Just ordered refurb Mac mini - will upgrade HDD to SSD - best use for HDD?

Discussion in 'Digital Audio' started by Ubele, Mar 11, 2013.

  1. Ubele macrumors 6502a

    Mar 20, 2008
    I just ordered a refurbished 2012 2.3 GHz quad-core Mac mini with a 1 TB HDD drive for $679, which was too good a deal to pass up. I was considering the BTO version with the 1 TB Fusion drive, but that would have cost $1,049. I plan to upgrade to an SSD at some point, depending on how slow the stock HDD feels to me subjectively. The 500 GB Samsung 840 SSD has gone on sale for as little as $270 recently, so if I buy that and the OWC Data Doubler Kit, I'll get a much bigger SSD than the one in the Fusion drive, and the total will still come out cheaper. 500 GB will be plenty to hold all my files (I've been at a pretty constant 300 GB for the past few years, not counting my media library on an external drive). I'll still have the original HDD, so the question is, what is the best use for it? My primary uses for my Mac mini will be Aperture, Adobe Photoshop Elements, and Logic. Here are some options:

    - Use the HDD as a scratch drive for Logic projects. I've read that it's best to use a different drive than the drive you have your OS and program files on. In that case, is the stock 5,400 rpm drive fast enough, or would a 7,200 rpm drive be required? In the latter case, would it be better to use an external drive, for heat reasons? Actually, now that I think about it, a small SSD scratch drive would be even better because of the speed, at least in theory.

    - Make my own Fusion drive. A 1.5 TB Fusion drive (500 GB SSD + 1 TB HDD) would hold all of the media files I currently have on an external drive. Would there be any potential problems with that? Could I install Bootcamp and Windows on the SSD? I know it doesn't work on the 3 TB Fusion drive, but as I recall, that has to do with the HDD being greater than a certain size, correct?

    - Have a bootable SSD for my OS, program, and most commonly used data files (in which case, a 256 GB SSD would be enough), and use the stock HDD for my media files. In that case, would there be any advantage, other than reduced clutter, for installing the boot SSD internally? I have the technical skills to do so, but I won't if I don't need to.
  2. Fishrrman macrumors Pentium


    Feb 20, 2009
    Have you given any consideration to:

    - Putting the SSD into a USB3 enclosure
    - Leaving the 1tb internal drive "in place"
    If you get the RIGHT enclosure, the SSD will run nearly as fast as it would if you mounted it internally.

    - Creating a "boot partition" on the internal HDD
    - Using CarbonCopyCloner to create a "bootable backup" of your system on the internal backup partition.
    Do this, and you'll ALWAYS have an instantly-accessible bootable backup to keep you going in an emergency.

    - Setting up Boot Camp (or a WIndows emulator) on the HDD (and not mucking with the SSD for such things)

    - For audio projects, create one or two "small" partitions on the internal HDD that are, say, 2x-3x the size of your regular work projects. If you do this, it makes it easy for the drive to "write to" just a small (partitioned-off) area of the disk during recording. Also makes it easy to defrag the work partition to keep large areas of contiguous space available for more recording.
  3. BigRed1 macrumors 6502

    Dec 13, 2011
    Are you suggesting to also clone over the boot partition to the external SSD so that the system and basic apps live on the external SSD? I've thought about doing that for a not-as-of-yet-purchased computer, but I'm unsure of how well that would work.

  4. Ubele thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Mar 20, 2008
    Thanks for the tips. I was reading about creating an external bootable SSD last night, and as you alluded to, it seems that some USB 3 enclosures work, and some don't.
  5. Fishrrman macrumors Pentium


    Feb 20, 2009
    "Thanks for the tips. I was reading about creating an external bootable SSD last night, and as you alluded to, it seems that some USB 3 enclosures work, and some don't."

    This one will work at high speed:

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