SSD HDD an inelegant solution

Discussion in 'iMac' started by Lankyman, Jun 2, 2015.

  1. Lankyman macrumors 68000

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    #1
    As the title suggests - I think the present trend for matching an SSD with an HDD in the iMac to be a somewhat inelegant solution, a sort of stop gap/half-way house.

    I have installed an SSD in my Laptop and find the increased speed to be most useful. I have looked at doing the same in my iMac. With it being the mid-2011 version the installation would be relatively straight forward.

    However, I have decided against it. We all know the history behind the SSD/HDD solution i.e. cost. Even now with the costs of SSD dropping almost weekly it is still quite expensive to put one single drive in the iMac for all your storage needs. However, I just think that storing data on the HDD with everything else on the SSD tied together by symbolic links is such an inelegant way of doing things that I would rather wait for a cost effective SSD only solution to arrive.

    I'm sure it won't be too long before cost and wear issues with SSDs will be become a thing of the past, with Apple including them as a stock item in all their products. :)
     
  2. rkaufmann87 macrumors 68000

    rkaufmann87

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    #2
    Do you have a question to ask, or are you looking for opinions?
     
  3. toddzrx macrumors 6502a

    toddzrx

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    #3
    +1

    But since you didn't specify, I'll gladly share my opinion.

    I've got a mid-2010 iMac, and I run an internal SSD along with an external HD. The SSD has the OS, apps, and all non-media files like my finances and other assorted documents. The HD (which is actually a portable intended for laptops so it's small and powered off the USB connection) holds all of our music, photos, and just a few movies. Quite honestly, the setup works great: it's very usable because the relatively slow access time of the HD only affects media files, which don't need to load fast anyway (double click a song in iTunes and just let it play). And it's tiny with a short cable: you can't even see the drive sitting behind the computer.

    I've been advocating for years that this kind of setup for a 2009-11 iMac is a very cost-effective way to essentially make your computer feel like new; the SSD makes that big of a difference. Whether you choose to run them separate or as a Fusion Drive is your choice, but it sure beats buying a brand new machine if you don't need the processor power (or the 5K screen on the 27").
     
  4. Lankyman thread starter macrumors 68000

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    #4
    Opinions please!
     
  5. Lankyman thread starter macrumors 68000

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    #5
    I'm not sure I would keep the finance and other assorted docs on the SSD.

    Re: your portable drive. I used to have the utmost confidence in HDD's never having one fail in almost 20 years of using computers.

    However, a few years ago I purchased a small portable USB HDD exactly like the one you describe. I used one for my iMac and one for my Windows machine. Within 18 months both had failed, one a Toshiba the other a WD Passport. Neither were misused in any way and treated with kid gloves.

    The problem with these bus powered drives is not usually the drives themselves but the chip sets in the enclosures. They tend to be quite poor. I managed to remove both drives popped them in a caddy and retrieved the information from them.

    What I'm trying to say is not to put to much faith in them and to always have a back up.

    On the subject of your SSD - do I take it you removed the original HDD and replaced it with an SSD along with the OWC temp sensor?
     
  6. rkaufmann87 macrumors 68000

    rkaufmann87

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    #6
    I have a SSD and HD in my 2011 iMac, I use the SSD for most day to day work. I keep my photo library on the internal HD and my iTunes and Movie libraries (all totaling about 3TB). This works extremely well and is not in-elegant at all. I keep my Photo app linked to the library it uses and do the same with iTunes for accessing my music and movies.
     
  7. Lankyman, Jun 2, 2015
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2015

    Lankyman thread starter macrumors 68000

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    #7
    Well we will have to agree to disagree on that as it's exactly the scenario I referred to in my OP.

    So do you think you will still be doing this in say 5 years from now or will it all be on a large capacity cheap SSD? If the latter then I maintain this present situation is a somewhat inelegant stop gap half-way house solution. It may work but it's hardly ideal is it? Let's face it I doubt you were using this internal two drive setup prior to SSD's.

    Because I don't keep much on my Laptop a single volume SSD solution was quite an easy decision to make and which works really well. If I could justify the outlay for a large capacity SSD then I would install a similar setup in my iMac. However, given its age (4years) then spending roughly 50% of the original purchase price on one component is simply uneconomic and foolish.
     
  8. toddzrx macrumors 6502a

    toddzrx

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    #8
    Of course I have a back up drive; it's actually the original HD that came in the iMac, which got removed for the SSD. I use HDD Fan Control to control the fans; works like a champ.

    I bought the external portable drive to replace another hard drive that failed; it was about 5 years old when it croaked. The SSD is 4.5 years old and still works fine.


    Not sure about your characterization as "inelegant". Everyone's entitled to an opinion. I mean, is a wired keyboard inelegant? How is an external HD "hardly ideal'??? I think it's great, based upon the performance I experience and the ease of use. Is it really that heart-rending to see more than one drive icon in the Finder window?

    And how in the world can you predict your setup in 5 years? Heck, just today Intel announced that Thunderbolt 3 will incorporate USB 3.1, along with the USB-C connector. This will effectively transform most of the connections on a computer and I predict fast adoption (1 year or less).
     
  9. andrewbuilder, Jun 2, 2015
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2015

    andrewbuilder macrumors newbie

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    #9
    My opinion...

    My 2008 iMac8,1 is standard except for the following...
    - About two years ago I removed the original 2GB SDRAM and replaced with 6GB. Immediate improvement.
    - About two weeks ago I removed the original Western Digital 320GB HDD and replaced it with a Seagate Hybrid Drive (Seagate SSHD 2TB model ST2000DX001, with 8GB onboard NAND flash memory). Extraordinary improvement. Cost AUD$133 delivered to my door.

    Without any modifications to anything else, the Seagate unit operates perfectly in a manner similar to (but as I understand it not identical to) Apple's own "Fusion Drive" solution.

    Comparisons... (all warm machine)

    BEFORE
    Machine restart with iTunes and Photos apps open and running - 8 minutes
    Start up Photos app, wait for on screen photos to load - 3 to 5 minutes
    Start up MS Excel spreadsheet containing data, wait for data to appear on screen - 2 minutes

    AFTER
    Machine restart with iTunes and Photos apps open and running - less than 1 minute
    Start up Photos app, wait for on screen photos to load - 15 to 20 seconds
    Start up MS Excel spreadsheet containing data, wait for data to appear on screen - 10 seconds

    I approached the entire process as an experiment, but as it turns out this has practically been an enormous success. I will now squeeze another twelve or so months out of this extraordinary piece of equipment.

    I was worried about dismantling my seven year old machine. In hindsight it took me a lot longer to carefully vacuum all the parts and clean the fans while the machine was in pieces than it did to dismantle, swap the drives and reassemble. I understand the 2008 unit is easier than the 2011 unit so take this suggestion with a grain of salt.

    IMG_3751.JPG

    IMG_3753.JPG
     
  10. yjchua95 macrumors 604

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    #10
    I don't think you'll have to worry about wear and tear on the SSD.

    http://techreport.com/review/27909/the-ssd-endurance-experiment-theyre-all-dead/2

    If you read the entire experiment, all held up pretty well, way past their rated endurance. The MLC-based Samsung 840 Pro lasted for 2.4 petabytes of writes before biting the cyanide pill.

    And the Samsung XP941 and SM951-based PCIe SSDs used by Apple are also MLC, which means we can expect them to last at least as long.
     
  11. Lankyman thread starter macrumors 68000

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    #11
    I am actually quite interested in your particular experiment as I have read very mixed reviews about the Seagate Hybrid SSHD.

    Some users have said they have seen no difference whatsoever from the bog standard HDD whilst others like yourself note an immediate and significant improvement. Other users have said that whilst they saw an improvement the improvement was short lived and within weeks it was back to the speed of their old drives.

    Does your model have the in-line thermal sensor for the fans and if so did you purchase the OWC sensor kit, is it not an issue or do you use the fan control software?

    What about TRIM? I did read somewhere but haven't been able to find it since that the Seagate is compatible with Apple hardware?
     
  12. joe-h2o macrumors 6502a

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    #12
    I think an SSD and HDD combo will be the most cost effective solution for many years to come. At least the next two or three without a doubt.

    I run my 2012 iMac with an a pair of external thunderbolt SSDs as the boot drives (one OS X, the other Windows 7) with the internal HD available for large file storage. I also recently moved my iTunes library onto a 64GB SD card that lives permanently in the SD slot on the back - the nature of the library (written to very infrequently, read frequently) makes the slower access speed moot and it eliminates the drive spin up delay when accessing it if the main drive is asleep.

    My OS X boot drive itself is only 120 GB but this is more than enough. I use the SSD portion for all of the OS X system along with day to day files and documents that easily fit.

    The internal disk holds the iPhoto library, the Mac Steam library (the windows steam library is on the Windows SSD) and large movie files. The Apple TV pulls these for the main TV via iTunes.


    The external SSD is the main reason I'm still on Mavericks - to keep TRIM support easy to manage. Until I can enable TRIM on the external SSD without having to disable the kernel signing, it won't be updated to Yosemite. (Disabling kernel signing doesn't bother me, I just don't want it to flip back on in an update and potentially leave the machine unbootale).
     
  13. keysofanxiety macrumors 604

    keysofanxiety

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    #13
    Hmm I'm not sure, I believe the SSHDs use the SSD part as more of a 'cache' solution, so nowhere near the speed of pure Flash. It's worth bearing in mind that it's a 7200rpm drive in the SSHDs, so the performance of the HDD component would be quicker than a standard one anyway. Fusion drive has a 128GB SSD that keeps everything on that, and only writes/swaps to the HDD when storage is full, or moves files that aren't used often to the HDD.

    I'm going from the experience of popping in one of those hybrid drives in my brother's 2012 MBP, though I will admit that was a few years ago (so the tech now is likely to be better), and desktop HDDs have quicker read/write speeds & reduced access times compared to their laptop counterparts, so that'll definitely make a positive impact too.
     
  14. Lankyman thread starter macrumors 68000

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    #14
    Another issue is the economics of doing these upgrades. Putting pretty expensive parts in what is in many cases quite old kit is rarely a good move. There is a world of difference between common sense and letting the heart rule the head.

    You might be able to rescue the SSD if the machine goes belly up but let's face it, it's a whole lot of messing around.
     
  15. rayward macrumors 68000

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    #15
    I have added more memory and an SSD to my mid-2010 iMac. It is an exponential jump in performance!

    I have a large media library (1.8TB and counting, housed on an external HDD) so, at the same time, I upgraded the HDD to a 4TB unit (the OWC kits are perfect for this as they include all the necessary connections including fan controls). I have fused these two drives together so now I have the speed of the SSD combined with the heft of the 4TB HDD to handle all my needs without any external components to worry about or clutter up my desk.

    It's fast, silent and elegant. Just how a Mac should be!
     
  16. toddzrx macrumors 6502a

    toddzrx

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    #16
    What's your definition of expensive parts? You can get a 240GB SSD for less than $100 these days; for most people out there, they could easily fit all non-media files and apps on that.

    The whole point of doing an upgrade like this is to extend the life of the machine, if not making faster than the new one you could buy. Take for example the iMac 21.5": right now, it costs a minimum of $1100 to buy a new one. Buying a used 2010 or 2011 model and doing the upgrades gets you a machine that will cost half as much with performance equal to or better than the new one (performance defined as every day usability and such). That's why this upgrade is so popular, especially for folks who don't want to go spend over a grand on a new computer. Personally, the feature that will make me upgrade is to get a retina screen; until then, there's no reason for me to buy new.

    Also, I wouldn't call opening up the machine to swap out parts a "whole lot of messing around". Again, depends on the person; I actually enjoy taking stuff apart, modifying it, and watching it work better than before.
     
  17. Lankyman thread starter macrumors 68000

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    #17
    Don't forget the price of the thermal sensor and the caddy. In the UK the OWC sensor is a rip off, it's actually almost as much as the cost of a 250 gig Evo SSD which is ridiculous. Trouble is they have you over a barrel. Whilst the fan control software does appear to work there are many articles which state it significantly shortens the life of the machine as the fan control is not accurate enough.

    Retina would be the very last thing which would entice me to upgrade, it simply doesn't interest me. More than happy with the standard IPS iMac screen.
     
  18. Lankyman thread starter macrumors 68000

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    #18
    This is a reasonable question. Is the reason for using a smallish SSD for the OS and a large HDD for data because it's a better mix than using a large volume SSD, or is it the issue of cost?
     
  19. toddzrx macrumors 6502a

    toddzrx

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    #19
    A large volume SSD is better; the issue is cost for most people.
     
  20. Lankyman, Jun 8, 2015
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2015

    Lankyman thread starter macrumors 68000

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    #20
    I do wonder though why 250 gig SSD's are still being touted as the 'sweet spot'? 500 gig SSD's are now more or less at the price point where 250 gig ones were not very long ago.

    Perhaps for many 250 gigs is plenty e.g. Yosemite around the 20 - 25 gig mark plus the apps folder. Even with say a 100 gig VM it should still be enough. However, why give yourself the headache of worrying about space? I would have thought a 500 gig SSD as the boot drive would last most people way beyond the life of their current machine.

    My neighbour has just bought himself a 1TB 850 Evo - cost him £286 (435 US Dollars) as his only drive. He has jumped from a 500 gig internal HDD to a 1TB SSD and says (quite rightly I expect) the extra storage will extend the life of his iMac and last him for years to come.
     
  21. rayward macrumors 68000

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    #21

    I installed a 256GB SSD as it was $125 (from OWC) - whereas the $128GB was only $50 cheaper while the 496GB was $100 more expensive. The 256GB seemed like the best value for money at this point in time. I fused it with a 4TB HDD which cost only $150 as I have a large media library (1.6TB and growing). 4TB of internal flash storage would not be possible as the largest SSD is 1TB.

    Even if I'd limited myself to 2TB of internal flash storage, that would have cost $900 vs. $275 for my ad hoc fusion drive, and would have been overrun by my media library within a year. I could stretch it in the future by replacing the optical drive with whatever the largest SSD is available when I run out of space, but it's hardly an efficacious plan and - given that the incremental reduction in access time for my media is meaningless in reality - impractical and very cost-inefficient.

    Someone who needs the speed right now may have to go all SSD. For the rest of us - especially those who, like me, have a large volume of low-usage data, fusion is a fantastic compromise. Far from "inelegant", IMHO.
     
  22. toddzrx macrumors 6502a

    toddzrx

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    #22
    Because 256GB works for most people out there; it's plenty of room to fit the OS, apps, and oft-accessed data. Whereas media (infrequently accessed) can go on the cheaper HD.

    That said, the prices on 500GB-class SSD's have dropped significantly just in the last couple months. A quick check on Newegg shows them priced at under $200, and for a lot of people, 500GB is probably enough storage for all their data including media. Actually, given that 250GB-class SSDs are going for just under $100, I could see where anyone with large media libraries would go the 250GB SSD + large HD route, while others would just get a 500GB SSD and be satisfied with a single drive.

    Sure is nice to see the prices come down. They're four times cheaper than when I bought my 120GB Corsair back in late 2010.
     

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