New 5K iMac: SSD vs Fusion

Discussion in 'iMac' started by DrDoug, Feb 18, 2016.

?

What would you get in your new 27" iMac

  1. 250GB SSD + External HDD

    64.0%
  2. 2TB Fusion drive

    36.0%
  1. DrDoug, Feb 18, 2016
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2016

    DrDoug macrumors member

    Joined:
    May 15, 2010
    #1
    Hi all.

    would appreciate your views on the dilemma below.

    Am looking to upgrade from iMac "Core i5" 2.66 27-Inch (Late 2009) to a new 27" 5K iMac

    My current machine has the original 1TB drive in it and the optical drive has been replaced with a 250GB SSD as the boot disk. It has 12GB RAM and not too shabby for its age. A little slow from time to time and I think now is a good enough time to upgrade as the old machine still has resale value. The machine gets fairly general work use (MS office etc) plus quite a lot of time in Adobe Lightroom.

    so the problem for me is storage. I have external drives for backup - but not sure if I should go for

    1. 2TB fusion drive (I hear that the larger fusion drives have more SSD space in them?)
    2. 250GB SSD and then an external thunderbolt drive for all my photos/data

    Never really used an external HDD for anything other than backup. Want everything to be faster than my current setup - otherwise its just a very expensive new screen!

    thoughts...
     
  2. varian55zx macrumors 6502a

    varian55zx

    Joined:
    May 10, 2012
    Location:
    San Francisco
    #2
    I have the 2 tb fusion and it just runs magnificently. If you're regularly using less than 128 gb of files in general, then it feels just like an SSD since you're only accessing data on the SSD side.

    I opted for that option over the pure SSD because I don't really like having all my files tangled up on a bunch of external spinning disks. But obviously the SSD option is good too.
     
  3. svendobbelaere macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2012
    Location:
    Belgium
    #3
    I opted for the 2TB fusion drive because that was a stock configuration. The BTO SSD was just too expensive IMHO, on an already expensive computer (and I would've wanted at least a 2 TB SSD anyway).

    It's a bit slower than pure SSD, but ok.
     
  4. Sirmausalot macrumors 6502a

    Sirmausalot

    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2007
    #4
    There is no major advantage of thunderbolt external versus USB 3 as your limiting factor is the disk speed. So you can save money there

    I think the 2TB is a good budget option, but if you can stretch to the 512 NVRAM drive and get along without purchasing more external storage for a year or so using what you've got and the internal drive, you are better off (and at a similar price point) In a year, you can grab an extra USB 3 SSD drive or my favorite,t he Seagate Backup fast (RAID, USB 3 4TB)
     
  5. Adam552 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    May 30, 2006
    Location:
    Liverpool, UK.
    #5
    Honestly, just get the 2TB fusion drive, I'm guessing you're going to need more than 250GB space. The 2TB fusion drive will be way fast enough for your needs.
     
  6. killhippie macrumors regular

    killhippie

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2016
    Location:
    UK
    #6
    I in the end went with the 1tb SSD I was lucky to have had a 2tb fusion late 2015 5k version which I sold on with little loss after its logic board was replaced so I purchased the 1tb SSD and maxed everything but the ram.
    I don't really trust the seagate drive used which in review does not have a great record with longevity. Apple could be using better quality drives considering the price they charge. Also I think OS X now runs better on SSD's anyway.
    The fusion drive works well and it's a fine machine but I just don't like spending over 2k to end up with a £56 Seagate ST2000DM001 on the 2TB model which seems to have a high failure rate compared with other manufacturers.
     
  7. DrDoug thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    May 15, 2010
    #7
    So you have owned a 5K iMac with both SSD and Fusion then?

    How much real-life performance difference in speed did you see?

    I am worried that moving from SSD (albeit on a 2009 machine via SATA) to Fusion would be a backward step. I know either would be fast enough, but want to feel like I'm getting a faster machine!

     
  8. bent christian, Feb 18, 2016
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2016

    bent christian Suspended

    bent christian

    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2015
    #8
    If you are worried and are the type who will beat yourself up over not having made the right decision on a system you will have for a long time, get the SSD. Cheap storage options are always available and cheap storage will be getting faster over the next few years.

    But...coming from a SATA SSD (SATA II?), you can always boot from an external drive if you go Fusion on the new system. A USB 3 boot using a UASP enclosure will yield results close to SATA III speeds. If you are fine with what is presumably SATA II on your 2009 iMac, this might satisfy. The external boot will be faster than what you currently have. You will have really fast internal storage as well.

    Since you have no experience with the PCIe SSDs Apple uses (very, very fast), I think either option will offer more speed than what you have now. The satisfaction with Fusion experience really depends on what you are doing with the system. Going from PCIe to Fusion would usually be a step down. SATA II to Fusion, probably not at all.
     
  9. Adam552 macrumors 6502

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    May 30, 2006
    Location:
    Liverpool, UK.
    #9
  10. ApfelKuchen macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2012
    Location:
    Between the coasts
    #10
    I've posted the essentially the same comment on many occasions...

    I have a late 2013 iMac with Fusion, and another late 2013 iMac with SSD. From a practical standpoint, I can't tell the performance difference between the two.

    The benefit of Fusion over a split SSD/HDD configuration is average performance, instead of SSD performance for only some items, and only HDD performance for others.

    Benchmarks of Fusion show overall performance of 80%-90% the speed of a pure SSD. Depending on how you use your data... on a day-to-day basis, it's possible that 95% of what you do is running at full SSD speed - considering many MacBook users are living with a 128GB SSD (and no external), there's a fair possibility that almost everything you do will be found in SSD under Fusion (assuming a 128GB SSD for Fusion).

    The typical user of a split configuration has assumed that OS and apps benefit most from SSD speed, while data can poke along at HDD speeds. However, if you're actively working with data, there's constant read/write activity going on. Fusion automatically moves that activity to SSD, without any user intervention. If all you were doing was playing streaming media from the HDD, Fusion won't be very beneficial. But if you're editing (regardless of what you're editing - media, text, databases...), then Fusion pays off immediately.
     
  11. killhippie macrumors regular

    killhippie

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2016
    Location:
    UK
    #11
    Real life its not huge with browsing etc but its enough that I'm glad I went SSD, I dont see any pin wheels spinning or multiple bouncing of apps in the doc and copying files to the iMac is insanely fast. Boot time is instant, and I don't hear the quite rumble of the seagate firing up (that's just my OCD kicking in) I have to say I had buyers regret getting the fusion drive when I could afford the 1TB SSD and I'm glad I had the chance to remedy that.

    It depends really on your workflow, the Fusion driver is great, but I think all iMacs should come with a base 256GB SSD with a mechanical drive/fusion drive as an add on option rather than the other way round. You can add external drives that give you all the storage you need. Personally I do feel the SSD was the best choice for me, your mileage may vary. :)
     
  12. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    May 3, 2009
    Location:
    Boston
    #12
    I opted for the 2TB fusion drive, over the 256GB SSD. My data exceeds 256GB, and I grew tired of moving my data to external drives, making sure I back up those external drives etc, etc. I find the 2TB Fusion drive fast, and down right cavernous, i.e., tons of space for now and the future.
     
  13. joema2 macrumors 65816

    joema2

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2013
    #13
    I own both top-spec 2013 iMac 27 with 3TB Fusion Drive and top-spec 2015 iMac 27 with 1TB SSD. In general there is not that much performance difference attributable to I/O for most common operations. OS X boot time, startup time for commonly-used apps, etc -- roughly the same.

    How could this be since the 2015 SSD is so fast (1860 MB/sec read vs 600 MB/sec read)? Because there are other bottlenecks -- CPU, thread synchronization, etc. It's like asking why doesn't a car with a 600 hp engine accelerate 3x faster than one with a 200 hp engine.

    This is the difference between running benchmarks vs real-world applications. What counts is NOT the benchmark performance but how it performs in the real world using your workflow and applications. In general the 2TB and 3TB SSD drives do very well.

    That said, Sirmausalot gave very good balanced advice on this. SSD is preferable if you can afford it and making that selection doesn't cause problems. E.g, some potential buyers are pummeled with "SSD only" advice, they can only afford a small SSD, they get a slow, cheap 5400 rpm bus-powered USB 3 drive for their data, and despite the SSD are unhappy with overall system performance.

    The two USB 3 bus-powered drives I'd recommend are the 1TB HGST Touro S, which is 7200 rpm, and the 4TB Seagate Backup Plus Fast, which is internally RAID-0. It is very fast.

    Bootcamp cannot use the SSD portion of Fusion Drive, so that can be an issue for some people. IOW if booting into Windows you are only using a regular HDD.
     
  14. jgo78 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2008
    #14
    i went with the 512 internal SSD and external 512 SSD usb3, works great, fast, no noise.
     
  15. DoNoHarm macrumors 65816

    DoNoHarm

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    Oct 8, 2008
    Location:
    Maine
    #15
    I also just bought a 2015 iMac and went with the 2TB fusion drive. My thinking was that in a few years - like in three when the AppleCare runs out - if I'm short on space or looking to squeeze more speed out of the computer, I could upgrade the SSD part of the fusion drive. Actually I could also expand the spinning part or use an external SSD. Really, what I liked about the fusion drive was that you start from a position of being almost as fast as SSD and and maximize your upgrade options, should you need them. If you go with the SSD, you're stuck with that or an external drive only.
     
  16. DrDoug thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    May 15, 2010
    #16
    How can you change the SSD part in the fusion drive. Is it not a sealed component on a sealed system...? Seems like a huge effort to be taking a drive apart..
     
  17. DoNoHarm macrumors 65816

    DoNoHarm

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    Oct 8, 2008
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    Maine
    #17
    No. The "fusion drive" is two drives on two separate places on the motherboard.
     
  18. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

    Staff Member

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    Boston
    #18
    You're thinking of a hybrid drive that is part ssd and mechanical drive. The Fusion drive takes two seperate drives and "fuses" them together. Kind of like a RAID setup, except that the OS decides on where the data resides, on the fast flash storage or the slower hard drive.
     
  19. Lankyman macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    May 14, 2011
    Location:
    U.K.
    #19
    My thoughts are that your machine has some good years left in it yet, especially with the SSD upgrade you gave it. I am in a similar situation to yourself, though my machine is just a bit younger and I too have taken the SSD upgrade path.

    I am deploying a 'wait and see' tactic with the iMac. I think the present model is crying out for a major redesign and I'm not very happy with the present Apple policy of making their kit non-upgradeable post purchase. My iMac can still perform all of the tasks I ask of it, so I shall continue to save my pennies until I see some signal from Apple that their design team haven't given up on the desktop computer.
     
  20. Wahlstrm macrumors 6502a

    Wahlstrm

    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2013
    #20
    I wish the iMac was just a bit easier to open up since the perfect solution would be to replace the spinner with an SSD..
    I like separate drives for files and OS, but a spinner is no fun.. :)
     
  21. swamyg1 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2007
    #21
    So can a fusion drive not be added to an 5k iMac lost purchase? For example, I purchased s 1tb SSD and wanted to add a spinning drive inspide? Could I purchase an apple own fusion drive with 128 SSD, install it, an replace the blade with my 1tb?
     
  22. Wahlstrm macrumors 6502a

    Wahlstrm

    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2013
    #22
    Apple delivers the SSD-only versions w/o the connection for the SATA-drive, so it´s a bit of hassle to add another drive after the purchase.. If you buy the Fusion you get the connection and can swap the drive for what ever you want..

    It´s was the same with my old mini, only the server version was delivered with 2 SATA connections, but luckily it was not to hard to find the missing part online..
     
  23. Lankyman macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    May 14, 2011
    Location:
    U.K.
    #23
    You forgot to mention the bit where you have to butcher the screen in order to carry out the upgrade and the fact you only get the one chance to get the refitting of said screen right.
     
  24. DrDoug thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    May 15, 2010
    #24
    I think that if I were a bit more sensible I would probably do the same thing as you and hold fire for now. At least until an Autumn iMac refresh perhaps. My grumble with the current machine is minimal and could in part be addressed by better library organisation and better use of previews in LR.

    but.... I REALLY want the pretty screen. I half know that I will be a little dissapionted as the huge increase in pixels has got to come at a price. Maybe I'll get the self control not to spend all this money and keep saving!
     
  25. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

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    #25
    This is what stops me dead in my tracks, I'm not even tempted to think about "upgrading" my mac. Maybe after AppleCare expires but not before.
     

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