Fusion Drive, SSD or HDD

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by scottyd1119, Nov 19, 2012.

  1. macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2012
    #1
    I'm trying to decide which option to go with for the hard drive in the mini I'm about to order.

    My first thought was to just go with the 1TB hdd but have been given more thought to a SSD. My current thinking is to get a fusion drive and split it so I can put my OS on the SDD and have the 1TB for storage. I realize this isn't the most cost effective option, that it would be cheaper to buy a SDD and a kit to add a second HDD, but it just seems like less of a hassle to just get the fusion drive. It would be less of a hassle with no need to install anything and also down the road if something were to break I wouldn't need to reinstall original drive before having apple fix it.

    I don't want to go with the 256 SSD option because for the price it really doesn't make sense. The other thing I've been thinking about is just getting a SSD in an external TB enclosure and booting off that, but could be as expensive going that route as just getting the fusion drive.

    Does anybody know if the SSD in the fusion drive setup is a standard SSD and therefore replaceable down the road? If so it brings the relative cost of the 128 gb SSD down since it already has the 2nd drive kit and you would need to get that if you bought just the 1tb hdd and installed a SSD as a 2nd drive.

    What are your thoughts?
     
  2. macrumors 68040

    Designer Dale

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    #2
  3. macrumors 6502

    7enderbender

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    #3
    I'm debating the same issues. I've pretty much settled on ordering the standard configuration i7, toss out the 5400rpm drive, and put in a third party SSD and a 7200 rpm secondary drive with the largest capacity that will work.

    Dealing with the "fusion" drive seems too much of a hassle and appears to have the potential to cause problems when trying to keep data separate. The installation of drives in the Mini seems pretty straight forward. Certainly compared to the iMac which is why I'm very likely to decide against that one.
     
  4. macrumors member

    Joined:
    May 21, 2009
    #4
    I'm considering getting the i7 2.3 model with the 1TB HD, and booting off an external SSD in a USB 3.0 enclosure. That avoids opening the case, and would be cheaper than a TB external SSD, or Apple's SSD or Fusion Drive.

    There would be a performance hit using USB 3.0, but I don't think it would be that great. The Samsung 830 is rated at about 4 Gbps read and 3 Gbps write. According to Macsales, the actual USB 3.0 throughput would be about 3 Gbps, or a little less. So, writes would be slower, but 3 Gbps is still very fast.

    My thinking is that I would always have the option of opening the case and installing the SSD later.

    Jeff
     
  5. macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2006
    #5
    I'm not sure what you mean by this. Separate in what way? Fusion Drive works at the block level, below (or inside) the file system level, and is completely invisible to the user.

    Simon Hibbs
     
  6. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2010
    #6
    i can't decide between the fusion or the 256 ssd. it appears the fusion drive will give about a 3x speed over a straight hd and about the same as an ssd alone.

    i'm leaning towards the fusion as it'll have speed and i can always add a second ssd down the road as size and prices come down as well as having speedy outboard thunderbolt and usb 3 options i guess
     
  7. macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2009
    #7
    It appears to be more of a control issue than a real issue with Fusion drive's implementation. If users want to hand optimize where their files are located on SSD or HDD then Fusion "gets in the way" by doing all the work.

    Similar to the threads initial post about buying a Fusion Drive set-up and then formatting the set-up as two separate drives (after a backup hopefully implicit in the process).

    If want a mini with a standard Apple HDD and a separate SSD then probably best to just buy a 3rd party SSD. Apple's SSD prices is quite high. The cost savings easily pays for the additional 3rd party kit they'll need to add the drive and/or paying a reasonably priced service technician to even install it. ( OWC would swap out both HDD & SDD for same price plus parts price. and still cheaper than Apple's SSD. )
     
  8. macrumors 65816

    dasx

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2012
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    #8
    Last time I ran an speed test in my 2010 Mini (500GB regular HDD) gave a read/write speed of around 80MB/s. This Mini's SSD gives 450/450MB/s. That's almost 6x. ;)

    (Dunno if current drives are better and give speeds of 120MB/s but I highly doubt it!)
     
  9. macrumors regular

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    Mar 2, 2010
    #9
    Are you talking about the SSD side of the fusion drive or a regular SSD? :)
     
  10. macrumors 65816

    dasx

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    #10
    Both. Running a speedtest on the FD will give the exact same speeds as any 128GB SSD mounted in MBPs and MBAs. (250/450MB/s that is).

    Note that it only achieves 250MB/s for write due to Toshiba not using a Sandforce controller. (256GB's SSDs and up are Samsung's 830 series).
     
  11. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2010
    #11
    So fusion drive would be the way to go for my purposes being that I'll get virtually the same performance as the single SSD configuration I take it

    The other good thing is it would save me $50 over the 256SSD that I might as well apply to the 2.6 quad i7 over the 2.3. I'll also be getting the 4gb ram and buy 2x8gb from OWC.
     
  12. macrumors 65816

    dasx

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    #12
    It's all about priorities. I don't use up more than 60GB regularly, so I went for the SSD for a better performance. I do always have two 1TB FW drives mounted where I store anything I'm not gonna use everyday.

    If you want a mix with great speed and storage, then FD is for you. ;)

    (Unless you wanna open the Mini up and install a drive yourself!)
     
  13. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2010
    #13
    Thanks. :)

    Yeah, I'll go with the fusion. I could use the extra HD space on the 1tb.

    My main apps are Logic, Ableton Live, Photoshop & Lightroom, so that'd work.
    And then I'm able to add another drive inside in the future if necessary
     
  14. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2007
    #14
    You realize that there is no extra space inside for another drive?

    Factory Fusion drive will be a HDD and an SSD already in there. You will have to replace one of them.

    http://www.macworld.com/article/2013805/fusion-drive-an-overview.html
     
  15. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2010
    #15
    Thanks. Ah, thought it was all in a single housing like a hybrid. Guess it still doesn't matter. When 500gb SSD's come around to 150 bucks in a couple years, I'll take one of them out. ;)
     
  16. macrumors 6502

    7enderbender

    Joined:
    May 11, 2012
    Location:
    North East US
    #16
    And the fact that it's invisible and "auto managed" may be an issue for people like me or the OP who want to keep certain types of data on certain types of drives. Example: I'll use my Mini (or whatever I end up deciding on) mostly for audio recording and photo editing. I wouldn't want to use SSD type memory for the audio data or for Photoshop to use as scratch disk. I still want that on a fast magnetic drive for a number of reasons. SSDs should still be strictly for the OS and for program files.

    The fusion drive will mix things between the SSD type part and the larger magnetic portion. There are ways obviously to tell OSX to stop doing that and keep the two portions of the drive separate. I looked into that. It can be done but it looks a bit cumbersome and I'd rather have two physically separate internal drives to begin with. Unfortunaltely, the new Mini only comes with a 5200rpm option - basically a drive that is completely useless to me. It remains to be seen what the iMac will come with ultimately but I'm not hopeful that the choices will be any better. It's the downside of going Apple I suppose. It can all be done but it'll cost a pretty penny. I know that I'm really a candidate for a Mac Pro but I'm not ready for that yet. I'll have to see first if running OS X is really a significant advantage before I spend a lot more money on a Pro and an appropriate Apple laptop. The new Mini seems like a good starting point - despite the not so good drive choices.

    ----------

    Wait a minute. I wasn't aware of that. When I first read up on this it sounded like an integrated drive.

    So how easy is it really to separate the two drives and get rid of the "fusion" software part forever? What happens during a re-install with a Apple store bought installation CD?
     
  17. macrumors 6502

    7enderbender

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    #17
    Not to hijack this thread but maybe the OP is kind of looking into the same questions:

    Can anyone explain to me how exactly the fusion drive software component is managed? With what I just learned about the hardware component I see two options here for my goal:

    1. Get the "fusion" drive from the factory, get rid of the fusion management settings/software and replace the SSD and the 1TB drive over time with better parts (larger SSD, faster magentic drive). The benefit would be that the connectors, screws, brackets etc are already in place and swapping the drives shouldn't be too hard. The downside could be that it may be difficult to keep the "fusion" management software off the computer. Not sure how that works as I'm new to OS X. I'm also looking to run Parallels or a separate XP partition to have access to standard MS Office occasionally.

    2. Get the regular Mac Mini and the OWC kit for a 240 or 480GB SSD and the largest 7200rpm magnetic drive that will work.

    Cost seems to end up being about the same, right? Hardware installation is probably a bit easier in option 1 while there are potential issues with dealing with the fusion drive software that I do NOT want.
     
  18. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2012
    #18
    From what I read it's just a couple terminal scripts to undo the fusion part but for the life of me I can't seem to remember where I saw that. If someone could help with that I would be greatly appreciative. I decided to just go ahead and get the fusion drive, ordered it last night. Basically I've got an ever growing list of things I want to do and am fully capable of doing it myself but for the relatively small added cost in the end I'd rather just get something already setup and have the peace of mind that the warranty is still fully intact if something were to happen to mini over time.

    Thanks for all your suggestions.
     
  19. macrumors 6502

    7enderbender

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    #19
    I'll be very curious how this works out for you as I'm thinking along the same lines. If a few scripts permanently remove the fusion settings and you won't get bothered with this after every upgrade or re-install because the machine presents itself as a "fusion" model then I could be sold on that - even though I'd have to eventually replace both drives but that could wait until I'm comfortable with my overall decision to go Mac (and before voiding the warranty by just adding the bare minimum drive requirements).
     
  20. macrumors newbie

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    Jan 19, 2011
    #20
    Why wouldn't you want to use SSD type memory for the audio data or for Photoshop as a scratch disk?
     
  21. macrumors 6502

    7enderbender

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    #21
    I see two problems with that: SSD memory has a limited life span with a certain number of read-write operations. This has improved a lot but for heavy use with applications that constantly shuffle data around I would expect the drive to fail rather sooner than later.

    Also, some of the professional applications don't officially support SSDs yet.

    My objection to the "fusion" style drive is that I still want to keep system and program files clearly separate from data files such as photo files that need to be backed up constantly. So my vision is to keep doing what I've been doing for years: one drive for OS and program files that can be easily reinstalled in case of a hardware failure or something major happening to the OS. A second internal drive that keeps all my photos and audio files and is automatically backed up to external drives and outside-the-house storage.

    Maybe that's "too old school" redundancy for many people again but has worked for me for years and I see no reason to change that approach just because I'm switching from Windows to Mac.

    I'm aware that with my approach I should be a candidate for a Mac Pro but I'm not quite there yet. Plus they are out of my price range at this point. A tricked out Mac Mini seems like a very good alternative for what I want to do. Still expensive but I guess I'm still saving at least a grand compared to the cheapest Pro option.
     
  22. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2010
    #22
    I hear you. You've managed to describe exactly what I feel about the FD itself. I think it is a cool idea, but I can't love it. I too want to keep things separated.

    If you discover something new with this regard, I beg to you share it here.

    Thanks
     
  23. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2010
    #23
    I like how you specified "permanently". I can live with the stock ssd drive bundled into the FD, even though I'm wary at the ssd speed; OWC ssd disks seem to be hard to beat. Too bad I don't feel like fumbling around with opening up a brand new Mac (thus voiding the warranty), if I can simply run a command line script and disable permanently the FD thing. I find it hard to believe that our beloved minis will not present themselves as FD capable, for Apple may introduce newer controls in newer Lion releases, thus making our setup collapse. We could end up with corrupted data on the hdd or something similar I guess...

    I really don't feel like fumbling at all. I could go with running terminal scripts once, but I really want to avoid the headache of having to destroy the FD every time I upgrade my system (plus recovering data from Time Machine backups, etc).

    I would love to hear your thoughts on this.

    Thanks in advance,
     
  24. macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2012
    #24
  25. macrumors 6502

    7enderbender

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    #25
    And that's exactly one of the articles that got me worried a bit. Here is what he finds:

    Nothing wrong with the underlying drives (diskutil cs delete took care of eliminating the Logical Volume Group).

    What’s left are two perfectly valid internal drives/volumes (MacMini is booted off external USB3 drive).

    The diskutil command line handles them fine, as does the Disk Utility from the OS X 10.8.2 Mac Pro. The Disk Utility GUI cannot deal with them.


    So basically, you need to find a way to completely swipe the thing clean and then use a fresh install that is not meant for the mini - at least if you ever want to use the Disk Utiliity GUI for anything. The version for the new Mini with fusion drive seems to have a special version (version 13 #444).

    So who can explain what can be done there to fix that once and for all? Will buying a fresh installation DVD or a download fro $20 solve this issue?

    Where does Disk Utility live anyway and can it be exchanged for a different (non fusion) version? Man, this whole endeavor already feels like Windows all over again - before I've even bought anything...incompatible/busted graphics chips, weird utility programs with special versions. It's really no fun no matter where I turn at the moment - just to accomplish some pretty basic needs and despite my willingness to shell out over $2000 when all is said and done. Really...
     

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