21.5 iMac with 1TB hard drive vs Fusion drive

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by JustUs35, Jul 28, 2019.

  1. JustUs35 macrumors newbie

    Jun 23, 2019
    Looking for replacement iMac for as little $$ as possible but still have some future life and speed. With all the discussions about the draw backs of the 1tb fusion drive and it's small SSD storage, would it be "bad" to choose the lower 3.6 quad model with it's conventional 5400rpm Drive? For email, internet, light sheet music programs (Musescore, Sibelius) and MS word would the weaker graphics card and processor be that limiting? It would replace a mid 2011 iMac.
  2. theluggage macrumors 68040

    Jul 29, 2011
    I’d strongly suggest saving up $200 extra for the 256GB full SSD option, and if that is out of the question start looking at refurbs or second-hand.

    Even with the sort of programs you’re talking about, a SSD makes things quicker to load and more responsive. You’ll need some sort of external storage anyway - you don’t want the only copy of your files sealed inside an iMac.
  3. TechRunner macrumors newbie


    Oct 28, 2016
    I bought a base 21.5" iMac with a spinning drive for a use case similar to yours, and it was perfectly fine for the four years I owned it. When I replaced it in 2015 with a MacBook Air, I noted the speed difference between the SSD in the Air and the spinner in the iMac, and vowed never to buy another Mac with a 5400RPM drive. In my humble opinion, it's worth the additional money to have that "future life and speed" you're looking for by laying out a few extra bucks for the SSD...
  4. JustUs35 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 23, 2019
    Thanks for your reply.....The "replacement computer" is actually for a relative and I don't like to spend some else's money, so when they came to me and asked this question I figured I would post and get other's input. I agree with you about the SSD and when I get a new iMac it will have one. I was just wondering between the two, the fusion(ssd+5400RPM) and a pure 5400 would there be a difference over time...I thought once the SSD is filled and utilized.....the playing field is the same...a 5400RPM drive......accessing data on the HD should be the same....just need to worry about the lifespan of constant writing and over writing on the SSD part.
    --- Post Merged, Jul 29, 2019 ---
    I also visited and noticed the old computer, running High Sierra has only the factory 4gb (2x2) of memory. So first I'll add another 8gb (2x4) to bring it to 12GB and see if it solves the spinning disc problem. Maybe install 16gb (2x8) but need to keep it cheap. $50 vs $100
  5. tibas92013, Jul 29, 2019
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2019

    tibas92013 macrumors 6502

    Jun 2, 2013
    Costa Rica
    Over the last six(6) years the following all purchased from the Apple On-Line Store with Apple Care:

    Refurbished i5 MM(Late 2012) 2.5GHz,4GB Ram,500GB HD; Refurbished i5 MM 2014, 2.8GHz,8GB Ram,256SSD; Refurbished MM 2018 6Core 3.0GHz i5,8GB Ram, 256SSD.

    I will never purchase any future Mac without a minimum 256 SSD based upon my previous Mac Purchases and what TechRunner stated above.
  6. chrfr macrumors 604

    Jul 11, 2009
    The 5400 rpm drive in these is a truly terrible performer. I cannot recommend it whatsoever; the Fusion Drive, even with its shortcomings, feels noticeably faster. I'd also recommend saving to get a real SSD in the computer over any other option.
  7. ApfelKuchen macrumors 68040

    Aug 28, 2012
    Between the coasts
    I’m a fan of Fusion. If ones budget is limited to HDD prices, then it’s a huge improvement over an HDD-only machine for not a lot more money. No, it’s not as good as pure-SSD, but “nearly as good” is still pretty darned great.

    The real trick is whether your relative needs a 1 TB HD, or can live with a 256 GB SSD? If they already have 500 GB or more of stuff on their current Mac/PC, then the work of whittling things down to live with the 256 GB has to be considered, as does the work of managing the more limited storage on an ongoing basis.

    Basically, a large Fusion drive allows them to continue with business as usual, with no new management duties (moving things to an external HD, etc.). While there’s something to be said for the better performance of SSD-only, a lot of users will never use their Macs in ways that would over-tax the Fusion.

    I have a relative with an HDD-only iMac, and it’s absolutely painful to use when compared to my Fusion-equipped iMac. On the other hand, I generally can’t tell the difference between my Fusion iMac and my all-SSD iMac.
  8. theluggage macrumors 68040

    Jul 29, 2011
    There's also an argument for 'cleaning house' after your cruft has been accumulating for 5+ years.

    Copy the old HD contents to an external HD (which is a good idea anyway) and, over a period of time move the stuff you actually use regularly onto the SSD, keep the seldom-used stuff on the external.

    Unless you're doing video editing or something else that involves regularly slinging around muti-GB files, the big advantage comes from having all the system, application and temporary files that your computer is continually accessing in the background on SSD - even a relatively slow SSD in terms of peak transfer speed has 'seek' times an order of magnitude faster than any mechanical HD.

    Note that I'm talking about desktops here - in the case of a laptop where you don't want to have to carry an external HD around, there's a better argument for having a large internal SSD that can hold all your stuff.

Share This Page

7 July 28, 2019