Using 3.5" HDD in the Mini w/o firewire or usb

Discussion in 'Macintosh Computers' started by topgunn, Feb 1, 2005.

  1. topgunn macrumors 65816


    Nov 5, 2004
    Ok, so the Mac Mini uses an ATA-6 bus to drive the 2.5" HDD. If you could manage to get a standard 3.5" HDD connected to the 44-pin connector, you greatly increase the speed of the system. There are a ton of adapters out there to go from a 40-pin connection to a 44-pin hard drive but I have yet to find one that goes the other way. I did find this company ( in Australia that makes cables for similiar applications. I have tried to contact them to find out if they do or can use 80-conductor ribbon cable to allow the use of ATA66/100/133 drives to no avail.

    If they make an 80-conductor cable, thats the end of the story. Get that and run your Hitachi 7K250 on your Mini. But, say they only make 40-conductor cables. We would have to change that. What about using a short (3" or so) 40-conductor IDE cable with a 44-pin connector and a 40-pin connector. Obviously the 44-pin connector would be plugged in where the 2.5" drive would typically be seated. On the 40-pin end, use a 40-pin male to male adapter and then use a standard 80-conductor IDE ribbon cable to attach the 3.5" HDD. Aside from an additional few inches, I do not see how this differs greatly from using an adapter similar to what you find to attach 2.5" drives to ATX motherboards.

    I think most everyone would agree that the mini has two major drawbacks. The GPU and the HDD. The former we cant do anything about but believe we can greatly improve the latter. Firewire and USB enclosures will not give you much of a performance boost and defintely not over 100 using Xbench. 7200rpm 2.5" drives are expensive and limited in GB and still cannot come close to the performace of a good 3.5" drive.

    Eventually, what I have in mind is to place the mini's guts in a PC case and mount a 3.5" HDD connected internally via IDE and a Pioneer DVR-109 connected via firewire through an Oxford bridge (unless someone has an adapter to go from 50-pin to 40-pin but that is even more hopeless). For those of you who cringe at the idea of a mac running in a PC tower, I apologize. I am looking for function here and on a budget at that. Give me a poor man's PowerMac.

    Your help is appreciated.

  2. jackieonasses macrumors 6502a


    Mar 3, 2004
    the great OKLAHOMA....
    You said somewhere that a 3.5 is faster than a 2.5 at the same speed. If you go over to some benchmark tests, sometimes rpm's DON'T make that much of a difference. Honestly, what you are trying to do not only voids your warranty, But makes you look silly. RAM is a much more productive add on. And since the speeds are now at 5400 rpm's the difference is marginal. Why don't you just use a firewire 400? If you have this much need for speed, and want to quite possibly ruin your system, By a refurbished G5. It is much more expandable.

  3. topgunn thread starter macrumors 65816


    Nov 5, 2004
    Why do something like this? Because its there. You know that kid who always got in trouble for taking apart his dad's new electric drill to see how it worked and then tried to make it better? That was me.

    I have never had a computer that had a warranty after the first week it was in my hands.

    About the drive speeds, maybe you missed my point. A new 7200rpm 3.5" drive is leaps and bounds faster than ANY 2.5" drive.

    Given, the PowerMac is more expandable but it also costs 300+% more than the Mini. Theoretically, you can connect 4 IDE devices to the Mini given the right adapters. I like to tinker and I am looking for the help/advice/feedback from others who like to as well.
  4. jackieonasses macrumors 6502a


    Mar 3, 2004
    the great OKLAHOMA....
    I was scared you were one of those no-nothing newbies that didn't know what he was talking about. If you know what happens, i say go for it. I was just telling you the difference between hard drives is nominal.
  5. EasyB macrumors member


    Jan 29, 2005
  6. Bear macrumors G3

    Jul 23, 2002
    Sol III - Terra
    Really, have you looked at the 7200 RPM 2.5" drives?

    And if you're really looking for speed, you'd be looking at one of the G5 systems anyway.

    Or are you just trying to hide the fact you bought a Mac by putting it in a PC tower case? :D
  7. dejo Moderator


    Staff Member

    Sep 2, 2004
    The Centennial State
    Why limit yourself to 7200rpm? Go for 10000!
  8. varmit macrumors 68000


    Aug 5, 2003
    So when someone is your family needs surgery, you are going to be the one to read up on it, then try to do it so you can save a buck. Because its public knowledge on how to preform surgery, so do it, because its there.

    You know there is no room in there for anything more. Maybe that is why they went with laptop parts when making it in the first place.

    There is a thin line between genius and stupidity. Make sure you are on the correct side.
  9. CanadaRAM macrumors G5


    Oct 11, 2004
    On the Left Coast - Victoria BC Canada
    I have just finished benchmarking my new Mini 1.25 against my existing G4 DP 1.25.

    The 40 Mb Seagate 5400 RPM drive in the Mini has almost identical elapsed time on a Finder Duplicate of a 1.8 Gb folder (3:32 vs 3:30) compared to a Seagate 7200 RPM 8 Mb cache drive internal in the G4. It also split 2 tests copying Mini-to-FireWire 400 120 Gb Seagate 7200/8Mb and was actually faster than the G4 copying from the FW400 to the Mini.

    Whatever limitations the Mini has, real-world Finder Duplicate hard drive performance is not one of them. The Mini seems a bit faster at Firewire performance than the G4 - a Duplicate on the Firewire drive was 3:06 on the Mini and 3:28 on the G4.

    The other conclusion is that drive performance is severely compromised by reading and writing with the same drive --the drive heads have to continually skip back and forth between reading and writing, interrupting the process each time.
    Copies from IDE to Firewire were more than twice as fast (1:29) as copies between two partitions on the same drive (3:31) and also faster than copies from one drive to another drive (both 7200 RPM 8 Mb) on the same IDE bus (1:44).

    Roughly speaking, the amount of time required to do a disk transfer is appoximately 20% transfferring of data and 80% latency (waiting for the disk to come around to the right place, waiting for the heads to seek the right track).
    If you want performance, use two drives and *put them on different busses*. Put your System and Applications on one drive and your data on the other. Even though Firewire 400 is slower than IDE, the advantage of not pushing the data through the same bus twice more than makes up for it.

    Other benchmark results:
    XBench Disk
    Mini (3 passes) 41.51 56.72 55.26
    G4 88.87
    G4 FireWire400 83.07

    The synthetic benchmarks were variable from pass to pass, and bore little resemblance to the observed finder duplicate performance.

  10. musicpyrite macrumors 68000


    Jan 6, 2004
    Cape Cod
    You could still put in a really nice hard drive, maybe a 7,200 RPM Maxtor hard drive with a 16 MB cache. Benchmarks show that hard drive is comparable to a 10,000 RPM Raptor.

Share This Page