Advice needed on 2009 Mac Mini purchase...

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by motomac, Oct 15, 2009.

  1. motomac macrumors member

    Oct 19, 2007
    Hey guys!

    Looks like i'll finally be getting a new apple!

    Here is what I am wanting to do: Create DVDs and archive pictures of our newborn son. Im looking at the mini because its compact and rather inexpensive when compared to an imac or pro.

    Im looking at the MB436LL/A 2.0Ghz 120gig HD 1g ram for $499.
    I already have a mouse, keyboard, and 20" monitor, so that stuffs taken care of.

    Should i sink $80-90 for 4 gigs of ram from OWC/crucial?

    I have a WD mybook 750gig eSATA/USB/FW400 external drive shell (i put the HD in my Security cam DVR) that I want to purchase a 1TB SATA drive and put it back together and use it as an external drive to the mini.

    Another question: Is there a benefit to buying a FW800 to 400 adaptor so that I can utilize a faster connection from the WD mybook to the mini than USB 2.0? Or is there a way to rig up an eSATA port on the mini that i could take back out if i needed to send the mini off for warranty repair? Or should I just sell the mybook shell and buy a whole new external drive with a FW800 port? Trying not to spend alot on this option....

    Any help would be appreciated!!! Looking to purchase this within the next few days!!!
  2. mscriv macrumors 601


    Aug 14, 2008
    Dallas, Texas
    More memory is always a good idea and will help speed up your more intensive tasks like photo and video work. You are making a good choice in doing the upgrade yourself as Apple charges very high prices for them to do it. If your going to open up a mini you might want to upgrade the HD while your in there as a higher capacity and faster speed main drive will also be of benefit for little additional cost. I would definitely get the FW adapter and access your external drive via FW as opposed to USB 2. I would recommend for the adapter as they have great prices and quality stuff.

    Best of luck. Let us know how it goes.
  3. motomac thread starter macrumors member

    Oct 19, 2007
    How do i go about transfering all of the stuff that is on the mini's factory drive onto the new drive? Do i simply unbox the new mini, pull it apart, replace the drive, and hookup the original drive to usb just so the machine can find a "startup" drive? Is there a program for mac that can mirror the 2 drives?
  4. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    Feb 12, 2007
    Neander Valley, Germany; just outside Duesseldorf
    Carbon Copy Cloner or Disk Utility or SuperDuper will clone. But you need an external enclosure for the new drive (USB or FW) or a Universal Drive Adapter. You also need to ensure the new drive is initialized as HFS+ with a GUID partition table with Disk Utility.
  5. JCP21 macrumors member

    Oct 15, 2009
    Congradulations on choosing an apple, great choice. I personally have the mac mini myself. Upgrade to 4gb ram is a wise choice, its super fast. [​IMG] If you find it easier you could just buy a large exernal harddrive?
  6. jzuena macrumors 6502a


    Feb 21, 2007
    Lexington, MA, USA
    Even though my external drive was only FW400 (bought to use with my original mini) I went ahead and got a FW800 to FW400 cable when I got a new mini. It should still be faster than using USB, and cables on are only around $5-7. Plus, you may need the new cable anyway if you have a DV camera or any other Firewire peripherals.

    As for the RAM, getting 4GB from Crucial is exactly what I did and it worked out great.
  7. mscriv macrumors 601


    Aug 14, 2008
    Dallas, Texas
    What Caveman said above is exactly right and is a way to make an exact copy of your hard drive prior to swapping them out. However, if you have a brand new computer than it will have nothing on it except the operating system. In this case you could do the swap out first and then boot using your Snow Leopard disk. The disk will format the drive appropriately for you with disk utility and then install your operating system. Either way you will end up at the same place, a bigger drive with a fresh install of Snow Leopard.

    I'm going to assume you will have another computer available to you so that you can use an online tutorial or walk through for doing the Mac Mini upgrades. iFixit has some good guides that you could use. Don't forget to diagram as you go with the appropriate screws put where they need to go. This will make reassembly much easier. I haven't taken apart a mini, but did do a drive swap on a G4 iBook and using the iFixit walk through was straight forward.
  8. motomac thread starter macrumors member

    Oct 19, 2007
    Thanks for the help, guys!

    Yea, ill be using an online guide while doing the upgrade, however, im not worried about messing stuff up, since i know what im doing.

    I bought some RAM for my sis's 1.83Ghz mini and she refused to let anyone but apple install it, because she was afraid something might go wrong.

    Anyways, i noticed on the apple site that the shipping time has increased by a few days. Is apple about to upgrade the mini in the next week or so? If so, i might wait.
  9. katyoshi macrumors 6502

    Oct 11, 2009
    Honolulu, HI
    I went to the applestore today and they ran out of ALL minis.
  10. motomac thread starter macrumors member

    Oct 19, 2007
    Yea, i noticed that the mini's they had on refurb also disapeared quickly.

    I actually had a brain fart in the last few hours and realized that what I really should get is the 13" macbook pro. I'll be heading back to school in the spring, plus i'll be starting my own business soon and i'll prolly be on the road alot. So it is starting to make more sense for me to spring for the MBP.

    Currently i have a POS dell thats close to 6 years old, and it works for now, but its R E A L L Y S L O W!

    Time for a change (but not untill the revised MBPs show up this week or next online.)

    If the performance bump is small, i may decide to buy a 2.26 or 2.53 13"MBP refurb.
  11. kraftzwerg macrumors regular

    Jul 8, 2005
    Not much of a chance for a revision now.
  12. Winni macrumors 68040


    Oct 15, 2008
    You can never have enough RAM. Simple fact of life in the IT world.

    Firewire is de facto faster and more reliable (built-in error correction) than USB. Whenever it's possible, I always choose Firewire for external hard disks, DVD writers or other storage devices.
  13. clyde2801 macrumors 601


    Mar 6, 2008
    In the land of no hills and red dirt.
    From mac mini to mini macbook pro, eh? ;) Agree with buying them on the refurb store if you can find them. While I have read rumors that the mini, imac and macbook may be getting an update, I haven't heard anything on the macbook pros, which were updated a few months ago. Rumors on apple products are just that-rumors. While they can be right sometimes, other times can be just flat out wrong.

    As for the 13", decide if you need the specs of the more expensive system. Macworld studied the 13's, and determined that putting 4 gigs into the 2.26 doesn't do anything to speed up the system, and only shows a benefit if you're using more than 2 gigs of ram and causing page outs. Look for the thread under the mpb board on this forum and read the 'efi 1.7 update' thread; some users are reporting issues using faster, non apple sanctioned hard drives.
  14. mdgolom macrumors 6502

    Oct 26, 2006
    I noticed that the Apple Store's website is showing 3-5 days for shipping of the minis. All of the other computers show within 24 hours. I'm hoping this may confirm the rumors of a refresh of the mini line is coming soon. I want to replace my 17" iMac media center with a mini, but I'm waiting on the refresh since I'm not in a big hurry.
  15. motomac thread starter macrumors member

    Oct 19, 2007
    Yea, i heard about that too. I think most of the apple stock HD's are 5400rpm AND have really low buffers, like around 8mb or so.

    If i go for the 13" (which appears to perfectly suit my needs), I will budget for at a minimum a faster, bigger HD.

    I'll look for the macworld article about the memory.

    I guess if Apple is not updating the MBP's for awhile, then I may go ahead and snatch one up now. Is it worth getting the 2.53Ghz over the 2.26?

    Right now there is a 2.26 13" MBP unibody on the refurb site that i have my eye on.

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