Adding external SSD to 2012mini

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by roadkill401, Aug 3, 2015.

  1. roadkill401 macrumors 6502


    Jan 11, 2015
    I have a 2012 mini that I find brutally slow now that I have an iMac 5K.

    I had only 4g of ram and tried to upgrade the unit for Yosemite, and it didn't like it. The mac would lock up on wakeup and things would beachball lock up. So I found a way to go back to Maverick by doing an internet recovery.

    Sadly that didn't go as well as planned. I lost the recovery partition on the mac, and things are not running as fast as they were. I have upgraded the machine to 16gb ram now but it still seems sluggish. I was thinking that for $150 I could get a 256gb SSD and a USB3 case. (or for $45 more get a 512gb SSD)

    Is there any down side to effectively wipe the internal drive and just go external with an SSD?
  2. SpinalTap macrumors regular


    Sep 25, 2003
    Bournville, UK
    I have a 2012 MM. Like you, maxing-out the RAM didn't improve its performance. Adding an SSD did - significantly. Read-write speed typically increased from 50MBs to 500MBs.

    I suggest these alternatives...

    1. Run OS X on a 128GB SSD from an external USB 3.0 caddy - such as the IcyBox IB-254U3 (with UASP). Treat this as your boot-up drive.

    2. An elegant addition to your MM is to buy a NewerTech miniStackMax, and fit the SSD in there as your boot-up drive. The added benefit is that you have an integral DVD/BD read/write drive (your choice) and front SD slot.
  3. Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009

    I've been booting and running my late 2012 Mini from an external SSD in a USB3 enclosure for 2 1/2 years now, and it continues to run fast and smoothly.

    I would suggest that you consider doing so as well.
    Converting to "an external booter" is as "quick 'n' easy" as it gets.

    Some advice which you should not ignore:

    1. You absolutely need a USB3 external enclosure or dock that is specifically stated to support "UASP" (USB attached SCSI protocol). Without this, the enclosure cannot deliver the full 5gbps speed of which USB3 is capable. UASP also is designed to "take the load off" the CPU, which could be a problem with earlier versions of USB.

    Here's an enclosure that has worked well for me:

    2. Don't overspend on the SSD drive. You will get excellent performance from just about all of them.
    I would recommend a Crucial or Intel brand, I've had great performance from either.
    If you shop carefully, you should be able to find something in the 240gb size in the $100 range.

    3. I'd suggest doing a clean install with Yosemite. Then, you can go in two directions:
    a. At the appropriate time at the conclusion of the install, you will be offered the opportunity to connect to your existing drive from which to "migrate" your accounts, apps, data, and settings. You can do this, or....
    b. Skip that step. Instead, create a NEW, temporary account on the SSD (you could call it "administrator" with an easy password). Next, use software update to get the system stuff up to the latest release.
    At this point, you can now use Migration Assistant if you wish to "bring things over".

    Either way should work, it's your choice.

    You WON'T REGRET moving to an SSD.

    Final thought about memory:
    My Mini came with 4gb of RAM (2gb DIMM in each slot).
    I added ONE 8gb DIMM, replacing the "uppermost" DIMM (when you take the bottom plate off).
    This gives me 10gb total. Some folks will tell you that DIMMs of different size may "slow down" memory response slightly. I accept that as being true, but in my experience the Mini seems as fast as it ever was....
  4. Crosscreek macrumors 68030


    Nov 19, 2013

    I do the same thing with a Crucial 500 GB SSD. Been doing it 3 years and use the internal HD as Time Machine BU.
  5. BigMcGuire Contributor


    Jan 10, 2012
    I use a 500GB Samsung EVO 850 ($160) on Amazon with the Anker external 2.5' enclosure for my Late 2014 Mac Mini. Been using it for a few weeks now - no problems. Absolutely loving it. Couldn't imagine running this on a 5400rpm drive.

    I used a 32GB thumb drive as a bootable Yosemite installer and when I opened up my Mac Mini in the mail - I already had the SSD ready to go. Booted up the Mini, changed the boot drive to the thumb drive, less than 20 mins later I was running OS X on the SSD. I then formatted the internal 5400rpm drive and renamed it to : Storage.

    I use the internal 1TB drive for timemachine backups and locations for dropbox and google drive apps (as well as iTunes backups and libraries).

    Loving it!
  6. interfreak macrumors regular


    Mar 14, 2012
    Queensland, Australia
    Does the external enclosure have to be AC powered? Or can it just draw power from the USB?
  7. BigMcGuire Contributor


    Jan 10, 2012
  8. Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009
    interfreak asked:
    "Does the external enclosure have to be AC powered? Or can it just draw power from the USB?"

    It can be either -- it depends on the enclosure or dock.

    I've currently got my external SSD mounted in a "lay-flat" USB3/SATA dock (with its own power supply).

    Something to consider:
    Since the Mini has a limit as to how much USB "bus power" it can supply, if you use up some of that power to keep the external booter running, that's "all the less" power you will have available for connecting other devices...
  9. Meister Suspended


    Oct 10, 2013
    You think word would've gotten around by now that buying ram doesn't magically increase performance ...
  10. westrock2000 macrumors 6502a

    Oct 18, 2013
    Put them both inside the Mini and setup a Fusion Drive. Fusion drive is fantastic. I have a 256GB and the stock 500GB (which is slow) and I do not notice any problems.
  11. iPhil macrumors 68040


    2.5" drives are usb powered but optional 5v 1.2amp external power is available, 3.5" drives are external powered...

    My main external boot drive is 2.5" FW 800 SSD, but@ the moment i'm running off my internal drive that original came with mini..
  12. phrehdd macrumors 68040


    Oct 25, 2008
    More RAM certainly does help with performance of certain apps as does multi-core for apps that can exploit it. My Photoshop runs far better with more RAM yet the additional RAM doesn't do much for boot up.

    For the Mini both SSD with 8 gigs of RAM is a good fit for most people. I use SSD internally and also externally (as well as NAS for additional storage and shares).
  13. Meister Suspended


    Oct 10, 2013
    And that's why the ram upgrade worked so well for the OP....

    I knew that someone would write a comment like that, so some other poor bastard reading this can have the same experience as the OP.

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