Please help decide 256gb ssd vs 1 TB Fusion

Discussion in 'iMac' started by PictureP, May 26, 2015.

  1. PictureP, May 26, 2015
    Last edited: May 26, 2015

    PictureP macrumors newbie

    May 26, 2015
    Who can help me, i've been deciding for a month now which one to choose. I was leaning towards 256gb ssd but the 1TB capacity of the fusion is also a big plus.

    I will use my setup mainly for photography and webdesign and will be working with Photoshop, Illustrator, Dreamweaver, Indesign and Lightroom.

    Can anyone help me to decide, i'm going slightly crazy!
  2. aevan, May 26, 2015
    Last edited: May 26, 2015

    aevan macrumors 68030


    Feb 5, 2015
    There is a long and heated debate on 256Gb SSD vs Fusion Drive here

    Without telling you what to choose, I can give you a few tips:

    - Most people here will tell you to get an SSD without even thinking about it. That doesn't make the SSD a wrong choice, but these forums *are* heavily biased.

    - If you plan on using additional external storage, go for the SSD, but take additional cost of the externals into account.

    - If you don't want external storage as a permanent part of your Mac, go for the Fusion Drive.

    - Don't put supposed FD heat and noise factors into account - you'll read about them here, but the new Fusion Drive does not effectively increase heat and is barely audible. Again, that doesn't mean it's the better choice, just that you shouldn't make a decision based on heat and noise, no matter how many people here mentioned them.

    - I have both a fast SSD and a Fusion Drive - 99% of the time, I don't see the speed difference between the two, but your milage may vary. However, for Photoshop, Illustrator, Dreamweaver etc you almost certainly won't notice any difference as they will run from the SSD portion of the FD. The only real exception is video editing.

    Either choice is fine and you'll be happy with the result. Trust me. So choose whatever you feel like and enjoy your Mac.
  3. PictureP thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 26, 2015
    Thanks for the quick reaction. I know both will be fine and I have read the heated discussion.

    My hesitations towards fusion are that my lightroom library will be slower or lightroom will show delays when working with several RAW files and also that you can't decide wheter you put something on the SSD part or The HDD, on the other hand I'm asking myself if 256gb of SSD wil be enough?

  4. aevan macrumors 68030


    Feb 5, 2015

    Ok, perhaps I can give you some advice there as well, and it's simple really.

    RAW files will definitely load faster on the SSD then on the HDD. On a Fusion Drive - it depends how often you use them. I have a small (around 30Gb) library of NEF (Nikon RAW) files in my Lightroom 6 and open them on occasion, I get really good performance on my FD. Really I do. I don't even think SSD benefits are noticeable with such files, the real benefit is with the random seek times and stuff like that. Still - a pure SSD will ensure constant speeds across the board.

    However, I really don't think 256Gb will be enough for normal desktop needs these days. After installing all the apps, you'll be left with something between 150 and 100Gb and that can fill up very quickly. This can be remedied by getting an external drive.

    So, your choices are this:

    - Get a 256Gb SSD and invest around $100 extra for a nice USB3/Thunderbolt external 1Tb HDD drive. You can place your RAW files and important things on the SSD and put less important files on the 1Tb drive.

    - Get a Fusion Drive. You'll have less SSD space, but the OS X will do a nice job of micromanaging all your files and moving them around the drive. You'll enjoy very nice speeds without thinking about it too much.

    - Get a 256Gb SSD and invest around $150-300 in a nice USB3/Thunderbolt external 128/256Gb SSD. You'll get less than 1Tb, but around 512Mb space is ok.

    - Get a 256Gb SSD and buy something like 1Tb HDD LaCie Rugged drive. Then, when you save up more money, open the LaCie and replace the 2.5" HDD with a new SSD.

    I think all of these choices are good. But if you don't want to spend extra money for external options - Fusion Drive it is. It's fast and silent and great and will offer best of both worlds. I really think it comes down to whether you want to spend additional money (now or later) or not.

    What I don't think is good

    - Get only a 256Gb SSD and nothing else. I really think that 256Gb won't be enough, even for light computing.

    - Get a 256Gb SSD + an external 1Tb SSD. While this option is nice, it is so expensive that it's probably better to just get an internal 1Tb SSD drive.
  5. alexxk macrumors 6502

    Jul 29, 2010
    I will get the 256 SSD for OS and applications.. and buy a external 3-5TB USB 3 HD to store all my files.

    To me that's the best way to go
  6. aevan macrumors 68030


    Feb 5, 2015
    That is quite a nice option, indeed. However, we still don't know if the OP is planning on getting external storage. 3-5Tb external drives aren't cheap :)

    But if you're already planning to get them, then yeah, a 256Gb SSD is probably better.
  7. PictureP thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 26, 2015
    Thanks again, I already got 1 TB usb 3.0 external.

    I have seen the following configuration:
    27 inch, i5 3.2Ghz, GT755M, 256GB ssd for €2149,- with a 3 year garantee
    27 inch, i5 3.2Ghz, GT755M, 1TB Fusion for €1999,- with a 2 year garantee

    I will think about it overnight, because i really need to decide tomorrow.
  8. macthefork macrumors 6502

    Feb 2, 2013
    Family member has a iMac purchased in 2013 that uses the 1.1 Fusion. Maxed the RAM to 32GB. She's a Graphic Designer that uses mostly Photoshop, Illustrator, Indesign, and is in the process of migrating from Aperture to Lightroom.

    The Fusion Drive is fast for her work and works well. Some people have suggested the 256 GB SSD with an external HDD. The fusion Drive is a 128 GB SSD with a regular 1TB HDD. With the Fusion Drive, the OS manages your files (very well I might add). Where as with an external drive, you'll be managing the files between the two drives.

    Her HD has about 600GB of files (mostly photos), applications, and of course the OS. To do better than the Fusion (in my humble opinion), you'd need the 960 GB SSD, which is substantially more expensive.

    I'd recommend the Fusion Drive and increase the RAM to a minimum of 16GB. That will be one fast iMac. Be sure to include in your costs an external backup drive.
  9. nydennis macrumors regular

    Dec 21, 2011
    Long Island, NY
    I suggest the SSD for the internals and just get an external to fill your storage needs.
  10. shaunp macrumors 68000

    Nov 5, 2010
    Go for the 1TB Fusion drive. As you aren't talking about bigger SSD's or the 3TB Fusion I'm assuming that your budget is limited. From the limited experience I have with these in the Apple store they appear to be quick enough - loading photo's etc. I guess it depends on how heavy your workloads are.

    Personally I use an internal SSD for my OS, applications and Lightroom catalogue, and then store my RAW images on a thunderbolt array (Promise Pegasus 2 R4). This isn't cheap, but you get what you pay for and if you can afford it as a photographer I would recommend this approach.
  11. gnasher729 macrumors P6


    Nov 25, 2005
    The most important thing to have is enough space. If 256 GB SSD is not enough then the discussion ends there. If 256 GB SSD is barely enough but forces you to remove older data, for example, then any speed advantage of 256 GB SSD is gone. On the other hand, if 256 GB SSD is enough, then it is better than a Fusion drive at the same cost. So between 256 GB SSD and 1 TB Fusion drive the decision should be easy: SSD if 256 GB is plenty for you, Fusion if it isn't.

    BTW. With Fusion, you never decide what goes on SSD and what goes on the HD. Fusion decides. So with a Fusion drive, you don't worry about your three year old projects for example; Fusion just moves them to the HD automatically if you don't touch them anymore.
  12. fathergll macrumors 65816

    Sep 3, 2014
    Use a simple decision tree

    Am I ok with using external storage for my files?

    Yes ----> 256 SSD

    No ----> 1 TB Fusion
  13. ZipZap macrumors 603

    Dec 14, 2007
    Not to pick on you or your post….

    Isn't the decision the whole point of Thunderbolt?

    The iMac never leaves your desk so having a connected drive(s) is practical.
    Using a Thunderbolt connection was also expected to make them efficient.

    Also keep in mind you cannot just open the iMac and swap a drive. So doesn't it seem practical to have as little as possible internal ?

    If you are willing to open your iMac, you can swap for a bigger SSD later (or can you add a second one).

    SO…256 SSD is what to get.
  14. redheeler macrumors 604


    Oct 17, 2014
    This is the question to ask.

    OP, if you're already happy with the external you have, just get the larger capacity 256 GB SSD.

    Remember, you can always replace it with a larger external if you need to (unlike the internal HDD in a Fusion drive, at least not easily).
  15. g33k macrumors member


    May 12, 2015
    I highly recommend getting a 256GB PCI-E SSD along with an external hard drive from LaCie. PCIE is so fast!
  16. SmallDane macrumors member


    Dec 23, 2014
    My reason for recommending SSD only is that I believe the Fusion Drive is on its way out. I suspect that in a couple of years Apple will sell SSD only and not even give the option of adding a spinning HD in any form.

    Fusion Drive was invented at a time where SSD's were way too expensive for most people. While prices are still quite high, they have dropped a lot and will continue to drop. Fusion Drive is a technology of the past.

    This may not mean that there aren't people who could still benefit from the technology. But it's something to keep in mind. Especially considering how eager Apple generally is when it comes to phasing out and de-supporting technology.
  17. Cape Dave macrumors 68000

    Nov 16, 2012
    The real answer is... Do what you gotta do to get 512GB SSD. You will never regret it. Especially at such time as you might sell it.

    SSD + External FTW!

    And with the 512GB, you would not need external for awhile, except maybe as a backup drive :)
  18. Gav2k macrumors G3


    Jul 24, 2009
  19. ApfelKuchen macrumors 68030

    Aug 28, 2012
    Between the coasts
    I'll never understand why it's essential to have every line of code on an SSD, when much of the code will never or rarely be used, and to put data, which will be used, on a much slower external drive. If storage was truly "storage" - no big deal. But you're also talking about actively-used data. Constant read/write activity.

    The point of Fusion is that it puts whatever you use on a regular basis, and anything you're currently using, on the SSD. Automatically. Instead of having every read/write of your data files run at HDD speed, you have initial reads at HDD speed, and all subsequent activity at SSD speed. Who wouldn't want that?
  20. PictureP thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 26, 2015
    Thanks Everyone,

    I don't know what I will choose yet but your advice is really welcome. Apple also seems to announce new iMacs in june I believe but don't know if I can wait that long.
    I'm also pretty keen on high quality audio and would maybe like to stream high quallity audio files through my Airport Express, is that a reason to choose for ssd over Fusion?
  21. nydennis macrumors regular

    Dec 21, 2011
    Long Island, NY
    I had ordered my BTO iMac 5k over this past weekend. It will not be delivered until June 5th. This gives me time to try it out and see if I like it or not. I will also be within my return time frame of WWDC if anything is announced that spikes my interest.
    Just a thought if you did try to customize your iMac that it could take 2 weeks to be delivered.
  22. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 604

    Oct 24, 2013
    They just announced a new mac last week there will be no new announcements until fall when they will possibly get the skylake desktop chips set to be released in august.
  23. Chippy99 macrumors 6502a

    Apr 28, 2012
    Can't really see any point in Fusion for most people.

    Unless you are someone with a paranoid obsession with lack of wires, then external devices connected to your iMac is a usually a necessity, be it back up disk, printer, scanner, speakers, UPS, whatever. And if this is the case, as it is for most people, then why not have an external data disk and SSD-only inside the Mac.

    There's plenty of advantages to this approach, with the only downside being that you have an externally connected device, but if you have several of those already, what's the problem?

    Connected to my iMac, without thinking too long and hard about it, I have:

    Canon photo printer
    OKI laser printer
    Router (ethernet connection)
    External speakers
    External hubs (2)
    Wired keyboard
    External data disk
    External back up disk
    External Bluray drive

    Is it *so* important to not have an external data disk in the list above?
  24. aevan macrumors 68030


    Feb 5, 2015
  25. Chippy99 macrumors 6502a

    Apr 28, 2012

    The 1TB fusion and 256GB SSD (which is more than plenty if you are putting your data on an external drive) are the same price.

    A 3TB external drive can be bought for about £70.

    So for £70 on top of your £2k spend, you can have double the SSD size and three times the disk size, compared to a 1TB fusion machine.

    Compared to a 3TB fusion machine, the 256GB plus external 3TB drive is cheaper.

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