Fusion Drive Verdict?

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by Greenbeans, Nov 6, 2012.

  1. Greenbeans macrumors newbie

    Nov 6, 2012
    Hi all - I am in the process of ordering a mid-level Mac mini and am debating between the Fusion Drive and the 256gb SSD. I believe I've read through all the relevant threads here (and I've searched elsewhere) and I still haven't reached any conclusions.

    Now that people have had both types of machines for a few days, are there any clear deficiencies to the Fusion Drive? In terms of real world experience, is the 256gb SSD faster/better? If so, is it material? I've seen very competitive benchmarks for the Fusion Drive, but as a casual user I'm not sure if that is the most relevant metric.

    So, I guess I'm really wondering what the consensus is now - does Fusion Drive make more sense if you aren't sure you need the 256gb SSD? Advice is appreciated - I would love to finalize my order today. Thanks to all.
  2. MatthewAMEL macrumors 6502


    Oct 23, 2007
    Orlando, FL
    I have a new i7 Mini with an SSD.

    I created a DIY Fusion Drive on my 13" MBP (240GB SSD, 500GB HDD).

    Speeds between the two are very similar. The benefit on my MBP is the one large volume.

    If I was placing my order today, I would opt for the Fusion Drive.

    Have fun!
  3. Fishrrman macrumors G5


    Feb 20, 2009
    If it's a question of choices between:
    1. Fusion drive (1tb HDD + 128gb SSD), or…
    2. 256gb SSD + 1tb internal (assuming you would get this combo)…

    Choice #2 wins, hands down.

    Is it really that much of a problem to keep one extra drive icon on your desktop, and to manage files between the two volumes?

    Another thought:
    The word is that future versions of Disk Utility will give the user the power to "fuse" two separate drives into one. If you're willing to use the command line of Terminal, you can do this now. So, if you order choice #2, you can create your own "fusion drive" that will be larger and faster than Apple's factory configuration...
  4. rikscha macrumors 6502a

    Mar 8, 2010
    A little terminal tweak already allows this, check out the post above you. The 2nd choice in your example is basically the same as option 1 (given you do the fusion tweak) with only 128gb more space on the SSD side.

    Go for option 1 @ Threadstarter
  5. dasx macrumors 65816


    Jun 18, 2012
    I'd go for either 1 or 2:
    1. Get the regular drive and put an SSD into it.
    2. Get the SSD and put an internal into it (maybe 3TB, maybe a 7200rpm 768GB disk) or even an external.

    Why? Because this way you can choose what you put in your SSD and what in your HDD and Apple doesn't decide for you.
  6. Greenbeans thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 6, 2012
    Based on these responses, I think I am leaning towards the Fusion Drive option. My goal here is to avoid having to crack open this Mac mini for anything beyond a RAM upgrade. I also have neither the desire nor the ability to mess with command line. The "total solution" for the 256gb SSD scenario would be to eventually add an external USB 3 or Thunderbolt drive. However, if Fusion Drive provides basically the same user experience as the SSD, it would seem to be both (i) more cost effective and (ii) a one-box solution.

    I do appreciate the responses - it helps compensate for my tendency to overthink things.
  7. dasx macrumors 65816


    Jun 18, 2012
    If you don't plan to move the Mini around I'd seriously consider the SSD + external option. I got two 1TB drives connected 24/7 and they do fine!
    (I don't wanna have to open the mini to put an HDD in. Just did it for the RAM).
    Plus a thunderbolt/USB3 external with an SSD will give you similar speeds as the internal one.

    (A USB3 enclosure with an SSD drive is sooo nice. I got a SATA II one and although I only achieve around 180MB/s for both W and R it's awesome for backups. It flies.
  8. teohyc macrumors regular


    May 24, 2007
    If you don't want to bother about deciding what files to put on which drives, go for Fusion.

    Some like to choose manually where their files go. For me, I don't even want to waste those extra seconds to think about it. Just for context, I've 1xSSD and 3xHard Drive on my Mac Pro.
  9. paulrbeers macrumors 68040

    Dec 17, 2009
    Me, I prefer determining my own file locations, but Fusion is perfect for my Wife. She has an SSD and HD in her Macbook Pro and it is really annoying to have to continue to remind her not to put her data/media files onto the OS drive.... I've actually considered doing the Fusion Tweak to her MBP, but I assume then I will have to change where iTunes and iPhoto thinks that their databases are again....
  10. lamerica80 macrumors 6502a


    May 22, 2008
    Good point, i agree the fusion drive is the best option for all women out there since they wont have to think in order to use it and it would free up time for us.
  11. Greenbeans thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 6, 2012
    Haha, let's not jump the shark here.

    So, it sounds like if I don't want to micro-manage my file placement or have no need to do so, Fusion Drive will automatically take care of things without any noticeable performance cost, right?

    I suppose for some of you guys, your needs would require manually switching files on the SSD to maximize performance. But, correct me if I'm wrong, there is no evidence that Fusion Drive doesn't do this well? I understand the general desire to control and *KNOW* files are located in a way that maximizes performance, but for casual use, it seems like Fusion Drive does a good job. I haven't really heard of anyone experiencing otherwise, which is pushing me towards the fusion option.
  12. paulrbeers macrumors 68040

    Dec 17, 2009
    In my case, I have several VM's setup. Many I don't access very often (when was the last time I had someone call me asking if my software runs okay on Windows 98?). I want all of these to stay on my OS drive. Since it is used so very rarely, that VM could be moved to the mechanical drive which is not what I want. But yes for casual use (again someone like my wife), it is perfect.
  13. Columbian, Nov 6, 2012
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2012

    Columbian macrumors newbie

    Oct 28, 2012
    I haven't seen any tests yet of how well Fusion Drive software handles these issues. For example, will it put frequently played songs on the SSD (wasting valuable space), or will it recognize them as the type of files that should always be on the HDD? I would personally prefer to avoid the hassle and FD is a very appealing idea, but I am skeptical until some of those questions are answered and we know more about the real-world performance over time.

    EDIT: Thanks for the link, teohyc! That answers some of the questions! (Still reading...)
  14. cawesjmu macrumors 6502

    Apr 4, 2004
    Richmond, VA
    Great article! Thanks! And maybe I missed it, but, did it talk about what happens if you order the HDD only from Apple and install your own SSD? Is that possible? Can you Terminal in and make OSX think it's a FD? Has anyone done that yet? It talked about speed and movement of files and I was glad to see it was a real SSD and not a proprietary chip type drive. So where's the DIY guide, and would it be worth it?
  15. Columbian macrumors newbie

    Oct 28, 2012
    The most helpful article I've read so far. Yet, questions remain. Do backup programs other than TM work well with the FD? How about Parallels? (E.g., what happens if Core Storage decides to move chunks of the virtual machine? Is that transparent to the VM's OS? This may be a stupid question; I assume the VM lives inside the OS X and interacts with it rather than directly with the drive, but I don't know that and would like a definitive answer.) Does the system move the free 4GB block around to equalize the number of writes?

    Another thought: as far as failure probability goes, this setup is equivalent to RAID0. (Either drive goes, the whole volume is toast.) But one could add a second 1TB HDD to the stock drive, configure them as RAID0, and get almost double the capacity with a speed somewhere in between SSD and HDD speed, for about $150 less (though with some work involved - or one could buy the Server configuration for a few $$ less than the FD, and avoid the work and possible warranty problems).
  16. stellan0r macrumors member

    Oct 30, 2012
    yes you missed it, it's perfectly possible :) check out the other fusion drive threads, there will you find plenty of information!

    (or just go here: http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1478513 )
  17. cawesjmu macrumors 6502

    Apr 4, 2004
    Richmond, VA
    Beautiful! Thanks for the link! Much appreciated.
  18. CausticPuppy macrumors 65816

    May 1, 2012
    I have an SSD + HDD combo in my 2011 mini server.

    Next time around, I'll go for the fusion drive. Unless you're keen in doing some micromanagement of your files, it's going to be way easier.

    For example, in order to keep my SSD from filling up too quickly, I had to create symbolic links in order for my iPad/iPhone backups to stay on my HDD instead of my SSD (since it's not configurable otherwise).

    Same with my Steam games. Additional symlinking required to get my Steam content onto the 2nd drive.

    I had to change the default locations of my iTunes library to the HDD. Same with the "Downloads" folder. There's a lot of things you have to do if you want to keep media and infrequently used files on your HDD.

    Fusion drive makes that seamless. It'll write everything to the SSD by default, but will eventually copy lesser-used files to the HDD once it gets close to full. So no matter how much data you add, you're still getting the apparent speed of the SSD.
  19. Greenbeans thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 6, 2012
    Thank you everyone. Between the survey of responses and the newest review of Fusion Drive (thanks teohyc!), I have decided to go with a Fusion Drive. Trying to keep my life as simple as possible.
  20. motrek macrumors 68020

    Sep 14, 2012
    I go through a similar song and dance but I don't think it's too inconvenient. Maybe you have more data than I do.

    Once in a while I will use iTunes to go through my iDevice backups and delete the ones I don't need anymore. (iTunes seems to randomly make extra, unnecessary backups. Don't know why.)

    I also set up iTunes to store content on my hard drive. This was a one-time change that I did a couple years ago and haven't had to worry about since.

    As for downloads, I download files to my desktop and then sort them almost immediately since I don't want my desktop getting too cluttered. That means copying videos, pictures, etc. to my hard drive, so they don't end up taking up space on the SSD.

    I don't have any Steam games. I can imagine those take up a lot of space.
  21. jussha macrumors newbie

    Nov 4, 2012
    i got a stupid question about this fusion drive, so basically if I choose the fusion drive option when I order my new mac mini, one of the HD bays will have a 128 GB SSD and the other bay will be a 1 TB HHD? Thanks!
  22. StevenT42 macrumors 6502

    Jun 9, 2010
    Yes, I saw a teardown that showed the 128 gig SSD in a 2.5-inch form factor. Then there will also be the 1TB drive.

  23. jussha macrumors newbie

    Nov 4, 2012
  24. StevenT42 macrumors 6502

    Jun 9, 2010
    Slightly less than that...Capacity : 1.12 TB (1,120,333,979,648 Bytes)

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