2017 iMac - 512GB SSD with external storage or 3TB Fusion drive (4K drone videos)?

iMas70

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I understand the benefit of an SSD but... I need storage. I currently have a 2015 i7 iMac with the 2TB Fusion drive. It works great for daily use and editing 4K drone videos. I also have a 2TB Lacie hard drive for additional storage. The 2TB Fusion drive is 3/4 full.

(edit - the current and future iMacs are 27")

I'm going to order a 2017 iMac soon. I have this configuration saved in my bag -

  • 4.2GHz quad-core 7th-generation Intel Core i7 processor, Turbo Boost up to 4.5GHz
  • 8GB 2400MHz DDR4
  • 3TB Fusion Drive
  • Radeon Pro 580 with 8GB video memory
$2599.00

I'm not a power user. Would the SSD offer me a real world benefit? And if I go with that and 3-4GB of external storage, wouldn't that storage only be as fast as the Fusion drive? Maybe I'm missing something. It seems like the best (fastest) way to go is having internal and external SSDs. But again, I'm not a power user so would it really matter?
 
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nambuccaheadsau

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Yes it would. Is the proposed iMac the 21.5" or 27" model? If the 21.5" model suggest pre-order with 16GB memory. The 27" model still has the hatch door and you can purchase additonal modules much cheaper via Crucial or OWC.
 
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mikehalloran

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It works great for daily use and editing 4K drone videos.
Yes it would. Is the proposed iMac the 21.5" or 27" model? If the 21.5" model suggest pre-order with 16GB memory. The 27" model still has the hatch door and you can purchase additonal modules much cheaper via Crucial or OWC.
What he said.

Video editing? Get the SSD. Make sure it's large enough for your system, apps, plugins and current work files. If 512G is big enough, fine but, if not, go to 1T.

Externals for offline storage and backup are cheap and readily available.
 

GrindedDown

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Honestly, the fusion drive isn’t that bad. If you are planning on doing a bunch of video editing, especially with 4K files, you will almost certainly need more storage than 512gb of the internal. I have the 2tb fusion, use my 2017 iMac for mostly video editing and it works pretty snappy. I plan on using external SSDs in the coming months for future projects.

There are those on this forum that are dead set on getting only the SSD. There’s good reason too, it’s the fastest storage you can possibly get. Again though, fusion drive isn’t the dumpster fire that others will make it out to be.
 

mikehalloran

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Again though, fusion drive isn’t the dumpster fire that others will make it out to be.
Only when they fill up and/or get old. Otherwise, you are right enough. But...

4K drone video sounds pretty job specific, however. The OP will get more work done, faster with an SSD. Going from a 2015 fusion where the SSD is PCIe 2 to a straight NVMe PCIe 3x4 SSD is going to make a person very happy for the $$$$ spent.

An external SSD capable of the same speeds as the internal is a lot more expensive than the upgrade to 2T when buying new. NVMe PCIe 3x4 is quite fast (and no OWC external can approach that without multiple blades in a RAID array—in fact, their greatest promise is for 2/3 the speed).

An external that is fast enough for swapping files in and out — that's inexpensive and can be done by throwing a SATA III SSD into a $23 USB-C dock..
 

iMas70

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The current and future iMacs are 27". Some videos can be 3-5 minutes or longer so they quickly eat up GBs. The same goes for the 20MP photos. I currently have close to 1TB of saved videos and photos in the last 18 months. That doesn't include my over 10 years of personal photos and files. That's why I'm concerned about memory.
 

mikehalloran

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AV likes more RAM. Too much doesn't run faster than enough. Not enough makes files render slower. Fortunately, you can buy 8G, immediately add a pair of 16G sticks which will give you 40G. Is this enough or would 64G be faster? No one will know the answer to that without knowing your apps and plugins.

With 1T of saved work over the last 18 months... If you're going to the well to access it on a regular basis, you might want a 2T SSD inside. If once done and delivered, you won't be revisiting, offload those files to an external and you can get away with a smaller blade.

Although you can link to files stored on an external, clicking on those linked files forces you to work on them where they are—it doesn't bring them onto the internal SSD where it's faster. Only copying them over first does that. Naming any such link as Completed projects or File storage helps to keep that straight. Bummer to have all that speed and throttle it in that fashion.

How good are you at housekeeping on your work computer? The smaller the SSD, the better you need to be with that.

None of us are you but, having given us this info, there's a good chance that we've given enough feedback to make an informed decision.
 

iMas70

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One other thing for me to add is I'd like to keep the price under $3000. Going with the 1TB SSD brings the price to $3099 which isn't out of the question but would be my limit. The 2TB SSD bumps it up to $3899.

My current iMac has 16G of RAM. It performs find but I believe it would be a little better with at least 32G. The new machine will have at least that after I upgrade it.

Most of my work is rarely used again after I edit/upload it. Once in awhile I need photos or can make use of a past video so all of that can be in storage. As for housekeeping... that's stuff gets away from me sometimes. I keep looking at everything I have in Pictures folder and think I should find the time to organize it. There are a lot of duplicates that can be deleted. The same goes for the 21K photos on my phone.
 

sublunar

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One other thing for me to add is I'd like to keep the price under $3000. Going with the 1TB SSD brings the price to $3099 which isn't out of the question but would be my limit. The 2TB SSD bumps it up to $3899.

My current iMac has 16G of RAM. It performs find but I believe it would be a little better with at least 32G. The new machine will have at least that after I upgrade it.

Most of my work is rarely used again after I edit/upload it. Once in awhile I need photos or can make use of a past video so all of that can be in storage. As for housekeeping... that's stuff gets away from me sometimes. I keep looking at everything I have in Pictures folder and think I should find the time to organize it. There are a lot of duplicates that can be deleted. The same goes for the 21K photos on my phone.
The 2017 model has Thunderbolt 3. You can add external SSD or HDD later if you need. Remember though that the iMac hasn't been refreshed yet and with the recent announcement of AMD Vega Mobile as a belated option for the Macbook Pro there could be a case for a (very) late arrival for a 2018 iMac which would have more cores for no extra money.

In the meantime you could look at refurbs.
 

iMas70

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I did a couple hours of research after my last post. I think I'm going to go with the 1TB SSD. There are MANY posts in favor of it. The only drawback is I feel like I'm taking a step back when it comes to internal storage. I don't like to be restricted. But there are a lot of external options available. The 2TB Lacie drive that I'm using only has 346GB left so I'll have to get a second external. I'll have a couple of weeks to clean up my current hard drive so that will free up some space.

I currently use a 2TB Time Capsule for backups. I guess I can still use that to back up the machine and then more external drives if I want back up the other ones. Am I on the right track?

The 2015 iMac will be going to my kids. Maybe I'll sell their 2012 Mac mini and Thunderbolt Display to offset the cost of all of this.
 

mikehalloran

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If you use it for wireless, no reason not to continue to do so. Replacing the HDD in these is a stone bitch but there are companies that do so.

I like the WD My Cloud these days. They're ethernet only but you can hook one up to your Time Capsule if you are otherwise wireless.

There are single and multi-drive versions but my favorite is the twin-drive Mirror. Time Machine is one of the default settings (!)
https://www.wdc.com/products/personal-cloud-storage/my-cloud-mirror-gen2.html

I buy used 1st gen Mirrors on eBay really cheap and pop a couple of 10G WD Red HDDs into them. This takes 30 seconds as one screw holds the two drives in under a pop up lid. Lift and replace.
https://www.amazon.com/Red-3TB-NAS-Hard-Drive/dp/B008JJLW4M

WD Reds are extra heavy duty NAS drives with extra heavy duty bearings designed to run 24/7, something they'll never do with Time Machine. It was a Seagate engineer who gave me the heads-uo on these.

I back up 7 Macs in my house and studio to a Mirror that I keep in a hidden location. They default to RAID 1 so that both run simultaneously but mine are set up JBOD so that the individual drives alternate hourly. I do it to save energy and keep them quieter than they already are.
 
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iMas70

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Thanks for the detailed info! I think I'll be going with one of the WD My Clouds.
 

iMas70

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I’ll be picking the iMac up this weekend and have 32GB RAM on the way. I’ve bee cleaning up my drive to get rid of unnecessary pictures and videos plus organizing things better for storage. I have to get used to having a smaller internal drive.

Any suggestions for a 2TB external SSD? Maybe the Samsung T5? I figure I can go with something like that for now. Then get settled and figure out what me needs are.