Mac mini & an SSD

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by monokitty, Jan 13, 2012.

  1. monokitty macrumors regular

    Sep 16, 2011
    I have the Mid 2011 Mac mini 2.7 GHz i7, 8GB of RAM and the stock 5400-rpm 500GB hard drive. I've been contemplating adding a 60GB OWC 6G SSD in the other available slot and running it with dual drives internally, booting obviously from the SSD. Here's the scoop: Because I'd only purchase a smaller SSD (due to price), a vast amount of data would remain on the 500GB drive, including my entire photography library, iTunes media library, and all my games which are enormous in size. The basic system of Lion and Applications folder (minus the games) would reside on the SSD, while applications with subsequent data on the 500GB drive would be re-directed to that 500GB as necessary.

    My question is this: Is an SSD still worth it? Boot times would obviously be much faster, along with application launch times, but because a vast amount data resides on the second drive, how much of a benefit is there really? Do you think it's worth moving to an SSD based on the above scenerio? (i.e; launching iTunes, which has to pull data from the 500GB drive anyhow.)

  2. iamthedudeman macrumors 65816

    Jul 7, 2007
    A SSD is the biggest improvement you can possibly make to a computer. The HD is the bottle neck and a SSD removes that.

    Under your circumstances. No. You need a bigger drive. I have a 256 OEM drive from Apple that I installed my self. I don't even want a HD in my machine at all. Why have a HD in there to increase heat and noise? With Thunderbolt a internal HD is redundant. My advice would be to return your SSD and save up for a bigger one. Get a SATA 2 SSD at least. You can get a 120GB or 256GB for cheap.

    These are better than the $450 to $550 that apple charges. Natively support for Trim. Reliable and doesn't void your warranty.
  3. Supra Mac macrumors regular

    Jan 5, 2012
    How do you like the performance of the system now?

    Being 2011 model, should still be quick, may be over time as your hard drive loads up and things start to slow down the performance jump will be greater at that time. Plus, in time you could get more SSD storage for the same money.

    I upgraded from day 1 with a fresh install, boot times were faster but already quick, 45secs to 25secs. But I just sleep it now.

    Don't get me wrong, they are awesome, but you will pay.
  4. MadDragon1846 macrumors regular

    Mar 23, 2011
    I'd get a minimum of 120GB ssd. Main reason is if you play games on your mac. If the games are on the ssd, it'll cut loading times down a lot, and it'll load things like textures a lot quicker.

    I'm still waiting for ssd to get a bit cheaper before I take the plunge. £1+ per GB is still a bit on the crazy side. :D (even with the flooding doubling the HDDs prices, you can still buy an external 2TB HDD for around £80!)
  5. eutexian macrumors regular

    Jan 6, 2012
    Mapperley, Nottingham UK
    This is a path I intend taking later this year. My belief id that the cost of SSD's is artificially high due to the repercussions of the Thai Floods. As supply recovers I imagine prices will start to fall.

    Here in the UK.. the Apple 256 is £400. A local independent Apple upgrade specialist is supplying them for £292. Obviously when the time comes i shall be going to them. i fully expect the price to have fallen further by that time.

    For my needs 256 is the minimum size I would consider.
  6. Santabean2000 macrumors 68000


    Nov 20, 2007
    I run a 60GB OWC SSD in my 2011 mini, and love it. My media resides on an external. Everything runs beautifully.

    My mini runs as a HTPC mostly, so my requirements are lower than yours. Still, I think you should go SSD for sure.
  7. pcyyijb macrumors newbie

    Oct 9, 2011
    I have a base mac mini 2011 with 60gb SSD (Sata 2) and 1tb internal hd. I have all applications and OS residing on the SSD and my home folder on the spinning HD. This is obviously a compromise from the raw speed of an ssd but programs still load extremely quickly (one bounce in dock) even when loading databases (iTunes and iPhoto) from the HD.
    I would say if you have the money to go for a big enough ssd to hold all your programs and data go for it, otherwise splitting data allows for the best of both worlds.
  8. philipma1957 macrumors 603


    Apr 13, 2010
    Howell, New Jersey
    Personally I would say don't do it. I have found that having the small ssd and a large hdd is a noticeable compromise. I say save money and get a big ssd. even consider getting last years samsung series 470. it is reliable and a 256gb size can be found for under about 300 on ebay.

    If buying this is nerve wracking. the series 830 model is about 380 for the 256gb size.

    use code SAVE15 and get it for 365.

    I have found that the shift from the ssd to the hdd is very annoying.

    I use 2 samsung 256gb ssd in raid0 with a lacie little big disk.

    I have a 512gb ssd this way fast and lots of room. I use the internal hdd as a backup to the lacie.

    I realize this is costly I spent about 850 to build it.

    here is the thread on it.

    back to your question. you can buy the small ssd and find out first hand about the time shift issue from ssd to hdd.

    I am sure my post will have lots of people saying they like the 60gb ssd with a 500gb hdd. Like I said I found it annoying and went with a big ssd
  9. volodymyrqa macrumors regular

    Apr 14, 2011
    Kyiv, Ukraine
    SSD Plextor 64GB 2.5 SATAIII MLC (PX-64M2S)

    Will this SSD fit into my mac mini mc816? :)

    What is the best SSD for my mini? In terms of price/productivity? I do not need more than 64Gb, because don't play games on my mac. Using portable HDD for storing media content.
  10. dolphin842 macrumors 65816

    Jul 14, 2004
    I'm currently running a 120gb (60gb used) SSD via firewire 800, with most of my media on a FW400 external. The boost in responsiveness is quite noticeable. For iPhoto, I heard that if you put just the originals on the SSD, you can get most of the performance benefit in iPhoto. Performance differences in iTunes should be negligible whether it's on an SSD or not (all it's really loading at first is the app itself and the library file).
  11. Daniel97 macrumors 6502a

    Mar 6, 2011
    Surely for those of us with a need for DATA can't have any issues doing this?

    I have a Mac Mini and want a 64GB SSD for booting and application launch etc .. it will make my system generally snappier. A crucial M4 64GB is £78.

    I could then have 1 2TB External keeping my home folder with all my music, videos and photos and a further 2TB external doing my time machine backups.

    All my data is safely stored on my external so should my house catch fire - grab it and run. Its also safely backed up on the 2nd External ...

    Am i thick or is this a good option?
  12. dolphin842 macrumors 65816

    Jul 14, 2004
    Yes, you still get a large part of the speed boost just by putting the system and apps on the ssd.
  13. Daniel97 macrumors 6502a

    Mar 6, 2011
    im currently copying home folder across to an extrernal drive as we speak however i have noticed that the applications form part of that home folder?

    How do i get everything except applications to copy? - I want Apps to remain on the Main boot drive as i will be using an SSD here and then everything else to copy to a larger external HD.
  14. Tyr., Jan 18, 2012
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2012

    Tyr. macrumors member

    Aug 1, 2007
    Antwerp, Belgium
    Here's my 5 cents. I've put an SSD into my 2009 mini, while keeping the 320Gb 7200rpm drive I'd already put in there to replace the original drive. I've moved System + Applications + ~/Library to the SSD. Actually what I did was create symlinks for all the big stuff in my homedir back to the HDD: Movies, Music, Pictures, Downloads.

    To me this is a good compromise. It'll still be a lot faster because you separate System reads (which tend be be short and jump around a lot on disk, which stresses HDD) and data reads (which tend to be long sequential reads, which is well suited to traditional HDD.) And you can do the two concurrently which is a speedup in itself.

    60Gb is fine for the SSD, I've got a 120Gb Intel one and only use about 20Gb on it. Of course bigger is better because the more free space you have the more wear-levelling the SSD can do because it adds the free space to the already reserved spare capacity to do that. So it's best not to stuff as much on there as you can.

    EDIT: I see you do have 8Gb RAM so the following paragraph can be ignored.
    Another tip: while you're in there, if you haven't already, upgrade your RAM to 8gb. Before I did this Lion swapped out a lot, but now it hardly uses any swap at all (sometimes it shows 1Mb swap used for some strange reason.) Not only will this also significantly speed your system by limiting disk read/writes but it'll also prolong your SSD's life.

    With the SSD and the 8Gb RAM my 2009 mini feels really speedy to the point where you begin to notice other bottlenecks like network speed :). I imagine the benefit to a newer machine would be even greater.
  15. Daniel97 macrumors 6502a

    Mar 6, 2011
    Tyr can you help me here .. im a bit of a newb.

    Im doing this atm ..

    So i have my current 500GB stock drive i want to copy EVERYTHING except Applications across to my External HD - BUT i still want all the home folder links on the left sidebar to work correctly.

    How do i copy my entire home folder except applications?

    Or do i have to do it another way?
  16. Tyr., Jan 18, 2012
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2012

    Tyr. macrumors member

    Aug 1, 2007
    Antwerp, Belgium
    Well applications can either be installed either into /Applications or in ~/Applications (so /Users/YouName/Applications.) I used to keep a lot of apps in my homedir but also moved them to the system /Applications folder when I got the SSD. If you don't for some reason need to have apps in only your homedir (eg. you don't want other users to be able to use the app) then just move them to /Applications. This should work fine in 99.9% of cases. (see also here)

    If you do need it to be separate I guess you could copy everything to the external drive, then delete the ~/Applications folder on the external drive and create a symlink back to the original location, using the command line that would look something like :

    ln -s /Users/YourName/Applications /Volumes/MyExternalDrive/Homedir/Applications
    Remember that once you've moved the entire homedir to your external disk you will need to point the system there instead of your internal drive by modifying the user in the Accounts panel in System Preferences. (See also this article and screenshot.)


    Basically it's
    - BACKUP
    - copy the folder to external drive
    - modify user to point to new folder
    - reboot & remove original folder

    if you've moved your homedrive correctly any links you haven't manually dragged into the Finder sidebar will automatically point to the new location.

    Oh and create 1 user with a homedir on the internal bootdrive you can use in case the external drive fails or doesn't mount for some reason.
  17. Daniel97 macrumors 6502a

    Mar 6, 2011
    how do i move ALL of my applications to the system apps folder?

    I dont want any in my home directory i want them all on system ..
  18. Tyr. macrumors member

    Aug 1, 2007
    Antwerp, Belgium
    Drag & drop. Just use Finder to drag the apps from one folder to the other.
  19. Daniel97 macrumors 6502a

    Mar 6, 2011
    And it moves all settings etc? - How do i know which folder has the correct version and settings?

    Once copied can i then delete from the applications folder on the toolbar from the left? - If yes ..

    When i wnat to access applications how do i then do it? Will shortcuts populate back into that toolbar?
  20. Daniel97 macrumors 6502a

    Mar 6, 2011
    IN fact dont think it matters - navigated to my home folder and applications and it was empty.

    navigated to system and applications and it was full.

    I can only assume that this means the entire Applications library is stored on the system library away from my user folder.

    So as im a retard and already proved it ..

    Copy my home folder to a different drive ... Test that the drive works etc and then delete my home folder from the OEM installed drive.

    This should mean that if i unplug my external my home drive becomes unavailable and any data im working on lost? Correct. Will this log me out of the mac or do i stay logged into my profile? Im not sure what moving my home folder will do other than free up storage.

    I should then be able to create a bootable carbon copy back up to my brand new SSD?

    Then it should just be a case of opening the mini swapping the drives over and re plugging in my external HD for my home folder?

    Is that correct or am i missing something?
  21. Tyr. macrumors member

    Aug 1, 2007
    Antwerp, Belgium
    The Applications folder holds just the executables in OSX, the application settings are somewhere in /Library for global stuff or more likely in /Users/Username/Library. This folder is hidden starting from Lion. In other words your settings will automatically move along with your homedir.

    Unless I'm mistaken the "Applications" link in the sidebar should by default point to /Applications not /Users/Username/Applications. If it doesn't you can drag out the link (or right-click & remove in Lion) and drag in the link to the correct folder. Any links you manually dragged into the sidebar or Dock will need to be recreated if the application is moved.
  22. Daniel97 macrumors 6502a

    Mar 6, 2011
    Yeah thanks i posted just before you posted this as i found that out .. what about my other questions lol .. im almost there! :p
  23. Tyr. macrumors member

    Aug 1, 2007
    Antwerp, Belgium
    It's unlikely that the system will crash. You should remain logged in and running Applications might even keep running since they probably have that stuff in memory anyway but it'll be unpredictable.

    Sounds good to me. Don't forget to alter the user to point to the new drive. Don't remove anything before being 100% sure it works. And take a backup, you're doing open heart surgery.
  24. iamthedudeman macrumors 65816

    Jul 7, 2007
    I have a 256 SSD only in my mini. HD's are a thing of the past. Like the floppy disk. Buy a larger drive. No need to move the home folder. In lion this causes instability. I did it before, caused more problems than it solved. Put everything on the SSD except Pictures, movies, music etc.

    Itunes will pull music from the external HD. No need to move the entire app. SSD via firewire is basically not a good usage for a SSD. I tried it before, and defeats the purpose of a SSD in the first place.

    Changing out the HD for a SSD in the Mini is not a big deal. Doesn't void the warranty and gives you the best performance.

    So your not thick. Good idea just put everything on the SSD and make sure you have a big enough SSD to do so.
  25. dlim macrumors regular

    Jan 15, 2012
    I'm interested in putting an SSD in my mini as well:

    Is the crucial M4 128gb for $150 a good deal? Or can I find better?

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