Create a Fusion Drive in a MacBook Pro

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by OldGuyTom, Apr 20, 2016.

  1. OldGuyTom macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2013
    Location:
    US
    #1
    I just tested a friends system with Scannerz (http://scsc-online.com/Scannerz.html) and it failed. Lot's of bad sectors were causing some boot problems as well as a ton of delays when running. This is an older unit with an optical drive. The user wants lots of space (2TB +). He also wants speed.

    I know some of the newer HDDs are supposed to be very fast, but I asked the guy about the optical drive and he said it had been dead for over 2 years and wasn’t used at all. I thought about a fusion with a low cost 64GB SDD and a big HDD put into the optical drive slot. Around here you can get a 64GB SSD for just over 30 bucks (US) and a decent sized SSD for about 80.

    The question is the optical. I know there are kits sold that fit into the optical drive slot with an HDD or an SSD in the holder, but what about the cable? Since these are all SATA devices, will the original cable for the optical drive be useable with an HDD or SSD? I was thinking of maybe figuring out a way to open up his existing optical drive and then building a drive holder in that, then installing it like it was a replacement. My friend also suggested an idea I didn’t think much of, namely taking strong double sided foam tape to hold the drive in the place, but I’m thinking that may work its way loose and then he’d have a drive flopping around inside the case.

    The problem here isn’t so much the money as it is waiting for an OD to HDD/SSD adapter to arrive since it would be mail order and probably be a week’s wait. All the rest of the parts I could get this afternoon.

    Also, if the Fusion isn't viable quickly, any drive recommendations for 2TB or greater drives. I'm familiar with some of the fast HGST drives but supposedly Toshiba is now producing some that are even faster than that. Any recommendations?
     
  2. gsmornot macrumors 68030

    gsmornot

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2014
    #2
    The easy answer is order the data doubler kit and wait for it to arrive. OWC sells a good one. It will come with the bracket and cable and be the best solution. As for fusion, that is up to you really.

    You could go fusion, two separate drives with one booting and the other pure storage or you could do a raid configuration using both which will be faster than fusion and give you all the space of the two drives. Keep a good backup since in all cases you lose one drive both will be unavailable. I use a single drive in one system with data on a NAS and fusion in the other. Both feel the same but I don't have a ton of data on either, it's kept in network storage and cloud services.

    Cost aside, I would do two large SSD's in raid with a good backup routine. You would get fast access to 2TB.
     
  3. WorkerBee2015 macrumors member

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    Jan 23, 2015
    #3
    You shouldn’t try to re-use the optical drive cable. First, I’m not sure it would really fit, and second it will more than likely be bandwidth limited, so any drive put into that chamber with that cable would likely automatically throttle down to the lowest data rate possible. Remember, the original cable was designed to work on a much slower optical drive, not a hard drive or SSD. You’re talking about putting high speed drives, SSD and/or HDD into that port and having it bottleneck to accommodate a cable intended for a optical drive sort of defeats the purpose of putting higher speed stuff in there in the first place.

    I’d do as the other said and get the adapter and proper cable and wait. If you or your customer can’t wait and he understandably can’t afford large SSDs, then I’d go with one of the newer high speed drives. What you could do is install the HDD now, order the adapter, and then finish the upgrade later with an SSD.

    When looking for a hard drive, find the specs and find one with a) higher areal density than the older drives with the new drives typically being AF formatted, b) a media to buffer or media to system transfer rate between SATA I and SATA II speeds (I don’t think there’s an HDD that has a media to buffer rate anywhere near SATA III yet) and, c) preferably a 7200 RPM speed. These drives typically have transfer rates somewhere either approaching SATA I speeds or even between SATA I and SATA II. You may need to dig into the specs to get that. Watch out for speeds comparing the buffer to system speed because all that is is essentially the SATA port speed. It’s how fast the drive can read or write data between it’s own buffer and the media that determines the real drive speed.

    Compared to the old lower aerial density 5400 RPM drives that Apple and everyone else was using in these systems a few years ago, the difference will be night and day, and we’re talking about HDDs, not SSDs. The HDD will never reach the speeds of an SSD but never the less the speed improvement will be like night and day as well.

    Assuming you really want Fusion, you could put the HDD in now so he’d be back up and running, and then when the adapter kit arrives, add the SSD. Personally I’d put the HDD in the OD port and put the SSD in the drive’s port.



    Have fun!
     
  4. OldGuyTom thread starter macrumors regular

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    Sep 6, 2013
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    US
    #4
    Thanks for the replies.

    Here's what I did and what we're going to do:

    I bought one of these and installed it into his system:

    http://www.storagereview.com/hgst_travelstar_7k1000_review

    That's up and running now. As has been stated about the newer HGST drives, they really are fast. I was able to flex him on his 2TB+ storage requirement when he saw the prices of some of the higher speed 2.5" drives.

    That said, he'll use that for a few days and if he still wants the SSD upgrade, we'll order the kit and cable, but instead of a 64GB SSD, I think it will probably be either a 120GB or 240GB SSD. Smaller SSDs seem to be harder to find and the price difference is not that much. It hardly makes sense. I may try to just install the OS on the SSD and leave his user files on the HDD, or if he insists, go the Fusion route. I need to make it clear that if we go the Fusion route we'll have to reformat and reconfigure and then restore all over again. If we just put the OS and some of his more critical files on the SSD he'd be using the SSD for all the OS and application launches and can keep his photos and music on the HDD because, at least as i see it, the really don't need to be that high speed.

    That said, any SSDs that have a bad reputation out there that ought to be avoided?

    thanks.
     
  5. Freyqq macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2004
    #5
    If he wants an ssd, I'd recommend a Samsung. I'd also enable trim in terminal.
     
  6. WorkerBee2015 macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2015
    #6
    Good plan. Now your customer is up and running and you have time to finish it later. He might be happy enough with the speed improvement in the old drive that he just leave it as is.

    About SSDs, anything older than 3 years old might have some problems. I know OCZ and Corsair had a few with problems. Unless you're looking for a used SSD, which I'd strongly discourage, any of the well known name brand SSDs should be OK. I'm thinking Samsung, Sandisk, Micron/Crucial, Intel, Toshiba, etc.
     
  7. OldGuyTom thread starter macrumors regular

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    Sep 6, 2013
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    US
    #7
    We're going to go ahead with the Fusion. I've ordered the parts.

    Out of curiosity, the fan problem where a new drive installed in a unit caused the fans to come on all the time because there was some type of odd heat sensor on the drive is limited to iMac's, right? This should be just pulling the OD out and putting the drive adapter and drive in, right?
     
  8. ZVH macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2012
    #8
    Yes, the fan problem was with iMac's and it was for a few years. I don't remember which. The following link from OWC has details:

    http://blog.macsales.com/19617-diag...ed-issues-after-upgrading-the-main-hard-drive

    From their reference it's 2009-2010 iMac's so I assume they stopped doing it. It should be no problem with any others, to the best of my knowledge.
     
  9. OldGuyTom thread starter macrumors regular

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    US
    #9
    We installed a 256GB Samsung SSD in the unit. The drive is now in the OWC bay and the SSD is in the main drive area. All in all a relatively easy job and it's running as a Fusion drive.

    Here are some observations:

    • The newer type HDDs that HGST is producing really are fast, for HDDs. The HGST made it's predecessor which was a 5400RPM drive look slow as molasses. You can tell the difference between the new types of drives and the older types by looking at the media to system transfer rate, and it should be in the range of SATA I, with some of the even newer ones being in SATA II range. Do not pay attention to the buffer to system speed because that's just going to be the bus speed of the system. The HDD's media to system transfer rate will almost certainly be slower than the bus. Never the less, the speed improvement is noticeable.
    • I originally was thinking of a 32GB or 64GB SSD. Don't even go there. Most local stores have 120GB SSDs that cost only a slight percentage more than a comparable 64GB SSD, and 64GB SSDs seem to be harder to come by. I would have had to order a 64GB SSD via mail to get one. Local stores have a fair number of 120-240GB SSDs in stock. Sizes I'm quoting aren't exact, some may say 128GB, others may say 120GB, etc, but I think you get my drift.
    • I went with a 256GB SSD because if the owner wants to switch from the Fusion setup to a system using the SSD as a boot drive with the OS installed on that and use the HDD as a big data drive, the 256GB SSD will easily accommodate him.
    • As a comparison, with the old drive installed the boot speed was about 1 minute, 10 sec. When using only the newer HGST HDD, that went down to about 45 seconds. With the Fusion setup with the SSD as the main boot drive the boot speed is running slightly under 30 seconds. I assume it would be even faster if it booted only from the SSD and it wasn't a Fusion drive, but that's an assumption, not fact.
    With all that said, and just out of curiosity, is there a way to monitor which drive at which time is being used, meaning the SSD and the HDD in the system setup? I'd just be curious to find out how much time the SSD is being used vs. the HDD in this setup.

    Thanks.
     
  10. jerryk macrumors 68020

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    Nov 3, 2011
    Location:
    SF Bay Area
    #10
    I cannot imaging booting from a hard drive when there is also an SSD in the system. Even with the slower SATA interface the SSD would boot and load application much faster. My 2011 MB Pro 13 boots in about 10 seconds and most apps come up in 2-3 seconds with little if any spinning beach balls.
     
  11. ZVH macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2012
    #11
    You might be able to do it via "top" using some command line options, but with an SSD that big for the Fusion drive I would think most of the activity would be on the SSD, not the HDD.
     
  12. OldGuyTom thread starter macrumors regular

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    #12
    Thanks. I was hoping for something that would specifically provide disk I/O measurements. In fact I would have thought Apple would have provided something like that for use with Fusion drives.
     
  13. Gjwilly macrumors 68030

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    May 1, 2011
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    SF Bay Area
    #13
  14. grahamperrin macrumors 601

    grahamperrin

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