Effectively an extra £350 to get Fusion Drive on 21.5 iMac

Discussion in 'iMac' started by BA Baracus, Dec 30, 2012.

  1. BA Baracus macrumors member

    Mar 28, 2009
    Good morning all

    Let me set the scene - current got an iMac G5 2.1 iSight 20" - exactly 7 years old and has served me and the family very well, no faults whatsoever *touch wood*. I think the capacitor problems were all sorted out prior to the release of this model.

    Well I think it may be time to update and the iMac can be inherited up to the grandparents where I think they could still get a few years out of it which includes MS Office etc.

    So, which model to get? Work has a 27" iMac which I think is massive and not for my home environment. I know I would be happy with the 21.5" model and in normal circumstances the base model would be perfect.

    The only thing holding me back is the Fusion Drive (ignoring the extra RAM because 8GB would be enough for me). If I spec the Fusion Drive in the high end 21.5 I get both a slightly faster CPU and graphics card. For me, these items add no value and will only have a tiny marginal increase in usability. The real performance boost will come from the Fusion Drive.

    But I need to pay an extra £150 for the high end 21.5 and then another £200 to spec the Fusion Drive. In my mind, this Fusion Drive is costing me £350.

    What real world benefits will I experience? Is the slower spinning hard drive going to drive me nuts without the Fusion Drive?

    When I first got my iMac G5 I used iPhoto and iMovie quite a bit. However, there was a novelty factor behind this 7 years ago and I could turn a blind eye to the slow processing times. I do next to none of this now - but could see myself getting into it again with hardware which would make the experience smoother.

    So, my uses now and in the future are likely to be: family machine, kids using flash sites, youtube, BBC iPlayer, surfing, MS Office, iTunes, iPhoto, iMovie, VPN for work etc etc A right broad spectrum of usage.

    Should I stick with my creaking G5, base 21.5 iMac or get a Fusion Drive 21.5" iMac.

    A Fusion Drive will read/write approx 3x faster than a spinning hard drive, what will this mean for my usage?

    (Appreciate a suggestion may be an external unit but what is the point in buying an all-in-one computer?)

    I really didn't want to spend £1,449 on a desktop again!

  2. bobright macrumors 601

    Jun 29, 2010
    It means everything will be snappy and fast as hell... no beach balls whatsoever. It is worth it for sure just about everybody I've seen on here loves theirs (including myself). If you are looking to "upgrade" go Fusion man unless you have money coming out ur rear go full SSD. :D
  3. Brian Y, Dec 30, 2012
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2012

    Brian Y macrumors 68040

    Oct 21, 2012
    Personally, I think the £350 is worth it - the 650m is ~30% faster than the 640 (which will help with any graphics accelerated applications such as Photoshop).

    With the SSD - personally I'd go for it, but when you get it, split the SSD and HDD - put the OS and your Apps on the SSD, and your data on the HDD. Will make for a much faster machine :).

    If you're not worried about performance, you could possibly try to find a 2011 iMac (most Apple refurbs will be new, and retailers will need to get rid of stock - you'll probably get one for ~£900 - look for an MC309B/A). It'll cost £20 to bring the RAM up to 8GB, and you can (rather easily) open it and pop an SSD in the ODD bay (you can get a 240GB SSD for about £120, or 480GB for about £250).

    So for ~900 + 20 + 120 + 10 (adapter for SSD) + a little bit of effort = £1050 you'd have double the SSD. Or for about £1200 you could have a 480GB SSD :)
  4. majkom macrumors 65816

    May 3, 2011
    Fussion drive is in reality SSD drive merged with hdd. That means, you get SSD speeds and most important, access time of SSD (this is most important for ordinary users). Thanks to that, apps are launched immediately, everything seems snappier - SSD is the biggest upgrade you can get. Question is, is that worth 350 pounds? you have to answer that by yourself. Apples decision not allowing fussion in base model makes me buy mac mini probably and buying my own SSD.
  5. Tanax macrumors 6502a

    Jun 15, 2011
    Stockholm, Sweden
    Just build your own Fusion Drive man. It's not worth it to get it from Apple. If you need an upgrade, upgrade the video card. That'll be the one thing that you will need the most if you want it to last a few years.
  6. majkom macrumors 65816

    May 3, 2011
    How is he building his own fussion - tearing brand new machine apart? that is not way ordinary man would like to take:)
  7. Paulywauly macrumors 6502a


    Sep 26, 2009
    Durham, UK
    Dude if you're upgrading from a G5 ANY mac out there will blow your socks off, even one with a 5400rpm drive. If you're not sure if Fusion is worth the extra try and find an Apple Store and try one out before you buy.

    The way people on the Internet talk you'd think all traditional hard drives have some sort of disease that will destroy your computer and that you need an SSD/Fusion to get anything done in 2012.
  8. GermanyChris macrumors 601


    Jul 3, 2011
    Thank you!!

    I was going to say the same thing
  9. Bowcaps macrumors member

    Dec 16, 2012
    Cornwall, UK

    for me I renew laptops every 2-3 years and this year went for a MBA, more money but in just 6 months has been a massive improvement in my work and play efficiency.

    In contrast my desktops are usually replaced every 4 years or so, but I have decided on the back of the evidence gained from the MBA, to replace my PC with an iMac - what I am expecting is that it will fly through the rendering in AE the movies I use in presentations and an array of image work in Photoshop will be a breeze and both being carried out at the same time, therefore I see the cost as worthwhile and may extend my time between replacements, or at least increase the resale value of my IT equipment.

    It's a very personal decision, but thought i'd offer my two pennies worth.

    HTH :)
  10. iLondoner macrumors 6502


    Think of the low end 21.5" as being a machine that Apple produces to meet a sweet spot for people who want an iMac but don't want to spend too much money.

    Apple makes less money on this model than any other iMac. So in order to make it not so attractive (otherwise everyone might go for it) Apple removes some of the options.
  11. pagenotfound macrumors newbie

    Jun 14, 2012

    Have the same iMac as you but wasn't quite as fortunate with mine. Hard disk died just over 3 years old so replaced the stock 250GB with 1TB and maxed out the RAM at a huge 2.5GB. Eventually had to upgrade this year and after the experience replacing the hard drive I ruled out a new iMac and was originally going for a Mac Pro, finally settled on a new Mac Mini with Fusion and am amazed at how much quicker it is that the G5. I think the fusion drive would be a great option for you - the mini boots up in less time than it takes the iMac display to bring up the grey screen on power-up and the whole user experience is very snappy.

    One thing you may want to reconsider is RAM though. I put 16GB in the Mini and am pretty much using all of it, simply because I can now run a lot more of the software I need to run which wouldn't run on the G5. Even straight after booting it is using more RAM than the iMac had available.

    Also, carefully check which applications you can migrate. I've lost a few due to lack of universal libraries including Office 2004. You might have to factor in a few software upgrades into the equation.
  12. Tanax macrumors 6502a

    Jun 15, 2011
    Stockholm, Sweden
    You don't have to tear it apart?
    Just get the regular HDD in the iMac, 1TB or 3TB, whatever you want(I'd go for the 3TB, you can't upgrade this later without tearing your iMac apart). After that, get a third-party SSD and a USB3-enclosure for it. Then you basically already have your Fusion Drive because that's what the Fusion Drive is - 2 drives, 1 SSD and 1 HDD.

    Then you just need to "fuse" them in Mac OS X, there are guides for it that are very simple. A 256GB SSD is about 100$. The 3TB HDD option is about 150$ more? So in total 250$ for your own 3TB Fusion Drive with a 256GB SSD-part(Apple's Fusion Drive only gives you a 120GB SSD-part). Not to mention the fact that you can upgrade the SSD to even larger when and if prices of SSD's drops to an acceptable level - something you can NOT do with the Apple Fusion Drive.
  13. majkom macrumors 65816

    May 3, 2011
    2 questions:
    1. I read about fusin two internals, is it possible even with external
    2. While fusing, you do change system files (using terminal) - what happens aftes os x upgrade? (eg for trim, after each upgrade, trim on 3rd party ssd is disabled and you have to enable it alone - with trim, it is no problem, but what would this do to fussion drive - potential risk - did anyone test this)?
  14. jamin100 macrumors 6502

    Sep 22, 2008
    This is why I just opted for a Mac mini instead. Couldn't justify spending £1500 on an iMac.

    Got the 2.3 quad i7, 16gb ram, dell 24" ips monitor apple kb / mouse for £950

    Eventually I'll add an ssd when prices on 256gb comes down a bit

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