Is the lack of speed on the fusion drive over exaggerated?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by Jacoblee23, Aug 20, 2017.

  1. Jacoblee23 macrumors 6502a

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    #1
    I got my 27" 1tb fusion drive during the Best Buy Anniversary sale this weekend for around $1700 after taxes after student deals coupon. I was very hesitant to pull the trigger due to the negative feedback that I have read regarding the fusion drives. I also have a 2017 12" MacBook and a MacBook Pro w/touchbar and I know how fast both of these devices are. I decided to give this fusion drive iMac a try though, and so far I have been impressed with it. It isn't quite as snappy as my 12" MB, or MBP w/touchbar, but it still seems pretty fast to me. So far, so good over here. Side note: This screen is the most beautiful thing that I have ever seen.....
     
  2. RadioGaGa1984 Suspended

    RadioGaGa1984

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    #2
    If your happy with it, I wouldn’t worry about what people on these forums say too much. As they tend to way over exaggerate things.
     
  3. nambuccaheadsau macrumors 6502a

    nambuccaheadsau

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    #3
    In my experience Fusion drives are excellent, particularly if you are not greatly into movies, [photography and iTunes. Don't know if you are aware at the time of purchase, the 1TB drive has 24GB of PCI-e GF;ash Storage, the 2/3TG Drives have 124GB of Flash.
     
  4. antonypg macrumors member

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    #4
    I have just bought an iMac with the 3TB fusion drive and so far so good. It feels as quick as my MacBook with is fitted with an SSD, all applications launch instantly. I have already filled the drive with 2TB of data and it hasn't slowed at all.

    I have used Macs with only spinning hard drives before and they are incredibly slow.
     
  5. czacha macrumors member

    czacha

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  6. antonypg macrumors member

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    #6
    I went for the 3TB Fusion, I have been using a self built 4TB fusion drive on a Mac Mini for the last couple of years without any slowdown.

    I am keen to see what difference High Sierra makes. I know that APFS uses a slightly different Fusion setup, with files moved between the SDD/HD depending on type, and all metadata stored on the SSD.
     
  7. bbnck macrumors 6502

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    #7
    Apple updated the 1 TB Fusion Drive to use a larger 32 GB SSD with the 2017 iMacs. As before, the 2 TB and 3 TB Fusion Drives include a larger 128 GB SSD.

    I also have a 1TB Fusion Drive and like you, I'm perplexed why it has such a bad reputation when in practice it works just fine. I have at least 60 GB of data on the mechanical drive but the system always feels fast and responsive to me. As a developer, I have a fairly regular workflow - I don't need to constantly open random apps and large files on a daily basis. For regular workflows, the 1 TB Fusion Drive works just fine. The operating system will continue to learn what apps and files you use most often and move those to the SSD when required.

    If you have a non-regular workflow or work with large files on a regular basis, then that's where a Fusion Drive of any size might not be an ideal choice. In those cases an SSD only solution is probably more appropriate.
     
  8. SaSaSushi macrumors 68040

    SaSaSushi

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    #8
    I don't know about bad reputations nor do I think the performance of a Fusion Drive is notably slow. I just wonder now that the price of SSDs has come down why anyone would want to put a spinning HDD inside of an iMac. It was a trade-off technology perfectly fit to the era it was released when large enough flash drives were prohibitively expensive. Hard drives consume additional power, generate additional noise and heat and are prone to failure.

    In my opinion, HDDs belong outside of Macs. You lose nothing in performance and it makes maintenance of failures a lot easier.
     
  9. EugW macrumors 68000

    EugW

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    #9
    1 TB Fusion drives suck.

    2 TB Fusion drives aren't great either, but suck less than 1 TB Fusion drives.
     
  10. robeddie Suspended

    robeddie

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    #10
    ^^^ THIS.

    And ... if you've ever had the fusion drive inside the iMac (like I do) and then an external SSD attached via thunderbolt, the direct comparision is stark. The SSD is way faster (and having one interally would be considerably faster still)

    Comparing them side by side makes you realize how compromised the fusion drive really is.

    But, if you don't have that comparison, then sure ... the fusion drive will seem perfectly fine. As they say - ignorance is bilss.
     
  11. bbnck macrumors 6502

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    #11
    They suck on paper, or in actual use?

    Of course an SSD will be faster. Fusion Drives will always be a compromise for those that need more storage for less money without resorting to a standalone mechanical drive which is by far the slowest option.
     
  12. robeddie Suspended

    robeddie

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    #12
    Actual use. At least in my experience.
     
  13. bbnck macrumors 6502

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    #13
    If you're expecting SSD speeds, then yes they suck.
     
  14. robeddie Suspended

    robeddie

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    #14
    But as SaSaSushi wrote, you're not losing anything by having the spinning drive attached externally. And then, when that inherantly less reliable spinning drive does fail, you don't have to do major surgery to your iMac to pulll it out and replace it.
    He also mentions the extra heat, power consumption and noise a spinning drive produces.

    So the best solution, imo, is to get the biggest internal SSD you can afford, then add an external spinning drive attached via thunderbolt if you need a shitton of extra storage.
     
  15. SaSaSushi macrumors 68040

    SaSaSushi

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    #15
    SSD would be wasted on storage/backup and anyway, even a USB3 external HDD will be able to run drives at their maximum transfer speeds, nevermind Thunderbolt3, RAID and/or externally attached SSDs.

    For example, I'm now running BootCamp on a 500GB SSD in a Thunderbolt enclosure that I was formerly using to run macOS on with my previous Late 2013 iMac with a 1TB Fusion Drive.
     
  16. robeddie Suspended

    robeddie

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    #16
    I'm just surprised here in late 2017 we're still having these discussions. Fusion drives came along a half decade ago as a compromise solution when SSD's were extraordinarily expensive.

    I kind of think some who still swear by fusion drives are those who bought into Apple's marketing and have this delusion that fusion drives are some kind of 'baddass' technology. They're a compromise, plain and simple. A compromise that makes little sense in 2017, and will make even less sense as time goes by.
     
  17. antonypg macrumors member

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    #17
    Strange how these arguments continue. I have a PC laptop at work with SSD, I have four MacBooks at home with SSDs installed (one for each member of the family). I know how fast an SDD can be, especially compared to a normal spinning drive.

    I used to run a Mac Mini with a 4TB Fusion drive without any problem, and the machine always seemed fast. So when I went to buy an iMac I went for a 3TB Fusion. I love having everything on one logical drive, and the Fusion helps to speed up all the apps I normally use. I guess if I won the lottery I would go for a 3TB SSD (if it was an option).
     
  18. EugW macrumors 68000

    EugW

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    #18
    The OP has a 1 TB Fusion drive. They suck. The SSD in your 3 TB Fusion drive is 4X the size.
     
  19. Luxtrau macrumors member

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    #19
    In my experience even a HDD is fast in the beginning, but after a while it slows down. Same for the FusionDrive.
     
  20. crouchingtiger macrumors member

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    #20
    Obviously all else being equal I'd prefer to have a few TB of SSD only, but that will have to wait until my next upgrade.

    The thing that most Fusion drive nay-sayers seem to forget is that for all writes that are less than 5GB (e.g. 99.9% of them), Fusion Drive performs at exactly the same speed as an SSD. So for anyone who actually needs the space, it is a fantastic option.

    Splitting up into separate SSD and spinning disk portions negates this considerable advantage. And for me it's also more of a pain to deal with the two logical volumes.
     
  21. robeddie Suspended

    robeddie

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    #21
    I think if you had the chance to experience a fusion drive and an SSD running side by side on the same iMac (I have) you would discover you were mistaken.
     
  22. crouchingtiger macrumors member

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    Feb 15, 2004
    #22
    No, my statement is correct re: write speed (and Fusion drive benchmarks bear this out). But you are correct that pure SSD is always going to be a better overall experience due to read speeds.
    My current setup involves 1:3 ratio of SSD to HD mixed as a Fusion Drive and that is really a great compromise.
     
  23. robeddie Suspended

    robeddie

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    #23
    Well, if you're referring to blackmagic speed test, I can tell you that's not necessarily a good reflection of real world. My fusion drive gets great speeds on BMST, but in real world usage next to an ssd, I can tell IMMEDIATLY when I'm accessing the fusion drive, since there's clearly a slowdown.

    Either way, in a few years, fusion drives will be a thing of the past regardless (unless you need 20tb+).

    Again, the original discussion was in reference to whether a 1TB fusion drive is acceptable vs. a 1tb SSD. Keeping it to that constraint, there is absolutely no contest, and no excuse for going with the fusion drive - given how much of a bottleneck it creates with performance.
     
  24. crouchingtiger macrumors member

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    #24
    Agreed, pure SSD is ideal.

    But I'm trying to highlight that Fusion Drive design is quite clever and depending on ones usage, can really mitigate the effect of the spinning drive. BLack Magic benchmark is accurate but they are only testing the SSD part of Fusion Drive. So, as you point out, during read operations Fusion Drive will be much slower than SSD in real world. But write speeds are invariably quite fast on Fusion Drive due to the fact that it always writes to the SSD portion (up to 5 GB).

    So, for a common operation like loading images into Lightroom and editing them, Fusion Drive performs much better than having a boot SSD and separate spinning drive for media storage. Obviously, if you are able to use only SSD for all of your needs, that is great and no one is disputing that it is the ideal!

     
  25. kschendel macrumors 6502a

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    Dec 9, 2014
    #25
    Fusion drives will absolutely make sense until SSD prices per gigabyte come close to HDD. Right now they aren't anywhere close, and I don't know if you've noticed, but SSD has become more expensive, not less, over the last year or so. That trend will eventually reverse but we ain't there yet.
    --- Post Merged, Aug 21, 2017 ---
    Unless you put "cost no object" into that statement, it's false. The 1 Tb fusion is much less expensive to build (for apple) and to buy (for the consumer) than the 1 Tb SSD. We can hope that in a year or two that won't be true, but it's definitely true today.
     

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