OWC Data Doubler (Mac Mini 2011/2012) install tips

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by moral-hazard, Jan 22, 2013.

  1. moral-hazard, Jan 22, 2013
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2013

    macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2009
    Location:
    Palo Alto, CA
    #1
    Just went through the install for the OWC Data doubler in my 2012 Mac Mini. I installed an OWC Extreme 6G 120GB SSD as well as a WD Scorpio Black 7200RPM hard drive, ditching the stock drive entirely. Thought I'd post up some tips from the experience...

    Tips:
    1. It doesn't hurt to have your own Hex bit set. OWC skimped a bit by providing a torx screwdriver and telling you to use it carefully to get some of the hex screws out. I wouldn't recommend this as you might strip the screws.
      EDIT: A few members here reported that the included Torx should be sufficient. If I recall, none of the screws were too tight I might have been over-cautious in recommending using your own hex driver. I still prefer using the correct tool if you have it, but from what others have said you should be fine either way :)
    2. Make sure the motherboard tool is all the way in when pushing the board out. This part seemed a bit scary. I used the OWC provided tool and it felt like the motherboard was stuck and not going to come out. I slowed down and re-watched the video and they mentioned that you should insure the motherboard pry tool all the way until it touches the case on the other side. Doing this seemed to help. It's also normal to feel like you are pushing pretty hard to get the board out, because the black plastic on the back of the case requires a bit of force before it pops out. I'd say this was the only step that was not as easy as it seemed in the video.
    3. Bluetooth shielding. If you end up with a piece of random shielding about 1" square (see pictures), it's probably the bluetooth shielding. This is the shielding you fold up to unplug the airport cable at the beginning, and it's very poorly attached to the bluetooth module on the motherboard. It's prone to falling off easily, so I re-inserted it at the end after re-attaching the airport cable.
    4. Replace the stock hard disk while you're in there. If you're thinking of adding an SSD with the doubler and then upgrading the stock hard disk later on (after the procedure), do yourself a favor and do the disk upgrade along with the SSD install. Tearing open the mini and popping out the motherboard is not something I'd want to do again. In my case the stock HDD was a 500GB 5400RPM Hitachi that was rather clunky/noisy and not performant. I dropped in a WD Scorpio Black 750GB disk and am much happier with it.
    5. Do *not* let Disk Utility try to repair your disks if you are on Mountain Lion (unless you want it to make a Fusion drive). What it means by "repair your disks" is "attempt to create a fusion drive and possibly get stuck and fail and make a big mess". In my case Disk Utility (accessible via internet recovery) informed me that there was a 'problem' with my drives and displayed them in red. It asked to repair the disks and I said yes thinking that it would just format them. To re-iterate -- Saying yes when prompted will turn your disks into a fusion drive (or in my case, try to make a fusion drive and just sort of get stuck with a progress bar that isn't moving). If this happens to you and you want to undo it, try this procedure: http://www.macworld.com/article/2015664/how-to-split-up-a-fusion-drive.html.
    6. Use the command line to reformat your disks if Mountain Lion's Disk Utility is being a pain. From what I found, there is actually no way to format your two disks as separate disks in the Disk Utility UI. It will always try to turn them into a fusion drive However, you can open a terminal in internet recovery and use the 'diskutil' command. The "diskutil list", "diskutil erase", and "diskutil eraseVolume" commands helped me get my situation sorted out.

    Overall thoughts: this is a bit challenging, but I would definitely recommend it if you are considering it. The end result is great, and this looks/feels like a professional solution rather than a hacky DIY job. The tools provided are sufficient to do the job. It may take you about an hour to complete, but if you take your time it's definitely doable.

    Overall things are looking good!

    [​IMG]

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  2. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2009
    #2
    Thanks for the Post! I was thinking about doing this. What made you want to use the 2 different drives instead of a fusion drive? besides the part of, if one drive fails then you lose your data. I am thinking of picking up one of the newer SSD 6G probably from OWC, I usually use their drives. Have had one for about 2 years now no problems. Whats the performance like? I see you have a MacBook air I also have a MBA 13" and love the speed, is the mini with the new drive comparable?
     
  3. macrumors member

    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2010
    #3
    Thanks for the tips. I'm awaiting my OWC DD kit from US to be delivered and will do SSD install. Assembled many PCs and servers for many years but never tried apple hardware before, so a little bit worried...those stories about broken FAN connector and IR are all around :)
     
  4. macrumors 6502a

    tmanto02

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2011
    Location:
    Earth
    #4
    My tip - when putting your mini back together make sure you follow the disassembly instructions in reverse rather than continuing to follow the reassembly instructions. I ended up with 2 extra screws cause owc forgot to print a step. However that was about a year ago so I'm sure they would have changed the printed instructions by now
     
  5. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2004
    Location:
    Finland
    #5
    maybe not

    Replace the stock hard disk while you're in there. If you're thinking of adding an SSD with the doubler and then upgrading the stock hard disk later on (after the procedure), do yourself a favor and do the disk upgrade along with the SSD install. Tearing open the mini and popping out the motherboard is not something I'd want to do again. In my case the stock HDD was a 500GB 5400RPM Hitachi that was rather clunky/noisy and not performant. I dropped in a WD Scorpio Black 750GB disk and am much happier with it.​

    If you leave the stock drive in its original position, its not a big deal to replace it later. You don't have to pop out the mobo to replace it. I've been happy with stock Hitachi 1TB + OWC mercury electra 120 SSD.

    Do *not* let Disk Utility try to repair your disks if you are on Mountain Lion. What it means by "repair your disks" is "attempt to create a fusion drive and possibly get stuck and fail and make a big mess". In my case I replaced both disks, so there was no OS on the machine whatsoever. Disk utility (accessible via internet recovery) informed me that there was a 'problem' with my drives and displayed them in red. It asked to repair the disks and I said yes. To reiterate - THIS IS A BAD IDEA. If disk utility does try to make a fusion drive, you can undo this by using this procedure: http://www.macworld.com/article/2015...ion-drive.html.​

    I let Disk Utility repair my disks with ML because I wanted to create a fusion drive the easy way. Same as OP, my stock drive and OWC drive were reformatted so I had nothing to lose when disk utility created the fusion drive.
     
  6. macrumors 603

    philipma1957

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2010
    #6
    To the op nice photos and

    I want to thank you for the thread posting.

    I do disagree with no fusion drive.
    I also understand why you may not want a fusion drive.
    Fusion or no Fusion is a personal choice.


    Here is my take on adding the second drive.

    You are risking your warranty so make it worth your while!


    By worth your while I mean the bigger the better.


    Just try to get the best and biggest ssd that you can get.

    I won't do it with a small ssd ie under 256gb/250gb.
     
  7. thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2009
    Location:
    Palo Alto, CA
    #7
    My apologies for saying not to use fusion -- I meant to warn people of the behavior of Disk Utility which assumes that you want a Fusion drive (which is rather unfortunate in the case that you don't). I did not mean to say that those who actually wanted one were wrong. Sorry if it came off that way.

    I chose not to build a fusion drive for the same reason I don't drive a Prius. From an engineering standpoint I feel that any case where you build a hybrid solution, you end up with something that is more fragile, more difficult to maintain, and is generally watered-down.

    In the case of fusion drives, a few specific concerns:
    • fusion is a software-based solution. Software contains bugs, and this adds another potential layer for problems on top of a piece of the computer system that is already likely to fail. Software-based disk configurations are always a no in my mind.
    • Chance of failure increases significantly. I prefer not to combine disks into an array of any kind unless that array provides redundancy and makes it more reliable.
    • Performance is not as good. Hybrid disk solutions lag behind traditional SSD's.
    • It's far less flexible. What if I want to pull my storage drive and move it to another machine? Can't do it with fusion.
    • It's harder to reinstall OSX. I reinstall frequently because OSX gets slow after a year of user or so. With the fusion drive I'd have to back up ~1TB of data and then reformat the entire disk and move everything back in to place. Without it, I can just wipe out my SSD without backing anything up -- everything important is on the data disk.

    In general, I understand that some people may prefer the Fusion drive and having everything on one disk, but personally I think it's a recipe for disaster :)
     
  8. thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2009
    Location:
    Palo Alto, CA
    #8
    The places where the SSD makes a difference are compiling large software applications, booting up the OS, and launching programs. Unless you are installing a ton of huge programs/games smaller SSD's are generally sufficient if you keep your music/media on a separate disk.

    For what it's worth, I have six machines total between work and home:
    i7 desktop with a 120GB Vertex2 SSD
    i7 desktop with a 120GB Intel SSD
    i7 dekstop with a 120GB Intel SSD
    i7 15" MBP with a 120GB Intel SSD
    i5 mini with 120GB OWC SSD
    i5 air with 64GB Apple SSD

    The only one to even get to halfway full is the air.

    ----------

    Yep, it's quite similar :) The mini felt very slow without the SSD, but is much faster with the SSD replacement. According to benchmarks the OWC SSD in the mini is actually faster than the Apple SSD in the air, but I can't really tell the difference to be honest. It boots up seriously fast though!
     
  9. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2009
    #9
    Thanks for the replies. All this info is very interesting. If I install a SSD into my Mini I will probably go with the same method and setup for better protection. Thank you!
     
  10. thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2009
    Location:
    Palo Alto, CA
    #10
    No problem :) Whether or not you go with a fusion drive, it's good to have an external disk and set up time machine to make backups of your machine. I also back up all of my important data (iTunes music collection, work/projects) to my media server to have an extra backup :)
     
  11. macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2012
    #11
    I'm going to be putting in extra HDs in my 2011 minis. As far as 1TB HDs go, what's cheap and reliable? I feel like a 1Tb 5400rpm HD is selling for $90 now but they were selling for much less recently.

    Am I clueless?
     
  12. philipma1957, Feb 4, 2013
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2013

    macrumors 603

    philipma1957

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2010
    #12
    hitachi has a 7200 rpm



    http://www.jr.com/hgst/pe/HIT_0S03563/ link with discover card for a 5% discount




    FOUND IT FOR 80!

    http://www.rakuten.com/prod/hitachi...2-5-internal-hard-drive-retail/245458730.html


    THIS IS BUY.COM use code rakuten 5x for bonus points and link with the discovercard.
     

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  13. thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2009
    Location:
    Palo Alto, CA
    #13
    I would not recommend Hitachi drives. I prefer WD. I have the following WD drives:
    • 3 x WD Caviar Green 2TB
    • 2 x WD Caviar Black 1TB
    • 2 x WD Scorpio Blue 320GB
    • 1 x WD Scorpio Blue 500GB
    • 1 x WD Scorpio Black 750GB
    • 1 x WD Scorpio Blue 1TB (link below)

    All are great -- have never had any of them die on me. Link to the 1tb is below. Just bought it as well as the 750GB black pictured in my install pictures. I am very happy with both. B&H is a great retailer.

    $79 free shipping -- this is a 5400rpm but makes a great storage disk.
    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produ..._WDBABC0010BNC_NRSN_1TB_Scorpio_Blue_2_5.html
     
  14. macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2012
    #14
    If you order online from bhpohoto, do you get stuck paying for nyc sales tax?
     
  15. macrumors 603

    philipma1957

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2010
    #15
    I have used all the big companies.

    Seagate had the first 7200 rpm 500gb 2.5 inch drive back around 2008-2009 it was terrible. I had 8 fail out of 14. the thread on seagates forum was a few hundreds pages long and was shut down due to threats and cursing against them. That said this was the only 2.5 inch drive from any company since 2007 that was a real bust. To be fair they replaced every one of the failed drives. Hitachi has had some bad drives. (deathstar was a nickname) So has Western Digital. Right now I have more then a dozen western digital in use. Along with 3 or 4 Hitachi (Hgst)


    Omnius

    If you order online from bhpohoto, do you get stuck paying for nyc sales tax? only if you order in New York
     
  16. macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2012
    #16
    I installed a 256gb SSD in my 5,2 mini. The installation was a total success. Everything appears to have gone smoothly and as far as I can tell, everything is correctly functioning.

    I would note that despite having worked inside the older 2007 and 2009 minis, this was exponentially more difficult. I thoroughly understand why people pay the premium to have someone else perform this installation now.

    The OWC kit comes with a booklet that shows you how to do it but I would serious urge people to watch the online video before hand. The booklet doesn't show exactly how to approach some of the delicate removals and nothing beats seeing it done.

    Also, have a couple hours free. It won't take the entire time, but you really want to be able to take your time and do this right. It's delicate, difficult and not something you want to have to repeat.

    I would note one point of disagreement. I never at any time felt like the screws/screwdriver might strip on the hex screws. I can't imagine trying to force the screw in so tight that such damage would be done.
     
  17. macrumors 6502

    jwjsr

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    Fairhope, Alabama
  18. thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2009
    Location:
    Palo Alto, CA
    #18
    Only if you live in New York. You only ever have to pay sales tax for online purchases at the time of sale if they have a physical location in the same state as you. Otherwise, you're supposed to handle paying the tax on your year end return (there is some kind of estimated amount calculation AFAIK)
     
  19. macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2012
    #19
    use taxes vary by rules and applications. I was just curious if bhphoto applied it on the sale automatically. nyc laws and regulations are rather onerous even by comparison with the rest of NY.
     
  20. macrumors 68040

    Giuly

    #20
    I'm with OWC on this one, the T8 fits the hex screws perfectly and doesn't strip anything.
     
  21. thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2009
    Location:
    Palo Alto, CA
    #21
    I believe they actually mentioned to be careful with using the torx drivers for this reason in their instructional video (I used the older version of the video, not sure the new one mentions it). However, it sounds like you guys haven't run into issues, so presumably they were just being over-cautious as I was. Edited my post to mention that this might not be a big deal, thanks for following up.
     
  22. macrumors 68000

    xlii

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2006
    Location:
    Millis, Massachusetts
    #22
    I used the OWC tools can came with the cable to fusion my 2012 mac mini and there was one torx screw that was real tight (you know that there is always going to be one). The T8 that came with the OWC kit had too much play to it and I was afraid that I would strip that screw. I also had a kobalt driver set and the kobalt T8 fit much tighter and I was able to provide the torque to loosen that screw.

    The other gotcha was the ir sensor cable (the one they tell you to pry up by the wires and not the plastic part). The video shows them using the plastic pry bar... well there was no way it was going to fit on my machine. I ended up using one of my dental picks to pry the connector up by the wires.

    There is a little plastic cowling that the video shows you sliding right out after you remove the screw that holds it in place. Well mine wasn't sliding out. I finally got it out but I had to carefully tug, wiggle, lift, pull, push, before it came out for me. One of those what-the-? moments.

    The metal clip that holds in the power supply... I should have paid more attention to how it was installed before I pulled it out. I did get it put back in place correctly but I had to fiddle with it.

    That last metal piece with the holes in it... went back in a lot harder than it came out. Just when you think you are past all the hard scary parts. That curved edge fits into the groove... finally said the right things and it went in flush.
     
  23. macrumors member

    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2012
    Location:
    Houston, TX
    #23
    I did my upgrade earlier in February, posted about it here: http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1539525

    My observations.

    1) The OWC kit suffices with the tools they give you. The two torx drivers were enough/worked fine for me.
    2) I gently used the MB separation tool (metal U that looks like car stereo removal tool). I was unsure how much force, so first a bit, then a bit more, gently increasing force. Also just attempting to pivot out about a half inch. It kind of moved/jerked, so I gently worked it out more.
    3) I did as M-H suggested and upgraded to a WD Black 750G 7500 RPM drive.
    4) I didnt bother with Fusion either. Happy enough at 7500 rpm for what will be slower than SSD. Leaving SSD for OS and working files/desktop/MKVMake/Handbrake.

    If I could have found a Fast Samsung Spinpoint in 2.5 inch I would have considered that also, but didnt see one at NewEgg when I ordered. I have had one in my Windows7 box since I built it (2010), and have been happy with it. Otherwise I go with WD first, and Seagate second. I wouldnt use Maxtor if you paid me.

    ----------

    That sounds like the fan cowling. Yeah, on my mid 2011, it doesnt just slide out either, I had to do some extra twist/rotating for it.
     
  24. MJL, Feb 28, 2013
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2013

    MJL
    macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2011
    #24
    I just did an upgrade yesterday.

    Observations:
    1) the rubber grommets are too large in thickness. Used a multitool with knife blade to trim them.
    2) the wrong screws supplied (countersunk) - that's not how you do it. The proper way is to use the same square heads as used on the original drive.

    I was lucky - a year ago I picked up a newly pulled Toshiba from an Macbook and the guy left the screws in, :D but I did not need them at the time (replacing a HDD in a server) and carefully saved them.

    Getting the second drive back in properly: use two long 3mm screws and temporary put them in the holes where the drive is fastened through the grille - it makes getting the drive positioned a lot easier.

    As often is the case the antenna grille did not want to slide in properly so with carefully lifting the grille one hole at a time around the edge where it meets the housing and suddenly it slid in.

    On another note: the wires from the power supply to the logic board often sit between the power supply and the drive however there is lot of space under the power supply for the cable, you just have to rebend the last bit to the logic board - makes it a lot easier to get the second drive in. (when a logic board in my server was replaced the Apple engineer did just that and I had a "Ahh Ha, right!" moment).
     
  25. macrumors member

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2011
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    #25
    Great guide.

    I found the video on owc's website great and didn't even use the printed manual. I just watched, paused, did, repeat until I was done.

    It took a couple of minutes to get the original drive in those two holes, but figured out if I just help the case upside down and at an angle, they slid right in.
     

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