Wouldn't a 5400 RPM HDD be the best choice in certain situations?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by azure247, Nov 7, 2015.

  1. azure247 macrumors 6502

    Sep 9, 2008
    I've read all the threads on this matter and everyone is against the HDD saying it is slow. But, if you leave the apps you use open at all times (Safari, Email, Word), and rarely shut down the iMac by utilizing sleep mode, then what are you truly missing out on a fusion or SSD? It is $$$ saved and at no loss.
  2. fa8362 macrumors 65816

    Jul 7, 2008
    It's slow anytime it's accessed, so it will slow down pretty much everything. So, it is never the best choice.
  3. G.McGilli macrumors regular

    Oct 19, 2015
    Do you need a Ferrari to drive to your relatives house 100 miles away? No. Sure, it would be faster with all the accelerations and stopping through the roads you do and cornering - but in the end - most people would not really need that kind of speed/time difference for the price they pay compared to a regular Sedan.

    Plus - if you buy a slower sedan - there is usually much more room to carry extra stuff 'storage' compared to the faster, options which (as of now) sacrifice storage space for speed and cost.

    OP: For use like you say - yeah HDD is totally fine. We are talking seconds here if you're not always restarting/booting the computer. I prefer SSD myself - but I'd say that on an average day - it 'saves' me about 1 minute over using a HDD for all my Audio production. Since most of what I do is loaded into RAM anyways... Plus - with the speed of today's systems overall :)

    I actually find it makes a much bigger difference on older machines. I replaced a 2009 MBP HDD with SSD and it's a night and day difference.

    That all said - I did order SSD on my new iMac for future proofing issues and I like newer tech sometimes :)
  4. iemcj macrumors 6502


    Oct 31, 2015
    True, everything will work. And if this was a budget pc then it could make sense, my mother in law has a crappy windows based laptop and for her a slow hardrive is ok. But considering you're spending 2-3 GRAND on this machine, it's a crazy stupid place to be a bottleneck.
  5. Macmamamac macrumors regular

    Mar 21, 2015
    Your entire iMac experience will be massively diminished if you go for the HDD.

    If you have never used an SSD in a desktop, then prepared to be amazed at how much faster everything is.
  6. Weaselboy Moderator


    Staff Member

    Jan 23, 2005
    I think you are on target there if you are on a bit of a budget. There does seem to be a tendency on here for everybody to automatically say you just have to have an SSD, and depending on your usage I would disagree with that position.

    Like you said, once it is booted up and all the apps are launched and loaded in memory, unless you are afterwards opening a very large spreadsheet or media file, an SSD does not make that much difference in day to day usage.

    My niece has 2007 Macbook that I maintain for her. The HDD recently died so I popped in a 128GB SSD (she does not have much data). Sure... it booted much faster and apps launched faster, but once everything was up and running you could barely tell the difference just browsing and checking mailer typing a document.

    I would not say there is no loss like you mentioned, but I would agree if money is an issue and your usage is fairly light, the difference is not huge after everything is launched.
  7. The Doctor11 macrumors 603

    The Doctor11

    Dec 15, 2013
    New York
    Best choice? No. That is really really really pushing it. Even if you leave Safari, Word, and email open all the time you'll notice its slowness from time to time. If you have to attach a document to an email in word you'll be waiting for that hard drive to load it in. Same for Word, loading in images or something will show its slowness, if you do have large word documents you'll have to wait for them to save.

    Now I'm in no way saying that these examples would justify spending the money for an SSD. If these are you use cases I say yeah you should probably just stick with the 5400. The reason people are upset about these hard drives are just the pure fact that Apple put this damn thing in computers that cost over $1000. Thats the part that is upsetting to everyone, thats why people are talking about it negatively. Most people will notice the slowness of this drive often, very often yet Apple put this 5400 RPM drive in computers that cost $1500. Even the 4k iMac thats suppose to be top of the line.
  8. ryannel2003 macrumors 68000


    Jan 30, 2005
    Greenville, NC
    So here's what... I currently own a 2 month old 27" iMac with a 7200rpm spinner and my previous computer was a 13" Retina MBP with a 128GB SSD. When accessing files and booting up the machine there is a difference no doubt. However in my day to day usage which includes internet browsing, light photo editing, email, iTunes music and playing some Halo MD the difference isn't that great. I always put my computer to sleep so booting up isn't an issue and I don't really play around with files that much.

    If you're a hardcore user of an iMac that includes video editing, photo editing or medium to heavy gaming get the SSD. If you're like me and don't really use the iMac for anything intensive the hard drive should be fine. I still think it's crappy of Apple to not include the Fusion Drive standard especially with the amount of cash they have but what can you do?
  9. whodatrr macrumors 6502a


    Jan 12, 2004
    Biggest compute bump I ever felt in my life was going from a spinner to SSD/Fusion drives. Really, i'll never go back. Everything, and I mean everything, feels faster.

    The difference between various speeds oaf SSDs aren't that noticeable, nor is SSD vs Fusion, for me. But the difference between a spinner and one of the above is mind-blowing.
  10. dogslobber macrumors 68030


    Oct 19, 2014
    Apple Campus, Cupertino CA
    You've never used a bottom of the line Mac Mini, have you? They have the toy spinner in there and it's excruciating to use.
  11. dogslobber macrumors 68030


    Oct 19, 2014
    Apple Campus, Cupertino CA
    Even a SSD drive via Firewire is like night and day versus the internal spinner. That includes a full size 7200rpm drive you used to get in iMacs. That drive is mince compared to a SSD running at 80MB/sec throughput.
  12. garirry macrumors 68000


    Apr 27, 2013
    Canada is my city
    It is certainly not the best choice, as it does not give any advantages over a regular hard drive. While, let's say for a cheap computer, 5400 RPM is okay for a hard drive, but that's not the main problem. The problem is that for a machine that costs $1300+, it is absolutely unacceptable. I am in the SSD boat hoping it arrives soon enough.
  13. Cape Dave macrumors 68000

    Nov 16, 2012
    They would be the right choice when a buggy whip is also the right choice :) Giddyup!
  14. Mr. Buzzcut macrumors 65816

    Mr. Buzzcut

    Jul 25, 2011
    No! OSX absolutely punishes disk drives. My top of the line iMac is terribly slow at times, particularly when a backup kicks off. There is also inexplicable disk access at other times with not much input from me. I'll be swapping the spinner for a SSD soon so I can continue to live with the thing since the quad core i7 is plenty fast for my needs.
  15. kohlson macrumors 68000

    Apr 23, 2010
    I think there are two other factors to consider. First: SSDs are essentially shock and vibration proof. In a portable computer, this is a big benefit. Second: Mac OS is increasingly doing lots of things behind the scenes. Compressing memory, Time Machine, plus whatever system-level calls are happening. These are slow on HDDs, and essentially transparent on SSDs. You pays your money ....
  16. garyleecn macrumors 6502a

    Jul 25, 2014
    The max ram u can have is 16g. With 3-4g for system you only get 4/12g free ram depends on your config.
    How many apps can you "cache" in ram? Whatever is Not on ram is loaded with painfully slow speed.
    I'd even trade retina screen for that fusion drive
  17. oldmacs macrumors 68040


    Sep 14, 2010
    I was on a Mechanical HD right up until august and honestly, OSX is hopeless on a HDD, so yes while using a mac with a HDD is Possible it is a terrible experience for a machine which could cost over 2 grand.
  18. h9826790 macrumors G4


    Apr 3, 2014
    Hong Kong
    Your assumption is correct indeed. However, that's base on you have plenty of RAM and the system never ever need to use page files.

    If you believe that $100 is not wroth, and you are OK for painfully slow boot (may be only once every few months), and wait for 15s to open an app (once every few days, or even less in your case?), why not?

    However, there is something that can't be speed up by having enough RAM and keep the app open. e.g. when you have to open / save a file (your photos, word doc, PDF files, etc). Those operation will be much slower. If you seldom mange / use your files on your Mac, and only use it for something like Safari. Yes, with enough RAM, you won't notice any difference when the app is already launched with the 5400RPM HDD.

    If you have limited budget, and can only choose max RAM or fusion drive (or SSD). In your specific case, max out the RAM sure is a better choice.

    However, if you only plan to buy the min RAM config, then most likely your HDD plan won't work. It's better to get the fusion drive, that's much faster in general HDD operation, also, when you are running out of RAM, there is a huge difference between using the high speed SSD or the 5400RPM HDD for page files.

    With the high speed SSD fusion drive, most likely you won't notice the difference if you are running out of RAM. But with a HDD only system, the computer may respond in slow motion.
  19. Cody1992 macrumors member

    Jun 5, 2015
    Yes, if for some reason you wanted your read/write speeds to be specifically around 80-100MBps, then the 5400 rpm will be best equipped to serve that purpose.

    Keep in mind that most of the people commenting regularly use pure SSD or maybe fusion drive, so they are let's say... "pampered" with the new speeds. But fact is except on dedicated computer forums, people are generally quite happy with HDD technology. Yes, SSDs are the future, the same way we might be using RAM as storage in the future, as it's much faster yet than SSDs. If you don't know what you're missing out on, then it's really not so bad, even then... we're talking about shaving minutes off of your computer usage every week, or every month. This is not where everyones interests lie.

    edit: although i agree with everyone about the Apple premium prices. I would expect spinners as a base in 500$ PCs, not 2000$ iMacs.
  20. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    I think so, because no matter what, the OS is still going to access the HD for variety of reasons. I see no benefit in introducing latency in my typical day to day usage. I'm sure some people are not bothered by it, and I'm sure my use case is such that I'm not a good candidate for it either but when you're spending close to 2k for an iMac and they purposely giving you a drive that was considered slow 10 years ago, I think its frustrating
  21. CelestialToys macrumors 6502

    Aug 4, 2013
    up above the streets and houses
    Having recently upgraded one of my macs with SSD and still having one with a 7200RPM drive I can categorically state that there is absolutely no way I would buy a machine with a 5400RPM drive ever again.
    Putting the SSD into the machine that previously had a 5400RPM drive in it has made such a massive difference, in pretty much everything it does.
  22. h9826790 macrumors G4


    Apr 3, 2014
    Hong Kong
    That's not entirely true, even nowadays, RAM disk won't be faster than a properly designed SSD storage in real world usage.

    There is a test in the old Mac Pro, with just a single PCIe card and 4 SSD, this old machine can have 5400MB/s read write speed.


    With this kind of speed, there is no real benefit to use RAM as storage. Also, every single I/O to the RAM will occupy the CPU, which is another reason why the super high end multi million dollars computer system won't even use a RAM disk but simply SSD in RAID. With it's own controller, SSD storage is actually faster in real world then RAM disk in handling files (even though benchmark may shows the RAM is faster).
  23. Wild-Bill macrumors 68030


    Jan 10, 2007
    A 5400RPM hard drive would never be the best choice in any situation. This is simply Apple purposely skimping for the sake of the almighty dollar.
  24. makrom macrumors regular

    Nov 4, 2015
    If you don't know what you're missing out on, a $200 Windows PC might make you quite happy as well ;)
    While I like using Apple products, I don't get some of their lower end products. You are still paying a premium price without actually getting much of a premium experience.
    I consider FD to be a great way to bring SSDs to the masses. True tech enthusiasts might spend the premium to go pure SSD, but if you want many of its advantages without breaking the bank, you could do much worse than FD.
    If one hardly ever restarts the computer, starts new programs, copies files or saves big files and doesn't have programs with a lot of I/O, having a slow HDD might work out. But I consider this to be way too constraining, too many ifs. It'll likely hurt resale value (by hurt I mean lower it to a point where the extra FD would have mostly paid for it self) and I notice that I always have use cases when I just want to close or restart a program without thinking too much about the implications.
  25. h9826790 macrumors G4


    Apr 3, 2014
    Hong Kong
    For large file storage only, the 5400RPM HDD is much better in terms of storage vs cost. Isn't it?

    I am not trying to argue that 5400 is better, or SSD is useless, or make it extreme that using a $2K iMac for storage only. But I simply want to point out that the HDD may be still the best choice in some situation.

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