Upgraded Mac Mini powerful enough for Photoshop & downloading large image files?

Started Aug 7, 2013 | Discussions
bbpp
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Upgraded Mac Mini powerful enough for Photoshop & downloading large image files?
Aug 7, 2013

I need to replace my old MacBook Pro which is now old and running too slowly for my purposes. It's currently hooked up to an external monitor (an Eizo) and this is a good set-up for me.

When I went to the Apple store one of the "Experts" there suggested the Mac Mini instead of a new Macbook Pro since I already have a monitor.  It would save me a lot of money. But although he was quite knowledgeable, he's not a photographer running Photoshop, Lightroom, and downloading large quantities of large image files, so I wonder if the following set up he suggested will really be powerful enough for me:

His suggested Mac Mini set up:

2.3 GHz quad-core Intel i7

1TB HD

Upgraded with a Crucial 16 GB Memory Kit

Any input would be very helpful.  Thanks!

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Re: Upgraded Mac Mini powerful enough for Photoshop & downloading large image files?
In reply to bbpp, Aug 7, 2013

bbpp wrote:

I need to replace my old MacBook Pro which is now old and running too slowly for my purposes. It's currently hooked up to an external monitor (an Eizo) and this is a good set-up for me.

When I went to the Apple store one of the "Experts" there suggested the Mac Mini instead of a new Macbook Pro since I already have a monitor. It would save me a lot of money. But although he was quite knowledgeable, he's not a photographer running Photoshop, Lightroom, and downloading large quantities of large image files, so I wonder if the following set up he suggested will really be powerful enough for me:

Yes, it will. Don't get a standard hardbdrive but choose the Fusion Drive or the 256GB SSD instead.

His suggested Mac Mini set up:

2.3 GHz quad-core Intel i7

1TB HD

Upgraded with a Crucial 16 GB Memory Kit

Any input would be very helpful. Thanks!

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bbpp
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Re: Upgraded Mac Mini powerful enough for Photoshop & downloading large image files?
In reply to Basalite, Aug 7, 2013

Basalite wrote:

bbpp wrote:

I need to replace my old MacBook Pro which is now old and running too slowly for my purposes. It's currently hooked up to an external monitor (an Eizo) and this is a good set-up for me.

When I went to the Apple store one of the "Experts" there suggested the Mac Mini instead of a new Macbook Pro since I already have a monitor. It would save me a lot of money. But although he was quite knowledgeable, he's not a photographer running Photoshop, Lightroom, and downloading large quantities of large image files, so I wonder if the following set up he suggested will really be powerful enough for me:

Yes, it will. Don't get a standard hardbdrive but choose the Fusion Drive or the 256GB SSD instead.

Thanks Baselite.  Just went to the Apple site to see the difference between the two. It looks like in the Fusion Drive the flash drive is paired with the existing 1TB traditional hard drive?

The Solid State Drive is just $50 more.  Huge difference in speed?

His suggested Mac Mini set up:

2.3 GHz quad-core Intel i7

1TB HD

Upgraded with a Crucial 16 GB Memory Kit

Any input would be very helpful. Thanks!

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Re: Upgraded Mac Mini powerful enough for Photoshop & downloading large image files?
In reply to bbpp, Aug 8, 2013

bbpp wrote:

Basalite wrote:

bbpp wrote:

I need to replace my old MacBook Pro which is now old and running too slowly for my purposes. It's currently hooked up to an external monitor (an Eizo) and this is a good set-up for me.

When I went to the Apple store one of the "Experts" there suggested the Mac Mini instead of a new Macbook Pro since I already have a monitor. It would save me a lot of money. But although he was quite knowledgeable, he's not a photographer running Photoshop, Lightroom, and downloading large quantities of large image files, so I wonder if the following set up he suggested will really be powerful enough for me:

Yes, it will. Don't get a standard hardbdrive but choose the Fusion Drive or the 256GB SSD instead.

Thanks Baselite. Just went to the Apple site to see the difference between the two. It looks like in the Fusion Drive the flash drive is paired with the existing 1TB traditional hard drive?

Yes, the Fusion drive in the mini is actually two separate 2.5 drives, a 128GB SSD and a 1TB spinning drive that is joined by software to appear as one drive. The OS resides on the SSD and apps and files that are accessed more are kept or moved to the SSD and less accessed files are kept or moved to the 1TB drive. I have it in my iMac and it works great.

The Solid State Drive is just $50 more. Huge difference in speed?

The 256GB SSD option is a bit quicker on the read and write side but more so on the write. My advice would be to get the Fusion Drive as it offers better value and ease of use if you are looking for the benefit of SSD speed, storage capacity and automation. Going SSD alone you are obviously limited to 256GB so you would likely need an external drive to increase your capacity and then you would have to manually manage the movement of files back and forth to get the benefit of the SSD. The Fusion Drive does that all automatically.

His suggested Mac Mini set up:

2.3 GHz quad-core Intel i7

1TB HD

Upgraded with a Crucial 16 GB Memory Kit

Any input would be very helpful. Thanks!

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Corkcampbell
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Good advice from the Apple guy and Baselite. I will be doing the same thing
In reply to bbpp, Aug 8, 2013

(except as a replacement for an iMac) as soon as the next generation of Minis comes out, which should be quite soon.

The only thing that I disagree with is that I think only 8 gigs of RAM is necessary; this is based on a recent (MacWorld?) article showing that going from 8 to 16 is negligible as far as performance and value. It you were to go to 16, I'd suggest doing it via a third-party supplier to save some money.

Update: Forgot something - definitely get the Fusion drive, as Baselite pointed out.

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golf4food
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Re: Good advice from the Apple guy and Baselite. I will be doing the same thing
In reply to Corkcampbell, Aug 8, 2013

I also agree!  Get a Mini Quad i7with a Fusion Drive and add the 16 gig Ram yourself!  You will LOVE this machine!

Consider a Drobo 5D for external storage!   It backs up from a hard drive failure and has Thunderbolt and USB3 connections.  The Drobo 5D is much faster than the older models.  You can also add a small SSD to the Drobo to speed it up even more.

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bbpp
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Re: Good advice from the Apple guy and Baselite. I will be doing the same thing
In reply to Corkcampbell, Aug 8, 2013

Corkcampbell wrote:

(except as a replacement for an iMac) as soon as the next generation of Minis comes out, which should be quite soon.

The only thing that I disagree with is that I think only 8 gigs of RAM is necessary; this is based on a recent (MacWorld?) article showing that going from 8 to 16 is negligible as far as performance and value. It you were to go to 16, I'd suggest doing it via a third-party supplier to save some money.

Update: Forgot something - definitely get the Fusion drive, as Baselite pointed out.

Thanks all for your great information and suggestions so far.

Yes, it seems the Fusion drive is the way to go. Getting that suggestion from others as well.

Surprisingly, the Apple Expert suggested a non-Apple source on-line for the 16GB kit, which would save me about $150, or more.

All around, this seems to be a good, much less expensive option to a new Macbook Pro. My wallet will be happy.

Beth

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Re: Good advice from the Apple guy and Baselite. I will be doing the same thing
In reply to Corkcampbell, Aug 8, 2013

Corkcampbell wrote:

(except as a replacement for an iMac) as soon as the next generation of Minis comes out, which should be quite soon.

The only thing that I disagree with is that I think only 8 gigs of RAM is necessary; this is based on a recent (MacWorld?) article showing that going from 8 to 16 is negligible as far as performance and value. It you were to go to 16, I'd suggest doing it via a third-party supplier to save some money.

I didn't give any advice on RAM with the mini but what's important is that you can always upgrade the amount of RAM you have. Whatever amount works for you after that is fine. Something like a MacBook Air, for example, you would be foolish not to max out the RAM at purchase since it can't be done otherwise.

Update: Forgot something - definitely get the Fusion drive, as Baselite pointed out.

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S B McCue
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Re: Good advice from the Apple guy and Baselite. I will be doing the same thing
In reply to Basalite, Aug 8, 2013

If you won't be using the laptop screen, buying a MacBook Pro is overkill.  The QC i7 mini is no slouch ... it posts a Geekbench score of around 13K, and is certainly fast enough to run several CC apps at once.

I would buy 16GB of RAM from another source like Crucial, and certainly go for the Fusion drive if you need the 1TB of space.  If not, I'd probably opt for the 256 SSD.

The Mac mini is a well-kept secret.  In reality, it's a very fast and capable little performer.

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henryk1
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Re: Good advice from the Apple guy and Baselite. I will be doing the same thing
In reply to S B McCue, Aug 8, 2013

I have the 2012 quad i7 Mac mini with 256gb SSD and two 2 TB USB 3.0 external HDs (one for archives, one for backup). Lightning fast with Lightroom 5 and Photoshop Elements 11 running simultaneously. ( I can't speak to the issue of the full-bore Photoshop, however.)

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henryk1
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Re: Good advice from the Apple guy and Baselite. I will be doing the same thing
In reply to henryk1, Aug 8, 2013

I forgot to say: I got the mini with 8gb RAM, because that was what B&H had in stock at the time. I'd planned to boost that to 16GB, but so far it has not been necessary.

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Mateo Miller
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I'm not an expert. link to interesting pros and cons of fusion
In reply to Basalite, Aug 9, 2013

Just got my 2012 Mac Mini 2.3 GHz Quad core i7 yesterday.

I replaced the internal 1TB drive with an after market SSD and will be using the 1TB drive for Time Machine.

I also have an external 1TB drive for my photos.

The only thing on my SSD is the OS and Applications.

DigLloyd has some interesting articles on Mac performance Mac Performance Guide, Mac Mini 2012 dual drives vs Fusion

Not confident with "Fusion" technology, yet.

I talked to a couple of "Genius" and they weren't too enthusiastic about the reliability either.

Better safe than sorry, and Apple really over chargers for SSD's IMHO.

Haven't installed the RAM yet.  I thought I would play with the system for a week or two and see if anything weird happens.

Check Apples refurb listings.  I saved a couple of hundred bucks.

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Re: I'm not an expert. link to interesting pros and cons of fusion
In reply to Mateo Miller, Aug 9, 2013

Mateo Miller wrote:

Just got my 2012 Mac Mini 2.3 GHz Quad core i7 yesterday.

I replaced the internal 1TB drive with an after market SSD and will be using the 1TB drive for Time Machine.

I also have an external 1TB drive for my photos.

The only thing on my SSD is the OS and Applications.

DigLloyd has some interesting articles on Mac performance Mac Performance Guide, Mac Mini 2012 dual drives vs Fusion

Not confident with "Fusion" technology, yet.

I talked to a couple of "Genius" and they weren't too enthusiastic about the reliability either.

I have never heard or read anything but positive things about the Fusion Drive. My iMac's Fusion Drive has been flawless and quite a few people I know who have new Macs have been very happy with their Fusion Drives too.

As for the "reliability" Fusion Drives are likely to be much more reliable than simply using a standard hard drive that is constantly being acessed, unlike with the standard drive in a Fusion Drive. What exactly are your concerns?

Better safe than sorry, and Apple really over chargers for SSD's IMHO.

All computer manufacturers charge a premiun for SSD options and no other manufacturer but Apple offers Fusion Drives.

Haven't installed the RAM yet. I thought I would play with the system for a week or two and see if anything weird happens.

Check Apples refurb listings. I saved a couple of hundred bucks.

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Mateo Miller
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Re: I'm not an expert. link to interesting pros and cons of fusion
In reply to Basalite, Aug 9, 2013

Basalite wrote:

Mateo Miller wrote:

Just got my 2012 Mac Mini 2.3 GHz Quad core i7 yesterday.

I replaced the internal 1TB drive with an after market SSD and will be using the 1TB drive for Time Machine.

I also have an external 1TB drive for my photos.

The only thing on my SSD is the OS and Applications.

DigLloyd has some interesting articles on Mac performance Mac Performance Guide, Mac Mini 2012 dual drives vs Fusion

Not confident with "Fusion" technology, yet.

I talked to a couple of "Genius" and they weren't too enthusiastic about the reliability either.

I have never heard or read anything but positive things about the Fusion Drive. My iMac's Fusion Drive has been flawless and quite a few people I know who have new Macs have been very happy with their Fusion Drives too.

As for the "reliability" Fusion Drives are likely to be much more reliable than simply using a standard hard drive that is constantly being acessed, unlike with the standard drive in a Fusion Drive. What exactly are your concerns?

As the article states "if one drive fails they both fail"

Their is also the question of whether the "managed" files are going to the optimal drive.

It make for very interesting reading...

Better safe than sorry, and Apple really over chargers for SSD's IMHO.

All computer manufacturers charge a premiun for SSD options and no other manufacturer but Apple offers Fusion Drives.

Haven't installed the RAM yet. I thought I would play with the system for a week or two and see if anything weird happens.

Check Apples refurb listings. I saved a couple of hundred bucks.

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Re: I'm not an expert. link to interesting pros and cons of fusion
In reply to Mateo Miller, Aug 9, 2013

Mateo Miller wrote:

Basalite wrote:

Mateo Miller wrote:

Just got my 2012 Mac Mini 2.3 GHz Quad core i7 yesterday.

I replaced the internal 1TB drive with an after market SSD and will be using the 1TB drive for Time Machine.

I also have an external 1TB drive for my photos.

The only thing on my SSD is the OS and Applications.

DigLloyd has some interesting articles on Mac performance Mac Performance Guide, Mac Mini 2012 dual drives vs Fusion

Not confident with "Fusion" technology, yet.

I talked to a couple of "Genius" and they weren't too enthusiastic about the reliability either.

I have never heard or read anything but positive things about the Fusion Drive. My iMac's Fusion Drive has been flawless and quite a few people I know who have new Macs have been very happy with their Fusion Drives too.

As for the "reliability" Fusion Drives are likely to be much more reliable than simply using a standard hard drive that is constantly being acessed, unlike with the standard drive in a Fusion Drive. What exactly are your concerns?

As the article states "if one drive fails they both fail"

Unlikely, unless both fail at the same time. I'm sure data could be pulled from the surviving drive if the other fails and a repair would involve simply replacing the failed drive. They are after all two different physical drives simply joined by software.

Their is also the question of whether the "managed" files are going to the optimal drive

I've had my iMac around 2 months now I think and the Fusion Drive on it has performed flawlessly. It works as advertised. What I use most often resides on the solid state drive.

It make for very interesting reading...

No, he is biased towards another solution. Much of his information is simply wrong.

Better safe than sorry, and Apple really over chargers for SSD's IMHO.

All computer manufacturers charge a premiun for SSD options and no other manufacturer but Apple offers Fusion Drives.

Haven't installed the RAM yet. I thought I would play with the system for a week or two and see if anything weird happens.

Check Apples refurb listings. I saved a couple of hundred bucks.

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Mateo Miller
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In reply to Basalite, Aug 9, 2013

No, he is biased towards another solution. Much of his information is simply wrong.

I would be interested in what information he got wrong.

Lloyd Chambers has a pretty good reputation.

thanks

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Re: care to elaborate?
In reply to Mateo Miller, Aug 10, 2013

Mateo Miller wrote:

No, he is biased towards another solution. Much of his information is simply wrong.

I would be interested in what information he got wrong.

Lloyd Chambers has a pretty good reputation.

thanks

Cost: First off, it's an apples to oranges comparison which is not very helpful on its own. Comparing a self install to a factory install for the vast majority of computer users is also useless. Going the separate SSD and HD option entails manual and active management on the user's part. Again, for the vast majority of users the Fusion Drive option is obviously the more attractive option.

Options: he says none but there is a 1 and 3 TB Fusion Drive.

Guaranteed speed for critical tasks: First off, lets dismiss this "guaranteed speed" speed nonsense for even with an SSD there is no guarantee of any particular speed. What should matter with the Fusion Drive is real life performance and real life performance shows commonly accessed files reside on the SSD of the Fusion Drive, as expected. I have yet to run into any of my image files, for example, that I have been working on recently that was then being accessed on the hard drive side of my Fusion Drive. How can I tell? Many of my images files are around 120-180MB in size. I can easily tell.

Separate Boot drive: I know of no reason why you couldn't use another drive to boot from with a Fusion Drive equipped Mac. None at all.

Internal clone and Internal Time Machine: Beats the heck out of me what he is referring to except that maybe somehow he is expecting the drives to function as separate drives when the Fusion Drive is obviously not designed for that.

Upgradeable SSD: He says no but yet the Fusion Drive equipped Mac minis, for example, use a standard 2.5" SSD that can be easily swapped. In fact, there are people out there that have installed 256GB SSDs in their 2012 Mac minis and Disk Utility automatically created a Fusion Drive for them with the xisting 1TB HD. The iMacs use a blade type SSD which presents a bigger challenge but aftermarket sources such as OWC have provided higher capacity SSDs of that style for the MacBook Air.

Upgradeable HDD: He says no but its no more difficult than simply swapping out the same HD in his preferred configuration and letting Disk Utility recreate the Fusion Drive. Plenty of people have already done this.

Works with disk repair tools: He says "Maybe, maybe not (according to Apple)" and yet dismisses the very good one that already comes with all Macs, Disk Utility. It's also odd to note something like this assuming that third party developers will not be presenting their own tools. It's a fleeting argument, at best.

Reliability: Already addressed in my previous post.

Serviceable by user: He says "Considerable “nerd” skill required to deal with Fusion volume setup (if failure)" Nonsense. Disk Utility does it automatically.

Can be partitioned: He says only "one partition, Fusion benefits are lost on the 2nd partition." That is incorrect or otherwise you wouldn't be able to run Windows in Boot Camp. It has also been shown that an SSD previously configured with a partition, for say Windows, prior to creating a Fusion drive will retain that partition and it will take advantage of the SSD speed since that it is residing on the SSD. What about a Mac that already has a factory Fusion Drive already installed and configured? Easy, you can unfuse the Fusion Drive and do the above. Both operations can be done in minutes in Terminal.

Special Disk Utility needed?: He says "YES (“earlier versions cannot be used”)" I say so? It comes with the Mac.

Extra disk activity and thus increased noise and power consumption?: He says "YES— when files are moved around in the background," I say so? Fusion Drives are only equipped in desktop Macs which have no "power consumption" restrictions such as a laptop. You are also benefiting from the automated functionality of the Fusion Drive which is the whole point. Noise? It's remarks like that that to me show a bias for his preferred configuration. The fact is, the Mac mini and iMac hard drives are essentially silent and have been for some time now.

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chi
chi
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Re: More than necessary...
In reply to bbpp, Aug 10, 2013

You can get by with the i5 version easily. Like mentioned 16gb is too much, you only need 8gb at the most.

Currently, I have a iMac i5 however, I still own a Core 2 Duo laptop to connect to my TV as a media box. The Core 2 Duo with 4gb RAM runs CS6 easily. I have a Seagate momentus hybrid drive with 32gb Flash and 750gb hard drive.   I also downloaded an ISO image of Windows 7 Ultimate last night for bootcamp.

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Mateo Miller
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I'm not sure I agree
In reply to Basalite, Aug 10, 2013

From DigLloyd article on Fusion Drives

Mac Performance Guide: Fusion migration

"The question is, does Fusion actually migrate “frequently used” files to the SSD? All my testing suggesed that the answer ws “no”; it turns out that a special procedure is needed to actually make a Fusion volume, not just something that looks like a Fusion volume.

UPDATE: Fusion will NOT work unless the most current Disk Utility is used from a new version of the system. OWC has a tutorial for making a system that can use the proper version of Disk Utility.

In general, read speeds are far more important that write speeds. With some obvious exceptions, most all files are written once and read over and over. So the key questions are:

  • Do frequently used files stick to the SSD?
  • Do frequently used files on the hard drive get moved to the SSD?

Testing to try to force migration (repeated reads of the same files, repeated real world batch processing of image files, etc) did not result in any migration of those files even after many reads and even after giving the system hours to think about it.

It is possible that under some circumstances migration happens (this cannot be ruled out from my testing). But since the real-world scenarios I tested (the actual work I tend to do!) did not cause this benefit to accrue, it is eminently reasonable to conclude that counting on Fusion for performance gains is a misplaced idea.

Fusion maintains a 4GB buffer on the SSD. This buffer is used to soak up any disk writes that occur; if too many writes (4GB or more) occur in a short time, this buffer overflows and writes are then forced to the hard drive. An example of this might be downloading 5GB of image files, a large video file, etc.

All observations point to a very simple approach: writes initially go to the 4GB buffer. To maintain that 4GB buffer space, some items are “pushed down” to the hard drive. That is all.

As far as my testing shows, no actual migration back to the SSD occurs. This has implications for photographers working with Lightroom, Photoshop, etc: the key files that could benefit from speed might be pushed down to the hard drive, and stay there."

Basalite wrote:

Guaranteed speed for critical tasks: First off, lets dismiss this "guaranteed speed" speed nonsense for even with an SSD there is no guarantee of any particular speed.

I don't think he is "guaranteeing any particular speed"

What should matter with the Fusion Drive is real life performance and real life performance shows commonly accessed files reside on the SSD of the Fusion Drive, as expected.

His analysis differs from yours

I have yet to run into any of my image files, for example, that I have been working on recently that was then being accessed on the hard drive side of my Fusion Drive. How can I tell? Many of my images files are around 120-180MB in size. I can easily tell.

I'm not sure how one can tell where a file resides just because of its size. In addition the "Fusion Drive" presents itself as one drive which would also make it difficult to discern whether the file is residing on the SSD or the HD, but I'm prepared to be wrong.

Separate Boot drive: I know of no reason why you couldn't use another drive to boot from with a Fusion Drive equipped Mac. None at all.

Internal clone and Internal Time Machine: Beats the heck out of me what he is referring to except that maybe somehow he is expecting the drives to function as separate drives when the Fusion Drive is obviously not designed for that.

Upgradeable SSD: He says no but yet the Fusion Drive equipped Mac minis, for example, use a standard 2.5" SSD that can be easily swapped. In fact, there are people out there that have installed 256GB SSDs in their 2012 Mac minis and Disk Utility automatically created a Fusion Drive for them with the xisting 1TB HD.

I believe the new Disc Utility now allows the changing of SSD's as his update suggests.

The iMacs use a blade type SSD which presents a bigger challenge but aftermarket sources such as OWC have provided higher capacity SSDs of that style for the MacBook Air.

Upgradeable HDD: He says no but its no more difficult than simply swapping out the same HD in his preferred configuration and letting Disk Utility recreate the Fusion Drive. Plenty of people have already done this.

Works with disk repair tools: He says "Maybe, maybe not (according to Apple)" and yet dismisses the very good one that already comes with all Macs, Disk Utility. It's also odd to note something like this assuming that third party developers will not be presenting their own tools. It's a fleeting argument, at best.

Reliability: Already addressed in my previous post.

Serviceable by user: He says "Considerable “nerd” skill required to deal with Fusion volume setup (if failure)" Nonsense. Disk Utility does it automatically.

Can be partitioned: He says only "one partition, Fusion benefits are lost on the 2nd partition." That is incorrect or otherwise you wouldn't be able to run Windows in Boot Camp. It has also been shown that an SSD previously configured with a partition, for say Windows, prior to creating a Fusion drive will retain that partition and it will take advantage of the SSD speed since that it is residing on the SSD. What about a Mac that already has a factory Fusion Drive already installed and configured? Easy, you can unfuse the Fusion Drive and do the above. Both operations can be done in minutes in Terminal.

Special Disk Utility needed?: He says "YES (“earlier versions cannot be used”)" I say so? It comes with the Mac.

Already addressed above

Extra disk activity and thus increased noise and power consumption?: He says "YES— when files are moved around in the background," I say so? Fusion Drives are only equipped in desktop Macs which have no "power consumption" restrictions such as a laptop. You are also benefiting from the automated functionality of the Fusion Drive which is the whole point.

Sometimes things done "automatically" do not provide optimum results. Things like "auto exposure" can be accurate the majority of the time, but sometimes one wonders what the metering system was measuring when a horrible exposure occurs.

I think what DigLloyd is suggesting is that...

1. The Fusion Drive does not migrate data as advertised, at least with the testing he has done.

2. That with a minimal of fuss an alternative file management system can be used that utilizes SSD and increases the reliability of ones computer system. For some people that is important.

Noise? It's remarks like that that to me show a bias for his preferred configuration. The fact is, the Mac mini and iMac hard drives are essentially silent and have been for some time now.

LLoyd Chambers is a noted software engineer with an excellent reputation for testing and reviewing photographic, and computer equipment.

It seems to me that through out your response a tone of condescension and dismissiveness is used that is unwarranted.

Lloyd could be wrong, or things may have changed since his initial testing and review.

I personally decided to use an internal SSD for the OS and Apps and an external HD drive for my photos and data.  Whether my configuration is optimal for speed is "debatable" (I guess), but I know "exactly" where my photos are.  And they aren't migrating around from one drive to another without my knowledge or approval.

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Tom_N
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Re: I'm not sure I agree
In reply to Mateo Miller, Aug 10, 2013

Mateo Miller wrote:

Testing to try to force migration (repeated reads of the same files, repeated real world batch processing of image files, etc) did not result in any migration of those files even after many reads and even after giving the system hours to think about it.

Apple says: "Fusion Drive automatically and dynamically moves frequently used files to Flash storage for quicker access, while infrequently used items move to the hard disk."  They make no claim that you can choose which frequently used files get chosen to be on Flash.

Apple - Mac mini (Lae 2012) and iMac (Late 2012): About Fusion Drive

Basalite wrote:

I have yet to run into any of my image files, for example, that I have been working on recently that was then being accessed on the hard drive side of my Fusion Drive. How can I tell? Many of my images files are around 120-180MB in size. I can easily tell.

I'm not sure how one can tell where a file resides just because of its size. In addition the "Fusion Drive" presents itself as one drive which would also make it difficult to discern whether the file is residing on the SSD or the HD, but I'm prepared to be wrong.

If you couldn't tell any difference between reading a file off a SSD and reading it off a HDD, what advantage would there be to an expensive SSD?  Other than physical shock resistance?

I think he's saying that if he read these large files off the HDD, it would take longer; enough longer that he would notice it.  Now whether this experiment is valid does depend on several things, like whether the application is rapidly reading through the whole file, whether bits of the file have been previously cached in RAM, and whether the file is being pulled into memory using virtual memory mapping tricks (that might defer some of the actual SSD or HDD reads until later).

Can be partitioned: He says only "one partition, Fusion benefits are lost on the 2nd partition." That is incorrect or otherwise you wouldn't be able to run Windows in Boot Camp.

It is correct.  Apple's own FAQ says that you can create one additional partition on the HDD – but that this partition is not part of the Fusion Drive.  The Fusion is between the first partition and the SSD.

The reason you can run Windows in Boot Camp is precisely because the Boot Camp partition isn't part of the Fusion Drive.  When Windows is in control, there is no Fusion Drive software to create the logical Fusion Drive volume out of separate SSD and HDD volumes.  So the best that you can hope for is that it will leave the Fusion Drive SSD and Fusion Drive HDD partition alone.

Special Disk Utility needed?: He says "YES (“earlier versions cannot be used”)" I say so? It comes with the Mac.

Already addressed above

Apple makes a point of saying "The version of Disk Utility that comes with Fusion Drive is unique.  Earlier versions of Disk Utility can't be used with a Fusion Drive."  digilloyd isn't exactly telling us some deep, dark secret by relaying the information.

It's easy to see why Apple is saying this.  The Fusion Drive is new.  There may be something extra in creating and maintaining the integrity of a Fusion Drive volume – above and beyond the things involved in creating and maintaining the integrity of its sub-volumes.  If you have a Fusion Drive, you don't want anything that is clueless about Fusion Drives doing anything that might endanger the Fusion Drive's integrity.

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