2TB Fusion Drive or 256GB SSD with an External 5TB HDD?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by TrenttonY, Nov 29, 2015.

  1. TrenttonY, Nov 29, 2015
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2015

    TrenttonY macrumors 6502a

    Nov 14, 2012

    I'm debating if I should get a 4K iMac with a 2TB Fusion Drive or with a 256GB SSD and a External USB 3.0 5TB HDD?
    1. The 4K iMac with a 2TB Fusion Drive will be $1639
    2. The 4K iMac with a 256 SSD and a external USB 3.0 5TB HDD will be $1678
    The 2TB Fusion Drive does come with a 128 GB SSD for the OS and frequently used applications. Which currently I have a rMBP with pure 256 SSD and out of that I only have used around 45GB so 128GB will be plenty.

    With that being said, I plan on using this Mac as my everyday computer with internet browsing, very light gaming, so will I always experience pure SSD speeds as long I don't exceed the 128GB storage?

    Heres will the 2TB HDD comes in...

    I will also be using this iMac to hold media locally via iTunes.
    Movies = it can hold 292 movies at around 7GB per movie
    Music= it can hold a lot of music... at around 7MB per song

    with all the media I want I will only have around 65 movies and 300 songs.

    Yes, the 256GB SSD with a external 5TB Drive is a better deal, but I'm more of simplicity person, unfortunately the 21 inch iMac doesn't have a configuration of 3TB Fusion Drive (which I would get).


    1. How does the Fushion Drive work?
    2. How long do external HDD last? would 5TB be a over kill because it will probably die before I fill it up.
    3. How long do the Hard Drive part of the Fusion Drive last? 5 Years?
    4. Lets say I only use 50GB of SSD again, will my media fill out the rest of the 78 GB first then the HDD?
    5. Will the HDD make noise? if so will that happen only when I access my iTunes media?
    6. Is there a way to manually change the algorithms of what OS X puts on the SSD?
  2. daniel.hershman macrumors newbie

    Aug 26, 2015
    I would suggest that if you go the SSD route you should add a RAID setup instead of a single large capacity external drive. Similarly, for the FD setup you should use a single backup drive, perhaps a 3TB usb3
  3. xmichaelp macrumors 68000


    Jul 10, 2012
    Pure SSD and external drive.

    You get the fastest performance, with the most capacity. An internal HDD won't be any faster than an external one anyways.
  4. TrenttonY, Nov 29, 2015
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2015

    TrenttonY thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Nov 14, 2012
  5. twilexia macrumors 6502

    Oct 16, 2015
    I've been using the 3TB Fusion drive from the latest 27" for about 3 weeks now, and unfortunately I can't recommend it over getting a pure SSD solution.

    I've run into all sorts of problems such as not being able to edit videos from the drive, and having problems in music editing as well. Some of these are fixable with settings adjustments, but compared to my MBPro with a slower SSD, it feels like a downgrade. And then the HDD part of the fusion drive starts clicking audibly.

    If you run all your apps on your internal 256 SSD and keep all your media on your external drive (with backups) then you'll be putting much less workload on a fusion drive that has to provide the I/O for both your apps and your media. If you save up a bit you can get a 1TB Samsung T1 which will give you good SSD speeds to work with as well as I/O in case you ever decide to do media production. Then you can backup to the 5TB HDD as well as an online backup solution. There are more than enough USB/TB ports on the iMac to house a few external drives, and while I like simplicity too, one or two external drives won't kill you.

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