Fusion Drive Question

Discussion in 'iMac' started by airjay75, Oct 15, 2014.

  1. airjay75 macrumors regular

    Oct 1, 2014
    So, assuming there is no iMac line refresh tomorrow, I'm going to buy the late 2013 (current generation) 21.5" iMac. I'm nearly certain I'm going with the $1,299 model, 2.7Ghz model. The only item on it I am debating is whether to pay the money to upgrade to a Fusion Drive. At the moment, Best Buy has this model on sale (no FD) for $1179. At the Apple Store, I am eligible for an employee discount where I work, so I could get the same iMac with FD for $1,429 ($1,249 for the iMac and $180 for the FD). So, a difference of $250. I'm questioning whether the FD upgrade is worth it for that money.

    By way of some additional background, this is not going to be a computer that sees a lot of action with respect to gaming, photo/video editing, etc. Compared to many of the people on this forum, I'm probably what you would call a light user. I will be upgrading from a 4 year old eMachines PC with a Celeron processor that was a pretty cheap computer when I bought it 4 years ago. I'm sort of thinking that upgrading to an iMac in and of itself will feel like I am upgrading to an incredibly fast and efficient machine and, in that sense, I probably don't need the FD. But, at the same time, a lot of what I read online seems to suggest that a FD will make your iMac noticeably faster.

    So, if you were in my shoes, would you spend the extra $250 for the FD? I realize a FD will make the iMac faster, but will it extend the useful life of the iMac?

    Any thoughts greatly appreciated. Of course, maybe Apple will make the FD standard in a refresh tomorrow and my question will become moot, but I'm guessing not.
  2. rkaufmann87 macrumors 68000


    Dec 17, 2009
    Folsom, CA
    You need to decide for yourself if the speed improvement of a Fusion Drive is worth it or not. If you can, go to your local Apple Store or BB and try both out to compare and then you decide. However my opinion is, yes it's worth it however everyone's computer use habits are different.
  3. ashman70 macrumors 6502a

    Dec 20, 2010
    I would go for the fusion drive, despite the fact that you say the iMac will see light use, it will be more enjoyable to use with the fusion drive as it will be more responsive. I have a 1TB fusion drive in my 2013 27" iMac and my only regret is not getting a 3TB fusion drive.
  4. joema2 macrumors 65816


    Sep 3, 2013
    FD will make it significantly faster on many common tasks. I personally would only get an iMac with FD or with SSD, I wouldn't get one with a plain HDD. That said I work with several people having 2010 or 2011 iMacs with only HDDs and they mostly run OK, even for video editing. However if you can afford it I think FD is a good choice.
  5. Yakibomb macrumors 6502


    May 13, 2014
    Cape Town
    I'm my opinion I'd say get the Fusion Drive, the computer just feels much more responsive and boots much quicker. Also if you plan on keeping the computer for a while the FD my help it age better
  6. johnnyturbouk macrumors 68000


    Feb 9, 2011
    on the yellow [oled] brick road to tech nirvana.
    Call me a purest - but i would go for a all flash solution. I only need 100 od gas for os, app, iTunes etc - everything else is external over TB - works fantastic.

    I tried a FD on iMac 21.5 i hated it - maybe it was perceived notions, but i really could feel the difference when comparing yo my rMBP 15" pci-Exp 16gb machine
  7. airjay75 thread starter macrumors regular

    Oct 1, 2014
    Thanks to all for the replies so far. I definitely appreciate the perspective. Starting to lean toward the FD. I don't really consider all flash storage an option given Apple's $500 cost of getting 512 GB worth of it. I definitely want at least 512 GB worth of storage. I know I could go with an external drive, but I feel like part of the whole appeal of getting an iMac is that it's an all in one computer. Once I start feeling like I need to attach external drives, it starts to lose some appeal for me.
  8. cgc macrumors 6502a

    May 30, 2003
    I think I'd stick with an SSD only but for reliability reasons as two drives fused together would be more prone to failure than a single SSD.
  9. airjay75 thread starter macrumors regular

    Oct 1, 2014
    Any thoughts on whether a FD or a HDD only would be more prone to failure? In my limited online research, there seems to be people who argue for both and no clear consensus on whether one will be more reliable than the other.
  10. joema2 macrumors 65816


    Sep 3, 2013
    In theory you have a slightly increased mathematical chance of failure with FD than with an HDD. This is because if either SSD or HDD components fail, the drive fails.

    However virtually every HDD also has internal buffer cache which could also fail. Most people don't think about that.

    Getting an iMac with a small SSD then having to use an external drive all the time, you are also at risk of either one failing. Both must be backed up, except now you have two different drives to back up.

    No matter what type of hard drive -- SSD, FD, or HDD -- you must have backups. Your purchase budget must include the cost of those backup drives. If you blow your budget on an SSD iMac and don't get a backup drive, that's asking for trouble.

    I prefer SSD but it's expensive at large sizes. I have used many different iMacs both with HDD and FD, and MacBook Pros with SSD. On the iMac there's a big performance increase with FD vs HDD on common operations.

    An iMac with FD is often big enough to handle most of your tasks, space-wise. It can often free you from having to continuously use an external HDD because of a too-small internal SSD.

    If you can afford the SSD iMac at large enough size so you don't often have to use an external HDD, that's great. But if you can only afford an iMac with a little SSD and must then resort to continuously using a slower external HDD for space reasons, that slows overall performance and adds management time to constantly relocate your files.

    If an FD iMac might handle most of your storage needs without an external drive. If so a single external HDD could be for backup, vs having to use that HDD to compensate for a too-small SSD.

    You have to compare the total cost of each configuration (including backup HDD), including a realistic assessment of your data storage requirements, how moving files could affect your workflow.
  11. airjay75 thread starter macrumors regular

    Oct 1, 2014
    Thanks for the very thoughtful response, joema2. That is very helpful.
  12. johnnyapples33d macrumors member

    Sep 24, 2013

    Whoa, good stuff thanks for your input. I'm also considering a FD and found this very helpful..

    What do you think of the AirPort Time Capsule as a backup?
  13. joema2 macrumors 65816


    Sep 3, 2013
    It looks good but unfortunately I have no first hand experience with it. I have many other USB 3.0 bus-powered and USB and Thunderbolt AC-powered hard drives. There are pros and cons to each type. You can use Time Machine backup software with any HFS+ formatted drive, but the AirPort Time Capsule has some additional features.
  14. AppleDroid macrumors 6502a

    Apr 10, 2011
    Getting the 512GB SSD would be the way to go, IMHO. Any overflow can go onto a TB/USB3 external.
  15. johnnyapples33d macrumors member

    Sep 24, 2013
    Thanks all, I just bought a refurb 21.5-inch iMac 2.7GHz quad-core Intel Core i5
    and there was no option for the FD.

    I'll just run what's in the box with a AirPort Time Capsule as a backup :cool:
  16. airjay75 thread starter macrumors regular

    Oct 1, 2014
    I just thought I would update this thread for anyone else out there. I actually ended up getting the standard 21.5" iMac with a 1 TB HDD. For me, coming from a 4 year old Windows 7 PC that had pretty weak specs even when I purchased it 4 years ago, switching to this iMac feels like coming into the 21st century. I cannot tell you how quick and snappy this iMac feels. I'm sure a FD or flash storage would make it feel even quicker, but, to be perfectly honest, for someone in my shoes, I really don't know what I'm missing. I think if I had spent the extra $250 on a FD, it really would not have been worth it - if it means my machine doesn't have quite the longevity, that's no big deal to me - I'll use the $250 I saved to put toward a new iMac in a few years. Perhaps, by then, FD's will be standard across the mac lineup.

    For a short time, I almost decided to go with the high end new mac mini because it comes with a FD standard and, once I added a keyboard, mouse, and decent monitor, would have been a comparable price to this iMac, but I am really glad I decided to do this iMac instead. The seamless integration of the monitor and the computer is just amazing. Hard to see myself ever going back to a windows PC.

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