27" iMac refurb - Upgrade to SSD?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by nick318is, Jan 22, 2019.

  1. nick318is macrumors newbie

    Oct 18, 2011
    I'm looking at buying a base 27" refurb from Apple (to replace a mid 2010 13" macbook pro), I like the price but know the standard 1tb fusion drive is less than ideal. I'd like to use a SSD in the machine and upgrade the RAM myself. What is my best choice?

    1. Get an external SSD and usb3/TB3/USBC as the boot drive?
    2. Pop the machine open and swap the fusion to a SSD? Would I be crazy to open a "new" machine?
    3. Pony up for a new one with SSD?
  2. chscag macrumors 68030


    Feb 17, 2008
    Fort Worth, Texas
    1. Even the fastest external SSD attached to the TB3/USB-c ports is not going to perform as well as a built in PCIe SSD provided by Apple. I have a very fast Samsung T5 SSD that I attached to one of my TB3/USB-c to test boot time and read/write. Does not come close to the built in PCIe drive supplied by Apple.

    2. You don't want to do that.

    3. I bit the bullet when I ordered my 2017 5K iMac and opted for a 512GB PCIe drive instead of the standard 1TB Fusion drive. And I'm very glad I did.

    Hard decision sometimes. :apple:
  3. chuck21401 macrumors newbie

    Dec 4, 2016
    Annapolis, MD
    I have a 2014 1.4 Mac Mini with a spinning drive. It was super slow so I added SSD via Thunderbolt as boot drive. Big improvement.

    In late 2017 I decided to buy an Imac and agonized over the configuration as I read the posts on this forum. I ended up buying the base 27 5k 3.4gz machine with the PCIe 256 ssd. I paid more but I’m glad I did it. I plan to add additional storage at some point soon. I can’t imagine cracking open this machine on my own. I did however add more ram to bring it up to 16gb from 8gb. Refurbs are a great value. Occasionally one with a built in ssd turns up.
  4. Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009
    "Pony up for a new one with SSD?"

    "Get an external SSD and usb3/TB3/USBC as the boot drive?"

    "Pop the machine open and swap the fusion to a SSD?"

    The question:
    "Would I be crazy to open a "new" machine?"

    The answer:
  5. mj_ macrumors 6502


    May 18, 2017
    Austin, TX
    While @chscag is correct that Apple's internal proprietary NVMe SSD is going to run circles around any external USB 3.0 SSD you are most likely not going to notice the difference in everyday use. Manufacturers love to taunt their sequential read and write speeds because they are impressively high, however 4K random read is much more important for everyday performance and the difference in 4K read and write speeds is nowhere near as high as the difference between sequential read and write.

    In other words: get the cheapest refurbished 27" iMac you can find, then upgrade the RAM yourself and add either a Samsung T5 (USB 3.0 / SATA) or, if sequential performance is important for our particular workload, a Samsung X5 (Thunderbolt 3 / NVMe) SSD.
  6. nick318is thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 18, 2011
    Thanks everyone for your thoughts. At this point I'm going to stalk the refurbished page to see if something with a SSD pops up, otherwise I'll probably bite the bullet and buy one with a SSD. My old 2010 macbook is still hanging in there so I may even try to be patient and see if they announce something updated in the next couple months.
  7. Zdigital2015 macrumors 6502a

    Jul 14, 2015
    East Coast, United States
    Monday’s around noon, Tuesday’s lately as well. The base 3.4GHz 8GB/1TB SSD/RX570 is $2289.00 USD, and has been showing up quite a bit lately. The 256GB and 512GB disappear very quickly.
  8. Zdigital2015 macrumors 6502a

    Jul 14, 2015
    East Coast, United States
    FYI - 21.5” w/1TB SSD
  9. nick318is thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 18, 2011
  10. Zdigital2015 macrumors 6502a

    Jul 14, 2015
    East Coast, United States
    Understand, but that one at least has a decent amount of Apple sourced DRAM, so that adding a couple of high quality 16GB DIMMs gets you to 48GB of DRAM, which is plenty for pretty much anything outside of very large photo editing and manipulation work. Good luck!
  11. diavolo770 macrumors newbie


    Sep 25, 2007
    I realize I’m late to the party but wanted to chime in on option 1. I have a 2017 27” iMac 5K with a Fusion drive. I really, really wanted to go for all solid state storage but my budget required me to use the money for more RAM. I recently put together and external SSD using this enclosure and (2) 500GB Samsung Evo 860’s. I get about 850MB/s read and 800MB/s write with the drives in a RAID 0 array. I work off that drive when using Final cut and Logic and store as much of my assets on it as possible. Still, not as fast as the internal PCIe storage but nothing to sneeze at and the whole setup cost about $225. The biggest caveat would be using it as a boot drive though. You certainly could but it’s RAID 0 so the increased speed comes at the cost of potential problems if anything happens to either of the drives.

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