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Old Jul 29, 2011, 08:41 PM   #1
slyseekr
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Confirmed: Adding a 2nd Hard Drive to Non-Server Minis

I went ahead and attempted to add a 500GB 7200RPM WD Scorpio (Black) to the second, unoccupied port on my 2.5Ghz Discreet i5. I'm pleased to report that it is possible to add a second hard drive to your non-server (2011) Mac Minis. Many thanks to saulinpa for pointing out the appropriate part number from the 2010 server model!

For anyone who's familiar with the 2011 mini teardown, this install should only take about 15 minutes, view instructions on the teardown at iFixit, also further notes on an SSD upgrade.

Otherwise, the process was as follows, apologies for the dark photography, I didn't feel like post-processing photos today... (*IMPORTANT* footnotes at the end):

Disclaimer: this upgrade will most-likely void the manufacturer warranty on your mini as going beyond upgrading RAM is not recommended/supported by Apple documentation. Complete this at your own risk. (7/31/11)
  1. I ordered the "Bottom Hard Drive Flex Cable" (part: 922-9560) from macpartsonline.com. They have them for a steep $33 and even steeper $16 shipping charge. Hopefully iFixit or another company will be able to manufacture/reproduce the part for significantly cheaper. Otherwise, shipping was speedy (it made it from LA to NYC in 2 days)


  2. Testing out whether the cable fits, and it does! Then fitting the cable and my SSD into the extra port. It might be a little difficult to make out, but you can see in the second photo that the new cable matches up nicely to the second SATA port.


  3. Adding the new hard drive and snapping in the cables. Nice!!


  4. Started up, and my mini is 500GB healthier!

Important Footnotes: I did make a couple faults, nothing major, and definitely/likely a reflection of my overeagerness and intermediate level of computer knowledge, but definitely for your consideration.
  1. During the teardown, you'll need to slide the motherboard out of the case at least 1/2 inch. The iFixit teardown demonstrates this, though they neglect to mention that you should remove the motherboard mounting screw underneath the fan. I also suggest that you disconnect the power supply cable on the right of motherboard, just behind the RAM slots.
  2. DO NOT SWITCH YOUR ORIGINAL HARD DRIVE TO THE SECOND PORT: I had neglected to buy Hard Drive mounting screws for the new HDD, and figuring that the SSD doesn't require as secure a seating, I decided to transfer the existing mounting screws. Ultimately, this made me believe that the original drive (the SSD with Lion installed) would work perfectly fine in the additional port. WRONG! Booting up after the first upgrade attempt, the mini took about 30 extra seconds searching for the bootable drive, then was excruciatingly slow starting various applications. I tried setting the "Startup Disk" in System Preferences to no avail. So I ended up having to do the upgrade all over, moving the SSD back to the original port. After I did this, the mini was back to its speedy self!
  3. If you decide to seat the original HDD/SSD in the additional SATA port, a fresh Lion re-install will likely be required.
  4. Luckily, the mounting screws on the HDD fit perfectly into the mounting holes for the extra drive. I'll go ahead and get another set of mounting screws soon.
  5. I have a Crucial M4 SSD, which is physically larger than the HDD, which makes for a very tight fit if the SSD is going to be seated in the original port. Be sure to check the drive's cable's connection before you close the mac mini back up!

That's about it for me. This write seriously took 3-4 times as long as the upgrade. Hopefully we'll see more mini owners taking advantage of that second port. Such a money saver and an elegant solution if you have the resourcefulness!

Last edited by slyseekr; Jul 31, 2011 at 03:48 PM.
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Old Jul 29, 2011, 09:52 PM   #2
OTACORB
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Wow this is great info. I upgraded my 500gb 5400 rpm drive with a OWC Mercury Extreme 240gb SSD drive and thought I had accomplished a lot.

It is great that you found out the right cable. I may just put this 500gb 7200 rpm drive I have in as my second one.


Thanks,

OTA
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Old Jul 30, 2011, 10:29 AM   #3
CortexRock
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For anyone in the UK - I've just ordered the same part from www.applemacparts.com (VIS Ltd)... will post back how it goes when my new Mac Mini arrives in a few days.
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Old Jul 30, 2011, 11:16 AM   #4
A.C
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Quote:
Originally Posted by slyseekr View Post
[*] DO NOT SWITCH YOUR ORIGINAL HARD DRIVE TO THE SECOND PORT: I had neglected to buy Hard Drive mounting screws for the new HDD, and figuring that the SSD doesn't require as secure a seating, I decided to transfer the existing mounting screws.
Do you happen to know what size mounting screws Apple uses on the 2011 mini? During the time it takes my new SSD to ship, I figure I can go out & pick up a few.
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Old Jul 30, 2011, 12:24 PM   #5
pdutta2000
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Thanks so much for the post. I just ordered a base to use as a media server. One question I have though is related to the HDD installation. Is there a bracket that the HDDs are attached to? It looks like they just sit on top of each other but I can't figure out how they are stabilized. Thanks.
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Old Jul 30, 2011, 12:56 PM   #6
slyseekr
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pdutta2000 View Post
Thanks so much for the post. I just ordered a base to use as a media server. One question I have though is related to the HDD installation. Is there a bracket that the HDDs are attached to? It looks like they just sit on top of each other but I can't figure out how they are stabilized. Thanks.
Each drive has dedicated mount on the case-side of the drive. The only mounting hardware you'll need are the hard drive mounting screws, and only two are required per drive, for the mount-side.

Otherwise, there isn't another mounting bracket that I'm aware of (it honestly appears that apple is using the SATA cables to keep the drives in place).

You can see the bottom drive's mount in this iFixit photo:



Good luck!
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Old Jul 30, 2011, 02:46 PM   #7
christophermdia
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Does it appear that you could cram 2 x 12.5mm drives in there?or at the very least a 12.5mm and a 9.5mm. I would like to get a 1tb drive for that second bay....
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Old Jul 30, 2011, 02:55 PM   #8
CortexRock
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Originally Posted by christophermdia View Post
Does it appear that you could cram 2 x 12.5mm drives in there?or at the very least a 12.5mm and a 9.5mm. I would like to get a 1tb drive for that second bay....
The pic above suggests 26mm, so 12.5mm x2 should be possible in theory. Sure I read somewhere that there are now 9.5mm 1TB drives though.
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Old Jul 30, 2011, 03:53 PM   #9
jmcgeejr
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Quote:
Originally Posted by slyseekr View Post
I went ahead and attempted to add a 500GB 7200RPM WD Scorpio (Black) to the second, unoccupied port on my 2.5Ghz Discreet i5. I'm pleased to report that it is possible to add a second hard drive to your non-server (2011) Mac Minis. Many thanks to saulinpa for pointing out the appropriate part number from the 2010 server model!

For anyone who's familiar with the 2011 mini teardown, this install should only take about 15 minutes, view instructions on the teardown at iFixit, also further notes on an SSD upgrade.

Otherwise, the process was as follows, apologies for the dark photography, I didn't feel like post-processing photos today... (*IMPORTANT* footnotes at the end):
  1. I ordered the "Bottom Hard Drive Flex Cable" (part: 922-9560) from macpartsonline.com. They have them for a steep $33 and even steeper $16 shipping charge. Hopefully iFixit or another company will be able to manufacture/reproduce the part for significantly cheaper. Otherwise, shipping was speedy (it made it from LA to NYC in 2 days)

    ImageImage
  2. Testing out whether the cable fits, and it does! Then fitting the cable and my SSD into the extra port. It might be a little difficult to make out, but you can see in the second photo that the new cable matches up nicely to the second SATA port.
    Image
    Image
  3. Adding the new hard drive and snapping in the cables. Nice!!
    Image
    Image
  4. Started up, and my mini is 500GB healthier!
    Image

Important Footnotes: I did make a couple faults, nothing major, and definitely/likely a reflection of my overeagerness and intermediate level of computer knowledge, but definitely for your consideration.
  1. During the teardown, you'll need to slide the motherboard out of the case at least 1/2 inch. The iFixit teardown demonstrates this, though they neglect to mention that you should remove the motherboard mounting screw underneath the fan. I also suggest that you disconnect the power supply cable on the right of motherboard, just behind the RAM slots.
  2. DO NOT SWITCH YOUR ORIGINAL HARD DRIVE TO THE SECOND PORT: I had neglected to buy Hard Drive mounting screws for the new HDD, and figuring that the SSD doesn't require as secure a seating, I decided to transfer the existing mounting screws. Ultimately, this made me believe that the original drive (the SSD with Lion installed) would work perfectly fine in the additional port. WRONG! Booting up after the first upgrade attempt, the mini took about 30 extra seconds searching for the bootable drive, then was excruciatingly slow starting various applications. I tried setting the "Startup Disk" in System Preferences to no avail. So I ended up having to do the upgrade all over, moving the SSD back to the original port. After I did this, the mini was back to its speedy self!
  3. If you decide to seat the original HDD/SSD in the additional SATA port, a fresh Lion re-install will likely be required.
  4. Luckily, the mounting screws on the HDD fit perfectly into the mounting holes for the extra drive. I'll go ahead and get another set of mounting screws soon.
  5. I have a Crucial M4 SSD, which is physically larger than the HDD, which makes for a very tight fit if the SSD is going to be seated in the original port. Be sure to check the drive's cable's connection before you close the mac mini back up!

That's about it for me. This write seriously took 3-4 times as long as the upgrade. Hopefully we'll see more mini owners taking advantage of that second port. Such a money saver and an elegant solution if you have the resourcefulness!
So I am thinking about adding in another Crucial C300 SSD and raiding them (0) not (1) will this work on the core i5 model non server with upgraded video it has the second port? Does anyone know?

Last edited by jmcgeejr; Jul 30, 2011 at 04:08 PM.
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Old Jul 30, 2011, 04:22 PM   #10
Vermifuge
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I have a 256 GB Crucial SSD i picked up and i just ordered the cable. any idea what screws i'll need to mount the drive?
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Old Jul 30, 2011, 04:23 PM   #11
jmcgeejr
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Originally Posted by Vermifuge View Post
I have a 256 GB Crucial SSD i picked up and i just ordered the cable. any idea what screws i'll need to mount the drive?
After reading this iam going to go with just using 2 on the bottom drive and letting the top one sit on top of it.
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Old Jul 31, 2011, 01:40 AM   #12
RUSTYC
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I just did this too with a 120GB SSD. The screws are M3x4 socket head cap machine screws.

The SSD sits loosely in the bottom bay. The screws just keep the drive from falling out of the plastic carrier. So I think any M3x4 flat head screws would work.

I used small pieces of mounting tape on the top and bottom corners of the SSD to keep it from moving around.

My system is running from the SSD with the original drive used for media files.

Took 3 days to get the cable from mac parts.
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Old Jul 31, 2011, 01:55 AM   #13
Vermifuge
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Originally Posted by RUSTYC View Post
I just did this too with a 120GB SSD. The screws are M3x4 socket head cap machine screws.

The SSD sits loosely in the bottom bay. The screws just keep the drive from falling out of the plastic carrier. So I think any M3x4 flat head screws would work.

I used small pieces of mounting tape on the top and bottom corners of the SSD to keep it from moving around.

My system is running from the SSD with the original drive used for media files.

Took 3 days to get the cable from mac parts.
thanks for the tips. sounds like a fun project to tackle next weekend.
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Old Jul 31, 2011, 02:28 AM   #14
OTACORB
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Good to hear that they ship these things so quickly. I ordered one last night soon after I posted my reply. Should be a sweet setup having 2 hard drives in my mini. My external CD/DVD reader/writer is working great too.

I hope to read how some of you others made out in the coming days when you get your cable and start adding these 2nd drives.
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Old Jul 31, 2011, 09:59 AM   #15
JimDut
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12 days wait for mine for the UK link posted above (thanks for that CortexRock )

I can't justify a 250+ for an SSD at the moment, so my unused 500gb 7200 MackbookPro HDD will be installed as the second drive.

Has anyone got any recommendations of a good UK online retail place for SSD's? Ideally the SATA lll ones?

Regards

Jim
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Old Jul 31, 2011, 10:12 AM   #16
kteboyle
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Originally Posted by CortexRock View Post
The pic above suggests 26mm, so 12.5mm x2 should be possible in theory. Sure I read somewhere that there are now 9.5mm 1TB drives though.
Can anyone confirm the size of the primary harddrive? Does it need to be 9.5mm or can it be 12.5 mm

It sounds like the location of the primary and secondary drive also matters.

I'm hoping I can get a little help here with a phased upgrade

I would like to put in a larger harddrive than the standard 500GB primary drive. I'd prefer the put in a 1TB drive now, and move that to the secondary drive next year when I'll put in a SSD as the primary.

Do I need to worry about height of each of these drives as I plan for the future? I wasn't even aware of this dimensional restriction until this thread.

Thanks for your help
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Old Jul 31, 2011, 10:41 AM   #17
Mr.C
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I'd love to add an SSD to my i7 dual core Mini and I have no problem buying one online or in local retail. That said when it comes to upgrading or installing I'm very hesitant as I have no experience in the area and even with step by step instructions I don't feel comfortable doing it myself. I might try to see if there is a local Mac retailer who will do it for a reasonable charge.
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Old Jul 31, 2011, 01:50 PM   #18
self
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I'm debating whether to attempt this or just buy the BTO. Some dumb questions...

If I choose the Samsung 470 SSD, hopefully I won't need to need to move the logic board to install, only the fan and grill?

Does it matter whether I stick the SSD on the bottom and the stock ATA drive on top, or vice-versa?

After I use the internet recovery to install Lion on the SSD, should I keep everything installed on the stock ATA in case I need to return the machine to Apple? I assume this procedure doesn't void the warranty or AppleCare?

I'd only save about $99 over the BTO?

Samsung 470 256GB- $420
iFixit Security Bit Set - $32
Bottom Hard Drive Flex Cable - $49
Total - $501 versus $600 for the BTO.
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Old Jul 31, 2011, 02:22 PM   #19
Mr.C
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Originally Posted by self View Post
I'm debating whether to attempt this or just buy the BTO. Some dumb questions...

If I choose the Samsung 470 SSD, hopefully I won't need to need to move the logic board to install, only the fan and grill?

Does it matter whether I stick the SSD on the bottom and the stock ATA drive on top, or vice-versa?

After I use the internet recovery to install Lion on the SSD, should I keep everything installed on the stock ATA in case I need to return the machine to Apple? I assume this procedure doesn't void the warranty or AppleCare?

I'd only save about $99 over the BTO?

Samsung 470 256GB- $420
iFixit Security Bit Set - $32
Bottom Hard Drive Flex Cable - $49
Total - $501 versus $600 for the BTO.
Bear in mind the SSD that Apple provides in their BTO systems is a SATA II which is 3GB/s. I don't know what the Samsung is that you're referring to but if it's a SATA III then it will run at 6GB/s. The Mac Mini does support SATA III drives so obviously Apple is cutting costs by including a SATA II SSD but still charging more for it then if bought after the fact and user installed. The fact that the included SSD is SATA II what put me off more then the extra cost.
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Old Jul 31, 2011, 03:13 PM   #20
jmcgeejr
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Bear in mind the SSD that Apple provides in their BTO systems is a SATA II which is 3GB/s. I don't know what the Samsung is that you're referring to but if it's a SATA III then it will run at 6GB/s. The Mac Mini does support SATA III drives so obviously Apple is cutting costs by including a SATA II SSD but still charging more for it then if bought after the fact and user installed. The fact that the included SSD is SATA II what put me off more then the extra cost.
Not only added costs but look at the performance numbers from the stock apple ssd vs others you can get for less money. I went with the Crucial C300 which is 480 at newegg.
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Old Jul 31, 2011, 03:32 PM   #21
Mr.C
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Will any SATA III SSD work in the new Mini ? Is it just a question of just choosing the size and brand you want ? I'm thinking about going with a 256MB SSD.
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Old Jul 31, 2011, 03:43 PM   #22
slyseekr
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I assume this procedure doesn't void the warranty or AppleCare?
I probably should put a disclaimer that going beyond upgrading the RAM in your mini will likely void your warranty.

This is a complete-at-your-own-risk procedure.
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Old Jul 31, 2011, 04:02 PM   #23
JimDut
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So much for not justifying buying a SSD... I've just purchased:

OCZ Agility 3 240GB 2.5" SATA-3 Solid State Hard Drive (AGT3-25SAT3-240G)

for 325 from Overclockers.co.uk.

So now looking forward to getting the cable and having a play!

Jim

Last edited by JimDut; Aug 1, 2011 at 03:39 AM.
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Old Jul 31, 2011, 04:15 PM   #24
gigaguy
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I probably should put a disclaimer that going beyond upgrading the RAM in your mini will likely void your warranty.

This is a complete-at-your-own-risk procedure.
Key word here is 'likely'. this is not proven. I'm pretty sure Apple has been lenient on owner installed hard drive upgrades on previous Minis. I do not think there is substantial proof otherwise. I can see if they try to prove that your hard drive fried your motherboard. But since Apple is offering dual large, faster drives themselves they can't say the Mini can't handle drive upgrades. I guess you take your chances tho with Apple. hmm.
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Old Jul 31, 2011, 04:32 PM   #25
slyseekr
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Key word here is 'likely'. this is not proven. I'm pretty sure Apple has been lenient on owner installed hard drive upgrades on previous Minis. I do not think there is substantial proof otherwise. I can see if they try to prove that your hard drive fried your motherboard. But since Apple is offering dual large, faster drives themselves they can't say the Mini can't handle drive upgrades. I guess you take your chances tho with Apple. hmm.
Voiding is definitely the "default" state, but of course the Geniuses behind the counter generally have some degree to exercise their own discretion. I (and my friends) have had my own measure of luck when meeting with them over various issues in the past.
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