Need help deciding on main drive config 2014 iMac

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by minus.toes, Oct 24, 2014.

  1. minus.toes macrumors member

    Sep 12, 2014
    I've decided to get on board with the new 2014 iMac. I'm debating on whether to go with a fusion drive (1tb would be fine for my needs) or to get the 256gb flash and then just get an external for storage. I'm guessing the difference between the two is many better on paper than real world usage?

    My needs are not cutting edge. Aside from the normal web/email/office usage, I use Lightroom and Photoshop. Those are my needs - about 25% admin and 75% photo.

    If going the 256gb flash route, would I be best off with external hdd's? I don't see the prices that low yet for the larger ssd's.
  2. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 604

    Oct 24, 2013
    The 2014 isn't out....

    As far as I know the current imacs are the 2013 configuration at least with these options. There are 2 2014 iMacs available the 5K version (retina) (starting at $2499) and the basic dual core version released in april (starting at $1099).

    If you are after a new imac they maybe refreshed soon so it could be worth the wait.

    I would get some sort of flash drive, wether that is a 256 with external storage or the fusion is certainly up to you, both will perform really well but the fusion will be dead if either half dies so the HDD could scupper the whole thing, not nearly so likely with the ssd....
  3. jmoore5196 macrumors 6502a


    May 19, 2009
    Midwest US
    I've been debating the same issue!

    The problem with the Fusion Drive is the spinning HD. About a year ago, I decided that every Mac I owned would have an SSD. The only thing for which I use a spinning HD nowadays is Time Machine backups, and even then, I rotate them between 3 hard disks.

    I want one of the new retina iMacs, but I'll configure it with a 512GB SSD. I expect I'll outgrow that before the iMac becomes obsolete, so I'll purchase an Elgato 512GB Thunderbolt SSD at some point as well.

    I think we reached "critical mass" with processor speed a couple of years ago; at that point, the spinning HD became the effective bottleneck. Since speed is a premium for me, I've just opted to move beyond a 7200rpm hard drive to better match the capabilities of the modern Mac.

    Who knows? Maybe SSD costs will begin to keep pace! They are already considerably less expensive than they were a couple of years ago.
  4. ApfelKuchen macrumors 68030

    Aug 28, 2012
    Between the coasts
    The day of all-SSD is coming (and I'm no fan of electro-mechanical devices), but for now it's still budget vs. mass storage needs, day-to-day maintenance, and "weakest link" analysis.

    I have a 3TB Fusion in my Late 2013 iMac, and nothing that's happened in the last half-year makes me regret that choice.

    First, it's turned out to be incredibly fast. Is it slower than pure SSD? Yes. Is it way faster than HDD-only? Absolutely.

    It's low-maintenance. There is no need to actively manage storage locations. No, "Whoops, I forgot to point the new app's data storage to the HDD!"

    I'm definitely not convinced that OS and apps are the only thing that benefits from SSD speed. Why shouldn't the data I'm working with actively have a home on the SSD, too? Fusion automates that.

    I'm definitely not a fan of the notion of a system that's dependent on an external drive for core functionality. That doesn't matter whether it's SSD inside, HDD outside, or vice versa. OS and apps need data to be of any use, and vice versa. If it's a matter of internal SSD, external network-based data, that's one thing - there's plenty of room for data redundancy, there are several paths for accessing that data (wifi, wired). A locally-connected external drive is dependent upon one cable and a pair of mechanical connections. For backup, for supplemental data, that's fine. But I wouldn't depend on that cable as the sole link to my data. I shouldn't be dead in the water if that link fails.

    Any split-component system, whether both components are internal, or one is inside and the other out, has this fundamental weakness. In terms of risk analysis, that cable is far, far more likely to fail than either an HDD or SDD.

    Simply stated, keep it all internal, let the computer manage speed optimization. The computer is a tool. The less attention you have to focus on the tool, the more attention you can give to the task, and it's the task that matters.
  5. theluggage macrumors 68040

    Jul 29, 2011
    That would be my inclination as well. I much prefer the idea of not having a mechanical HD in there, but I'd prefer a bit more than 256GB. My main disappointment with the iMac 5k is the stratospheric cost of the 1GB SSD option.

    However, if that extra $300 is beyond you, I think 256GB SSD + external is viable. The big speed gains in general use come from having your OS, swapfile, temporary storage and applications on the SSD. You just have to be a bit disciplined about 'archiving' bulky files to the external drive. 512GB would be a bit less restricting but after that... if you're not doing video stuff then 512GB goes a long way, if you are, then you'll rip through even 1TB in no time.

    You're going to need an external drive for Time Machine anyway, so you might as well get a dual external drive (you can save pennies and use USB3, rather than spring for Thunderbolt, if you're not going to use RAID or boot from external HD) and use the second drive for bulky data.

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