Just about to buy iMac - SSD & RAM Advice Please

Discussion in 'iMac' started by Gazmo, Nov 23, 2014.

  1. Gazmo macrumors member

    Gazmo

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    #1
    Hi Guys,

    As you can see I'm new to the forum and I'm from the UK. As the title says, I'm about to purchase a new iMac 27" (not the 5k model). I've got a couple of questions I'm hoping you guys can help me with.

    1) I'm wanting to have an external SSD using Thunderbolt to boot Mac OS off of - I've done a little bit of reading and I'm thinking of going for the Samsung 840 evo. Now there are two options on amazon UK - 840 256gb normal version or the PRO version for £23 more - what are the differences? Also how do I go about finding an enclosure to put this in that enables thunderbolt? The only one I have seen costs the same amount as the hard drive - there must be a cheaper / more viable option?

    2) I'm wanting to add an additional 16gb ram (2x 8gb sticks) and keeping the standard 8gb inside - I've heard crucial are decent company to source these from. Are there issues with having different sized ram sticks in the machine? ie 2x 8gb and 2x 4gb?

    Appreciate your help guys.

    Gaz.
     
  2. jji7skyline macrumors 6502

    jji7skyline

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    #2
    Thunderbolt devices have a bit of a markup that makes that not-so-great value unless you have no other choice.

    For example the LaCie 256GB Ext SSD costs $400. Using the Build To Order to replace the 1TB HDD with a 256GB SSD on the 27" iMac costs half of that, $200.

    I think you'd be better off ordering the $200 SSD option and then buying an external USB3 hard disk for storage. You will save money and also get better performance.
     
  3. robgendreau macrumors 68040

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    #3
    I agree; Thunder£££bolt is spendy. USB 3 can also be used for booting, but is a bit slower. Even the cables are expensive.

    And note that there's no TRIM support for that external SSD without some nontrivial work.

    But at least with an external you could get a two-bay external and use the other half for storage or backup. Still more expensive than the BTO option though.
     
  4. Gazmo thread starter macrumors member

    Gazmo

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    #4
    The shop that I was ordering through in the UK was already £150 cheaper than getting the machine from Apple UK direct so obviously I don't have the BTO option available.

    I've now taken the plunge and ordered the standard spec 3.4ghz 27" iMac. I am going to buy the Samsung 840 Pro 256gb SSD to boot OS X off and my main apps that I will be using will be stored on there, the rest will be on the internal 1TB HDD.

    A question I have thought of, if the external SSD fails for whatever reason and I keep OS X on the internal hardrive too, would I be able to just boot off the internal and install all the apps again onto the internal?

    Here is the SSD and the enclosure I was thinking of:

    Samsung 256gb 840 Pro

    USB 3.0 SSD Enclosure

    It will be connected via USB3 due to TB being just too expensive for the time being. How important is TRIM?

    Thanks guys.
     
  5. Weaselboy Moderator

    Weaselboy

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    #5
    It is going to be a non-issue for you here because TRIM does not work over USB.

    To answer your question, TRIM enabled is the optimal setup, but not having it will not hurt your SSD or anything. All that may happen is write speeds could slow over time.
     
  6. Gazmo thread starter macrumors member

    Gazmo

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    #6
    Ah ok fair enough, the TB option is just to expensive at the moment.

    I'm still deciding which upgrade to do 1st:

    Add in additional 16gb of ram to make a total of 24gb or

    Buy an external SSD for Boot up and essential apps?

    I can't afford both after just buying the mac.
     
  7. Weaselboy Moderator

    Weaselboy

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    #7
    How about using this Thunderbolt enclosure with the SSD. A lot of users here have that enclosure and they like it. See here.

    What kind of work will you be doing on the machine? Unless you are doing some very heavy lifting there, 8GB should be fine.

    Maybe go with the TB enclosure and SSD for now and the memory later if you find you even need the memory upgrade? Just a thought. :)
     
  8. Gazmo thread starter macrumors member

    Gazmo

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    #8
    I guess because the enclosure is nearly £100 + £20 for a TB cable and the SSD on top of that your talking £240 where as I could get a USB 3.0 enclosure for £15 (cable included) and the SSD totalling £130. I am on a tight budget now after purchasing the mac.

    I will probably go for SSD over RAM for the time being.
     
  9. Weaselboy Moderator

    Weaselboy

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    #9
    Oh I understand, I was just thinking for long term benefit the TB would be a better solution and maybe the memory could wait until later.
     
  10. Gazmo thread starter macrumors member

    Gazmo

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    #10
    Does the SSD and enclosure on my post further up the thread look ok for the Mac?

    Would that do a good job of booting Mac OS and my essential apps?
     
  11. Weaselboy Moderator

    Weaselboy

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    #11
    That combo will work fine. Given you are on a budget though, I would go for the Samsung EVO (US$ is about $100 less on Amazon).

    The relative speeds are very close (see this). The advantage with the Pro is it uses MLC NAND chips that are rated for more write cycles, but unless you are making the next Pixar movie on there, this is not going to be an issue. If it was me I would get the EVO. Nothing wrong with the Pro though.
     
  12. robgendreau macrumors 68040

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    #12
    Meh on Samsung; if you go for it make sure it's got current firmware. It's super super difficult to upgrade the firmware on a Mac unless you've got Windows running in bootcamp. And I'm not sure it can be updated via USB in any case. I've been trying unsuccessfully for days. You can find the firmware versions on Samsung's website if you go with them. Other SSDs don't need TRIM and may not have the same firmware issues.
     
  13. SaSaSushi macrumors 68040

    SaSaSushi

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    #13
    It is, indeed, easy as pie to run Samsung's firmware updates in Boot Camp.

    All SSDs, even those with their own garbage collection (not TRIM nor a replacement for it) benefit from TRIM.
     
  14. Gazmo thread starter macrumors member

    Gazmo

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    #14
    My mac comes on Friday and so does the SSD! I'm a bit worried now as I'm a OS X newbie and wouldn't be sure on updating the firmware. Can I not use my windows PC to update the firmware ready for the mac.. i know its a long shot!

    ----------

    So as mentioned above, I am due to get my Mac delivered on friday as well as my SSD and enclosure. I'm wanting to use the "external" SSD to boot OS X off and all my essential programs and apps to be stored on there. Is there a guide for this?

    Also if the SSD fails for whatever reason I am going to leave OS X installed on the internall HDD. Is it just a case of choosing the boot option back to the internal HDD? I know I would have to reinstall my apps on the internal HDD again.

    Thanks for the advice guys.
     
  15. Weaselboy Moderator

    Weaselboy

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    #15
    Just use the free 30 day trial of the app Carbon Copy Cloner. First attach the new SSD and format to Mac OS Extended (Journaled). Then launch CCC and in the left side select your internal drive. Scroll down the selection column to inside your user account and UNcheck the big folders you do not want on the SSD (like maybe Music and Photos etc). Then pick the new SSD on the right as the destination and click clone.

    Then restart and hold the option key. This will bring up a startup manager where you can pick the SSD to boot from. Now go to System Prefs and in the startup disk pane select the SSD as the boot drive.

    If you want to switch back to the internal as the boot drive just change the selection again in that startup disk pane. Or you can just option key boot and pick the internal.
     
  16. TheBearman macrumors 6502

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    #16
    Maybe I'm missing something, but why are you doing this? I think you'll find that the internal HDD will perform better that the external TB or USB3 SSD. Anyway that's what I've found with a USB3 SSD using CCC.
     
  17. Gazmo thread starter macrumors member

    Gazmo

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    #17
    Ah okay so using this method, I don't actually need to install OS X on the SSD? Which OS X folders will I need to select to copy over to make sure its able to boot OS X directly from the SSD?

    Sorry for all the questions, just want to be prepared for when everything comes on Friday so I can install everything I need directly on the SSD.

    ----------

    I've read SSD's are much better for boot times and overall performance over an internal 7200 HDD?
     
  18. Weaselboy Moderator

    Weaselboy

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    #18
    You want to move everything except those individual, personal data folders in your user account to make sure it can boot and login.
     
  19. Gazmo thread starter macrumors member

    Gazmo

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    #19
    Brill, cheers mate. I'll give it a go on Friday :)
     
  20. Attonine macrumors 6502a

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    #20
    I think your going about this a bit backwards. I know it's a bit late now as you've made the purchase, but it would have been much much easier for you to have gone with internal SSD or Fusion drive and used this for the OS and apps and an external for storage and data.

    From what you are saying, you're going to have to be very organised if you want both the internal and external to be able to act as boot drives. Do you want to use the internal for storage too? Remember you will need to keep the internal boot partition updated and in the same state as your external, so if the external fails when you boot the internal the system is the same.

    I just think it's backwards, not necessary.
     
  21. Gazmo thread starter macrumors member

    Gazmo

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    #21
    It is backwards but I'm okay with it.

    I want the SSD as my main boot option with my apps and programs all stored on there but I also want OS X on the internal in case for whatever reason the SSD fails. It wouldnt bother me too much having to reinstall my apps and programs again on the internal if the SSD fails. I am going to use the internal as storage for my photos, videos and the rest of my docs.
     
  22. SaSaSushi macrumors 68040

    SaSaSushi

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    #22
    I actually have a 1TB Fusion Drive, but I am booting off a 500GB Samsung EVO SSD in the abovementioned Delock Thunderbolt enclosure split evenly between OS X and BootCamp.

    I am using the Fusion Drive strictly for storage. I have a 3TB USB3 HDD in two partitions, a 256GB for clones and the rest for storage. I have Carbon Copy Cloner scheduled to create a daily clone of the SSD's 256GB OS X boot partition.

    If you intend on using the internal HDD to keep a clone of the boot SSD, I would recommend splitting it into two partitions, one exactly the size of your boot SSD and cloning there. Then use the other partition for storage.

    ----------

    You've read correctly. You will see night and day performance improvement overall and a fraction of the boot times.
     
  23. Gazmo thread starter macrumors member

    Gazmo

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    #23
    Thanks for all this info, it's been really useful. All I intend on doing is having a clean install (factory settings) of OS X on the internal and my movies and music on there.

    Everything else will be on the SSD but if it fails I would like just to boot off the internal. I could then just reinstall my apps?
     
  24. Attonine macrumors 6502a

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    #24
    It's not just about reinstalling apps. It's preferences and settings, libraries, all the things in your home folder library. If you can you want to keep the 'backup' OS on the internal in a state as close as possible to your daily user OS. If you do ever need to use it, the switch over will be seamless. The way you are describing your plan, should you ever need this backup OS it will be like starting from a clean install again. If you are worried enough to want this backup OS, just take a bit of time for maintenance (this can be automated) and get the full benefit should it be required.

    Other than this, it seems like your plan will work.
     
  25. SD-B macrumors 6502

    SD-B

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    #25
    Since the OP has had his questions answered, I have read this and would really just like to understand the purpose of his plan?

    I too would have assumed it was backwards but I am not good enough with computers to go to the lengths he plans to, or as the last person has done with his set up either.

    But, I would just like to know as i learn ore what the reason behind doing this would be?

    TIA
     

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