Mac mini 2012:SSD external or not

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by RenatoBB, Feb 5, 2018.

  1. RenatoBB macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2015
    #1
    I have a Mac mini 2012 i7/16 GB RAM/1TB HD and I want to upgrade it. I intend to use a 480 GB SSD Kingston (is it good?) and I am wondering if it's better to use it externally within a case to not open the Mac Mini to change it for the normal HD or if the correct one is to use the SSD internally and use the old HD externally within a case.

    Taking the opportunity, I am also considering to buy more RAM ( 2 X 16GB) but I do not know if it's worth it. What do you think about this?

    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. Boyd01 macrumors 601

    Boyd01

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2012
    Location:
    New Jersey Pine Barrens
    #2
    I have a 2012 2.6ghz i7 Quad Mini with the original Apple internal 256gb SSD and 16gb RAM. It is a very fast little machine, I use it primarily with Final Cut Pro X. I have some very expensive legacy software that I don't use a lot, but still need from time to time. So I have Mountain Lion on the internal SSD but primarily boot into Sierra which is on a 1TB USB 3 external Samsung T3 SSD.

    The internal SSD is clearly faster, but in most cases I don't notice a difference. The internal drive boots in about 15 seconds where the external takes around 30 seconds. No big deal there. Copying/duplicating large video files is faster on the internal SSD.

    Regarding RAM, prices have gone WAY up over the past year so you need to consider that. I like to max out my machines and think there's an advantage when using pro software. But you say you already have 16gb RAM and that is the maximum that the Mini supports. So it makes no sense for you to purchase 32gb. ;)

    Here is what I get from the internal Apple 256gb SSD.

    [​IMG]


    And this is my 1TB external Samsung T3 SSD

    [​IMG]

    IMO, it is not worth the trouble of installing an internal SSD. This forum is full of posts where people have damaged the fragile internal components doing an upgrade.
     
  3. RenatoBB, Feb 5, 2018
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2018

    RenatoBB thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2015
    #3
    Thank you for the whole explanation. I did not know that 16GB was the maximum memory Mac Mini supports. What do you think about leaving the SSD and the HD inside the mac mini? What is better: an internal SSD and an external HD or use both internally?

    Edited: Sorry. I saw your opinion later at the end of the page. Thanks.
     
  4. Fishrrman macrumors P6

    Fishrrman

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    #4
    I agree with Boyd (above).

    Connect the SSD via USB3 and run it as "an external booter" -- DON'T install it inside.
    You might be successful -- but then again, you might BREAK SOMETHING inside. Are you willing to risk that?
    It will run almost as fast "as an external drive" as it would internally.

    I've been running my own 2012 Mini for more than FIVE YEARS this way, still runs great without a hiccup.

    DO take the bottom cover off to install RAM if you like.
    Mine came with 4gb (2x2).
    I just removed the "topmost" DIMM (with the back off) and put an 8gb DIMM in its place. I left the "lower one" untouched.
    The Mini runs fine with 10gb.
     
  5. Boyd01 macrumors 601

    Boyd01

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    Feb 21, 2012
    Location:
    New Jersey Pine Barrens
    #5
    Sorry, DON'T take the bottom cover off and install RAM. In his first post he stated he already has 16gb installed. He was under the mistaken impression that the Mini supported 32gb. ;)
     
  6. ActionableMango macrumors G3

    ActionableMango

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2010
    #6
    I like a clean setup and would have both drives inside. A side benefit is that this also leaves the USB port free--half the ports are already taken 24/7 by the K/B and mouse, and I wouldn't want to waste another one with a boot drive.

    I've opened up 4 Mac Minis for drive changes and not wrecked anything. The iFixit drive doubler kit comes with proper tools.
     
  7. RenatoBB thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2015
    #7
    I would like to keep both drives inside the mac mini but I am really concerned with the computer integrity, in addition, my mac mini gets very hot. Would it not increase the internal heat?
     
  8. ActionableMango macrumors G3

    ActionableMango

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    Sep 21, 2010
    #8
    Theoretically, adding anything would increase heat. But I've never noticed a 2.5" SATA SSD to be noticeably warmer than room temperature, so I don't think it's going to amount to much.

    I wonder what "very hot" means. That doesn't sound right. You might want to run a temperature monitor and post the results. There might be something wrong like dust clogging the ventilation or slowing down the fan.
     
  9. knightwrangler, Feb 6, 2018
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2018

    knightwrangler macrumors member

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    Jan 18, 2010
    Location:
    Canada
    #9
    I thought seriously about opening mine (2012 i7 with 16GBs) but decided to just use an external as a boot drive.
    Initially I bought a Verbatim V450 USB3 SSD to experiment with and although the Verbatim is tiny, it is taking up one USB port with a short cable.
    Then I thought why not use the thunderbolt port? I had a Seagate GoFlex thunderbolt adapter sled not being used with a longer thunderbolt cable so I went out and purchased a Samsung EVO SSD.
    Although it is bigger it sure seems faster to boot than the Verbatim was and I also like the fact that the EVO has 250GB GBs space and the Verbatim had only 128GBs and I got my USB port back as well :)
    You could purchase a wireless bluetooth mouse and keyboard to free up 2 more of your USB ports as that as what I have done.
     
  10. ActionableMango macrumors G3

    ActionableMango

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2010
    #10
    I've tried bluetooth, but the range/reliability goes to crap when a USB3 device is connected, and even worse if data is being transferred over it. This is a very common problem actually. Intel has a white paper about it and OWC sells a shielding kit expressly to fix this problem on the MM.

    In any case, I still prefer the cleaner setup of having the drives inside. I have a drive... there's a drive bay... it just seems like the thing to do and I don't mind opening up computers.
     
  11. Boyd01 macrumors 601

    Boyd01

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    Feb 21, 2012
    Location:
    New Jersey Pine Barrens
    #11
    I just didn't see much advantage to doing an internal install. I built my first Heathkit around 1962, my dad was an engineer and taught me how to tinker with just about everything. :) But why take any risk at all with fragile connectors in a package that clearly was not designed to be user-serviceable?

    And my Mini ain't gonna look "clean" no matter how hard I try, it's connected to a Sony DVCAM deck, USB audio interface, external disk, monitor, BlackMagic UltraStudio, ethernet, keyboard and of course a power cord. The little 1tb Samsung T3 isn't even noticeable inside this jungle. :D

    BTW, doesn't your keyboard have a pass-through USB port for a mouse? That's what I use with my Apple USB keyboard.
     
  12. ActionableMango macrumors G3

    ActionableMango

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2010
    #12
    I can think of a dozen advantages. But honestly there could be no advantages at all and I'd still do it. It is in my nature that if I have an empty internal 2.5" drive bay, that's the proper place for a 2.5" drive.

    No, my keyboard does not have a pass through.

    Look, I feel like we are on the edge of this turning into an argument and I'm not interested in that. Different people have different needs, preferences, and capabilities. It's all fine--no method or solution that works is wrong.
     
  13. Boyd01 macrumors 601

    Boyd01

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    #13
    No it's not! :D
     
  14. blaichch macrumors member

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    Jul 26, 2014
    Location:
    Augsburg, Germany
    #14
    I added an internal 250GB SSD to my internal 500GB hard drive and set it up as a fusion drive. With the guide from iFixit it's very doable. I got this upgrade kit from Amazon to install the SSD drive.

    But make sure that you put the SSD into the original hard drive position and the hard drive into the empty position. Otherwise it can lead to system crashes, kernel panics etc.
    Take a look into the iFixit comment section to learn more about it.

    Did my upgrade about two years ago and never had a problem.

    The disadvantages of an external drive is speed and you're blocking a port. In my case I'm using two displays, so my thunderbolt port is always blocked and USB wan't an option because I wanted best performance. Also when making a fusion drive I don't think an external drive is a good idea. Don't know how the file system would react when one drive gets unplugged.

    You should also note that APFS is currently not available for fusion drives and I'm not sure if it ever will be
     
  15. Spectrum macrumors 65816

    Spectrum

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    #15
    Internal 256+512GB SSDs here in a 2011 i7 quad. A very capable machine.
    On this era (USB2 only) internal was important (I am already using the TB port for a 27 inch monitor).
    But with USB3 on the 2012, and the cheap Samsung T3s I would perhaps go down the external path now...

    Having said that...both the 2011 and the 2012 can squeeze in up to 2x2TB internal SSDs these days. Which is a much cheaper option than going external.

    The iFixit guide is accurate. But the process is a little fiddly in my experience...

    EDIT: As blaichch says: Do not try to make a Fusion drive spanning internal and external. That sounds like a massive recipe for disaster.
     
  16. BigMcGuire Contributor

    BigMcGuire

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    California
    #16
  17. Ubele macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2008
    #17
    My two-cents' worth: I've upgraded three late-2012 Mac minis to create internal Fusion drives. I have some experience repairing electronic devices (I did it part-time when I was in engineering school in the late 1980s), but I'm not an expert. The first one was a white-knuckle affair, but it worked. The second one was easier. The third one was a breeze. The PDF instructions on OWC were scary, but the videos made me believe that I was up to the task. The key was to work extremely slowly and never try to force anything; gentle jiggling eventually worked on even the most stubborn cases of trying to pry something out or press something back in place. I like having all four USB ports available. This is where you just have to go with your gut instinct regarding your technician skills and your risk tolerance. If you're at all apprehensive after watching the OWC or iFixit videos, then go with an external boot SSD.
     
  18. knightwrangler, Feb 14, 2018
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2018

    knightwrangler macrumors member

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    Jan 18, 2010
    Location:
    Canada
    #18
    Little late to reply to your post, but I'm using a Logitech k811 keyboard and MX master mouse on bluetooth and even before using the Verbatim USB3 SSD or external HD's I never had the reliability or range issues you seem to be having.
     
  19. dogslobber macrumors 68040

    dogslobber

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    Oct 19, 2014
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    Apple Campus, Cupertino CA
    #19
    It the SSD is connected via USB then it used to be the case that TRIM wasn't run. I'm not sure if that's still the case but it's worth bearing in mind.
     
  20. wickerstick, Feb 23, 2018
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2018

    wickerstick macrumors member

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2016
    #20
    Hello there!

    I’ll throw my opinion in here as a fellow mini owner and a apple technician.
    I own a 2012 CTO Mac mini 2.6 i7. I upgraded it to 16gb of ddr3 1600mhz and replaced the hdd with a Sandisk 960gb SSD internal. And it’s an amazing machine. Recently I upgraded to a 5k iMac so this is now my server machine I use for deploying images and other workloads.

    1.) internal is faster than external
    2.) replaceing your 1tb will create less heat and consume less energy, this is a fact.
    3.) fusion setup are trash imo and adding a second drive will only create more energy used and maybe more heat. They were a good idea at the beginning when ssd’s were smaller but since the arrival of faster nVME ssd’s the price has come way down and the capacity has gone way up.

    Also, I would stay away from Kingston ssd’s they may seem like a good deal but they will fail over time quickly. I know this from experience maintaining several businesses that ran them in Mac mini’s just like yours and mine. And that was with trim enabled. For budget look and crucial mx300 or scandisk. If you have more to spend go with Samsung. They are fast and extremely reliable long term. If you have any questions feel free to ask. Installing internally is quite easy once you’ve done it a few times. For me it’s a breeze.
     

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19 February 5, 2018