5 Replies Latest reply: Jan 26, 2013 12:21 PM by _z_
_z_ Level 1 (0 points)

Hi, everyone.  After a two-year wait, I'm ready to buy my first iMac (was waiting for USB 3.0).  Before I get into my questions, I'll give you an overview of where I'm coming from so we can keep the discussion focused.


My Usage

I'm buying an Apple computer because it is the best-looking, quietist, and most powerful all-in-one computer I can find right now, but Windows is still my preferred operating system.  I've used OS X before – it looks great and I'm sure it works great for a large number of people, but it's not for me.  Windows works well and efficiently for me and I have thousands of dollars of design software for Windows.  I'm not interested in a virtualization solution because of my performance needs.  However, I do want to keep the OS X installation, if possible, for website testing and to play around with to learn the operating system better.


What I Want

I was attempting to buy the Late 2012 iMac last weekend, but it appears the BootCamp specifications and the Fusion Drive are currently limiting my usage needs.  I'm configuring the top model iMac with the i7-3770 processor, 24GB RAM (8 default + 16 from Crucial), GTX 680MX, and the 3TB Fusion Drive.  I don't actually want to use the Fusion Drive, though.  I want Windows 7 64-bit and OS X 10.8 installed on the 128GB SSD and to use the 3TB hard drive as storage for my music, videos, photos, and documents.


My Questions

1.  I've found a bunch of posts regarding installing Windows on the Fusion Drive, but they all seem to be about putting Windows on the slower 3TB hard drive portion and/or about trying to keep the Fusion setup after installing Windows.  Does anyone have a walk-through for a new Mac user on how to break the Fusion Drive configuration and install Windows 7 and preferably OS X on just the SSD?


2.  I've seen a bunch of posts debating about whether Windows can be installed natively using EFI to bypass the BootCamp limitations.  Is this possible?  The 21.5" version is running EFI version 2.0, so I can only assume the 27" would too, but it's not been added on the Apple website yet (http://support.apple.com/kb/HT1237).  From what I understand, Windows requires at least version 2.0 to run in EFI mode.  Also, if I am able to get this method to work, will I still be able to install the Windows drivers from the OS X installation USB (or do they even come with USB drives anymore?)?


3.  If I have to use BootCamp, I assume I will have to split the 3TB drive into 1TB and 2TB partitions for BootCamp to see it (so Windows can see it).  So I'd have Windows 7 and OS X on the SSD, and two storage partitions on the 3TB HDD that would show up as two drives for my files that both operating systems could access.  Is this assumption correct?


4.  I've seen posts about OS X automatically trying to rebuild the Fusion Drive.  Let's say I'm able to get Windows installed on the SSD.  Will OS X, or future updates to it, ruin my Windows installation?  I would hate to do all this work and then have an Apple update corrupt everything.



I know this is a long post, but I don't want to spend over $3,000 until I can be sure I can make it work for me.  Thanks to anyone who can help!

iMac, Windows 7
  • steve626 Level 4 (1,485 points)

    Unfortunately, I don't think you should proceed with this plan. I don't think you should be buying a Mac if you really only want to run Windows. And trying to intrude on the way the fusion drive utilizes its SSD and traditional HD elements is also likely to cause you trouble later on when your Mac OS or Windows OS upgrades and whatever you have done proves to be incompatible. The fusion drive is handled internally by the Mac OS and I think you'll be asking for problems down the road with this scheme.


    If you want to run Windows, I suggest you research and procure the best Windows machine you can. Doing this on top of the Mac OS adds a layer of complexity that I think will not serve you well in the long term. A lot of that $3000 you'd be paying is for the features of the Mac OS that you'll never be using.

  • Mike Osborn Level 4 (1,205 points)

    It's possible you'll get better responses here, as that's where the Boot Camp gurus hang out:




    Hopefully, they'll be able to answer your question.


    (Unless Linc Davis happens to read this...seems like he's got every operating system known on his Macs).

  • mende1 Level 10 (92,186 points)

    Welcome to the Apple Support Communities


    First, an advice: Boot Camp isn't compatible with 3 TB hard disks and Fusion Drive. For 3 TB hard disks, there's a workaround, but it doesn't work on a 3 TB Fusion Drive, so you won't be able to install Windows until Apple fixes this, so my advice is to wait until Apple launches OS X 10.8.3 or buy the iMac with a 1 or 2 TB hard disk and an external disk.


    1. The SSD is used automatically by OS X to store the applications and data you most use, but Windows can't use it, and there's no workaround for this.


    2. You can try to install Windows 8 in EFI mode, but I don't guarantee that it works. I tried it on my iMac and I started getting BSODs after some startups. Also, Macs don't use UEFI 2.0 (Macs use EFI 1.x), so you can't use Windows 8 advanced features such as Secure Boot. For Windows 7, you can't install it in EFI mode (it requires UEFI 2.0 or later)


    3. Fusion Drive only allows you to have two volumes, and with Boot Camp, you can only have two volumes on your computer: one for OS X and the other one for Windows. That's because Boot Camp emulates a BIOS to make Windows run (although it isn't neccesary in Windows 8, if Apple would want).


    4. First, you can't install Windows on the SSD. Then, OS X shouldn't ruin Windows because each operating system have got its space

  • den.thed Level 7 (25,980 points)

    Personally if I had $3000 to spend and my old PC was outdated?


    I'd put 1000 to $1500 into a serious PC tower for Windows.


    Then look at a base model Mac Mini (under a $1000) or base model iMac (at $1500) to dabble around in OS X with.

  • _z_ Level 1 (0 points)

    Thanks, Mike.  I'll try posting there instead.