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How much faster are the "Early 2009" Aluminum iMac Core 2 Duo models than the "Early 2008" models?
Please note that all iMac models mentioned in this Q&A have been discontinued. The "Early 2009" Aluminum iMac models were replaced by the "Late 2009" models on October 20, 2009.
Review a comparison of the "Early 2009" Aluminum iMac models -- the iMac "Core 2 Duo" 2.66 20-Inch (Early 2009), 2.66 24-Inch (Early 2009), 2.93 24-Inch (Early 2009), and 3.06 24-Inch (Early 2009) -- to the "Early 2008" models that they replaced, and it becomes quickly apparent that performance related differences are modest.
Processor clockspeeds and configurations are similar -- but the "Early 2009" models use 1066 MHz PC3-8500 DDR3 memory compared to 800 MHz PC2-6400 DDR2 on the models replaced with twice the official maximum capacity and the high-end models have improved graphics (the lower-end models have integrated graphics but support a larger external display).
With similar clockspeeds but faster memory one would expect modestly improved performance, but the precise differences can only be uncovered through real-world testing.
Let's start with the fastest iMac, the 3.06 GHz 24-inch iMac; it posted an overall Speedmark score that was 24 points (8 percent) higher than the previous 24-inch iMac with the same 3.06 GHz Core 2 Duo processor (then available as a build-to-order model). The new entry-level iMac, a 2.66 GHz 20-inch model, had a Speedmark score that was 26 points higher (11 percent) than the previous entry-level model, a 2.4 GHz 20-inch iMac.
For the remaining models in the series -- and to compare the performance of different models in the line to each other -- be sure to review the publication's complete benchmarks.
The iMac (GT 130) finished the Photoshop CS4 test in a quick 1 minute 35 seconds in Windows Vista, and 1:57 in Mac OS X. . . When you compare the Photoshop score with that of the older 3.06 GHz iMac (2:16), you really see the improvement that the extra 2 GB of memory gives you. . . The iMac (GT 130) finished the Windows Media Encoder (WME) test in 56 seconds. I consider any WME time of less than 1 minute a very good score. . . PCMark Vantage scores (which measure the system's ability to handle day-to-day tasks) improved from 4,448 in the old iMac to 4,917 in the new.
Ultimately, the "Early 2009" Aluminum iMac models provide solid performance in a beautifully designed package.
Also see: How does the gaming performance of the "Early 2009" Aluminum iMac Core 2 Duo models compare to earlier Aluminum iMac models? How much faster are the graphics?