Ars Technica Gives Intel iMac a Favorable Review

Ars Technicais Eric Bangeman has posted a review of the new Intel-based iMac, which was unveiled by Apple last week and is available now. While it offers the same exterior as its G5 predecessor and typical users will see little difference in performance, Mr. Bangeman wanted to address how well native Intel applications run compared to software that must make do with Rosetta, an emulator that translates PowerPC-based code to Intel-based code on the fly.

"Rosetta works as advertised, and that itself is good news," Mr. Bangeman wrote. "While youill see a performance hit on applications like Photoshop and graphics-intensive games like UT2K4 and Quake will be all but unplayable until Intel-native versions ship, Rosetta is good enough for most uses." His review offers several benchmarks that match the new iMacis performance against the iMac G5 and a Dual 2GHz Power Mac G5 in a variety of areas, from ripping CDs into iTunes to a "Photoshop bake-off."

He added that "Apple has done an outstanding job porting their own apps to the new architecture. All thatis left after the Pro apps [come out in March] is the longstanding need to FTFF (fix the f****** Finder)."

The reviewer also attempted to install Windows on the iMac, a task that Apple has said it wonit stop but wonit assist with, either. He wrote: "The biggest problem is that with the exception of the Itanium version, Windows XP doesnit support Extensible Firmware Interface, which is what the new iMac uses in lieu of Open Firmware on the PowerPC platform and BIOS in the x86 world."

However, he did try to boot from a Windows XP installer CD as well as a Windows Vista installer DVD, both of which failed. He also tried to boot directly into the Extensible Firmware Interface but was unable to do that either. He does expect, though, that "itis going to be a matter of time before Windows is running on the iMac, especially Vista." A fellow Ars Technica writer will be helping him with this task, and he solicited feedback from knowledgeable readers. If he can get a version of Windows to run on the computer, he promised to update the review with his findings.

On the negative side, Mr. Bangeman dinged the computer for not having the user-serviceable parts of the original iMac G5. Apple changed that feature with subsequent revisions of the machine. He also liked Front Row but felt that it "seems like a bit of a work in progress." For example, shared music libraries are unavailable when using iTunes through the application.