New iMac w/Fusion now or w/SSD later?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by padams35, Jun 10, 2017.


1TB Fusion iMac now or keep saving for the SSD buyup?

Poll closed Jun 24, 2017.
  1. Tech is best new. Buy the 1TB fusion now and upgrade to a TB/USB3 SSD later.

    5 vote(s)
  2. The SSD blade is worth it. Keep saving until you can afford that option.

    9 vote(s)
  3. Raid the food budget and buy the SSD iMac now. Totally worth eating PB&J at work for 2 months.

    6 vote(s)
  4. Ignore the shiny new iMacs and make do with the old one until that fails.

    0 vote(s)
  1. padams35 macrumors regular

    Nov 10, 2016
    I'm currently running a 21" 2011 iMac upgraded to have an internal Crucial SSD but I'm starting to run up against the limits of its 6770m gpu and have already started saving for a 2018/2019 upgrade. However the 2017s look solid and I'd rather not risk waiting until 2019 only to discover the refresh is USB-C/TB3 only.

    Anyway, if I can sell my 2011 while its still worth something I can push my upgrade timeline forward to early 2018... or I could own a new iMac next month if I was willing to settle for a baseline 1TB fusion instead of the 512GB SSD buy up.
  2. Alrescha macrumors 68020

    Jan 1, 2008
    However you do it, I suggest getting the SSD. I think the era of moving parts in computers is slowly coming to an end and for me it cannot happen soon enough. I have not purchased a computer with a spinning internal drive since 2009, and have no intention of ever doing so again :)

  3. statik13 macrumors regular


    Jun 6, 2008
    Agree with Alrescha. No sense getting a fusion drive. Just take your time, save a few dollars extra and get the 512 SSD. It is a better long term investment.
  4. ApfelKuchen macrumors 68030

    Aug 28, 2012
    Between the coasts
    I don't like the choices. Hardware upgrades, for me, are based on need, rather than desire. If you need to replace your older iMac now (speed, productivity, etc.), then the future doesn't matter - choose whatever best suits your needs now, based on what's available now. If this is mainly an academic exercise, maybe you can wait and hope that Flash prices drop in the future.

    I've said this fairly often, but I have two late 2013 iMacs - one with pure Flash, the other with Fusion. In day-to-day use, I encounter no practical difference in performance. As far as I can tell, nearly everything I use on the Fusion Mac on a regular basis is located in Flash (128 GB Flash). Sure, the spinning drive is a potential Achilles Heel, but the original spinner on my early 2008 iMac is still spinning away.

    So, if you need more internal storage than you can afford to pay to have it all-Flash, Fusion is a nearly painless compromise. And since going all-Flash doesn't eliminate the need to make a backup, does it matter that much whether you're backing up an all-Flash Mac or a Fusion?
  5. Alrescha macrumors 68020

    Jan 1, 2008
    I may be jaded. Over the years I have purchased three Mac minis, and had drives in all three fail around the three-year mark - long before the machines stopped being useful.

    The iMac is not intended to be a user-repairable device - in my mind spinning drives are out of the question.

  6. padams35 thread starter macrumors regular

    Nov 10, 2016
    It was a serious question but I've added a new voting option added for, essentially, keep the old 2011 until there is a clear and present need to upgrade.

    Historically the 'make it last as long as you can' philosophy has been mine as well, but this time around I'm thinking of trying out the sell-the-old-upgrade-early path. After all, while I don't 'need' a new iMac my 2011 is starting to feel more like making do than doing well and the new 2017s do offer multiple new/improved features with tangible benefits to my usage.
  7. ApfelKuchen macrumors 68030

    Aug 28, 2012
    Between the coasts
    I'd quibble and note that "make do until it fails" isn't quite what I was saying - that 2008 iMac I mentioned was replaced as my primary machine by a late 2013 with 3TB Fusion because its performance was inadequate and the 27" display would aid productivity. So if you need it now, get what's available now. Waiting a couple of more years for something better means several years of reduced productivity/performance while you're waiting.

    Do you mean you're worried that the USB 3 ports and or 3.5mm audio jack will go away entirely? Yeah, it's a possibility, though I think USB 3 is going to be pretty hard to kill altogether within this time frame - maybe it'll drop to a pair of USB 3 ports from four. Worst case, you might have to buy a Thunderbolt bridge with the necessary connectors. If that's a significant consideration in your decision (superseding productivity/performance), then maybe the machine you have is enough for now. (I consider ports to be relatively incidental - I don't need many, and over the years I've had so many adapters, hubs, etc. that I've never dreamed of a day when I won't need them.)

    I'm just using the 2008 as an auxiliary machine, until the HDD fails. The cost of a replacement SSD doesn't seem worth it - it'd boost performance, but it still would max-out at 6GB RAM and can't run anything higher than El Capitan (I used to use it to run Mac betas). I probably should have done the SSD upgrade a few years ago - by now, I'm sure I'd have felt I'd gotten my money's worth.
  8. theluggage macrumors 68040

    Jul 29, 2011
    Also remember that the 1TB fusion drive only has a small (24GB) SSD component - you need to go for the 2TB/3TB option to get the 128GB SSD.

    Money permitting, I'd go for the pure SSD plus external storage as needed.

    Dropping USB-A on the 2016 MBPs was a pain, but come 2019 that might not be such a big deal - there should be a better choice of USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 accessories by then and all our old USB-A stuff will be 2 years older. You'd probably get away with a cheaper USB-C hub rather than a $300 TB3 dock if you're not planning to hang a 4k display off it. One of the weaknesses of the iMac is that all the ports are tucked around the back, so a USB hub sat under the display would be quite useful.

    Nothing can be guaranteed, but it would be a bit of a surprise if there was a major overhaul of the iMac before mid 2018. In any case, there will probably be refurbs. Its also reassuring that the USB/Ethernet ports and the upgradeable RAM on the 27" didn't vanish this time around.
  9. Fishrrman macrumors G5


    Feb 20, 2009
    If you want a new iMac now, get the 256gb SSD "build-to-order" option.
    It's affordable, it adds only $100 additional on the 27" models.

    You'll say, "that's not enough storage space!"
    And I'll say, "you're right!"

    So... if you need more storage, pick up an EXTERNAL SSD in a USB3 enclosure. Cheap and easy.
    Or.. wait just a little while longer until USB3.1 Gen2 external SSD's become more common. These are so fast I doubt you'll notice ANY discernible difference between it and the internal SSD.
  10. KDNYC macrumors member

    Dec 4, 2010
    I was all set to buy a 21.5 4k to replace my older MB, but once I priced out extra ram (not really optional for a 21.5 at purchase) and an ssd, the base 27" made more sense given the smaller price difference.

    I did ask myself if I couldn't just go with a Fusion. But I know I'd regret not getting an SSD off the bat. I already have small, large externals I use for media files and I don't need 1TB of space. I do need core reliability. When the dvd superdrive in my old iMac failed out of warranty, I just bought a cheap external dvd drive, which of course hardly ever gets used. But an HD isn't an occasional-use accessory, and I tend to keep computers for 4-6 years before replacing, so having a reliable internal HD makes sense. Barring manufacturer defects elsewhere, it's the one thing that typically fails after a lengthy period of time.
  11. padams35 thread starter macrumors regular

    Nov 10, 2016
    The 256GB SSD isn't an option for me. Part of my iMac usage is to maintain a local copy of emails/photos/music which pushes my current disk usage to just over 250GB. With a small SSD I'd have to buy additional storage from day #1 and I don't see any point in paying extra for a buy-up that would be too small for my immediate needs.

    Its interesting that so far the majority are convinced the 1TB fusions are a trap. El Capitan ran fairly well on my 2011's 7200rpm before the SSD upgrade so I original wasn't too worried about running off a fusion for the near future. Sure I'll eventually want pure SSD but when I posted this I was thinking more of saving desk space and port connections with an internal SSD or saving cash and wait time by trying a Fusion and adding an external SSD when convenient.

    Oddly enough I've never had an internal HDD fail on me. I've lost three HDDs in enclosures, but two of those were refurbs I tried to cheap out on back when I was fresh out of college and still living on ramen.
  12. kschendel macrumors 6502a

    Dec 9, 2014
    I think one of the problems with recommending the 1 Tb Fusion is that when it's bad, it's pretty bad -- and it's quite difficult to predict who it will work OK for and who it won't. Since your current usage is around the 250G mark, it may be that your working set would fit in the 1 Tb FD's SSD (which I think was made marginally larger for 2017, I believe it's 32 Gb now). If that's not the case, though, you'll feel the pain and it's hard to say whether the gamble is worth it. The larger SSD on the 2 TB FD's make it less of a crap-shoot.
  13. schopaia macrumors member


    Apr 14, 2010
    Are you able to buy from B&H photo and avoid sales tax? If so it's a no brainer - if you buy directly from apple with the BTO option you are ending up spending nearly $300 more for the 256, or $500 more for the 512. I'd say get it stock, and down the line you can get a USB-C external ssd and even boot from it if you like.
  14. kazmac macrumors 603


    Mar 24, 2010
    On the silver scream
    late to the thread, but I vote hold out until you can purchase a model with 512 SSD since you need more space than a 256 SSD.

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