Fusion Drive vs. external thunderbolt hard drives

Discussion in 'iMac' started by Simonmiller, Oct 31, 2012.

  1. Simonmiller macrumors member

    May 1, 2005
    Belfast, UK

    I'm upgrading my old 24" iMac to a 27" when the new ones are released, and was planning on getting the 3TB Fusion Drive version.

    However perusing the threads here it seems like a lot of you seem to be going for an external HDD solution for media, images, documents etc. and an SSD drive in the iMac itself. I'm just wondering what the benefit of doing it that way is apart from more control over where specific files are stored?

    I've been looking at possibilities for storing media like the Western Digital 6TB Thunderbolt Duo, but another back up solution isn't really that important to me as I already back up to both a Time Capsule and an online service (Crashplan). At the moment I only have about 1TB of media files, so I'm guessing 3TB would last me a while.

    The only other file requirement I have is to stream files from my iMac to my Apple TV.

    So any thoughts? What would you do in my position? Thanks in advance for any advice!
  2. Yeroon macrumors member


    Jun 12, 2012
    I'm currently using a MacBook Air (128 GB) with 6 TB storage (3 TB RAID1) via Thunderbolt. I will do the same with the new iMac, preferably with a 256 or 512 GB SSD.

    As I have 2,5 TB of data (photos & videos) this setup is a must for me. And as I want to store my photos and videos in the home folder, I moved my home map to the Thunderbolt storage. This way the SSD will have the OS and programs and the Thunderbolt drive will have the other data.

    I'll not choose the Fusion drive as 128 GB is too little in my opinion. And 3 TB is not enough to store all my data (4 TB would be). So, it will be only an SSD for me.
  3. redirector macrumors member

    Aug 26, 2012
    I am watching your solution as it may be one I would like. But the SSD option thru Apple BTO is only for 27" and is a mega 768GB. Hopefully the price is right.

    Do you think it will be possible for an aftermarket swap of the standard 1TB HDD for the SSD of your choice? That access panel leads only as far as the RAM corral. Getting to the drives may be more challenging than on our older iMacs.
  4. indy911 macrumors newbie

    May 8, 2012
    Unfortunately, the only SSD option seems to be a 768GB disk, which based on the pricing of the rMBP will set you back around $1200.

    Still not sure if this will be a dealbreaker for me. Currently using a 256GB SSD with 4TB external storage. Buying a computer with a spinning hard disk again feels like taking a step backwards. But adding an optional SSD that has the same price as a whole computer feels wrong too.

    Voting with my wallet is the only thing I can do (not that it helps...). But please Apple, add the option of a 512GB or even 256GB SSD back to the iMac line-up...
  5. Hairlesswookiee macrumors member

    Aug 21, 2010
    Yes!! 100% how I feel about this. I'd really love a 256gb SSD option, heck I could probably survive with a 128gb if I had to. I'm really considering just going with the base hard drive option, and buying an external TB drive for booting into the OS.
  6. Yeroon, Oct 31, 2012
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2012

    Yeroon macrumors member


    Jun 12, 2012
    We have to wait for iFixit to tell us if it's possible. I think it is. But I don't like the fact of opening up a brand new iMac. But when the price is too high, I think have to.

    To me that's not clear. I think they mean 'up to 768 GB'. It would be crazy if Apple only offers a 768 GB SSD as it will be extremely expensive as you've mentioned. Almost nobody would take this offer I think.

    Apple offers 256, 512 and 768 GB SSD's in de new 13" MacBook Pro Retina, so it sounds logical that this will count for the iMac too.
  7. harlex macrumors member

    Nov 23, 2011
    I am not sure if the new Mac will come apart easily because of the welded glass, but another way to go is to buy a used 2011 model and strip the guts and put ssd's in it alsoremove the optical and stuff another ssd in place of. Also can a sandy bridge be replaced with ivy bridge as a direct replacement.
  8. indy911 macrumors newbie

    May 8, 2012
    If you look on the "tech specs" page and then the "configure to order" section somewhere at the bottom, it lists "256GB, 512GB or 768GB flash" options for the 13" rMBP. For the iMac, it lists "1TB, 3TB, 1TB Fusion, 3TB Fusion or 768GB flash". No options for either 256GB or 512GB.

    Using the marketing strategy to sell the middle, it looks like Apple wants you to go for either the 1TB or 3TB Fusion option.
  9. iMcLovin macrumors 68000


    Feb 11, 2009
    Expect the prices to the same as 768gb flash on the rMBP. It's probably the same hardware.
    I doubt it will bev possible to choose 512 or 256.
  10. Beardy macrumors newbie

    Nov 1, 2012
    New to the forum....have found reading the info on here very useful.

    I currently have a 2008 iMac and am going to get the new 27" when it comes out.

    Can someone tell me if there will be any performance drop off in using Thunderbolt or a USB3 drive for the HDD ?

    I am thinking of going for the integrated SSD and external Thunderbolt becayse the 1TB fusion drive isn't big enough and the 3TB doesn't support Bootcamp which I want to be able to use.

    Alternatively could you go for the presumably cheaper route of built in HDD and Thunderbolt SSD ? Or would that not work or result in a performance drop off ?

  11. Yeroon macrumors member


    Jun 12, 2012
    In various tests Thunderbolt is about 15-30% faster than usb 3.0, even with regular harddisks (not to mention fast SSD's). For example: compare the LaCie 2big Thunderbolt vs the usb 3.0 version. Kind of weird because usb 3.0 can handle 5 Gbit/s. It seems that the Thunderbolt protocol is way more efficient and has less overhead.
  12. Beardy macrumors newbie

    Nov 1, 2012
    And it compares in speed to an internal HDD ?
  13. bgsnmky macrumors regular

    Sep 22, 2012
    Hi all, I am also working on my specs for my iMac 27 inch when it is ready to be ordered. And I am NEW to mac's in general. I just got an Air about a month ago.
    I have a few questions in the same regard to the drives.

    Yuron your response intrigued me as when you said you want to store your videos and photos in the home folder can you explain what that means? and whenever someone says they are using 6 tb Thunderbolt, that means external right.

    on my pc I currently have so trying to determine what I will need going forward.
    1TB external drive and my pictures are taking up about 650 GB right now. And that will only increase.

    500GB External that is 465 full

    500GB internal that is at 465 GB used

    in my new setup I am hoping to get organized and have all my photos in one place.

    Is the idea you are keeping our hardware in your pc more clean of the pics/videos and keep them externally? You keep the internal storage more for programs etc.

    If you are working on a set of of pictures do you move them to the pc you are working on (weather it e the air or the iMac). Example traveling figure you take your air and have pictures on their until you get home etc.

    I don't want to move this thread off to the "picture" topic as I will start a new thread for that..but just trying to understand about the drive configuration...as I will have just what you have with the air and the iMac.

    (I will also post in a new thread trying to understand time capsule vs regular external hard drives etc)
  14. MeFromHere macrumors 6502

    Oct 11, 2012
    There's no "welded glass" on a 2012 iMac. There's welded aluminum. There's a display bonded to the front glass.

    We don't know yet how the display/glass assembly is attached to the aluminum chassis. That's the key question when it comes to servicing the stuff inside.
  15. Vuddha macrumors member

    Oct 23, 2012
    Like a lot of you I am planning to get a NEW 27" IMAC [if they ever come out] and use Bootcamp or Parallels Desktop® 8 for Gamming.
    I work with Photoshop, and Adobe Premier, After Effects and I play WoW on MAC and Star Wars Old Republic and other PC only games. I have a Synology DS212+ NAS for Data and Backup.

    Going with:
    27" 3.4GHz quad-core Intel core I7 with 8MB L3 cache
    8GB Ram
    Upgrade to 32GB 1600MHz DDR3 from OWC or Crucial
    3TB 7200rpm Fusion Drive Maybe
    NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680MX Graphic processor with 2GB of GDDR5 memory
    AppleCare Protection Plan
    Samsung SE-506AB Slim Portable Blu-ray Writer

    As you see I was planning to get the 3TB 7200rpm Fusion Drive.
    Choices of drive 768GB SSD, 1T or 3T Fusion HHD, 1T or 3T HDD

    Listening to what you guys are saying Maybe getting the SSD 768GB and going with an External Thunderbolt storage may be abetter answer. But very $$$$$$.

    The problem is with Bootcamp you need to partition your drive. You don't need a whole new drive. (Note - 3TB drives can't currently be partitioned for Bootcamp.) and I rather use Bootcamp than Parallels. Maybe OWC has looked into doing Turnkey with the New Imac's and Install Larger SSD [256GB or 512GB with a fast 1T HDD or 3T] with or without the Fusion part? Not knowing if the IMAC 27" Drive bay will even accept them? Heres Hoping. I am confused as to what Drive setup I should get? Do you have any Ideas on the matter? :confused:
  16. hackerwayne macrumors 6502a


    Feb 17, 2012
    Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

    First off, you wont get good performance by gaming from parallel, secondly, there isnt an option for GTX680MX, only GTX675MX. As far as i can tell, no way you can fit a second SSD in there only Fusion drive. So you're better served with a 1TB fusion drive + external thunderbolt 3TB

    EDIT: No point getting 1600MHz RAM either, not much faster anyway, just go for 32GB 1333MHz
  17. Vuddha, Nov 18, 2012
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2012

    Vuddha macrumors member

    Oct 23, 2012
    I agree that Parallels is not a good choice and your suggestion of "better served with a 1TB fusion drive + external thunderbolt 3TB" is most likly what I will be going with and use Bootcamp.

    On the Apple site under Imac, Tech Specs, 27"

    8GB (two 4GB) of 1600MHz DDR3 memory; four user-accessible SO-DIMM slots

    Configurable to 16GB or 32GB.

    [All the new Imacs use 1600MHz DDR3 memory]


    Toward the Bottom of the page:
    Configure your iMac with these options, only at the Apple Online Store.
    One option at the bottom of the page For the 27" 3.2GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 "is:

    Upgrade to: 3.4GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 (Turbo Boost up to 3.9GHz) with 8MB L3 cache
    NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680MX graphics processor with 2GB of GDDR5 memory
    ( The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680MX is only available if you get the 3.4GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 upgrade.)

    As for the SSD information. I was hoping the Other World Computing Inc. come out with a Turnkey program with the New Imac's and Replace the existing drive setup you got with the Imac with a Larger SSD [256GB or 512GB] and either reuse the HDD or upgrade it with or without the Fusion part. Sorry I did not explain myself correctly. I do that some times.

    Thanks for your input.
  18. jarnold macrumors member

    Jun 29, 2012
    Where does it say that you have to upgrade to the i7 to upgrade to the 680MX?
  19. MojoRisinSD macrumors regular

    Nov 1, 2012
    It doesn't.
  20. jarnold macrumors member

    Jun 29, 2012
    Uhh well that's what Vuddah or whatever said. Care to clear the air Vuddah?
  21. MojoRisinSD macrumors regular

    Nov 1, 2012
    I think he may have just read it wrong. You will be able to get the 680MX without the i7. I am definitely getting the 680MX, not sure about the i7 yet.
  22. jarnold macrumors member

    Jun 29, 2012
    You really think it's worth it? I've been on the fence about it. Trying to decide if I want upgrade every 2-3 years compared to every 4-5. Decisions...decisions lol and yeah this i7 won't really do anything for me so that is out for me as well.
  23. MojoRisinSD macrumors regular

    Nov 1, 2012
    I bought my current iMac in 2006 BTO maxed out, and I plan on doing the same with the new 27". The 680MX just sounds too good for me to pass up, and I might do the i7 if it is $150 or less.
    Tying in the original topic, I am going to pass on any SSD/Fusion options because I truly believe, and wrote a thread on this, that we will be able to install our own SSD/flash modules later down the road.
    So I am going to save money on what I believe to be user upgradable storage options, and spend on the non user upgradable gpu/cpu options.
  24. Vuddha, Nov 19, 2012
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2012

    Vuddha macrumors member

    Oct 23, 2012
    I might be looking at it incorrect, You look. http://www.apple.com/imac/specs/

    I was incorrect Sorry
  25. jarnold macrumors member

    Jun 29, 2012
    Uhhh yes there is. If you look at the high-end 27" under "Graphics" (all the way to the right) under the 67MX it says configurable to the 680MX

    Attached Files:

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