2TB fusion drive for imac 27" - only option - still worth it?

CrowB

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Mar 27, 2019
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0
Although I live in a country with an Apple store, they do not deliver to the island I live on, and it's a 4 hour flight to the mainland.
The authorized retailers here only sell the 'base' configurations -- ie without the optional upgrades such as SSD.

I would be purchasing the top end 3.7ghz model with the 2tb fusion drive, which I believe has a 128gb SSD.In what situations does the fusion drive suck?
My primary uses are going to be running relatively low overhead programs (I'm a writer), and maybe the occasional game.
I will also need to run Windows through parallels for one piece of software.
Would I be able to run both windows and MacOS off the SSD portion of the fusion drive? (space wise it would be fine; I don't have many big applications, but in practice does it work well?)

In what kind of situations does the fusion drive really slow the computer down? If it's stuff like video editing, I almost certainly won't be doing any of that. I think all my necessary apps +OSs should be under 64GB.

Thanks for your thoughts!
 

Fishrrman

macrumors P6
Feb 20, 2009
17,425
5,646
If you're buying options are limited, well... they are what they are.

In that case, you could probably make the 2tb fusion model work well enough.

If it was me (I'm realize I'm not you), I'd "break apart" the fusion, and create a 128gb SSD drive -and- a 2tb HDD.

I'd set up the internal SSD to become the boot drive, with OS, apps, and "slimmed down" user account(s). Granted, it's only 128gb, but that's large enough to serve as the boot drive, so long as you keep it "lean and clean".

I'd put the "large libraries" (movies, music, photos) onto the HDD, because they don't "need the speed" of the SSD, and you can set up your apps to access them automatically.

That's one way to "get the full speed of the SSD, all the time".
Not for everyone, but that's how I'd do it.
 

iop

macrumors 6502
Apr 15, 2011
275
227
> In what situations does the fusion drive suck?

In all situations. There isn't a single personal usage case where a fusion drive will perform as well as a solid state drive.
 

mpe

macrumors 6502
Sep 3, 2010
314
184
If it was me (I'm realize I'm not you), I'd "break apart" the fusion, and create a 128gb SSD drive -and- a 2tb HDD.

I'd put the "large libraries" (movies, music, photos) onto the HDD, because they don't "need the speed" of the SSD, and you can set up your apps to access them automatically.
If you want to do this then I think it is actually better to keep the drives fused.

This specific use case (frequently used system drive data + big media library) is one of ideal situations the fusion drive was designed.

The CoreStorage caching (Fusion) is actually quite smart about using the SSD most of the time and automatically offload data and large writes to HDD part and turns random writes into sequential writes which has many benefits for the satisfactory performance of the HDD while letting SSD handle small writes.

Breaking the fusion means that you get HDD latencies all the times when accessing your media which isn't great. With fusion you'll get a decent caching for everything.

A while ago I did actually the opposite. Fused large 512GB SSD with 5TB HDD and it worked very well.
 

ondert

macrumors 6502
Aug 11, 2017
361
691
Italy
You may ask the apple resellers to change the hdd inside with a Sata III ssd you'll buy. Apple itself doesn't offer such services but some retailers do this. Today, I brought my iMac 27" 2017 to an authorized retailer to change the hdd with a 1tb samsung 860 evo ssd.
Also, some resellers sells BTO option Macs time to time. You may ask all of them for this one.
For the windows part, I suggest getting an external ssd. I'm using a 256gb WD usb 3.0 ssd for bootcamp. It is not that hard to create a bootable external drive.
 
Last edited:

mpe

macrumors 6502
Sep 3, 2010
314
184
> In what situations does the fusion drive suck?

In all situations. There isn't a single personal usage case where a fusion drive will perform as well as a solid state drive.
SSD-only is always preferred, but I wouldn't say the fusion drive (the one with 128GB SSD) sucks at everything, at least as far as performance is concerned (reliability, thermals, noise put aside).

Forget running benchmarks. My recommendations:

Fusion drive is OK for:
1. General browsing, mails, running business software, playing media, gaming, etc.
2. System drive + large media libraries type of use
3. Lightroom & photo editing & content creation
4. Regular use cases where you work with the same set of data

FD is suboptimal for:
1. virtualisation
2. bootcamp
3. large databases
4. software development with lot of projects or other unpredictable use (where data can slip out of cache if not recently used).
5. Video encoding, anything that involves large writes or dealing with large transfer size which can tire the cache down

I agree that it would be better if Apple just ships Macs with SSD-only.

Luckily as iMac Pro user I don't have the FD/SSD dilemma any more as all configurations come with at least 1TB dual-SSD as standard and there is no FD option :)

So my suggestion buy 1TB SSD only if you can, but don't worry too much about 2TB/3TB FD...
 
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lakerchick4life

macrumors 6502a
Oct 14, 2007
807
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SSD-only is always preferred, but I wouldn't say the fusion drive (the one with 128GB SSD) sucks at everything, at least as far as performance is concerned (reliability, thermals, noise put aside).

Forget running benchmarks. My recommendations:

Fusion drive is OK for:
1. General browsing, mails, running business software, playing media, gaming, etc.
2. System drive + large media libraries type of use
3. Lightroom & photo editing & content creation
4. Regular use cases where you work with the same set of data

FD is suboptimal for:
1. virtualisation
2. bootcamp
3. large databases
4. software development with lot of projects or other unpredictable use (where data can slip out of cache if not recently used).
5. Video encoding, anything that involves large writes or dealing with large transfer size which can tire the cache down

I agree that it would be better if Apple just ships Macs with SSD-only.

Luckily as iMac Pro user I don't have the FD/SSD dilemma any more as all configurations come with at least 1TB dual-SSD as standard and there is no FD option :)

So my suggestion buy 1TB SSD only if you can, but don't worry too much about 2TB/3TB FD...
Thank U for the detailed info. I am planning on buying my very first iMac soon(Hopefully the price will drop in the next few months) I would be using it for email, final cut pro, motion, watching videos, etc..would that be OK with a 1TB fusion drive? My sister has the 2017 one with 1TB fusion and it runs just fine for her business(She uses quickbooks) would 1TB fusion be OK for final cut pro, maybe some adobe photoshop software? thanks really appreciate the info
 

vertical smile

macrumors 601
Sep 23, 2014
4,018
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I have the original 1TB Fusion Drive in my Late 2012 iMac, with the 128GB SSD.

Of course I’d recommend a SSD over the Fusion Drive, but given your situation and usage, the Fusion Drive will be suitable.

I am pretty sure that bootcamp will partition only the HDD, not the SSD of the Fusion Drive.

Playing games will benefit from the Fusion Drive, but only if you play them regularly. This is true with just about anything done with a Fusion Drive.

The biggest negative for the Fusion Drive imo is the mechanical HDD, it has moving parts, generates heat, and generally less reliable.

The biggest benefit of a Fusion Drive is the ability of having SSD speeds on frequent tasks, while having the ability to store large amounts of data on a single drive and without using external storage.

You lose the benefits if you do very random or inconsistent tasks.

For example: I used to play WoW. When I played almost daily, the load screen was very short, like only a few seconds.

After taking a break for a few weeks, the load screen would be a lot longer. It would stay this way for a few logins but then would get really quick.
 

Tumbleweed666

macrumors 68000
Mar 20, 2009
1,651
47
Near London, UK.
If you're buying options are limited, well... they are what they are.

In that case, you could probably make the 2tb fusion model work well enough.

If it was me (I'm realize I'm not you), I'd "break apart" the fusion, and create a 128gb SSD drive -and- a 2tb HDD.

I'd set up the internal SSD to become the boot drive, with OS, apps, and "slimmed down" user account(s). Granted, it's only 128gb, but that's large enough to serve as the boot drive, so long as you keep it "lean and clean".

I'd put the "large libraries" (movies, music, photos) onto the HDD, because they don't "need the speed" of the SSD, and you can set up your apps to access them automatically.

That's one way to "get the full speed of the SSD, all the time".
Not for everyone, but that's how I'd do it.
I thought that fusion would effectively do that anyway except smarter eg if there's a few media files you use a lot they will automagically be moved to SSD so you should be better off
 
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mpe

macrumors 6502
Sep 3, 2010
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Thank U for the detailed info. I am planning on buying my very first iMac soon(Hopefully the price will drop in the next few months) I would be using it for email, final cut pro, motion, watching videos, etc..would that be OK with a 1TB fusion drive?
No. The 1TB fusion won't be fine. You need to get at least the 2TB. There is a huge difference between 1TB and 2TB/3TB fusion drives as the former have only a tiny SSD part.
 

lakerchick4life

macrumors 6502a
Oct 14, 2007
807
164
No. The 1TB fusion won't be fine. You need to get at least the 2TB. There is a huge difference between 1TB and 2TB/3TB fusion drives as the former have only a tiny SSD part.
Ok so if I am going to get an iMac and NOT cough up the mega big bucks for the SSD drive, I should get the one with 2TB fusion instead is that the route to go and will work better for me?
 
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SkiHound2

macrumors regular
Jul 15, 2018
164
111
Ok so if I am going to get an iMac and NOT cough up the mega big bucks for the SSD drive, I should get the one with 2TB fusion instead is that the route to go and will work better for me?
I'm still using a 2012 Mac Mini. It had what was among the very first fusion drives. It had 128gb ssd. It's worked quite well. The current 1TB fusion drive has only a 32 gb SSD, the 2TB fusion drive has a 128gb SSD. Personally, I would not buy a 1TB fusion unless needs were very limited. I think the 2 and 3TB fusion drives are a more viable option. These forums get people who are enthusiasts and who are interested in the technology. For many reasons, I think a pure SSD drive is a better option. It will be quieter, generate less heat, has fewer moving parts and will be less prone to mechanical malfunction, and it will be faster. How much faster will depend on what you do. That said, there are lots of folks who happily use their iMacs with fusion drives. While SSDs are certainly a preferable option, the 2 and 3TB fusion drives don't suck nearly as much as one would think after reading many of the threads on these forums.

There are things that people do that really demand and merit spending money on the fastest technology. I'm a statistician and occasionally need to do things like generate bootstrap confidence intervals for complex structural equation models; those can sometimes run many hours. I usually start them and let them run overnight. I don't need to do that often, but if I did, I'd be wanting something with a true desktop processor. A professional video editor probably needs all the processing power they can get. Gamers benefit greatly from high end GPUs. But for most of the things most of us do most of the time, a lot of the technology is of little practical consequence.
 
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lakerchick4life

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Oct 14, 2007
807
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I'm still using a 2012 Mac Mini. It had what was among the very first fusion drives. It had 128gb ssd. It's worked quite well. The current 1TB fusion drive has only a 32 gb SSD, the 2TB fusion drive has a 128gb SSD. Personally, I would not buy a 1TB fusion unless needs were very limited. I think the 2 and 3TB fusion drives are a more viable option. These forums get people who are enthusiasts and who are interested in the technology. For many reasons, I think a pure SSD drive is a better option. It will be quieter, generate less heat, has fewer moving parts and will be less prone to mechanical malfunction, and it will be faster. How much faster will depend on what you do. That said, there are lots of folks who happily use their iMacs with fusion drives. While SSDs are certainly a preferable option, the 2 and 3TB fusion drives don't suck nearly as much as one would think after reading many of the threads on these forums.

There are things that people do that really demand and merit spending money on the fastest technology. I'm a statistician and occasionally need to do things like generate bootstrap confidence intervals for complex structural equation models; those can sometimes run many hours. I usually start them and let them run overnight. I don't need to do that often, but if I did, I'd be wanting something with a true desktop processor. A professional video editor probably needs all the processing power they can get. Gamers benefit greatly from high end GPUs. But for most of the things most of us do most of the time, a lot of the technology is of little practical consequence.

Thank you for writing me back..I see on Apple's web site that for the new 2019 iMac, they have the 2TB fusion drive for 180 bucks more..and they have the 256GB SSD drive for 80 dollars more, odd that the 256SSD is cheaper than the 2TB Fusion drive..a shame that best buy does not offer these additional options, its either 1TB fusion and thats it, maybe because it just came out and thats why I think usually with them its either 1TB or 2TB fusion eventually, I have credit with them otherwise Id just go with apple, might end up with them since the whole education discount still on the fence..if I were to get the 256SSD drive could I always add an external drive to it if I choose not sure if the drive would still run fast or should I just get the 2TB fusion since that has 128GB SSD which would be perfect since I would be using my iMac for final cut pro, motion, office 365, maybe some adobe programs if I ever choose to buy them
 

SkiHound2

macrumors regular
Jul 15, 2018
164
111
Thank you for writing me back..I see on Apple's web site that for the new 2019 iMac, they have the 2TB fusion drive for 180 bucks more..and they have the 256GB SSD drive for 80 dollars more, odd that the 256SSD is cheaper than the 2TB Fusion drive..a shame that best buy does not offer these additional options, its either 1TB fusion and thats it, maybe because it just came out and thats why I think usually with them its either 1TB or 2TB fusion eventually, I have credit with them otherwise Id just go with apple, might end up with them since the whole education discount still on the fence..if I were to get the 256SSD drive could I always add an external drive to it if I choose not sure if the drive would still run fast or should I just get the 2TB fusion since that has 128GB SSD which would be perfect since I would be using my iMac for final cut pro, motion, office 365, maybe some adobe programs if I ever choose to buy them
I don't know what models you're looking at but look at different configurations closely. The highest end 27" comes with a 2TB fusion drive. The mid tier comes with a 1TB fusion drive. As soon as you upgrade any of the storage choices on the mid tier model, the prices become very close. So I actually think the top tier 27" is a better value. I believe Best Buy only sells the standard configurations. At least, the Best Buy's near me only have the standard configurations that you'd find on the Apple web site. I've not really looked at the 21.5" configurations so I don't know what those prices look like.
 

lakerchick4life

macrumors 6502a
Oct 14, 2007
807
164
I don't know what models you're looking at but look at different configurations closely. The highest end 27" comes with a 2TB fusion drive. The mid tier comes with a 1TB fusion drive. As soon as you upgrade any of the storage choices on the mid tier model, the prices become very close. So I actually think the top tier 27" is a better value. I believe Best Buy only sells the standard configurations. At least, the Best Buy's near me only have the standard configurations that you'd find on the Apple web site. I've not really looked at the 21.5" configurations so I don't know what those prices look like.
yeah Im checking out apple education now and they have this one for 2000 bucks
Retina 5K Display
3.7GHz 6-Core Processor with Turbo Boost up to 4.6GHz
2TB Storage

  • 3.7GHz 6-core 9th-generation Intel Core i5 processor
  • Turbo Boost up to 4.6GHz
  • 8GB 2666MHz DDR4 memory, configurable up to 64GB
  • 2TB Fusion Drive1
  • Radeon Pro 580X with 8GB of GDDR5 memory
  • Two Thunderbolt 3 ports
  • Retina 5K 5120-by-2880 P3 display
$2,099.00
Is that the one you are referring to? Honestly never ever imagined paying that kind of money for an iMac never in my wildest dreams so that is really too much for me to spend, considering probably in the next few years they will have a new upgrade for it with who knows what added to it..and that 2 grand is BEFORE california sales tax I do want the 27 inch but was thinking to get this one
  • New
Retina 5K Display
3.0GHz 6-Core Processor with Turbo Boost up to 4.1GHz
1TB Storage

  • 3.0GHz 6-core 8th-generation Intel Core i5 processor
  • Turbo Boost up to 4.1GHz
  • 8GB 2666MHz DDR4 memory, configurable up to 32GB
  • 1TB Fusion Drive1
  • Radeon Pro 570X with 4GB of GDDR5 memory
  • Two Thunderbolt 3 ports
  • Retina 5K 5120-by-2880 P3 display
$1,699.00
but instead of 1TB fusion add the 180 which would make it 2TB..for 80 bucks I can get the 256GB SSD but that just seems silly to me
 

mpe

macrumors 6502
Sep 3, 2010
314
184
Ok so if I am going to get an iMac and NOT cough up the mega big bucks for the SSD drive, I should get the one with 2TB fusion instead is that the route to go and will work better for me?
Yes.

My opinion on storage options:

1TB 5400rpm - unusable - a total disgrace from Apple to sell this. Don't buy.
1TB Fusion - better, but still not recommended unless having only a very basic needs. Don't buy.
256 SSD - way too small as the internal drive in desktop. Avoid.
2TB / 3TB fusion - relatively OK if you absolutely can'y afford 512GB SSD+ or have 1TB+ data and want avoid clunky external drives
512GB SSD - fine
1TB+ SSD - perfect
 
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SkiHound2

macrumors regular
Jul 15, 2018
164
111
yeah Im checking out apple education now and they have this one for 2000 bucks
Retina 5K Display
3.7GHz 6-Core Processor with Turbo Boost up to 4.6GHz
2TB Storage

  • 3.7GHz 6-core 9th-generation Intel Core i5 processor
  • Turbo Boost up to 4.6GHz
  • 8GB 2666MHz DDR4 memory, configurable up to 64GB
  • 2TB Fusion Drive1
  • Radeon Pro 580X with 8GB of GDDR5 memory
  • Two Thunderbolt 3 ports
  • Retina 5K 5120-by-2880 P3 display
$2,099.00
Is that the one you are referring to? Honestly never ever imagined paying that kind of money for an iMac never in my wildest dreams so that is really too much for me to spend, considering probably in the next few years they will have a new upgrade for it with who knows what added to it..and that 2 grand is BEFORE california sales tax I do want the 27 inch but was thinking to get this one
  • New
Retina 5K Display
3.0GHz 6-Core Processor with Turbo Boost up to 4.1GHz
1TB Storage

  • 3.0GHz 6-core 8th-generation Intel Core i5 processor
  • Turbo Boost up to 4.1GHz
  • 8GB 2666MHz DDR4 memory, configurable up to 32GB
  • 1TB Fusion Drive1
  • Radeon Pro 570X with 4GB of GDDR5 memory
  • Two Thunderbolt 3 ports
  • Retina 5K 5120-by-2880 P3 display
$1,699.00
but instead of 1TB fusion add the 180 which would make it 2TB..for 80 bucks I can get the 256GB SSD but that just seems silly to me
My main thought was to make sure to look at configurations. I just did using US education prices (I qualify as well). With a 2TB fusion the lowest tier machine would save you about $220. I'd been looking at the middle tier which would cost $2079 with 2TB fusion while the highest tier price is $2099. There isn't a $256 GB option on the highest tier. Those price differences remain the same if configured with 512GB or 1TB SSDs. With any storage upgrade, the middle tier 27" iMac seems like a relatively poor value compared to the other models. Only you can decide if the price difference is worth it or not. My guess is that for most uses there'd be very little difference. I also think the choice betwen 256TB SSD and 2TB fusion is tough and one could make a case either way. With the 256GB you're clearly going to have to be more prudent about keeping media on external devices. Of course at some point you need to do that regardless of how much internal storage you have. And you need a backup plan whichever route one goes.
 

familychoice

macrumors member
Mar 5, 2015
44
3
Yes.

My opinion on storage options:

1TB 5400rpm - unusable - a total disgrace from Apple to sell this. Don't buy.
1TB Fusion - better, but still not recommended unless having only a very basic needs. Don't buy.
256 SSD - way too small as the internal drive in desktop. Avoid.
2TB / 3TB fusion - relatively OK if you absolutely can'y afford 512GB SSD+ or have 1TB+ data and want avoid clunky external drives
512GB SSD - fine
1TB+ SSD - perfect
I've been weighing up the pros and cons of the storage upgrades for a potential iMac purchase, and agree completely with this. In my case (if I can scrape the funds together) I'll go for the 512gb SSD and hook up a cheaper external SSD for extra storage.
 

Fishrrman

macrumors P6
Feb 20, 2009
17,425
5,646
mpe wrote (in his recommendations):
"256 SSD - way too small as the internal drive in desktop. Avoid."

Heh.
I have a friend who bought a 2017-design iMac 27" last year.
I helped him choose the model and get it set up.

He had previously been using a 2008 24" iMac. Got ten years out of it without any problems.

He's a writer, and now and then adds some photos to it. He plays no games and keeps no videos and little music on it.

In TEN YEARS OF USAGE, he had "consumed" a total of 80gb of space (on the original 350gb HDD).

So... when it was time to buy new, I advised him to get the 256gb SSD.

If he keeps "consuming" for the next ten years like he did in the last ten, by 2029 he'll have used up 160gb of the 256gb !
 

mpe

macrumors 6502
Sep 3, 2010
314
184
B
mpe wrote (in his recommendations):
"256 SSD - way too small as the internal drive in desktop. Avoid."

Heh.
Well, my first PC back in early 90s had 85MB hard drive and I somehow managed to use it before I eventually upgraded to 340MB.

I agree that some people have only basic needs and they not necessarily benefit from extra storage.

However, most of us here on the forum are enthusiasts or power users and we do take pictures, experiment with software or maintain media libraries, etc.. Thus I can't recommend buying a new $2000+ desktop computer for general use with only 256GB storage in 2019.
 

eric89074

macrumors regular
Sep 19, 2012
141
146
What country do you live in? Is there a reshipping company you can have your order sent to then sent to your home?
 

lakerchick4life

macrumors 6502a
Oct 14, 2007
807
164
I have apple education..so this is the config that would be of best value even though its still super expensive for me LOL

Hardware
  • 3.0GHz 6-core 8th-generation Intel Core i5 processor, Turbo Boost up to 4.1GHz
  • 8GB 2666MHz DDR4 memory
  • Radeon Pro 570X with 4GB of GDDR5 memory
  • 2TB Fusion Drive storage
  • Magic Mouse 2
  • Magic Keyboard - US English
  • Accessory Kit
Software
  • Pages, Numbers, Keynote
  • Photos, iMovie, GarageBand
  • macOS


the 2TB drive makes sense since I think 256GB I would eventually regret buying..since it does come with 128GB SSD how would that work..the mojave software goes on that and I can configure what software titles to go into the SSD drive, like final cut pro, motion, etc?
So far only seems that apple allows you to configure what computer you want, with best buy they only have the already built desktops, but I think eventually they will allow you to add the 2TB fusion for 200 bucks more(I have credit to use at best buy which is why I prefer there)
I see on the best buy screen they do have options to add the 2TB fusion but its currently "Not available" not sure how long it takes to appear I see with the 2017 model they already have that option so not sure how long it takes
Do you all think the above specs are enough for me..I will NOT be doing hardcore gaming on it, just something reliable
 

mikehalloran

macrumors 68000
Oct 14, 2018
1,603
392
The Sillie Con Valley
mpe wrote (in his recommendations):
"256 SSD - way too small as the internal drive in desktop. Avoid."

Heh.
I have a friend who bought a 2017-design iMac 27" last year.
I helped him choose the model and get it set up.

He had previously been using a 2008 24" iMac. Got ten years out of it without any problems.

He's a writer, and now and then adds some photos to it. He plays no games and keeps no videos and little music on it.

In TEN YEARS OF USAGE, he had "consumed" a total of 80gb of space (on the original 350gb HDD).

So... when it was time to buy new, I advised him to get the 256gb SSD.

If he keeps "consuming" for the next ten years like he did in the last ten, by 2029 he'll have used up 160gb of the 256gb !
I work with a few writers and retired school teachers. This might as well be their systems, too.

It all depends on who the end user is and what they do with it. I would not be able to make a 256GB boot drive work —but I am not anyone else. My wife, OTOH, is getting near capacity on the 128GB SSD in her MacBook Air and has 160GB on her 2011 iMac.
[doublepost=1554165734][/doublepost]
Also, some resellers sells BTO option Macs time to time.
Are you sure the reseller cannot order a Build to Order Mac?

It is no fun to spend the money and not get what you want/need.