Anyone tried an SSD in their Mac mini? It's FANTASTIC.

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by CrArC, Jan 11, 2009.

  1. CrArC macrumors newbie

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    Jan 11, 2009
    #1
    Just felt like sharing my experiences in putting an SSD in my Mac Mini. Suffice to say I'm very pleased with the results! So here's a little review. Real-usage results rather than Xbenchesque numbers, since I feel it's more relevant!

    I own an old core solo 1.5GHz mac mini, originally with 512MB RAM. I swapped out the CPU for a modest Core Duo 1.83GHz and 2GB of memory after finding the system far too slow for modern use, and Leopard.

    No problems there, done and dusted it was a big improvement becoming my everyday machine over my monstrous quad-core PC.

    But then I began to consider the old 60GB hard disk. It was the single slowest-performing component of the system I hadn't bothered to touch yet. I began to wonder if the system had more potential, because loading applications didn't seem to be taxing the CPUs resources. Also, I'm impatient :D

    So I took the plunge, purchasing an OCZ Solid series 60GB SSD for around £115ish. A good purchase as far as SSD prices go, I didn't need any extra storage as I have several external hard disks for data, only apps on the mini itself. The drive felt roughly the same weight as the original, and fit in its place perfectly.

    Well, once the system was up and running the difference was immediately obvious. It's fast. VERY fast! On bootup (after the usual POST etc), it will transition from the moment the rotating progress indicator under the Apple logo appears (when the mac starts to load from the hard disk) to the login screen in about three to five seconds flat.

    Going from the same point straight to the desktop took a total of twenty seconds, down from the two+ minutes it used to. (Times measured from the point that background apps stop loading; the actual system is responsive and ready to use sooner!)

    Loading applications is a dream come true; everyday apps like Firefox, Safari, Mail or Calendar appear to simply pop up on click, with an absolute maximum delay of perhaps a couple of seconds. I never appreciated how much time I spent waiting for things to compute before. Quicktime for example, will load in about four seconds whereas it would previously take at least fifteen.

    iWork '08 and '09 run like greased lightening, with Pages, Keynote and Numbers all loading in under 1.5 seconds. Bigger apps like Photoshop CS3 will be sat waiting for you in six seconds.

    File transfers are fantastically fast and time machine and spotlight are dramatically faster, the latter responding with no delay although the former will only go as fast as the target drive allows ;)

    The only app that hasn't seen as massive a performance increase is iTunes. It's much faster, loading in seven to ten seconds, but my library is very large and externally based so I cannot give a good performance metric.

    Lastly, I've noticed almost no delays in applications any more during their use; those niggling moments when you realise you've been doing "too much at once" and have to wait for the machine to finish its queue of commands to regain responsiveness. I'm guessing that's because there's just no HDD delay there any more!! :D

    In summary, this has been a VAST improvement and has actually dissuaded me from upgrading to an iMac for the extra speed; it has turned my few-year old mini into a *very* competent, fast and modern-feeling machine. I highly recommend looking into SSDs for your kit if you're looking to squeeze out as much potential from your system as possible! Particularly if you have under 2GB of RAM, and rely on virtual memory. Massive increases to be had there ;)
     
  2. Sehnsucht macrumors 65816

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    Sep 21, 2008
    #2
    So in other words, if your old Mini is becoming painfully slow, but you can't afford to upgrade to a new Mac yet, a SSD is something to consider. :D But, who's tempted to buy a Mini now without waiting for the update? I AM!!!! :cool:
     
  3. Apocrathia macrumors 6502

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    #3
    i've been wanting to put a ssd into my macbook. an ssd will make any computer feel like it's on steroids.
     
  4. TrapOx macrumors 6502

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  5. si77hay macrumors regular

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    #5
    Thanks. That certainly is interesting.

    I see ARIA are doing a 128GB for about £180, but I don't want to take a 30GB hit by downgrading from a 160GB.

    The 250GB looks tasty, but not for £600!
     
  6. SnowLeopard2008 macrumors 604

    SnowLeopard2008

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    #6
    Greased lightning? Hope it doesn't catch fire. Personally, this is a great weekend project, but I would never bother to invest in old pieces of tech. I just buy a new computer. :D
     
  7. 01jamcon macrumors 6502a

    01jamcon

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    #7
    Different strokes for different folks.
     
  8. 01jamcon macrumors 6502a

    01jamcon

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    #8
    OP, any word on improvements running windows under VMWare or Parallels?
     
  9. CrArC thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #9
    I wouldn't buy one just yet ;) unless of course you mean to whack an SSD in it. I was actually eyeing up an Apple TV to replace my current media center (an old xbox running XBMC). Obviously I'd put Boxee/XBMC on it to make it a competent media player! However, I may just get a new mac mini and designate this one as my media center instead.

    Fair enough! It would certainly be easier :) Although you'd be suprised how much life you can breathe into an old bit of kit :D I'm not kidding when I say this is now the fastest responding machine I own, and I own craploads, including desktops and laptops with far faster CPUs and RAID 0 configurations that, when toying with OS X on them, were still miles behind what I've got on this mac mini.

    If I were the type to name my stuff, I'd call it Bullet ;) £115 is a lot less than a new machine!

    I haven't tried yet, but I'll fire up parallels now and have a peek. It's always been quite HDD-centric so I assume there will be a noticeable difference!
     
  10. vendettabass macrumors 6502a

    vendettabass

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    #10
    great review- I've been eyeing those Solid series SSD's for a while but now they're releasing the Vertex's, I think I'll wait a little longer! Hopefully the 60GB Vertex will be around £115 come april!
     
  11. QuantumLo0p macrumors 6502a

    QuantumLo0p

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    #11
    Thanks for the info! Interesting and note worthy. There have not been many posts about SSD's.
     
  12. SnowLeopard2008 macrumors 604

    SnowLeopard2008

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    #12
    Normally I would do this kind of tinkering, but economy and high school taught me frugality. :D
     
  13. spacecadet610 macrumors 6502

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    #13
    Would love to try it but can't justify the expense knowing the prices will plummet in the next several years
     
  14. Michael CM1 macrumors 603

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    #14
    To be fair, those Mac Mini hard drives are SLOW because they're notebook drives. 4800 or 5400 rpm, compared to the standard 7200 3.5" drives that the iMacs and most desktops use. This is why I think the Mini should be changed to accomodate such drives. 3.5" drives are cheaper per GB and faster.

    I'm all for the SSD revolution, but it's going to be a while before I jump on. I'd love a faster computer, but I need my 320GB on my MBP and can't see spending about $800 or whatever on a 256GB SSD, which I think is the biggest available. I'm also not a big fan of paying for less (I would lose about 60GB of space), so I'll probably have to wait for a 512GB drive.

    SSDs sound like an awesome "invention," but they're just too new for me.
     
  15. crezo macrumors newbie

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    Jan 7, 2009
    #15
    interesting! Do you know if there's much difference between the SSD and 7200 drives?

    If there's been nothing announced on new mini's by next weekend I'll be ordering the 2.0 C2D on saturday and was planning on swapping out the drive for a 7200, but maybe SSD would be better speed wise then.

    Incase anyone thinks I'm mad for ordering now, I need a new machine this month as my PC's slow as feck, and I need to order before the 31st to help with my tax ;)
     
  16. Courtaj macrumors 6502a

    Courtaj

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    #16
    To the OP: would be interesting to see how things are going a few weeks or months down the track, whether the drive continues to provide the performance boost you've documented.

    Andrew.
     
  17. Gunga Din macrumors 6502

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    #17
    The SSD in a Mini is a great idea. Hope it works out long term. This would be a supremo option to have on any new Mac Mini's .

    In fact, I bet they do have a SSD option for the Mini, if they ever release a new one lol.
     
  18. NightSailor macrumors 6502

    NightSailor

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    #18

    60 GB for $170 is not a bad price--I feel the drive size is too small for my use.

    I've been watching the prices on the SSD drives too. Four in a Raid stripe set would be quite fast. [I can dream can't I?] Performance the begins to move over to the Raid controller according to test research...

    Still for a Mac Mini--a single SSD would be quite nice. I've already upgraded my CPU, memory, and hard drive already--and I'm generally quite happy with the performance. Still, I like the small package for the Mac Mini--maxing it out with an SSD would to tops.

    If the 256GB SSD come down under $500 I'd buy one for my Mini. I feel an SSD would be more reliable. I'd be far happier with a 500GB SSD, and we should see those for around $500 in three years, perhaps sooner if production numbers come up.

    Check to see if Apple had any refurbished models over the next week or so. I bought my refurbished and the only thing different compared with a new one was the ink on the box that said "Refurbished".
     
  19. Yamcha macrumors 68000

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    #19
    Maybe im wrong but i heard the SDD dies after a certain amount of uses.. true?
     
  20. mackonsti macrumors newbie

    mackonsti

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    #20
    Hello to all thread members, I have been reading this thread but joined just to post this link and to request from CrArC the exact model of the OCZ SSD tested.

    An interesting SSD read, please post your comments: http://anandtech.com/cpuchipsets/intel/showdoc.aspx?i=3403&p=1
    A great test for SSD technology, shame that Intel are so expensive... OCZ "Solid" and "Core" drives tested, but there's a new "Vertex" coming up!

    Finally, CrArC, assuming that we can open the Mac Mini without troubles and install the "OCZ Solid State 30GB or 60GB" SATA2 drive, what was the reaction of the machine on the first reboot? When you inserted the Leopard DVD, how well did the system respond? Was installation faster?

    I can find locally the OCZ Solid State 30GB series for ~70 Euros, and for my use, 30GB are enough to test SSDs... but I need your input on my questions above.

    According to the excellent review (linked above) the CORE model performs worse than the MAIN SSD model, due to the chip controller (JMicron vs. Samsung). CrArC did you experience the sudden halts/hickups that the reviewer experienced?

    Anyone tried SSDs on MacBook or MacBook Pros?

    Thanks in advance!

    EDIT: Another review here - http://hothardware.com/News/OCZ_Core_Series_SSD_Vs_VelociRaptor_Sneak_Peek/
     
  21. DoFoT9 macrumors P6

    DoFoT9

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    #21
    wow OP thanks for this post, very impressive!! i have been waiting for new mini's to be announced to make a purchase. i always thought that it (the HD) would be the slowest part of it, because its a laptop drive. i may as well upgrade to the SSD when i get it :)

    wish they were cheaper though grrr...
     
  22. fhall1 macrumors 68030

    fhall1

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    #22
    True....but so does a "spinning platter" hard drive
     
  23. mackonsti macrumors newbie

    mackonsti

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    #23
    Nevertheless, the lifespan is quite long... read carefully the review I mentioned, and you will have most answers:
    http://anandtech.com/cpuchipsets/intel/showdoc.aspx?i=3403&p=1

    And CrArC could you please inform us on the Leopard installation procedure and the Mini's initial behaviour?
     
  24. joegomolski macrumors 6502

    joegomolski

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    So CA
    #24
    SSD in a MBP

    Hi:eek:

    I just installed a 120GB SSD in my new unibody MBP. My experience with the SSD in my MBP is right in line with the thread starter.

    There are no lags, the spinning ball of death doesn't show much at all, rarely.

    Starting up, opening applications, well it was actually faster than I anticipated.

    If you're leaning, I'd be happy to give you the nudge.;);)
     
  25. DoFoT9 macrumors P6

    DoFoT9

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    #25
    hmph im so jealous that some people can afford them!! tbh im waiting for a 500gb model (512gb??). anything less then that would be a downgrade because i need the space over the speed.
     

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