iMac 5K Retina Buying Dilemma PLEASE HELP!!

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by vitaopus, Aug 14, 2016.


What would YOU go with?

  1. 1TB SSD

    15 vote(s)
  2. 3TB Fusion Drive

    4 vote(s)
  1. vitaopus macrumors newbie


    Aug 13, 2016
    For the TL;DR folks... please skip ahead down to the line of smileys divider: :):(:mad::confused::cool::p:D:eek::oops:o_O:rolleyes:

    Alright, here's the whole story so you can fully understand the context. I work as a full-time graphic and web designer and then I work part-time as a freelance graphic and web designer for my own small business. I also do a TON of sound design for theatre, I write plays to be published, I create music with Garageband and Audition. I host two bi-weekly podcasts. There. That's what I do professionally. Recreational, I have libraries upon libraries of movies, 10 years worth of photos, songs, only one computer game (yes only one....).

    So, my early-2009 27" iMac is crapping out on me. It gets incredibly hot even when I just use the Mail program and Firefox. When it reaches 67ºC the display shuts up. Sometimes it even happens when the temp reaches 55ºC. I'm no longer looking for an answer as to why this is. I have had the RAM, Hard Drive, graphics card and fans replaced by a certified Mac specialist. I can't keep dumping money into a machine that simply has seen the end of it's days. I instead, need to purchase a new machine that will help me earn that lost money back quickly.

    :):(:mad::confused::cool::p:D:eek::oops:o_O:rolleyes: (courtesy for the TL;DR folks, whom I have the utmost respect for)

    SO... I know exactly how i wanted it configured except when it comes to hard drive space and how that is affected by Time Machine. I currently have a 27" iMac with an internet 4TB hard drive, which I have used 2.5TB of—along with a DropBox pro account that has 500GB used so far. For Time Machine, I have a 4TB Western Digital MyBook dedicated to backing up those files (we'll get to that in a minute)

    I love SSD drives and ever since I was a little boy I have dreamt of owning a machine with an SSD in it. The thing that really annoyed me about my previous computer was the moving parts in the hard drive. The downside to this is that Apple will only sell you 1TB. One. Terabyte. Seriously?! I want to buy directly from Apple. I don't want to have to buy it and then install one myself or pay more money to have a service tech install one. I just want it configured the best way possible and be done with it so I can get back to my business.

    If I were to purchase a large external hard drive storage (say 8GB) and use that as the Time Machine backup for both my iMAC 1TB SSD and the 4GB external hard drive (formerly, my

    Would Time Machine be able to back up the iMac 1TB AND the 4GB onto the 8GB "master backup"? Easily? Moderately inconvenient? Impossible?

    Would it be worth looking into an external hard drive solution that has multiple bays for archival reasons? My business is expanding and I like to think ahead to the future.

    Thank ou all for reading and for your input!:D
  2. dotnet macrumors 65816


    Apr 10, 2015
    Sydney, Australia
    Yes, I'd get the 1TB SSD and a four- or five-bay NAS.
  3. vitaopus thread starter macrumors newbie


    Aug 13, 2016
    Sounds good. Would time machine still back those up?
  4. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 604

    Oct 24, 2013
    My you can set the external up in raid 1 to automatically keep 2 copies of everything on separate drives. I also believe time machine can be set up to back up connected drives. See here for how to set it up

    You could also buy the 3tb fusion machine and immediately replace the 3TB hard drive with any SATA SSD you would like. But not many of us want to immediately open up our brand new iMac.
  5. Flynnstone macrumors 65816


    Feb 25, 2003
    Cold beer land
    I just bought 27" iMac. For me the fusion drive options are just too small. I probably would have picked a 5 or 6 T fusion drive option. I picked a 500G ssd. Still deciding on my external drive solution. My 24" '09 iMac still works.
    New 27 iMac is awesome.
  6. theluggage macrumors 68040

    Jul 29, 2011
    I think that's what I'd go for with an iMac: regard the internal storage as OS, Applications & work-in-progress (which will get you the most speed-up from the SSD) and keep everything else on external drives and/or a NAS (pro audio work might demand a decent Thunderbolt-connected external drive).

    Bear in mind that - unless you're a dab hand with a pizza cutter and double-sided tape - the iMac is a sealed unit and if it fails it will have to go off to hospital with all of your data inside. I wouldn't put 4TB of eggs into that basket.

    All together now: "RAID is not a backup solution!" RAID is about increasing performance, not security: the "reliability" you may see discussed about the various RAID levels is relative to other RAID configurations in which one drive failing can hose the entire set.

    A RAID 1 mirror is better than nothing, but its not better than an actual backup. It gives no protection against accidental deletion/alteration of files (that will be automatically reflected on the mirror). It does give some protection against a single drive failing, but the great raid fallacy is to assume that drive failures are always random & independent: a pair of identical drives bought together (same batch) and run together in the same housing kept in the same environment run a significant risk of failing together (including the obvious domestic scenario of the drive array getting knocked off the table, stolen or something).

    Really, for backup, you want TimeMachine or similar backing up to a NAS for continual backup and convenient "whoops" recovery plus a second periodic backup (Time Machine, SuperDuper etc.) to an external/removable drive that can be stored securely. If you're going to be doing commercial work worth a dime at your own risk you also need to look into a data-grade fire safe to keep it in or offsite backup.
  7. monokakata macrumors 68000


    May 8, 2008
    Hilo, Hawai'i
    I have the 1 TB internal in my late-2014 5K iMac, and have coupled it with an OWC Thunderbay (4 drive, TB2). In the Thunderbay I have 3 spinning disks and a 1 TB SD.

    The SSD is my hot secondary storage. The other drives are TM, secondary still image backup, video backup.

    I have TM set to back up the SSD in the TB enclosure, along with the internal SSD.

    I also have a NAS and a handful of single-disk enclosures that I use to manually back up stills and video.

    The configuration has worked well for me. I like being able to upgrade the disks when I need to.
  8. vitaopus thread starter macrumors newbie


    Aug 13, 2016
    Wow, everyone! Thank you so much for the very insightful advice here. I've read over every one of your comments and thought everything over.

    While I would LOVE to have an NAS with thunderbolt capabilities, I could not really find one that suited my needs. I also looked at multi-bay

    That's the external hard drive I am thinking of going with. Pleased with the price and I believe I have the right idea as to how I want to lay everything out.

    1TB SSD - Reserved for OSX, applications, (150GB music for fast playback?) and a general workspace for projects. Mostly left empty.

    8TB ExtHDD (Bay 1) - Creative content— Basically everything that's currently on my 4TB HDD with room to expand.

    8TB ExtHDD (Bay 2) - Time Machine Backup for Bay 1 and 1TB SSD content.

    My existing 8GB external hard drive could be used as a periodic time machine backup that is stored in a fire safe. (I once lost everything I owned in a house fire so I am a little paranoid of that!!)

    What do you think? Do I have the right idea here?

    PS. I may have misspoken on the severity of my audio workflow. Mainly, I produce two different podcasts (which aren't very technically demanding). I am a sound designer for theatre and the music I record is fairly minimal. I only record drum tracks and then engineer sound effects for theatre productions. Nothing too daunting or taxing on my system.
  9. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    Are you looking to set up the external drive as a JBOD (Just a bunch of disks?) or use RAID, if the latter, then you'll see one logical volume for the two physical drives.
  10. vitaopus thread starter macrumors newbie


    Aug 13, 2016
    I guess I was thinking JBOD so one could be formatted for Time Machine.

    What do you think would be best?

    If I understand correctly, RAID just makes the spare disk a carbon copy of the main external HDD? The advantage with time machine, I think, would be to be able to automatically back up BOTH the external HDD and the main SSD.

    Please let me know though— I'm a newbie to this! Last time I bought a computer was in 2009. :)
  11. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    Well, you need to consider a backup strategy for the external drive. Do you want to backup Bay 1 with Bay 2? That might be considered risky as if something happened to the drive unit you lose both your data and backup.

    I prefer setting up the drive array as a RAID setup and then back that up with another external drive. Does that make sense?
  12. vertical smile macrumors 68030

    vertical smile

    Sep 23, 2014
    When I bought the Late 2012 27" iMac, I got the processor and video card upgrade. I was debating on the storage options, and I end up going with the 1TB Fusion.

    If I could do it over again, I would have gotten the smaller SSD and had an external storage for anything else I needed space for.

    The fusion can be fast, for stuff you do a lot. Example, I play WoW, but over the past 6 months, I hardly ever play. When I play it a lot, the game loads pretty quick, but if I take a break for a few weeks, the load time get pretty bad.

    Another downside is there are still moving parts that can break, which happened to me. I had problems with it for almost a year before it finally totally broke. The crappy part, it took many calls to Apple support, and a few trips to the Apple store because their hardware test kept saying that the drive, and anything else was okay.

    My advice for you, get the SSD, and any additional storage you need use external HDD.
    --- Post Merged, Aug 15, 2016 ---
    I do this too. It is a good idea.
  13. vitaopus thread starter macrumors newbie


    Aug 13, 2016
    I think I'm with ya here...

    So, I have my 16TB dual-drive external (8TB for creative storage; 8TB as a RAID) and then also have my current 4TB external drive as a time machine backup.... Do i understand correctly? Sorry if I am missing anything here!

    Could you please confirm whether I have the right idea or not?

    I just want to do whats best. I'm definitely going to be getting the 1TB SSD, no doubt about it. I just need to make sure that I have a good backup plan and a reliable storage source for my creative material— since I won't be storing all of that stuff on my SSD.

    Thank you again for so much help, guys and gals!
  14. theluggage macrumors 68040

    Jul 29, 2011
    Just to re-iterate: RAID is not a backup system. See previous post. The main purpose of RAID is to improve performance by spreading data across multiple discs so multiple files can be read concurrently. RAID 0 (striped) is less reliable than a regular disc, RAID 1 (mirrored) may be more reliable than a single disc but will always create an exact mirror of the current state of the disc - including the foul-up that you just made, that Time Machine would let you undo.

    You've got a single-user workload, you'll have an ultra-fast SSD with lots of space as your system/work-in-progress disc, you're not running a heavily loaded server or running multiple 4k video streams and it doesn't sound like you're into the sort of pro music production that has dozens of big sample files streaming continuously, so you probably don't need RAID at all.

    You might want to "concatenate" your drives if you want to join two 8TB drives into a single 16TB one (which may fall under RAID settings or "JBOD" but isn't RAID). That may or may not be useful, depending on how you want to organise your files. Again - its a lot of eggs in one basket.

    I liked the idea of using the discs separately - your main 8TB file store, your continuous TimeMachine backup and your "removable" long-term backup.

    Only caveat is that TimeMachine keeps multiple "history" copies of files and the backup will end up larger than the volume of data you're backing up. You can exclude files/folders from your TimeMachine backup - you might e.g. want to make simple backup copies of (e.g.) your movie/song libraries on a separate external drive rather than include them in TimeMachine.
  15. dotnet macrumors 65816


    Apr 10, 2015
    Sydney, Australia
    I doubt it. You'd need to back up the NAS separately, they all come with software for that.
    --- Post Merged, Aug 15, 2016 ---
    As pointed out above, two 8TB disks as a RAID set will give you either a mirrored or a striped set. With mirrored you get 8TB net capacity and improved reliability, with striped you get 16TB net and reduced reliability.

    With those two disks at hand I'd get a 5-bay NAS, add three 4TB disks for a (just under) 8TB RAID-5 set as your external storage. Then add the two 8TB disks to form a separate mirrored set for backing up the RAID-5 set using the NAS backup software.

    If your data is business critical you may also need to think about off-site storage for the backups. You could, for example, keep a second lot of 8TB disks and swap the two lots once a week or month, keeping one at your parent's place.
  16. ggibson913 macrumors 6502a


    Sep 11, 2006
    I am no expert and for me the Fusion Drive was fine but since you are a professional and and need to use an external drive no matter what, I would go with the SSD. Question though, since you are only running the OS and programs, do you really even need a 1TB SSD? Why not go with a 512 and save some cash?
  17. 960design, Aug 16, 2016
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2016

    960design macrumors 68030

    Apr 17, 2012
    Destin, FL
    I'm in a similar situation. I just purchased ( last month ) a 5K iMac with the 1TB. I use iCloud 1TB cloud storage for working files ( $10/month US ), offsite redundant location server ( about $700 every three years for nearly limitless storage ) for archival files / movies / old scanned pictures and an AirPort Time Capsule ( 3TB ) for Time Machine locally.

    I live in a hurricane zone, and many years ago had a friend's house burn down. I quickly realized how much 'important' stuff we have. Military records, divorce records, birth certificates, old home movies, pictures of great grand ma... all of that is stored offsite so that I can literally, just walk out the door and still have almost everything. I can even grab a new mac or windows computer and even if need be borrow one to access my work files, grand ma's picture and flood insurance paperwork, copies of driver license, car titles and insurance.

    Sorry, that turned into a life story.
  18. Moonjumper macrumors 68000


    Jun 20, 2009
    Lincoln, UK
    Something to bear in mind considering your sound design is the noise of the system.

    I have a rMBP with an SSD. I love the quietness of that so much that I don't even like hearing an external HDD going. An HDD isn't very noisy, but it is on comparison to silence.

    I would love to go back to an iMac (there was no retina iMac when I bought my laptop, otherwise I would have got one instead) and would definitely go SSD. I would look at moving any backup HDD to another room if possible.

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