I don’t want to waste my monitor
I am due for a new Mac and I’m struggling to decide which is the better option: the 27-inch Retina iMac or the new Mac Pro. I already have the 27-inch Thunderbolt Display, to use with my current Mac Pro (Mid 2010), so getting the iMac feels rather like I’d be wasting this capability. But would the upgrade to the 5K screen be worth it? I primarily use my Mac for video editing and 3D mapping, but also for all the usual email and web browsing tasks, of course. Jorik Sigmundsen The cheapest Mac Pro currently costs £2,500. For that you get a 3.7GHz processor, 12GB RAM, dual 2GB graphics cards and a 256GB solid‑state drive. If you upgrade the 5K Retina iMac to the nearest equivalent spec, it ends up costing about the same. There’s only one graphics card in there, but you do get the 5K screen. The decision then comes down to what matters more: video frame rates (and thus the Mac Pro’s dual graphics cards) or superior screen resolution.
In your position, I think I would opt for the Mac Pro. I’ve tried the 5K screen in the Apple Store and my eyesight isn’t really good enough to appreciate the difference – but try to get to a store and check for yourself. Having the screen and the Mac separate has the advantage that if one fails, it doesn’t take the other down with it. The Mac Pro also has much better cooling than the iMac. If you spend long hours running graphically intensive software, this can make a big difference to the lifespan of the hardware. The Mac Pro also has a better upgrade path. If you later decide you need a 5K display, sell your existing one and buy a Dell 27-inch Ultra HD monitor. If the iMac’s graphics performance turned out to be insufficient, you’d have to replace the entire machine. That said, if you can hold off for a bit, wait for the Mac Pro to be refreshed to future-proof it for a bit longer.
The Mac Pro has far more performance than most people will ever need and is the easiest Mac to upgrade.