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levmc

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Jan 18, 2019
687
25
One thing many people recommend either swapping the internal HDD with an SSD, or if that cannot be done, to use external SSD to boot the OS from.

But iMac comes with a fusion drive which is a little bit SSD (32GB). So would you still really need to move the OS to an SSD drive when Fusion is already part SSD to begin with? Or would 32GB be too little.

An article says this:

"What I hadn’t realized before researching this article is that the 32 GB SSD in the current 1 TB Fusion Drive is actually an improvement because in 2015, Apple reduced the size of the SSD in the 1 TB Fusion Drive from the original 128 GB to just 24 GB.

Regardless, the practical upshot of this information is that I would encourage anyone considering an iMac to avoid the 1 TB Fusion Drive. Instead, you could spend an extra $100–$200 on a 256 GB SSD and get an inexpensive external hard disk to hold large amounts of data. Alternatively, you could pay an extra $200 or $300 and get either the 2 TB or 3 TB Fusion Drive." https://tidbits.com/2017/08/07/imac-1-tb-fusion-drives-have-smaller-ssds/

The author of the article does recommend an external SSD over the 1TB fusion drive (i guess because it has only 32gb of SSD in it).
 

jerwin

Suspended
Jun 13, 2015
2,895
4,651
I boot off an external (Samsung SSD 860 EVO 1TB). Much faster than my fusion drive-- even though that drive had 128 GB of SSD. Of course, it's nearly full.
 

levmc

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Jan 18, 2019
687
25
I boot off an external (Samsung SSD 860 EVO 1TB). Much faster than my fusion drive-- even though that drive had 128 GB of SSD. Of course, it's nearly full.
What else do you find it fast at besides booting?
[automerge]1594785018[/automerge]
By the way if you want to make the 1TB external SSD into partly bootcamp (Windows) and part Mac OS, with just maybe 100GB alloted to Bootcamp, how do you go about setting that up?
 

jerwin

Suspended
Jun 13, 2015
2,895
4,651
What else do you find it fast at besides booting?

system housekeeping tasks. Mail is faster. Periodically my mac would freeze up, or beachball. Safari starts up a lot faster with my truly massive reading list. I would imagine that my Devonthink databases are faster to search, though I really only started to populate them after I got the SSD.

Booting happens once, or twice a day, depending on whether I'm using bootcamp-- so that's not a huge gain in the larger scheme of things. But-- my usage far exceeded 128 GB. So macos was actively trying to use the hard drive portion of the fusion drive.

Speaking of Bootcamp, an SSD really really helps, though Microsoft doesn't like people installing its OS to external drives. A little trickery is necessary.

I would imagine that you would partition the fusion drive and migrate that Windows Partition onto a separate SSD using WinClone. But it's been some time...
 
Last edited:

sracer

macrumors G4
Apr 9, 2010
10,353
13,165
where hip is spoken
What else do you find it fast at besides booting?
Loading large apps. I hesitated to use MS Office for Mac on my iMac because it would take over 56 icon bounces+10 seconds for MS Word to load with the original "spinner" harddrive. After attaching and booting off an external SSD, 4 bounces.

In general, everything feels snappier.
 

Fishrrman

macrumors Penryn
Feb 20, 2009
28,755
12,863
OP:

What YEAR is the iMac you have now?
A 2017 or 2019 will have USBc, and that would affect the recommendation I would make.
 

Fishrrman

macrumors Penryn
Feb 20, 2009
28,755
12,863
OP wrote:
"2017"

Ok, that helps.

You can go three ways:

FIRST WAY:
USB3 external SSD, connected to USBa or USBc port.
This will give you read speeds around 430MBps.
You can buy a "ready-to-go" drive, or buy a "bare drive" and an enclosure, and put it together (VERY VERY easy to do).

SECOND WAY:
USB3.1 gen2 external SSD, connected to USBc port.
This will give you read speeds around 960MBps.
There are a few "ready-to-go" drives out there, not many yet.
It's easier to buy an nvme "blade SSE" like this:
And put it into an enclosure like this:
(these aren't the only ones, just used them as examples)

THIRD WAY:
Thunderbolt3 SSD, connected to the USBc port (which is also a thunderbolt3 port).
This will give you read speeds above 2,000MBps.
They are on the expensive side, and tend to "run hot" (the Samsung X5 has problems with heat).

I'd suggest first or second way.
My USB3.1 gen2 SSD (using the Orico enclosure above) will get a little hot under heavy write loads, but will normally run "on the warm side". I use it for backups, however ... not normally as "my boot drive".
 
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