How to add SSD to late-2012 model?

macstatic

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I'm a little confused about the process of installing a 2nd drive to a late-2012 Mac mini (we have the 2.5GHz i5 model) which currently has just the stock 500GB hard drive. We want to add an SSD in addition to the existing hard drive.

I found the following posting:
Upgrading a late 2012 Mac Mini but have some questions? where the video shows a quite straight-forward procedure. I have no idea if the hard drive is in the upper or lower bay, but according to the posting I can find out using the System profiler as far as I remember.

So, is that's all there's to it, or could it be trickier and do I need to buy some extra stuff (in addition to the SSD)? I'm asking because I've heard that OWC (and possibly others) sells an SSD upgrade kit. As I'm not in the U.S. which makes shipping prohibitively expensive, is this something that can be found generic, or can I skip it altogether as Apple has made provisions for two drives to begin with?
Finally, are there any restrictions to the physical thickness of the drive?
I'm considering a Crucial MX500 (120GB).
 

fischersd

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Oct 23, 2014
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I'm a little confused about the process of installing a 2nd drive to a late-2012 Mac mini (we have the 2.5GHz i5 model) which currently has just the stock 500GB hard drive. We want to add an SSD in addition to the existing hard drive.

I found the following posting:
Upgrading a late 2012 Mac Mini but have some questions? where the video shows a quite straight-forward procedure. I have no idea if the hard drive is in the upper or lower bay, but according to the posting I can find out using the System profiler as far as I remember.

So, is that's all there's to it, or could it be trickier and do I need to buy some extra stuff (in addition to the SSD)? I'm asking because I've heard that OWC (and possibly others) sells an SSD upgrade kit. As I'm not in the U.S. which makes shipping prohibitively expensive, is this something that can be found generic, or can I skip it altogether as Apple has made provisions for two drives to begin with?
Finally, are there any restrictions to the physical thickness of the drive?
I'm considering a Crucial MX500 (120GB).
Yep, you need the kit. Take a look at the instructions over on ifixit (who also sell a kit):
https://www.ifixit.com/Guide/Installing+Mac+Mini+Mid+2011+Dual+Hard+Drive+Kit/6634
 

Ubele

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Mar 20, 2008
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My wife and I each have a late 2012 Mac mini. One had the drive in the upper bay, and one had it in the lower bay. (Yes, System Profiler will tell you.) I created a Fusion drive for each of them. You do need the toolkit. Make sure you watch the OWC videos until you’re confident you understand the steps, and proceed very slowly and carefully with the upgrade. If something doesn’t want to come out or go back in, don’t try to force it — just keep wiggling it gently. It might take a while, but eventually it will work. If a drive isn’t recognized when you boot the computer, it probably means that the SATA connector came loose when you reassembled the computer. This happened to me with both minis. Good luck — your mini is going to feel like a new machine!
 
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macstatic

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Ah! I realized that video was just for replacing the existing hard drive with an SSD while I want to add another drive (SSD) to the Mac mini. So it appears you're both right.

Unfortunately buying that iFixit kit adds up to twice the cost with shipping, and on top of that I assume import taxes, so that's not really a viable option. OWC sells a similar Data Doubler kit as well, a little cheaper...
On eBay however there are kits for a lot less (around US$ 12 including shipping) -does anyone have experience with these? Are they OK, or of inferior quality?

Another thing: I see mention of different kits for the upper or lower bay: I suppose it refers to a cable of the correct length? I'll probably have to check and see where the hard drive is located before ordering a kit.
Thanks for the tips above. I'll take my time and get it right.
 

ActionableMango

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Sep 21, 2010
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Another thing: I see mention of different kits for the upper or lower bay: I suppose it refers to a cable of the correct length? I'll probably have to check and see where the hard drive is located before ordering a kit.
Thanks for the tips above. I'll take my time and get it right.
Those kits look fine to me. There is no getting around them if you want to add a second drive.

The only wrinkle is whether you need the upper or lower cable, like you mentioned above. The normal kits are assuming the most common setup, which is probably what you have. But for some unknown reason Apple shipped some Minis with the drive in the non-default bay, which means you'd need a non standard kit with different parts. The NOTE at OWC here tells you how to doublecheck without opening the case:
https://eshop.macsales.com/item/OWC/DIDIMM11D2/
 

macstatic

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Thanks.
Disk utility tells me that the 500GB factoru-installed Hitachi drive (HDD HTS545050A7E362) is located in the lower bay (I understand this is the most common location) so I assume I'd need to buy an upper drive bay set.

eBay has lots of these kits around, but as there are both upper and lower kits around it's often unclear which one each seller can deliver. Not unexpected as proper documentation isn't very common there.

OWC on the other hand I would expect more from...
for instance, their "lower" DIY installation kit appears NOT to supply the cable and other needed parts for the lower drive bay, but rather for a Mac mini which has the factory-installed hard drive in the lower bay!
And their "upper" DIY installation kit would be for Mac minis with the hard drive factory installed in the upper bay position.
In other words, their kit names refer to the position of the already installed drive, so you need to think opposite of that! In my case (factory installed hard drive in the lower position) I'd need to order OWC's "lower bay" kit. Very confusing. Another posting confirms my findings.

iFixit doesn't even mention the two possible locations of the factory installed hard drive either in their late-2012 step-by-step guide or with their Mac mini dual drive kit. In fact, this iFixit answers page reveals that they only sell a single kit (for installing a drive in the upper bay), so too bad for those needing to put it in the lower one!

Finally, there are the Apple cable part numbers:
The lower drive bay uses (according to the abovementioned iFixit answers page) a cable numbered 076-1412 which is also confirmed by Powerbook medic.
while the upper drive bay cable has part number 076-1413, also confirmed and pictured at Powerbook medic.

It looks like the DIY kits for adding a drive to the lower bay have less parts (just the connector and two pins) as shown here from OWC's (IMHO incorrectly named) "upper bay" kit page:

...while the DIY kits for adding a drive to the upper bay contain 4x rubber grommets, 4x screws and the connector according to photos, like for instance from OWC's (again, incorrectly named IMHO) "lower bay" kit page:



So in summary, when choosing the right kit for your particular Mac mini's configuration: can we trust the amount of parts in the pictures as described above to determine which one is which?
The part numbers don't help much, at least not on eBay, because their kit photos don't match the above. And some eBay sellers, though even stating both upper and lower kits, show in their photos what appears to be the same number of components as you can see here. They also both have the same part number (821-1500-A) so it's indeed very confusing.
 
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eljanitor

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Feb 10, 2011
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Not long after I bought my Late 2012 Mac Mini I knew it needed a second hard drive. I decided to add an SSD hard drive in the upper slot and I've been happy ever since. I bought the OWC data doubler kit, and I bought a 480 GB Crucial SSD that has no TRIM support, but I've had this mac mini for about 4 or 5 years and I've never had any trouble with the SSD I added. I know you can add a 1 TB SSD but I didn't have the money at that point in time. You can add any 2.5" SSD drive you like. Just use caution when opening your mac mini, and be patent using ESD rules and patience sliding it all back together.

You can get the kit to add an additional drive here:https://eshop.macsales.com/item/OWC/DIYIMM11D2/?utm_source=google&utm_medium=shoppingengine&utm_campaign=googlebase&gclid=CjwKCAiAxJPVBRB4EiwAsCA4aS38OaniowuYzc-9ugGeN7dwYzTJ8O6M0ZdFbAaJI2-Gwp22NRWkqhoCIwYQAvD_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds
Screen Shot 2018-03-11 at 1.34.01 AM.png
 
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macstatic

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Sounds like you have a nice system there!

We've just ordered a 250GB Samsung 860 EVO SSD (it actually cost the same as the older 850 EVO) along with 16GB of RAM, so when I've installed everything I expect it to be very fast, and a very happy wife.
After trawling through numerous eBay items and see how they mix up part numbers and upper/lower I think we're better off paying the extra cash for an OWC kit instead of getting the wrong kit (which appears quite likely, based on the similar photos and shared part numbers and/or missing information and thus guesswork).

Thanks for the OWC link. You too confirm my findings that their "lower bay" kit is indeed the one to get if I want to put an SSD in the (currently) empty upper bay.

Another thing: what's the best way to set things up (software-wise) in terms of installation of OSX and the users-area with a two drive setup?
In my own Mac Pro I first installed OSX along with all the users on the SSD, then copied over all users' folders to the HDD and (with the "Users & groups" System preference) I pointed the user paths to the HDD. Finally I rebooted and deleted the users' on the SSD. But I'm not sure this is the best way as I've also read about symbolic links or a combination of both. Suggestions?

UPDATE: I got a reply from OWC regarding the upper/lower confusion. And indeed, our assumptions are correct: their "lower bay" kit (item number OWCDIYIMM11D2) is for Mac minis with the lower bay already containing a factory installed hard-drive, and the most common configuration as far as I know -so you can put an additional hard drive or SSD in the UPPER bay.

On the other hand, if your Mac mini came with a factory-installed hard drive in the UPPER drive bay (not as common, but apparently a practice Apple did before or after a certain production date) you need to get OWC's "upper bay" kit (item no. OWCDIYIMM11D2B) so that you can put a 2nd hard drive or SSD in the currently empty LOWER drive bay.
 
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eljanitor

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Feb 10, 2011
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Sounds like you have a nice system there!

We've just ordered a 250GB Samsung 860 EVO SSD (it actually cost the same as the older 850 EVO) along with 16GB of RAM, so when I've installed everything I expect it to be very fast, and a very happy wife.
After trawling through numerous eBay items and see how they mix up part numbers and upper/lower I think we're better off paying the extra cash for an OWC kit instead of getting the wrong kit (which appears quite likely, based on the similar photos and shared part numbers and/or missing information and thus guesswork).

Thanks for the OWC link. You too confirm my findings that their "lower bay" kit is indeed the one to get if I want to put an SSD in the (currently) empty upper bay.

Another thing: what's the best way to set things up (software-wise) in terms of installation of OSX and the users-area with a two drive setup?
In my own Mac Pro I first installed OSX along with all the users on the SSD, then copied over all users' folders to the HDD and (with the "Users & groups" System preference) I pointed the user paths to the HDD. Finally I rebooted and deleted the users' on the SSD. But I'm not sure this is the best way as I've also read about symbolic links or a combination of both. Suggestions?

UPDATE: I got a reply from OWC regarding the upper/lower confusion. And indeed, our assumptions are correct: their "lower bay" kit (item number OWCDIYIMM11D2) is for Mac minis with the lower bay already containing a factory installed hard-drive, and the most common configuration as far as I know -so you can put an additional hard drive or SSD in the UPPER bay.

On the other hand, if your Mac mini came with a factory-installed hard drive in the UPPER drive bay (not as common, but apparently a practice Apple did before or after a certain production date) you need to get OWC's "upper bay" kit (item no. OWCDIYIMM11D2B) so that you can put a 2nd hard drive or SSD in the currently empty LOWER drive bay.
Thank you. Put the Operating System, and applications on the SSD, and everything else pictures music etc, can go on the factory hard drive. Remember 10% minimum free space on the primary hard drive ( the one that has the Operating System installed on it is best to ensure good performance). I haven't installed High Sierra yet I'm still holding at Sierra 10.12.6 because of the issues I've heard about people using the new Apple File System. With 16 GB of RAM you should be very happy with the mac mini. It doesn't matter which slot (upper or lower) you put the SSD, just as long as you put the operating system on that drive.
 

macstatic

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Good advice about the 10% free. Should be no problem with the 250GB SSD.

Your choice about where to put things (SSD or HDD) is the same as I've chosen, but I'm curious as to how you configured it all (so that OSX knows where your home folder is and so on)?
Did you use the "Advanced options" (Users & Groups preferences) to redirect the entire home folder(s), symbolic links or something entirely different?

Yeah, I also heard that the choice of upper or lower bay doesn't matter, but it apparently used to... when one of them was a slower (3 Gb/s) SATA while the other one was the normal high speed (6 Gb/s) type. That could be in reference to 2011 or earlier models, but don't quote me on that. From what I've learnt both bays in the late-2012 model are 6 Gb/s SATA. I'll probably put the SSD in the upper slot since the hard drive is already mounted in the lower one, unless it's easier the other way round. I'll recheck the video a couple of times before I go ahead.

Looking forward to setting up a really cool Mac for my wife!
 
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eljanitor

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If you are going to install a new version of Mac OSX on the new SSD it will ask you during installation if you want to transfer (copy) information from another Mac, or drive to the new installation. Otherwise you can "Option Drag" everything from the old folders to the new home folders, but the wizard does a pretty good job on it's own. Just select the folders and stuff you want when it asks you and hit enter, it should do the rest on it's own.

Now two things if this is a computer that has multiple user accounts, the home folders are great for privacy, but with a 250 GB SSD you will run out of free space quickly using the home folder(s) when it comes to movies and music etc etc...

You can create a folder, or folders anywhere on any drive, or even select drives and edit their privacy and permissions per user. This is the best option. By default Mac OSX will make all new folders outside your default Home Folder directory shared folders that can be accessed by any user.

So to edit the privacy and access of a folder or drive easily, you need to right click (or control + click) on the folder or drive you want and select " Get Info"

Screen Shot 2018-03-11 at 5.03.11 PM.png


Then in the "Get Info" Window you go to the "Sharing & Permissions" tab and you can add / remove users, and access privileges to that folder (and sub folders if you like).

Screen Shot 2018-03-11 at 5.03.19 PM.png


I'm not sure if this option is gone in " High Sierra" but again I'm not using that until they fix all the bugs. I hope this answers your questions, it's the easiest way to do things, IMO.
 
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macstatic

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ActionableMango: I have no idea what the wrench is for either, but will probably find it in a few days when the OWC kit arrives.

Eljanitor: Thanks for your suggestions. Like you I'm a little hesitant to install High Sierra (actually I'm a little hesitant to go past 10.9 Mavericks, but that's another story and I realize the world moves on), so how do I get to install Sierra instead?
Looking up on OSX's release history on Wikipedia I see that in 2012 (as this is a late-2012 Mac mini) OSX 10.8 Mountain Lion was released, so I suppose that's the version you'll get if you do an online factory reset installation which of course doesn't help much as I believe that'll only prompt me to upgrade to the latest (10.13 High Sierra anyway). Does Apple allow downloading of earlier OSX versions?
 

eljanitor

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Feb 10, 2011
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I don't know if you can get Mavericks from the App store for free. You can Get sierra by going here: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT208202 Then scroll down to where it says" Get Sierra from the App Store" And click the link on number one that says:

"If you still need Sierra, follow these steps:

  1. Use this link to open the macOS Sierra page on the App Store: Get macOS Sierra." or right here apparently
and that link should do it. Apple has a tendency to offer the installer for an OS for a period of time and then yank it and never give it to us for free again, so you might want to jump on this.

Also on that note in case you didn't know when you start downloading the installer package for Sierra it saves it automatically to the " Applications" folder. It's a good idea to go there before you start the installation and make a copy of the installer and save it to a flash drive or another hard drive in case you ever need it again.
 
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macstatic

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Thanks!
Fortunately I downloaded (and saved) the 10.9 Mavericks installer a while back, so I don't need to worry about that :)

So will Sierra (and possibly after a while, High Sierra) be the best option for that late-2012 Mac mini (2.5GHz i5, SSD/HDD, 16GB RAM) in regards to making it as responsive and enjoyable to use as possible? I ask because there's a sad tendency for newer OSes to use more memory, hog the CPU but add a few more flashy GUI enhancements so as to make it look like the best thing since sliced bread, but in reality not worth getting into. Then again there are real, worthwhile upgrades....
 

eljanitor

macrumors 6502
Feb 10, 2011
391
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Thanks!
Fortunately I downloaded (and saved) the 10.9 Mavericks installer a while back, so I don't need to worry about that :)

So will Sierra (and possibly after a while, High Sierra) be the best option for that late-2012 Mac mini (2.5GHz i5, SSD/HDD, 16GB RAM) in regards to making it as responsive and enjoyable to use as possible? I ask because there's a sad tendency for newer OSes to use more memory, hog the CPU but add a few more flashy GUI enhancements so as to make it look like the best thing since sliced bread, but in reality not worth getting into. Then again there are real, worthwhile upgrades....
I'm using Sierra with 16 GB of RAM and I really don't have any issues unless I have maybe 5 Apps open at once like iMovie and Garage Band, and some other Apps that I know are hogs,

But there's this nifty trick called "sudo purge" Open a terminal window and type in "sudo purge"


Open Terminal it's in the "Utilities" folder

Once you launch a terminal window you want to type in "sudo purge" this clears all buffered or cached items in your RAM. If you look at my screenshots there were 7.62 GB of cached files, after I typed in "sudo purge" it dropped to 734.2 MB for cached files in RAM.
Screen Shot 2018-03-22 at 7.42.48 PM.png
Screen Shot 2018-03-22 at 7.42.58 PM.png
This is a nifty trick to force your Mac to free up space in the RAM.

Now take note that if you type in just "purge" you get the error "Operation not permitted" because you aren't using "sudo" which means super user do.
 
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macstatic

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The Terminal is a nice tool which I use now and then, but didn't know about the "purge" command. Could come in handy as I usually put my Mac to sleep instead of shutting down, and I suspect there might be memory leaks.

But back to OSX: compared to previous versions, would you say Sierra has been an improvement, or would it be just as well to stay with Mavericks (her current iMac has Mavericks running so this would be a simple clone of her hard drive over to the Mac mini).
 

eljanitor

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Feb 10, 2011
391
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If it's running fine using Mavericks you can continue to use that version. Sometimes it's best to stay with what you have especially if you have software (Apps) that might need upgrading to run on Sierra, or the latest version of OSX. Things like Adobe Photoshop, Word, Pro Tools, etc etc that may require a registration key that may have gotten lost somewhere over time.

"If it ain't broken there's no need to fix it ;) "
 

macstatic

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A wrench??? I cannot picture what that is for.
I just received the kit and can confirm that there was no wrech included (see photo below). Must have gotten the photo wrong on the website.

Everything else pictured was included and a comprehensive step-by-step booklet and some other informational papers. There was also a metallic "sticker" for Bluetooth shielding along with instructions for that (not pictured on the product web page). Looks like a very comprehensive and well built kit.

20180330-152126_IMG_0699.jpg


I hope to get time over Easter to install it.
 
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ActionableMango

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Sep 21, 2010
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Hahaha, okay. I feel better now. I've worked on many Mac Minis and never needed a wrench.

The first gen did need a putty knife though.
 

JoeInMilwaukee

macrumors regular
Apr 7, 2015
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Milwaukee, WI
If it's running fine using Mavericks you can continue to use that version. Sometimes it's best to stay with what you have especially if you have software (Apps) that might need upgrading to run on Sierra, or the latest version of OSX. Things like Adobe Photoshop, Word, Pro Tools, etc etc that may require a registration key that may have gotten lost somewhere over time.

"If it ain't broken there's no need to fix it ;) "
Agreed. Get it working with Mavericks first, THEN decide about upgrading to a later version of OS X.
 

grandM

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Oct 14, 2013
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Very interesting thread! I've decided to open up my mini too. I also have the late mini 2012. I will have to check if it's lower or upper bay. Probably be buying the OWC kit too. I still have two questions:
1 What's easier? Adding an extra SSD next to the existing spinner or replace the spinner by a SSD. I'm asking it because I'm afraid to break things.
2 Which SSD is guaranteed to work with the latest macOS? I'm thinking of a 1TB SSD.

Thanks for your answer!
 

treekram

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Nov 9, 2015
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Honolulu HI
Very interesting thread! I've decided to open up my mini too. I also have the late mini 2012. I will have to check if it's lower or upper bay. Probably be buying the OWC kit too. I still have two questions:
1 What's easier? Adding an extra SSD next to the existing spinner or replace the spinner by a SSD. I'm asking it because I'm afraid to break things.
2 Which SSD is guaranteed to work with the latest macOS? I'm thinking of a 1TB SSD.

Thanks for your answer!
You can do less work if you put your new SSD in the lower slot. If there is already a HDD there (most likely), then you would replace it. If the HDD is in the upper slot, then you can add your new SSD to the system. The OWC page has information on finding out where your existing HDD is without opening up the system.
https://eshop.macsales.com/item/OWC/DIYIMM11D2/

You'll need to search for a video and/or written instructions for installing a drive without removing the logic board as I believe both OWC and iFixit show the remove-logicboard method. I don't have a link to such instructions handy. Using this method, you want to avoid removing the WiFi connector and IR sensor connector if possible. You should setup your workplace such that your Mini is held in place so that you don't damage the WiFi connector if the Mini slips while working on it.

Just about any current SSD should work, but there has been one post I've seen on macrumors that reports problems with the Samsung 860 Evo and High Sierra. Unless you already have High Sierra installed, I would just clone the HDD to the new SSD via an external enclosure, make sure it works doing an external boot, install the SSD and then worry about High Sierra later. If you manage to put both the HDD and SSD in the system, you can keep the HDD as is and experiment to see if High Sierra will work on the SSD. There have been numerous reports of people having issues with this vintage of Mac (2012-ish) and High Sierra. Unless you have a need for High Sierra, you might just want to stick with Sierra for now.
 

grandM

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Oct 14, 2013
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You can do less work if you put your new SSD in the lower slot. If there is already a HDD there (most likely), then you would replace it. If the HDD is in the upper slot, then you can add your new SSD to the system. The OWC page has information on finding out where your existing HDD is without opening up the system.
https://eshop.macsales.com/item/OWC/DIYIMM11D2/

You'll need to search for a video and/or written instructions for installing a drive without removing the logic board as I believe both OWC and iFixit show the remove-logicboard method. I don't have a link to such instructions handy. Using this method, you want to avoid removing the WiFi connector and IR sensor connector if possible. You should setup your workplace such that your Mini is held in place so that you don't damage the WiFi connector if the Mini slips while working on it.

Just about any current SSD should work, but there has been one post I've seen on macrumors that reports problems with the Samsung 860 Evo and High Sierra. Unless you already have High Sierra installed, I would just clone the HDD to the new SSD via an external enclosure, make sure it works doing an external boot, install the SSD and then worry about High Sierra later. If you manage to put both the HDD and SSD in the system, you can keep the HDD as is and experiment to see if High Sierra will work on the SSD. There have been numerous reports of people having issues with this vintage of Mac (2012-ish) and High Sierra. Unless you have a need for High Sierra, you might just want to stick with Sierra for now.
I need high Sierra. Isn't high Sierra compatibel with a random SSD? Crucial and Samsung and owc are thé most likely candidates. Do you need to remove thé logic boarding if you leave thé HDD in? Hence adding thé SSD