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.
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.
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