Mini BTO with Apple's SSD or Fusion Drive

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by Gonzo3333, Mar 3, 2013.

  1. Gonzo3333 macrumors 6502a


    Mar 30, 2009
    Chicago, IL
    I have been reading the Mini forums on MacRumors for a few weeks. I still have not been able to get a definitive answer on this. Also, please remember that I will not open my new Mini up for anything besides upgrading the ram when I finally make my decision.

    Basically, I would like to make my Mini as future proof as I can and stay as far away from spinning media as possible. As of right now there are few options within my budget without incorporating at least a back up / media drive that spins. So I guess my question is, for anybody that has the build to order Mini with the SSD purchased and installed by Apple, is the SSD it worth it? Are there any noticeable differences between the Apple SSD and the Fusion drive besides the cost and lower amount of storage space? How much improvement is there in the performance of the SSD compared to the FD?

    Thank you in advance for putting up with another one of these threads.
  2. Fishrrman macrumors G3

    Feb 20, 2009
    If you buy the SSD (not fusion) pre-installed from Apple, you will pay CONSIDERABLY more than if you bought an SSD on your own. Roughly twice what you'd pay if you bought "at street".

    In addition, you will have only 256gb of storage (not all that much, nowadays), vis-a-vis the 1tb of storage the standard Mini HDD gives.

    My suggestion (one you probably never even considered):
    Buy the "stock" Mini with the 1tb HDD.
    Buy an SSD yourself (if you keep a CLOSE EYE on sales, you can get a higher-capacity drive at a good price).
    If you don't want to risk opening the Mini to install it (I don't blame you, I didn't want to do that, either), get either an EXTERNAL ENCLOSURE or a USB3/SATA "docking station".

    You can buy a good 2.5" external enclosure such as this:
    … for just $30.

    Take a couple of minutes to put the drive in and connect it, then intialize.
    Then use CarbonCopyCloner to "clone" the contents of the 1tb HDD to the new SSD.

    An externally-booted USB3 SSD will give you task-to-task speeds all-but indistinguishable from an internal "fusion" drive, and you'll still have the 1tb HDD internal drive for backups and extra storage...
  3. benwiggy macrumors 68020

    Jun 15, 2012
    I would advise getting the Fusion drive. It is much more than the sum of it parts. It is intelligent automated tiered storage. It is not just caching. It will be better at positioning your files than you can manually achieve with two separate volumes.

    If you're looking to future-proof, it's probably the most significant thing.
  4. Gonzo3333 thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Mar 30, 2009
    Chicago, IL
    I never thought of that. That may be a viable option. I just don't want to open the Mini, get everything installed and find out that I broke something after spending a bunch of money on it and have Apple tell me to go pound sand when I bring it in to get fixed.
  5. CIA macrumors 6502a

    Jun 17, 2003
    You also have the option of having a Apple Authorized shop do the install for you. That won't void your warranty.
  6. Obsidiank macrumors newbie

    Jan 8, 2011
    Hey Gonzo,

    Based on what I've read the performance of SSD is comparable to Fusion until you fill up the SSD.

    this is a decent rant on anti-fusion drive

    here's a better read

    So first I'm going to answer your question. In most cases the SSD is going to be faster than fusion. This is because it never has to write to a slower HD. Also, the Apple Fusion uses an 128GB Samsung 830 which is slower than 840. In real world usage you are not going to notice a difference when files are transferring at > 300mb per second.

    You can actually make your own fusion drive with an SSD and HD via disk utility. Ok, so now that you know there is no performance difference, what should you get based on price. I will break it down for you.

    1) Buy your own SSD and make your own fusion or SSD alone and HD as backup - $220. (This is high end Samsung 840 Pro 256GB). You can get back with SSD for as little as $120.

    2) Buy Apple SSD - $300

    3) Buy Apple Fusion - $250.

    So the worst deal is buying Apple's SDD because if you check out this thread you will see that it doesn't perform nearly as well as the Samsung 840 Pro. Best deal is to do it yourself.

    Ok, so you don't want to open your Mac Mini up and possibly break something. This is a valid concern because some of the connectors are a pain in the ass to get to. In that case, I would go with the fusion. Alternatively, as someone else suggested, take it to a local computer place and have someone else do it. You should really learn how to do this stuff at some point. I would buy the mac mini with credit card that has buyer protection and then on the off chance that you do break something and apple says your warranty is void, just get it replaced via your CC.
  7. Mike in Kansas macrumors 6502a

    Mike in Kansas

    Sep 2, 2008
    Metro Kansas City
    You can also "roll your own" FusionDrive by "fusing" together your 1TB internal HDD with your external USB3 SSD. I built my own by fusing my 240GB internal SSD (boot drive) with a 2TB external FW800 HDD. My experience is much better than what I had when manually managing files between the drives, especially in apps such as Aperture and iMovie.
  8. benwiggy macrumors 68020

    Jun 15, 2012
    I stopped reading when he said it was the same as Intel's SRT and other caching technologies.
    Fusion is NOT caching of any sort - Smart or otherwise.

    Are Apple's BTO options more expensive that doing it yourself? Absolutely.
    Is the Fusion Drive technology a Good Thing™? Absolutely.
  9. Gonzo3333 thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Mar 30, 2009
    Chicago, IL
    Thank you all for your replies. I still have about a month to think about it before I am ready to buy. I am going to try to evaluate some other details that will be my final deciding factor. I'll post my decision in a few weeks. I just don't want to loose sleep about what to do about this. It's not brain surgery or rocket science.
  10. blanka macrumors 68000

    Jul 30, 2012
    Replacing hard drives never voids your warranty (at least not in the EU).
  11. raniel macrumors regular


    Jan 2, 2011
    Go for the SSD route. the fusion is a new technology. Plus its using 2 harddisk so the failure rate is much higher.

  12. spacepower7 macrumors 68000

    May 6, 2004
    I vote for Fusion in your situation.

    It's like SSD for most tasks an average user will perform.

    All drives, SSD or spinners, read faster than they can write.

    From all the articles that I have read, the Mac OS is running from the SSD and the other files switch from SSD and spinner HD depending on what is done.

    A key point in the ARS and Anandtech articles, the fusion drive always keeps around 4GB free on the SSD to use as a workspace. So if you open a 500MB image from the HD, it moves to the SSD workspace, where your image edits happen faster.

    It really seems like a best of both worlds compromise.

    I've been doing data recovery for years, Apple thought this thru, the OS won't delete a file from one drive until it is copied to the other. I'd be more concerned about using a HD with a 1 year warranty for time machine backups than losing data on a fusion drive.

    As for myself, I took apart my entire Mac Mini 2012, to have a 500GB SSD and 1 TB spinner. It was a PITA.

    I strongly recommend the Fusion drive for people that don't have the time, skill, or special needs of rolling their own. For the majority, Fusion drive is the best bet.
  13. Gonzo3333 thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Mar 30, 2009
    Chicago, IL
    I have another question that hopefully I can get a clear answer on. If I were to get a 500 gb Samsung 840 pro, would I be able to use it as just storage if I had a proper USB 3.0 enclosure. Would it be reliable? I have not been able to get a straight answer from searching the web. Everybody seems to use the 2.5" SSD's as a bootable drive. Basically, if I were to get a bare SSD and formatted it to OS X extended journal, would it work, or better yet, work well?
  14. Fishrrman macrumors G3

    Feb 20, 2009
  15. Gonzo3333 thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Mar 30, 2009
    Chicago, IL
  16. Santabean2000 macrumors 68000


    Nov 20, 2007
    I know you said you wouldn't, but honestly you should. The *only* connector that is hard to get to is the IR, everything else is gold.

    It's also quite possible to swap the HDD out without having to remove IR connector, or even slide the guts out. [Note, installing the second HDD is significantly more involved, but still quite doable.]

    Be brave; watch a vid and take your time. Honestly, not hard.
  17. Mojo1 macrumors 65816

    Jul 26, 2011
    Keep in mind that when an SSD drive fails it often does so with no warning; mechanical drives usually exhibit telltale signs of imminent failure. So be sure to have a bulletproof backup system in place.

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