External SSD boot drive - 2011 Mini

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by robertk328, Oct 2, 2015.

  1. robertk328 macrumors regular


    Jun 24, 2010
    I have a 2011 Mini (mid-tier) that's been getting long in the tooth.
    Screen Shot 2015-10-02 at 7.44.06 AM.png
    Not sure what I want to do next -- probably the 2014 but also considering a 27 inch iMac. I have read a good bit about adding an external SSD as a boot drive to avoid opening it up (it's my only computer, though I do have an iPad I could watch the install video on!)

    I ordered a:
    Since my computer doesn't have USB3, I have it plugged into FW800.

    While downloading El Capitan after I got the drive installed an initiated, I ran the test and it showed my internal 5400 RPM HD at about 10 MB/s. Ran a test on the SSD and got results in the 80s! Thought I was home free, but I knew the download of El Capitan would affect the results. After all was said and done, and I'm just sitting here with nothing going on, my internal gets between 30 MB/s and 60 MB/s, and the SSD continues consistent in the low 80s.

    DiskSpeedTest_HD.png DiskSpeedTest_Macintosh SSD.png

    Am I wrong in thinking my speeds should be better than this? I know benchmarks aren't the only indicator of performance, as it does feel like it has more snap, but benchmarks are numbers and that's what we like ;)

    I'm sure the answer is to open it up but I'd rather avoid that if possible!
  2. Fishrrman macrumors G4


    Feb 20, 2009
    I'm thinking that speeds in the "low 80's" is about "what you get" for a firewire-based connection.

    Perhaps others will jump in and correct me if I'm wrong.

    It's not the SSD inside, but the "hardware around it", that determines the overall speed.

    Just wondering -- I realize boot times won't be speeded up significantly with your current "external booter" setup, but once up-and-running, does the Mini feel a bit more "responsive" running from the SSD?

    If I was in your position, I wouldn't buy a 2014 Mini as a replacement.
    Try to "hold out" for the next generation coming down the line.
    I sense that it will offer SIGNIFICANT improvements over the current 2014 models.
    Improvements that will be "worth the wait"...
  3. robertk328 thread starter macrumors regular


    Jun 24, 2010
    Definitely... it's capped at 800 Mbps, so I thought that's where it would stop.

    That's why I was curious how different it would be inside.

    I took the plunge and did it after watching a couple YouTube videos. Biggest worry was moving the logic board/mother board but I saw some videos (at least for the 2011) that didn't need that. I was able to take out the internal HD and put in the EVO with only a few screws, and had it swapped out in minutes. Biggest hang up was getting the drive's pins seated in the holes. Used a plastic library card to help guide it in like I saw in this video (for the 2012 but installation was pretty much identical)

    Now the Blackmagic speed test almost seems like it can't keep up, pegging the meter as high as it will go:

    Needless to say I'm happy to get some extra life out of this machine. May need to bump RAM from 8GB to 16GB just for giggles now ;)
  4. robertk328 thread starter macrumors regular


    Jun 24, 2010
    Well make that two things.... I didn't put the fan in right, and the computer started to stutter. Felt the casing and it was warm so pulled it out and sure enough, fan cable was loose/not secured. :oops: smcFanControl to the rescue, now quietly humming along at 1803rpm :)
  5. michaelz macrumors regular

    Apr 12, 2010
    2011 Mac mini should have a thunderbolt port. Why not get an enclosure with thunderbolt connection?
  6. robertk328 thread starter macrumors regular


    Jun 24, 2010
    Dual monitors. :) One is HDMI and the other is Thunderbolt.
    Now that it's inside using SATA it's great.

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