Should I get i7/Fusion or i5/SSD? (iMac 27)

Discussion in 'iMac' started by JasonMovieGuy, Jul 4, 2017.

  1. JasonMovieGuy, Jul 4, 2017
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2017

    JasonMovieGuy macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2010
    Location:
    Chicago, IL
    #1
    I am updating from a 2009 entry-level iMac 21.5 and am super excited :)

    As an avid editor, I plan on buying Final Cut Pro X as I do a lot of editing, including exports, Handbrake, YouTube uploads, and GIF making. Often I like to hold onto personal video files, so storage is def important. I have 3 vital questions I would like help with.

    My price range is currently not to exceed $3700 including taxes (a little wiggle room here and there). I have my eyes set on the top-tier iMac 27 model, with the 8GB video memory.

    1) Should I get the 2TB Fusion drive OR the 1TB SSD? I am someone who cannot deal with less then 1TB of space so the 512GB is not an option. What concerns me is the Fusion drive will be something of ancient history in the next couple of years, but it also allots more space. Is there REALLY that big a difference with the Fusion vs SSD- especially since I am getting the top tier model? Also I will be investing in a External Hard Drive. A lot of the ones I see on Amazon seem to be tiny, and meant for LapTops. Any recommendations for Desktop specific External drives? Do you think I should take advantage of the Thunderbolt port and get one specifically for that? And does it need to be SSD, or will a regular one suffice? I would be using the drive ONLY to back up video files, not to use apps with.

    2) Regarding RAM, I am going to install it myself. I do, however, want to know what brand to get? There seems to be a few options ranging from OWC, Kingston and Corsair Vengeance--- the latter is the cheapest (32GB on Amazon goes for only $275 including tax and Prime 2-day shipping). But is it cheaper because it's not as good? Surprisingly some of the brands are out of stock already. I am opting to get 32GB that I will add to the 8GB already installed, thus I will have 40GB of ram. Also does it matter WHERE I put them? I saw a guy on YouTube demonstrate, and he seemed to just slip them in with ease. I don't want complications on where to place them, otherwise it will seem too messy and I'll just pay Apple the higher premium to do it (which I don't want to do).

    3) Processors. The top tier already comes with 8GB of video ram and that 580 i5. Seems excellent. Is it worth the $200 to upgrade to the i7? I may do 4K editing down the road, but right now I am strictly just happy to be able to edit in full 1080 (something my 2009 was not capable of doing). I don't want choppy playback or the spinning color wheel of death, so whatever you think will get the job done the smoothest. Also if I get the i7 will the Export times be faster? I gotta say the ONE thing that bugs me about exporting HD files on my mac now is it takes over 2 hours sometimes just for a 20 minute video file. I hope things have gotten faster since 2009.

    If it comes down to SSD or i7 (since I may not be able to afford both), which is the better option? Sticking to the Fusion and getting the i7? OR getting SSD 1TB with the top of the line i5? I know neither can really be replaced so the decision is Now.

    Thanks for any advice!
     
  2. EugW macrumors 601

    EugW

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2017
    #2
    Not a video editor, but I can say i7 is way faster for video encodes. Unfortunately, it's also quite hot under full load, so the fans come on often and at maximum rpm in that context.

    The 7500 and 7600 run much cooler, but have slower GPUs (important for Final Cut I'm told), with the 570 and 575 respectively.

    The 7600K is in between the 7600 and 7700K, but most tests have it being closer to the 7600 than the 7700K in terms of heat output, and it comes with the 580, the best iMac GPU you can buy.

    One thing to note though is that the 570 is roughly competitive against the M395X in terms of speed in some tests. The 570 is the current lowest end, and the M395X is the 2015 highest end. And if you go with the 575, that's about 25% faster than both of them, at least in certain benchmarks. However, the 580 is of course the fastest, by a decent margin, and also has twice the RAM as the 570 and 575.
     
  3. PJivan macrumors 6502

    PJivan

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2015
    #3
    in terms of rendering in FCPX gpu do most of the work....same for davinci 14....for premier is a different story since it use cpu mostly
     
  4. joema2 macrumors 65816

    joema2

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2013
    #4
    I'm a professional editor, have many different Macs and use FCPX several hours each day. For 1080p H264 content, FCPX is fast enough to edit this natively and you don't generally need either proxy or optimized media. The I/O load is very small and SSD vs 2TB or 3TB Fusion drive won't make any real-world difference in editing or rendering performance. I have both Fusion Drive and SSD iMacs and have tested this many times.

    That said, if you go to 4k or must transcode to optimized media, that increases file size and I/O rates by about 8x. If you edit multicam that increases I/O rates by the number of angles. So the difference in I/O load from single-camera H264 to three-camera optimized media is 8 * 3 or 24 times greater. For 4k this increases the I/O load from 12.5 megabytes/sec to 300 megabytes/sec, which is faster than any single-platter drive. So there is no single answer -- it varies widely based on codec and editing parameters.

    I/O performance of a spinning drive (whether regular or FD) will degrade as it fills up. So what seems fast at 15% full can get a lot slower at 80% full. By contrast SSD maintains about the same performance up to over 90% full. This plays a factor in your projections of space consumption since spinning drives need considerable "slack space" to maintain good performance.

    You probably don't need an SSD drive for backups, and it would be quite expensive. Thunderbolt is nice but no faster than USB 3 for single drives. Thunderbolt is faster for RAID arrays.

    Your current machine does not have Quick Sync so it will be naturally slower at editing or exporting any H264 content. A new iMac whether i5 or i7 has this so will be much faster. Both will edit H264 1080p content very smoothly without using proxy or optimized media.

    Yes this i7 will be 30% faster on FCPX export vs an i5 at the same clock rate -- I have tested that myself. The 2017 iMac 27 has a 4.2Ghz i7 vs either a 3.8 or 3.5Ghz i5. Exports are an encode operation so are typically CPU-limited. Combining CPU clock rate and hyperthreading benefit of the i7, it will probably export 40% faster than the i5. However the i5 due to Quick Sync will be much faster than your 2009 machine.

    My 2015 iMac 27 with 4Ghz i7 can export 20 min of H264 1080p from a 5D Mark III DSLR to 1080p H264 in about 7 minutes, or roughly 3x faster than real time. The export speed will vary based on the exact camera and export codecs.

    All my recent iMacs are SSD but I have two iMacs 27s with Fusion Drive and they work fine. Since you've stated significant priority over timeline and export performance, I'd tend to suggest the i7 and Fusion Drive since it is considerably faster on your stated workload. If your video storage needs grow you'll have to eventually use all external media storage anyway. If you accept that likelihood, maybe a 512GB SSD and external storage plus separate external backup storage would be a possibility.
     
  5. trsblader macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    May 20, 2011
    #5
    I think joema2 had some great advice so rather than regurgitate what he said, I'll just touch on this point. I'd go with Crucial as I think it's the cheapest and has a good reputation among 2017 owners. However there's a massive thread (https://forums.macrumors.com/threads/what-ram-to-buy-to-update-new-imac-launched-today.2048694) that you can read through to form your own opinion. A bonus is that it has not only the product code but links to most of the major retailers so you can double and triple check you're getting the right stuff.
     
  6. JasonMovieGuy thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2010
    Location:
    Chicago, IL
    #6
    Thank you everyone so far for the very detailed explanations and analysis. This truly is helping me in my quest for the perfect machine. I think the ONLY thing I'm still stuck on is Fusion vs SSD. I def am getting the i7 processor now, and def am getting 32GB additional ram, to make my computer have a total stock of 40GB (which should be plenty to last me down the road).

    I'll keep everyone posted when I buy the iMac!
     
  7. geoelectric macrumors 6502

    geoelectric

    Joined:
    May 19, 2008
    #7
    One consideration: the iMac SSD is, for once for Apple hardware, market leading in performance. I originally specced a Fusion since I'd been happy with my 3TB Fusion in the 2012, until I realized the fastest 1TB external SSD I could find was $700 and half the transfer speed vs. the $600 bump to the 1TB internal. The 512 has similar economics ($1-200 in favor of Apple) and performance.

    Plus spinning hard drives generate heat, make noise, and fail far more often than SSDs. It'll also get awfully slow in comparison to future tech, whereas the SSD is much more likely to keep up. For a 3-5 yr desktop lifetime in a machine where I can't upgrade the internal storage easily, that's huge.

    It became obvious then to get the internal SSD and add an inexpensive external spinner for more mass storage if needed.
     
  8. fathergll macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2014
    #8

    It really just comes down to if you can afford the 1 TB SSD or not. Personally I would just bite the bullet and go with the 512SSD if I literally could not afford the 1TB SSD and expand storage when you have more money with external options. You might end up kicking yourself in 3 years not having a pure SSD.
     
  9. Velin macrumors 65816

    Velin

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2008
    Location:
    Hearst Castle
    #10
    No question, SSD. Read these forums, if you've been on SSDs before, you will be disappointed with "fusion" drive. Platter, old tech. Avoid it.
     
  10. Arctic Moose macrumors member

    Arctic Moose

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2017
    Location:
    Gothenburg, Sweden
    #11
    I made the mistake of getting a 3 TB Fusion Drive on my last (late 2015) iMac, I found it extremely sluggish. This time I got the 2 TB SSD, the difference is night and day.
     
  11. JasonMovieGuy thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2010
    Location:
    Chicago, IL
    #12
    It's official- I'll be getting the SSD 1TB. It does mean I'll be saving a little longer, but it's worth it. I figure, it's an investment for my future. I plan on using this machine for 6-8 years. And I can save the $600 to make that happen. I do wish I could afford the 2TB, but that would take A LOT more time for savings lol.

    So it's going to be the

    27 iMac - Top Tier
    i7 Processor
    1TB SSD
    8 GB RAM (with 32GB added ram on my own) for a total of 40GB
    Magic Trackpad 2 (I hear it's fantastic!)
    Final Cut Pro X
    Apple Care Protection

    I'm geeked!
     
  12. Velin macrumors 65816

    Velin

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2008
    Location:
    Hearst Castle
    #13
    These are the exact machines we bought. Several of them. Installed the memory ourselves. Great screen, great specs. Will last a long time. 1TB SSD is the way to go. Pair it with a 4TB Western Digital platter for big storage, and you're set. Anything you are working on, simply transfer it to your SSD.

    [​IMG]
     
  13. MacGizmo macrumors 65816

    MacGizmo

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2003
    Location:
    Arizona
    #14
    Get the i7 and pure SSD. You'll benefit from the i7 doing video work (unlike almost every other practical/consumer use case). The SSD is so much faster than the Fusion Drive, which is a tiny SSD and mostly a spinning HD. You're better off with pure SSD as large as you can afford, then get external storage for archival/backup purposes.

    And I would definitely get the max RAM.
     
  14. geoelectric macrumors 6502

    geoelectric

    Joined:
    May 19, 2008
    #15
    Aside from matching the wedge profile of the keyboard and being a bit wider it's more or less the same as the original trackpad. The rechargeable part is nice but the battery life is lower than the original. It is, however, definitely better than the Magic Mouse 2 if only because you can charge it while using it.

    Nice config all around!
     
  15. JasonMovieGuy thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2010
    Location:
    Chicago, IL
    #16
    Thanks! Im excited about it-

    How long does the new Trackpad last between charges?
     
  16. AFEPPL macrumors 68030

    AFEPPL

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    England
  17. mpe macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2010
    #18
    This is incorrect. The performance of the HDD remains the same no matter how much you fill it up (unlike the SSD which indeed degrades over time due to write amplification).

    What you probably meant was that the actual raw read speed on HDD depends on the position of a data block on the HDD. Due to constant rotational speed blocks read from outer cylinders are transferred faster than those in inner cylinders. However, this has nothing to do with filling up.
     
  18. JasonMovieGuy thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2010
    Location:
    Chicago, IL
    #19
    Wait so you're saying the SSD degrades over time? Does that mean it gets slower? Now I'm thinking of going BACK to a Fusion again lol. This is getting nuts!
     
  19. AFEPPL macrumors 68030

    AFEPPL

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2014
    Location:
    England
    #20
    No SSD does not degrade in terms of performance and are great for random read/writes workloads.
    Fusion is just a mix of the two and its based on caching of frequent reads to help speed up access times.

    I wouldn't touch a fusion drive.
    Get SSD and then if you want longer term storage get a NAS drive which will scale and provide redundancy/backup options too.
     
  20. joema2 macrumors 65816

    joema2

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2013
    #21
    What I stated is generally correct from a practical sense, and anyone can measure and graph this themselves using tool like DiskTestR. Attached is a performance graph showing how transfer performance significantly degrades as an HDD fills up. The horizontal axis is test files in use, which equates to about 99% full at the right side.

    This does not happen with the SSD drives in an iMac, which mostly maintain their transfer performance when nearly full. Again -- no need to take my word for it. Anyone reading this can test it themselves. They don't even need a fancy tool like DiskTestR -- they can simply measure performance of their empty drive with BlackMagic, then copy files to it until 90% full then measure it again.

    I just re-ran this test on my 2015 iMac 27 with 1TB SSD. With the SSD 86% empty, BlackMagic performance was 1483 MB/sec write, 1858 MB/sec read. With the SSD 90% full, performance was still 1490 MB/sec write, 1778 MB/sec read.

    It's true that as the SSD exceeds 90% full *write* performance can start to drop but this is a *relative* drop from an incredibly high number. E.g, at 95 or 96% full the Mac's SSD write performance might drop to 800 MB/sec while the read performance will remain at about 1700 MB/sec. The big picture is the read/write performance of a spinning drive (including Fusion) will degrade as it fills up but an SSD will not.

    The real world practical impact is you can't rely on the same "nameplate" capacity of a spinning drive vs SSD if you need good performance. The spinning drive transfer performance will drop dramatically as it fills up. On a performance-critical workload this forces you to maintain a much higher % of empty space on the HDD, which means the HDD cost per megabyte advantage is significantly less than first appears.
     

    Attached Files:

  21. Smoothie macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2007
    Location:
    California
    #22
    An SSD makes a huge difference in system responsiveness. I installed a 250 GB Samsung 830 in my 2009 MBP about 6 years ago. It replaced a 256 GB mechanical drive. It was like a new machine. And the performance of the drive has not degraded. Because of my good experience with the Samsung SSD, I installed a 512 GB Samsung 850 Pro in a PC I built. And I just bought an iMac with the 1 TB SSD. In everyday usage, going from a mechanical drive to an SSD will be more noticeable than just bumping up the processor.
     
  22. JasonMovieGuy thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2010
    Location:
    Chicago, IL
    #23
    ORDERED!

    Getting my new iMac delivered/expected to arrive on July 20th.

    I got ---

    27 iMac - Top Tier
    i7 Processor
    1 TB SSD (worth it I think!)
    Magic Trackpad 2
    Apple Care Protection

    Also ordered the Ballistix Sport LT 32GB Kit

    I am holding off on Final Cut Pro X until the fall. I couldn't afford it AND the SSD, and for now- the latter seemed more important. I use iMovie currently anyways, and am just excited to be able to edit in full HD now. Once September comes around, I'll get FCPX.

    Thanks again for the advice, especially the Fusion vs SSD. I literally made the decision on the dime- I was thisclose to just getting the 2TB Fusion to save money. But I decided pure SSD is the way to go. And a TB is still solid space.

    If anyone recommends a good external Desktop Hard Drive (with 4-6TB of space), I would greatly appreciate it. Or if there's a thread already started :)
     
  23. mpe macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2010
    #24
    True and false. This has nothing do do with filling up the hard drive. What you measured is that different parts of a hard drive have different performance. When you fill your HDD completely, the speed will be exactly the same depending on which sectors you read from/write to.

    Blackmagic test has to work with available filesystem. Logically, when your filesystem is full or fragmented, it might report lower performance. However, it doesn't mean that the disk gets slower, just the part of the drive the tool is using is slower.

    The SSDs actually have a different phenomena. Many drives using Samsung TLC chips show read performance degradation where performance of data cell degrades if not rewritten. So reading of least frequently written data gets much slower over the time up to the point when they can't be read at all.

    I would suggest against using tools like Blackmagic for measuring performance. They are designed for a different purpose (Blackmagic is for estimating write performance of RAW video capture). The best test is to do a regular test of task you do on a computer (compile source code, duplicate folder, import RAW projects and export them to JPEG).

    Many people are just obsessed by those benchmark numbers. In real world tasks the practical difference between FD and SSD or between different generation of SSD (pci-e x2, x4, 2.0/3.0) is quite insignificant unless having a specific I/O heavy workflow.
     
  24. martinX macrumors 6502a

    martinX

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2009
    Location:
    Australia
    #25
    Beyond FCPX, spinning platters are a PITA when they spin down, when doing a search and when doing copies of large files from one drive to another. Just wish SSD was a little cheaper...
     

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