fusion or ssd

Discussion in 'iMac' started by johnh57, Sep 11, 2015.

  1. johnh57 macrumors regular

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    #1
    I'd like to get completely away from spinners. That said, I wonder if a fusion drive on an imac is a good idea. On a flash drive there is no way to swap or upgrade the drive - right? But on a fusion drive that spinner can be replaced (at the expense of the warranty) - right? It seems to me then that instead of paying the $800 up charge for a 1tb flash drive, it might make sense to get a fusion drive and swap the thing out a couple years down the road.
     
  2. Spink10 Suspended

    Spink10

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    #2
    $800 for 1TB - which drive are you wanting to get? You talking about a customer fusion drive or hybrid?
     
  3. johnh57 thread starter macrumors regular

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    #3
    Base model iMac comes with a 1TB fusion drive. A 1 TB flash drive is an $800 upcharge. My understanding is if you get a machine with only a flash drive there is no connect point or mounting point for a second drive. But a fusion drive has the the HDD connect point. So it is at least possible somewhere down the line to pull the HDD part of the fusion drive and install a second SSD without messing with the unobtainable SSD in the machine.
     
  4. Spink10 Suspended

    Spink10

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    #4
    Im sorry I misunderstood you (my fault) I thought you were talking about replacing a HHD with a SSD or Fusion Drive. You are talking about ordering a new Mac with either SSD or Fusion Drive. I don't know your answer for sure. But the Fusion drive is two separate drives so it would appear you could do this. Sorry for wasting your time.
     
  5. johnh57 thread starter macrumors regular

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    #5
    No prob. Its a bit hair brained. But $800 is $800. I've been reading on the subject a bit, doable. Even just replacing the hdd side of a fusion drive is risky though.
     
  6. ivoruest macrumors 6502

    ivoruest

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    #6
    Fusion is quite good actually. I don't know what will happen once full, but at the moment is fast enough.
     
  7. Floris macrumors 68020

    Floris

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    #7
    Just emailed 5 film-makers (youtubers, vimeors, hobbyiests, but all friends of mine) this question, without 10 minutes they replied: SSD, Fusion is bad. I trust their judgement.
     
  8. Spink10 Suspended

    Spink10

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    #8
    Obviously SSD is better than Fusion - but maybe not $800 better for most people...
     
  9. Floris macrumors 68020

    Floris

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    #9
    With USB-S, USB-3, Thunderbolt 1/2, even old FireWire800, I think an affordable 256gb SSD for boot/apps/cacahes, etc are fine, and the documents, dropbox, backups, media on external drvies s more than suitable. If someone requires speed for their prosumer hobbies or work, investing in a second ssd or more-storage boot drive is affordable.
     
  10. Fishrrman macrumors G4

    Fishrrman

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    #10
    OP wrote above:
    "Base model iMac comes with a 1TB fusion drive. A 1 TB flash drive is an $800 upcharge."

    My opinion only, but that's too much money, unless $$ is of no issue to you.

    Most of the things that will reside on the platter-based drive can be libraries, such as repositories of pictures, music, movies, etc. Speed is not needed for this stuff -- most of the time it just "sits where it is".

    What an SDD -is- needed for are things like the OS, your applications, your accounts (again, with the large libraries located on the HDD), swap files, caches, etc.

    For even more speed, you can "split" the fusion drive into separate drives.
    This will require more "management" insofar as what-goes-where.
    For me, not a problem.
     
  11. ApfelKuchen macrumors 68030

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    #11
    I have Fusion, it works beautifully, but it is a bridge technology. Yeah, to paraphrase Tarzan, "In theory, solid state good, spinner bad," but SSD/Flash is not totally devoid of failure modes, and one can replace several 1TB spinners for the cost of today's SSD. If you're running a backup (which one ought to, regardless of storage media)...

    Save some money for now - 90% of SSD speed at Fusion's price is hard to beat. And if/when the spinner fails, it'll likely be economical to replace it with Flash.
     
  12. robgendreau macrumors 68040

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    #12
    I'm not a fan of Fusion, but $800 is a lot. Since we're talking desktop, and since you're gonna have to have some backup, why not 500GB internal, then say 500GB external SSD? You could buy one plus even a Thunderbolt dual enclosure for about $500 US, what you'd save by not getting the 1TB. Most of us can put all our essential applications and supporting stuff well within 500GB. And the external is almost as fast, and really fast if you eventually went RAID over Thunderbolt. Besides, you're gonna need more than 1TB storage anyway.
     
  13. ApfelKuchen macrumors 68030

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    #13
    I'd like to see a series of tests that proves that OS and apps benefit from SSD but data does not. The OS X library and apps are far more like repositories of pictures, music, etc. than you suggest - most of that code just "sits where it is," too. I keep seeing this same assertion over and over, but my empirical feelings are just the opposite. Certainly, SSD allows the OS and apps to load in a flash (or Flash), but once they're loaded, a fair amount of that code remains RAM-resident. OTOH, data is constantly being manipulated (especially if you're working, as I often do, with image files in digital asset managers).

    I believe that Fusion (not splitting into separate SSD and HDD) is the correct approach - we don't manage RAM manually, we depend on the OS to determine what belongs there, and what doesn't, and when. Effectively, Fusion's management of Flash storage is little different. The OS is in a far better position than we are to know exactly what is and is not in use, and how it's being used, and the time we spend consciously managing SSD distracts from the task at hand. (Is it more important to creatively manipulate our work, or creatively manipulate our system storage?)

    I know that there will be times I'd forget to move a data file to SSD prior to opening (losing all benefit of SSD for that file). And what about versioning issues when I'm done with the file? If I copy, rather than move, I may have to waste time figuring out which of the versions is the correct one. When I edit images, I'm constantly opening and closing files - no freakin' way I'm going to manually manage that.

    As to "more speed..." Pure SSD consistently benchmarks around 10%-20% faster than Fusion, and that's nothing to sneeze at. But splitting SSD and HDD only buys the benefit of "pure SSD" for those items that are on the SSD. This is kind of like the casino gambler who counts only winnings, and never counts losses.
     
  14. robgendreau macrumors 68040

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    #14
    Well, Fusion is just counting winnings too. It's just a question of who is in control. More like stick vs auto in your car's tranny. You, or Fusion, only buys time when on the SSD in both cases.

    The best analysis I've seen is here: http://www.anandtech.com/show/6679/a-month-with-apples-fusion-drive

    I tend to prefer SSD if only because I am gambling that it will be more reliable than the miserable experiences I've had with spinners on unopenable iMacs. But that's a different question.

    Obviously the use case matters a lot. AnandTech found the SSD faster, but only it seems in the margins. Like with a filling SSD partition in the Fusion storage combo, and as the whole core storage unit filled, or when opening say an infrequently used application like Photoshop. For most users shuttling back and forth between email, web browser and Word it would probably be indistinguishable, as you say.

    I don't find the manual management onerous or time consuming at all, so you need to account for users like me. I have some really big files, and regularly move images around. But even with a 3TB Fusion I'd have to do that. I can prepare for that by say importing to the SSD directly, rather than waiting for Fusion to do it. As the review notes, Fusion will generally copy to the SSD unit first. But in my case, odds are that space would be pretty full, since I use lots of big files, so it wouldn't necessarily be able to do that. In any case, either Fusion or I have to make a decision, and this way I can be sure I get the fastest launch with the big files and say Premiere.

    For some of us, an SSD doesn't slow us down, despite some manual manipulation of files. OTOH, Fusion might slow us down for those same tasks.
     
  15. johnh57, Sep 14, 2015
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2015

    johnh57 thread starter macrumors regular

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    #15
    I will likely mis-state my contemplation - I was wondering if the fusion should be considered on the basis that there is now a some what more accessible point within the imac where a larger SSD could be installed internally at some point in the future.

    With the 2 thunderbolt ports available it seems likely that an external SSD unit would be much easier to deal with than cracking the mac open should a 512 gb ssd get clogged up. The $300 upcharge for a 512 Gb ssd is more palatable than the $800 upcharge for a 1TB ssd.

    Basically, macs are not known for their ease of future upgrade or modifications. I was pondering the fusion drive solely to leave at least a small opening to future mods. Cheaper up front, add good stuff later.

    ETA: I did read some more on the ifixit site: If you buy a imac with only an SSD the sata cable for the fusion drive option is not there. So you can not go into the machine and add a second SSD. (at least not without finding one of those cables and installing it, if that is even possible)

    With the fusion drive it is at least possible to split the fusion drive, and replace the HDD with an SSD.
     

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