Mac Mini 2.26GHz - 8GB RAM & SSD upgrade worth it???

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by WardC, Sep 21, 2010.

  1. WardC macrumors 68030

    WardC

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2007
    Location:
    Fort Worth, TX
    #1
    Hello,

    I have a 2.26GHz 2009 model Mac Mini that I use as my office computer, at work. Mainly I do internet work, research, some microsoft office, and some photo editing. My 2.26GHz machine handles everything quite OK, but it is considerably slower at everything than my 2.93GHz Quad-Core Mac Pro that I have at home with the SSD and the RAID array.

    My question, would installing an SSD in the Mac Mini and upgrading the RAM to 8GB (pretty much the best upgrades that you can add to the Mini) improve my performance significantly and make a difference in speed in most tasks on the Mini? What about 4GB of RAM and an 80GB SSD? Does 8GB make much of a difference over 4GB? I hope to get some answers...also I am not sure if I should endeavor and do the upgrades to the Mini myself or if I should pay $99 for the OWC upgrade service and have them do it.

    Thanks,
    Ward
     
  2. dolphin842 macrumors 65816

    dolphin842

    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2004
    #2
    It depends on the tasks you're looking to speed up. CPU/GPU-dependent things like video encoding will not get much faster. Hard drive-dependent things like launching apps and multitasking would see a dramatic improvement. If much of your perceived slowdown comes from the hard drive swapping to get old apps back into memory, then a RAM/SSD upgrade would make a big difference.

    As for how much RAM to get, it depends on your workload. I have 8GB in my Mini and it enables me to keep every app I need open and run a Windows 7 instance in VMware. The copious amount of RAM makes the need for an SSD less apparent, since I don't really ever hit the swap file.

    For my particular workload, 4GB is too little, but I'd say for most workloads, 4GB + SSD is the sweet spot, as you get fast boot/app launch times, and since you're getting the apps from the SSD, there's much less of a slowdown when you run out of physical RAM. As several other threads have discussed, make sure you get a SandForce-based SSD (the OWC drives seem to have the best performance at the moment), as these are the only ones that seem resistant to degradation in Macs for the time being.

    As for upgrading the 2009 Mini, it requires a good bit of delicate disassembly. If you have experience taking stuff apart it's not that bad, but if you're hesitant, it doesn't hurt to have someone do it for you. Before you send it off to OWC, call your local independent Mac servicer if you have one as they'll often do it cheaper (my shop quoted me $55).
     
  3. WardC thread starter macrumors 68030

    WardC

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2007
    Location:
    Fort Worth, TX
    #3
    I might do 8GB of RAM and a 40GB SSD (I don't need that much space, I don't store video or music files on my work computer)....I do alot of internet surfing, research work, occasional Photoshop, I run several browsers at once....and I download large PDF and Word documents, and do editing in Office and AppleWorks. It would just be nice to have a faster mini. I can definitely feel the lag on mine with the slow hard drive and the 2GB of RAM.
     
  4. HungrySeacow macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2006
    Location:
    West Palm Beach
    #4
    I would go with an SSD and 4GB of RAM. I replaced my MacPro 2.66 quad and 6GB RAM with a 2009 2.0GHz mini with 4GBs and an Intel 160GB G2 SSD. 4GBs of RAM is plenty for the tasks you mentioned and even if it did have to touch the swap file it would be accessed from a very fast SSD. SSD drives make the necessity of having large amounts of RAM well, unnecessary.

    This is the first time that I've owned a computer for about a year and not felt the need to replace it. Even with the MacPro I was itching for a faster computer after a year. As long as I am not encoding video it feels much faster then the MacPro did all because of the SSD. So now I have the quietest computer I've ever owned, it doesn't turn my office into a sauna and feels quicker then my MacPro that it replaced. Yay!
     
  5. dolphin842 macrumors 65816

    dolphin842

    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2004
    #5
    I think that's a good setup. Given all the apps you'll have open, 8GB will come in handy. When moving from 2GB to 4GB, I found that many apps ended up taking more memory just because more was available, so I ended up swapping at the same workload as with 2GB. At this point it's <$100 to get 8GB as opposed to 4, so it's probably worth it to have the extra headroom even with an SSD.

    For an example of RAM usage with a workload similar to yours, see the attached screenshot. Keep in mind that Webkit-based apps (NetNewsWire, Safari, OmniWeb) will take ~800MB each when kept open for a few days.
     

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  6. WardC thread starter macrumors 68030

    WardC

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2007
    Location:
    Fort Worth, TX
    #6
    I'm still trying to decide if I want to try the upgrade myself or pay for professional installation in the Mini. I have watched the OWC instructional take-apart video for the 2009 Mini, and the install seems like a very involved process that could take some time and patience. Not something that I think would be impossible for me to do, but paying for the install might be worth it. Plus I am a bit anxious about breaking my Mini open with a "putty knife." LOL.
     
  7. dolphin842 macrumors 65816

    dolphin842

    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2004
    #7
    For someone like myself who has little choice but to live with the one computer I buy for 3+ years, the cost of installation is acceptable compared with the possibility of voiding AppleCare or otherwise damaging a component. It all depends on your own degree of risk-aversion and your financial ability to have a broken component or computer replaced.
     
  8. Macatak60 macrumors member

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2010
    #8
    updated mini last night

    first time opening up a apple product. Took me about 20 minutes total for removal and installation of new RAM. I've been updating PCs all my life, but this was my first adventure with a Mac. It was a lot easier than I imagined
     
  9. tmckinne macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2010
    #9
    Updated my mini last night with 8GB of memory and a new 500GB Seagate Momentus XT hybrid drive. It runs like a charm. This is the fourth time that I have upgraded a Mac Mini and I am a computer geek ie.. 20+ year Unix Guru and have built dozens of systems from scratch including a couple of DELL MINI 9 hackintoshes. Upgrading the mini is not for the faint of heart but with a little patience and some good documentation it can be done. It is definately worth it.

    Mac Mini 2.26GHZ 8GB RAM 500 GB SEAGATE MOMENTUS XT 500GB HYBRID DRIVE WD MY BOOK 1 TB DRIVE CONNECTED VIA FIREWIRE 800
     
  10. Armendegga macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2009
    Location:
    Valdosta, GA
    #10
    You brought up a good point in that many apps will take more memory because more is available. I noticed that as well when I upgraded to 8GB of ram... And you aren't kidding about the safari usage!
     
  11. WardC thread starter macrumors 68030

    WardC

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2007
    Location:
    Fort Worth, TX
    #11
    I think I'm going to try the upgrade myself....I have have even taken apart a PowerMac 9500 in the past when I was 13 years old and installed a new Power Supply in the computer, and put it all back together. So this shouldn't be too incredibly hard, LOL. I think I am going to go for like an 80GB SSD and 8GB of RAM, I think that might be the best deal. I am sure it will speed up performance over the whole system and make it a much more enjoyable user experience overall.
     
  12. Gordy macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    May 22, 2005
    Location:
    Bristol, UK
    #12
    I've just upgraded my mini to have an SSD drive inside. It's a 64gb Kingston SSD. I put the old 320gb drive in an optibay so that I still have plenty of storage space. Trying to decide whether this was a good plan or not. I think the mini uses the fan more and it's slightly noisier. I may get a second external drive for storage instead.
     
  13. rkdiddy macrumors 65816

    rkdiddy

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2008
    Location:
    OC Baby!
    #13
    Wow - very well written and insightful. Cheers!
     

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