Installing an SSD in Mac Mini?

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by MacNoobGuy, May 14, 2013.

  1. MacNoobGuy macrumors 6502

    Apr 18, 2012
    hey guys, i've got a mid 2011 Mac Mini here. it's got the 500gb HDD it came with, but it's feeling a bit sluggish even with 8GB of RAM.

    has anyone here ever installed an SSD into a Mac Mini 2011? is it possible to have both an SSD as well as the 500gb HDD at the same time? how hard is it to install an SSD? i installed the 8GB RAM myself, but that was very easy.

    thanks, i'd really appreciate any help!
  2. simsaladimbamba

    Nov 28, 2010
    You can find a Hard Disk Drive replacement guide and a Dual Drive guide here. The procedure is more complicated than replacing RAM.
  3. Zemzil macrumors member

    May 10, 2013
    Geneva, Swiss
    Simple drive is not so complicated, but dual drive could be.

    For both you need proper (cheap) tool, patience and carefulness... and avoiding static electricity.

    For dual drive, you need a special SATA cable for the second drive and some tools to hang up to mainboard (OWC/iFixit can sell you entire kit).

    As for many things, re-assembling require more attention than disassembling ;)
  4. opinio macrumors 65816

    Mar 23, 2013
    If you are good at tinkering with computers and reasonably dextrous with your fingers then it is a moderate to 'just ever so slightly difficult' build.

    It is very different to the RAM install.

    Just get the kit from OWC or iFixit and follow the instructions on their websites.

    Check the video on OWC and see if you are up to it. Also you tube has many vids as well.

    Having said that. I suggest following actual photos on the websites when you do it the first time (with the video if needed) as the photos show better close up resolution of the smaller parts than the videos.
  5. bingeciren, May 14, 2013
    Last edited: May 14, 2013

    bingeciren macrumors 6502a


    Sep 6, 2011
    Easier than you think because the hard drive is located just under the perforated stainless plate. OWC has excellent videos on the subject but they can be misleading because they "add" a second drive to the Mini and that takes an involved surgery, necessitating the removal of the logic board. Just to replace the existing hard drive with an SSD is much simpler on the other hand.

    Remove the black bottom plate, no need to remove the memory modules, remove the fan (only three T5 torx screws), gently detach the connector by pulling on its wires. Remove the perforated stainless which holds the WiFi antenna by unscrewing the two outer screws then removing the smaller flush screws on the same plate holding the HDD in place (use Torx T8). Flip the perforated plate toward left without removing the WiFi wires. Remove the fan duct by removing its T5 screw on the bottom (the crescent shaped black plastic to the left) It takes a bit wiggling to get it out of there.

    There is a flush square connector connecting the HDD to the main board. Gently pry it out with your nails from underneath or use a plastic prying tool. The hard drive is ready to come out now. It is a tight fit but if you pull it towards the center while sliding out and wiggle at the same time, it will come out with minimal problem. You may leave the black protecting film on the HDD as SSD's have no exposed circuits underneath, you won't need it. Remove the black screws on the side of the HDD and put them on the SSD. Remove the cable connector from the HDD and put it on the SSD.

    Reverse the procedure by sliding the drive in. Re connect the drive to the main board with a gentle snap to make sure it is in place. Put the fun duct back by wiggling and sliding in place. Place the perforated plate and fasten the screws in reverse order. Do not over tighten any of the screws on the plate. The inner flush ones with rubber grommets on the plate holds the drive in place and the outer screws are for holding the black round cover in place. First re connect the fan to the board by a gentle push until you hear a click then tighten the three screws of the fan back.

    I timed myself and it took me 3 minutes to get the drive out and 7 minutes to complete the job. Everything is a tight fit and needs gentle wiggling to put things in place. Do not use excessive force as it's not needed.
  6. simsaladimbamba

    Nov 28, 2010
    Maybe add a break or paragraph now and then to make your block of text much easier to read?
  7. bingeciren macrumors 6502a


    Sep 6, 2011
    You are right. I was concentrating too much on the instructions and got carried away. :)
  8. simsaladimbamba

    Nov 28, 2010
    You can still edit your posts via the EDIT button on the bottom right of your posts.
    You can even use more advanced formatting tools like INDENT or LIST, all available when clicking GO ADVANCED.
  9. houstonwkv macrumors newbie

    Aug 9, 2010
    Great White North
    I've done it with a 2011 mac mini.

    I found it really easy, I actually had to do it twice because the first time I managed to unplug the drive as I was fitting it back into the case.

    I also found the reinstalling the drive to be the hardest part, after that is way easier putting it together then taking it apart. (especially the second time through).

    You should definitely give it a shot, as its a fairly low risk operation, I would take a look at ifixits harddrive replacement guide, someone made a comment about half way through that saved me a lot of time. I think it had todo with not disconnecting a cable and just re positioning it.

  10. cmeisenzahl macrumors 6502

    Oct 7, 2005
    Go for it, I did it last year. HUGE performance increase.
  11. bingeciren macrumors 6502a


    Sep 6, 2011
    Read my post above for replacing the HDD with SSD. You can also add a second drive and make a DIY Fusion drive. I converted one of my Mac Mini server's to Fusion drive (128SSD + 500HDD). I am very happy with the results.
  12. errol macrumors 6502


    Jan 11, 2008

    7 minutes? It took me two hours! :(
  13. blanka macrumors 68000

    Jul 30, 2012
    You need
    Upper bay cable. 2 rubber gromets, 2 threaded pins, a Torx 9 and 7 tool and a hex 2mm wrench (everybody uses torx 9 for the 2 screws that hold the bottom plate, but they are hex 2mm and might damage with Torx).
    Spudger might be handy for the fan cable but not necessary. Logic board tool not needed.
    This is the good video:
    Skip iFixit and OWC info, those are way too complicated.

    What I altered was that I took the 2mm spacer frame that came with the SSD, and put that on top of the SSD instead of the white sheet this guy uses. Be sure the SATA cable is on TOP of that spacer, not under it.

    If you go SSD, consider replacing the 500Gb with a Scorpio black 750Gb at the same time.

    20 minutes work I guess.
  14. MacNoobGuy thread starter macrumors 6502

    Apr 18, 2012
  15. simsaladimbamba

    Nov 28, 2010
    Yes, it is.
  16. jebbbz macrumors newbie

    May 12, 2013
    I added an SSD to a late 2012 Mac Mini and almost succeeded following this video. Unfortunately, I was thwarted by the SATA cable I attached. At 5:34 into the video one can see the edge of rectangular "board" on the end of the connector. Unfortunately, in my case this board was too thick (1mm?)for me to slip my drive into the upper bay. Fortunately, I had ordered an OWC kit and was ready for full surgery. Unfortunately, I had a few problems (detailed in my review at Amazon. Fortunately, things worked out.

    Try the simple way but be ready for the long way.
  17. blanka macrumors 68000

    Jul 30, 2012
    It is a little tight yes, with the print on the SSD. You have to keep the wires very tight to the right.
    And you can always file off the bottom of the SSD :).
  18. bingeciren macrumors 6502a


    Sep 6, 2011
    This is not a contest:) Take your time and make sure you do it properly. Honestly, it took me 7 minutes to do the whole thing because it was the 5th time I was doing it. The first time I did, it took me a l lot longer than 7 minutes. :eek:
  19. kdochert macrumors member

    Apr 6, 2013
    Installed Samsung 840 Pro in 2011 mac mini

    I just upgraded my 2011 base model (with 8Gb ram) mac mini with an 128gb Samsung 840 pro SSD, but the hard disk write speed is only 260 (using Novabench)? This seems to be a bit slow vs what others are getting in these forums, anybody have any ideas?
  20. philipma1957 macrumors 603


    Apr 13, 2010
    Howell, New Jersey
    test with xbench

    the results are for my 1.96gb fusion drive with a crucial m500 960gb ssd and a hgst travelstar 7200 rpm

    take a screen shot of your results and post. you should beat my results with ease

    Attached Files:

  21. phrehdd macrumors 68040


    Oct 25, 2008
    If you are not too savvy at taking apart and putting back the guts of a computer, then I highly suggest you simply replace the single drive with the single SSD drive and use the old drive externally.

    One thing to remember, be very careful (if you do a two drive solution) to disconnect the IR plug/connector. Many people seem to have issues and often break the connector. If you watch some videos pay particular attention to this part and how to properly separate the plug from the socket.

    I have 2 SSD in my Mini and striped them. However, a few months later, one of the SSD drives failed. I merely took the back up from the day before and was able to restore pretty much everything to the one drive. The dead drive is still in the mini and soon I'll replace it. Both single and striped SSD are faster than the mechanical drive in general. You'll appreciate the performance gain. 8-16 gigs of RAM is a nice fit for the Mini.
  22. MJL macrumors 6502a

    Jun 25, 2011
    One word of warning though - If you use bootcamp and put an extra drive in the base Mac mini (designed to have a single drive) then under certain conditions you'll be getting an error message when trying to run bootcamp and you cannot get bootcamp to run. (some error message about upgrading the Bootrom) I suspect that you'll have to disconnect the second drive before making progress.

    I did not bother further solving this since I reverted machine to OS X only. I have set up the old HDD as the time machine for OS X but it would have been nice to have had a backup Windows installation.

    The history behind the above is the following:
    This is my "old" machine which was running 99% of the time Windows but it is now my wife's machine. Windows 7 was running on the SSD and the HDD was split in exFAT and a OS X Mountain Lion installation. I wanted to swap the Windows and OS X around (OSX on the SSD and Windows on the HDD) but this failed miserably. OS X was choosen to be the main OS on my wife's machine because I do not want to keep manually backing up the data. (She has no specific Windows software that is essential so OS X will work fine.)

    My machine is a server and I have been changing things around at will.

    I've been wondering about someone breaking a fusion drive on the mid mac mini and their experiences with bootcamp so if someone has done this I like to hear from them. Thanks.
  23. kdochert macrumors member

    Apr 6, 2013
    Xbench results

    Here are the xbench results for the Samsung 128 Gb 840 pro installed in a 2011 base model Mac Mini with 8Gb ram:

    Results 517.49
    System Info
    Xbench Version 1.3
    System Version 10.8.3 (12D78)
    Physical RAM 8192 MB
    Model Macmini5,1
    Drive Type Samsung SSD 840 PRO Series
    Disk Test 517.49
    Sequential 310.82
    Uncached Write 703.65 432.03 MB/sec [4K blocks]
    Uncached Write 494.73 279.92 MB/sec [256K blocks]
    Uncached Read 127.23 37.23 MB/sec [4K blocks]
    Uncached Read 638.30 320.81 MB/sec [256K blocks]
    Random 1544.37
    Uncached Write 2088.40 221.08 MB/sec [4K blocks]
    Uncached Write 887.00 283.96 MB/sec [256K blocks]
    Uncached Read 3009.90 21.33 MB/sec [4K blocks]
    Uncached Read 1534.70 284.77 MB/sec [256K blocks]

    Is this about right? I tried to run blackmagic also but it said I didn't have write access?

    As mentioned above, when installing the IR connector is the tricky one, think I broke mine (no light near IR sensor) will test later. What the guides don't tell you is you should not pry the IR connector from the board as the female connector is attached to the board right beneath it!!!!!!
  24. drsox macrumors 65816


    Apr 29, 2011
    They assume that you know that it is a connector AND a socket.
  25. kdochert macrumors member

    Apr 6, 2013

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