New 27-inch iMac benchmarks: Fusion Drive vs SSD vs HDD

“We have answers to the question, ‘What drive should I order for my ‘late 2012’ iMac 27-inch?'” Rob Morgan reports for Bare Feats. “Since the 27-inch uses 3.5-inch HDDs, the drive choices and drive performance will be different from the 21.5-inch iMac which uses 2.5-inch HDDs.”

“With the help of remote mad scientists, we were able to get test results on four of the five permutations available to 27-inch iMac buyers,” Morgan reports. “The SSD is the fastest choice, obviously, if you are willing to cough up $1300. Also, it won’t slow down in certain situations that affect the Fusion Drive’s performance.”

Morgan reports, “The $250 for the 1TB Fusion Drive is much easier to swallow. And for most users, it will provide plenty of speed — especially in comparison to the HDD options.”

Much more – including all of the benchmark results, of course – in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: As we wrote last April:

On the rare occasion that we use a non-SSD Mac, the experience is jarring, as we’ve become used to the speed of the SSDs in our MacBook Airs and iMacs. It’s a huge difference. Once you go SSD, you won’t go back.

Related articles:
Apple’s new iMac’s Fusion Drive a turning point for hybrid drives – December 13, 2012
Please stop the madness: Apple Mac’s Fusion Drive is not about caching – November 29, 2012
Apple’s new Fusion Drive technology also works on older Macs – October 31, 2012
Apple’s new patented Fusion Drive is more advanced than you might think – October 24, 2012

Don’t buy a new Mac without an SSD or you’ll regret it – April 9, 2012
Elgato’s external Thunderbolt SSD drives are lightning-fast – March 26, 2012
Benchmark porn star: OWC’s scorchingly fast Mercury Aura Pro Express 6G 480GB SSD – March 26, 2012
SSD Shootout: OWC Mercury Extreme Pro 6G SSD vs. the rest – April 13, 2011


  1. It’s incredible that I head about this idea from Windows Vista when it was called LongHorn. They promised a kind of hybrid drive along with a new file system.
    As Always, microsoft promises too many things and delivers to few and those few are worthless.
    Some times Microsoft have good ideas, but they simply don’t know how to make them real.

    1. MS can’t do it until after Apple does it, but they may announce the ‘concept’ decades earlier. Witness: ‘tablets’ (OK, so sometimes even after Apple shows them the way, they still ignore it to push what has failed for what, 20 years now?)

  2. i have the max’ed out 2011 27″iMac and just got my new max’ed out 2012 27″ iMac – 3.4ghz i7, 32gb ram, 3TB Fusion, 2gb Video Memory – the former is a work machine; the latter a personal one. While I would much rather have had the SSD 768gb is too limiting and I don’t want to have an external drive for data. The 3TB Fusion Drive is awesome. I didn’t expect much difference between the 2011 and 2012, but it is much more significant than reviewers led me to believe. First, the screen is much better, second, the Fusion Drive is as fast as the SSD+HDD in the 2011. The memory maxed out at 32gb helps with my graphics intensive and Windoze legacy programs. Is it worth the step up from a maxed out 2011? Probably not due to the price, but it is a significant step up, nonetheless. Did I mention how brilliant the screen is? Almost Retina quality. Almost.

    1. The screen is the same..same resolution at least. Difference is LED is fused with the glass. Nice to know you think it looks better. My personal 27 inch will arrive this week..getting one for work in march. Was hoping there was a noticeable difference.

      1. Much less glare, crisper, brighter, darker darks. I stare at my computer screen for 10-12 hrs/day so casual users may not notice, but I do. The 2011 at work looks slightly washed out and the glare is now much more noticeable. I calibrated them both to the same standard.

    2. Still waiting on my new 27″ imac, 3.4i7, 8gbRam (which I’ll upgrade from Crucial) 3TB Fusion Drive and 2GB Video Ram. It still says Available to ship in January. Glad to see they are starting to ship. Glad to hear it sounds like a great machine.

  3. So, when home computers first came out… they had no hard drive and everything was in chip memory including the OS. Then, we “progressed” to hard drives… and now we are “progressing back” to chip memory.. funny how things go full circle.

    1. Actually, my first home computer, the Tandy SX1000, loaded DOS from a floppy and you had to reinsert the disk when you quit an application to reload cmd.exe. I did learn to create a RAMDisk to keep DOS loaded, tho. Before that I used a school project computer that loaded Basic from a GE Slimline tape player.

      1. I started with a cassette tape system like the one on your school project computer. You could hear Basic load on my old, elephant gray, plastic Interact computer, which had 16KB of memory (but only 4698 bytes free after loading Basic). You attached it to a television and each line only held 17 characters. The screen could display four lines of code.

        Stepping up to the 140KB floppies was amazing, particularly if you got two so that you did not have to do the “floppy dance” to make a copy.

        My father worked on some of the early systems. They used actual, physical relays for each bit, and a whole 4KB fit in a refrigerated truck, clacking away. It was used to calculate radar bearing/range solutions.

        1. Yes, the original Apple II came with everything on tape except for the boot ROM on the motherboard. Then Woz wrote the DOS for the floppy drive and things got better. Remember using hole punches to notch the opposite edge so we could flip the floppy over to get double the storage? In those days a box of 10 Dysan or Verbatim floppies went for $35. I forget their capacity. Then the DOS was upgraded to create 16 sector floppies and a bit more storage. Ahhh, those were the days, eh kingmel?

        2. Ah, yes, the floppy punch. I had one for the 5 1/4s and one for the 3 1/2s. Unreliable, but cheaper. Stacker wrung a few more MB out of the 20-30MB hds. I even RLL’d my MFM. I could get about 40MB from my 30MB HD that way. Required a Low level format. Those were fun and frustrating days.

        3. Reading that paragraph about your father brought to mind my early working days at the phone company where central offices were full of clacking relays, Strowger switches, x-bar switches, and a constant din of the alarm gong going off because the switch attendant was off playing poker in the cable vault with some linemen.

  4. My 2009 MacPro uses a 240GB Mercury Accelsior SSD boot drive and a 4TB hard drive for storage. I find this combination amazingly fast and useful. I don’t see any need to replace the workstation anytime in the foreseeable future.

    But Fusion drive seems like a gimmick. Kinda like RamDoubler back in the old days. I don’t trust hard drives enough to intertwine them with SSD drives, despite maintain a TimeMachine backup.

    1. Hear, hear.

      If one has enough money to blow on a “maxed out” iMac, then you’re doing yourself a disservice by not shopping around. For about the same cash outlay, you can get a Mac Pro — even a 3-year old used/refurb MP outperforms the latest iMacs. The Geekbench results speak for themselves.

      More importantly: monitor options & hard drive configurations are unlimited. Why settle for an all-in-one for a machine one uses for serious work 10+ hours per day? Makes no sense whatsoever.

      1. Not everyone wants a huge box with wires everywhere. I gave up jumbled messes of wires and tanks under my desk when I switced to Mac. It has absolutely nothing to do with computing power and i really dont care. And thanks but it was more for me to get a two year old Mac Pro upgrade the drive to SSS plus HDD , upgrade the memory and buy a top end monitor.

        1. Substantial money is saved by not replacing the expensive monitor every time you want to upgrade the CPU. One has to think long-term to properly account these things.

          “Not everyone wants a huge box with wires everywhere.”

          Straw man much? The “huge box” can go anywhere, additional hard drives & PCI cards go INSIDE the big box, as opposed to the octopus that an All-in-One design forces. Otherwise, wireless input devices eliminate desktop wires.

          …. and if computing power is not what you seek, Apple makes a much more cost-effective Mac Mini for half the price of an iMac.

          “maxed out” 27″ iMac: $3349
          refurb 8-core Mac Pro $2649

          which leaves you $700 for upgrades….

  5. I have an crucial m4 in my 2011 mbp and I did not notice a terrible slow down when using a fusion drive in a 2012 mini. I plan to put a Samsung 840 pro in that same mbp, so I might see a difference at that point.

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