1. romeytang's Avatar
    Hi everyone, looking to purchase a Retina 5k soon and I am on the fence between the Fusion Drive or an SSD. My budget may not allow me to get more than a 512GB SSD but I can always get a Thunderbolt external if I need more later.

    I plan to begin developing software for iOS in the future and I wondered if anyone knew if the additional speed the SSD gives would be noticed when developing. Probably not as much while coding but would compiling applications with a FD be more time consuming?

    Thanks in advance for the advice everyone.
    03-27-2015 03:49 PM
  2. warcraftWidow's Avatar
    It will be plenty speedy with either drive during compile and build. Yes the SSD will be faster but the Fusion drive will be fine.
    03-27-2015 04:58 PM
  3. romeytang's Avatar
    Thanks for the information, so do you feel that the money for the SSD could be put to better use on upgrading the CPU and RAM? I am pretty certain I'll be ordering at least 16GB of RAM, I haven't settled on the processor yet
    03-27-2015 08:56 PM
  4. zerog46's Avatar
    In my opinion I will never get any PC or Mac again without an SSD. It's so fast. I've heard about issues with fusion. Can't remember exactly what but SSD is the way to go. Just replaced two in my work laptop and PC.
    MNKomrad likes this.
    03-27-2015 09:09 PM
  5. romeytang's Avatar
    In my opinion I will never get any PC or Mac again without an SSD. It's so fast. I've heard about issues with fusion. Can't remember exactly what but SSD is the way to go. Just replaced two in my work laptop and PC.
    Ultimately I would like the SSD option, but that might come down to budget. I did read AnandTech's article on the month with a fusion drive. It does seem like a decent balance between the speed of SSD and price/GB of an HDD. Aside from reliability it seems the price is the largest determining factor.

    Are you saying the FD would be more prone to reliability problems in day to day use? I've had good experiences with long term reliability of Apple HDDs in the past.
    03-27-2015 10:06 PM
  6. zerog46's Avatar
    I honestly don't know. I read an article a while back and they were saying to just stick with the SSD. Ill see if I can find it.
    03-27-2015 10:13 PM
  7. warcraftWidow's Avatar
    I would prioritize options as follows: 1) 16GB RAM, 2) SSD, 3) processor.
    03-28-2015 02:11 AM
  8. MNKomrad's Avatar
    In my opinion I will never get any PC or Mac again without an SSD. It's so fast. I've heard about issues with fusion. Can' remember exactly what but SSD is the way to go.
    Just replaced two in my work laptop and PC.
    This all day. I made the mistake of getting 1tb fusion drive and I’ve regretted it ever since. In fact I’m buying a new Macbook Pro with SSD to replace the imac just to get the speed boost.
    Fusion drive was an expensive mistake , don’t do it!
    06-02-2018 12:15 PM
  9. Lee_Bo's Avatar
    I have a fusion drive in my MBP and haven't had any issues over the past year. While I'm not developing software, I do use Lightroom and Photoshop regularly.
    06-02-2018 01:59 PM
  10. stavwoz's Avatar
    Ssd all the way, fusion drive in my iMac sooo slow compared to my older MacBook Pro with ssd
    06-02-2018 03:02 PM
  11. n8ter#AC's Avatar
    Get a 256GB SSD and then add on an External Data Drive. It's an iMac. It's not going to be going to Starbucks. External Storage is fine for it, and serves the same purpose while being completely reusable when you buy a new PC, etc. If you have a MacBook, you can just plug into that storage there, as well.

    I don't think Fusion drives are worth it, esp. considering it's only in desktop Macs. If you need more storage, always go external; that's trivial to upgrade in both capacity and speed. Get the smaller SSD for the system performance, and get at least 16GB RAM, IMHO.

    You probably don't want your code to be chained to the internal drive, anyways. A USB Western Digital MyPassport Drive is fine for Source Code and Software Development, IMO. They're dirt cheap. It's not like software development has the bandwidth requirements of video editing - which you would never do on a Fusion Drive due to the HDD being awful for it (you'd get external drives for that, probably SSDs).

    A 256 GB SSD is enough for most people, IMO; even developers. I think you can save some money on that, unless you have massive Photos Libraries, iCloud Drive Data, Logic Pro Instruments, Sound Libraries, etc. that you want to keep completely on the local hard drive. At that point, I'd look into a 512GB or even 1TB SSD.

    My new Windows Laptop has a similar setup, except all internal (NVMe + SATA3 Drive Bays). 250GB NVMe SSD for the OS and Applications, 1TB FireCuda SSHD for OneDrive, Content Libraries (A/V Editing, Graphics Design), Cache (Not for Performance-Sensitive Applications), Music, Videos, Games, Code, etc. Works wonderfully.

    An iMac with an External Drive would be similar,. The only annoying thing on macOS is that it's not as easy to change where the iCloud Drive folder or user files reside. macOS (and Apple's software) wants to write everything to the system drive. On Windows, it's very easy to set this up (trivial settings in Settings App, or the OneDrive application).

    This is a very easy with OneDrive or Creative Cloud (one obvious setting in the app settings, incl. on macOS from what I've seen), and for Windows user files (in Settings app). I don't think iCloud on macOS has any such setting. You only get the option for Optimized Storage.
    Last edited by n8ter#AC; 06-06-2018 at 04:42 AM.
    mtnhome likes this.
    06-06-2018 04:24 AM
  12. n8ter#AC's Avatar
    I have a fusion drive in my MBP and haven't had any issues over the past year. While I'm not developing software, I do use Lightroom and Photoshop regularly.
    MacBook Pros don't have Fusion Drives. They only ship with SSDs.

    Also, macOS doesn't optimize HDDs, and has no tools in the OS to do so, so I'd never want to use another HDD-only iMac ever again. My Late 2013 iMac is borderline unusable (14 Seconds to load Microsoft Word, among other things), because the HDD needs to be optimized and I'm not paying $99 for software to do it. I'll probably destroy it (with a hammer) and throw it in the trash within a couple months, since I got a new power laptop to basically replace it, anyways... It's taking up too much space on my desk, and I want to get a second monitor for my Laptop to put there...

    Does Target Display Mode work with Windows PCs, and avoid running the other internal components? Perhaps that can be its life moving forward...

    This never happens in a Windows machine, because pressing "Optimize" fixes this on mechanical HDDs and the OS schedules this to be run weekly automatically (along with Trim on SSDs).

    Fusion Drives will degrade in performance in the same way. The SSD will carry the performance if you don't use a lot of the HDD regularly, but the less so that is the case, the less so the SSD can carry the performance.

    After a couple of years of use, you're going to be paying for software to optimize that HDD partition, because the I/O really starts to suffer in macOS when you have gaps all of the place and the file system is not optimized and compacted properly.

    macOS treats HDDs almost like SSDs, except HDDs do not have the Access and Seek Speeds that SSDs have.
    06-06-2018 05:02 AM
  13. Lee_Bo's Avatar
    MacBook Pros don't have Fusion Drives. They only ship with SSDs.
    I had to go back and look at the invoice:

    BTO MacBook Pro 15" Touch Bar 2.7GHz Core i7 / 16GB / 512GB / Radeon 460 4GB / Silver Apple

    I swear I ordered this one with the Fusion Drive, but I guess I didn't.

    However, two other quotes I got at the same time did list FD's in the specs. 2016 model.
    06-06-2018 06:52 AM
  14. n8ter#AC's Avatar
    MacBook Pros have never shipped with Fusion Drives, ever.
    06-06-2018 05:18 PM
  15. dcoke22's Avatar
    My current (2017) and my previous (2012) iMacs have Fusion Drives. They work well in my experience as macOS does a good job of keeping the important stuff on the fast SSD. In a perfect world, we'd be all SSD all the time but over the life of an iMac, many folks with outgrow the available space on a smallish SSD. A Fusion Drive can be big enough that many people will have plenty of space for the life of the machine. Thunderbolt 3 ports are fast enough that if one needs extra speed for a specific project, an external SSD could be used.

    On my machine, I do a little work in Adobe Lightroom. I have used Adobe Premier and iMovie. I use Xcode & PHP Storm to do development. I find development is most improved by a SSD. Random access of small files is something SSDs excel at and is something that hard drives are terrible at. Loading big files in Lightroom or video editing, while faster on SSD, isn't terrible on a hard drive.

    The original poster was talking about a 5k iMac. That implies a 27" model, which allows for user upgradable RAM, a rarity in Apple hardware. If you consider yourself to be modestly technical, I'd recommend sticking with the default RAM from Apple and buying more when you need it from a third party like OWC. I'd instead spend the money on the things one can't really change in an iMac, the CPU, GPU (although eGPUs are maybe changing that equation) and a 3TB Fusion Drive.

    Make no mistake, everything is better on fast SSD. But most people don't have unlimited money. A 2TB or 3TB Fusion drive (I don't recommend the 1TB Fusion drive because it only has a 32GB SSD) is a good compromise of speed and capacity. This allows for the simplest setup for most people. A smallish internal SSD might be faster but almost guarantees needing external storage.
    06-12-2018 11:48 AM
  16. mtnhome's Avatar
    Great post! Just what I was looking for. Upgrading from early 2008 Mac Pro dual boot tower to 4.2 27 iMac w/1G SSD. Have a couple external HDD's w/anker docking station (USB3) which I use for backup. Will they successfully interface with my 1G SSD, Thunderbolt3, also using Boot Camp w/Win10, or should I plan on going with an SDD backup?
    07-24-2018 07:41 AM
  17. o4liberty's Avatar
    I have the full SSD drive and it's super fast well worth the upgrade
    07-27-2018 08:27 PM
  18. calebt's Avatar
    Full on SSD is the way I roll.
    07-28-2018 04:42 AM
  19. bakron1's Avatar
    I have two IMac 27 5K units and both have 24 gigs of DDR4 ram, 8 gig video and 512 SSD hard drives and they scream.

    Worth spending the extra money up front. I always tell folks you get what you pay for and that’s especially true with Apple hardware.
    08-07-2018 05:18 AM
  20. robertk328's Avatar
    MacBook Pros don't have Fusion Drives. They only ship with SSDs.

    Also, macOS doesn't optimize HDDs, and has no tools in the OS to do so, so I'd never want to use another HDD-only iMac ever again. My Late 2013 iMac is borderline unusable (14 Seconds to load Microsoft Word, among other things), because the HDD needs to be optimized and I'm not paying $99 for software to do it. I'll probably destroy it (with a hammer) and throw it in the trash within a couple months, since I got a new power laptop to basically replace it, anyways... It's taking up too much space on my desk, and I want to get a second monitor for my Laptop to put there...
    Rather than trash the machine, you can plug in an external SSD and boot from that. Just make sure you're using either USB3, Firewire, or Thunderbolt. USB2 and you'll be back to pulling your hair out - use the fastest one available to you.
    https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT202796
    08-07-2018 05:40 AM
  21. n8ter#AC's Avatar
    Rather than trash the machine, you can plug in an external SSD and boot from that. Just make sure you're using either USB3, Firewire, or Thunderbolt. USB2 and you'll be back to pulling your hair out - use the fastest one available to you.
    https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT202796
    The machine is of very little use for me. I’m going Windows on everything else, and macOS simply doesn’t play well in that type of environment.

    I just need the desk space. That’s the premium.

    Keeping it going (or at all) isn’t really a concern. I just need it off of my desk.

    I’m keeping it until I upgrade phones (moving back to Android) in a couple of months. Then, it’s gone. It’s never been much more than a chat box, anyways, and that’s largely why I bought it...

    So I didn’t have to squint at a phone while I was at my desk, after moving to the iPhone. It’s basically an iPhone accessory to me. Like a phone case.

    I was just commenting on the bad performance of HDD iMacs - perhaps a bit too graphically

    P.S. macOS does not Trim over USB3 (Windows does) and USB3 drives can eat 5-6% of your CPU power during I/O operations.

    Drive failures are also higher when used as external USB Boot Drives. This likely has something to do with heat (since the PC fans aren’t helping to cool the drive).

    If Apple would just give a disk optimization utility we could run weekly, this would be a non-issue, as it largely is on cheap Windows laptops.
    08-11-2018 08:04 PM
  22. robertk328's Avatar
    The machine is of very little use for me. I’m going Windows on everything else, and macOS simply doesn’t play well in that type of environment.
    Okay, thanks for the update.
    08-12-2018 07:51 AM

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