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Old Nov 27, 2012, 11:01 AM   #1
Votoc
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Fusion drive question

Hello,

I am interested in ordering a 27" iMac but am going back and forth about the fusion drive. My concern is that it will be difficult to upgrade/repair/replace the drives in the future if there is an issue. With a traditional hard drive it will be slower but you could replace it or swap it out if it goes bad or possibly put in a SSD.

Does anyone have any further information on this to help me make this decision?
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Old Nov 27, 2012, 11:06 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by Votoc View Post
Hello,

I am interested in ordering a 27" iMac but am going back and forth about the fusion drive. My concern is that it will be difficult to upgrade/repair/replace the drives in the future if there is an issue. With a traditional hard drive it will be slower but you could replace it or swap it out if it goes bad or possibly put in a SSD.

Does anyone have any further information on this to help me make this decision?
  1. How long will you be using the iMac for?
  2. Will you be buying AppleCare?
If the answer to the first is 3 years or less and the second question's answer is yes, buy the iMac with the fusion drive, you won't have repair issues.

Having said that depending on what you actually plan to use the iMac for, the fusion drive could make a big difference.
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Old Nov 27, 2012, 11:12 AM   #3
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Post No, I dont....

have new information or insight about your questions. Only educated guesses based in info I know for sure. The Fusion drive is managed via software. So I would think one can replace any of the components (HDD or SSD). But I dont know the specifics or schematics of the new Mac computer, to asses how hard or easy that would be. By the other hand, I have the suspicion about the Fusion drive, as a "non user serviceable" part from Apple. Maybe the people of iFixit have an answer for real. Would be useful check their site or make a google search about it
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Old Nov 27, 2012, 11:26 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Bear View Post
  1. How long will you be using the iMac for?
  2. Will you be buying AppleCare?
If the answer to the first is 3 years or less and the second question's answer is yes, buy the iMac with the fusion drive, you won't have repair issues.

Having said that depending on what you actually plan to use the iMac for, the fusion drive could make a big difference.
I plan on having this for more than 3 years which is where my concern comes in about being able to maintain the drive myself. I realize the speed/performance advantages to having the fusion drive but I was trying to see if there was information about the drives themselves. Thank you for the post.

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Originally Posted by phoenixsan View Post
have new information or insight about your questions. Only educated guesses based in info I know for sure. The Fusion drive is managed via software. So I would think one can replace any of the components (HDD or SSD). But I dont know the specifics or schematics of the new Mac computer, to asses how hard or easy that would be. By the other hand, I have the suspicion about the Fusion drive, as a "non user serviceable" part from Apple. Maybe the people of iFixit have an answer for real. Would be useful check their site or make a google search about it
I took your advice and searched iFixit which linked me to an article that said the following.

"Ars also got ahold of Apple's service technician training document for Fusion Drive, thanks to a helpful anonymous source. The document sheds more light on the technology, confirming several things we speculated about. In particular, it notes late 2012 21" and 27.5" iMacs come with flash "storage modules," similar to the ones already seen on MacBook Airs and Retina MacBook Pros. Late 2012 Mac Minis use a 2.5" SSD instead of a storage module."

So I guess it looks like that 128gb drive will be mounted to the board and not replaceable. This might make me lean towards a hard drive and then possibly upgrade to a SSD in the future.
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Old Nov 27, 2012, 11:32 AM   #5
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...
"Ars also got ahold of Apple's service technician training document for Fusion Drive, thanks to a helpful anonymous source. The document sheds more light on the technology, confirming several things we speculated about. In particular, it notes late 2012 21" and 27.5" iMacs come with flash "storage modules," similar to the ones already seen on MacBook Airs and Retina MacBook Pros. Late 2012 Mac Minis use a 2.5" SSD instead of a storage module."

So I guess it looks like that 128gb drive will be mounted to the board and not replaceable. This might make me lean towards a hard drive and then possibly upgrade to a SSD in the future.
MacBook Air SSDs are modules that plug in. They can be upgraded. So if the 2012 iMacs use the same type of module, the whole issue is how easy will it be to open the iMac.
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Old Nov 27, 2012, 01:24 PM   #6
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So I guess it looks like that 128gb drive will be mounted to the board and not replaceable. This might make me lean towards a hard drive and then possibly upgrade to a SSD in the future.
Since we know the pure SSD option is 768GB, that means they are using the SSD form factor from the MacBook Pro with Retina Display. This SSD can be replaced - it is not soldered to the motherboard.

To my knowledge, the only third-party option in this form factor is OWC's 480GB Aura Pro which is $580.

The HDD will be a standard 3.5" unit, however I expect it will have the same fan control firmware that the 2011 iMac HDDs do.
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Old Nov 27, 2012, 01:38 PM   #7
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So I guess it looks like that 128gb drive will be mounted to the board and not replaceable. This might make me lean towards a hard drive and then possibly upgrade to a SSD in the future.
That's a dubious conclusion. The drive module in the MBA,MBP is replaceable.

http://eshop.macsales.com/shop/SSD/O...ro_Retina_2012

http://eshop.macsales.com/shop/SSD/O...a_Pro_Air_2012

Why wouldn't the iMac's ? It is likely the same form factor and build as one of those two modules. I can't see Apple designing three mSATA variants to manufacture. The iMac is plenty large enough to take the MBP retina variation. Apple would purchase the MBPr variant in larger numbers using it in the iMac driving down their component costs ( by using components across Macs ..... which is something they do often with HDDs , RAM , Wifi , etc. etc. )
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Old Nov 27, 2012, 01:47 PM   #8
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Since we know the pure SSD option is 768GB, that means they are using the SSD form factor from the MacBook Pro with Retina Display. This SSD can be replaced - it is not soldered to the motherboard.

To my knowledge, the only third-party option in this form factor is OWC's 480GB Aura Pro which is $580.

The HDD will be a standard 3.5" unit, however I expect it will have the same fan control firmware that the 2011 iMac HDDs do.
Sorry guys, I was unaware this could be replaced. Thank you for the information.
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Old Nov 27, 2012, 01:56 PM   #9
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To my knowledge, the only third-party option in this form factor is OWC's 480GB Aura Pro which is $580.
It is a bit expensive and large capacity ( 48% of 1TB HDD) to serve as the SSD component to a Fusion set up. It shouldn't take OWC long though to come out with a smaller more cost effective variant though. Smaller doesn't make sense for the MBP retina models (since all come with a SSD) but for the iMacs that is a different story.


Quote:
The HDD will be a standard 3.5" unit, however I expect it will have the same fan control firmware that the 2011 iMac HDDs do.
I suspect there will be a tweak to the fan control firmware.... ( just Apple being annoying. ). Like the 2011 iMac it will just take a couple of weeks/months for a solution to appear though.

" However, for those of you that may “know someone who knows someone,” we’re planning to offer 3TB Hard Drive Kits and SSD Bay Kits that will allow an Apple Certified technician to install upgrades in your iMac without having to send it to us. More on that as things develop so again, just keep revisiting the Blog to learn about those details."
http://blog.macsales.com/11638-owc-t...macs-announced

If 3rd party certified technicians don't price themsevles out of a market, doing spec bumps to 21.5 iMacs could generate some decent revenues if Apple's RAM and fusion prices are very high.
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Old Nov 27, 2012, 02:04 PM   #10
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It shouldn't take OWC long though to come out with a smaller more cost effective variant though.
I am inclined to agree, especially through their "Turnkey mail-in upgrade" service with a HDD upgrade (say a 256GB Aura Pro SSD with either a 2TB or 4TB HDD).
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