Mac Mini Mid 2011 SSD Upgrade

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by gregzy88, Jul 9, 2013.

  1. gregzy88 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2013
    #1
    Hi all,

    Brand new to the site and after searching through looking for a definitive answer, I have decided to ask you guys straight up. I want to install an SSD and run OS X Mountain Lion on it to speed up the whole start up and operating process. I have already upgraded to 8GB RAM and want to take on the next step. Basically what I am looking for is the best make of SSD, suggested size and speed, and what is required to install Mountain Lion when it is fitted.

    Thanks.
     
  2. curmudgeon32 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2012
    #2
    Late last year, I installed a DIY version of Apple's Fusion Drive into my Mini (basically, just adding an SSD alongside the hard drive and then entering some terminal commands. More info here: http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1494073)

    Anyway, it worked flawlessly, but with SSD prices coming down, you could probably just spend a few extra bucks and get a largeish SSD and use it alone. No special installation steps required. Just make a good, preferably bootable backup of your existing drive (Carbon Copy Cloner is great) before you start.
     
  3. chubble10 macrumors newbie

    chubble10

    Joined:
    May 29, 2013
    Location:
    England
    #3
    The size depends on what you are planning on using the Mini for (and storing on it). 128GB would be the minimum that I would go for, but 256GB may be more appropriate. Brand-wise, Samsung have a good reputation for making SSDs, although there are various good alternatives such as the new Seagate ones.

    If you still have the old HDD with a Mountain Lion install (and the used space doesn't exceed the capacity of the SSD), then you should just be able to mirror the HDD onto the new SSD. Good instructions on the process can be found here. Note that you will need to have both the HDD and the SSD connected at the same time (USB or if the 2011 Mini has space for two HDDs, then internally) for this method to work.
     
  4. gregzy88, Jul 9, 2013
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2013

    gregzy88 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2013
    #4
    Thanks for the replies guys. I think replacing the HDD for an SSD sounds like the best option. I will be using my mac for mainly surfing and maybe the occasional game but i have a 250GB external HD for stuff like photos, videos and music. I currently use my external HD for Time Capsule. Will i be able to reboot off of that? Also will i need to order a special fixing kit to install the SSD?

    Thanks again.
     
  5. opinio macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2013
    #5
    You need a kit from ifixit or OWC if you are installing along with the old HDD, but if just replacing then you use the same mounts and cable.

    You need to look at the install video or instructions to make sure you are skilled enough to do the operation. See ifixit or OWC.

    Most highly regarded SSD is the Samsung 840 Pro, but the newer OCZ Vector is even faster but not by much.

    Assuming your OS is up to date, you can boot straight off the time machine drive and restore from that. But be prepared for a few complications with getting an OS on a fresh drive. Usually runs smoothly but not always.
     
  6. COrocket macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2012
    #6
    If you are doing a replacement, then you only need tools to take it apart. I used this inexpensive set for my upgrade.

    http://www.homedepot.com/p/HDX-Ratc...21-Piece-012314/203496325#product_description

    What you have to do is use carbon copy cloned or super duper software to clone your internal drive to the ssd and then do the switch. You can get an external 2.5" enclosure to plug in and format the SSD initially.
     
  7. gregzy88 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2013
    #7
    Thanks again for the advice folks. After doing some shopping about I can get hold of a Samsung 840 120GB for around £74.99 and the OWC upgrade kit for £36.75. This allows me to keep my original hdd to use for storage. Will my 8gb ram be enough along side the SSD? 16gb upgrade its a bit pricey for what it does.

    Thanks again.
     
  8. COrocket macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2012
    #8
    Since you already upgraded to 8GB, I'd do the SSD install and see how it runs. Mountain Lion runs fine with 8. For light use, it probably won't matter. Since RAM prices generally decline with time, theres nothing wrong with waiting and seeing how it works out.
     
  9. opinio macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2013
    #9
    120/128GB SSDs are usually slower than their 240/256GB SSDs counterparts of the same brand/series. You might want to confirm you are happy with that. 8GB ram is enough. Obviously 16 is better though, particularly if you run VMs.
     
  10. calvol macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2011
    #10
    I used the OWC hardware to upgrade my 2011 mid with a Samsung 256 and retaining the OEM 500GB, together forming a Fusion drive. OWC instructions are very good! Works great!
     
  11. Adz76 macrumors member

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2011
    Location:
    Dagobah System
    #11
    That's spot on correct. I checked the drive specs before I bought my Samsung 830 for my 2011, over 128 the speeds increase.

    Also I was that impressed overall with the 830 I bought an 840 Pro for my laptop.

    Try and buy as large as you can, even if you have to stretch. It's easy to fill these up unless you store libraries on external disks.
     
  12. gregzy88 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2013
    #12
    Ok I guess I'd be as well do it properly then. Is it worth buying a USB to SATA connector to format the SSD before installing? I will probably be in touch about making my SSD my boot drive later.


    Thanks for the replies.
     
  13. opinio macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2013
    #13
    You can format the drive when it is in the mini from the disk util GUI when you boot into the install process. Eg from the recovery drive on Time Machine or USB recovery drive etc.

    You just install the drive in the mini, boot from your TM drive, format SSD in disk util GUI, install OS from TM backup.

    If you have no OS installed (ie fresh drive) and only a TM drive then the mini will load the recovery process from a TM drive automatically after a minute or so.
     
  14. blanka macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2012
    #14
    No, they are not. They are making the stuff a lot more difficult then needed.
    They even suggest using the wrong tools. You need a 2mm hex bit in addition to the tools they supply with their kit. The torx works on the rubber cap reception screws, but it is not the proper tool. It will wear out your screws. Drivers should match perfectly, otherwise they kill your screws.

    Follow this:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ymGnXdwvabg

    And skip the 120Gb Samsung 840. It is pretty slow on write. Better get the 256Gb, or even better, get the old 830 or the new 840pro.
     
  15. clawesome macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2013
    #15
    What kind of write speeds are you seeing? I did a DIY Fusion drive with an OWC Mercury EXTREME Pro 6gb 120gb and I'm only see 150MB/s write speeds.
     
  16. opinio macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2013
    #16
    Do you have more than 120 gb of data on the fusion? If so you are running the test on the last 5% of space left on the SSD in the fusion. Sand force drives when they are full can be slow.

    The SSD part is filled before the HDD is used but osx keeps the last 5% of the SSD available for speed.

    Your speeds are not surprising if your SSD part of the fusion is full.

    Also your SSD is only 120gb. Smaller SSDs are normally slower.
     
  17. clawesome macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2013
    #17
    Yep, I'm almost right at 120gb with my data, good call.
     
  18. gregzy88 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2013
    #18
    Hello again. Its payday tomorrow which means one thing, I'm about to order my parts for the SSD upgrade. I am going for the samsung 250gb 840 SSD and was going to get the OWC data doubler kit as well. It seems that amazon dont have any in stock at the moment so i was wondering if it is essential or if there is another kit i could use. Preferably a uk based seller.

    Thanks.
     
  19. blanka macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2012
    #19
    Don't get the 840. It is way slower than the 830 or the 840 pro. You save like 30 bucks but you will regret it. The 256 840 pro is the one to get.
     
  20. opinio macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2013
    #20
    The Book Yard is a UK seller of mac parts. I am not sure if they have a kit but they definately have the parts. You can even get second hand.

    You need to get your Mac mini first because they make minis with the OEM drives in the upper and lower bay. So if you want to replace it is not a problem, but if you want to add then you need to get the right parts. They both differ for each hard drive bay.

    http://www.thebookyard.com/

    840 Pro is better if you can get it.
     
  21. gregzy88 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2013
    #21
    Thanks. I need to put my SSD in the upper bay and on the book yard the cable alone for that is £30. Surely there must be a cheaper option? I would have thought if i bought the SSD, bought the SATA cable separately, I could use my own tools to install it for cheap enough. Tempted to buy a kit off ebay from china at this rate.

    Sorry just saw this. Will it be any good?
    http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Upper-Bay...ing_Drive_Cables_Adapters&hash=item1c33d3118a
     
  22. curmudgeon32 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2012
    #22
    I don't know. I haven't gone in and done testing for that stuff —all I know is everything on my machine became dramatically faster and has stayed that way since I installed it. Zero issues and no slowdown from when I first did the install.
     

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