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Old Nov 6, 2012, 07:16 AM   #1
Greenbeans
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Fusion Drive Verdict?

Hi all - I am in the process of ordering a mid-level Mac mini and am debating between the Fusion Drive and the 256gb SSD. I believe I've read through all the relevant threads here (and I've searched elsewhere) and I still haven't reached any conclusions.

Now that people have had both types of machines for a few days, are there any clear deficiencies to the Fusion Drive? In terms of real world experience, is the 256gb SSD faster/better? If so, is it material? I've seen very competitive benchmarks for the Fusion Drive, but as a casual user I'm not sure if that is the most relevant metric.

So, I guess I'm really wondering what the consensus is now - does Fusion Drive make more sense if you aren't sure you need the 256gb SSD? Advice is appreciated - I would love to finalize my order today. Thanks to all.
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Old Nov 6, 2012, 07:41 AM   #2
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I have a new i7 Mini with an SSD.

I created a DIY Fusion Drive on my 13" MBP (240GB SSD, 500GB HDD).

Speeds between the two are very similar. The benefit on my MBP is the one large volume.

If I was placing my order today, I would opt for the Fusion Drive.

Have fun!
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Old Nov 6, 2012, 08:17 AM   #3
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If it's a question of choices between:
1. Fusion drive (1tb HDD + 128gb SSD), or…
2. 256gb SSD + 1tb internal (assuming you would get this combo)…

Choice #2 wins, hands down.

Is it really that much of a problem to keep one extra drive icon on your desktop, and to manage files between the two volumes?

Another thought:
The word is that future versions of Disk Utility will give the user the power to "fuse" two separate drives into one. If you're willing to use the command line of Terminal, you can do this now. So, if you order choice #2, you can create your own "fusion drive" that will be larger and faster than Apple's factory configuration...
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Old Nov 6, 2012, 08:38 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fishrrman View Post
If it's a question of choices between:
1. Fusion drive (1tb HDD + 128gb SSD), or…
2. 256gb SSD + 1tb internal (assuming you would get this combo)…

Choice #2 wins, hands down.

Is it really that much of a problem to keep one extra drive icon on your desktop, and to manage files between the two volumes?

Another thought:
The word is that future versions of Disk Utility will give the user the power to "fuse" two separate drives into one. If you're willing to use the command line of Terminal, you can do this now. So, if you order choice #2, you can create your own "fusion drive" that will be larger and faster than Apple's factory configuration...
A little terminal tweak already allows this, check out the post above you. The 2nd choice in your example is basically the same as option 1 (given you do the fusion tweak) with only 128gb more space on the SSD side.

Go for option 1 @ Threadstarter
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Old Nov 6, 2012, 08:39 AM   #5
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I'd go for either 1 or 2:
1. Get the regular drive and put an SSD into it.
2. Get the SSD and put an internal into it (maybe 3TB, maybe a 7200rpm 768GB disk) or even an external.

Why? Because this way you can choose what you put in your SSD and what in your HDD and Apple doesn't decide for you.
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Old Nov 6, 2012, 09:27 AM   #6
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Based on these responses, I think I am leaning towards the Fusion Drive option. My goal here is to avoid having to crack open this Mac mini for anything beyond a RAM upgrade. I also have neither the desire nor the ability to mess with command line. The "total solution" for the 256gb SSD scenario would be to eventually add an external USB 3 or Thunderbolt drive. However, if Fusion Drive provides basically the same user experience as the SSD, it would seem to be both (i) more cost effective and (ii) a one-box solution.

I do appreciate the responses - it helps compensate for my tendency to overthink things.
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Old Nov 6, 2012, 09:36 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Greenbeans View Post
Based on these responses, I think I am leaning towards the Fusion Drive option. My goal here is to avoid having to crack open this Mac mini for anything beyond a RAM upgrade. I also have neither the desire nor the ability to mess with command line. The "total solution" for the 256gb SSD scenario would be to eventually add an external USB 3 or Thunderbolt drive. However, if Fusion Drive provides basically the same user experience as the SSD, it would seem to be both (i) more cost effective and (ii) a one-box solution.

I do appreciate the responses - it helps compensate for my tendency to overthink things.
If you don't plan to move the Mini around I'd seriously consider the SSD + external option. I got two 1TB drives connected 24/7 and they do fine!
(I don't wanna have to open the mini to put an HDD in. Just did it for the RAM).
Plus a thunderbolt/USB3 external with an SSD will give you similar speeds as the internal one.

(A USB3 enclosure with an SSD drive is sooo nice. I got a SATA II one and although I only achieve around 180MB/s for both W and R it's awesome for backups. It flies.
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Old Nov 6, 2012, 09:55 AM   #8
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If you don't want to bother about deciding what files to put on which drives, go for Fusion.

Some like to choose manually where their files go. For me, I don't even want to waste those extra seconds to think about it. Just for context, I've 1xSSD and 3xHard Drive on my Mac Pro.
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Old Dec 21, 2012, 12:38 PM   #9
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I'd go for either 1 or 2:
1. Get the regular drive and put an SSD into it.
2. Get the SSD and put an internal into it (maybe 3TB, maybe a 7200rpm 768GB disk) or even an external.

Why? Because this way you can choose what you put in your SSD and what in your HDD and Apple doesn't decide for you.
I'm thinking along the same lines. Still haven't ordered mine but will do so over the next few weeks (once the stock market is back to where I hope it will go..)

I'm also leaning towards a DIY SSD/HD option. Any thoughts on what the largest mechanical drive is that I could combine with the SSD in the late 2012 Mini? Is it the 3TB you mention - and 768 for the 7200rpm? I also want to keep separated and not use it as a "fusion" drive.

And how does the speed of the secondary internal drive (smaller 7200 or large 5200 rpm) compare to an external USB3 drive?
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Old Dec 21, 2012, 12:56 PM   #10
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The largest SDD & HDD setup you can put in a mini is SSD = 768 GB and the HDD = 1 TB.

There are no 2.5" HDDs larger than 1 TB that will fit in a package that is 9.5mm or less in thickness.

Internal HDD vs external HDD in a USB3 enclosure... should end up being about the same speed as the HDD is the bottleneck and not the interface. An external USB3 enclosure with an SSD in it is faster than an internal HDD.
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Old Dec 22, 2012, 04:47 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by 7enderbender View Post
I'm thinking along the same lines. Still haven't ordered mine but will do so over the next few weeks (once the stock market is back to where I hope it will go..)

I'm also leaning towards a DIY SSD/HD option. Any thoughts on what the largest mechanical drive is that I could combine with the SSD in the late 2012 Mini? Is it the 3TB you mention - and 768 for the 7200rpm? I also want to keep separated and not use it as a "fusion" drive.

And how does the speed of the secondary internal drive (smaller 7200 or large 5200 rpm) compare to an external USB3 drive?
I finally went for the 256GB SSD and have two 1TB USB 3.0 drives permanently connected to the Mini. This way I can have my SSD with lots of free space and I can move my data around in case I want thank to the two USB drives.
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Old Dec 22, 2012, 11:38 AM   #12
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I finally went for the 256GB SSD and have two 1TB USB 3.0 drives permanently connected to the Mini. This way I can have my SSD with lots of free space and I can move my data around in case I want thank to the two USB drives.
Did you order the mini with apples 256GB SSD or is it your own DIY installed?
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Old Dec 14, 2012, 04:41 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fishrrman View Post
If it's a question of choices between:
1. Fusion drive (1tb HDD + 128gb SSD), or…
2. 256gb SSD + 1tb internal (assuming you would get this combo)…

Choice #2 wins, hands down.

Is it really that much of a problem to keep one extra drive icon on your desktop, and to manage files between the two volumes?

Another thought:
The word is that future versions of Disk Utility will give the user the power to "fuse" two separate drives into one. If you're willing to use the command line of Terminal, you can do this now. So, if you order choice #2, you can create your own "fusion drive" that will be larger and faster than Apple's factory configuration...

Exactly. #2 wins hands down.

Apple charges $250 for their 1TB fusion drive (128GB SSD/1TB disk drive).

You could create your own for much less. Just some prices from Amazon.

Samsung 840 120 GB= $98
Samsung 840 250 GB= $150
Samsung 840 Pro 128 GB= $142
Samsung 840 Pro 256 GB= $268

If you used the stock drive, you could have a fusion drive for ~$100 instead of $250. If you didn't want to use the stock 1TB drive, you could by another for $80.
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Old Dec 14, 2012, 04:45 PM   #14
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But a 128SSD + 1TB HDD

IS different than a

128 Fusion + 1TB HDD

From things I've read (don't remember if it was the Ars Tech. article or not), the fusion always tries to keep 4GB free, so that if you're doing anything that's 4GB or less (I imagine an aperture import, for example), you'll get SSD-like speeds .... Whereas with a 128 SSD drive, or 256, or frankly 512, when it's filled, it's filled.
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Old Dec 14, 2012, 05:21 PM   #15
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New Mini with Fusion is freaking awesome. FAST!
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Old Dec 14, 2012, 05:22 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by eroxx View Post
But a 128SSD + 1TB HDD

IS different than a

128 Fusion + 1TB HDD

From things I've read (don't remember if it was the Ars Tech. article or not), the fusion always tries to keep 4GB free, so that if you're doing anything that's 4GB or less (I imagine an aperture import, for example), you'll get SSD-like speeds .... Whereas with a 128 SSD drive, or 256, or frankly 512, when it's filled, it's filled.
You can fuse them when you do the disk management and install OSX to the SSD. At least that is what I have read. Can do the Fusion in terminal. "Fusion" is just a OS thing. That is what I have read.

http://apple.stackexchange.com/quest...e-volume-group
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Old Dec 14, 2012, 05:33 PM   #17
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Yeah .. I'm one of those people that just doesn't want to mess around in terminal.
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Old Dec 21, 2012, 03:12 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by Fishrrman View Post
Is it really that much of a problem to keep one extra drive icon on your desktop, and to manage files between the two volumes?
No, it is even better. Especially when you use more than one computer. With all working files on a separate volume, you can use 2 or 3-way syncing between computer 1, backup 1 and computer 2, or 1 computer and 2 backups. Even with Windows or Linux. Synkron is a great free tool for multi-direction incremental backups/syncing.
It makes all backup/clone volumes with your working files identical and you can use them all to work on. With Time Machine you it is just restoring of day X of your main volume, and not much else. If you edit a file on a Time Machine backup from a Windows machine, it goes nuts. Time Machine is fun for dad who does not need to think about his backup strategy, but if you use your computer professionally, please stay away from it and have a separate physical data volume.

Keep the SSD just for applications, settings and the OS, and make a TimeMachine backup of just that for situations where the OS disk goes wacko.
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Old Dec 21, 2012, 11:22 PM   #19
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Is the non-SSD part of Fusion 7200 or 5400 rpm? Does it matter?

(Edit-- Macworld says it's 5400 )

Last edited by DisMyMac; Dec 21, 2012 at 11:27 PM.
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Old Dec 22, 2012, 05:48 AM   #20
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Is it really that much of a problem to keep one extra drive icon on your desktop, and to manage files between the two volumes?
The more automatic my computer is at the tasks it needs to do to maintain itself, the better. Memory management, process launching, network connections -- these are things the computer worries about, not me.
That leaves me free to concentrate on the higher order tasks that are the reason I have a computer in the first place -- like looking at GIFs of cats, maintaining databases, creating content, writing scripts for more automation, etc, etc.

Fusion is for people who don't want to spend time moving their files from one disk to another, but rather want to use their files instead. That is Apple's target audience.
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Old Dec 22, 2012, 08:55 AM   #21
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The more automatic my computer is at the tasks it needs to do to maintain itself, the better.
You are the type of person that likes a 200Gb single file iPhoto library. Thank you, but this truly harms me concentrating on creating content instead of helping me.
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Old Dec 22, 2012, 09:34 AM   #22
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You are the type of person that likes a 200Gb single file iPhoto library. Thank you, but this truly harms me concentrating on creating content instead of helping me.
Funny how it sounds like that's an insult.

Actually, I'm the kind of person who doesn't care how iPhoto stores my images, as long as I can organize and access my photos in iPhoto. I have no reason to access the iPhoto library in the Finder, and doing so will probably cause problems. I couldn't tell you how big my iPhoto library is without checking. And of course, it's not a file, but a package. And Fusion drives operate on the sub-file level, so there's no problem there.

However, if I did feel strongly that iPhoto's library was a problem in some way, then there's always Lightroom or Aperture, or other app. Diff'rent strokes for diff'rent folks. Yes, some people will care about such things, and they can choose other things. Fusion drives are not compulsory. Nor is iPhoto.
Some people do want to manage the little details -- (Hell, lots of posts here have people wanting to do OS X's memory management by hand ). And that's ok too.
But lots of people who are Apple's target market don't care. And that's why Apple produces things that work in that way.

But I'm intrigued. Is it the size or the singularity that stops you concentrating on creating content?

(OK, I do care that the images are stored using a standard image file format, should I decide to move to another platform or if iPhoto stops working and becomes unsupported. Which they are inside the package. )

Last edited by benwiggy; Dec 22, 2012 at 09:40 AM.
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Old Dec 22, 2012, 11:02 AM   #23
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[...]
However, if I did feel strongly that iPhoto's library was a problem in some way, then there's always Lightroom or Aperture, or other app. Diff'rent strokes for diff'rent folks. Yes, some people will care about such things, and they can choose other things. Fusion drives are not compulsory. Nor is iPhoto.
Some people do want to manage the little details -- (Hell, lots of posts here have people wanting to do OS X's memory management by hand ). And that's ok too.
But lots of people who are Apple's target market don't care. And that's why Apple produces things that work in that way.

But I'm intrigued. Is it the size or the singularity that stops you concentrating on creating content?

(OK, I do care that the images are stored using a standard image file format, should I decide to move to another platform or if iPhoto stops working and becomes unsupported. Which they are inside the package. )

I totally get what you are saying here as well. For most folks this will be just fine. Hey, my dad just recently went Mac and I couldn't be happiert - because those 11pm emergency phone calls completely stopped.

But then there are also people that may be next in line to make the switch and Apple should think abut giving them a few more options if they want to continue growing their market share. I don't want to micromanage (tried that with Linux and hated it) but there are certain needs once you rely on these tools to make some income. It's nice that OS X can manage my photos for me and the consumer doesn't even know where they are and there can be a backup with Apple's obviously very solid time machine tools etc.
But I need to be able to grab a catalog (Lightroom in my case) and move it to a different machine via the network. Or grab a client's folder and publish it to my web site or cloud storage without hunting around. I'm sure this is all possible but you get what I'm getting at. I know (and hope!) that it's different than in the Windows world. That's fine. But the system making assumptions on the importance and priority of my stuff to find the best physical location for it still makes me a bit uneasy. And fusing two drives in my estimation simply doubles the chances of a fatal data loss.
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Old Dec 22, 2012, 10:52 AM   #24
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The more automatic my computer is at the tasks it needs to do to maintain itself, the better. Memory management, process launching, network connections -- these are things the computer worries about, not me.
That leaves me free to concentrate on the higher order tasks that are the reason I have a computer in the first place -- like looking at GIFs of cats, maintaining databases, creating content, writing scripts for more automation, etc, etc.

Fusion is for people who don't want to spend time moving their files from one disk to another, but rather want to use their files instead. That is Apple's target audience.

I get the argument but there is a problem with that. I don't want to sit here either and move data from one drive to the next - but I want to be able to store (and automatically back up) crucial data in a specific location. My music files and photo and video files I clearly do NOT want on the SSD. There is no room for it and the speed of the SSD has no benefit for those really. I know it insults people if newcomers like us want to manage certain tasks themselves and don't leave it to the Jobian philosophy of what's right, good and simple (and pretty). Yes, I could use an external drive for that and think of the fusion drive as one big internal drive and call it a day. But then again I don't need a system drive that big and the SSD alone with 256 should be just right. And I want to be able to have data files and the system files backed up separately. I don't think that's micromanaging; it's just wanting to set up things differently and THEN forget about and let it do its thing.

Speaking of maintaining databases. Can you recommend a database program that works on a Mac? Probably won't need much of that on my "creative desktop" that is going to be my first Mac. But if I make the total switch I will eventually need a replacement for MS Access which I believe is not supported and not part of Office for Mac, right? Same with MS Project by the way.
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Old Jan 24, 2013, 08:26 PM   #25
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Hi all - I am in the process of ordering a mid-level Mac mini and am debating between the Fusion Drive and the 256gb SSD. I believe I've read through all the relevant threads here (and I've searched elsewhere) and I still haven't reached any conclusions.

Now that people have had both types of machines for a few days, are there any clear deficiencies to the Fusion Drive? In terms of real world experience, is the 256gb SSD faster/better? If so, is it material? I've seen very competitive benchmarks for the Fusion Drive, but as a casual user I'm not sure if that is the most relevant metric.

So, I guess I'm really wondering what the consensus is now - does Fusion Drive make more sense if you aren't sure you need the 256gb SSD? Advice is appreciated - I would love to finalize my order today. Thanks to all.
I am satisfied with my fusion drive, however I never have really tapped into the standard drive though I don't think. I keep minimal files on my HD and most of my stuff is on an external, so both with my MBA and iMac I only keep what I need on the computers themselves.
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