Mac Mini C2D 1.83, lots of questions about upgrades/parts/performance?

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by drapacioli, Jul 10, 2014.

  1. drapacioli macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2010
    #1
    I picked up a Mac Mini A1176 on ebay this morning for $115 minus the power adapter (good price? I managed to get a used 110W power adapter for $30, so the Mini's gonna cost me about $145 total), it's the Core 2 Duo variant, 1.83GHz, 2GB RAM, 80GB HDD, and I want to make a few upgrades on it. I heard that the Mini will "support" 4GB of RAM (with roughly 3GB usable) and I happen to have 2 2GB sticks of 667MHz PC2-5300 RAM I pulled from an old Dell laptop a few months ago. Will these RAM sticks work, or do I need special "Apple" RAM?

    Also, I want to replace the horribly small 80GB HDD with a 500GB Seagate Momentus 7200RPM drive (Also pulled from the same Dell laptop, but with the advantage of actually only having about 6 months of use on it before the motherboard broke). I've heard it's very tricky to get the hard drives replaced without breaking other things inside it though. Does anyone know of a good tutorial (preferably a video tutorial)? Additionally, does anyone know how I can clone the hard drive? I have an external enclosure that I can attach the new one to, but I'm not sure if I can do a sector by sector clone while running the mac off the 80GB drive? As far as I'm aware, there is no disc-install for OS X Lion, so I would have to get a Snow Leopard install disc otherwise. Not only that, but the seller I got the Mac Mini from says the optical drive is finicky at best anyway, so I'd rather not go that route if I can help it.

    Next would be probably the biggest, most important question: do I need any special tools to get to the hard drive and RAM slots? I've managed to crack open a few laptops without ruining them and I am quite good at replacing parts in a nice large desktop tower, but most Windows machines use regular screws and panels to access stuff and Apple is known for their difficult DIY ratings...

    Finally, does anyone know what sort of performance I can expect from this Mini? I realize it's a 7-year old mini computer, so it's not exactly cutting-edge, but it comes with the most up-to-date OS available to it (Lion) and will have the advantage of a 7200RPM drive with the potential for an SSD upgrade depending on the Black Friday sales this year. I just want it for general stuff, maybe to use as a media server with Plex or something, and do some mild iMovie/iPhoto stuff (Nothing major, probably not even higher than 480p for iMovie). My only prior Mac is a Power Mac G4 MDD with the entry level 867MHz dual G4 processors. I bought that about 3 years ago for dabbling in Mac OS X and it was understandably quite slow, but I'm hoping this Mac Mini will be a much smoother experience?

    I realize this post is long, so thanks for reading all the way through, and thanks in advance to those that can help me out! :)
     
  2. brdeveloper macrumors 68020

    brdeveloper

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2010
    Location:
    Brasil
    #2
    If you have some modules to install into the Mini, you can test them. Some Macs like low-latency RAM modules, but low budget modules usually work as well. It's worth trying the cheaper ones if you already have them or if you can return them when something goes wrong.

    Skip the HDD upgrade and go straight to a SSD. This will make your Mini feel like current technology. Installing internal storage on Minis is usually a tricky task. Do it carefully, buy the right tools from OWC or iFixit and follow their video/text instructions.

    You can use the low level command tool DD for sector-by-sector copy, but Carbon Copy Cloner is more friendly and it works. It's a shareware, but it's fully functional. After migrating your data with Carbon Copy, open Disk Utility and check/repair permissions in the new drive. Check if it boots from the external enclosure. If so, it's ready for installing.

    I have an iPhone service kit and I needed additional tools for removing all the 2010 Mini screws. I had an allen for tweaking my Fender Stratocaster bridge that worked well, but there was a couple of screws that I removed with spliers. The short answer is: buy a specific kit for your Mini :cool:

    Forget the HDD. You get a good amount of adrenaline when exchanging the hard drive on the Mini. Maybe you'll want repeating the experience, but I would avoid. Put your 500GB HDD as external backup/media storage.
     
  3. Intell macrumors P6

    Intell

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2010
    Location:
    Inside
    #3
    Those older Mini's can still be rather peppy when upgraded. They aren't very picky with their ram type and will work with almost any 667Mhz SODIMMs. To replace the hard drive, all you need is a clean metal putty knife and a small Phillips head screw driver. The hard drive isn't that hard to replace and as long as you so slowly and follow the directions, there isn't much chance of breaking anything.
     
  4. DeltaMac macrumors 604

    DeltaMac

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2003
    Location:
    Delaware
    #4
    Your 2007 mini is very different from a 2010 mini. Access to the inside of the case is different, too. I still have tools for those, and prior to the 2010 mini, you would use a wide flat blade, like a "putty knife" to pop the top off. I used two of those tools to do the job in one move.
    You need those blade tools to get at the memory, too.
    When you get to the memory slots, the hard drive (or SSD) is simple.

    Here's a video guide for your A1176 mini: https://www.ifixit.com/Guide/Mac+mini+Model+A1176+Hard+Drive+Replacement/1108
     
  5. drapacioli, Jul 10, 2014
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2014

    drapacioli thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2010
    #5
    EDIT: Thanks Intell and DeltaMac for the extra info, you guys posted while I was responding here. Good to hear that the version I got is relatively easy to work with compared to the newer models, to be honest that's one thing that keeps me from buying the iMacs and the Macbooks as main computers, because I do prefer to upgrade rather than buy new every few years (and sadly the Mac Pros are just way too far outside my price range when I am looking.)
    Thanks for the quick answer. I'll follow your advice on the HDD, if it's really that tricky to do the replacement I'm pretty sure I don't want to do it twice. I'm good with towers but I certainly don't have the steadiest of hands! I agree the SSDs will breathe new life into just about anything, I'm already addicted to the performance gains. I suppose I can live with the 80GB HDD and an external drive for now.

    On the "took kits" I couldn't find any, but an iFixit video says I would need

    1.5" Thin Putty Knife
    Phillips #00 Screwdriver
    Spudger
    Tweezers

    Luckily I already have everything on this list minus a spudger, so I guess I don't need a special toolkit after all (Unless I'm missing something?)
     
  6. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2007
    Location:
    Neander Valley, Germany; just outside Duesseldorf
    #6
    I just put in a 240 GB SSD and replaced the DVD drive with a 640 GB hard drive. I also upgraded the RAM to 4 GB and bought an 802.11ac USB wifi adapter. I also replaced the 1.66 ghz Core Duo with a 2.33 ghz Core 2 Duo. This mini runs like a champ. Really had no idea it could be so snappy.
     
  7. drapacioli, Jul 10, 2014
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2014

    drapacioli thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2010
    #7
    I was thinking of going the 2 HD route myself actually. The seller told me the super drive on the Mini I'm getting works only intermittently, plus I have an external USB drive as it is, so It probably won't do much anyway once I use it to install iLife '09 (At least I hope so, I got a copy a few years back and I can only hope it's still lying around in a drawer somewhere :p ). It'll work especially well if I go the cheap route and only get a 128GB SSD (Money's tight, you know? Otherwise I'd be here talking about a Mac Pro right now instead :p )

    I'm not sure about the processor upgrade. I'd have to basically obtain a T7600 for free in order to care since I already have the C2D. I just can't imagine the .5GHz boost being anything significant to be honest.
     
  8. jg321 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2012
    Location:
    UK
    #8
    They'll also work with 533Mhz SODIMMs if that's all you have lying around. I have 2x 512MB PC4200 in mine (Core 2 Duo 2.0) and it's running fine. Hoping to put 3GB in though shortly.

    Agreed. My advice is to be careful, methodical, and they're actually quite nice once you get used to them.
     
  9. Intell macrumors P6

    Intell

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2010
    Location:
    Inside
    #9
    While it will work, it will not work to its fullest with slower ram and these older Mini's need every bit of speed they can get.
     
  10. jg321 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2012
    Location:
    UK
    #10
    Yeah, agreed, however if it's a choice between say 1GB of 667 and 2GB of 533, I'd choose more, slower RAM over less, quicker. I think the 2GB I have somewhere is in fact 667.
     

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