Despite its impressive performance, the new 24-inch iMac powered by the M1 Apple silicon chip, a new project shows that upgrading a previous-generation 21.5-inch iMac with an Intel Core i9 processor can deliver similar or even better performance.
The new 24-inch iMac is up to 56% faster than the previous generation 21.5-inch iMac with an Intel processor, which it is replacing. The current highest-end 21.5-inch iMac available features an Intel Core i5 processor, but the desktop computer was previously offered with an Intel Core i7.
Now, taking matters into his own hands, Apple YouTuber Luke Miani, in his latest video, decided to outfit the previous generation 21.5-inch iMac with Intel’s latest Core i9 processor. A configuration never offered by Apple officially.
Out of the box, the 21.5-inch iMac featured the Intel Core i3 8100 processor, 8GB of RAM, the Radeon Pro 555X graphics card, and 256GB of SSD storage. Miani himself upgrades the iMac to include the Intel Core i9 9900 and 32GB of RAM. All in all, including the upgrades, the 21.5-inch iMac costs $1,250. In contrast, the baseline 24-inch iMac with 8GB of RAM used in the comparison costs $1,299.
In initial tests focused on graphics, such as Geekbench 5, the M1 iMac outperforms the custom 21.5-inch iMac with a score of 7,700, compared to the Intel Core i9 scoring 7,400. In Geekbench tests for computing, the M1 iMac scores 20,000 compared to the 21.5-inch iMac featuring the Radeon Pro 555X, receiving a score of 15,789.
In more computing-centric tests, such as Cinebench, the Intel Core i9 scores 9,214, compared to the roughly 7,500 scores for the M1 iMac. In a Blender render test, the M1 iMac takes around six minutes to render a sample project, while the custom-built 21.5-inch iMac completes the render in three minutes and thirty seconds. It’s worth noting, however, that Blender on M1 is running through Rosetta emulation, meaning there is a slight drawback in performance.
The full video by Miani is a great watch for those interested in possibly upgrading their own iMac with improved RAM, and a more powerful processor.