Mac mini (2011) SSD upgrade or not?

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by !!!, Jun 4, 2016.

  1. !!!, Jun 4, 2016
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2016

    !!! macrumors 6502

    !!!

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    Aug 5, 2013
    #1
    So I just bought a brand-new MacBook Pro, which has an SSD. I'm quite impressed by the speed. On my older 2011 Mac mini, I have 16GB memory and a 2.3 GHz CPU. Now I'm wondering if I should use the additional drive space to add a SSD.

    I've never opened up a computer besides putting the 16GB of memory in it, and I was looking at the iFixit guide for the dual hard drive, and it seems pretty complicated. I don't want to break anything because there is literally no warranty, and since I just bought that new MacBook Pro, I don't exactly have a ton of money on hand.

    I have a few questions:
    1. Have you done it before? Is it really complicated?
    2. How fast is the SATA 3 connection? Is it still worth it (vs the M.2 connection in the MacBook Pro)?
    3. Which SSD would you recommend? Is there a good brand?
     
  2. jpietrzak8 macrumors 6502a

    jpietrzak8

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    Dayton, Ohio
    #2
    Can I suggest an alternative -- that is, an SSD in an external Thunderbolt enclosure. Thunderbolt will be slower than a direct SATA 3 connection for sustained data transfers, but not significantly slower. (Here's a link to a test of both SATA 3 and Thunderbolt.) Moreover, the most significant benefit of SSDs -- their ability to access random regions of storage instantly -- is identical whether you house the drive inside or outside of the Mac.

    The advantages, I think, are significant: (a) you won't need to perform a potentially delicate surgery on your Mini, and (b) you'll be able to use the external drive with other devices that have a Thunderbolt port, for example the most recent edition of the Macbook Pro... :)
     
  3. !!! thread starter macrumors 6502

    !!!

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    #3
    I would do that, but I would have the same problem as when I was choosing a backup drive: my monitor is connected via Thunderbolt. I do like the fact that I'd be able to switch between each Mac, but back then apple only put 1 thunderbolt port into the Mac mini.
     
  4. Larry-K macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2011
    #4
    Does anyone buy a mini so they can hang copious amounts of junk off of it? The whole selling point is compactness, if you've got a spare slot, put it to work with an internal SSD, you'll be glad you did.

    Oh, and make it the boot drive.

    As for brand, look for any SSD thread, it's a knockdown battle, and there's usually a lot of passionate measurebating taking place about meaningless minutiae. Somebody will say Brand X is great, then somebody else will dig up an article saying it's junk, then somebody will come up with an anecdote that's totally unrelated, and suggest something you've never heard of. Probably best to consult some reviews and draw your your own conclusions.
     
  5. treekram, Jun 4, 2016
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2016

    treekram macrumors 6502a

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    #5
    I put a SATA SSD in my 2012 and 2014 Mini's. (The 2012 is more similar to the 2011 than is the 2014.) There is an "easy" method if you just work with the "Lower" drive bay - the bay that is accessible when you open the Mini. I've done the remove-the-logic-board method for both of my Mini's. Opinions vary as to whether it's easy or difficult. I would tend to the difficult side. People have broken stuff while doing this. There was a poster a few months back who had it done at an authorized Apple repair shop here in the US and they charged $60 for labor which I don't think is a bad price. For your situation, I think that may not be a bad choice considering that if you do it yourself, you'd have to spend some money for the tools, etc. and then you probably won't use them again.

    The Mini 2011 has SATA3, which, with the better drives gets around 500MB/sec. The 2015 MBP has a 4-lane PCI interface, which is 2+ times faster. There is no way you can get that kind of speed on the 2011 Mini - the Thunderbolt is TB1 (10Gb/sec.) even if it was available to be used. Even though it'll be significantly slower than the 2015 MBP SSD, it's still the most cost-effective way to increase performance of the 2011 Mini after putting in 16GB of RAM.

    The Samsung 850 Evo drives are the most popular SSD's and they generally have a good reputation. If you want to spend more and get diminishing peformance improvements, you can get the 850 Pro or some of the other high-end drives. Frankly, those high-end drives are probably not worth it in the 2011 Mini.
     
  6. lympero macrumors 6502a

    lympero

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    #6
    I have a Mac mini 2011 with Ssd and the difference is chaotic.
     
  7. jpietrzak8 macrumors 6502a

    jpietrzak8

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    Location:
    Dayton, Ohio
    #7
    Yeah, I suppose that is a problem. :( (Although there is an HDMI port as well, of course.) You could get a Thunderbolt dock I suppose, but that'd start pushing the cost up quite a bit...

    :) I'm currently hanging two monitors, a keyboard, a mouse, an external hard drive, speakers, an ethernet cable, and a USB hub off of my machine (and a cellphone and tablet are currently hooked into the hub for charging). The Mini is compact, quiet, and uses much less power than your average desktop computer, but it is a desktop computer nonetheless; it is made for hanging copious amounts of junk off of it! :)
     
  8. MysticCow macrumors 6502a

    MysticCow

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    May 27, 2013
    #8
    OWC has a video for your specific model. The big thing is to be careful when removing the logic board, because the remote port is attached via a very (and I mean VERY) short cable. Mess that part up and you lose the ability to use a remote.

    It's not hard, but I won't delude you and say it's just as easy as putting RAM in the mini.
     
  9. Kaida macrumors regular

    Kaida

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  10. !!! thread starter macrumors 6502

    !!!

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2013
    #10
    Well, unfortunately I'm using an older monitor with only VGA support. I have to use apple's thunderbolt to VGA. I really don't want to spend more money bothering with docks and more ca
    Thanks so much for the video! I looked at the iFixit guide, ant it was sort of confusing, with on the pictures. The video really cleared up how hard it would be for me.
    I would prefer that too, but I only have USB 2.0 ports, which are very slow.

    So I went to find a good SSD, and I found an excellent one: http://www.amazon.com/Kingston-Hype...dp/B00W35L6DA?ie=UTF8&*Version*=1&*entries*=0 This has the high speed I'm looking for, as well as a USB3 enclosure, which I can use whenever I decide to get rid of this Mac mini, and I can restore my data to and from the SSD.
    What do you guys think?
     
  11. hfg, Jun 5, 2016
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2016

    hfg macrumors 68040

    hfg

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2006
    Location:
    Cedar Rapids, IA. USA
    #11
    I too would recommend an internal SSD for the Mac Mini. But if you do want to go external, you could replace the video cable with a HDMI to VGA cable which would free up the Thunderbolt port.

    http://www.walmart.com/ip/Cirago-HD...play-Adapter-Cable-6-Black-Universal/44425680
    (note: I have not actually used this cable, just found it and many others in quick search)

    I use my 2011 Mac Mini as a media server and household backup system and have swapped out drives several times. It is not difficult, but you do have to be very careful not to damage or break the fragile connectors. Be sure how they disconnect before trying to pry them apart. I added a OWC second drive mount which came with all the tools I needed and a pretty good step-by-step illustrated manual. Just take your time and have good lighting when you do it. I currently have a 500GB SSD and a 1.5TB hard disk in my 2011 Mac Mini with 2 RAID-5 Thunderbolt disk arrays external. I use a HDMI-to-DVI cable for the monitor.


    If you simply must have external Thunderbolt disk and use the DisplayPort for your monitor, there are a few dual-port Thunderbolt enclosures out there that you could daisy-chain with your monitor. They are AC powered and usually house 2 or more disk drives. You might find a used or refurb Thunderbolt LaCie "Little Big Disk" which you can remove the hard disks and put a SSD and another disk inside (and disconnect the irritating fan). Akitio also makes a nice dual 2.5" enclosure with dual Thunderbolt.
     
  12. treekram macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2015
    Location:
    Honolulu HI
    #12
    The Kingston's price is comparable to the Samsung 850 Evo. One benchmark site that allows you to compare different SSD's is at:

    http://ssd.userbenchmark.com/Compare/Samsung-850-Evo-250GB-vs-HyperX-Savage-240GB/2977vs3494

    The Kingston has a 3-year warranty, the 850 Evo has a 5-year warranty. The installation accessories included on your product link are of no use in a Mini. I don't know about the Kingston enclosure. I bought a cheap one ($15) that I've used for a couple months now that works fine but rattles with at least one of my HDD's in it (no big deal for me).
    http://www.amazon.com/Inateck-Inch-...&sr=1-1&keywords=usb+enclosure+inateck+feu3ns

    I think of the 850 Evo as the SATA SSD benchmark. What does another drive offer vs. the 850 Evo at what price? It doesn't mean I automatically buy the Samsung, of the 3 times I've bought an SSD, I chose the 850 Evo once and another brand twice (for the SSD I bought a few years ago, it would have been the 840 vs. the rest).
     

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