256 GB Flash vs 1 TB Fusion

Discussion in 'iMac' started by Cyborg21, Oct 24, 2013.

  1. Cyborg21 macrumors 6502


    Sep 2, 2013
    I'n getting a new iMac soon. Which one should I buy iMac with 256 gb flash or iMac with 1 TB fusion. I think flash is faster but is 256 gb too small? Is there a big difference between Fusion drive and flash drive? Sorry for my bad english.
  2. pcfarrar macrumors member

    Nov 23, 2010
    Go all flash its faster, quieter, more reliable, and runs cooler. If you need additional storage just use USB 3 or Thunderbolt externals.
  3. Chipster21 macrumors newbie

    Oct 3, 2013
    I'm fine with my choice 1TB Fusion Drive.;)

    BTW I've splited the Fusion Drive reserving the SSD for my OS and App, while the HDD is used for my Music, Vide, ecc. in this way I'm benefiting from the speed of the SSD and the capacity of the HDD (the best of both technologies).
  4. CCerta112 macrumors newbie

    Oct 2, 2013
    I'm pretty sure that the Fusion Drive does that automatically. Putting all your system files and apps on the SSD and all larger, less often used files on the HD.
    That's the whole point of the FD. "The best of both worlds" ;)
  5. badlydrawnboy macrumors 65816

    Oct 20, 2003
    You might be interested in this article.

    At the end there's a graph that shows that the fusion drive performance is good as long as the 128 GB is in play; once you exceed that, performance drops off a cliff.

    I'd go with the 256 GB of PCI-flash.
  6. Chipster21 macrumors newbie

    Oct 3, 2013
    Exactly, for this reason I've decided to split the FD and taking full control of Speed and Space. :)
  7. gnasher729 macrumors P6


    Nov 25, 2005
    Totally misleading. Obviously Fusion isn't magic. But these guys had to work very hard to find situations where Fusion cannot improve performance significantly. For any normal user, Fusion is as fast or faster than a 256 GB SSD.

    First, Fusion _uses_ 124 GB for the most used data. That 256 GB SSD drive doesn't contain that much data that is used a lot; you can't fill it to the limit because you run out of space, and there is always lots of data that you are _not_ using a lot. Second, Fusion has a 4 GB write cache that accelerates write operations in any normal use. It basically does 4 GB worth of writing into the write cache very very quickly, and then sorts everything out slowly behind your back without you noticing. Even writes to the SSD area are faster that way.

    Of course that's no good for someone trying to measure how Fusion slows down, so they tried to find the limits and go beyond them.

    Well, you just made your life harder for no gain.
  8. roland.g macrumors 603


    Apr 11, 2005
    One mile up and soaring
    From what I have seen a Fusion drive is not as fast as an SSD.

    1. The Fusion SSD and pure SSD will both read at 700+ but the pure SSD will write at that speed while the Fusion when writing to the SSD only will top out at 300-350, even with the new 2013 PCIe Fusion iMacs. I am not sure why, but it has been documented.

    2. In the case of #1 a user may be hard pressed to see in typical daily usage (non intensive tasks) a noticeable difference between the Fusion and pure SSD write speeds. And that is comforting.

    3. However, I have also read varying reports that the Fusion keeps the HDD constantly spinning, even when not in use, a situation I did not have with the separate SSD + HDD in my 2011 iMac. Some have reported that in a quiet environment the noise is noticeable while others have said it is not.

    4. Personally I like the idea of more space and system managed speed vs. storage that the Fusion drive offers. However if noise is an issue, it is an issue. I don't think one will really see the write speed come into play. That said for the same price as the 1TB Fusion you can get the 256 SSD and eliminate those concerns and use an external drive for complementary storage.

    I have ordered and will be getting a 1TB Fusion in the next few days but was on the fence with regards to these two options. I will test the noise for myself and the write speeds and determine whether to send it back for a 256GB pure SSD.
  9. Pompiliu macrumors 6502a


    Apr 22, 2012
    1TB Fusion
    256SSD + some external storage (USB3.0 or TB).

    I prefer the 2nd option.
  10. propower, Oct 24, 2013
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2013

    propower macrumors 6502a

    Jul 23, 2010
    Already voted with my wallet :)

    Had a store model with 7200 drive first - quiet but I heard it! Once apps are booted it runs fine. Boot time and load time for big projects are way longer with the spinner. PCIe SSD boot - 15sec. For everyday storage I use all SSDs (1.0TB+ total) on USB3 - 350/450 MB/s write/read speeds (can boot and run from these with almost no perceptible change!). Since my internal drive is system only for me and maybe some current project files anything larger than 256 seemed like a waste (though 512 was sorely tempting).

    As far as speed goes - the 256PCIe is the same as the other ones - Blazing!!! 700/750 Read Write. Without going internal or TB RAID there is none faster at this time.
  11. badlydrawnboy macrumors 65816

    Oct 20, 2003
    That's very helpful. Please do report back with your findings on write speed, and noise.
  12. tbolt11 macrumors member

    Jun 20, 2013
    I believe in the case of the new MBA's the 256GB/512GB PCIe SSDs were quite faster than the 128GB PCIe SSD. I can't remember the reason but there was a good one and benchmarks proved it.

    Deciding between 1TB Fusion and 256Gb SSD is a tough call for myself. I already have a 4TB NAS for media/backups but I still want a lot of space on the iMac for applications, boot camp, and virtuals.

    I also want to know what Apple will charge to replace either of the above drives when they fail. No one in the store could give me an answer.
  13. badlydrawnboy macrumors 65816

    Oct 20, 2003
    Not sure about comparison between MBA flash from 2012/2013, but the article I linked to above showed that the flash storage in the 2013 iMacs was significantly faster than the 2012 storage.
  14. antirice macrumors newbie

    Jul 26, 2012
    i'm having the same dilemma, i can't decide wether i want a 256ssd or a 1TB fusion Drive. I've spent a lot of time on these forums reading through pages and pages of opinions. i guess i'm just really afraid of the HDD dying and i think the SSD is a safer option.
  15. badlydrawnboy macrumors 65816

    Oct 20, 2003
    I'm also wondering about the noise difference. Some say it's noticeable, others not.
  16. toddzrx macrumors 6502a


    Nov 20, 2012
    Not flaming; just curious: has this actually been tested? The reason I ask is because that 4 GB of write cache is on the SSD, no? So how would that make any writing to the FD faster than a pure SSD?

    Along with that, typically most 256GB SSDs are quicker than their smaller counterparts. I know the new PCIe SSDs in Macs are not the same as what you can get off of Newegg, but would not be surprised if the bigger ones are faster. Therefore, I could see where a pure 256GB SSD performs faster than a Fusion Drive.

    Again, just curious. It's not like I'm buying anytime soon. I have a 2010 21.5" with a 120GB SSD I installed myself that holds the OS, apps, and all data except my music which is on a portable external HD. Personally, I'm quite happy with the setup and don't mind the extremely small amount of work it takes to manage 2 drives.
  17. propower macrumors 6502a

    Jul 23, 2010
    Noticeable for me --
    Had a store model with 7200 drive first - quiet but I heard it!
    Did a BTO with 256 SSD. This noise either bothers a person or not - I think most know which camp they are in :)
  18. roland.g macrumors 603


    Apr 11, 2005
    One mile up and soaring
    I won't have my machine till Monday at the earliest, but will let you know.
  19. badlydrawnboy macrumors 65816

    Oct 20, 2003
    Thanks, I appreciate it. This is the last decision I need to make (i.e. 3 TB Fusion vs. 256/512 GB flash + external storage).
  20. tom vilsack macrumors 68000

    tom vilsack

    Nov 20, 2010
    ladner cdn
    The Fusion drives are just a stop gap solution until ssd prices become more cost effective...within 5 years all computers will use ssd!
  21. Roykor macrumors 6502

    Oct 22, 2013
    Prices in SSD are good, only not in Apple land. apple charge u 500 euro for a 512gb SSD. But u can buy 1tb SSD for the same price in the webshops, and 240gb for +\- 150 euro. :(

    Anyway, i am in this split to. i work with a SSD plus 2tb HDD now in my 2011 iMac. Will it bea downgrade if i go to the fusiondrive with a new iMac?
  22. Icaras macrumors 603


    Mar 18, 2008
    California, United States
    This. As for additional external storage, I would even recommend getting another SSD (via USB 3 or TB, as pcfarrar mentions) to keep your system quiet and cool running while maintaining blazing fast speeds.

    I have a Lacie Porsche Slim SSD and zero fan and no spinning drive operation makes it practically invisible except for it's blinking LED light.
  23. badlydrawnboy macrumors 65816

    Oct 20, 2003
    I'm now leaning toward spending some extra $$ and getting 100% flash.

    Here's what I'm deciding between:

    1) Apple Store: i7 with 8 GB RAM, 512 GB flash, 775M. Total is $2,945 (including $250 tax; I'm in CA). Would get OWC 16 GB upgrade kit for $200. Grand total: $3,145.

    2) B&H: i7 with 16 GB RAM, 1 TB flash, 780M. Grand total is $3,549.

    So, for $400 more, I get an extra 512 GB of flash and the 780M card.

    I don't really *need* either right now, but I dislike the idea of paying $250 in tax when that could go toward "future proofing" (i.e. better graphics card and higher capacity flash drive).

    What would you do? I plan to have this machine for 4-5 years (current computer is 2008 Mac Pro), and while I don't enjoy wasting money, an extra $400 over 4-5 years of use isn't a huge expense.
  24. Bear macrumors G3

    Jul 23, 2002
    Sol III - Terra
    To me 512GB seems too small, but it depends on your usage and what external storage you plan to add. And as for the GPU, it depends on what you use your computer for. If you can easily afford it go for it. As for me, unless something changes I will be going with a Fusion Drive when I order my new iMac.
  25. badlydrawnboy macrumors 65816

    Oct 20, 2003

    The disadvantage of going all flash is I'd need an external TB drive for my photos. I have about 960 GB right now of data I need to store; 750 GB of that is photos.

    Even with 1 TB flash, I'd need an external TB drive for the photos.

    With the 3 TB Fusion, I could keep everything on my internal drive and then just use the USB 3.0 enclosure I already have for backup. I'd probably save about $1,500 overall this way—which is pretty significant.

    From what I've read, the read speeds of the Fusion drives are equivalent to PCI-flash (700 MB/s), but the write speeds are about half as fast.

    I guess I don't really know where those slower write speeds would show up in my usage, if at all. I do edit photos, but mostly in Lightroom now and I rarely work on large files in Photoshop anymore. I don't do any video editing.

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