2019 Base Model 27" iMac - 2TB or 512GB SSD?

insimbi

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Mar 27, 2008
344
35
I will be purchasing a 2019 iMac to replace my Late 2013 (3.2 i5, 8GB RAM). I am looking at the base model (3.0GHz, 8th gen i5, 8GB RAM, Radeon Pro 570X). I want to either upgrade to the 2TB Fusion drive or the 512GB SSD. It's a $200 up-charge for the 2TB drive or $300 for the 512GB SSD. One of the main reasons I want to upgrade is for the 5K retina screen.
I have the 1TB Fusion drive now and I feel it's plenty fast for what I do. I use it mainly for Internet browsing, family photos, music, movies, email and occasionally iMovie (although I would like to get into Final Cut Pro).
2TB will give me plenty of space, but the 512GB SSD will give me more speed. Like I said, I'm not unhappy with the Fusion drive I have now.
What selection would you choose?

P.S. Would moving up to the mid 3.1GHz make any real difference?

Thanks!
 
Last edited:

petsk

macrumors 6502
Oct 13, 2009
362
226
One option is the base iMac and adding an external thunderbolt Samsung X5 512GB SSD (about 250$). The X5 is almost as fast as the internal 512GB SSD. Not as slick, but you save a bit of cash and get 1,5 TB storage.
 
  • Like
Reactions: baypharm

smoking monkey

macrumors 65816
Mar 5, 2008
1,293
281
I HUNGER
I'm actually looking at a similar situation except I'm looking at the base 1tbssd/base 2tbF/high end 3tbF. All with 8g ram to upgrade later if needed. I won't be doing video editing on the machine either as I got a MBP for that (work). So like the OP it's just pretty normal stuff. The difference in price between the base 2tbf and high end 3tbf is only 350 bucks. It seems worth the little extra.

I'm looking to keep the computer 3 years and then use the trade in program if I get a Fusion Drive machine. I don't want to keep it beyond the AppleCare as my 2012 iMac just died and apple EOLed the part to fix it 3 months ago... Lovely timing.

--------

OP I think if you're going to move up to the mid, you may as well go high. the price difference is so small. For me it is only 2,500yen difference for the 3tbF between the mid and the high.

As for the choice between 512ssd and 2tbf... well, how often do you access all your big gig stuff? Do you use the movies and music in a program like iTunes and photos app or do you keep them in just files? If just files, then I would go external storage with the SSD. Time machine does back up externals so that's not a problem, I just prefer to have everything in the computer and no worry about externals. Keep it simple is a big deal for me and many others I guess.
 

Zdigital2015

macrumors 68000
Jul 14, 2015
1,917
2,013
East Coast, United States
I will be purchasing a 2019 iMac to replace my Late 2013 (3.2 i5, 8GB RAM). I am looking at the base model (3.0GHz, 8th gen i5, 8GB RAM, Radeon Pro 570X). I want to either upgrade to the 2TB Fusion drive or the 512GB SSD. It's a $200 up-charge for the 2TB drive or $300 for the 512GB SSD. One of the main reasons I want to upgrade is for the 5K retina screen.
I have the 1TB Fusion drive now and I feel it's plenty fast for what I do. I use it mainly for Internet browsing, family photos, music, movies, email and occasionally iMovie (although I would like to get into Final Cut Pro).
2TB will give me plenty of space, but the 512GB SSD will give me more speed. Like I said, I'm not unhappy with the Fusion drive I have now.
What selection would you choose?

P.S. Would moving up to the mid 3.1GHz make any real difference?

Thanks!
No, the 3.1GHz is a terrible value when you add any BTO option to it. Adding the 2TB Fusion to the 3.1GHz puts it a $100 away from the 6-core i5 9th Gen model. My recommendation is to go with the 3.0GHz and add the 256GB SSD. That puts you at $1899.00 USD and you can get a 500GB Samsung X5 for $249.00 USD at Amazon. So a total of $2149.00.

If you are happy with the Fusion drive, go for the 2TB model and you really cannot go that wrong. It might not be optimal for Final Cut Pro X should you get more serious with it, so bear that in mind, but plenty of people use a Fusion drive version for your intended uses. Either way, I don’t think you can make a bad decision. Good luck.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Colonel Blimp

Benz63amg

macrumors 68030
Oct 17, 2010
2,952
448
I personally bought the $2299 pre configured 2019 iMac with i5, 580 graphic card 8gb ram and 2tb fusion drive. Beautiful computer and far better than the mid 2011 27 inch iMac it replaced. I went with the configuration that included the 2tb fusion drive becomes it comes with a 128gb SSD Built in as opposed to the 1tb fusion drive in the lower tier model that comes with 32gb SSD.

I don’t want the 512gb built in SSD that Apple can configure into the new iMac from the factory because it’s not enough storage for me, I also didn’t want to wait for 2-3 weeks to receive the iMac since configuration with the 512gb SSD are not available in Apple stores for purchase and need to be ordered. I also did not want to pay MORE money to get 512gb SSD of internal storage when I can get the 2tb fusion for 100$ LESS which will give me plenty of storage space. Sure you can get an external SSD drive for more storage if you go with the 512gb internal option for the iMac but I didn’t want to pay more money to get less storage and have to purchase another external drive to have connected to my iMac at all times just to be able to store my files for years to come.

Also, there are numerous apps such as music production apps that don’t make good use of external drives and work better when the data such as sound packs etc are stored in the main built in storage of the computer and quite frankly 512gb of internal storage is not even close to enough and will be difficult to work with.

Yes, SSD is superior to Fusion drives but the fusion drive is an excellent choice as well. Apple wouldn’t have used them in the product if they weren’t a good fit for the iMac.

And if you buy the BASE 27 inch model iMac that costs $1799, the price to change the 1tb fusion drive that it comes with to 512gb is a cool 300$ Which makes even less sense. If you spend $300 more just to change the storage to 512gb then might as well get the top tier iMac 27 inch configuration that costs 2299 that has better processor and graphics because if you want to add 512gb to the top tier configuration it’s only 100$ more as opposed to $300 on the base 27 inch model.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: Colonel Blimp

tomscott1988

macrumors 6502a
Apr 14, 2009
617
482
UK
TBH I wouldnt bother with the X5. Buy the internal 512.

The main reason is it takes one of 2 TB3 ports, add an external display and thats both your ports gone. Then you have to buy an external hub which is £300 add the £250 for the X5 your paying £550 extra...

External large capacity storage is cheap, buy the SSD.
 

petsk

macrumors 6502
Oct 13, 2009
362
226
Then you have to buy an external hub which is £300
Did you even bother to read what he’s using the computer for? He sounds like power user to you smarty?

Dumb is paying for expensive thunderbolt ports and never using them.
 

tomscott1988

macrumors 6502a
Apr 14, 2009
617
482
UK
Did you even bother to read what he’s using the computer for? He sounds like power user to you smarty?

Dumb is paying for expensive thunderbolt ports and never using them.
Exactly, so an external USB 3 HDD is cheap and upgrading to an internal 256 SSD is is like £100 and far superior than the fusion if it will be a long term machine... the fusions fail and as a casual user its a big headache.
 

Benz63amg

macrumors 68030
Oct 17, 2010
2,952
448
Exactly, so an external USB 3 HDD is cheap and upgrading to an internal 256 SSD is is like £100 and far superior than the fusion if it will be a long term machine... the fusions fail and as a casual user its a big headache.
What do you mean they fail? Why would Apple offer them in all the in-store 2019 iMac configurations then if all of their hard drives “fail” as you claim so harshly? I got the 2tb fusion in my 2019 iMac.
 

tomscott1988

macrumors 6502a
Apr 14, 2009
617
482
UK
What do you mean they fail? Why would Apple offer them in all the in-store 2019 iMac configurations then if all of their hard drives “fail” as you claim so harshly? I got the 2tb fusion in my 2019 iMac.
Because it’s Apple, the only machine not to be fully NVMe... increases profit margins.

Got one in my 2017 too but they do fail airflow is non existent and the machines run hot and reduce the life of spinning drives. I don’t use it, boot from an external raid 0 3.1 SSD as it’s a cheap option and the performance is great.

Why do you think the Mac Pro towers had thermal zones across drives. Keep them cool Increase life.

Forums full of failures. If it’s a long term machine it makes sense to pay for the ssd fusions are outdated tech. Such a pain to get it fixed of it does fail I don’t think it’s worth it when 2tb externals are like £50 and perform the same over usb 3.
 

Benz63amg

macrumors 68030
Oct 17, 2010
2,952
448
Because it’s Apple, the only machine not to be fully NVMe... increases profit margins.

Got one in my 2017 too but they do fail airflow is non existent and the machines run hot and reduce the life of sinning drives. I don’t use it boot from an external SSD as it’s a cheap option and the performance is great.

Why do you think the Mac Pro towers had thermal zones across drives. Keep them cool increase life.

Forums full of failures. If it’s a long term machine it makes sense to pay for the ssd fusions are outdated tech. Such a pain to get it fixed of it does fail I don’t think it’s worth it when 2tb externals are like £50 and perform the same over usb 3.
Because it’s Apple? That doesn’t make sense. Why would they use a hard drive that didn’t work right in all of their in store models if they were not good.

My new 2019 27 inch iMac is a long term machine and I plan to keep it for atleast 10 years so what are you saying that the 2tb fusion drive in my iMac will fail?
 

tomscott1988

macrumors 6502a
Apr 14, 2009
617
482
UK
Because it’s Apple? That doesn’t make sense. Why would they use a hard drive that didn’t work right in all of their in store models if they were not good.

My new iMac is a long term machine and I plan to keep it for atleast 10 years so what are you saying that the 2tb fusion drive in my iMac will fail?
Far more likely to fail would you keep a normal HDD for 10 years... I wouldn’t.

Also would you be willing to possibly break the screen or electrocuting yourself on the open psu to replace it... or pay someone a stupid amount to fix it? I doubt it will fail in 2-3 years so it’s bound to happen out of warranty.

They are already slow so are only going to be worce in the future.

The main benefit is the machine has TB3 so you can use external fast storage. The downside is there’s only 2 so why waste one when you can get an NVMe out the box and for not a great deal of money.

I have a fusion in mine because I found a 10 month old 2017 with AppleCare and the trackpad in Feb for £1150 saving £1000. Use it a while and move it on.
 

cb3

macrumors regular
Jun 5, 2017
119
226
Texas
I have an iMac 512GB SSD at work with a slower external for storage. Best money I ever spent. Speed factor is great. Will be buying one for my home soon. Ditch the hard drive and go SSD if you can. I use hard drives for extra storage space.
 
  • Like
Reactions: tomscott1988

Benz63amg

macrumors 68030
Oct 17, 2010
2,952
448
Far more likely to fail would you keep a normal HDD for 10 years... I wouldn’t.

Also would you be willing to possibly break the screen or electrocuting yourself on the open psu to replace it... or pay someone a stupid amount to fix it? I doubt it will fail in 2-3 years so it’s bound to happen out of warranty.

They are already slow so are only going to be worce in the future.

The main benefit is the machine has TB3 so you can use external fast storage. The downside is there’s only 2 so why waste one when you can get an NVMe out the box and for not a great deal of money.
Because some things require internal storage and I’m afraid 512 is way too low to be enough. Just the iTunes library is like 80-90gb
 

tomscott1988

macrumors 6502a
Apr 14, 2009
617
482
UK
Because some things require internal storage and I’m afraid 512 is way too low to be enough. Just the iTunes library is like 80-90gb
And like said HDDs are cheap and perfect for that sort of media.

2tb £50 4tb £90 8tb £150 and if it fails buy another. Buy two for back ups. Even one usb 3 port can run multiple drives it has 5gb or 625mb/S saturation hdds are 150-160mbs max.

Those NVMes are running 2000mb/s

It does depend on your usage, 4K workflows work at 550-600mb/s but the fact is HDDs aren’t that reliable but SSDs are and given the choice it makes sense to buy the ssd.
 

Benz63amg

macrumors 68030
Oct 17, 2010
2,952
448
And like said HDDs are cheap and perfect for that sort of media.

2tb £50 4tb £90 8tb £150 and if it fails buy another. Buy two for back ups. Even one usb 3 port can run multiple drives it has 5gb or 625mb/S saturation hdds are 150-160mbs max.

Those NVMes are running 2000mb/s

It does depend on your usage, 4K workflows work at 550-600mb/s but the fact is HDDs aren’t that reliable but SSDs are and given the choice it makes sense to buy the ssd.
So what are you saying that I should return the iMac I bought and order one from Apple online with a 512gb SSD? Is there a way to expedite delivery?
 

propower

macrumors 6502a
Jul 23, 2010
719
112
No way I know to expedite - but you get 2 weeks to give the first one back.
The difference between spinning and Nvme internal for OS is huge. iTunes on external 1TB USB SSD will feel no different than internal fusion. The fusion will spin louder as the years go. Also the most likely to fail think in the whole machine. 256 boot drive and all else on USB3 SSD. But I feel you on space. I have 1TB nVme internal SSD and am looking at 2TB next time - yikes!
 

nutmac

macrumors 601
Mar 30, 2004
4,255
2,133
I tried 2019 iMac with Fusion Drive for my kids. I hated it. Too much beachballs.

I exchanged it for 2018 Mac mini with 256 GB SSD, supplemented by 2 TB external SSD and 10 TB external hard disk. No more beachballs.

Internal drive mostly hosts applications and documents folder. Everything else resides on the external disks -- most notably iTunes library (10 TB external hard disk), Photos library (2 TB external SSD), VMWare Fusion images (2 TB external SSD), and Dropbox (10 TB external hard disk).

If you have many applications, you may need 512 GB SSD.
 
  • Like
Reactions: orbital~debris

mikehalloran

macrumors 68000
Oct 14, 2018
1,606
396
The Sillie Con Valley
Reality check. Consider me a high end power user of audio applications. Let's clear up a few misconceptions. first

Also, there are numerous apps such as music production apps that don’t make good use of external drives and work better when the data such as sound packs etc are stored in the main built in storage of the computer and quite frankly 512gb of internal storage is not even close to enough and will be difficult to work with.
You do want your apps and Active files on the boot drive, Absolutely. However...

VIs stream over a SATA III SSD in a USB 3 dock much faster than they will from a Fusion Drive. A 2TB MX500 is $250 and over USB 3, will be as fast as a Samsung T5
https://www.amazon.com/Crucial-MX500-NAND-SATA-Internal/dp/B078C515QL/ref=sr_1_11?keywords=860+evo+2tb&qid=1554783886&s=gateway&sr=8-11&th=1
and this USB 3 dock is $23.
https://www.amazon.com/Cable-Matters-Docking-Station-Support/dp/B0099TX7O4/ref=sr_1_74?crid=35ZB4DZKVAFCM&keywords=usb+3+docking+station&qid=1554783990&s=gateway&sprefix=usb+3+dock,aps,200&sr=8-74

The exception is if using VEP (and if you don't know, you aren't). If so, get the largest onboard SSD you can find, a Samsung X5 or do both. You should be considering an iMac Pro and may want a slave machine like a 2018 Mini linked through the T2 chip via 10G Ethernet. OK, I'm assuming that VEP is not an issue. next

Because some things require internal storage and I’m afraid 512 is way too low to be enough. Just the iTunes library is like 80-90gb
Not anymore (actually not ever)

You've always been able to offload your iTunes library via symbolic links but that's no longer necessary in OS 10.14 Mojave. Yea, offload it to that SSD you'll have in a USB 3 dock. Don't worry, it's plenty fast and that's 90GB of files that don't have to be on a fast drive.


I am not saying that you won't be able to do what you want with a Fusion drive. You will. You are misinformed by believing it will be faster if using VIs. It will be slower.

I have around 3TB of VIs — Komplete isn't the largest — on two of those exact docks. My 300GB iTunes library is on one of them (symbolic link) but I'll set that up in Mojave. The difference is that my 2010 iMac is USB 2 (USB 3 appeared in 2011). When my iMac Pro gets here in a few days, I will hook them up. I'm hoping that I don't have to redirect the paths in Native Access but, if I do, takes just a few minutes.
 
Last edited:

orbital~debris

macrumors 6502a
Mar 3, 2004
853
909
England, UK, Europe
You do want your apps and Active files on the boot drive, Absolutely.
Does this include photographs for editing in Photos (optimised storage setting on Mac, iCloud Photos hosted)?
Is it OK to move the Photos library elsewhere than an internal SSD?
[doublepost=1554794415][/doublepost]
may want a slave machine like a 2018 Mini linked through the T2 chip via 10G Ethernet.
Not that this will be possible with the iMac (early 2019) I’m planning on buying, but what is this link via T2 you speak of?
[doublepost=1554794602][/doublepost]
You've always been able to offload your iTunes library via symbolic links but that's no longer necessary in OS 10.14 Mojave.

My 300GB iTunes library is on one of them (symbolic link) but I'll set that up in Mojave. The difference is that my 2010 iMac is USB 2 (USB 3 appeared in 2011).
I never got round to setting up symbolic links on my former Mac. Why are they no longer necessary in Mojave - what changed? How's the same thing achieved now, without using them?
 
Last edited:

Howard Brazee

macrumors 6502
Oct 24, 2006
475
1
Lafayette CO
One option is the base iMac and adding an external thunderbolt Samsung X5 512GB SSD (about 250$). The X5 is almost as fast as the internal 512GB SSD. Not as slick, but you save a bit of cash and get 1,5 TB storage.
If I have a fusion drive iMac, and an external SSD, how does everything work together?
 

Howard Brazee

macrumors 6502
Oct 24, 2006
475
1
Lafayette CO
This basic question is exactly what I was looking for. My wife is planning on getting me a new 27" iMac for Christmas. My old 27" iMac has 1 TB fusion, 8 GB memory, and Thunderbolt 1 ports. That last means I won't buy any Thunderbolt appliances before I get my new computer. My own budget has enough to upgrade her gift either to 2TB fusion or 1 TB SSD (and maybe 16 GB memory). Right now I created a virtual disk and installed Mojave on it so that I can run kJams Karaoke, which won't be 64 bit until middle of next year. My partition is so small it won't update to the current version of Mojave, and my Mac is running slowly. The Karaoke library is on my main drive. I have a request out to Fusion to see why it doesn't see more space. Disk Utility on my main Mac shows 204.04 GB free.

I don't know if I can effectively combine SSD & Fusion. I suspect I need 2TB on my new computer. I don't know if SSD makes my memory needs small. Maybe I could buy more memory now and transfer it to my new computer, but don't think that would help.

What do you guys recommend that I plan to do?
 

Benz63amg

macrumors 68030
Oct 17, 2010
2,952
448
This basic question is exactly what I was looking for. My wife is planning on getting me a new 27" iMac for Christmas. My old 27" iMac has 1 TB fusion, 8 GB memory, and Thunderbolt 1 ports. That last means I won't buy any Thunderbolt appliances before I get my new computer. My own budget has enough to upgrade her gift either to 2TB fusion or 1 TB SSD (and maybe 16 GB memory). Right now I created a virtual disk and installed Mojave on it so that I can run kJams Karaoke, which won't be 64 bit until middle of next year. My partition is so small it won't update to the current version of Mojave, and my Mac is running slowly. The Karaoke library is on my main drive. I have a request out to Fusion to see why it doesn't see more space. Disk Utility on my main Mac shows 204.04 GB free.

I don't know if I can effectively combine SSD & Fusion. I suspect I need 2TB on my new computer. I don't know if SSD makes my memory needs small. Maybe I could buy more memory now and transfer it to my new computer, but don't think that would help.

What do you guys recommend that I plan to do?
the 2TB fusion drive with a 128gb SSD onboard is a great choice, you could get a 512gb SSD instead of that for the same price but you’re trading off quite a bit of storage space. I personally own the 2299$ 2019 iMac configuration that’s available at Apple stores with the 2TB fusion drive, upgraded the Ram to 40GB total by myself when I got it several months back and it has been a solid performer and an excellent all around machine. (I upgraded from a 2011 27 inch iMac)
 
  • Like
Reactions: Howard Brazee

theluggage

macrumors 601
Jul 29, 2011
4,173
2,880
My own budget has enough to upgrade her gift either to 2TB fusion or 1 TB SSD (and maybe 16 GB memory).
If you can comfortably afford the 1TB SSD, I'd say that is a no-brainer.

As for RAM - the great thing about the 27" iMac is that you can upgrade the RAM if and when you need it - certainly don't pay Apple for the upgrade to 16GB when you can get an extra 16GB of 3rd party RAM (giving 24GB total) for less.

Right now I created a virtual disk and installed Mojave on it so that I can run kJams Karaoke, which won't be 64 bit until middle of next year. My partition is so small it won't update to the current version of Mojave, and my Mac is running slowly.
So, if I understand correctly, you are running Catalina, and have used VMWare Fusion to create a VM to run Mojave for some 32-bit only software. With 8GB RAM. On an iMac with only a 128GB SSD component to its fusion drive...

A modest proposal: don't do that! Just revert your main Mac back to Mojave (...and either get the new Mac quick before they start shipping with Catalina or keep your old Mac as a Karaoke machine).

Public service announcement: despite Apple's irresponsible pushing of Catalina via Software Update don't install major MacOS version updates the moment they come out unless you enjoy fixing problems and/or have a spare Mac to try them on.

...also, there are various reasons why even 64-bit software might need an update to run on Catalina, and why developers may decide not to test and release them until the final version of Catalina was out. However, still being 32 bit, 2 years after the demise of 32 is not one of them. If the developers are still saying '64 bit sometime next year... maybe...' then I'd look for an alternative solution, pronto.

I don't know if I can effectively combine SSD & Fusion.
(OK, some ambiguity here whether you mean Fusion Drive or VMWare Fusion... so I assume you mean Fusion Drive)

Unless you have a specific need for a single, 512GB++ library that can't be split between drives (even with judicious use of aliases/symbolic links) there is no need to mess with fusion drives - they're just something else to go wrong (and the data can be destroyed if either the HD or SSD portion failed).

Fusion drives were a great idea in the days when more than 128GB of SSD needed a second mortgage. Now they're just there to let Apple overcharge for SSD upgrades.

I suspect I need 2TB on my new computer.
I'd recommend moving (a) infrequently used/archived files and (b) media libraries - neither of which will benefit from SSD speeds (your karaoke library sounds like a prime candidate) - to cheap external spinning rust or network-attached storage, then see if you still need 2TB built in to your machine.

Bear in mind that your iMac disc is pretty much sealed in, and if your iMac goes for repair you'll lose access to it for a while. It really is best practice to keep your internal drive for system files, temporary files, applications and 'work-in-progress' and have as much as possible of your long-term storage external. Use a NAS tucked out of the way if you don't want desktop clutter (then it can be accessed by any device in the house).

I don't know if SSD makes my memory needs small.
Having a SSD as the system drive will help if you run out of memory and the system starts swapping out RAM to disk. OTOH the Mac uses spare RAM to cache files, which reduces the effect of a slow disk, so it is swings and roundabouts... However, with the 27" iMac, upgrading the RAM yourself after purchase is very, very easy - upgrading the internal storage requires major surgery.