Can I swap the HDD for a SSD without too much risk?

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by 2A Batterie, Jun 3, 2014.

  1. 2A Batterie macrumors 6502a

    2A Batterie

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2004
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    Out of a Suitcase, USA
    #1
    I'm pulling he trigger on a quad core i7 Mac Mini tomorrow that I plan on using for audio production. Just buying a stock machine and doing upgrades myself. How exactly should I upgrade the HD though?
    OWC has the popular data doubler kit, but I really don't want to run the risk of messing up that complicated procedure. Do I really need two internal drives? Isn't replacing the regular hard drive with a single SSD much simpler? What are the advantages of having two internal drives when I could just connect the second externally?
    Recommendations on where/what to purchase? I was planning on 16gb ram and 480gb SSD from Crucial. Any specs I need on a SSD for audio? Is putting in a single SSD fairly straightforward on a Mini?
     
  2. jmcgeejr macrumors 6502

    jmcgeejr

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    Oct 7, 2010
    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    #2
    Just get an external thunderbolt enclosure, I had my own 256GB ssd, and the little enclosure from seagate was $110 and I just boot from that.
     
  3. rei101 macrumors 6502a

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    Dec 24, 2011
    #3
    Do a search in Youtube in how to change the HD in a mini. I bet there are at least 300 tutorials.
     
  4. COrocket macrumors 6502

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    Dec 9, 2012
    #4
    Putting in a single SSD is much less complicated than adding a second drive, but both tasks can be accomplished with standard tools. I guess it depends how comfortable you are working with your hands and disassembling computers. I didn't find the procedure particularly difficult.

    Check out some of the youtube tutorials. That will give you the best estimate of difficulty and time involved.
     
  5. scottsjack macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2010
    Location:
    Arizona
    #5
    It was a little tricky. Despite what everyone keeps writing I could not get the OEM 1TB HD out of my 2012 mini without removing the innards. Fortunately I had also ordered an OWC Data Double kit with tools so in the end I've got the OEM HDD in the upper bay running Windows 8.1.1. and a Crucial 960GB SSD in the lower running Mavericks.

    Since there appear to be issues formatting a single drive when an SSD and a HDD are both installed I formatted and CCC'd my boot drive externally first. Then I booted externally to make sure that it worked. Finally I installed the SSD, moved the HDD, booted from the internal SSD and erased the HDD.

    I bought my mini 2012 2.3 i7, Crucial 16GB 1600mhz RAM, Crucial 960GB M500 SSD and the OWC Data Doubler kit online from B&H (they reopen Friday). If I had to do it again today I would get the newer Crucial M550 SSD.
     
  6. Santabean2000 macrumors 68000

    Santabean2000

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2007
    #6
    It's not hard. Just take it slow and don't force anything. Order the screws as you take them out and work in a clear space, free from distraction.

    With the aid of a couple of video tutorials, (yes, watch a few to compare; slight variations in each), it's a walk in the park. I've done it a few times now - and I'm not a heavy tech dude.
     
  7. Jambalaya macrumors 6502a

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    Jun 21, 2013
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    UK
    #7
    Just a quick note to say it's very very useful to have another machine on which to re-watch the tutorials whilst you are doing the switch.
     
  8. Jambalaya macrumors 6502a

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    UK
    #8
    This is good advice too
     
  9. 2A Batterie thread starter macrumors 6502a

    2A Batterie

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    Jun 9, 2004
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    Out of a Suitcase, USA
    #9
    Thanks for the input! I'm ordering from B&H since a new Mini w/o sales tax costs about as much as a refurb w/tax at Apple store online. I'm also going to purchase the doubler kit just so I have the tools. Is there a big difference between RAM and SSD's from crucial and OWC?
     
  10. deeddawg macrumors 604

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    Jun 14, 2010
    Location:
    US
    #10
    FYI, if you have a Discover credit card you can go through shopdiscover.com to get to apple.com and get 5% cash back on the purchase from Apple. Even works with store pickup items (including refurb ship-to-store).

    Depending on tax rate, this can effectively offset much of the sales tax.
     
  11. iMacBooked macrumors 6502a

    iMacBooked

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    #11
    That's some good advice, I wish I knew this before :p
     
  12. Fishrrman macrumors G4

    Fishrrman

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    #12
    The OP asks:
    [[ I really don't want to run the risk of messing up that complicated procedure. Do I really need two internal drives? Isn't replacing the regular hard drive with a single SSD much simpler? What are the advantages of having two internal drives when I could just connect the second externally? ]]

    You're going to get folks in the forum who tell you, "do the internal swap, it's easy".
    But if you research past postings, you're also going to find numerous posts from folks who tried that and either broke something important inside, or got the job done "but I broke...[insert something here]"

    So, the only answer is the one you can provide to us:
    - Are you comfortable working with tiny connections inside?
    - Does your setup have-to-have an internal SSD, or would you be satisfied with another object on your desk?

    My recommendation (and mine only):
    Get either an external 2.5" enclosure, or a USB3/SATA docking station, and get the SSD of your choice.
    Drop the new drive into the enclosure or dock, initialize it, clone your OS over to it, and boot from that.
    Use the internal drive as your "media drive" for audio production, or you could even connect another USB3 drive for that purpose.

    Fastest, easiest, cheapest way...
     
  13. jeremysteele macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2011
    #13
    You could just pay a shop to do the swap. A lot of them will do a simple mac mini hdd to sdd swap for a minimal fee, so long as you provide the drive. It's an easy process, only takes a tech with minimal experience about 10 minutes to do.

    All it involves is pulling out the internals (with the proper tool), remove ram, disconnecting the airport antenna, removing a few screws, and pull out the old drive (it's right on top, just covered by the airport antenna).

    Drive double kits of course take much longer, and require you to manipulate some ridiculously small connectors. If it were me I'd swap out the HDD with the SSD, and pop the HDD into an external USB 3 enclosure (Will be fast enough for a spinning drive).

    I did a drive doubler on my mini and kind of regret it (SSD on bottom of mini). I'm at the point of wanting to upgrade the SSD - but now I have to pull the whole dang the apart again. Pain in the behind. Will probably just put the SSD on top and put the HDD into an external case after that upgrade.

    An SSD hooked up via USB 3 - even with the best controller on the planet - will still run nowhere as fast as a straight SATA III connected drive due to additional overhead and the fact USB is terrible at sustained transfer rates at high speeds.

    It will run faster than the internal HDD for sure, but If you're going to drop the money for an SSD why not actually use the speed it is capable of?

    Of course you could always get a thunderbolt dock and use that, which will be as close as you can get to near-native SATA speeds in an external enclosure. Of course those cost $$.
     
  14. Ledgem macrumors 65816

    Ledgem

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    Jan 18, 2008
    Location:
    Hawaii, USA
    #14
    I used this guide from ifixit. The problem - and possibly the reason why some people say that it's easy, while others say that it's difficult - is that the guide assumes that your hard drive is installed in the lower (or upper, if you're looking at the machine upside-down) of the two bays. In that case, you only need to unhook and remove a few components. With my Mac Mini (a refurbished model), the hard drive was in the other slot. That meant that I needed to disconnect everything and completely pull everything out to access it. I've built my own computers and routinely went into my Macbook Pros, but because the Mac Mini was so compact (and because the guide didn't account for it) I found the experience to be a bit trying.

    Just take your time and be patient as you work through everything.
     
  15. Naimfan macrumors 601

    Naimfan

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    Jan 15, 2003
    #16
    Crucial is better.
     
  16. deeddawg macrumors 604

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    US
    #17
    For general users (i.e. not developers or video/photo pros) is there a truly noticable difference on the Crucial m500 vs m550 lines? I know there's a difference in benchmark tests, but how noticeable in typical real world usage?
     
  17. Naimfan macrumors 601

    Naimfan

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2003
    #18
    Unless you run benchmarks all day (why?), you'll never see the difference in day to day use. Ditto the difference from the Samsung to the Crucial.
     
  18. satcomer macrumors 603

    satcomer

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    The Finger Lakes Region
    #19
    Watch some install videos and decide to change for yourself. Also look up on internet to possibility make your own DIY Fusion Drive.
     
  19. deeddawg macrumors 604

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    Jun 14, 2010
    Location:
    US
    #21
    Exactly my thought, thanks for the confirmation.
     
  20. OneMike macrumors 603

    OneMike

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    Oct 19, 2005
    #22
    Ifixit is all you need. It's a simple peocess
     

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