I've been looking for a clear comparison between the regular 27" iMac and Apple's new flagship 27" Retina 5K iMac to see if the upgrade would be beneficial in other areas than just the display for my product photos editing and other digital creations. However, I didn't find any collection of data clear enough for my taste, so, I made one.

27' iMac vs. 27' Retina 5K iMac

27” iMac (maximum specs)

Retina 5K 27” iMac (maximum specs.)

Performane Difference

CPU

Intel Core i7 4771 (+$200), 4.0GHz, quad-core, 8MB cache, 84W

Intel Core i7 4790K (+$250), 4.4GHz, quad-core, 8MB cache, 88W

+10%

RAM

32GB (max.) (+$600), 1600MHz, DDR3, SO-DIMM

32GB (max.) (+$600), 1600MHz, DDR3, SO-DIMM

0%

Graphics

Nvidia GTX 780M (+$150), 4GB GDDR5, 823MHz, 2.369TFLOPS

AMD R9 M295X (+$250), 4GB GDDR5, 800MHz*, 3.5TFLOPS

+48%

Display

2560 x 1440, IPS, 8 Bits, 16:9, 16.7M colours

5120 x 2880, IPS, 8 Bits, 16:9, 16.7M colours

+400%

Storage

1TB PCIe flash (784 MB/s) (+$1000) or 3TB Fusion Drive (400 MB/s) (+$350)

1TB PCIe flash (784 MB/s) (+$850) or 3TB Fusion Drive (400 MB/s) (+$150)

0%

I/O

Headphone, SD card, 4x USB 3.0 (5 Gb/s), 2x Thunderbolt (10 Gb/s), Gigabit Ethernet (1 Gb/s)

Headphone, SD card, 4x USB 3.0 (5 Gb/s), 2x Thunderbolt 2 (20 Gb/s), Gigabit Ethernet (1Gb/s)

+100%

Wi-Fi

802.11ac (6933 Mb/s), 802.11a/b/g/n compatible

802.11ac (6933 Mb/s), 802.11a/b/g/n compatible

0%

Weight

9.54Kg

9.54Kg

0%

Size

51.6cm (H), 65cm (W), 20.3 (D)

51.6cm (H), 65cm (W), 20.3 (D)

0%

Replaceable parts

RAM, PCIe flash, SATA drive, CPU, Airport/Bluetooth card, speakers, iSight camera

RAM, PCIe flash, SATA drive, CPU, Airport/Bluetooth card, speakers, iSight camera

0%

Price

$3949 (with 1TB SSD)

$4399 (with 1TB SSD)

+11%

As you can see, there is not a lot of upgrade to the CPU. However, the 10% speed increase is very welcome as it is going to make Photoshop and Illustrator faster (as they prefer speedier cores over more of some slower ones). I think that the 48% of more processing power from the new AMD Readon R9 M295X is very important as the GPU is as if not more important than the CPU in typical content creation system. My current Nvidia GeForce GTX 660 produces 1.83TFLOPS of computer power which is about half of the one in the new iMac. Also, I have 2GB of GDDR5 memory whereas the M295X has twice that. Now, the display is the big deal right? Yes, there is 400% more pixels in the new version. That's HUGE! 5K! It is going to let me see every detail of my photographs. Furthermore, the new Thunderbolts 2 ports are very nice as they are twice as fast as the earlier ones. Except from that (and the price, d'uh), the 5K iMac is the same as the previous one. 

 

If you max it out, the  Retina desktop cost $4399, which is 11% more than the regular one. What's cool is that it is more than 11% more performant! If you want a 5K display on your 27" iMac, you'll need to buy Dell's 5K monitor ($2500) + the cables, setting you back +$6449 (that's 47% more expensive than the Retina iMac). And, you won't even have the new CPU, GPU or Thunderbolt ports. So, I believe Apple nailed the pricing on the head with the 27" Retina 5K iMac, making it cheap (if you look at what you're getting). It's still a lot of money, haha.

 

Cheers,

Tristan