New 27" iMac 768 Flash vs Fusion+1TB External SSD for Graphic Design Performance

Discussion in 'iMac' started by NarwhalDisco, Jan 6, 2013.

  1. NarwhalDisco macrumors newbie

    Jan 6, 2013
    I am looking into purchasing a new 27" iMac, and am debating over whether to invest in the overpriced internal 768GB flash storage, or going with the Fusion drive and pairing it with an external LaCie 1TB SSD, in hopes of only storing my OS and Apps on the 128GB flash portion to avoid using the HDD altogether. Performance and speed over storage is truly where I am at, so I need help in my quest of choosing the best possible customization scenario to meet my photography/graphic design requirements, as I will be running multiple large editing programs like Photoshop CS6, Lightroom, and Autocad. I also have some Nikon programs that will be running wirelessly for transmitting photographs during various shoots. Opening and closing large RAW files puts me at a higher risk for increased lag time during the various editing stages, which is like death to us designers out there. :mad: I plan on having this computer for at least 5 or so years, and plan on upgrading the system as my small business needs grow and change. Depending on whether I go with the 768GB option or the Fusion option, I will always be using another separate external storage device for all of my large media files, and I am open to hearing any other product suggestions that you might have in the $1,000 or less range. Overall my ideal iMac budget is $4,500 total or less, and I definitely will not spend over $5,000 for my initial investment set-up. My logic has always been to establish what my "dream system" would be, and then try and factor in what I need most/can afford right now.

    1) With my limited knowledge of how computers operate, I initially did a bit of research on finding out what system would best serve my needs. I began looking into solid-state drives because of their performance, and clearly SSD is the way of the future. I figured I could use the 768GB flash storage and combine it with an external storage device of some kind and be set! I already own a speedy external HDD that I will be using for the overall backup of my data. The only problem I'm having with this option thus far is the frivolous pricetag.

    2) The other option I have come across is combining the Fusion drive and an external drive like the LaCie 1TB SSD, which is bigger and faster than the 768GB internal option for LESS MONEY. The Lacie option is very likely much faster than the Apple one, as it's a RAID setup. Benchmarks are already out there based on the MBPro Retina, and they speak clear. If I go with the Lacie option and leave the stock HDD empty I don't only save money, but I also end up having more than 300gb+ more of flash storage (the fusion plus the full 1TB of the Lacie). That's way above 30% more flash storage for less money, and this alone should be enough not to choose the solid-state Apple solution.

    The downside: I don't have the computer management skills that I fear will undoubtedly become necessary as I take up more and more of the 128GB flash on the fusion drive, and quite frankly I am not interested in learning them either. :cool: Computers are a very essential part of my life with my line of work as a graphic artist/photographer, however learning about computers themselves is NOT a hobby/general interest I have in the least. I am more than willing to research what I need to in order to make an educated purchase of course, and that includes integrating into the equation the fact that I want as little to do with managing/reconfiguring confusing drive operations and other manual tweaks as I possibly can. So if this option in the long run ultimately comes with the task of learning manual computer management programs or skill-sets in any form, then this option is not for me. I would rather compromise my wallet than compromise learning something new that I find inherently time-consuming and too much extra work for me at this particularly busy time in my life. More Money for Less Upkeep = Great Idea for this kid.

    So while I initially thought that performance and price were the determining factors, it seems as though it is more like performance and the least amount of managerial upkeep years down the line. Considering that solid-state is most likely the direction technology is heading towards, should I really invest in Apple's blatant "new" interim technology with such a clear expiration date in the hopes of saving a few bucks? Or should I overpay for a SSD that would save me the hassle of having to potentially bypass the hard drive and/or other drive operations that I really have no interest in trying to fully understand, let alone manually manage? :/ It feels like it is a battle of determining the lesser of two evils.. Any thoughts and opinions are most welcomed!
  2. torana355 macrumors 68030

    Dec 8, 2009
    Sydney, Australia
    If you are using the machine professionally to make a living then i would prefer the all SSD option. I personally choose the fusion drive and im 100% happy with it but its a personal machine and i could never justify Apples prices for the 768GB SSD. Another much cheaper option would be to get the 1TB fusion drive for the OS and Apps and get an external SSD setup though thunderbolt which you could use to work on your files.
  3. NarwhalDisco thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 6, 2013
    It will be a determinate factor in how I make a living, which is why the prospect of having to micromanage an entire system down the line is perhaps more costly than overpaying for the internal solid-state option. However, I loathe the idea of having to send away my entire computer to have it serviced if the drive were to fail, and with the Fusion I would have the benefit of sending away my external storage while maintaining my ability to continue working on the iMac itself. With the 768GB flash storage price tag, I'm not sure what external SSD I can afford to help eliminate this potential problem, let alone what I would have room to store on it. I was initially thinking perhaps an external hard drive for all of my storage, but obviously an external SSD is so much better. It is ridiculous how Apple has deliberately set up a system in which you can't help yourself without voiding their warranty, i.e. just going to crucial to purchase and install your own SSD for over half the price..
  4. snugja macrumors regular

    Feb 11, 2006
    Product designer here. Went with flash. No regrets.
  5. NarwhalDisco thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 6, 2013
    What do you plan on doing if your internal flash drive fails, and you have to send your entire iMac off to Apple for repair? :confused:
  6. RedTomato macrumors 68040


    Mar 4, 2005
    .. London ..
    Go for the fusion.

    Zero management needed. You'll never see the 128GB on the fusion. All you see will be a SINGLE 1.1TB drive, and OSX will deal with shifting the data you need most from the HDD to the SSD (and moving long-term unused data back to the HDD). It'll move whichever parts of the system files you use most, plus whatever apps / data you're working on.

    The only time you'll see lag is the first time you open a large file / an app that you haven't worked on for months. After that, it'll open instantly every time you open it, until you put it away for several more months.

    Two years or so down the line, when SDD prices have fallen far enough, you can replace the HDD with a cheap 1TB or 2TB SSD. Or replace the 128GB SSD or whatever combination you like.
  7. snugja macrumors regular

    Feb 11, 2006
    I work from my 15TB NAS with redundancy. I also have a 13" Macbook air. So I'd be fine. I'm less worried about the SSD failing than I am a regular hard drive. Though, on a desktop, the likelihood of the HDD failing is minimal as well.
  8. bonedaddio macrumors member

    Jan 23, 2009
    PA, USA
    Another option to consider...

    Would be to setup an external SSD or SSDs for your OS and Data storage via Thunderbolt enclosure(s). That's the route I went. I just got a 1TB HDD internally in my iMac 27" BTO. If you choose that option, here's a possible scenario:
    Pegasus J4 Tunderbolt enclosure (can hold 4 2.5" drives)
    2-Apple Thunderbolt cables
    Samsung 840 SSD 256Gb (Std is $180.00; Pro is $250)
    $667.00 Total... leaves another $633 of the $1300 the Apple SSD costs for bigger/better/more drives, or a Seagate Backup Plus Thunderbolt Adapter and another drive... you'll need this if you want to Boot Camp to an SSD windows drive, at least at the moment until more drivers are released).
    Just my $.02; but I tested this on my Thunderbolt MacBook Pro, and it's blazingly fast. You can even set up an external Fusion drive if you want going this method.
  9. Tanax macrumors 6502a

    Jun 15, 2011
    Stockholm, Sweden
    You don't need Thunderbolt for an external SSD enclosure unless you're thinking about getting 2 or more SSDs and have RAID 0. It'll just get unnecessarily expensive.
  10. pfrocha macrumors newbie

    Mar 31, 2013
    Hello bonedaddio

    Can you please give me more details about setting up an external SSD (LaCie rugged ThunderBolt) as an EXTERNAL FusionDrive?


Share This Page