We’ve been waiting and waiting for Apple to release the next version of OS X Mountain Lion in hopes that the next full version would have all the necessary components to setup a Fusion drive on any Mac capable of installing a hard drive and SSD together. A little over a week ago, Apple released OS X version 10.8.3 and, with one small caveat, our hopes were fulfilled.
The Profusion Of Fusion Confusion
But before we get to showing you exactly how to setup your own DIY Fusion drive, I’d like to dispel some mis-information that has been floating around the web. Up until now, most of the reports you’ve read about creating your own DIY Fusion drive on a machine have been incomplete. There have been many tutorials on how to create a Core Storage volume that have been labeled as “how to create a Fusion drive”. They are two similar, yet different drive configurations. I’ve addressed a lot of this information in comments on the OWC Blog, but figure it would be a good idea to review and further explain what a Fusion drive actually is as opposed to a Core Storage volume. Article Continues…
By Aaron Sumner, Guest Blogger
I just replaced my MacBook Pro’s original 350 GB hard drive with a 240 GB solid state drive from Other World Computing, installed with the Data Doubler bracket.
While I was at it I figured I’d go ahead and install a fresh copy of Mountain Lion on the new drive (upgrading from Lion on the old drive). I’m almost two days into the upgrade and wanted to share my experiences so far.
First off, some rationale: Why upgrade my drive instead of my computer, and why go with a Data Doubler instead of just swapping the drives? First off, while I admittedly covet the 13-inch Retina Display, I was hoping to get at least another year out of my old Core 2 Duo-based model. I’ve had the RAM maxed out since the day I bought it, so the next feasible update was a faster and/or larger hard drive. I’d initially thought about swapping the stock drive with a solid state drive and putting the stock into an external enclosure, but realized that would mean having to tote an external drive around whenever I wanted access to my photos or music. Not ideal. I also thought about just dropping as large of a hard drive as I could buy into the laptop, but figured that wouldn’t get me anywhere in terms of speed. Article Continues…
One of the newest technologies available with the latest Macs is the ability to have what Apple calls a Fusion Drive. This is essentially a Solid State drive and a platter-based drive combined into a single volume. Apple’s underlying Core Storage technology then uses the SSD for the OS and frequently-accessed files, which will benefit from the speed, while placing lesser-used files on the larger, but slower platter-based drive.
The practical upshot of all this is that Fusion gives you roughly the performance of an SSD, while also taking advantage of the plentiful storage of platter-based drives. However, you don’t need to have a Fusion Drive from Apple to do this; with the proper command-line version of Disk Utility, you can create your own array with any platter-based drive and any SSD.
Of course, there are a few caveats to this setup (or the stock Fusion Drive, for that matter) that you should consider before committing to a Fusion setup. We’ll discuss those in a bit. First, though, let’s look at the process of actually setting it up.
As the Holidays rapidly approach, it gets somewhat tempting to justify gatting a new Mac as “a gift to yourself.” After all, those new iMacs are pretty slick-looking. And, you know what – there’s nothing wrong with that if you’ve already maxed out your RAM and have added a fast OWC SSD, yet are still craving more power. Heck, aside from the new Retina display-equipped MacBook Pros and the MacBook Airs, you can pretty much use the same SSD in the 2012 models as you could with earlier iterations.
However, if you’re still running on the stock memory and drive, you may be better served by upgrading your existing machine with more RAM, an SSD, and/or even a second drive bay with the OWC Data Doubler for added storage.
We’ve added a pair of videos to our series of shootouts that underscore how dramatic an improvement adding an OWC Mercury, Aura, Electra, or Accelsior SSD to your system can make. Check them out below. Article Continues…
Many of us here at the OWC Blog are big fans of the Mac mini, and the latest version is no exception. It packs a lot of punch in its diminutive frame, and for many users, it may just be all the computer they need.
To see just how well the new Mac mini can perform with certain OWC upgrades, Lloyd Chambers of Mac Performance Guide has put it through his battery of tests, and the results show that the mini can be considered as viable workstation solution for Photoshop and Lightroom power-users. Using an OWC 6G SSD doubles the performance in his tests compared to the Apple 1TB hard drive, and using an OWC Helios + Accelsior Solution via Thunderbolt is even faster…how’s a speed improvement of 70% grab ‘ya?
Check out Lloyd’s full writeup for all the performance insights.