaming video, and apps hosted in the 'cloud'). A faster processor will not enable somebody to read or type more quickly. A faster processor will not cause emails to be sent or received at a quicker pace. And, perhaps most importantly, a faster processor will not have any effect on the speed of one's connection to the Internet.
  • Kenichi Watanabe Level 7 Level 7 (30,460 points)
    Just to add to what I posted earlier, my personal iMac is now a design that is over three years old. It is only 2.0 GHz dual-core (Core 2 Duo). And it only has 3GB of RAM. And the internal drive is only 160GB (although I have plenty of extra storage externally). And the graphics hardware only has 128mb of VRAM. And the screen is only 17-inch (with a larger external display). Yet, it still runs exceptionally well, especially since upgrading to Snow Leopard (it originally came with Tiger!).

    So even that now aging iMac is more then enough power to do everyday computing tasks that most people spend most of their time doing. And I expect it to be fine for at least another 2 to 3 years. Any of the current iMacs will be overkill for most customers, and they should remain useful for a long time as new software starts to take full advantage of the new hardware capabilities.
  • Rick Lang Level 4 Level 4 (1,230 points)
    connie2323 wrote:
    our friends, they were looking at specifications and told me that some PCs have "faster" Ghz, so I just wanted to give them as much information as they need. They only surf and email. Maybe their college age kids will play some games and like to download music but they are ALL wanting a Mac. I guess they're thinking Macs are slower...
    Can you address that issue that I can talk relatively intelligent to them?

    The pursuit of GHz as a measure of the speed of a computer is becoming less relevant than ensuring the overall performance meets your/their needs. And it's not easy or helpful to compare the GHz of one processor type versus another, for example, a 3.2 GHZ Pentium 4 chip will be blown away by a 3 GHZ Core 2 Duo chip or a 2.66 GHz Core i5 chip. Other factors are very important including the memory speed, the system architecture that accesses the memory, the speed of your internal disks, and so on. Where GHz may be important is when you compare one processor to another of the same type. So yes, a 3.33 GHz Core 2 Duo is going to be faster than a 3.06 GHz Core 2 Duo.

    Speaking of 'cores', you understand years ago when life was simple, a processor was a processor, it had one 'core.' We called it a CPU and everyone knew what you meant (a central processing unit). Now we have CPUs with multiple cores and installations with multiple CPUs each with multiple cores. The Core 2 Duo has two cores, two areas of circuits that can perform for the most part independently of each other to give you almost twice the throughput of a single core CPU. The new iMac could also have a Core i5 which is quad core - four cores working on your tasks. Or an i7 with four cores that support a total of eight threads to provide even more capacity if you needed it. It does not sound like you or your friends would need the i7, but I would recommend at least the i5. You may be happy with the Core 2 Duo as well - very hard for anyone to say but graphics work and games should perform better on the i5 (and i7).

    If you can take one more consideration into account, there are times when what I said above is not always true. If you have fairly simple tasks to do, the Core 2 Duo 3.33 GHz probably will outperform a 2.66 GHz i5. The reason is that that Core 2 Duo is running each core faster and if you are not a demanding user, you'll beat the slower i5 processor who is still basically twiddling its thumbs waiting to show you how it can do real work. Does that make sense? Now some graphics work and video work is 'real' demanding work, but writing an e-mail won't tax any processor.

    So if a lot of your time or their time is spent doing fairly simple things, you don't need the fastest computer. But if you often throw in more demanding work, it is very nice to unleash that i5 or i7 even if it ran a tad slower doing those e-mails. Thanks to Turbo boost on the i5 and i7, if the system isn't busy, it runs even faster than the posted GHz frequency so a lazy i5 or i7 is comparable in speed to the Core 2 Duo rated frequency.

    Also don't forget the important of memory on performance. Apple has configured the new iMacs with 4 GB of memory and that is good for most everything you likely need to do. But most people would say, if the system gets busy, more memory can help handle that work since they system is not distracted with having to swap your programs out to disk etc.

    Post if you need more advice. Sorry if this note is too long, but I've nothing to do as I wait for my i7 to be delivered.