For some users, a Retina display is a luxury — there's nothing wrong with Apple's standard display, which produces good image quality. But if you deal with the details all day long — either in text, images, video, or all three — you'll appreciate looking at the Retina display. I'd even say it could help you be more productive.
That being said, the glossy display makes the iMac a non-starter for some users, Retina or not. Apple has made improvements so the glare and reflections aren't as severe as in older iMacs, but there's a contingent of users who really want or need a matte display. I'll repeat what's been said before in past Macworld iMac reviews: If you want a matte display, you'll never find it in an iMac. You need to make other arrangements, like connect an external matte display or buy a headless Mac.
Lower price, slightly lower performance
Since the new $1999 Retina 5K iMac has a 3.3GHz processor, you probably expect it to be a few notches slower than the $2299 Retina 5K iMac with its 3.5GHz processor. And that's what the benchmarks show.
The Geekbench 3 results show that the $1999 Retina 5K iMac is 4 percent slower than the $2299 Retina 5K iMac in the 64-bit multi-core and single-core tests, and 3 percent slower in the 32-bit multi-core and single-core tests. The $1999 Retina 5K iMac is also 4 percent slower in the Cinebench R15 CPU test. And in the Cinebench R15 OpenGL video test, the two machines posted similar results.
These benchmarks isolate certain components of the system — mainly the CPU and graphics — and the $1999 Retina 5K iMac doesn't really disappoint when compare to the $2299 Retina 5K iMac. The main difference is the $1999 Retina 5K iMac's 7200-rpm hard drive — it'll adversely affect the machine's performance on disk intensive tasks. The $2299 Retina 5K iMac has the advantage in this regard, with its 1TB Fusion Drive. You can upgrade the $1999 Retina 5K iMac with a 1TB Fusion Drive, but the upgrade jacks up the price to $2199, and at that point, you should just go with the $2299 Retina 5K iMac.
If it's pure multi-processing speed that you need, the better choice is a Mac Pro. Even though the current Mac Pro is getting to be long in the tooth — it was released in December 2013 — it still sports better multi-core performance. But you'll have to buy a separate 5K display like the Dell UltraSharp 27 UP2715k, which costs $2500, more than either Retina 5K iMac. Or you can save some money and get an affordable 4K display. (You also need to be running OS X 10.10.3 or later.)
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