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New Mac mini + upgrades

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by samh004, Mar 8, 2007.

  1. macrumors 68020


    Recently my Powerbook's logic board died, crashed, whatever... it doesn't work anymore and I was quoted a rather large sum of money to replace it, at the same speed of a G4 at 1GHz. That didn't seem worth it to me.

    I was intending to hold off on replacing it till the end of this year as speed really wasn't an issue with it, it worked very well. However now it doesn't at all. I had my eye on a penryn-based system, probably a MBP... and I still do, I just decided I need an interim computer to hold me over, and I don't necessarily need a laptop right now, so a Mac mini looks to be the best bet, from a cost point of view.

    I had worried that 1.66GHz was kinda crap, being the lowest clock frequency currently offered, but I have heard it is more the adequate for what I need (basic stuff, no gaming, e-mail's, web browsing, word and pages documents, music, photos etc...).

    I know it's a bad time to buy seeing as updated are rumoured to be just around the corner, but due to my files not being readily accessible to me right now, I need a computer fast. This windows computer that is owned by my mum is alright, and I may consider running windows on my Mac mini, but I want to be back on a mac, with all my files and what not.

    So I have a few questions for everyone, this isn't just a rant, hehe.

    I figure I'd want to upgrade the default offering of RAM as RAM is always good and I was used to 1GB in my PB. However I am trying to spend as little as I can. I want to upgrade the machine myself, I think I am fairly competent and have seen movies and how-to's online. I read a review that said having both RAM chips the same size only gives about a 4% speed-up, so can I install a 1GB chip and a 256MB chip ? I had heard somewhere that they had to both be the same but I don't know now. That's the first thing.

    Secondly I want to upgrade the HDD. I had thought of transplanting my HDD from my PB, but have decided not to for whatever reason. Like the RAM, I think I can get a HDD cheaper if I buy it myself, so the question is, if I buy a new HDD and install it in the chasis, when I turn on my mac, what happens, as it's a blank drive ? Can I insert my Tiger disk and it'll install the system for me just like that ?

    The optical drive doesn't worry me so I wont bother doing anything with that, every thing else should be sweet.

    If anyone can help me out with those queries and offer some insight, advice, etc... I'd be really grateful. Thanks.
  2. JAT
    macrumors 603

    It's plenty fast for all that. RAM is what you need the most these days. And I would recommend an external hard drive like the MiniStack if you are going to bump it up, instead of throwing money at a laptop drive that isn't much bigger.

    Updates are always right around the corner, people really need to get over that. The only thing that I would worry about waiting for at this particular time is Leopard.
  3. macrumors 68020


    I bought Panther and I bought Tiger, buying Leopard when it is finally released isn't a problem to me, no problems there. I wont be able to wait until Leopard is shipping, even if they announce a shipping time tomorrow, it wont be soon enough.

    I have an external drive already so I was going to connect it up and probably get another in time, but I'd rather use an external as a backup.. if I didn't then I'd have to get another external for backing-up.

    So I am still left wondering if different sized RAM will work together until I can afford dual 1GB sticks ?
  4. JAT
    macrumors 603

    The ram should be fine mismatched. My wife's Macbook runs just fine this way.

    My external Firewire drive is actually faster than the internal drive in the Mini. So it is my startup drive.
  5. macrumors 68020


    So you have loaded OS X on the external drive, or just placed the user folders there?

    If you use the external drive to boot-up, what do you use the internal drive for?

    I assume this is done with FW or will USB work fine too?

    I am thinking of buying in the next few days, probably.
  6. jsw
    Moderator emeritus


    The mini I bought last spring is now the low-end one, and I love it for casual use. I would definitely upgrade the RAM, but a GB is fine, and so I wonder if ordering it with the GB might not be a bad idea. If you're buying locally, the RAM upgrade is OK but, from what I've read, non-trivial. Matching pairs are not needed, as noted by you and others.

    It will be more than adequate for any of the uses you mentioned. I think it's a great little system.
  7. macrumors 68020


    Thanks for the input. I'm almost completely over the issue of buying it now (as oppose to waiting a while for an upgrade).

    To avoid the hassles I may just let Apple upgrade the RAM, tinkering around can be done at a later date I suppose.

    The only issue I am having now which is completely different, will be how I transfer my files over to the mac, as target disk mode wont work with a dead logic board lol. I'm thinking I'll have to remove the drive and get a case for it, to get at the files. Oh well.
  8. JAT
    macrumors 603

    Always Firewire for the external vs USB. Esp when it is to be the boot drive. And for me OSX is on the external and is my main boot drive.

    The internal drive is for Boot Camp's XP install since getting XP to use a Firewire boot disk is painful. The internal also has Tiger on its Mac partition. I use that occasionally for testing so I don't have to use my main drive. And for quick backups of data. Frankly, it doesn't get used much. Laptop drives are just plain slow.

    When I run out of space on my 400GB, I'll probably just add another MiniStack with 400-500GB to be the media drive.
  9. macrumors newbie

  10. macrumors 68020


    I have removed my HDD from my PB and placed it in a case to use for now, a 3.5" drive can be used later on when I have more money to throw around.

    Would I need to do a re-install of OS X on my 'now-external PB drive' as the install on that was originally meant for a laptop (PPC) and not a desktop (Intel) ?

    I presume when I get my mini I can just use the disc that comes with it to install the latest (or near latest) version of Tiger, using 'archive and install' as the method, which will make the OS a bit more aware of the new machine. I just assume that what was once a laptop-install will be different to a desktop-install and I'd need to re-install it for best performance.

    Is that correct ?
  11. macrumors 68020


    Well I am posting this entry on my new Mac mini and I am glad I bought it at last. It's a great little system and I am sure I am going to enjoy the ups and downs.

    Unfortunately the system wouldn't recognize my previous HDD with all my stuff on it so I couldn't set it as a startup drive. I also tried installing a fresh copy of OS X onto it, but still no luck there, wouldn't let me. This is a problem for me as the internal drive is much too small for my current needs. I have 35GB of music alone.

    So I have copied of some essential files, like e-mail accounts and synced my bookmarks back through .Mac, and have told iPhoto and iTunes where to go for my files, so that's sweet, but not the best setup.

    I am probably going to have to get a bigger drive, external seems the most likely as it'll last longer and all that jazz. Unfortunately I am going to have to wait a little bit, as I was trying to save for other things when this little crisis all came around.

    But I am happy to say I'm back on mac. Does anyone else notice bad airport reception in the mini, it keeps dropping out for me, especially when I put some load on it, but then that could just be out old-wireless-router. (I am in HK in a 2-storey house, with a very thick slab of concrete between me and the first floor, so reception has always been a bit hit and miss).

    Just wondering if anyone has advice on what to go for in an external boot solution. Do any options include extra ports, as if I use firewire on any current system I have seen, there wont be a spare port for my iSight or anything like that.

    Thanks for all the help.
  12. macrumors regular

  13. macrumors 6502


    You can put a 1 GB stick of RAM and a 256 MB stick of RAM in, the machine will recognize all 1.25 GB. The only benefit of having matched sticks is that the RAM will operate faster.

    If you have an external enclosure with 2 firewire ports, you can chain firewire devices together, so you would plug your external into the mini's firewire port, and then plug the iSight into the external's second firewire port.

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