Apple’s iMac With Retina 5K – An Affordable Upgrade Option?

As a video professional, you work your gear hard. Your old silver Mac Pro’s days are numbered. The hard drive is getting full. Some of the new codecs take too long to render. The lack of USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt is a real pain when dealing with the stacks of hard drives in your shop. What to do?

iMac with Retina 5k

Well, no one solution fits everyone. A lot of our customers, however, are having quite a bit of success with the new iMac with Retina 5K’s: They are powerful and affordable. Plus, you get a beautiful 5K display. Add the OWC Thunderbolt dock and you’ll more than double the connectivity. Add a Sonnet PCIe expansion chassis and you can plug in your cards from your old Mac Pro – if you still need them. All for about half the price of a decently configured new Mac Pro.


OWC Thunderbolt 2 Dock
OWC Thunderbolt 2 Dock

Spec Comparison

This chart compares our two most popular builds of both models.  They aren’t identical, but represent how most of our customers configure them based on price and expandability options.  AppleCare isn’t included in the price comparisons.

iMac with Retina 5k – 4 Core i7 w/ OWC Thunderbolt Dock New (Black) Mac Pro – 8 Core w/ Dell 27″ 4k Monitor)

$3,299 + $229 =  $3,528

$6,499 + $699 = ~ $7,198
CPU 4.0 GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 3.0 GHz 6-Core Xeon E5
Graphics AMD Radeon R9 M295X w/ 4GB of GDDR5 memory Dual AMD FirePro D700 GPU’s with 6GB of GDDR5 VRAM each
512 GB Flash Storage
256 GB Flash Storage
16 GB RAM (2 x 8 GB)
32GB (4 x 8 GB)
 27-inch (diagonal) Retina 5K display, 5120‑by‑2880 resolution
27-inch display, 3840 x 2160 resolution
  • 4 USB 3.0
  • 2 Thunderbolt 2
  • 1 SDXC card slot
  • 1 Gigabit Ethernet
Thunderbolt Dock:
  • 5 USB 3.0
  • 1 FireWire 800
  • 2 Thunderbolt 2
  • 1 HDMI 4k
  • 1 Gigabit Ethernet
  • 1 1/8″ Audio In
  • 1 1/8″ Audio Out
  • 4 USB 3.0
  • 6 Thunderbolt 2
  • 2 Gigabit Ethernet
  • 1 HDMI 1.4 UltraHD

Performance Benchmarks

We are still working on these, so we don’t have any conclusive information – please stay tuned.  We did find this link useful, however!  If you have found more video-specific benchmarks, please let us know.


As you can see, this upgrade path could be a great way to get an updated workstation with USB3 and Thunderbolt connectivity, reasonable performance, for a very attractive price. The inclusion of the Retina 5k display adds a tremendous amount of value. It has been universally lauded as the best display produced to date. The 5K screen makes everything appear as sharp as we are used to on our smartphones and tablets. That may not sound like a big leap, but five minutes in front of one and it’s clear that no other screen will look the same again – it is like night and day. As with smartphone, tablet and even HDTV screens – once you go high resolution and crispness like this it’s very difficult to go back.

To purchase this bundle, please call us or click here:

Purchase the Apple iMac with Retina 5K Bundle

This may not be for everyone – look for future posts talking about the Mac Pro’s, laptops, and Windows alternatives. At Z Systems, we will help you find the exact solution that meets your needs. It’s what we do. Call us today at 952.974.3140 or email us.


Our website features a selection of our more popular and recommended products. If you don't see it here, we can still get it for you. Just give us a call at (952) 974-3140 or contact us, we will help you find a solution that meets your needs exactly.