Advice on iMac 2019, especially drives

carizma22

macrumors member
Original poster
Nov 27, 2005
57
1
Houston, TX
I haven’t had a desktop since I bought a 15” Tibook. MacBooks all the way ever since. I’ve got a MacBook Air 11” as my only computer and am hankering after a big screen, but I don’t need the power of the new 16” MacBook Pro. So I’m looking at iMacs, maybe 21”. I nearly bought one today, with a fusion drive — need more space than 256 gig. But I’m seeing mixed reviews on the Fusion drive, and I don’t know what to do. I mostly do word processing and Internet. And photos and music.

Can someone please help me to understand why not Fusion and why yes SSD. And why not the standard drive the iMac comes with?

I’ve read other posts on Fusion but they tend to assume basic knowledge, which I don’t yet have. Thanks in advance.

Carole
 

nambuccaheadsau

macrumors 68000
Oct 19, 2007
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Nambucca Heads Australia
Avoid the fusion drive and go SSD. Also 21.5" iMacs do not haveb user installablew memory so get bone with 16GB. In short fusion is mainly a 28GB SSD paired a slow old 5400rpm notebook style drive and SSDs are blazingly fast.
 

CheesePuff

macrumors 6502a
Sep 3, 2008
592
349
Southwest Florida, USA
If you end up getting a great deal on a Fusion or HDD model, at the very least get an external SSD drive as your main boot drive. I have a 2015 27" 5K and use an external Samsung T5 512 GB drive ($90) and its night and day difference. If you get a 2017 or later model it has Thunderbolt 3 and can buy slightly more expensive drives which are 2-3x faster then a USB 3.1 SSD drive (but even the cheaper USB 3.1 drive like the T5 will be much faster)
 

carizma22

macrumors member
Original poster
Nov 27, 2005
57
1
Houston, TX
Avoid the fusion drive and go SSD. Also 21.5" iMacs do not haveb user installablew memory so get bone with 16GB. In short fusion is mainly a 28GB SSD paired a slow old 5400rpm notebook style drive and SSDs are blazingly fast.
Really. 28GB is nothing. I was planning on getting 16 GB Ram. I have 8 on my Air and I keep running out.
 

macmyworld

macrumors 6502
May 25, 2006
302
318
Minneapolis, MN
If you end up getting a great deal on a Fusion or HDD model, at the very least get an external SSD drive as your main boot drive. I have a 2015 27" 5K and use an external Samsung T5 512 GB drive ($90) and its night and day difference. If you get a 2017 or later model it has Thunderbolt 3 and can buy slightly more expensive drives which are 2-3x faster then a USB 3.1 SSD drive (but even the cheaper USB 3.1 drive like the T5 will be much faster)
How does the T5 compare to Apple’s internal SSD Option for performance. I hate that Apple doesn’t stock SSD iMacs and the charges crazy prices to upgrade to a SSD. Been thinking about doing what you did.
 

vertical smile

macrumors 601
Sep 23, 2014
4,292
5,392
The 1TB Fusion Drive on the 2017 and up iMacs have a 32GB SSD, not 28GB.

All iMac models with a 2TB or larger Fusion Drive have a 128 GB SSD, although, if you go will a 21" iMac, I don't think they have an option for a larger Fusion Drive on the 2019s.

There will not be too many people recommending a Fusion Drive. I personally wouldn't get a 1TB Fusion Drive on the newer iMacs due to the tiny SSD portion. But, I could recommend the larger 2TB or 3TB Fusion Drive if you were considering the 27".

You could just get an iMac with a HDD and just use a much cheaper external SSD for your boot drive.
 
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spiderpumpkin

macrumors regular
Oct 27, 2014
207
136
Get the largest SSD you can afford. My first 2019 27" iMac came with the upgraded 512GB SSD but I found that to be too small. I ended up returning it and ordering one with the 1TB SSD and few other changes. Soon after I ordered my 1TB SSD iMac Apple reduced the prices of the SSDs so I missed out on that. I probably would go with a 2TB SSD now that the prices are lower.
 

kschendel

macrumors 65816
Dec 9, 2014
1,042
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The biggest problem with the fusion drive is that it's almost impossible to predict how well it will work for you. With the right workflow and access patterns, the 2 or 3 TB Fusion drives can work pretty effectively; but when it doesn't work, you're running at hard drive speeds which is sloooowwww. But it's close to impossible to say a priori whether the Fusion drive will work out for you or not.

I'll second the suggestion of getting an outboard SSD in a USB enclosure if you end up buying a fusion drive iMac. It doesn't have to be a fancy name brand unit, almost any SSD in a $20 USB3-with-UASP enclosure will work just fine. A 1 TB SATA SSD will cost right around $100 at present.
 
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T'hain Esh Kelch

macrumors 603
Aug 5, 2001
5,111
4,483
Denmark
With OP's needs, a Fusion drive will be just fine. That being said, I personally couldn't see myself buy a Mac without SSD now. And haven't been able to for several years. The difference speed wise and reliability wise (Fluctuations in read/write speeds on the Fusion drive) is just too big.
 

SF6

macrumors newbie
Jan 27, 2020
10
3
Whatever you do, don't get the ultra slow FD. Once it's filled up with a bit of data it feels like a computer from the early 2000s.

Also resale value will drop to 0. Noone wants these and noone wants to do the tedious upgrade process to a SATA SSD themselves.

Get the SSD storage that you need. Personally, I wouldn't consider anything below 512GB.
 
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Fishrrman

macrumors P6
Feb 20, 2009
18,211
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I'll bet that you'd like the 27" iMac better... ;)

Having said that, you should get one with an SSD inside.
256gb will do, or 512gb if you want.

If you still need "more space", plug in a USB3 SSD -- easy (and relatively cheap).

BE AWARE:
- You can't walk into a store and buy an iMac with an SSD pre-installed.
- You have to order one through Apple's "build to order" page online (and then wait for it to be delivered)
- You CAN find Apple-refurbished iMacs with SSDs pre-installed on Apple's online page for refurbs. They do sell quickly.
 
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tdhurst

macrumors 601
Dec 27, 2003
4,120
227
Phoenix, AZ
But I’m seeing mixed reviews on the Fusion drive, and I don’t know what to do. I mostly do word processing and Internet. And photos and music.

Can someone please help me to understand why not Fusion and why yes SSD. And why not the standard drive the iMac comes with?

I’ve read other posts on Fusion but they tend to assume basic knowledge, which I don’t yet have. Thanks in advance.

Carole
For what you do, a Fusion drive will be fine. My sister has one, does similar stuff, no issues.

Ideally, I'd go with a 256 SSD and buy USB external storage.

That's how I have my Mac mini set up now and it keeps up nicely.
 

CheesePuff

macrumors 6502a
Sep 3, 2008
592
349
Southwest Florida, USA
How does the T5 compare to Apple’s internal SSD Option for performance. I hate that Apple doesn’t stock SSD iMacs and the charges crazy prices to upgrade to a SSD. Been thinking about doing what you did.
It is slower then going with true flash based storage supplied by Apple, tops out at 500 MB/sec read or write for the USB 3.1 drive, or up to 2400 MB/sec read/write for a Thunderbolt 3 drive.
 

Ryo@ryomac

macrumors newbie
Jan 31, 2020
8
2
Japan
The advantage of SSD is not only high speed and reliability. It also adds quietness.

By the way, why is 21inch a candidate for iMac ? How about 27inch ?

21inch memory expansion is not possible after purchase.
When you change the memory of 21inch to a practical minimum 16GB, if you try to customize the order with built-in SSD for 21inch and 27inch, the difference in price is small.

In addition, with the built-in SSD, memory swapping occurred with the default memory 8GB of 27-inch 3.0GHz model , but I did not feel the speed drop.
If you need more memory, purchase and expand the memory yourself.

Personally, it is recommended that you customize the 27-inch 3.0GHz model to 1TB SSD storage.
I ordered with SSD 512GB specification, but I regret now that I should have ordered with 1TB.
 

mj_

macrumors 6502a
May 18, 2017
625
322
Austin, TX
For word processing, browsing the web, managing photos and listening to music a Fusion Drive will be perfectly fine. I bought a 27" 2017 base model iMac with 1TB Fusion Drive back in early 2018 because I stumbled upon a great deal, and I was initially considering to either upgrade to an internal SSD or attach an external right away. What can I say, two years down the road and I still find myself perfectly and completely satisfied with the performance of the 1TB Fusion Drive for my everyday work. The iMac is my main work horse for my day job, and I wouldn't be a split second faster or a tenth of a percent point more efficient with an SSD. From a business point of view (which is the way I am looking at it since it is my main office computer to run my own business and pay the bills) an SSD would have been a complete waste of money.
 
Last edited:

diego9

macrumors newbie
Feb 15, 2020
7
2
I haven’t had a desktop since I bought a 15” Tibook. MacBooks all the way ever since. I’ve got a MacBook Air 11” as my only computer and am hankering after a big screen, but I don’t need the power of the new 16” MacBook Pro. So I’m looking at iMacs, maybe 21”. I nearly bought one today, with a fusion drive — need more space than 256 gig. But I’m seeing mixed reviews on the Fusion drive, and I don’t know what to do. I mostly do word processing and Internet. And photos and music.

Can someone please help me to understand why not Fusion and why yes SSD. And why not the standard drive the iMac comes with?

I’ve read other posts on Fusion but they tend to assume basic knowledge, which I don’t yet have. Thanks in advance.

Carole
Perhaps the most important question is: what's your budget?