The new iMac configurations launched towards the end of 2012, and while we would expect some changes in 2013, to see things altered already seems a bit strange to Apple newbies. The more seasoned Apple computer users wouldn’t be surprised at all, and this is thanks to Apple doing similar things in the past for whatever reason they had. The new 21.5-inch iMac is the model that has changed in configuration slightly, which now includes the Fusion Drive as a build-to-order option from the cheapest 2.7GHz setup.
When the 21.5-inch model went on sale in October you could only include a Fusion Drive with the top-end models, and of course with a larger 27-inch iMac. This French website first spotted the change although we can confirm this change as well, and the fact that it hadn’t been available on the cheapest options when we placed an order for the new iMac in October. We ended up ordering a 27-inch model with a Fusion Drive.
The price of a Fusion Drive on the base iMac model is around $250, although the benefits are well worth considering. You can see the Fusion Drive vs. a normal hard drive in this visual Mac mini review. You can also see the insides of a 2012 iMac via this article, which shows how easy the all-in-one desktop might be to repair.
In a nutshell you can expect the new iMac with a Fusion Drive to boot up in half the time. This performance increase comes without the higher cost of an SSD, and the hybrid version achieves similar speeds but with a lot more storage. The driving force behind this improvement is advancements in both technology and software. The software improvements are built into Apple’s latest OS X Mountain Lion, and the hardware includes a 128GB SSD fused with a 1TB or 3TB hard drive.
Windows users have known for years that putting a lot of files onto an external hard drive, or by including a boot up drive just for the Windows OS would increase speed over the long-term. The 2012 iMac performs something similar, and the operating system is stored permanently on the solid-state drive with important applications you use most. Mountain Lion will optimize performance on the fly, and keeps frequently accessed files on the faster SSD.
Why do you think Apple didn’t include the Fusion Drive on all iMac models at release? We’re not sure why Apple didn’t include the Fusion Drive as an option on the lower end models right away, although some people feel it could have been a problem with production capacity and others feel they wanted you to purchase the most expensive 21.5-inch iMac at 2.9GHz. If you held off ordering and want the smaller display, then we think you should seriously consider the Fusion Drive for the performance boost alone.