Just bough 500gb SSD, Fusion Drive or No? (2009 MBP)

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by netslacker, Jul 21, 2015.

  1. netslacker macrumors 6502

    Jan 21, 2008
    Hello all,

    I've been watching the SSD space for sometime and now that Apple has opened the door to TRIM support via trimforce I've decided it's time to stop waiting. I just picked up my first SSD via an Amazon gold box deal. It's a 500gb Sandisk and I paid 135.00. I'm happy with the deal, I think, though I know there are better out there. But since the computer will be replaced within a year I didn't want to spend a lot on it.

    My question is, my primary drive is a 1tb hybrid seagate. The hybrid thing didn't do much for performance at all and in fact has been largely disappointing as a hard drive. I've removed the CD/DVD long ago and have a second HDD in that spot already (another hybrid drive). So, I'm wondering if I'm better off going the Fusion route and letting OS X manage the SSD or if I should just install the SSD as my primary drive and keep using the other HDD as a second drive.

    The computer is old, 2009 MBP and I do A LOT of photo editing (Lightroom/Photoshop). It's often painful so I'm hoping the SSD will greatly improve that. But I have lots of photos... 1tb worth... So I'm kinda hoping/thinking that by going Fusion OS X will move the photos being worked on to SSD and make that piece faster and move them back to the HDD when not in use, essentially managing the whole experience to use the SSD to my advantage so that I don't have to shuffle them around myself. At least, that's the hope...

    Any thoughts on best approach?
    Thanks for your time.
  2. Dark Void macrumors 68030

    Dark Void

    Jun 1, 2011
    It may get complicated when trying to use a SSD and a Fusion Drive as a fusion solution, usually they are done with SSDs and regular mechanical drives. It seems like the caches may conflict. I don't know for sure so hopefully someone can comment but I don't know how much luck you will have getting it to work properly. If you have it set up working as a fusion solution already as opposed to just extra disk space with your two fusion drives, I think that putting the SSD in the main bay would be your best solution if it will function as intended.

    In any case, a SSD will help you a lot in Photoshop with loading those large layer files and the like. The experience won't be as choppy.
  3. netslacker thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jan 21, 2008
    You're confusing "Hybrid" with "Fusion." It's not a "Fusion drive" already, it's a Seagate hybrid drive. For all intents and purposes, it's just a rotational, mechanical drive but with 6gb of SSD for "cache" and speed improvements (or so their marketing crap says). It's completely managed within the drive itself so the OS has no clue other than it's a HDD, it's transparent to the OS. Setting up a Fusion drive shouldn't be an issue with this HDD, but my bigger question was around Fusion with 500gb SSD vs just using the SSD as a drive. Which would provide the best overall experience with the least amount of ongoing, daily hassle to utilize the SSD speeds.

    I'd store photos in a Lr catalog on the HDD for long-term storage, but when I want to edit a bunch of them I'm not so keen on moving them to the SSD to make that faster, then back to the HDD. Not sure the best way to fully leverage the SSD speeds.
  4. Dark Void macrumors 68030

    Dark Void

    Jun 1, 2011
    I understand what a Hybrid Drive is, no need to explain. I just thought the terms were interchangeable. Marketing, just synonyms. I guess not? "Fusion Drive" is what Apple calls it anyway. Apologies in any case.

    I guess you're sort of answering your own question. Sounds like you don't want to deal with the hassle of a fusion setup and would rather just use the SSD outright.
  5. jruschme macrumors 6502


    Dec 20, 2011
    Brick, NJ
    I recently tried Fusion Drive on mid-2009 13" and 17" MBP systems and ended up giving up. Basically, I was getting very uneven performance that, overall, was worse than the rotating drive I upgraded from.

    Here's the issue... a long time ago, Apple issued EFI update 1.7 which allowed the SATA buses to negotiate SATA II (3 gigabit) speeds (previously they were stuck at SATA I speed). This works great for drives in the HDD bay, but not for ones in the ODD bay; the latter appear to only be reliable at SATA I speed.

    The choice seems to be to downgrade to EFI 1.6 and live with SATA I speeds or use a genuine Apple drive in the optical bay as these are firmware locked to SATA I speed.

    I decided that neither was a great option and went back to a single drive.

    YMMV, of course...
  6. netslacker thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jan 21, 2008
    Now that you say that I do recall there being a difference in the optical bay SATA vs the HDD SATA channel that didn't permit the optical bay drive to operate at full speed.... AAAND.... just checking System Info... you're right. The two drives bays have a link speed of "3 gigabit" but the drive in the optical bay has a negotiated link speed of 1.5 gigabit. It's capable of faster, but was only negotiated at 1.5. So that may settle it. I had forgotten about that little nuance. I'll just go for the non-fusion install.

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