Mac Mini 2012 SSD upgrade advice needed

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by coyr1983, Apr 6, 2013.

  1. coyr1983 macrumors newbie

    Apr 6, 2013
    Hi all,

    I have my brand new Mac mini on order now, and plan to swap the HDD out for an SSD as soon as I get it. I already have the SSD in question, a Samsung 830 128GB, have done my research regarding the upgrade and think I can manage it, but do still have a couple of questions.

    1) Do I really need to disconnect the fan, or is it enough to remove the screws affixing it to the logic board and then simply move it to the side where the RAM is located whilst still connected? This looks doable from the videos I have watched, and because so many people seem to have broken the connector, it seems easier to try and work with it still attached.

    2) Same question as (1) really, but relating this time to the Wifi connector. Having dealt with those little connectors just recently, I am in no hurry to deal with them again.

    3) As I am doing a swap of the drives, it seems that I should be able to remove the HDD and install the SSD all without moving the logic board, is this correct?

    4) Is there any need to remove the IR connector at all? If the answer to (3) is yes, I assume removing this connector becomes redundant?

    5) What's the best practice for removing and then reattaching the SATA connector? It looks easy in the videos I have watched, but I'm not 100% sure what sort of pressure, and from where, should be applied?

    As you can probably tell, I am loathe to disconnect anything when I do not have to, especially where there is the risk of breaking something, hence my attempts to do the entire install with only one cable being disconnected (SATA). Any help or advice with any of this would be greatly appreciated, cheers.
  2. benwiggy macrumors 68020

    Jun 15, 2012
    Sites like will give you detailed instructions on how to replace a hard drive, showing you what needs to be done.
  3. opinio macrumors 65816

    Mar 23, 2013
    i agree with benwiggy, check the site and do your reading/watching of the instructions.

    from personal experience i provide the following comments to your questions though.

    these comments relate purely to a straight swap, as 'adding' a SSD/HDD in the second bay requires a full pull-out of the guts (logic board etc) of the mac mini.

    1. you can do it without disconnecting the fan, but you do have it hanging around so it could rip of the connector to the logic board if you are not super careful. i have always disconnected the fan my self. if you want to move the logic board at all, at the very least you will need to unscrew the fan and move it to the side.

    2. same answer as 1. you can probably get away with it but so much hanging on wires. the wifi plug is fairly sturdy.

    3. i have found the logic board always needs to be moved about 3-5mm to slot the SSD in. a 2.5" drive thinner than 9.5mm would most likely slot in though. i have heard of people 'jamming' a 9.5mm in there. i have always moved the logic board (dislodged) just about 3-5mm and the new SSD slides in.

    4. as long as you only move the logic board a few mm, then the ir cable can remain attached. once again, you need to be aware of whether you are putting pressure on the cable.

    5. i use a plastic spudger to lift the sata ribbon from the logic board. anything thin that does not have sharp metal sides (that might cut into the logic board) will work. to remove the sata ribbon from the drive just lift the tape. keep the tap to put back on the SSD.

    ifixit has a good serious of instructions. i think owc has a video and instructions too. personally, i tend to remove everything so i suggest if you keep cables attached be super super careful they do not rip of the logic board. slotting the ssd in also, you will need to get the two allen screws (on the SSD) to sit in the grommets (inside the bay on the front edge of the mini). shine a torch in first to see were they are so you know what has to align. i find the best way is to sit the mac mini on its side with its front face on the table so the SSD slides in via gravity into the two grommets. just wobble the SSD a little and you will feel the two allen screws slot into the grommets. there is minimal pressure. they jsut sit in neatly

    also note the two stainless steel screws that hold the SSD to the wifi grill. make sure they thread properly first before you screw them up so you do not strip the thread on the SSD. i have never stripped the threads but i imagine this could happen.

    that is my technique and tips.

    there are probably a few other ways and shortcuts so i am happy to stand corrected so i can learn as well.

    but do you reading first and take your time. don't jam anything as it will fit perfectly or it is set wrong. the mac mini (apart from its cpu sink) is machined very well to fit perfectly.
  4. blanka macrumors 68000

    Jul 30, 2012
    DONT: they make it way to complicated.
    In one of the other topics on this here is an excellent youtube with a much easier procedure.
    Remove the fan+black protection cap + wifi antenna. The connector for the last is really a piece of cake, and the one of the fan just needs to be moved in the right direction (see video) with a spudger. Don't mess with screwdrivers or fingers.
    You can leave the mobo in place.
  5. Shattentor macrumors member


    Mar 30, 2011
    It did the procedure a few days ago and here is what I experienced:

    1. I had the same fears as you, and it worked. You don't have do disconnect the fan.

    2. Also no need for this. Just carefully turn the antenna plate over and see that you don't put any stress on the connection. Worked fine for me.

    3. You don't have to move the logic board! The stock HDD in my Mini had a height of 7mm, which slides out very easily. To remove or add a 9,5mm height drive is more fiddly and takes some time (not force), but can be done. Most SSDs today (including the 830) have a height of 7mm, so you probably won't have any problems. (My Intel 335 series SSD sadly had 9,5mm height...)

    4. No need at all for this, as you definitly won't have to move the board.

    5. The SATA cable comes off very easily. It has some kind of rubbered "plate" on top which makes it easy to "plopp" off with you finger nail.

    All in all this procedure can be done with a minimal need of disconnections, but as always I recommend steady hands and no hurry. Ripping of a cable due to one hasty move could indeed be fatal. But don't worry, this is no surgery at the open heart and can be done in 20min tops ;)
  6. coyr1983 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 6, 2013
    I thank everyone for their responses, it's always good to get the opinion of those with first hand experience, so cheers! The above, moreover, is kinda what I wanted to hear, as I really don't want to do too much mucking about, lest I break something. And trust me, I would. I am really in two minds now though overall, part of me thinks - just pay a professional to do it. But then another part says if I proceed carefully with a clear plan in mind, I might be able to do it without breaking anything. I will be popping the back off the Mini as soon as I get it anyway, to upgrade the RAM, so I might see how brave I feel at that moment.

    Thanks folks!
  7. oneinten macrumors member

    Mar 16, 2013
    I thought 9.5mm was the standard thickness of 2.5" HDD's and SSD's?

    is best to get a 7mm SSD? will the notches fit into the Mac Mini casing correctly?

    And how did you secure the 7mm hard drive in it's place?

  8. opinio macrumors 65816

    Mar 23, 2013
    9.5mm is standard but they are starting to make thinner drives.

    For example:

    The mount points are the same.
  9. Shattentor macrumors member


    Mar 30, 2011
    9,5mm WAS the standard thickness of 2,5'' drives, but in recent time 7mm established itself due to the demands of ultrabooks and similar mobile devices. Almost every mainstream SSD today has a height of 7mm (Intel being one major exception), with many modern HDD drives following along the same path.

    As said above, mount points are the same, also in the specific case of the Mac Mini (it uses a rather custom method of securing the drive in place).
  10. coyr1983 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 6, 2013
    Just so you know, if you specify a fusion drive with your Mac mini, the SSD that Apple uses in that instance is a Samsung 830 128GB SSD. I have that drive in my desktop at the moment, and it is one of the smaller 7mm drives. From what I've heard the smaller drives are slightly easier to manoeuvre in, plus the 830 is a brilliant drive, so I would recommend it wholeheartedly.
  11. oneinten macrumors member

    Mar 16, 2013
    Thanks that's great! I'm going to replace the stock HDD with a 120gb SSD next, budget won't allow anything bigger. But I'm going for a Crucial M4 or Samsung 840.

    How does the SSD get secured into the bay? I know the locating pins line up and it squeezes in the gap. But does it get screwed in?

  12. opinio macrumors 65816

    Mar 23, 2013
    The two stainless steel screws go through the wifi grill and into the hard drive. so the drive is secured with two locating pins on the inside and two actual screws that hold it (with a slight space) against the wifi grill. That is why it is very important for the wifi grill to be sitting right so the holes line up with the mount points on the drive.

    the wifi grill is held down by the outer two protruding screws (that the black base latches onto), and the hard drive is held onto the grill by the two flat stainless steel screws.

    Just take note as you take it apart, and install it back the same.
  13. blanka macrumors 68000

    Jul 30, 2012
    Guess he is interested in the locking of the second drive. The top one under the grill, I see how that works. But how is the bottom one held in place, the one you add?
  14. opinio macrumors 65816

    Mar 23, 2013
    The "bottom" one is actually the "upper" one. I say that so as not to confuse what I say. The drive in the original "OEM Drive" position is in the "lower" bay on the logic board/osx. If you go to "sata" in the system information it will say the standard one drive mac mini has the bay in the lower bay. this make sense when you turn the mac mini right side up. it is actually in the lower bay then. the bottom bay, or "second" bay that everyone refers to is the upper bay on the logic board/OSX.

    The SSD/HDD you add (that is in the upper bay) is held in with special mounting screws if you get the factory instalL (say the server mac mini). the screws in the factory model are similar to the two locating screws on the lower bay.

    If you get a kit, I think they are small screws that actually hold the drive in, while in the factory setup they are more "headless" screws that locate themselves in grommets. Either way, the second drive is held in place with four locating screws (in grommets), or screwed in (with grommets). It is screwed into the black plastic caddy that comes out after you take the logic board, power adapter etc out. It is full open heart surgery to put the second drive in the top bay, while the hard drive replacement in the bottom (OEM position) bay is easier.

    You can obviously run either bay in multiple configurations: lower bay boot, upper bay boot, SSD in either in a fusion drive etc.

    I run a SSD in the lower bay and the HDD 1TB in the upper (second bay). Reason being the SSD is smoother and cooler so it is easier to clean the dust off under the wifi grill than a normal HDD. I have run either in both bays though and there is not difference.
  15. 98EXL macrumors regular

    Jun 16, 2012
    not on the moon
    I just added a second SSD into my mini today. Took me 30 minutes, got stuff and video from OWC. Drive was a 240GB Mushkin on Amazon for $180.

    Not a bad thing to do, just take your time, and don't forget to make sure the fan doesn't become disconnected. Ooops.

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