Fusion Drive... Anyone own an iMac with one... Thoughts

Discussion in 'iMac' started by jdsmooooth, Oct 27, 2014.

  1. jdsmooooth macrumors newbie

    Oct 27, 2014
    Hello All,

    I purchased a Retina iMac that's still in processing. Everyone on this site seems to go all in with at least a 512GB SSD. I went for the 4.0ghz processor and the m295x and a 3TB Fusion Drive. I have about 700MB of data on my current iMac... a late 2009 i7. I know that I'm already over $3,000 with Apple Care so part of me says what's another $650. However... I'm not so sure that there's just any real compelling reason to go all SSD?

    We edit videos and photos regularly and my older son will do some gaming once the new machine gets here.

    Anyone with a fusion drive actually enjoy using it, or would you never go that direction again?

    Thanks for your time!
  2. tillsbury macrumors 65816

    Dec 24, 2007
    Personally I think it's daft to have a hard disk in any machine. Except for NAS RAID storage, they are last decade's technology and deserve to stay there. Last five machines I've had have been SSD-only.
  3. ashman70 macrumors 6502a

    Dec 20, 2010
    I have a late 2013 27" iMac with a 1TB fusion drive and I love it, performance is great, my only regret is not getting the 3TB fusion drive. It really comes down to budget and space requirements, for me, fusion is the best of both so I'd say stick with the 3TB fusion.
  4. DotCom2 macrumors 68040

    Feb 22, 2009
    Yeah, I just went with the 3TB fusion as well.
    I need the space.
    Best of both worlds IMHO.
  5. Bryan Bowler macrumors 68040

    Sep 27, 2008

    Fusion Drives are great and have worked really well these last few years.

    I love SSDs and I ordered the 512 GB SSD option for my new 5K iMac. However, I will also be adding a RAID 5 array to my new iMac as well, so that will take of my storage needs with speeds that rival SSD speeds as well.

    SSDs are great, but they come at a price. Both in terms of cost and storage. Most folks that order a SSD in their iMac will also have to add external storage. There's nothing wrong with that if you're willing to absorb the extra cost.

    If you are just an everyday internet user, a video editor that will only edit 1-2 streams of 1080p video at the same time, or a photography enthusiast...then the Fusion Drive is the best way to go. Honestly, only true power users that must access large amounts of data in real-time need the speed that SSDs and/or RAID can provide. So, unless money is no concern, the Fusion Drive is the best choice for most people.

  6. FuNGi macrumors 65816


    Feb 26, 2010
    My wife's 2013 21" iMac with a 1TB fushion drive is very fast and responsive – comparable to pure SSD in daily performance. Plus, as iMac's aren't moving around like a laptop, the added robustness of a SSD is not necessary. Enjoy your machine.
  7. nrubenstein macrumors 6502

    Aug 5, 2008
    Washington, DC
    I have a Fusion drive in my work iMac. It's fine, but not as good as pure SSD, as you'd expect.

    Unlike many of these folks here, I would be *delighted* to have a spinning drive in my iMac. But I was not willing to hamstring the SSD for it. Especially when the platter drive options are crap. (I mean, seriously, not even 4TB?) If I could have added a 6TB platter driver, I would have done so if I had my choice of SSD.
  8. joema2 macrumors 65816


    Sep 3, 2013
    You will be very happy with the new iMac, regardless of what drive option.

    I assume you mean you're using 700GB, not MB. If your video work ever increases, this can take lots of space. I have single FCP X libraries that are over 1TB.

    Over the several-year life of your new iMac, if you'll *ever* shoot raw DSLR stills, this takes a huge amount of space. Each raw still from a Nikon D800 is about 40 megabytes. Shooting 1080p H.264 video can take from 4 to about 12 megabytes per sec, depending on the compression.

    So this helps illustrate why people doing serious video/still work can't just put it all on an internal SSD. You can move it back and forth to a slower external drive, but this has its own complications.

    I have a 3TB FD on my 2013 iMac 27, and it works well for editing videos and stills. However most of my data is on an external Pegasus R4 Thunderbolt RAID array. I would probably have slightly better overall performance with a 512GB SSD, but the FD does well. Close examination of the FD disk queue shows I am rarely bottlenecked on I/O. If you aren't commonly waiting on I/O, faster I/O won't help.

    The 3TB FD is a good overall solution and is much faster than the HDD in your current 2009 iMac. If you know for sure your needs will grow to require an external Thunderbolt drive array, then maybe a 256GB or 512GB SSD iMac might be a little better fit, but that would require getting the drive array immediately, which is a lot more money.

    Another issue is as any HDD fills up (inc'l FD), performance (esp write performance) will slow down. There are various recommendations on this, ranging from maintaining 20% free space to 50% free space. SSD retains full performance down to about 3% free space.

    Just don't hamstring yourself with a too-small SSD then have to move files back and forth frequently to a slow bus-powered USB 3 HDD.
  9. nrubenstein macrumors 6502

    Aug 5, 2008
    Washington, DC
    To be clear, while there are definite functionality issues with USB3 (drive disconnects are annoying as hell), speed is not one of them. USB3 is perfectly capable of maxing out the transfer speeds that a platter drive is capable of. ~125MB/s on the random Seagate that I had lying around, which is a great deal less than the theoretical limit of the bus and about right for the drive.

    I'm sure that there are some performance penalties, but it's not like in the past where USB2 completely crippled external drive performance.
  10. joema2 macrumors 65816


    Sep 3, 2013
    Yes a 7,200 rpm AC-powered drive with USB 3 interface can be pretty fast. That is why I specifically stated bus-powered drives, which are typically a lot slower. I have about 100 terabytes of video on many different drives and have tested lots of them.
  11. freshe macrumors regular

    Jul 15, 2012
    I have 3tb fusion - and Im happy with it. Probably still bit slower than ssd on its own but it feels like an upgrade from your regular hdd. I would not hesitate when choosing unless you want to go with say 256 flash storage. Although I'm happy with the extra storage my drive offers.
  12. fathergll macrumors 65816

    Sep 3, 2014
    I'd be 100% on board with fusion if they were as reliable as an SSD. SSD can fail as well but down the road it seems like a spinner is logically going to be more of an issue than pure SSD. I'm not a hardware engineer so I could be completely wrong but everything I've owned that is SSD has been awesome even years later. If I go with fusion I feel as if there are now 2 points of possible failure to my storage.
  13. gnasher729 macrumors P6


    Nov 25, 2005
    Lot's of people on this site seem to be absolute fanatics and they would never ever buy something that isn't an SSD drive and make fun of you if you do. The thing is, it isn't their money. It's yours.

    If you use 700 GB now, then in all likelihood you are going to exceed 1TB at some near point in the future. With an expensive 1TB SSD drive, you are stuck. Fusion isn't magic, but it gets you a good part of the speed advantage of SSD, and the 3TB Fusion drive gives you tons of storage.

    You could look at it in a different way: Fix your price. Then check what things you'd have to remove to get a 1TB SSD drive instead of 3TB Fusion while paying the same money.
  14. nrubenstein macrumors 6502

    Aug 5, 2008
    Washington, DC
    At that point, you can either fix it, or separate the drives.

    If you don't care about your data (and you should not, because it should be backed up), then the Fusion drive may increase the odds of *a* failure occurring, but the odds of *both* drives failing at the same time are very low. You could therefore keep the machine going using whichever drive still worked. Yes, you would have to wipe it, but that's why it's best to avoid storing critical data only in one place.
  15. Chippy99 macrumors 6502a

    Apr 28, 2012
    Amen to that! I've been saying the same for ages.

    IMHO it's also not a good plan to be storing personal data on an unencrypted disk drive in an iMac. If the machine ever dies completely, you cannot wipe your drive and the iMac has to go back to Apple. You are in the hands of the repair technicians hoping they (a) don't spy on your files and (b) follow proper procedures in ensuring your drive is wiped. There are many instances of customers buying refurbed machines and finding someone else's files on there. It should never happen but it does.

    Keep your OS, programs and scratch files on the SSD. Keep everything else external so if the machine breaks so can send it back and keep your personal stuff safe. There is no performance disadvantage, lots of flexibility advantages and you will need external backup media anyway, so where's the problem?

    Personal data inside the machine makes no sense to me.
  16. Chippy99 macrumors 6502a

    Apr 28, 2012
    Or just buy an iMac with 256GB internal SSD? You don't need to store jpegs, movies and audio files on an SSD. Come to think or it, you don't need SSD for pdf's, office docs or pretty much anything else either.

    The only thing you really want to have on an SSD is the OS, Program files and perhaps game files for faster loading. Everything else belongs on disk at this point I think. Everything will be solid state eventually but at present economics, SSD is too expensive to hold everything.
  17. philipma1957 macrumors 603


    Apr 13, 2010
    Howell, New Jersey
    Now I like build 2012 minis with a 1tb hdd and a 1 tb ssd into fusion monsters. Notice a 1 to 1 ratio of ssd to hdd.

    apples 3tb is 128gb ssd to 3tb hdd about a 1 to 25 ration ssd to hdd. I don't like that for some of my customers.

    I never make a fusion drive worse then 256 gb ssd to 500 gb hdd or 1 to 2 ssd to hdd.

    but that is in minis . Minis were easy to do this to.

    iMacs are harder so I tell my iMac csutomers it is :

    very simple buy stock hdd cost = 0 extra .

    then buy a good external thunderbolt .

    I own

    2 lacie little big disks http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/controller/home?O=&sku=824998&Q=&is=REG&A=details

    1 seagate thunderbolt http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produ...33_external_thunderbolt_portable_adapter.html

    1 lacie thunderbolt http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/910583-REG/lacie_9000360_2big_6tb_thunderbolt_raid.html

    1 pegasus r6 http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produ...s_promise_pegasus2_r_6_bay_6x2tb_t_bolt2.html

    1 blackmagic 4 bay ssd dock http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produ...gn_diskmdock4_tb2_blackmagic_multidock_2.html

    I consider them to like a monitor or a tv.
    I swap out my macs and keep my thunderbolt drives.
  18. Scott6666 macrumors 65816


    Feb 2, 2008
    First of all, this is an insane amount of hardware.

    Second of all, are any of the SSD internals or you build them out of fusing the thunderbolt SSD with the thunderbolt HDD

    Third, are there any not so expensive thunderbolt ssd enclosures that you know of (other than the multi-dock which is rather large and the STAE133 which has not enclosure really)?
  19. GolferChris68 macrumors newbie

    Sep 24, 2012
    That's the same build I went with - 4Ghz CPU, m295x GPU and 3TB Fusion drive. No regrets at all. Performance is very good.
  20. DotCom2 macrumors 68040

    Feb 22, 2009
    Good to know.
    Thanks for posting!
  21. philipma1957 macrumors 603


    Apr 13, 2010
    Howell, New Jersey
    I have had a very large mac mini upgrading business so they were helpful.

    Here is the way to do this on the cheap.

    buy this pull the hdd and use it for an ssd.


    then put that hdd into this


    this is under 200 and you get any ssd you want . far more flexible then a locked in fusion setup.

    plus you more the storage when you sell the pc. but hey thats just my way of dealing with apples insistence of small internal options.

    the biggest internal option on any 2014 mac is the 3tb fusion on the iMac frankly that is nuts ,but that's apple for you.

    Backwards tech when it comes to pc's.

    a 2012 mac mini could do a 3tb fusion or a 4tb raid0. no current 2014 mac can do 4tb internally.
  22. habeebhashim macrumors member

    Jun 16, 2009
    ^ Word

    My new 5K was ordered with 3TB Fusion. Not because I don't know what an SSD is. Paid almost USD 600/- for an Intel X25m SSD back in 2009. This was to put in my 13" unibody Macbook lol. So almost for the price of the MB :D

    But was worth it. Things were flying on the MB. Still use the drive after more than 5 years. It's sitting on my wife's 13" 2009 MBP.

    When I got my rMBP, there was no need to debate about SSD or platter HDD.

    But I chose the Fusion drive on the iMac as all reviews earlier (and my usage now) points to that its pretty decent vs SSD for the cost. And with 128GB SSD, my entire OS X installation and all the apps are installed in the SSD.
  23. SaSaSushi macrumors 68040


    Aug 8, 2007
    Takamatsu, Japan
    See my reply to this thread.
  24. senseless macrumors 68000


    Apr 23, 2008
    Pennsylvania, USA
    With the iMac so constricted, isn't it better to do SSD internal for heat reduction? 256 gb should be plenty for the system and apps to reside on. External for storage.
  25. BJB Productions macrumors 65816

    BJB Productions

    Nov 10, 2008
    I'm concerned about Fusion Drive using up my flash space with things like iTunes content which I really do not want on flash storage. I would much rather have all my applications stored on the flash side and iTunes content on the HDD side. Anyone have any input on how well it does with big iTunes libraries?

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