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I have a 2011 27" iMac i7 3.4gHz with 24 GB RAM. The startup disk is a 256 GB SSD and then I have another 1TB HDD installed as well. I use it for both design (Adobe Suite, Sketch, etc) and front-end dev (node, mongo, etc) as well as a little Wordpress dev. For a 2011, I can't really complain about its performance - it starts up in under 30 seconds, can handle NUMEROUS browser, terminal and VScode tabs and run Illustrator and Photoshop pretty flawlessly. If I have a server or 2 running in the background, some of that starts to suffer.

Based on all that, I'm inclined to think "if it's not broken, don't fix it", BUT I just read about the thing people with 1 SSD and 1 HDD have been doing for quite a while now, which is combining the 2 for a Fusion Disk and have to say I'm a little more than intrigued.

Doing this would require me to reorganize all my applications, project folders, scripts, etc so it wouldn't be a small undertaking, but if it will give the boost in performance many have reported, it will probably be worth it.

Given my system specs and the type of work I'm doing on it, am I likely to see a noticeable change?

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I would say: No.

My experience of using a Fusion Drive in a 2012 Mini for several years is that the shared performance benefit lessens as the drive fills up.

Secondly, and perhaps most importantly: a Fusion Drive has two points of failure, and a nine-year-old hard drive is increasingly likely to fail, at which point you will have only your backup. ;-)

Your best course of action is to use the 256Gb SSD as your System disk and farm out user data 'overspill' to a faster external drive.

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  • both drives are actually only about a year and a half old... does that make any difference in your answer? – Daveh0 Mar 14 at 18:40
  • A Fusion drive will always be a fraction of the performance of the SSD alone. It might be 99%, or 80%. 256Gb is large enough for a system disk. You can put Photo libraries, Music libraries, movies and other large documents on the HDD. A better move would be to replace the HDD with a large SSD. – benwiggy Mar 14 at 18:50
  • hmmmm. what's the point of Fusion Drive then? I thought somehow the 2 drives together increased performance. Is it just to consolidate drives and have the additional space from the bigger HDD? – Daveh0 Mar 14 at 18:56
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    It's a compromise of better speed than an HDD and cheaper bulk storage than an SSD. It was a clever trick 8 years ago when they introduced it: now SSDs are much cheaper. Apple has other plans for the technology, such as iCloud Drive, in which the 'fast' segment is the local drive and the 'big' segment is the cloud. – benwiggy Mar 14 at 19:29
  • gotcha - thanks for sticking with me. – Daveh0 Mar 14 at 20:02

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