SSD vs Fusion Drive

Discussion in 'iMac' started by Falcon80, Jun 7, 2017.

  1. Falcon80 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2012
    #1
    Given a choice, would you guys get a 512 SSD (smaller storage, cost more, faster) vs 2 TB Fusion (bigger storage, cost less, much slower?) and why?

    For my use cases, I will be using the iMac to do development (pretty huge projects).
    - Xcode,
    - Android Studio,
    - Unity

    and some photo editing
    - Photoshop,
    - Illustrator

    also running VMs for Windows and Linux.

    Thanks!
     
  2. Floris macrumors 68020

    Floris

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2007
    Location:
    Netherlands
    #2
    There are three reasons why I will not buy a fusion drive.

    One, almost everybody in the creative world that I talk to, their first response is: Don't - Just go with SSD.
    Two, The page for the FD says: 2tb and 3tb models both have 128gb SSD for OS and macOS auto handles what happens with this drive basically .. and you get the best performance out of if you setup your system with 32gb ram.
    Three, we are in a thunderbolt3 and usb-c world now, external ssd drives on 1, 5, 10 gbit speeds, yes pls.
    The SSD we get without a big storage internal on HDD (not ssd) means less warm, less noise, way faster chip, and we get to really decide what goes on the drive and not. Not just macOS saying "this is a frequently used file, we will use the ssd to help with the cache" ..
     
  3. iMi macrumors 6502a

    iMi

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2014
    #3
    Both options obviously offer some advantages and disadvantages. As a general rule, I always go for speed vs capacity because it's usually easier and cheaper to add capacity but impossible to add more speed later without replacing the drive.

    On the other hand, this is an iMac, so any additions would have to be external (unless you really feel comfortable
    opening it up). You'll have to decide if they extra speed is worth the limitations in internal storage. If you're comfortable adding external storage down the road and don't mind it, then you should go for the speed. It could seriously impact your workflow.

    That's just my opinion. Hope it helps.
     
  4. drew.bowser macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2008
    Location:
    Missouri
    #4
    My 2015 iMac (middle tier with 1tb fusion drive) was slower than my 2014 iMac (Base tier with 1 tb fusion drive)

    The fusion drives with 32 or less SSD are jokes. My 2014 iMac reads 1.1GB/S black magic disk test where my 2015 (with NOTHING on it) reads around 135MB/S....

    Needless to say that I just started the return process! IF you get a fusion drive it needs to be 2tb or higher...Id rather have a 512gb SSD....
     
  5. iMi macrumors 6502a

    iMi

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2014
    #5
    I forgot to add an important point.

    The SSD will almost certainly last much, much longer and will be less likely to fail prematurely. This could be an important advantage given that the iMac is glued together and not particularly repairable.
     
  6. Falcon80 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2012
    #6
    For an external SSD drive (TB3 or USB-C), any idea if we will be able to run development projects directly on it without transferring to iMac first? Or purely just for storing images/videos or other non working files?
     
  7. thedeske macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2013
    #7
    We don't need the second or third reason ;)
     
  8. trsblader macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    May 20, 2011
    #8
    It will be able to handle that no problem I believe. Unsure how much you're doing in xCode vs Unity be we developed in Unity and only exported to xCode for uploading. Very often had photoshop and unity going simultaneously with no issues. This was all inside a Windows VM on Parallels running Visual Studio + debugging tools. Ours was just a little USB 3 SSD off Amazon we velcro'd to the back of the iMac and for the price I doubt it was anywhere near as fast as some of Samsung's SSD's.
     
  9. Floris macrumors 68020

    Floris

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    Sep 7, 2007
    Location:
    Netherlands
    #9
    I don't see why it has to be transferred first.
     
  10. Falcon80 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2012
    #10
    Just wondering if it has a major impact speed wise if the files are in a external drive.
    --- Post Merged, Jun 7, 2017 ---
    Thanks for the information!
     
  11. Ice Dragon macrumors 6502a

    Ice Dragon

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2009
    #11
    To me it's SSD or bust. On my Mac mini, I have the 256 GB flash SSD. On the 27" top iMac, I would pay $200 extra for 512 GB option.
     
  12. deany macrumors 68030

    deany

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2012
    Location:
    North Wales
    #12
    I seem to remember there is a difference in the fusion drives, the base model having less SSD portion I think...which wasn't made clear by Apple.

    I'd always go SSD, even as previously mentioned just for reliability factor...no moving parts.
     
  13. nyc2pdx macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2012
    Location:
    Portland, Oregon
    #13
    I just can't justify the extra cost. I have a fusion drive in my 2012 iMac, and it has been fine for me.
     
  14. Tjmckay4 macrumors member

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2014
    Location:
    Perth, West Aus
    #14
    What about having the 2tb fusion and an external SSD for the OS and apps?

    On my 27" 2011 iMac, I have a 120gb Samsung 850 evo (plugged into a TB seagate adapter) for the OS and apps. I use the internal 3tb seagate HD for the data.
     
  15. flyinmac macrumors 68030

    flyinmac

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2006
    Location:
    United States
    #15
    I would avoid a fusion drive no matter what.

    I would choose either a SSD or a fast spinner.

    The reason is that you increase your odds of failure by spanning a volume over two drives.

    If either drive fails, you automatically lose the data on both drives, even the one that didn't fail.

    Additionally, there have been a lot of people who've had the "fusion" fail. Which presents the same problem. Data on both drives becomes lost, because the spanned volume is no longer intact.

    Granted, you should always have a backup. But, the simple point being that a fusion drive increases the odds of data loss on either drive (or both drives) as the data on both drives is lost as soon as one drive or the fusion of the drives fails.

    Given choices, I'd personally opt for a SSD or alternatively installing a fast 10K RPM spinner (if you can find one that is thermally compatible with the iMacs limited heat dissipation capabilities).
     
  16. Falcon80 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2012
    #16
    Yes. The 1TB Fusion has 32 GB and 2/3 TB Fusion has 128 GB so if I am going for Fusion drive, definitely 2TB and above.
    --- Post Merged, Jun 7, 2017 ---
    Oh. Is that possible? To shift the OS to the external drive? If that is possible, then probably a 1TB fusion will be sufficient.
     
  17. Tjmckay4 macrumors member

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2014
    Location:
    Perth, West Aus
    #17
    What I'm confused about is that if I have a 512gb SSD internal drive, how do I have some content on the internal SSD and some on an external SSD or HD?

    I have near on 700gb in Dropbox.... How do I split my user account?? How do I back everything up?
    --- Post Merged, Jun 7, 2017 ---
    Working on mine... don't know how that would work with the fusion drive rather than a normal HD...
     
  18. yadmonkey, Jun 7, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2017

    yadmonkey macrumors 65816

    yadmonkey

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2002
    Location:
    Western Spiral
    #18
    I paid $500 for an SSD in my Late 2013 iMac and will never look back. Will be getting the +$200 500GB SSD in my 2017 iMac too. My thinking:

    1. Fusion or not - I don't want a hard drive in a computer that doesn't make it easy to replace. Life is too short.
    2. HDDs add a lot of heat and sometimes vibration. I hate fan noise and vibration.
    3. That mildly irritating moment when you do something in Finder and everything stalls because the HDD has to spin up.
    4. Smaller SSD capacity? Your startup volume doesn't have to be huge. Get an external drive for your music and photo libraries.
    I use three external SSDs for additional storage. You can find a 512GB Crucial SSD on sale occasionally for $99.

    It's pretty easy. Tell Dropbox to use a different location and it will move the files for you. Move your iTunes or Photos library to an external and start the app holding down Option. Then direct it to the new location and everything works as it did.

    As for backup, I use Backblaze for cloud backup and a local Time Machine drive. Just tell Time Machine to back up that drive in System Preferences->Time Machine->Options. Here you simply remove an external from the Exclude list.
     
  19. Falcon80 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2012
    #19
    Thanks for your valuable inputs! :)
     
  20. tanwh macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2017
    #20
    Is it possible to connect an internal 1Tb to an external 2Tb SSD via Thinderbolt 3 to merge as a bigger drive to run the OS?

    Any slowness expected here?
     
  21. jcuecker macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2015
    #21
    Should work fine. Thunderbolt 3 is plenty fast to run an external SSD. Even Thunderbolt 2 is fast enough.
     
  22. gian8989 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2015
    #22
    Remember that if you ever want to install windows with bootcamp in the fusion drive you won't be able to use the ssd portion so the system will run only in the hdd. You probably get less nois with fusion drive than ssd+external hdd but now with thunderbolt 3 external ssd is going to be an easy option (and in 1-2 years even 2tb ssd won't cost much).
     
  23. Floris macrumors 68020

    Floris

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    Sep 7, 2007
    Location:
    Netherlands
  24. tanwh macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2017
    #24
    Realize that it is actually cheaper and probably more reliable to go for the SSD instead for the same speed and capacity.
     
  25. Floris macrumors 68020

    Floris

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2007
    Location:
    Netherlands
    #25
    Imagine this

    That internal hdd will spin at what. Maybe 150 mbyte per second ??

    The external usb-c on ssd will "spin" at 475 mbyte per second on a bad day

     

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