HDD vs SSD (is it worth it?)

Discussion in 'iMac' started by gskowal, Apr 16, 2014.

  1. gskowal macrumors member

    Jun 27, 2008
    My 2007 imac died and I'm in need of getting a new computer. I'm down to two refurbished choices :

    3.2ghz 1tb HDD at $1529
    3.2ghz 512 flash storage at $1949

    Imac will be mostly used for Lightroom 5, PS, and some cubase/kontakt .
    I want this computer to last me for about 5 years and I'm wondering if the extra $500(including tax) for flash storage even makes sense. Any advice? Thanks!
  2. simsaladimbamba

    Nov 28, 2010
    The HDD is the slowest component in a computer nowadays, flash storage is seven times faster in sequential read and write speeds, and dozens of times faster in those quick random access scenarios (finding a file, writing something to the cache) and will make a computer finally fast enough to not have to wait all the time.
  3. Jolly-boo macrumors member

    May 8, 2012
    You have a similar thought that I have, concerning long use, except I know what I'll do. But of course I'll be waiting a year or two so hopefully SSD will get some cheaper.

    I would go with the 500GB ssd, if you think you can afford it. Why? That SSD is several times faster and there's no spinning disc is a given. But I would pick the SSD because its far more future proof. This is clearly were storage is going. Its faster and makes like no noise.

    You'll be all the better for it to pick somewhat that will become more standard as time goes by. I don't really know the growth of rate of the SSD and where it will be (cost wise) next year, but its a nice investment all the same.

    If 500GB is little then just keep your movies on an external hard drive or whatever.

    A fusion drive would be a compromise, but you didn't list that.
  4. gskowal thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 27, 2008
    I personally don't care for the size of my internal drive as long as it's 512gb. I will be storing almost everything on the external drives. For now I will be using usb3 drives but with time I would love to move over to external SSDs. I know that the HDD is a lot slower when it comes to booting time and startups but I keep hearing everywhere that it makes no difference when actually working in programs like Photoshop , Lightroom , Logic or Final cut. I'm one of those people who don't really mind slower boot up times as long as when I'm actually working in Ps or Logic my imac is not choking due to HDD. But I do feel like the SSD is a better choice if thinking about keeping the computer for up to 4 years. But that extra $500 seems a bit too high for me.

    Btw. Does AppleCare cover Flash storage replacements?
  5. shaunp macrumors 68000

    Nov 5, 2010
    I wouldn't even consider the HDD for a system drive as it's just too slow when compared to everything else. Once you've gotten used to SSD's you won't ever want to go back to a HDD. It's like when we moved from floppy disks to hard disks many years ago.
  6. theluggage macrumors 68040

    Jul 29, 2011
    I'd definitely go for SSD if you can afford it. Last year, I put a 250GB SSD into my 2011 MBP as the system disc and it made it feel like a new computer - far more responsive in general use.

    Its frustrating that you can't easily upgrade the SSD (if prices fall) or add a 3rd party HDD to the iMac without hair-raising escapades with pizza cutters and glue. In the case of my good 'ol MBP I was able (like many before) to shift the original 750MB into the optical bay and keep it for 'bulky' storage. Even the new rMBP looks as if its easier to get at the SSD blade, should someone offer upgrades in the future.
  7. gskowal thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 27, 2008
    I just figured that for that $500 difference I can get 32gig ram, AppleCare. How I wish that there was access to replace drives by a customer himself and not this voiding the warranty nonsense. The HDD version would cost me just over $1600 and the SDD almost $2100. Quite a difference.
  8. plinden macrumors 68040


    Apr 8, 2004
    You're looking at iMacs? I'd get one with a Fusion drive rather than solely SSD or HDD. Any refurbs with a Fusion drive in your price range?

    Edit: Barefeats SSD/HDD/Fusion drive comparison - http://barefeats.com/imac12d1.html

    Once you've used a computer with an SSD you'll never want to go back to a HDD. It's noticeably faster, not just at boot time.
  9. slayerizer macrumors 6502a

    Nov 9, 2012
    I went at Staples this afternoon and the Macbook air was faster then the macbook pro standing besides it (hdd). I wasn't using doing any heavy lifting but the air was more enjoyable because of the sdd
  10. PatriotInvasion macrumors 68000


    Jul 18, 2010
    Boston, MA
    SSD is a must if you want to feel great about your Mac for 5 years...quite a long time in this age of ever-evolving tech.

    Here's your compromise --- you said you will be storing most of your media on external drives, so why not just get the 256GB SSD-only iMac and call it a day? That's what I did, and I still have 100GB of free internal space. If I need a larger file I access it via an external Thunderbolt HDD or on my Time Capsule. If you pay the $500 premium for the 512GB SSD and leave say, 150-200GB unused, than you have wasted money when you could have made 256GB work.
  11. Fishrrman macrumors G5


    Feb 20, 2009
    The OP wrote above:
    [[ Imac will be mostly used for Lightroom 5, PS, and some cubase/kontakt .
    I want this computer to last me for about 5 years and I'm wondering if the extra $500(including tax) for flash storage even makes sense. Any advice? ]]

    My advice will be different from others' on this forum.

    Instead of paying $400 extra, I would suggest this:

    Buy the 3.2ghz with the 1tb HDD for the lower price.

    Buy a "bare" SSD of your choosing. You can find 240-256gb SSD's out there now in the $120-130 price range if you shop carefully.

    Buy either an external enclosure like this:

    Or... buy a USB3/SATA docking station like this:
    (disclaimer: I have no financial association with the above products)

    Now, do this:
    1. When the iMac arrives, set it up as you normally would.
    2. Put the drive into the enclosure or dock and initialize it using Disk Utility
    3. Download CarbonCopyCloner, free to download and use for 30 days
    4. Clone the OS/apps/data from the iMac to your external SSD

    Let the external SSD become your "external booter". Even though it's USB3 (not thunderbolt) you will be AMAZED at the boot and run speeds you get from it.

    You should consider partitioning your 1tb internal HDD.
    Make the first partition the size of the SSD. Let the second be whatever space is left.
    Now, "re-clone" the contents of the external boot SSD back to the first partition on a regular basis. If you do this, you will always have an instantly-bootable backup of your OS/apps/accounts, etc.
    You can use the second partition for scratch storage, or as an "archival volume" (containing things you wish to keep that would otherwise "clog up" your boot drive.
    If you wish, get another external drive to serve as a backup of your scratch/archive partition.

    If you get an external dock/240gb SSD, you will have spent about $155 -- and you will now have a combined total of 1.25tb of storage.

    If you spend $400 extra for the 512 SSD, you will have spent $350 more, for about 1/3 the total space...
  12. bry223 macrumors regular

    Mar 1, 2004
    Get the HDD refurb. Use the money you would've saved to get a thunderbolt cable, a go flex desktop adapter and a 512gb SSD, you get the best of both worlds. You can just boot from the TB drive.
  13. zone23 macrumors 68000

    May 10, 2012
    You know its tough when you look at it this way because it's the total price. If you were to get a SSD say 6 months from now would the $400 price tag bother you as much? Probably not, don't get me wrong its still a chunk of change. Personally I don't like extra drives and things around my iMac if I can avoid it. SSD drives are definitely worth the money. I think the best part is zero seek times meaning there's no delay while the hard drives spins up from sleep.
  14. Naimfan Suspended


    Jan 15, 2003
    2 thoughts:

    1. It is always easy to spend money that isn't yours. That's a big (outrageous) price gap to get half the storage. You could almost buy a base Mini for the up-charge to the SSD model. And the OP has other items to get that represent better value.

    2. SSDs aren't the panacea many claim. Sure, they can significantly shorten boot and application launch times, but most people won't see a noticeable difference in day to day use. Here, only the OP knows if they'll see much benefit. Most people rarely reboot much, and most open applications and leave them up, so the main advantages of SSD are not utilized often. And there is still a significant price premium (though shrinking seemingly by the month).

    Here, I simply don't see the value of the SSD version, given what else the OP could do with the money - upgrading to 32 GB of RAM and getting Applecare. That's what I'd do, and then, if necessary, get a 250 GB or so SSD and use it externally.

    I have 2 MBPs, one 17" with a 1 TB 7200 RPM HGST and the other a 15"/2.3/16/512 late 2013 rMBP. The rMBP boots faster, and opens applications faster, but in day to day use they are indistinguishable.
  15. voipman macrumors newbie

    Apr 15, 2014
    You've got a good point. I recently upgraded to SSD and it's been a huge difference for me - not because of boot times (how often does one really reboot??) , nor because of application launch times (again, many people have the apps they use open all the time), but because what I mostly do on the mac is programming: editing files, searching through many files, and compiling many files. For that type of workload, the switch to SSD has been like a whole new computer.

    But if all you do is email and web surfing, you might not notice much difference. (assuming you have enough RAM... otherwise the difference in paging is also noticeable with an SSD)
  16. MartinAppleGuy macrumors 68020


    Sep 27, 2013

    I agree. I bought a HDD iMac and am very happy with it for a few reasons (the HDD that is, I love the iMac too ;) ).

    1. Boot Times only affect me when I boot. I only boot once every month or so and at software updates. Buying an SSD for here is not worth the money in any way.

    2. App Launch Times only affect me when I launch an application for the first time. Once an app has been opened for the first time, it is cached in RAM to make it boot up instantly every time until your RAM is cleared (i.e a restart basically). App Cache is very powerful in OSX, when I launched all of my apps at the same time, it taken 30 seconds the first time to launch all of them, but then after closing them all down and doing the test again it only taken 7 seconds for all to launch (basically what I would expect from an SSD). If find it very hard to justify the cost of an SSD for this, as it is the same as the boot times: I only launch an App for the first time after a restart, and I only do a restart rarely.

    3. Searching for files/importing/exporting i the only reason I would recommend an SSD to someone. It is the only place where you truly notice a difference.

    And on another note, OSX Mavericks HATES page-out'ing. With RAM compression, I had all of my applications open, iMovie doing some exporting, and 100 tabs split between Chrome and Safari (around 50/50 each) and I was using 15.14Gb of RAM with my 8Gb of RAM iMac :D. And it still never touched swap.

    I know that when a Mac does Swap, the experience is tolerable on an SSD but awful on a HDD, but it has never Page-out'd on my once (apart from once when I was pushing my iMac with a 1hr 40m HD 1080p video with several layers of video, several layers of audio, lots of video stabilisation, effects, transitions, and adjustments as well as having a few other programs open. Although the page-out was only something like 25Kb so it had Zero impact on performance).

    I really do feel some people over-buy when it comes to getting an iMac. Even when future-proofing, quite a lot of people buy more than they need (fair enough if they know it is over-kill) but it is kind of annoying to see people paying more for something they will not befit from just because someone else on MacRumors told them to. As someone said above, it is very easy to spend other people's money.


    I agree.
  17. gskowal thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 27, 2008
    Thank You guys for all those replies. I'm leaning towards the HDD version simply because the money I will save will get me more RAM and Applecare and I just don't think that the benefits of SSD are that drastic to validate an extra $500 expense. Yes, quick bootup or fast loading apps are great but if it makes no difference while actually working in lightroom , photoshop or cubase then I don't think I can justify the $500 difference...
  18. Fishrrman macrumors G5


    Feb 20, 2009
    Re post 17 above:

    That's a sound decision.

    If you want to try an SSD for extra speed, you can always add one externally later on.

    Be careful installing the RAM -- the "tangs" that hold the RAM boards in can be fragile!

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