Mac Mini (Late 2012) Upgrades. SSD or Data Doubler.

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by ClemsonDV, May 18, 2018.

  1. ClemsonDV macrumors member

    ClemsonDV

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2012
    #1
    I have a 2.3 GHz quad core, 16 GB 1600 MHz RAM late 2012 Mac Mini. It ... is... dragging. It has a 1 TB SATA drive which I know is limiting it. I'm really looking into upgrading this Mac without putting a whole lot of money into this 6 year old machine. Boot ups are super slow. Loading Photos app takes minutes. I'd just love a refresh. I don't do Logic Pro or anything super taxing, so I am focusing on upgrading the drive. My questions are...
    1) Should I go with fully upgrading to a 1 TB SSD? It seems like the best way, but it's expensive.
    2) Use the data doubler and upgrade to a 500 GB while keeping my 1 TB available for storage.

    Can I load certain files and applications on the SSD to make it go faster while storing a large bulk of the data on the SATA drive? Or will that limit me?

    I'm just not certain how the two drives will behave together. Any suggestions? And do you also have suggestions for good SSDs? Read mixed reviews about the Crucials and Samsungs, but who knows.
     
  2. Fishrrman macrumors P6

    Fishrrman

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    #2
    Fastest, easiest way -- without prying open the Mini -- buy an external USB3 SSD drive, and plug it in.
    Set it up to become "the external boot drive".
    Put the OS, apps, and basic accounts on it.

    Speeds will jump up to about 4-4.5x those of the internal drive.
    You should see reads in the 420+mbps range and writes 300-350mbps (depending on drive and size).
    You'll get about 80-85% of the speed you would see from an internally-installed SATA SSD, but without any of the trouble you might run into doing the installation.

    I'd suggest either a Samsung t3 or t5, or something like this:
    http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00ZTRY532?tag=delt-20

    Eventually, you're going to move on to another Mac.
    When that time comes, having an external drive makes it easy to just unplug the drive from the Mini, and plug it into your new Mac for additional fast storage.

    I've been booting and running my own 2012 i7 Mini this way for going on six years now, from the day I first took it out of the box.
    Ran great then, still runs great today.
     
  3. Boyd01 macrumors 601

    Boyd01

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2012
    Location:
    New Jersey Pine Barrens
    #3
    I have a 2012 2.6 ghz quad mini with 16gb and an original 256gb internal Apple SSD. It's a very fast machine, boots in about 15 seconds from the internal SSD. I use this machine solely for audio and video editing and it runs Logic and Final Cut Pro very well.

    I upgraded it with a 1tb external Samsung T3 SSD awhile ago and it's great, still very fast. About the only difference I notice between the original internal SSD and the external SSD is that it takes about 30 seconds to boot from the external (no big deal). I kept the original Mountain Lion operating system on the original drive, so I could use all my expensive legacy software and the external SSD has Sierra (which is what I use 95% of the time).

    So your machine can definitely do a lot better. I like the idea of an exernal SSD for a lot of reasons - especially since it doesn't involve opening up a 6 year old computer where there's a fair chance of damaging something.

    FWIW, this is how the original internal Apple SSD performs

    [​IMG]


    And this is my external SSD. The internal is faster, but IMO it's not worth the risk of opening up the Mini.

    [​IMG]
     
  4. ClemsonDV thread starter macrumors member

    ClemsonDV

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2012
    #4
    So doing this method, I can load the boot and some applications on a separate external drive using USB3.0 with no issue. Riddle me this... if my Photos app is on the external drive and my photos are on my SATA drive, will this act similar to my current setup or will be much faster?
     
  5. Boyd01 macrumors 601

    Boyd01

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2012
    Location:
    New Jersey Pine Barrens
    #5
    I don't use the Photos app so I can't really say what the bottleneck is. But the stock drives on a new Mini clock around 100MB/sec when new - this may degrade with age. So just do the math.... loading a large file from the internal hard drive will take about 4x longer than a fast external USB SSD. A cheap external may be slower than the T3 in my example however.

    Get Carbon Copy Cloner - I think you can use it for free for a month which is plenty of time for your needs (although I suggest you purchase it anyway, I use it regularly on all my Macs). Format the external disk for MacOS and then use Carbon Copy to create a bootable clone of the internal drive with a recovery partition. Personally, I would want at least one additional clone of the original on another hard drive, just for safety in case something goes wrong. After the clone is ready, select the external SSD in the Startup Disk pane in System Preferences. Reboot and you're all set - it will be exactly the same as before... except much faster. :)

    I prefer having a large SSD that has room for all the files I regularly work with. I use external hard drives for archival storage of other data. You could use your internal hard drive for SSD automatic backups with either time machine or Carbon Copy Cloner.
     
  6. Fishrrman macrumors P6

    Fishrrman

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    #6
    "Riddle me this... if my Photos app is on the external drive and my photos are on my SATA drive, will this act similar to my current setup or will be much faster?"

    It should be considerably faster, probably MUCH faster.

    I have things set up this way myself.
    ALL my apps are on my USB3 SSD.
    All my photos, music and saved movies are on other drives.
    I have no problems loading pics, moving from one to the next, or watching a video.

    One other suggestion to try after you have the USB3 SSD set up and running:
    TURN OFF VM disk swapping.
    This eliminates memory "page outs" and "page ins" to the SSD.
    I have only 10gb of RAM, and I've been running a couple of years this way with no ill effects at all. Runs ok for me.
    A caution: this works if you don't go overboard loading up applications. I generally leave open "what I need" and close everything else. But even a large app like Final Cut Pro X runs fine this way.
     
  7. KrisLord macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2008
    Location:
    Northumberland, UK
    #7
    I’d look at the prices of internal drives and see where the ideal price point is. Don’t go too big/expensive.

    Stick Something like a 256GB SSD in with your existing 1TB and have them merged into a fusion drive.

    It’s more work than just using a USB SSD but probably more cost effective and you can recoup some of the cost when you sell it in the future.
     
  8. Boyd01 macrumors 601

    Boyd01

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2012
    Location:
    New Jersey Pine Barrens
    #8
    I'd check the integrity of that old hard drive first, if it has been getting slower and slower, there could be some kind of hardware issue.
     
  9. KrisLord macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2008
    Location:
    Northumberland, UK
    #9

    That’s a good point, when I sold my 2012 model recently (I’d had it since launch day) I checked the SMART status and it described it as failing.

    I spent £40 on a new drive before selling it, i didn’t want to sell a lemon.
     
  10. Boyd01 macrumors 601

    Boyd01

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2012
    Location:
    New Jersey Pine Barrens
    #10
    I setup a 2012 mini to boot from an external SSD and backup to the internal hard drive. After awhile I started getting time machine errors that wouldn't go away after a re-format. Didn't check any further, but I assumed the old hard drive was failing.
     
  11. Yvan256 macrumors 603

    Yvan256

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2004
    Location:
    Canada
    #11
    The last few years of the Mac OS clearly required a SSD, from at least OS X 10.9.

    I have a mid-2010 Mac mini, which is a much slower and older 2.4 GHz Core 2 Duo, still running 10.9.5. I also have 16GB RAM in mine, but I replaced the optical drive with a 750GB caviar black and the primary drive has been replaced by a basic 120GB Kingston SSDNow V300. I use the SSD for the OS and programs, the HDD for my files. Even today in mid-2018, this is still my main computer.

    Go ahead and install a SSD in your quad-core Mac mini. It will be like a new computer again.
     
  12. Wando64 macrumors 6502

    Wando64

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2013
    #12
    I have a late 2012 i7 quad mini with 16gb.
    It works great with Sierra. As good as it did with mountain lion when new.
    The disk is a fusion drive. Note that back then, fusion drives used to come with 128gb SSD.
    If you cannot afford a large SSD, my suggestion would be to keep your 1tb disk but also install a SSD (anything from 128gb up will do the job) and make it a fusion drive with your HDD.
     
  13. Neodym macrumors 68000

    Neodym

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2002
    #13
    I would not go fusion. Fusion was a mitigation for Apple to save money by sticking to HDD's far longer than the rest of the (premium) world. By fusioning two drives, having one failing could easily destroy data on both. Due to it's complicated internals, recovering data might prove difficult.

    Just put the OS onto the (small & inexpensive) SSD and keep the files and large libraries (Photos, iTunes) on the 1tb HDD.

    Get an older Samsung 840/850 Pro 128/256GB SSD and you're set. All problems reported with Samsung SSD's have been related to Evo drives IIRC.
     
  14. Donka macrumors 68030

    Donka

    Joined:
    May 3, 2011
    Location:
    Scotland
    #14
    I went down the data doubling route by keeping the existing 1TB hd but adding a 512Gb SSD as my main drive. I use the SSD for everything but use the 1TB drive for backing up the photos library and other key data. I also back up to an external USB drive for Time Machine duties.
    Installing a second drive internally is quite straight forward provided you take your time and follow a good guide online with clear instructions.
    If you have any concerns over the internal installation, an external SSD over USB 3.0 is still a solid upgrade as already mentioned gaining you a healthy speed upgrade and is much simpler to achieve.
     
  15. campyguy macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2014
    Location:
    Portland / Seattle
    #15
    2012 i7 Mini Server owner here, I swapped out one of the two 1TB spinners with a 512GB Samsung 850 Pro and left the other drive in place; the HD that I removed was wiped and stashed away. I was going to do the drive swap anyway but noticed that the stock spinners were operating at SATA 2 speeds, the remaining drive still does - even though they're rated at SATA 3. Go figure?

    I put my iTunes library on the HHD, along with archived photos that get moved from the SSD. It works well.

    My opinion for you is to consider swapping out the spinner for a decent-sized SSD from Samsung such as a 850/860 EVO and - since you've indicated a want for extra storage - put that money you planned on spending on the data doubler kit and get a 4TB or 8TB WD easystore DAS unit. I prefer the 8TB units since they have WD Red or White NAS drives installed and they're always on sale; BB charges less for these units than the bare drives cost even from Newegg, Fry's, etc.

    The additional bonus, in a sense, is that you'd have each drive on two different buses in the Mini. You'll love your Mini all over again...
     
  16. Wando64 macrumors 6502

    Wando64

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2013
    #16
    One should see a fusion drive as a single drive. If it fails, it fails. That is what backup are for.
    Having two separate drives has pretty much all of the same problems (you still need to back them up) without none of the convenience of the OS handling data swaps between the two as needed.
    The only better alternative to a fusion drive would be a 1tb (or larger) SSD. If you can afford it, it is a no brainier.

    Anyway. The point for the OP is that the 2012 i7 quad mini with 16gb RAM can be great once you have addressed the disk issue, in whichever way you decide to do it.
     
  17. ClemsonDV thread starter macrumors member

    ClemsonDV

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2012
    #17
    Ultimately, I opted for external SSD for boot. 500 GB Samsung T5. Its sped up things really well, but I now have a hard time thinking of what to do with my 1 TB. I have 2 4 TB externals (one main and one backup) for all my files, so right now I am going to let the 1Tb sit as a safe boot option in case something crazy happens.

    Thanks to all for your suggestions. I went with external SSD due to not wanting to break anything replacing the hard drive, plus the cost options were similar.
     
  18. Donka macrumors 68030

    Donka

    Joined:
    May 3, 2011
    Location:
    Scotland
  19. loby macrumors 6502a

    loby

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2010
    #19
    I am still amazed at my Mac mini 2012. Put 16GB and avSSD in it along with an 7200mph 1TB spinnner disk (not fusion) and it still flys! It should be good for at least a few more years to my amazement.

    That one was the last great mini in my opinion....
     
  20. Donka macrumors 68030

    Donka

    Joined:
    May 3, 2011
    Location:
    Scotland
    #20
    That's exactly how I have mine configured. Running great - only thing I wish would be for a better GPU - it's running my 1440p monitor just fine but I think it would struggle with additional monitors and it could be faster with some photo editing tasks that leverage the GPU for acceleration. No plans to change it anytime soon though.
     
  21. palebluedot macrumors 6502a

    palebluedot

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2008
    #21
    I got sad when I opened up my 2012 mini to put in RAM and SSD. It felt like the last great Mac and last Mac of the Jobs era. The inside of the computer was a thing of beauty compared to the gaming PC I built. :D

    Sigh.

    P.S. Are our 2012s still good for the next OS update? I fear the one after will put ours into obsolete status. But we can always put Linux or Windows on them if macOS keeps shooting itself in the foot.
     
  22. treekram, Jun 7, 2018
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2018

    treekram macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2015
    Location:
    Honolulu HI
    #22
    The 2012 Mini will run Mojave, the next OS version (that's currently the plan). So the 2010 and 2011 were dropped vs. what would run High Sierra. Apple is still doing security updates for El Capitan so if the same holds true for Mojave, it would be around 2021-2022 at least before you would not be able to run a macOS version that wasn't getting security updates for it. (The last security update for Yosemite was last year.)

    Vintage and obsolete status have to do more with the model age than what OS can run on it. It looks like obsolete is reached 7 years after it was discontinued, which would make it 2021 for the 2012 Mini. I guess for us 2014 Mini owners, that makes it 2025 (or 2026?, or ...?) before our computers reach Obsolete status - woo hoo!
     

Share This Page