Top-Tier iMac with 2TB Fusion or mid-tier with 512GB SSD???

Discussion in 'iMac' started by iOSGoober, Jul 19, 2017.

  1. iOSGoober macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2013
    #1
    I'm looking into replacing my 2016 MB Pro with an iMac and I'm trying to make the best choices I can without blowing the budget out of control. Here are the two 27" 2017 configurations I'm looking at :

    1. 3.8GHz i5, Radeon Pro 580 8Gb with 2TB Fusion drive ($2299)
    or
    2. 3.5GHz i5, Radeon Pro 575 4Gb with 512Gb SSD (also $2299)

    I would love to have the 3.8GHz model with the 512Gb SSD but that pushes the price out of my comfort zone.

    For the most part to be honest I don't do much more than typical internet tom-foolery with it. I used to be an iOS developer but that is on the back burner for now. I don't edit video or photos either so I know the 27" iMac could easily be seen as overkill. What draws me to it is MacOS and that gorgeous screen. In general I want my experience to be responsive and free of the dreaded spinning beach ball. Obviously The SSD would help greatly with that, but given my basic use model I wonder if the 2TB Fusion drive would effectively give me that same level of responsiveness and I might be better spending the money on the beefier CPU and GPU.

    Confused.....

    Thanks for the input!
     
  2. EugW, Jul 19, 2017
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2017

    EugW macrumors 68000

    EugW

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    Jun 18, 2017
    #2
    Bottom tier 27" iMac with SSD.

    Get some extra memory from Crucial.
     
  3. Mindbender14 macrumors regular

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    Aug 25, 2014
    #3
    I went for the exact mid tier you listed but I do some light video editing for YouTube and casual gaming. I wanted the slight bump in processor, speed of ssd and the 575 over the base model.
     
  4. Sid The Kid Suspended

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2017
    #4
    Both are good.

    You get 2 more powerful things with the 1st option.

    You can remove the HDD part and put an SSD in the future if you want.
     
  5. iOSGoober thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Sep 17, 2013
    #5
    Thanks guys. I should have also mentioned that so far I have only used 110Gb of my MB Pro's 256Gb SSD, so I guess in theory if I stayed with similar usage on the 2TB Fusion I would essentially be running all in SSD, right? Or would I still get delays while the HDD portion spins up? On an earlier iMac it used to drive me crazy when I would go to save a file and have to wait 5-10 seconds while the hard drives spun up. I can't remember now if that was caused by my external HDDs or the Fusion....

    I guess the wait for the 512Gb SSD BTO is also turning me off a little, but I should be more patient :)
     
  6. Sid The Kid, Jul 19, 2017
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2017

    Sid The Kid Suspended

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    Jul 10, 2017
    #6
    You're welcome. The waiting time for the 512gb SSD is obviously worth it. But like I wrote before, you get 2 more powerful things with your 1st option. 2TB Fusion Drive is fast. I read about people who are happy with Fusion Drive more than people who are mad and regret it. "It just works". I would also choose the 1st option.
     
  7. EugW macrumors 68000

    EugW

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    Jun 18, 2017
    #7
    Neither the CPU nor the GPU will have any meaningful affect on beachballs. The important factors here to prevent beachballing are amount of memory and speed of storage.
     
  8. mihai.ile macrumors member

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2012
    #8
    Given the OP use cases, I would go for first option (even for my use case, I went for option 1 and only upgraded the cpu to i7).
    You end up with a little better cpu and deifinately better graphics card with double the amount of memory, if you ever want make use of it it's there.
    So for the same price, you get 2 better components.
    Now for the storage part.
    Since you only use 110GB of space, the fusion drive would practically store all data on the ssd part so performance would be the same as 512gb ssd (just a tiny tiny bit slower since usually smaller ssd have a very small performance penalty in comparison to larger ones). You can always split the fusion and manage yourself what goes where, I am certain you have data in those 110GB used that you do not mind storing on the hdd part to make room on the ssd for new data in future.
    The way I see the first option is really 2 better components with a smaller capacity (128gb) ssd but practically same performance as 512gb one and a "free 2tb hdd included"
     
  9. Sid The Kid Suspended

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    Jul 10, 2017
    #9
    I know a dude who's experiencing beach balls on his MacBook Air. 4gb RAM with 128gb SSD. Would it happen on 8gb+ RAM?

    I think the equivalent for Windows is that blue loading circle but the cursor remains visible.

    Mac users try to avoid spinning beach balls while Windows users avoid BSoD (Blue Screen of Death). Avoid it like the pest.
     
  10. EugW, Jul 20, 2017
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2017

    EugW macrumors 68000

    EugW

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    Jun 18, 2017
    #10
    Depends on his usage and the OS, but it's quite possible that having 8 GB RAM could eliminate his beach balls.

    I too see them on my 2009 4 GB 2.26 GHz Core 2 Duo MacBook Pro (10.11) with 128 GB SSD, but I never see them on my 2017 16 GB Core m3 MacBook (10.12) with 256 GB SSD.

    Yes, the 2017 MacBook here is faster than the 2009 MacBook Pro, but the 2017 MacBook is still way, way, way slower than even the base model 2017 3.4 GHz i5 7500 27" iMac. As mentioned, the CPU speed is not the issue here, if it works fine on a Core m3. The main reason my 2017 MacBook Core m3 doesn't see the beachballs is because it has 4X the RAM at 16 GB, vs 4 GB on the 2009 MBP.

    ---

    So, to repeat what I said in my original post, for his use case, iOSGoober needs just a base model i5 but with SSD and enough RAM. Getting a 580 would be a waste of money unless he wants to game on it or be prepared for VR or something like that. As for the CPU, the i5-7600K in the top tier is only about 2-8% faster than the i5-7600 in the mid-tier. Indeed, the multi-core turbo speed of the 7600K is 4.0 GHz while for the 7600 it is 3.9 GHz, a difference of less than 3%.

    I do a little bit of photo work and stuff and occasionally encode video, so I went to the mid-tier 3.5 GHz 7600 and 575. I didn't really need that either, but thought it was a reasonable downgrade from the i7 I returned. The i7 had fan noise that irritated me.
     
  11. Sid The Kid Suspended

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2017
    #11
    Interesting. By the way, his MacBook Air has 1.3 GHz. RAM and storage are obviously the most important things for a computer. You won't even see the difference between i5 and i7 if the computer is used for basic computing like browsing. That's another story for intensive stuff.

    Desktop computer are often more powerful than laptops. Even an maxed out iMac is more powerful than a maxed out MacBook Pro. Like the 15.4" i7 7th gen, 2.9GHz, 16 GB RAM with 512 GB SSD or even more powerful specs.
     
  12. Fishrrman macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    #12
    "For the most part to be honest I don't do much more than typical internet tom-foolery with it."

    Choice #2 will be "good enough" CPU-wise, and you don't have to worry about a platter-based hard drive inside going bad on you over the life of the computer.

    I doubt you'd notice the difference in speed between the 2 CPU's.
    But you WOULD notice the speed differences between fusion and SSD.
     
  13. gian8989 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2015
    #13
    2# you don't need large storage, the ssd makes 0 noise, is faster and generate less heat. In this configurarion the fan should never turn on.

    If you will need a better gpu in the future you can use external gpu.
     
  14. jlseattle macrumors 6502

    jlseattle

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    Jan 9, 2007
    Location:
    Seattle WA
    #14
    The hard drive choice is currently the largest choice you can make in hardware specs on your computer. Meaning that if you chose the fusion drive, it's performance would impact the processors performance. Whereas the SSD doesn't impact the processor performance. With the spinning drive, anytime the processor needs to use information on it, the time to access and process that information takes 3-4 times longer than with SSD. For me getting the SSD is a no brainer. I chose the 3.8 with the SSD.
     
  15. madmin, Jul 20, 2017
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2017

    madmin macrumors member

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    Jun 14, 2012
    #15
    I had nearly a week with my 3TB Fusion drive before sending it back. I've had the same model with an SSD for a week now, much happier with it. Fast and quiet, glad I changed it. The fusion drive on my old 2012 mac mini gave out in between the two iMacs, I consider myself lucky to have it working again after a day spent disassembling it completely to swap out the HD in the second bay. For me the Fusion drive was a handy stop gap solution that's no longer attractive in 2017, unless low price is paramount. YMMV

    PS: Blackmagic is showing 1.8GB/s write and 2.5GB/s read for my new PCIe x4 SSD while the rebuilt fusion in my mini (128GB SSD + 750 HD) shows 0.31 write and 0.22 read.
     
  16. propower macrumors 6502a

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    Jul 23, 2010
    #16
    Having had the 3.8 and the 3.4 (and i7) in front of me I can see no reason in this case for anything above the 3.4. IME - they will feel exactly the same for general use. User experience will be the same. Same with the Video options. Some (especially video/photo or gamer) uses will see improvements from the upper GPUs that would favor choosing them as well as the faster CPUs. The i7 is a huge gain for those that need/use Hyper threading - but runs hot. Fusion drive is fine until one fills up the SSD. Then anything on the HDD has enormously higher seek times.

    I have used SSDs for system drives since 2009 - never ever going back. I also have owned the 2013 MP with its 1000MB/s R/W PCIe SSD. In use - there is no difference again between it and the 2 to 3X faster one in the iMac. File copy is sure faster though :), There is only a little bit of difference in booting straight from a USB3 SSD.

    I would recommend same as EugW - 3.4 with 256GB SSD.
     
  17. EugW macrumors 68000

    EugW

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2017
    #17
    I didn't actually provide a number for the SSD size, but I'd recommend a 3.4 GHz i5-7500 with 512 GB SSD, and then buy another 16 GB of RAM from Crucial. iMac is $2099, and extra RAM is $139.99, for a total price of $2238.99.

    Or if the OP wants to splurge a bit, then the 3.5 GHz i5-7600 with 512 GB SSD, and then buy another 16 GB of RAM from Crucial, for a total price of $2438.99.
     
  18. RickInHouston macrumors 6502a

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    May 14, 2014
    #18
    Window users haven't gotten a blue screen of death ever since 2005. Keep up.
     
  19. jlseattle macrumors 6502

    jlseattle

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    Jan 9, 2007
    Location:
    Seattle WA
    #19
    Haha, say that to my teammate that had one just the other day. It still happens.
    --- Post Merged, Jul 20, 2017 ---
    That's awesome news! I did that with my iMac. I purchased with fusion and it was slow. I'm hoping for the same thing. Fast and quiet. I'll be very very happy. :D
     
  20. Taylor710ce macrumors newbie

    Taylor710ce

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    Apr 22, 2013
    #20
    if this solution works for you, it's cheaper to go down to 256 gb SSD internally and have an external SSD via USB-C/USB-3. All the IOs are faster than the read/writes of SSDs. Is this viable?
     
  21. EugW macrumors 68000

    EugW

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    Jun 18, 2017
    #21
    This is not a good idea.

    The internal SSD is immensely faster, and external USB SSD doesn't support TRIM, which can lead to major slowdowns. Thunderbolt SSD is a decent solution, but isn't cheap either.
     
  22. iOSGoober thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Sep 17, 2013
    #22
    Thanks for all the advice. I pulled the trigger on option 1 this morning (stronger CPU/GPU with 2TB Fusion). If I see any speed issues I'll consider returning it for an SSD build. Fingers crossed.....
     
  23. EugW macrumors 68000

    EugW

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    Jun 18, 2017
    #23
    Good luck. Just keep in mind though that speed issues with Fusion may not really be noticeable until you’ve used more of your drive space, which may put you out of your return window.
     
  24. Gill Gamesh macrumors newbie

    Gill Gamesh

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    Jul 4, 2017
    #24
    Assuming you are stuck with the internal 256gb SSD, what would you suggest to augment your storage if not an external SSD?
     
  25. EugW macrumors 68000

    EugW

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    Jun 18, 2017
    #25
    The first point was if you can afford more SSD now, then get more SSD now, unless you’re sure 256 is all you’ll ever need. I did just that in fact, for my MacBook, but that’s because the MacBook is my low impact portable machine. I have a 1 TB iMac for the heavy lifting.

    The second point was that USB based SSD has some issues so that isn’t a great reason to justify skimping on the internal SSD.

    The third point was that OTOH, Thunderbolt based SSD is much better, but is also considerably more expensive.

    I actually have USB SSD but it is not used for primary storage.
     

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