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Other World Computing - MacSales.com

Upgrading Memory in your
iMac Intel - Real-World Performance Testing

Performance Testing of iMac Core 2 Duo Memory Configurations

We first started this memory testing series in response to questions as to whether it was better to have more memory or a matched pair of memory in Apple iMacs, Mac mini, and Macbook Intel Core Duo models. The results have been and continue to be very consistent. Having more memory is always a benefit, even if you are only able to add/replace one memory module at a time. How much memory you install and when you do it is entirely up to you and your budget. Amazingly, upgrading to more memory in the iMac you already have  can actually deliver a larger performance increase that from buying a new one with just base memory! There is hardly any better return on investment you can make for your iMac than when you boost its memory. Economical, Easy to Install, and gives a real performance boost that you’ll immediately appreciate.


Apple iMac Intel Memory Testing of 1.0GB, 2.0GB, 3.0GB and "4.0GB" configurations by Other World Computing

Photoshop CS3 Results

Adobe Photoshop CS3 is the newest, Intel-native iteration of the popular image editing program.

This test measures the time (in seconds) it takes to execute a custom 21-step action script using Adobe Photoshop CS3. Lower times are better.

RAM Configuration 1024 MB
(1x 1024)

1536 MB
(1024+512)

2048 MB
(2x 1024)

2560 MB
(2048+512)

3072 MB
(2048+1024)
4096 MB
(2x 2048)

iMac (Early 2009)
3.06 GHz Core 2 Duo
ATI Graphics

Not Tested Not Tested Not Tested Not Tested Not Tested 55.56

iMac (Early 2009)
2.93 GHz Core 2 Duo
ATI Graphics

Not Tested Not Tested Not Tested Not Tested Not Tested 55.94
iMac (Early 2009)
2.93 GHz Core 2 Duo
nVidia Graphics
Not Tested Not Tested Not Tested Not Tested Not Tested 58.03
iMac (Early 2009)
2.66 GHz Core 2 Duo
nVidia Graphics
Not Tested Not Tested 79.22 Not Tested 70.56 67.82
iMac (Mid 2008)
3.06 GHz Core 2 Duo
Not Tested Not Tested 66.88 Not Tested 57.44 56.56.

iMac (Mid 2008)
2.8 GHz Core 2 Duo
nVidia Graphics

Not Tested Not Tested 72.00 Not Tested 61.91 61.44

iMac (Mid 2008)
2.8 GHz Core 2 Duo
ATI Graphics

Not Tested Not Tested 74.72 Not Tested 62.72 61.78
iMac (Mid 2008)
2.66 GHz Core 2 Duo
Not Tested Not Tested 76.87 Not Tested 64.75 62.59
iMac (Mid 2008)
2.4 GHz Core 2 Duo
Not Tested Not Tested 92.68 Not Tested 75.16 73.03

iMac (Mid 2007 "Aluminum")
2.8 GHz Core 2 Duo Extreme

84.56 83.53 82.50 76.09 68.06 66.84

iMac (Mid 2007 "Aluminum")
2.4 GHz Core 2 Duo

95.47 94.78 92.32 86.50 78.75 77.31
iMac (Mid 2007 "Aluminum")
2.0 GHz Core 2 Duo
109.72 107.35 105.87 100.22 92.06 91.97

iMac (Late 2006)
2.33 GHz Core 2 Duo

102.75 98.69 96.94 95.67 84.00 82.13
iMac (Late 2006)
2.16 GHz Core 2 Duo
106.94 104.35 103.62 97.28 91.03 86.85
iMac (Early 2006)
1.83 GHz Core Duo
142.88 138.00 135.83 N/A N/A N/A

"Stress Test" Results

This test also times how long it takes Adobe Photoshop CS3 to run a series of 21 actions. However, in addition to Photoshop, the iTunes Visualizer is also set to run. This generally taxes both the video card and the processor. Lower times are better.

RAM Configuration 1024 MB
(1x 1024)

1536 MB
(1024+512)

2048 MB
(2x 1024)

2560 MB
(2048+512)

3072 MB
(2048+1024)
4096 MB
(2x 2048)

iMac (Early 2009)
3.06 GHz Core 2 Duo
ATI Graphics

Not Tested Not Tested Not Tested Not Tested Not Tested 57.62

iMac (Early 2009)
2.93 GHz Core 2 Duo
ATI Graphics

Not Tested Not Tested Not Tested Not Tested Not Tested 62.09
iMac (Early 2009)
2.93 GHz Core 2 Duo
nVidia Graphics
Not Tested Not Tested Not Tested Not Tested Not Tested 62.25
iMac (Early 2009)
2.66 GHz Core 2 Duo
nVidia Graphics
Not Tested Not Tested 83.53 Not Tested 72.56 73.28
iMac (Mid 2008)
3.06 GHz Core 2 Duo
Not Tested Not Tested 77.22 Not Tested 67.81 66.94

iMac (Mid 2008)
2.8 GHz Core 2 Duo
nVidia Graphics

Not Tested Not Tested 78.50 Not Tested 68.56 67.06

iMac (Mid 2008)
2.8 GHz Core 2 Duo
ATI Graphics

Not Tested Not Tested 80.62 Not Tested 67.44 67.23
iMac (Mid 2008)
2.66 GHz Core 2 Duo
Not Tested Not Tested 81.00 Not Tested 71.28 70.50
iMac (Mid 2008)
2.4 GHz Core 2 Duo
Not Tested Not Tested 99.25 Not Tested 100.25 80.25

iMac (Mid 2007 "Aluminum")
2.8 GHz Core 2 Duo Extreme

101.78 95.38 89.31 83.56 80.78 78.50

iMac (Mid 2007 "Aluminum")
2.4 GHz Core 2 Duo

118.53 109.57 108.53 101.06 93.72 90.94
iMac (Mid 2007 "Aluminum")
2.0 GHz Core 2 Duo
119.09 118.53 115.75 113.50 106.69 105.97

iMac (Late 2006)
2.33 GHz Core 2 Duo

133.66 127.47 125.44 121.28 112.28 110.09
iMac (Late 2006)
2.16 GHz Core 2 Duo
141.84 134.81 134.50 130.29 122.06 118.90
iMac (Early 2006)
1.83 GHz Core Duo
173.56 167.07 166.66 N/A N/A N/A

"RAM Hog" Results

This test times how long it takes to run our standard 21-step Photoshop action in Photoshop CS3 when 50% othe installed RAM is taken up with another program. Lower times are better.

RAM Configuration 1024 MB
(1x 1024)

1536 MB
(1024+512)

2048 MB
(2x 1024)

2560 MB
(2048+512)

3072 MB
(2048+1024)
4096 MB
(2x 2048)

iMac (Early 2009)
3.06 GHz Core 2 Duo
ATI Graphics

Not Tested Not Tested Not Tested Not Tested Not Tested 57.91

iMac (Early 2009)
2.93 GHz Core 2 Duo
ATI Graphics

Not Tested Not Tested Not Tested Not Tested Not Tested 58.46
iMac (Early 2009)
2.93 GHz Core 2 Duo
nVidia Graphics
Not Tested Not Tested Not Tested Not Tested Not Tested 61.43
iMac (Early 2009)
2.66 GHz Core 2 Duo
nVidia Graphics
Not Tested Not Tested 97.74 Not Tested 104.44 74.93
iMac (Mid 2008)
3.06 GHz Core 2 Duo
Not Tested Not Tested 152.43 Not Tested 90.34 57.20

iMac (Mid 2008)
2.8 GHz Core 2 Duo
nVidia Graphics

Not Tested Not Tested 165.66 Not Tested 99.94 61.09
iMac (Mid 2008)
2.8 GHz Core 2 Duo
ATI Graphics
Not Tested Not Tested 164.37 Not Tested 97.18 63.19
iMac (Mid 2008)
2.66 GHz Core 2 Duo
Not Tested Not Tested 170.13 Not Tested 99.38 63.69
iMac (Mid 2008)
2.4 GHz Core 2 Duo
Not Tested Not Tested 205.57 Not Tested 116.75 74.97

iMac (Mid 2007 "Aluminum")
2.8 GHz Core 2 Duo Extreme

272.78 189.10 155.09 126.28 102.34 68.79

iMac (Mid 2007 "Aluminum")
2.4 GHz Core 2 Duo

315.25 204.09 165.03 139.00 114.25 77.84
iMac (Mid 2007 "Aluminum")
2.0 GHz Core 2 Duo
299.54 210.25 172.54 149.34 129.84 93.69
iMac (Late 2006)
2.33 GHz Core 2 Duo
297.09 205.63 169.65 140.72 120.94 115.50
iMac (Late 2006)
2.16 GHz Core 2 Duo
298.28 206.00 170.13 142.97 123.69 120.79
iMac (Early 2006)
1.83 GHz Core Duo
336.75 255.09 228.40 N/A N/A N/A

Halo Results

In order to heavily tax the video card, we ran the time demo of the Intel-native version of the popular game, Halo.

Results are the average frame rate (in frames per second) achieved. Higher results are better.

RAM Configuration 1024 MB
(1x 1024)

1536 MB
(1024+512)

2048 MB
(2x 1024)

2560 MB
(2048+512)

3072 MB
(2048+1024)
4096 MB
(2x 2048)

iMac (Early 2009)
3.06 GHz Core 2 Duo
ATI Graphics

Not Tested Not Tested Not Tested Not Tested Not Tested

171.56

iMac (Early 2009)
2.93 GHz Core 2 Duo
ATI Graphics

Not Tested Not Tested Not Tested Not Tested Not Tested 166.70
iMac (Early 2009)
2.93 GHz Core 2 Duo
nVidia Graphics
Not Tested Not Tested Not Tested Not Tested Not Tested 135.91
iMac (Early 2009)
2.66 GHz Core 2 Duo
nVidia Graphics
Not Tested Not Tested 94.19 Not Tested 99.62 100.31
iMac (Mid 2008)
3.06 GHz Core 2 Duo
Not Tested Not Tested 68.11* Not Tested 69.86 70.12

iMac (Mid 2008)
2.8 GHz Core 2 Duo
nVidia Graphics

Not Tested Not Tested 67.70* Not Tested 68.22 69.17
iMac (Mid 2008)
2.8 GHz Core 2 Duo
ATI Graphics
Not Tested Not Tested 32.06* Not Tested 32.01* 32.62*
iMac (Mid 2008)
2.66 GHz Core 2 Duo
Not Tested Not Tested 31.25* Not Tested 31.57* 31.49*
iMac (Mid 2008)
2.4 GHz Core 2 Duo
Not Tested Not Tested 28.66* Not Tested 28.63* 28.66*

iMac (Mid 2007 "Aluminum")
2.8 GHz Core 2 Duo Extreme

111.81 122.14 124.88 124.45 126.36 126.46

iMac (Mid 2007 "Aluminum")
2.4 GHz Core 2 Duo

105.18 118.28 118.74 118.54 118.64 118.53
iMac (Mid 2007 "Aluminum")
2.0 GHz Core 2 Duo
72.33 78.35 78.42 78.55 78.57 78.64

iMac (Late 2006)
2.33 GHz Core 2 Duo

119.54 119.75 120.00 120.11 120.15 120.16
iMac (Late 2006)
2.16 GHz Core 2 Duo
114.88 115.45 115.59 115.18 115.73 115.01
iMac (Early 2006)
1.83 GHz Core Duo
62.80 68.31 68.54 N/A N/A N/A

* Changes in the default installed OS for the 2008 iMacs have resulted in lower than expected scores for those models. We are looking into the cause of this. It should be noted, however, that the improvement gained from additional RAM remains relatively the same.


XBench Results

XBench is a standardized utility for measuring the performance of your computer, as compared to a "baseline" computer. (More information and the application, itself, can be found here.)

For this test, we checked all the options except for the Disk Test, as it was the only one that did did not either touch System memory or Video Memory. Higher Point results are better.

RAM Configuration 1024 MB
(1x 1024)

1536 MB
(1024+512)

2048 MB
(2x 1024)

2560 MB
(2048+512)

3072 MB
(2048+1024)
4096 MB
(2x 2048)

iMac (Early 2009)
3.06 GHz Core 2 Duo
ATI Graphics

Not Tested Not Tested Not Tested Not Tested Not Tested 253.89

iMac (Early 2009)
2.93 GHz Core 2 Duo
ATI Graphics

Not Tested Not Tested Not Tested Not Tested Not Tested 238.53
iMac (Early 2009)
2.93 GHz Core 2 Duo
nVidia Graphics
Not Tested Not Tested Not Tested Not Tested Not Tested 249.30
iMac (Early 2009)
2.66 GHz Core 2 Duo
nVidia Graphics
Not Tested Not Tested 200.36 Not Tested 207.59 209.91
iMac (Mid 2008)
3.06 GHz Core 2 Duo
Not Tested Not Tested 253.41 Not Tested 256.53 256.71

iMac (Mid 2008)
2.8 GHz Core 2 Duo
nVidia Graphics

Not Tested Not Tested 236.80 Not Tested 234.06 239.46
iMac (Mid 2008)
2.8 GHz Core 2 Duo
ATI Graphics
Not Tested Not Tested 233.51 Not Tested 234.64 238.63
iMac (Mid 2008)
2.66 GHz Core 2 Duo
Not Tested Not Tested 214.82 Not Tested 218.85 221.39
iMac (Mid 2008)
2.4 GHz Core 2 Duo
Not Tested Not Tested 198.83 Not Tested 198.65 200.04

iMac (Mid 2007 "Aluminum")
2.8 GHz Core 2 Duo Extreme

190.76 199.51 199.81 200.40 200.70 200.86

iMac (Mid 2007 "Aluminum")
2.4 GHz Core 2 Duo

170.15 172.41 173.03 173.66 173.84 174.11
iMac (Mid 2007 "Aluminum")
2.0 GHz Core 2 Duo
146.19 147.51 147.88 147.63 148.05 148.89

iMac (Late 2006)
2.33 GHz Core 2 Duo

175.79 175.83 178.69 176.32 177.17 178.41
iMac (Late 2006)
2.16 GHz Core 2 Duo
164.37 165.90 168.19 166.39 166.96 168.17
iMac (Early 2006)
1.83 GHz Core Duo
126.54 128.09 128.76 N/A N/A N/A