It's time to get a new iMac

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by macj3, Jun 23, 2019.

  1. macj3 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2010
    Location:
    east coast, USA
    #1
    We are using a 2010 iMac, typical internet use, Web browsing, posting, email etc. Some photo elements and Photoshop use, (CS-5) not a lot really . Mainly to fix/adjust color, crop, resize the image files. But we do have a large 500GB Photo library. We updated to Sierra last January because of the Tax program requirements. and updated web browsers. We do get a lot of beach balls spinning. mostly with web pages loading. And opening Photos takes a while. So...I guess it's time to get a new computer.
    At first we were looking at the 21.5 iMac @1499. But after reading so many postings of users not being fans of the fusion drive and the 8gb memory have second thoughts. will the stock high end computer be that bad in 2-3 years that it would seem we were back in the same boat? Wouldn't the iMac with 8gb and a fusion drive be fine for the "average" user? Last 7-8 years? Users that walked out of the Apple Store with a stock high end 21.5" computer are certainly not bringing them back 2 years later complaining about slow speeds etc.....
     
  2. JustUs35 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2019
    #2
    I'm in the same situation. Years of photos take up a lot of space and puts pressure on the CPU to load and edit. also a 2010 iMac.....I'm unsure to spend 2300-2500 on a build to order 16gb, SSD iMac if a "stock" mac would do...money saved could be put towards a new computer years down the road. They can't be that bad in the stock configurations or people would not be buying them at the retail stores!
     
  3. mroy16 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    May 28, 2017
    #3
    For light use, the fusion drive isn't the worst thing in the world. That said, it can be quite different from a pure SSD when it comes to responsiveness. If you have a large photo library on a desktop computer, my recommendation would be to get a smaller internal SSD (250 of 500 GB) and store your photos on an external hard drive.
     
  4. Starfia macrumors 6502a

    Starfia

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2011
    #4
    I went with a Fusion Drive on my 2017 iMac, which I bought when it launched. I've always felt the Fusion Drive lived up to claims of near-Flash speeds, and the cost difference was considerable.

    One big thing has happened since 2017: fast, external SSDs with five-year warranties and minimalistic, high-performance USB-C interfaces have become much more affordable. I've since upgraded my external spinning drive to solid state, and it's been lovely; very long in coming for someone frugal. If I were buying my new Mac now, I'd strongly consider going with a smaller amount of Flash storage and stocking up on external SSD capacity.
     
  5. Moonjumper macrumors 68000

    Moonjumper

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2009
    Location:
    Lincoln, UK
    #5
    I would probably do the same if I was to replace my iMac. And there are shelves designed for them to fit on the leg, out of view.
     
  6. ignatius345 macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2015
    #6
    Same experience for me here. The Fusion Drive on my 2014 5K iMac has been quite zippy and a huge step up from a purely mechanical HDD. But from what I've read and experienced, the way a Fusion Drive works puts a lot of wear on the SSD.

    I'm seeing very very troubling wear levels on the 128 GB SSD part of my Fusion Drive. Using DriveDx, I'm currently seeing 47.5% on the "lifetime left indicator". That's not great!

    That's what I'm looking to do now -- sell my current iMac and get one with all-flash, probably 1 TB, as much as it's gonna hurt my pocket. The sad fact is that even with my iTunes and Photos libraries off on an external SSD now, I still have going on 500 GB on my internal drive, and I need room to expand. Ah well.
     
  7. Starfia macrumors 6502a

    Starfia

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2011
    #7
    I think that's what I'm saying – you could buy an iMac with a smaller amount of Flash storage for your operating system and all the applications you'd want, then spend money on an enclosure for one or two external drives of one or two terabytes each. That's a viable way to run an iMac while spending less money acquiring more SSD storage than you would by upgrading its internal capacity.
     
  8. ignatius345 macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2015
    #8
    True, but there's some stuff I can't put on an external. iCloud Drive, for example, has to live on whatever drive your home folder is in. I know, I could enable "optimize storage" but I really prefer to have everything downloaded.
     
  9. lehrblogger macrumors newbie

    lehrblogger

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2010
    Location:
    Detroit suburbs
    #9
    If you're happy with the quality/resolution of your current iMac's display, you might consider a Mac mini, and then use the iMac in Target Display Mode. That would allow you to spend more on the hard drive now, and in the future you can upgrade/repair them separately.

    Re the external drive for photos, I personally prefer to keep everything on my main drive. It makes it much easier to keep track of my backups, and to be sure I'm making them frequently. For large files I ~never need but don't want to delete, I've used Freeze to upload them to Amazon Glacier.
     
  10. ignatius345 macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2015
    #10
    Interesting thought, but part of my plan is getting money from the old iMac to put toward the new iMac.
     
  11. ApfelKuchen macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2012
    Location:
    Between the coasts
    #11
    If you carefully read the posts of "users not being fans of the fusion drive" you'll see that the vast majority of non-fans never had a Fusion Drive. There's a lot of distrust of the technology (including distrust of Apple, anger about Apple's SSD pricing, etc.), and misunderstandings of how it works. However, of those who report having Fusion drives, the vast majority seem to be quite satisfied with them.

    I've had a Fusion Drive iMac since early 2014 (late 2013 27" iMac) with 16 GB RAM. My Photos library is around 500 GB. I also have an all-SSD 2017 27" 5K iMac with 8 GB RAM. In day-to-day usage, it's hard to tell the two apart, performance-wise. I'm sure if you ran benchmark tests there would be a difference. However, it's not a practical difference. I don't spend time waiting around for either of them to do work. Both take similar times to boot. This Mac is now over five years old, and I've not yet had a thought of replacing it. Performance under the current macOS seems, if anything, better than new (sorry, no comparative benchmarks available).

    Overall, I'm a fan. Which is not to say there's not a down side. If one of the two drives in a Fusion setup was to fail, data recovery is nearly impossible. Therefore, a good backup is essential. But as far as I'm concerned, a good backup is always essential. Perhaps the odds of failure of an all-SSD PC are lower, but the odds are not zero.

    Fusion-equipped iMacs are definitely the "value proposition." If you can easily afford 1 TB of SSD (and 16 GB RAM), then by all means, spend the money. But for the kind of use described by the OP (which is not so different than mine these days), paying that higher price may be more of a luxury than a necessity.
     
  12. MRrainer macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2008
    Location:
    Zurich, Switzerland
    #12
    I don't have a Fusion drive (2012 Mini with SATA-SSD). But my educated guess would be that if your transactional load is light (not many writes, decent but not too large amount of reads), I can imagine it performs reasonably well.

    Any kind of video-editing or photo-manipulation on a larger scale is then probably a no-go.
    And of course no VMs.

    The general recommendation is to get the Fusion drive with 2TB HDD because it contains a larger SSD.

    I know someone who bought a Fusion drive 27" (a couple of years ago) and was so disappointed that he opened it up and installed a Samsung 850 or 860 Pro SSD.
    This usually only makes sense if you do it yourself. As soon as you've got to pay somebody to do it, it becomes economically unviable. Especially where I live ;-)
     
  13. ApfelKuchen macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2012
    Location:
    Between the coasts
    #13
    Stop "imagining." Your first paragraph proves your "educated guess" is uneducated in the manner Fusion actually works. The easiest way to think of Fusion is that it's managed similarly to RAM. Blocks are moved into SSD when read from HDD, and they reside there, reading and writing at SSD speeds, until they lie dormant for an extended period and are then flushed out in favor of data/code that has been called. The whole point of this is to move data/code that is regularly being read and written into the drive that delivers the speed benefit.
     
  14. MRrainer macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2008
    Location:
    Zurich, Switzerland
    #14
    I know how Fusion drives work. Yes, stuff is basically cached on the SSD (both read and write). Best case scenario is that everything you want is on the SSD (which is only really realistic for the 2 TB Fusion drive anyway).
    Booting and launching (regularly used) apps is probably almost as fast as with an SSD-only Mac.

    But you can't assume that for everything. At some point, you're going to read stuff from the HDD. And that's then as slow as the HDD. That's not too bad for loading photos or playing a movie because HDDs are reasonably fast for linear reads these days. But writing a lot of stuff to a HDD is noticeably slower than writing on an SSD. Especially if the SSD you compare it to isn't from the bargain-bin.
     
  15. shaunp macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2010
    #15
    If you are planning on keeping a machine that long, then simply get the best one you can. Don't mess around with Fusion drives as they are pants, just get a decent sized SSD - 1TB is a good starting point. In 7-8 years time it will look tiny compared to what is on the market at this point. Likewise with RAM. Get the minimum you can and upgrade it yourself. Start with an additional 32GB, pointless going with anything less as you will max it out eventually. Later swap out the original 8GB and add another 32GB. As you can't upgrade the GPU or CPU, just the fastest you can afford. No point going for the 21" iMac either - the 27" isn't exactly that big these days.

    You may end up spending a bit more than you initially budgeted for, but in 4-5 years time you won't be wanting to swap it out and mechanical failures aside it should last you the 7-8 years you planned. Skimping on the basics that you can't change will only end up costing you more money in future.
     

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14 June 23, 2019