Fusion Drive--love it or regret it--please share!

Discussion in 'iMac' started by Susansmac, Feb 26, 2014.

  1. Susansmac macrumors newbie

    Feb 19, 2014
    I'm considering a Fusion Drive for a new 27". I've read a lot of reviews that SSD is best (I believe it), but I'm not sure I can afford a big enough SSD drive. I would love to hear from those who are currently using the Fusion drive. Do you love it, or regret it? Please share with details...
  2. Macman45 macrumors G5


    Jul 29, 2011
    Somewhere Back In The Long Ago
    At purchase time for my current iMac, the large 768 SSD wasn't an option, so I went for the 3TB FD unit.

    It works very well...Takes about three weeks to "Learn" your usage. After that, it places the most frequently used files on the 128 SSD. This means faster boot times, and better app opening too.

    Okay, if I had the choice now, I'd buy the large SSD, but I'm very happy with the performance of my Fusion Unit.
  3. Fatboy71, Feb 27, 2014
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2014

    Fatboy71 macrumors 65816


    Dec 21, 2010
    I went for the 1TB Fusion Drive when I purchased my Late 2012 iMac and I haven't regretted it. When I am loading my most used applications I see the benefit, when I am copying/writing something to my iMac I see the benefits. So for me it was worth getting the Fusion Drive.

    Yes, if I had the funds I would have went for an all SSD system, but the prices were just too much.

    I'm hoping when I get my next iMac in 5 or 6 years time, that SSD is either a standard item (i.e. iMac's no longer use the traditional hard drive) or it's not much more to go for a SSD system, i.e. similar in price to what the Fusion Drive costs now.
  4. Serban Suspended

    Jan 8, 2013
    I have a late 2013 27" iMac with fusion drive and a haswell rMBP 15"
    i dont see any differences, but i see in storage (1T vs 256GB)
    you should pay for SSD only if you want to stick with your imac more than 5-6 years...because FD it has a spinning drive but yet again, there are normal HDD that last for a decade
  5. JustMartin macrumors 6502a

    Feb 28, 2012
    I've got a fusion drive in this late 2012 iMac and I haven't regretted it at all. If it needs a restart (rarely) it does so quickly. The files and apps I access the most come up quickly. I fully expect the hard disk to last as long another hard disks I've had in previous computers. And what I'm not doing is worrying about housekeeping by trying to keep my local file usage to below 256 gig.
  6. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    Best case scenario is obviously an SSD, but with that said, I think the Fusion drive is a good compromise of storage and performance. If you can't swing a large enough SSD I'd go with the Fusion.
  7. macthefork macrumors 6502

    Feb 2, 2013
    No problems at all with fusion drive since purchase in August. Fast...
  8. shaunp macrumors 68000

    Nov 5, 2010
    I"ve been using SSD's since 2008 as my main drives and I dismissed the fusion drive as some kind of compromised hybrid. However I had a little 'play' with on in an Apple store and it was pretty quick.

    Okay, my test wasn't exactly scientific (opening a load of apps and just getting a general feel for how the machine behaved), but I was convinced it would be good enough for most people. Anandtech have an article showing what happens if you have loads of data that you access regularly when using a fusion drive - i.e. what happens if you access more than 128GB on a regular basis - http://www.anandtech.com/show/6679/a-month-with-apples-fusion-drive/6. It's worth watching. This rules the fusion drive out for me so I went for a 256GB SSD (same price as the 1TB fusion in the mini) and a Pegasus 2.

    One thing i would recommend however is if you go for a large fusion drive spend some money on a time capsule or some other storage for time machine. You should have a backup anyway, but personally if my data was straddled across two disks in this way I'd want to back it up often.
  9. Steve121178 macrumors 601


    Apr 13, 2010
    Bedfordshire, UK
    No regrets. I went for the 1TB fusion drive when I purchased my late 2012 iMac. All my apps & data sit on the SSD part and my VM's sit on spindle. Performance is great.

    When I come to replace the iMac in 3 or 4 years then hopefully 1-2TB of solid state storage will be more affordable.
  10. Sodner macrumors 68020


    Jan 12, 2011
    Pittsburgh, PA
    3 TB Fusion in my new 27" iMac. 1 word --> FAST.
  11. Susansmac thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 19, 2014
    Does the SSD portion "fill up" and slow down the performance over time with regular use?

    I will definitely have a time machine (it's own hard drive) plus a spare hard drive with a second copy of client files and I also backup both the computer and external with remote back up with Backblaze in case of fire or theft.
  12. PicnicTutorials macrumors 6502a


    Dec 29, 2013
    I was swayed away from the fusion drive based on many youtbe videos I watched showing read and write speeds of both. The ssd read write blew fusion out if the water. How that translated into the real world no clue. Quite sure though you can't go wrong with either.
  13. CoMoMacUser macrumors 6502a

    Jun 28, 2012
    If the hard drive part of FD fails, do you still have access to your most-used programs and data because they're in the flash part?
  14. JustMartin macrumors 6502a

    Feb 28, 2012
    Well, the SSD does fill up, but its contents are not constant. The operating system is monitoring which parts of the disk you are using the most often and those are moved onto the SSD part. To take a simplistic example (because it's works at a block level, not at file level), if I load a CD into iTunes it all goes into the SSD. If I only play one song from that CD and do so every day, then the other songs will be moved onto the hard disk if it needs the SSD space. If I wanted to play one of the songs I hadn't been playing, it would take fractionally longer to bring it back.
  15. Bear macrumors G3

    Jul 23, 2002
    Sol III - Terra
    No. Keep backups.
  16. macthefork macrumors 6502

    Feb 2, 2013
    No. Because, Apples Fusion Drive is much like a "Smart" Raid 0, or striped RAID that places the most used, and currently used data on the SSD portion. And, as a virtual Volume, if one drive fails, both drives become inaccessible--at lease without specialized software.
  17. DerekS macrumors 6502

    Jun 25, 2007
    I have the 1TB Fusion - I regret it.

    I almost got the 768GB SSD, which was very costly at the time - I wish I had, because my read/write I/O are below 200 in both directions.

    Another thing about the iMac I will mention - mine developed some slight yellowing under the glass near the edges which I attribute to the adhesive they used to fuse it together. I did not get Applecare before this showed up, which was stupid. Get the Applecare, it's worth it for screen issues alone.
  18. jmgregory1 macrumors 68000


    Jun 24, 2010
    Chicago and a few other places around the world
    Are you seeing slow speeds in daily use? If so, it might not just be something to blame the FD on. I've got an MacBook Air (2011 128gb ssd) and an early 2013 FD iMac and I'm not seeing any difference in speed between the two.

    If you're running test software to see speeds, it's a fools game. Who cares what a test says your speeds are? Either the computer is getting done what you need it to in an acceptable time period or it isn't. If it isn't, perhaps there are other things you could be looking at to see if there are other issues at play.
  19. joema2 macrumors 65816


    Sep 3, 2013
    I have a max'd out 2013 iMac 27 with a 3TB FD, which I use for professional video editing. It works fine. See attached performance benchmarks. I also have a 2013 MacBook air with 512GB SSD -- it has higher disk write performance than the iMac.

    However the issue is *not* which has the highest benchmarks, but does it make an obvious difference in your workflow. And if there's a difference is it worth the cost in terms of smaller storage size, using slower external drives, etc.

    If I was getting the iMac today instead of last year, I'd probably get a 512GB SSD or 1TB SSD, since I have a 8TB Thunderbolt Pegasus R4 for most of my data.

    But I have no problems with the 3TB FD from a performance standpoint.

    There are several important factors besides performance:

    (1) You must have room for all your data, both now and future. If you work with large data sets, moving that off to slower external hard drives can be tedious and error-prone.

    (2) You must be able to back up your data, both internal and external. The data on internal SSD, internal FD *and* external HDD must all be backed up. IOW if you can only afford a 256GB SSD and you have 500GB data, this forces you to buy external (slower) HDDs for this, then *that* must itself be backed up even though it resides on external HDD. The budget for a given computer configuration must include the backup hard drives, whether your data is internal or external.

    If your workflow uses smaller data sets or it can be infrequently moved on and off the smaller SSD, then SSD would present less operational complexity.

    BTW the Anandtech test of FD vs Samsung SSD may be flawed, because they forced the FD to 80% full vs an unstated capacity factor on the SSD. SSD write performance slows down dramatically as the drive fills up.

    Attached Files:

  20. Apple fanboy macrumors Penryn

    Apple fanboy

    Feb 21, 2012
    Behind the Lens, UK
    Absolutely love it. Yes I would prefer a 1TB SSD just for longevity, but in terms of speed, at least for what I do, I doubt I would notice any difference.
  21. Ak907Freerider macrumors 6502

    Apr 19, 2012
    I love my fusion drive! I keep all my video files on a external hdd then when I'm working on a video project I just move my needed video files into final cut. The fusion drive takes a min to transfer but once up and running fully on fusion it flys along. Even on the external it is plenty fast for basic work. What's the point of having full ssd when you can't even out work the computer. On a fusion I promise you won't be able to really tell the difference. What's 1-3 second diference from ssd vs fusion maybe a glance at the clock or a sip of coffee? As long as it is speedy you can keep those creative ideas going without delay. Is it worth $1000 for 1tb ssd no not at all. Now in the future when ssd is cheaper then yes go for it. Or if you just like blowing money. I think a extra monitor or raid external is way better. Or heck by a refurb MacBook Air with that money instead. Or a vacation. Better yet a dslr to get footage for your new iMac.

    I do think full ssd is crazy fast but what's the point when you can buy many other things that will make your iMac more useful. People are inpatient now days. And a fusion drive meets almost everyone's needs. Yes it can fail. But everything can fail what's new. Do they make a 3tb ssd? Nope.

    Remember you will rarely if ever have a file open that is larger that the fusion ssd. Unless your working at Pixar and if so I doubt you would be even asking questions here.
  22. tomwvr macrumors regular


    Jun 12, 2012
    Frederick Maryland
    My 1TB fusion drive has not had any problems in my BTO 27 IMAC. It runs fast, boots fast and does things well.

    And I do agree backups are important - I do three - a Time Capsule , a Blue Ray disk and I use Idrive for cloud back up.

  23. Susansmac thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 19, 2014
    Are there things you should do to keep the Fusion drive running at optimal performance?
  24. Truthfulie macrumors regular

    Dec 18, 2013
    Performance is nice. It's fast, but not fast enough for some. I've experienced Apple-made Fusion, DIY Fusion and pure SSD. I had three issues with Fusion which made me stick to two separate drive option.

    DIY solution with larger SSDs yielded better performance since SSD's performance does go up dramatically at 250/256GB. The 120GB(or was it 128GB? I forget) SSD used in Apple-made Fusion is sufficient enough for the most part, but I did notice slower performance in comparison to Fusion with larger SSD. Of course, pure SSD will always be the fastest.

    Performances aside, I don't like the idea of background data transfers between drives. I used iStat menu to keep track of drive activities, so I could monitor if there is any background transfers going on. But I found myself being annoyed for having to check the activities. But that's just me being paranoid. I want to know and control exactly which drives my data go to, but with Fusion you can't really know for sure, unless you watch the drive activity while accessing the data in question. Again, quite annoying for someone like me.

    Reliability is also an issue, it's like having a RAID 0. Regardless of how well prepared one's back up is, it's not so fun trying to recover backed up data if just one drive dies on you. If I had a back up drives with SSDs that will allow quick restoration this wouldn't be much of an issue, but that's not practical. If you could afford SSD back up drives, why not simply use lager SSDs to begin with at that point, right?

    Out of the three issues I had, I think I can learn to be less paranoid about the data location if I create my own Fusion with larger SSD for performance, but the reliability is my biggest issue. All in all, it's a clever solution to fuse fast but smaller SSDs with large but slower HDDs. Most average users should really move to Fusion granted they are willing to do backups on regular basis.
  25. Bear macrumors G3

    Jul 23, 2002
    Sol III - Terra
    They should be doing backups anyway.

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