Maxed out Mac mini - A1176 - SSD and more - Benchmark results

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by Vandrederic, Mar 15, 2013.

  1. Vandrederic, Mar 15, 2013
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2013

    Vandrederic macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2013
    Location:
    Cardiff, UK
    #1
    Hello all,

    Not posted on these forums before but have used them for information in my project to see just how for a Mac Mini 1,1 could be pushed and upgraded. I have now completed my upgrades so wanted to share my results for others to know what these older Mac Minis are capable of.

    I won't be covering in-depth steps taken as these are already on the forum and google but have summarised what was needed.

    The mac mini in question started life with the following specs:
    CPU - 1.66 GHz (T2300)
    Ram - 512 MB (2 × 256 MB) of 667 MHz DDR2 SDRAM
    HDD - 80GB 5400 RPM Sata
    OS - OSX 10.4.11

    With the original specs I was surprised it was ever an active machine as it was an absolute dog when it came to even the most basic of web browsing and took an age just to boot.

    The plan was simple:
    Max the ram out to 4GB (3GB usable, limited by chipset)
    Max the processor out to Intel core 2 duo T7600 (2.33Ghz)
    Max the internal SATA interface with an SSD
    Upgrade to the most current OS possible

    To to the above I had to overcome a few limitations, these were:
    1) As standard my mac mini came with firmware 1,1 which is limited to 2GB of RAM. Using online sources I was able to force an upgrade to firmware 1,2 which allows 4GB of ram to be installed.
    2) Upgrading to OSX 10.6 was easy once the ram was upgraded, I have since upgraded to OSX 10.7 which involved using a 2nd mac in target disk mode to trick the installer into continuing on the mac mini's unsupported hardware and then modify the .plist file to get it to boot and also again after major system software updates.
    3) Apple does not support TRIM on non-apple SSD's as standard, I used a tool called 'Trim enabler' to enable this feature for my SSD to get maximum speed from it.

    With the above limitations overcome I now have a mac mini with the following specifications, and it has cost me £100 for the mac mini and then £200 on parts for a total of £300:

    CPU - INTEL CORE 2 DUO T7600 (2.33Ghz)
    Ram - Samsung DDR2 RAM 800MHz PC2-6400 (running at 667Mhz by limitations of motherboard)
    HDD - 120GB OCZ Agility 3 SSD
    OS - OSX 10.7.5

    Benchmarks for this set-up are below. Note that the HDD is limited to 1.5 Gbit/s by the mac mini, the chip-set is apparently capable of 3.0 Gbit/s but I have not found a way to unlock this. Also to note is that initially I upgraded to OSX 10.6 and under this the HDD had read speeds 10mbps faster, so looks like OSX 10.7 may be slowing it down a little.

    I now have a mac that boots up from cold in under 20 seconds and loads any applications within two bounces of the dock icon. It did boot and run a bit faster under 10.6 versus 10.7 but I wanted the most up to date version I could fit on, unfortunately due to hardware limits it seems 10.8 is not an option.

    The mac mini does suffer a bit with the menu animations under 10.7 but not enough to affect day to day use, under 10.6 it was perfect. The only task I have found it a bit lacking in is 1080p 60fps video encoding, this takes quite a while to complete but I'm unsure if it's limited by the on-board graphics or not. I know the CPU only runs at 50% usage due to iMovie running as a 32-bit process (10.7 itself runs 64-bit no problem), so it may be faster when/if iMovie ever goes 64-bit.

    Anyway, all I can really say is that the Mac mini really is a very capable and upgradable machine if you are willing to get your hands dirty. I would say OSX 10.6 is it's natural limit but it will run 10.7 well 90% of the time and even with 4GB of ram (3GB usable) is able to run VMware fusion and windows VMs without too much slowdown. Any questions let me know.

    Benchmark results (under 10.7):

    [​IMG]

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    Attached Files:

  2. Vandrederic thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Mar 15, 2013
    Location:
    Cardiff, UK
    #2
    Any comments or opinions?

    I would be interested to see results from other mini's that have been upgraded :)
     
  3. Vandrederic thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Mar 15, 2013
    Location:
    Cardiff, UK
  4. philipma1957, Mar 16, 2013
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2013

    philipma1957 macrumors 603

    philipma1957

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2010
    Location:
    Howell, New Jersey
    #4
    well it is old gear and this has been done on this site years ago at a much higher cost. I do have 1 suggestion try a different ssd.

    That chipset does not like ocz gear.

    if you could find a samsung 470/810 ssd if may run at sata speed.

    the 256gb size. I have gotten them to run at sata II in the newer 2007 1.83 and 2009 2.0 ,2.26, 2.53 ,2.66 models.

    ocz ssd's often will not run at sata II in the older minis



    oh Thanks for the novabench results I just downloaded it here are scores for my 2012 mac base i5
     

    Attached Files:

  5. eyepea macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2012
    #5
    It reminds me of those shows on cable TV were they take an old car, strip it down and replace all the seats, engine, wheels etc (West Coast Customs e.g.).

    I think you need some body work modifications or a pimped out paint job on the case... :)

    All jokes aside, its a very nice job.

    It is interesting you can upgrade the CPU. They're all soldered these days.
     
  6. eyepea macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2012
    #6
    For comparison, here are the results for the latest top spec MM maxed out to my liking (budget):

    2012 MM i7 Quad Core 2.6ghz
    Fusion Drive with an OCZ Agility 3 SSD 240GB and the OEM Apple Hitachi 1TB
    16G Corsair Vengeance 1600Mhz Ram

    My SSD has never been super fast but it works ok for me.

    IP
     

    Attached Files:

  7. philipma1957 macrumors 603

    philipma1957

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2010
    Location:
    Howell, New Jersey
    #7
    I found some info from a very old thread the upgrade you did ran about 1000usd to do it to NEW 2007 1.83 MACHINE SO YOU SPENT 300 POUNDS OR ABOUT 450 USD. YOUR machine is pretty nice for a home theater setup. in the states it can do a good job with netfilx and eye tv recordings.. plus you can put cds in it and make a really nice iTunes server with lossless quality.
     
  8. Vandrederic thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2013
    Location:
    Cardiff, UK
    #8
    Cheers for the eventual replies guys. I had heard some things about OCZ from the windows side of things with their firmwares being a bit dodgy, however for the price point it was worth it.

    Posted up as I had found mentions of various modifications but no benchmark results and posts where someone had done ALL the possible steps on the older mac mini...so mainly for a point of reference for future people considering doing the upgrades. The trickiest bit was the CPU upgrade as it involved a full tear-down, that and the firmware hack as if it went wrong it could have bricked it.

    All in all I just did it to see how fast the system could be, especially now that the parts required are quite affordable. £100 on the mini and £200 on parts and I have something that spec wise is comparable to the current gen macbook airs:D

    Plus at current prices if I sold it I would not only make my money back but a bit of profit too, based on current prices I think I could get at least £400 for the machine. Which when it comes to upgrading systems is a rarity, normally you lose money straight away due to the high price of the components.

    Though I plan on keeping the mini for now, might end up using it for front row/xbmc with some emulators on with the TV. Gotta say I don't like the newer shaped mini's as to me they are not 'mini' they are huge in comparison.
     
  9. bye4now12 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    May 27, 2013
    #9
    A bit late on the thread, but are you able to spit out 1080p video (say DVI to HDMI)? Considering if it's worth doing this update to my Mac Mini vs. just getting a new one.
     
  10. Mr. Retrofire macrumors 601

    Mr. Retrofire

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    #10
    Is this a joke?
     
  11. Lippo macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2013
    #11
    Advice

    Hi,

    Thanks for the info. I've just purchased a 1,1 Mac Mini with a 1.6ghz Core Duo processor. I'm looking to upgrade, but all the processors I'm looking at (T7600) are Socket P, whereas the Mac Mini is Socket M. Everything I've read so far states they aren't compatible.

    How have people managed the upgrade? Can I use the Socket P T7600 in the Mac Mini?

    Thanks:)
     
  12. Lippo macrumors newbie

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    Jul 8, 2013
    #12
    Answered my own question. There are Socket M T7600's as well as socket P T7600's, The P's are cheap, the M's are expensive.
     
  13. Omnius macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2012
    #13
    I think geekbench is used more commonly on this site for such comparisons. How much of that ram is being actually utilized? Did you flash your 1,1 into a 2,1?

    And it looks like your SSD is running at SATA I, SATA II ought to possible.
     
  14. Sgtarky macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2011
    #14
    I know this is an old thread, but it definately has my interests. I just bought an old mac mine..same model I plan on updating like this to run lion. any more tips and tricks will be helpful..not buying SSD tho
     
  15. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    #15
    You can check out what I did in this thread:

    http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1746225
     
  16. paulrbeers macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2009
    #16
    Truthfully the SSD might actually be the best upgrade you can do. Further, the T7600 is going to be "expensive", you can usually get a T7400 (2.16ghz) for much cheaper. Frankly you won't notice a difference. What a t7400 can't do, a t7600 won't do either. Even look for t7200 or t5600s (u used t5600s which I bought off eBay years ago for $10 each)
     
  17. toddzrx macrumors 6502a

    toddzrx

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2012
    #17
    Not really worth doing the upgrades without the SSD if you're going to use the machine for normal tasks.
     
  18. Sgtarky, Jul 29, 2014
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2014

    Sgtarky macrumors regular

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    Dec 24, 2011
    #18
    I got my hands on a t7500 out of a dell d630.



    will 10.6.8 run on that processor, and 2 gig of ram. I havent bought 4gb chips yet. I bought lion back in 2012.
     
  19. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    #19
    I don't think you can put a T7500 in a Mini. It's socket P and the mini requires socket M.
     
  20. Intell macrumors P6

    Intell

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    Jan 24, 2010
    Location:
    Inside
    #20
    2006-2007 Mac Mini's cannot use an Intell T7500. Those have an 800Mhz bus speed where the Mini has a 667Mhz bus.
     
  21. Sgtarky macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2011
    #21
    I am new to hardware/software of apple but I have been fixing pc's for 20 years. This will be my first mac I have upgraded. I purchased a pretty nice one off ebay, this thing looks brand new. I was surprised how snappy it is with 512 of ram, I started out on lion , this mac mini has tiger I miss the virtual desktops. Anyway I do not have too much issue upgrading the hardware I think I can get that sorted out pretty well , but I will need some assistance upgrading to lion. would I just put the harddrive in an external usb, hook it up to my mBP, start the lion install , point it to the harddrive(new partition, keep tiger) put it back in the mac mini, boot into tiger find plist and delete it, reboot into lion
     
  22. paulrbeers macrumors 68040

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    Dec 17, 2009
    #22
    Easiest thing is to get a Firewire cable (assuming the MBP isn't a new retina MBP), and then use "target disk mode". The MBP will actually use the drive in the Mac Mini as it's own personal drive. You can then install lion (probably from a USB stick) directly onto the Mini's drive and before you shut down the MBP, find the Plist file (from the MBP) and delete it. Shut down both computers. Fire up the Mini. Tada.... Lion. To be honest, I prefer Snow Leopard on my 2006-2008 Mini's. Lion was a bit of the Vista of the Mac world (although not as bad) and Snow Leopard is fully compatible with the Mini's, so no target disk mode/hack needed.
     
  23. Sgtarky macrumors regular

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    Dec 24, 2011
    #23
    so using target disk mode, does it require turning my MBP off(power button inop)? I might try snow leopard but it isnt 64bit right? and it wont support 4gig of ram
     
  24. Intell macrumors P6

    Intell

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    Inside
    #24
    Snow Leopard has 64-bit support. Mac OS X did all the way back to 10.4. Even 10.2.7 could access more than 4GB of ram. Your Mini itself can't see more than 4GB of ram, of which only 3.3GB of it will be usable because of a limitation with its chipset.
     
  25. paulrbeers macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2009
    #25
    http://support.apple.com/kb/PH10725
     

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