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Ace2617

macrumors regular
Original poster
Mar 16, 2016
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Hello, I have some questions regarding older Mac Mini's. I'm looking to add another Mac to my office, and I'd like to get a Mac Mini. My first question is about the hard drive. I've seen many with 500 GB hard drive - I assume they are 5400 RPM but I'm not sure - but seeing as I'd be getting a machine that is a few years old (looking at 2011 and newer) I wouldn't want a spinning hard drive. I'd want to get an internal SSD and upgrade it, even if I'm losing space in the process by getting a smaller SSD. My problem is, I've never done anything like this before. I've seen youtube videos on how to install SSDs in Mac Mini's. My question is (apologies if this is a stupid question) If I take a blank SSD and stick it in a Mac Mini, how would I get a copy of Mac OS X on it? When it boots, would it have an operating system? I feel like this would be not only a good addition to my setup, but also a fun little project since I've never done anything like this.
 
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Andres Cantu

macrumors 68040
May 31, 2015
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Texas
The process is not as easy as it sounds, though not impossible. You would first need to copy the OS from the hard drive onto the SSD.

The bigger question though is what your use case for the Mac mini would be. If you would only use it for light tasks, a hard drive might not be as bad as it sounds. Still, I would recommend waiting until the 2016 Mac mini is released, since it could potentially come with an SSD standard (you never know what direction Apple could take, and it doesn't hurt to wait!).
 

jpietrzak8

macrumors 65816
Feb 16, 2010
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Dayton, Ohio
I'd want to get an internal SSD and upgrade it, even if I'm losing space in the process by getting a smaller SSD. My problem is, I've never done anything like this before.

:) Yeah, unfortunately, Apple has been making it harder and harder to access the internal structure of the Mac Mini with each succeeding update; so yeah, this is perhaps not the best starting point if you've really never done anything like this before...

As to making the SSD a bootable OS X disk: I personally believe it is much easier to first connect the new SSD via an external enclosure. That way, you can install the OS onto the SSD, and test booting the Mac with it, before trying to replace the internal drive with the new one.
 
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Ace2617

macrumors regular
Original poster
Mar 16, 2016
161
42
The process is not as easy as it sounds, though not impossible. You would first need to copy the OS from the hard drive onto the SSD.

The bigger question though is what your use case for the Mac mini would be. If you would only use it for light tasks, a hard drive might not be as bad as it sounds. Still, I would recommend waiting until the 2016 Mac mini is released, since it could potentially come with an SSD standard (you never know what direction Apple could take, and it doesn't hurt to wait!).

:) Yeah, unfortunately, Apple has been making it harder and harder to access the internal structure of the Mac Mini with each succeeding update; so yeah, this is perhaps not the best starting point if you've really never done anything like this before...

As to making the SSD a bootable OS X disk: I personally believe it is much easier to first connect the new SSD via an external enclosure. That way, you can install the OS onto the SSD, and test booting the Mac with it, before trying to replace the internal drive with the new one.

Thanks for the responses. I suppose I could wait until new ones come out. I was thinking of going the used route to save a bit of money on the initial purchase price, and then spend the savings on an SSD. But if Apple were to make SSD's standard -- which they should, just like the MacBooks in my opinion -- that'd be great. Also, I hadn't considered connecting the new SSD externally first to extract the OS off of the old HD. If I end up going this route, that's a great suggestion. This would be my first ever Mac Mini, so I'm going to be keeping a close eye on these forums in case I run into any problems lol
 
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Andres Cantu

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May 31, 2015
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Thanks for the responses. I suppose I could wait until new ones come out. I was thinking of going the used route to save a bit of money on the initial purchase price, and then spend the savings on an SSD. But if Apple were to make SSD's standard -- which they should, just like the MacBooks in my opinion -- that'd be great. Also, I hadn't considered connecting the new SSD externally first to extract the OS off of the old HD. If I end up going this route, that's a great suggestion. This would be my first ever Mac Mini, so I'm going to be keeping a close eye on these forums in case I run into any problems lol
Wise decision, the community knows their stuff!

I also suggested on waiting due to potential offers. For instance, I bought my base-model Mac mini for $350 new one year ago due to a Best Buy sale. Always try to seek those out.
 
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Ace2617

macrumors regular
Original poster
Mar 16, 2016
161
42
Wise decision, the community knows their stuff!

I also suggested on waiting due to potential offers. For instance, I bought my base-model Mac mini for $350 new one year ago due to a Best Buy sale. Always try to seek those out.

For reference:

https://www.ifixit.com/Guide/Mac+Mini+Late+2012+Hard+Drive+Replacement/11716

https://www.ifixit.com/Guide/Installing+Mac+Mini+Late+2012+Dual+Hard+Drive+Kit/11713

If that procedure makes you nervous, then the suggestions above about an external SSD are the way to go. Mac mini 2012 has a USB 3.0 interface, which is what you'd want to use.

Best Buy would be a good option. I just checked, and right now they have the base model Mac Mini on sale for $462. While it's only a saving of $37, it is something I'll keep an eye on going forward. Also, as far as upgrading the machine, my lack of experience does make me hesitant, especially because I'd be using the computer daily.

The more I think about it, if I can find 2 that make sense financially, I may get two mac mini's. A newer one that doesn't need upgrades to be an every day machine, and another that I wouldn't use for real productive type work, but that I could tinker around with and do some upgrades to. I found some on eBay that are under $100, and, while they're nearing 10 years old, it would be fun to mess around with and try to upgrade. Thanks for the help.
 

Andres Cantu

macrumors 68040
May 31, 2015
3,129
6,933
Texas
Best Buy would be a good option. I just checked, and right now they have the base model Mac Mini on sale for $462. While it's only a saving of $37, it is something I'll keep an eye on going forward. Also, as far as upgrading the machine, my lack of experience does make me hesitant, especially because I'd be using the computer daily.

The more I think about it, if I can find 2 that make sense financially, I may get two mac mini's. A newer one that doesn't need upgrades to be an every day machine, and another that I wouldn't use for real productive type work, but that I could tinker around with and do some upgrades to. I found some on eBay that are under $100, and, while they're nearing 10 years old, it would be fun to mess around with and try to upgrade. Thanks for the help.
Sounds like fun! For that purpose, I suggest the Late 2009 model, since that was the last of the previous design (and can even run the latest OS X version if upgraded). That would be a fun model to upgrade.
 

Ace2617

macrumors regular
Original poster
Mar 16, 2016
161
42
Sounds like fun! For that purpose, I suggest the Late 2009 model, since that was the last of the previous design (and can even run the latest OS X version if upgraded). That would be a fun model to upgrade.

Thanks! I wasn't sure where to start lol so now I will look into the late 2009 model. I appreciate all the help. This forum is great.
 
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jpietrzak8

macrumors 65816
Feb 16, 2010
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Dayton, Ohio
2009 is harder to open than 2010 2010 2012 >_<

Ah, you just need to understand the mysteries of the magical Putty Knife. ;) In my opinion, once you get the hang of it, it's a lot easier to deal with than the tricky business of messing around with the guts of the unibody Minis...
 

Kaida

macrumors 6502
May 28, 2016
349
144
Singapore
I could never find such a slim putty knife in Singapore nor have the tools to make them thinner. So I used the pin method. After it was opened, I cut a slim piece of wood into the slot to prevent it from locking again :)

U039oJc.jpg


Pxn5uEL.jpg
 

Juggar

macrumors member
Jun 6, 2016
95
95
I bought a base mac mini at bestbuy and upgraded it with an SSD bought tools and followed a guide on iFixit.

Later, I realized I could have just bought a better mini all along for less money than the base mac upgraded.

Sold the upgraded base mac on eBay then bought a used 2014 2.6, 8gb, 256 gb PCI-express SSD mini with apple care till 8/2018 for $600.

This way ill have warranty and a faster SSD, CPU and another 4gb of memory.

You are much better off buying a used 256 gb mini on eBay for ~$600. http://www.ebay.com/itm/121997465962?_trksid=p2057872.m2749.l2649&ssPageName=STRK:MEBIDX:IT
 
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Ace2617

macrumors regular
Original poster
Mar 16, 2016
161
42
@Juggar - Thanks for that eBay link. I will check it out. I also thought of checking the Apple Refurb store from time to time. Not sure how often Mac Mini's are available there, but I've heard great things from some friends who have bought various MacBooks off of the refurb store.
 

Juggar

macrumors member
Jun 6, 2016
95
95
@Juggar - Thanks for that eBay link. I will check it out. I also thought of checking the Apple Refurb store from time to time. Not sure how often Mac Mini's are available there, but I've heard great things from some friends who have bought various MacBooks off of the refurb store.

Yeah the refurb store is great and I would sure use them over eBay for a laptop or any device that is hands on.

But a mac mini just sits there you know? Not really any difference between a used one and a refurb unless the used one got run over or something haha.

I offered the guy $600 on that ebay listing and he took the offer immediately. It'll come to me with 2 years two months of apple care and by the time the apple care is up itll be time to upgrade.
 

Ace2617

macrumors regular
Original poster
Mar 16, 2016
161
42
Yeah the refurb store is great and I would sure use them over eBay for a laptop.

But a mac mini just sits there you know? Not really any difference between a used one and a refurb unless the used one got run over or something haha.

If offered the guy $600 on that ebay listing and he took the offer immediately. It'll come to me with 2 years two months of apple care and by the time the apple care is up itll be time to upgrade.

Yeah lol. My thinking for the refurb store was, I believe it comes with a one year warranty, is that correct? That would probably be the biggest selling point of the refurb store for me.
 

Juggar

macrumors member
Jun 6, 2016
95
95
Yeah lol. My thinking for the refurb store was, I believe it comes with a one year warranty, is that correct? That would probably be the biggest selling point of the refurb store for me.

Yeah Apple refurbs come with 1 year, and thats great but I saw the used listing with 2 years 2 months warranty and said yeah this is a no brainer for $600.

The same mini is $938 with edu discount or $998 without(+ tax ). (both including 3 years apple care)

Apple sells the refurbished model with 1 year warranty for $759 (but its not in stock and youll pay tax) : http://www.apple.com/shop/product/G0R71LL/A/Refurbished-Mac-Mini-26GHz-Dual-core-Intel-Core-i5

So at bare minimum buying used you'll save $159 + get another 1 year 2 months of warranty. Plus no tax cause its ebay.
 

Ace2617

macrumors regular
Original poster
Mar 16, 2016
161
42
Yeah Apple refurbs come with 1 year, and thats great but I saw the used listing with 2 years 2 months warranty and said yeah this is a no brainer for $600.

The same mini is $938 with edu discount or $998 without(+ tax ). (both including 3 years apple care)

Apple sells the refurbished model with 1 year warranty for $759 (but its not in stock and youll pay tax) : http://www.apple.com/shop/product/G0R71LL/A/Refurbished-Mac-Mini-26GHz-Dual-core-Intel-Core-i5

So at bare minimum buying used you'll save $159 + get another 1 year 2 months of warranty. Plus no tax cause its ebay.

Yeah a few times I've checked the refurb store in the past for other products that aren't in stock and its always a downer lol. The one you linked to on eBay seemed like a great deal for sure. Thanks for all the help, very informative.
 

jpietrzak8

macrumors 65816
Feb 16, 2010
1,053
6,100
Dayton, Ohio
Yeah lol. My thinking for the refurb store was, I believe it comes with a one year warranty, is that correct? That would probably be the biggest selling point of the refurb store for me.

Actually, not only does Apple provide a standard 1-year warranty for refurbished products, you can even purchase a full 3-year AppleCare plan for them if you want. In that sense, it is no different than buying a new Mac.

Also, I guess I should mention my favorite used Mac sales site, Other World Computing. For some reason, they seem to have a fairly large number of used Minis available right now, models from 2010 through 2014:

https://eshop.macsales.com/shop/Apple-Systems/Used/Mac-mini?_ga=1.24036988.750420436.1462362210
 
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