Retina iMac 64-bit Performance

A 64-bit Geekbench 3 result for the Core i5 Retina iMac has appeared on the Geekbench Browser. Let's take a quick look at how it performs compared to the non-Retina iMacs.

Single-Core Performance

Multi-Core Performance

The Core i5 Retina iMac is slightly faster than the other Core i5 iMacs, and is competitive with the Core i7 iMacs in single-core performance. However, the Core i7 iMacs are up to 20% faster in multi-core performance.

These Geekbench results aren't surprising since all of the iMacs use Haswell processors; any performance increase is due to the increase in clock speed.

How does the Retina iMac perform compared to the Mac Pro?

Single-Core Performance

Multi-Core Performance

The Core i5 Retina iMac is is faster at single-core tasks but slower at multi-core tasks. I expect the Core i7 Retina iMac will be faster at multi-core tasks than the 4-core Mac Pro, but still slower than the 6-core Mac Pro.

If you're considering replacing your Mac Pro with a Retina iMac then these results show it's not a bad idea provided you don't regularly run heavily-threaded applications.

Estimating Mac mini Performance

Apple announced a long-awaited update to the Mac mini lineup on Thursday. Along with 802.11ac Wi-Fi and PCI-based flash storage options the new models feature Intel's Haswell processors. While Apple hasn't identified which Haswell processors they're using in the new lineup, I believe these are the processors Apple is using based on the Mac mini specifications published by Apple:

ProcessorCoresFrequencyTurbo Boost
Core i5-4260U21.4 GHz2.7 GHz
Core i5-4278U22.6 GHz3.1 GHz
Core i5-4308U22.8 GHz3.3 GHz
Core i7-4578U23.0 GHz3.5 GHz

For comparison, here are the Haswell processors from the "Late 2014" lineup alongside the Ivy Bridge processors from the equivalent model in the "Late 2012" lineup:

Late 2014Late 2012
ConfigurationProcessorCoresProcessorCores
GoodCore i5-4260U2Core i5-3210M2
BetterCore i5-4278U2Core i7-3615QM4
BestCore i5-4308U2Core i7-3615QM4
BTOCore i7-4578U2Core i7-3720QM4

From the table you can see Apple has moved from dual- and quad-core processors in the "Late 2012" lineup to dual-core processors across the entire "Late 2014" lineup. How much this change will affect multi-core performance? Will the new Mac minis be slower than the old Mac minis?

Unfortunately there are no Geekbench results for the new Mac minis in the Geekbench Browser to help us answer this question. Instead, I estimated the new Mac minis' scores by using data from other systems with the same processor. I expect the estimated scores will be within 5% of the actual scores for the Mac minis.

Here are the estimated scores for the "Late 2014" Mac minis alongside the actual scores for the "Late 2012" Mac minis:

Single-Core Performance

Single-core performance has increased slightly from 2% to 8% between the "Late 2012" and "Late 2014" models. This increase is in line with what we saw when other Macs models moved from Ivy Bridge to Haswell processors.

Multi-Core Performance

Unlike single-core performance multi-core performance has decreased significantly. The "Good" model (which has a dual-core processor in both lineups) is down 7%. The other models (which have a dual-core processor in the "Late 2014" lineup but a quad-core processor in the "Late 2012" lineup) is down from 70% to 80%.

So why did Apple switch to dual-core processors in the "Late 2014" lineup? The only technical reason I can think of is that the Haswell dual-core processors use one socket (that is, the physical interface between the processor and the logic board) while the Haswell quad-core processors use different sockets:

ProcessorCoresGraphicsSocket
Core i7-4578U2IrisFCBGA1168
Core i7-4770HQ4Iris ProFCBGA1364
Core i7-4700MQ4HD 4600FCPGA946

Apple would have to design and build two separate logic boards to accommodate both dual-core and quad-core processors. Other Macs use the same logic board across models, so I wouldn't expect Apple to make an exception for the Mac mini. Note that this wasn't an issue with the Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge processors, where both dual- and quad-core processors used the same socket.

Apple could have gone quad-core across the the "Late 2014" lineup, but I suspect they wouldn't have been able to include a quad-core processor (let alone one with Iris Pro graphics) and still hit the $499 price point.

All things considered, if you're looking for great multi-core performance in a mini (say if you're using your Mac mini as a server), I have a hard time recommending the new Mac mini. I would suggest trying to track down a "Late 2012" Mac mini rather than buying a new "Late 2014" Mac mini. Otherwise the improved WiFi, graphics, and single-core performance make the new "Late 2014" Mac mini worth considering.

Geekbench 3.2.2

Geekbench 3.2.2, the latest version of our popular cross-platform benchmark, is now available for download. Geekbench 3.2.2 features the following changes:

  • Added support for iOS 8, iPhone 6, and iPhone 6 Plus.
  • Added benchmark comparison charts on iOS.
  • Added support for High DPI mode on Windows.
  • Fixed code signing issues on OS X Mavericks, Yosemite.

Geekbench 3.2.2 is a free update for all Geekbench 3 users.

Geekbench 3.2

I'm excited to announce that Geekbench 3.2, the latest version of our popular cross-platform benchmark, is now available for download.

The most visible change in Geekbench 3.2 is the redesigned result view. The redesign both improves the legibility and increases the information density of the benchmark results, especially on mobile devices.

Geekbench 3.2 also adds support for 32-bit ARMv8 processors on Android. Geekbench has been recompiled to take advantage of the new instruction set, and the AES and SHA-1 workloads have been updated to use the new cryptography instructions. When Android devices with ARMv8 processors arrive in the fall Geekbench 3.2 will be able to measure their full performance potential.

Geekbench 3.2 is a free upgrade for all Geekbench 3 users.

MacBook Pro Performance (July 2014)

On Tuesday Apple updated its MacBook Pro lineup. Geekbench 3 results for most of the new models have already appeared in the Geekbench Browser which lets us see how performance has improved across the lineup.

For the 15-inch MacBook Pro, processor speeds were increased by 200 MHz, leading to a 6% to 9% increase in performance:

Processor20132014
GoodCore i7-4750HQ @ 2.0 GHzCore i7-4770HQ @ 2.2 GHz
BetterCore i7-4850HQ @ 2.3 GHzCore i7-4870HQ @ 2.5 GHz
BestCore i7-4960HQ @ 2.6 GHzCore i7-4980HQ @ 2.8 GHz

For the 13-inch MacBook Pro, processor speeds were also increased by 200 MHz, leading to a 7% to 8% increase in performance (note that we do not yet have results for the new high-end model):

Processor20132014
GoodCore i5-4258U @ 2.4 GHzCore i5-4278U @ 2.6 GHz
BetterCore i5-4288U @ 2.6 GHzCore i5-4308U @ 2.8 GHz
BestCore i7-4558U @ 2.8 GHzCore i7-4578U @ 3.0 GHz

Overall performance improvements for the new MacBook Pros are modest and unsurprising. Both the 2013 and the 2014 models use Haswell processors, so all of the performance gains come from the increased clock speeds. We will have to wait for the new Broadwell processors (currently scheduled for mid-2015) to see more signficant improvements in MacBook Pro performance.

iMac Performance (June 2014)

Apple announced a new lower-cost dual-core iMac today, and Geekbench 3 results for it are already appearing on the Geekbench Browser. Let's see how the new iMac performs compared to other iMacs.

When compared to the rest of the iMac lineup, the new iMac has reasonable single-core performance — it's almost identifcal to the entry-level quad-core iMac. Multi-core performance is significantly lower due to the lower number of cores (2 cores vs 4 cores).

One interesting thing about the new iMacs is that they use a low-voltage i5-4260U "Haswell" processor (the same processor is used in the MacBook Air). Why would Apple use a low-voltage dual-core processor in a desktop machine? The answer might be graphics:

According to Intel, the HD 5000 is twice as fast as the HD 4600. Apple may have sacrificed multi-core performance for GPU performance. Given the increasing importance modern user interfaces place on GPU performance, this may turn out to be a smart decision that extends the useful lifespan of the new iMac.

MacBook Air Performance (May 2014)

Earlier this week Apple announced a minor refresh to its MacBook Air lineup. The only change (besides a $100 price cut) is the base model now comes with a 1.4 GHz processor instead of a 1.3 GHz processor.

How does the new MacBook Air model perform compared to previous models? To find out, I've collected Geekbench 3 results for several models and charted the scores below:

The results for the 2013 and the 2014 models aren't surprising. Both models use Intel Haswell processors, so there are no major changes in processor technology. The 5-7% increase in performance is what I would expect from the 7% increase in processor frequency.

However, comparing the results for the 2011 and the 2012 models is much more interesting. For example, base model single-core performance has improved by almost 45% since 2011, and by almost 20% since 2012. Anyone considering an upgrade from these models will certainly notice (and appreciate!) an improvement this large.

Combatting Benchmark Boosting

Late last year Ars Technica noticed that some Samsung phones artificially boost performance when running Geekbench 3. This boost inflated Geekbench 3 scores by up to 20%. Since benchmarks are only meaningful when they're treated the same as any other application, we have been working on determining which devices "benchmark boost", and what we should do with results from these boosted devices. I'd like to share what we've discovered.

In order to determine which devices artificially boost performance when running Geekbench we added a "boost detector" to Geekbench 3. The detector embeds a report in each Geekbench 3 result uploaded to the Geekbench Browser. After analyzing thousands of reports we determined that the following Android devices artificially boost performance when running Geekbench 3:

  • Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014)
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 2
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 3
  • Samsung Galaxy S 3
  • Samsung Galaxy S 4
  • Sony Xperia Z
  • Sony Xperia Z Tablet
  • Sony Xperia Z Ultra
  • Sony Xperia Z1
  • Sony Xperia ZL

On both Samsung and Sony devices the boost appeared in Android 4.3. Earlier versions of Android (up to and including Android 4.2.2) did not boost. Anthony Schmieder and Daniel Malea, two Geekbench developers, worked with Ars Technica to find the code responsible for the boost on Samsung devices.

In order to combat benchmark boosting we have decided to exclude results from these devices running Android 4.3 from the Android benchmark chart. This way the results on the chart reflect the true performance, not the boosted performance, of each device. We have also added a list of excluded devices to the chart. We will continue to monitor the detector reports, and we will update this list if we discover other devices or Android versions that apply a benchmark boost.

There is one bit of good news that our detector uncovered — Samsung removed the benchmark boost from their Android 4.4 update. We hope that Sony follows Samsung's lead and also removes their benchmark boost from their Android 4.4 update as well.

Geekbench 3.1.5

Geekbench 3.1.5, the latest version of our popular cross-platform benchmark, is now available for download.

Geekbench 3.1.5 adds support for BlackBerry 10. Geekbench 3 for BlackBerry is available for download on BlackBerry World. You can also see how BlackBerry handsets compare using the new BlackBerry Benchmark Chart on the Geekbench Browser.

Geekbench 3.1.5 also features the following changes:

  • Added support for Android devices with MIPS processors.
  • Added Android CPU governor to system information.
  • Added L4 cache information to system information.
  • Fixed an issue where results uploaded to Dropbox had meaningless names.

Geekbench 3.1.5 is a free upgrade for all Geekbench 3 users.

Geekbench 3.1.4

Geekbench 3.1.4 is now available for download. Geekbench 3.1.4 features the following changes:

  • Added support for the Mac Pro (Late 2013).
  • Added the ability to export benchmark results to XML.
  • Fixed an issue that broke Dropbox integration on 64-bit iOS devices.

Geekbench 3.1.4 is a free upgrade for all Geekbench 3 users.