Mac Mini SSD?

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by Jazper, Jun 16, 2012.

  1. Jazper macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2012
    #1
    Hi,

    I pretty much messed up installing one HD into my computer, so I'm not going to do that again. Since the HD in the Mac Mini is pretty bad can I use an external SSD for booting off and for programs, then the Mini's HD for documents, music ect... would that work?

    Thanks
     
  2. silverjam macrumors regular

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    Apr 25, 2012
    #2
    The MM only has USB2, FireWire and Thunderbolt as options for external drives so even if you use a SSD externally it will be limited to your connection speed. I can't imagine you would get any value/speed out of connecting to USB or FW, and TB is mighty expensive, even if you use the Lacie Hub with eSata you'll pay a few hundred for the set up.

    Installing HD's in a Mac Mini is harder than MacBooks and PC's etc but it is not so hard if you take your time. I have done it many many times and it is reasonably care free (apart from one time I ripped the fan connector off in my earlier attempts). Be careful of the Fan plug when detaching it if you go that far, although technically you can install one drive in the default bay without removing the fan (as ifixit says you have to). Two drives is a little more tricky and you need the special sata connector for the MM Server second drive in the top bay (i.e. the default single drive is actually in the bottom bay). I have the two drive option in both my MMs with an OCZ Agility III SSD (OSX) plus Scorpio Blue 1TB (DropBox, iTunes, pics etc) in a i7 Quad Core Server and two Scorpio Black 7200rpm 500GB's in the i5. The MM Server (and I am guessing normal MMs) can link via full Sata III 6 Gigabit speed (at least it can on my OCZ) so you are talking astronomical speed with the i7 Quad Core.

    Anyway, I can't imagine you would get any reasonable performance via booting from an external SSD drive unless you hook up an external sata cable from the inside port (which looks ridiculous and is ten times more complicated than installing an internal drive) or esata (via Lacie TB Hub - but not even sure if that is stable for booting anyway) or TB itself via say the Elgato TB SSD Drive ($$$).

    Silver.
     
  3. Jazper thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    Jun 16, 2012
    #3
    Thanks for the great reply.

    I was thinking, I might get a 60gb SSD (cost is an issue), possible install it myself or get someone else to (a few companies around me do upgrades).

    So the 60gb would be for programs and bootup - I lived off 160gb for 6 years!

    And then all documents, music ect can be put on the HD that comes with the Mac Mini, as I believe there are adaptors that can use the 2.5 internal drive as an external via usb?

    If you get me, please link me! I have no idea what there called

    If this sounds like a good idea I'll go with it :) Thanks

    ----------

    Aah, I found it

    this http://www.amazon.co.uk/Icybox-IB-1...1_2?s=computers&ie=UTF8&qid=1339838477&sr=1-2
     
  4. silverjam macrumors regular

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    Apr 25, 2012
    #4
    Ebay sells a USB2.0 or FireWire 800 case for a spare drive fairly cheap. The USB2 enclosures are very cheap. You can buy both generic and name brand on ebay.

    Search "USB 2.5 inch enclosure" or Firewire 800 enclosure or 1394b enclosure. (1394b is Firewire 800.

    Make sure you buy the laptop size hard drive enclosure (2.5 inch) with Sata connector.
     
  5. Jazper thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    Jun 16, 2012
    #5
    Can you link me to one you recommend thanks, also I might just get the dock, good if i buy a future 3.5 HD or something:)
     
  6. Chippy99 macrumors 6502a

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    Apr 28, 2012
    #6
    I am not so sure I agree with the above. I work it IT (now in sales, admittedly - but I used to be a techie!) and I have built countless PC's as a hobby over the years.

    But when I looked at upgrading my Mac Mini's internal hard drive, I have to say I chickened out. That fan connector was a total ***** to get off. I had 3 or 4 goes at it before giving up. I am sure I could have removed it, but I am not equally sure I would not have pulled the connector off the board at the same time and done £400 worth of damage.

    On the other hand, the Seagate Goflex TB adapter is no *so* expensive at £100 (plus £40 for the cable, unfortunately). You can stick an SSD on it and boot from that all day long and it is VERY quick.

    I now have an SSD inside my Mini - got a pro repair shop to do it for me - and I have to say I cannot tell the difference in speed between the internal drive, or the same drive on the external adapter. In use, it feels identical.

    So unless you are very brave, or very able (or both), I would consider an external TB adapter.
     
  7. silverjam macrumors regular

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    Apr 25, 2012
    #7
    http://eshop.macsales.com/item/Newer Technology/FWU3ES2HDK/

    I use this Dock for everything. It has both 2.5 and 3.5 hot plug and has a Quad interface USB3.0 (backwards to USB 2 automatically), FireWire 800 and 400, and eSata. For your MM you can use it with both USB 2.0 and Firewire 800 but you also have eSata and USB 3.0 options if you upgrade in future or you buy for example a TB dock with eSata or USB 3.0 (See Belkin TB hub due out in Sept). It also supports 4TB drives.

    ----------

    Good point I forgot about the Seagate option, but he is looking to use the old drive to save money. Yeah you can rig a SSD on it but it is a little ugly. Still, the Seagate TB adapter and associated Drives are reasonable.

    Check out http://www.belkin.com/thunderbolt/

    This will solve all your MiniMac conectivity problems when it comes out.

    Silver
     
  8. barkmonster, Jun 16, 2012
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2012

    barkmonster macrumors 68020

    barkmonster

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    Location:
    Lancashire
    #8
    There's an excellent tutorial on YouTube for performing a dual hard drive upgrade of a 2011 Mac Mini. You just need the right tools and a lower flexcable because it already comes with a spare drive bay internally.

    For transfering data, you could just clone your OS install from the existing hard drive to the SSD using Carbon Copy Cloner.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2NORZR0BbZs&feature=related

    SSD prices have gone down considerably since last year. I paid £90 10 months ago for a 60Gb SATA II SSD. You can now buy a 120Gb SATA III SSD for about £75.

    16Gb RAM is also so much cheaper now. It's just under £130 if you plan on updating that at a later date too.
     
  9. Jazper thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #9
  10. Chippy99 macrumors 6502a

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    #10
    Actually you can buy the VERY good 120GB Kingston SATA III HyperX 3K from Scan for £65. (Basically a top end SSD equivalent to the OCZ Vertex III)

    http://www.scan.co.uk/products/120gb-kingston-hyperx-25-ssd-sata-iii-6gb-s-sandforce-mlc-flash-read-555mb-s-write-510mb-s-85k-iops-?utm_campaign=2012%252f06%252f15+-+Kingston+SSD+mailer&utm_source=scanshot&utm_medium=email

    And you can get 16GB of ram for £75

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B006DI9PG8/ref=asc_df_B006DI9PG88346286?smid=A3P5ROKL5A1OLE&tag=googlecouk06-21&linkCode=asn&creative=22206&creativeASIN=B006DI9PG8
     
  11. barkmonster, Jun 16, 2012
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2012

    barkmonster macrumors 68020

    barkmonster

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    Dec 3, 2001
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    #11
    Thanks for the links.

    Even though I know there's no rational reason to dwell on price reductions as technlogy advances, I really do feel stuck in the bronze age with my current setup.

    Considering how much it ended up costing me overall with all the extra PCI cards etc... I could have half paid for a 2011 Mac Mini and with what I paid for the system about 9 years ago too, I could buy all the parts, a 2011 Mac Mini, another 23" LCD and probably the Pro Tools LE to Pro Tools 10 cross-grade that I'll ultimately be buying.
     
  12. philipma1957 macrumors 603

    philipma1957

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2010
    Location:
    Howell, New Jersey
    #12
    If you are usa based this ssd is on sale


    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produ...a-_-na&AID=10440897&PID=3332167&SID=u00000687


    EMCYTZT1768


    use the code above it is 180 for the next 24 hours.


    buying a 60gb ssd is wasting your money. you can use the drive above in a fw800 case and it will be faster then the internal oem hdd.
     
  13. Jazper thread starter macrumors 6502a

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  14. Chippy99 macrumors 6502a

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    Apr 28, 2012
    #14
    I wouldn't.

    Not because it isnt any good. But because the hardest thing about upgrading a Mini is getting the fan connector and the front panel connector off the logic board. Once you have done that, the rest is simple. So if you are going to take the mini apart to fit one disk, IMHO you might as well fit two. So I'd go for and SSD and install it as a 2nd drive.
     
  15. silverjam macrumors regular

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    Apr 25, 2012
    #15
    I agree with Chippy. Just install two internal drives with OSX on the SSD. Just be careful with levering the fan plug up and out, not the whole logic board part of the plug. Once that is done it is quite fun.

    Also beware of small SSD. The nature of an SSD is that they have over provisioning too allow for ware. The larger drive means you use less of the NAND so it last longer theoretically. For example a 240TB OCZ could have an extra 30GB hidden to allow for recycling through garbage collection via the SandForce chip. The small drive will always be close to full and the NAND chips fully used. Its like running a small 4 cylinder car on high revs when you can run a V8 on low revs (less ware), but in this case the V8 doesn't use a lot more gas (it just costs a few more $s). Also we are not sure how big OSX8 will be yet. I have a 240GB OCZ SSD and mine is always around 120-180GB full even with CS5 and Drop Box on the second drive.

    Just ry get the flex cable for the second (top bay) hard drive in the Mac Mini and you can do it properly. Any other option you will probably regret.

    Also on an above comment on FW800 with an external SSD being faster than the internal OEM drive? How is that possible? The internal drive, no matter what type, would be a lot quicker than external FW800 as it is running direction Sata. Having an external SSD is a waste unless you can hook it up via TB.

    Silver
     
  16. Jazper thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    Jun 16, 2012
    #16
    Hmm, I might just buy my Mini, and upgrade it later as cost is an issue here >.>
     
  17. silverjam macrumors regular

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    Apr 25, 2012
    #17
    I like your patient approach. I have never been able to do that. Waiting is a good idea because you will find million uses for the MM after you buy it, at which stage you will know what configuration suits you. Or alternatively you will find no use for the MM in which case you saved good money.
     
  18. barkmonster, Jun 17, 2012
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2012

    barkmonster macrumors 68020

    barkmonster

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    #18
    Not true. Even the fastest 2.5" hard drive will barely hit 60Mb/s even on a SATA 6Gb/s connection simply because of the technlogy it's based on. Interface speed won't change that. An SSD will completely saturate the bandwidth of any connection to within it's own limitations so a SATA 6Gb/s SSD on an 800Mbit firewire connection will achieve close to 100Mb/s, over 250Mb/s on a SATA 3Gb/s connection and over 500Mb/s on a SATA 6Gb/s connection but a hard drive will still flail at about 60Mb/s.

    It's only in the Firewire 400 days that a drive would perform faster on an internal SATA connector than externally. An SSD on the slowest SATA 1.5Gb/s connection will still hit over 140Mb/s compared with up to 100Mb/s on a Firewire 800 connection. Much faster than any hard drive.

    Here's a barefeats article comparing SSDs, Hybrids and 7200rpm SATA drives.

    http://barefeats.com/hard134.html

    The SSDs consistently saturate the bandwidth of a SATA 3Gb/s connection, only dipping slightly below 150Mb/s on random read/writes but the hard drives are down to around 20Mb/s or less on random read/writes and the hybrid drives are clearly a waste of money.
     
  19. silverjam macrumors regular

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    Apr 25, 2012
    #19
    I agree with a lot of you comments Bark, but I was talking about FW800 versus internal standard sata drives. Here are the facts on my Mac Mini using BlackMagic Disk Speed Test.

    MM Internal Scorpio Blue 1TB - Write 95MB/s Read 94MB/s (secondary non-boot drive on my MMi7Quad)

    MM Internal Scorpio Black 500GB - Write 78MB/s Read 78MB/s (secondary non-boot drive on my MMi5)

    External Scorpio Blue 1TB (in a WD FW800 enclosure) Write 64MB/s Read 68MB/s

    External OWC Mercury Elite Dual Pro (Seagate Barracuda XT 7400rpm 4TB times two on FW800) Write 71MB/s Read 55MB/s

    External VoyagerQ Dock with Toshi 5400rpm laptop drive - Write 45MB/s Read 33MB/s

    That is my experience with many drives with two MacMinis. Internal data speeds on both Blue and Black Scorpio drives beat all external FW800 drives including my 3.5" Barracuda XTs that have 7200rpm spin speed with 128MB Cache. Note the two identical Scorpio Blue drives with a 30% drop in transfer speed with the FW800.

    Each to their own. We all have our preferences, but that is my practical experience.

    Silver.
     
  20. Jazper thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    Jun 16, 2012
    #20
    Well, I had an iMac 2006 for 6 years, which was slow.. so anything a tiny bit faster is great for me :p
     
  21. barkmonster, Jun 17, 2012
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2012

    barkmonster macrumors 68020

    barkmonster

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    #21
    And I'm sure those numbers are for large sustained file transfer, not for random blocks which is more of an indication of App loading performance, swap file efficiency etc...

    Had you used either the same drive in each enclosure and run tests on that one drive to compare the speed differences of each interface, those number might mean something but all they show is that different brands of drive have different performance regardless of the interface used.

    For example, my drives are on a PCI SATA 1.5Gb/s controller so they're using the same interface, my Mac's PCI slots are far too slow to even come close to full speed SATA 1.5Gb/s but my SSD gets higher MB/s than my Caviar Black drive because it's an SSD.

    Once I do 4K random tests, the hard drive is 2Mb/s, the SSD is 20Mb/s+, for sustained read/write of large files, they're within 10-15Mb of each other, simply because the bandwidth of the PCI SATA card seems to be limited to just under 90Mb/s. If I ran the SSD on a full bandwidth SATA 3Gb/s connection in a Mac Pro or 2009 and above Mac Mini, it would run at over 250Mb/s but the hard drive would still be it's current speeds because it doesn't saturate the bandwidth of the interface.

    I ran some benchmark with Xbench when I got the SSD last year for comparison. They speak for themselves.

    [EDIT] several sources online, this...

    http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1186048

    ...particularly show that Firewire 800 is limited to 70Mb/s so I see your point with those numbers but at the same time, sustained throughput is irrelevant.
     

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  22. silverjam macrumors regular

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    Apr 25, 2012
    #22
    He he he. The fact that we both come up with supporting figures explains why hard drive and hard drive controller companies are in business :)

    Just my final note on this speed question...

    I used a identical WD Scorpio Blue 1TBs for both the internal and FW800 tests. I recognise they are two physically separate drives but identical specs with the FW800 testing 30% slower. They are not the "same drive" per se but 30% difference can't be put down to "some drives are different".

    Also I don't have much knowledge of PCI sata controllers apart from my PC days when sata first started replacing IDE. Back then I think the concerns were more about storage capacity through multi drive Raid setups (well they were for me). Everyone was trying to get as many disks as possible in a Raid0 to make a Terabyte. So I am not sure on what speed you get from a PCI to sata these days.

    You have extended my knowledge on this subject though which I appreciate. I didn't really look at data transfer speed from a operating sys perspective. I am lucky because I have OSX running on an OCZ Agility III which links at 6 Gigabit to the 6 Series Intel Chip in my MM i7Quad so I am super happy with OS performance speed. I think the OS is fully loaded in about 15 seconds when I have account login off.

    Silver.
     
  23. philipma1957, Jun 17, 2012
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2012

    philipma1957 macrumors 603

    philipma1957

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    #23
    Statement indicates you don't have any understanding of sata vs fw800 and how it relates to ssd's and hdds for speed of operation. A oem mac mini hdd is 40MBs to 65MBs in a long copy. An oem mac mini hdd is under 2MBs in random read write.

    An ssd in in a fw800 case is 80MBs in a long copy and 10 to 20 MBs in random read writes. It will destroy the oem 5400rpm drive.

    It will also beat a 7200rpm hdd in all but long clones. If you want I will post a few tests.

    below are scores for an internal western digital. scorpio black 750 gb just about the fastest internal hdd you can put in a mac mini.

    the random read write numbers at 4k are 2.83MB/s and 1.0MB/s .

    that is slow compared to any ssd in a fw800 drive.
     

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  24. silverjam macrumors regular

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    Apr 25, 2012
    #24
    My three "non-SSD" Internal sata connected drives in my two MMs all beat my 5 external FW800 driven drives for speed so I guess my FW800 drive controllers are all broken. I hope I can return them after years of wrongly observing their transfer speeds.

    That is how my set up physically performs. My internal hard drives in my MMs are all faster than any of my FW800 driven hard drives.

    Such is life in the world of hard drives.
     
  25. philipma1957 macrumors 603

    philipma1957

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    #25
    yes internal sata hdd is faster then external sata hdd fw800.

    it is not faster then external fw800 ssd for any operation other then a long clone. If you want I can give you more information so that you will understand this.
     

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