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  1. #1


    Member Since
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    2009 MacBook Pro 15" - 2013 iMac 3.4GHz quad-core i7, Fusion Drive, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680MX
    Fusion drive question
    I'm about to pull the trigger on a new 27" iMac but have a question. I've leaned away from all-in-ones for years on the argument that if a part fails you have to replace the whole unit and that's not necessarily cost effective compared to a system based on component parts. But I'm switching totally from PC to Mac (have had a MacBook Pro since 09) and the iMac is the only solution (Mini was considered but the bang for the buck just wasn't there)

    That said, my main concern for the iMac is the hard drive. They fail, we all know that. And since Apple put the hard drive in an inaccessible location this is not a trivial concern.

    I'm planning to get the Fusion drive (I really wanted pure SSD but Apple wants way too much for one way bigger than I need...I use a NAS for virtually all file storage [non-app or OS that is] so I really don't need a large HD).

    Here's my thought. If the hard drive fails, will the SSD portion continue to function? Can I just ignore the dead HD and continue on? Or are they joined at the hip such that a dead HD will take the flash portion with it?

    May be too early to tell but...

  2. #2

    RavingMac's Avatar
    Member Since
    Jan 07, 2008
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    4GB Mac Mini 2012, 13" MBA, 15" MacBook Pro OSX 10.7, 32 GB iPhone 3GS, iPad2 64gb 3G
    I read an article about this recently . . . now if I can just remember where.

    As I recall, it was possible, but not straightforward to separate the two drives (undo the software bond). Have to look to see if I can find the article. If I do, I'll post it here.

    FWIW though you didn't ask, I'm still not a fan of the new iMac design. But, I hope it works out well for you.

    EDIT: found the article
    http://www.macworld.com/article/2015...ion-drive.html
    I've always wanted to be smart, handsome and modest. But, I guess I'll have to be satisfied with two out of three . . .

  3. #3

    chscag's Avatar
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    Jan 23, 2008
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    Late 2013 27" iMac, iPad 3, iPhone 6s+, iPhone 6+, 3 iPods, El Capitan
    It's my understanding if one part of the "fusion drive" fails, the remainder will continue to work. However, consider that the SSD part of the fusion drive is small and contains the core OS. If that fails, it would have to be replaced anyway. The same applies to the spinning drive as it contains applications and other things which are needed.

    This is just my opinion... If I were ordering a new iMac, I would not order a fusion drive but would stick with the 1 TB or 2 TB normal drive and spend the extra dollars on upgrading the memory. But that's just me. My reason? Fusion drive technology is new and few people have tested what you're asking. MacWorld Magazine did a nice article on fusion drives explaining how they work and what might happen if one fails. Dig through the last two issues (I don't remember which issue it's in) and read up on it.

  4. #4

    Slydude's Avatar
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    Nov 15, 2009
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    Thanks guys I may be looking for a new Mac in the near future though I might wait to see if new Mac Pros appear. A friend mentioned to me that the Fusion drives were wicked fast. I must confess I had not thought of the scenario proposed by the OP. Shame on me.

    Maybe by the time I pull the trigger (several months off at least) we will have better answers.
    Sylvester Roque Former Contributing Editor About This Particular Macintosh

    "Got Time to breathe. You got time for music." Denver Pyle as Briscoe Darling

  5. #5


    Member Since
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    Mid-2012 MBP (16GB, 1TB HD), Monoprice 24-inch second monitor, iPhone 5s 32GB, iPad Air 2 64GB
    While there's always the chance, the reason Apple sells 4-5 million iMacs every three months is because, simply put, the failure rate is incredibly LOW. This is not, in my opinion, a valid concern about an AIO computer anymore and hasn't been for at least the last seven years, more like a decade IMO.

    If you're that concerned, buy AppleCare. BOOM, three years of free replacement if the drive goes south. Keeping a bootable backup on an external drive would also mitigate the inconvenience of any unexpected failure.

    I've not seen any evidence from any source that AIOs have any more of a catastrophic fail rate than component PCs.

  6. #6

    Slydude's Avatar
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    It is because the failure rates are low that I had not really thought of this issue till I read the OPs post. Even though the failure rates are low and there is AppleCare it's something I should have thought about.

    I'm several hours away from an Apple store so it pays for me to know what repairs I can perform. The last under warranty drive replacement in my Mac Pro was a piece if cake since I did it myself after Apple shipped the replacement. Much more convenient than a several hour drive to the nearest Apple store.
    Sylvester Roque Former Contributing Editor About This Particular Macintosh

    "Got Time to breathe. You got time for music." Denver Pyle as Briscoe Darling

  7. #7

    harryb2448's Avatar
    Member Since
    Nov 28, 2007
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    Imac 27" Retina 3.3GHz, 512GB Flash, 16GB memory, OS X.11.4.
    Ditto Sly on the distance and having had a G.Skill Falcon, Kingston and an OWC Mercury SSD all fail which is enough to turn me off fusion drives.
    Hang on to those original install discs like grim death! Using OS X.7 or later make a bootable USB thumb drive before running Installer!

  8. #8

    chscag's Avatar
    Member Since
    Jan 23, 2008
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    Late 2013 27" iMac, iPad 3, iPhone 6s+, iPhone 6+, 3 iPods, El Capitan
    While there's always the chance, the reason Apple sells 4-5 million iMacs every three months is because, simply put, the failure rate is incredibly LOW.
    Agreed. However, my concern is not with the iMac failing, but with the Fusion drive combo failing. While it's too soon to draw any conclusions about the reliability of the current Fusion drives, it's the newness of it that worries me.

    As I stated previously, if I were buying a new 21.5" iMac I would choose to max out the memory and instead go with a standard hard drive.

  9. #9


    Member Since
    Oct 25, 2010
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    2009 MacBook Pro 15" - 2013 iMac 3.4GHz quad-core i7, Fusion Drive, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680MX
    Interestingly enough, all iMacs sold at the Apple stores are 8Gb, even the most high end one. I guess they figure they can add it at the store if the buyer is clueless enough (or rich enough to not care).

  10. #10

    chscag's Avatar
    Member Since
    Jan 23, 2008
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    Specs:
    Late 2013 27" iMac, iPad 3, iPhone 6s+, iPhone 6+, 3 iPods, El Capitan
    You aren't going to add anything to the 21.5" iMac. You can't upgrade the memory in that machine if you purchase it with 8 GB. In order to have 16 GB installed, it has to be ordered on line from Apple. However, some Apple stores will have them configured with 16 GB.

  11. #11


    Member Since
    Oct 25, 2010
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    2009 MacBook Pro 15" - 2013 iMac 3.4GHz quad-core i7, Fusion Drive, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680MX
    Fine, then the 27" all come with 8GB. I didn't look into the 21".

  12. #12

    baggss's Avatar
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    Oct 10, 2004
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    Specs:
    27" 3.4 Ghz i7 iMac-13" C2D Macbook-OSX 10.10.2 -64Gb iPad 2-64 Gb iPhone 6+-ATV 2-14Tb of Storage
    When I purchased my wife's 21.5 iMac at an Apple store in December, all they had were 21.5s and they all had 8Gb RAM. The folks in the store told me they were not expecting any 21.5s configured with anything else and that if you wanted that you would have to order it on-line from Apple.

    They were not sure how the 27 would be configured but they said they would be able to upgrade them in the store.


  13. #13

    DavidHH's Avatar
    Member Since
    Feb 28, 2010
    Location
    Hamilton, Ontario
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    259
    Specs:
    21.5" iMac i5 2.9 Ghz, 15" MBPro i7 2.0 Ghz, iPhone 5, iPhone 4s, ATV2, ATV3, iPad2, iPad Mini
    I custom ordered my 21.5" iMac about 2 months ago.
    I put in 16GB Ram and went with the 1 TB Fusion Drive.
    I couldn't be happier with the results. It is very snappy and does everything that I need it to with ease.
    I had a 3 year old 27" that I traded in and was worried that I would not like the smaller screen, but in fact I like it more than my 27" which had more screen than I needed for my use.

    DavidH

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