Installing an SSD into a Late 2011 Mini i5

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by jtcedinburgh, Jun 12, 2012.

  1. jtcedinburgh macrumors regular

    Sep 26, 2010
    Hi folks.

    Having sold my laptop in anticipation of the refresh, I'm now having second thoughts about buying right now. Which means I am thinking of making do with my home Mini and my iPad to cover most of the things I'd use a laptop for.

    I currently have a 500Gb HDD in the Mini and a spare 240Gb SSD (OCZ Vertex 2) which I removed from my MBP before I sold it. I'd like to swap the SSD into the Mini and use the HDD as a backup drive.

    I have a few questions though:

    (1) Can anyone point me to instructions as to how to remove the HDD and install the SSD? (I've done this many times on the MBP and I've had the base off the Mini to upgrade the RAM but not tried doing the drive before)?

    (2) Once I've got a clean SSD in the Mini, how do I go about installing Lion onto it? The Mini has no DVD drive of course, and I'm not sure what the procedure is in order to get a fresh OS on. I have a licensed copy of Lion that I paid for for the MBP, but I'd need to somehow get to the App Store to install it. Would buying a separate USB DVD drive, burning a .iso file help? Any step-by-step guides out there?



    PS. I might end up changing my mind and buying a MBP but I want to at least explore this possibility as I'd prefer to wait a bit to see how the new Retina MBPs pan out in terms of performance, reliability etc.
  2. donw35 macrumors regular


    Jul 3, 2010
    Los Angeles
    I used CCC to clone my Mac Mini drive to the SSD, install the SSD and all good.
  3. tmanto02 macrumors 65816


    Jun 5, 2011
    Go to ifixit they have a mac mini teardown there with full instructions and step by step pics on how to install new drive (btw the 2011 mac mini has a second sata bay so you might want to consider buying the "dual hard drive kit" from ifixit or and install your ssd AS WELL as your 500gb).

    I just ordered a 128gb ssd and dual drive kit, waiting for it to arrive.

    It looks like a big job though!
  4. smallnshort247 macrumors 6502a


    Oct 23, 2010
    If you buy an OWC SSD, they will also install that SSD FOR YOU! All you have to do is buy the installation service and the SSD at the same time on their website, and they FedEx you a box for your Mini with all the instructions. Just drop your Mini off and OWC will have it back to you in about 4 business days! Now my Mini has an SSD and it works great. I'm pretty comfortable with installing stuff myself but after watching people install it on YouTube, I felt like this was the best solution for me. And lastly, they will also put all your info on your HDD to your SSD before they send it back, so you'll be ready to go asap. No having to install Lion or move any of your information over since they'll do it for you.

    I guess the only down side is that the service costs $99 BUT at least you have peace of mind knowing everything will be done right.
  5. Ifti macrumors 68000

    Dec 14, 2010

    When I installed my SSD into my MBP, I used SuperDuper toclone the HDD across.
    Its been spot on for the past 2 years or so, and still going strong.
  6. JasperJanssen macrumors member

    Aug 31, 2010
    If you want a fresh install, which I can get behind to a certain extent, if you boot a 2011 mini without a working os and without a working recovery partition, it will go into lion internet recovery and download first enough to get the recovery partition on the HDD and then use that to install a full fresh install.

    That's how it works on my macbook air mid-11 as well.

    You can force Lion Internet Recovery by holding cmd-option-r while rebooting. Note: "If you have a Mac with a wireless keyboard you should wait a few seconds before pressing and holding the keys after you first see the light grey boot screen."
  7. blevins321 macrumors 68030

    Dec 24, 2010
    Winnipeg, MB
    Follow the iFixit instructions EXACTLY or use the OWC service. Or possibly a locally-owned Mac repair shop near you would do it too. Don't go to a big-box store for it. Microcenter would be a good choice though. The most fragile part of the install (IMHO) are the fan and IR/light connectors. I snapped the IR/light connection off the logic board during my install while trying to unplug it. Decided it wasn't worth fixing. Glad it wasn't the fan though.
  8. jtcedinburgh thread starter macrumors regular

    Sep 26, 2010
    Thanks, folks...

    As it turns out, I have decided to throw caution (and a rather significant sum of cash) to the wind and buy the new Retina MBP, and so I might just leave the conventional HDD in the Mini and use the 240Gb SSD in a USB3 enclosure to give me more space in the MBP (I went for the 256Gb model but with 16Gb ram).

    If/when I change my mind about the Mini, I will be sure to act on some of the good advice given in the replies, so thanks for helping.


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