Planning to buy Mini Mac and Upgrade manually - is it possible?

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by doadam, May 6, 2013.

  1. doadam, May 6, 2013
    Last edited: May 6, 2013

    doadam macrumors newbie

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    May 6, 2013
    #1
    I plan to buy the latest Mini Mac in the end of May.
    I found out it's possible to buy your own RAM chips and install them in, as well as buying your own SSD, insert into the secondary slot of the Mac Mini and finally, fuse the HDD with your own SSD which gets you the SSD 256GB option in half the price it costs. therefore upgrading your processor (from 2.3GHz to 2.6GHz) is more profitable than wasting money on Apple's RAM\SSD (correct me if that's not true).

    So first of all, is it possible to do the manual upgrade in the latest Mac Mini following this video? I don't think I need any special kits (as seen here), a screwdriver is more than fine IMHO (correct me if I'm wrong).


    Second, is it still possible to fuse your SSD with the HDD you get from Apple? (found this tutorial to do so). by the way, backup is useless if I do this step right after unboxing. does internet recovery work right away? or I need to install the OS first?


    and last, I saw many videos and people claiming that unplugging the logic board is necessary or at least easier, is that really true? because the guy disassemblying keeps almost everything in place and it seems like a very simple task.


    Also, feel free to give me advises if I didn't mention them here, because basically that's everything I know about the Mac Mini I want. I also think these questions come up in every single person's mind who thinks about purchasing a Mac Mini. so the more detailed answer the more helpful for everybody :p
     
  2. benwiggy macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2012
    #2
    You seem to have answered most of your own questions by your own research and the links you point to. ifixit.com is another good source of information.

    However, if you're going to create a Fusion drive, there's perhaps an argument against needing a 256Gb SSD. The whole point is that you use a small fraction of your files most of the time. Unless you have a larger HDD to match proportionally, you don't need a bigger SSD.

    The Recovery Partition is on the startup drive, and is also in firmware, in case there is no drive with a recovery partition.

    You always need a backup. Of course, if you haven't put anything on the Mini to start with, then don't need one yet.
     
  3. doadam, May 6, 2013
    Last edited: May 6, 2013

    doadam thread starter macrumors newbie

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    May 6, 2013
    #3
    I just want to verify that all the information above is still valid for the newest Mac Mini model. (MD388LL)

    if there's anything else you think I should know I will be glad to hear :)


    EDIT: So if I plan to get the 1TB 5400 HDD from Apple, shall I buy in the local store a 128GB or a 256GB SSD? money is not a problem (as long as you buy it locally and not from Apple)
     
  4. xlii macrumors 68000

    xlii

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    #4
    If you plan on adding a 2nd drive you will need a 2nd cable to connect the new drive to the motherboard. If you've done this before you likely have all the tools you need. If you never have done this then you might need a couple of small torx drivers and the U shaped puller to pull out the motherboard.
     
  5. doadam, May 6, 2013
    Last edited: May 6, 2013

    doadam thread starter macrumors newbie

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    May 6, 2013
    #5
    I've never added a 2nd drive to a Mac Mini (did it on laptops & other PCs though). I already found a "flex cable" on eBay which should be kinda fine for my needs.

    about taking off the motherboard, is it really that necessary?
    this video demonstrates a Mac Mini SSD upgrade and it seems pretty easy (and no motherboard involved). however this is a mid-2011 mini upgraded in the movie. In 2012 does it require a complete disassembly of the motherboard?

    EDIT: what are torx drivers?
     
  6. gtstricky macrumors regular

    gtstricky

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2012
    #6
    The latest mini has been shipping with the HDD in the top slot (bottom bay when the mini is turned over). I received two like that in the lst two weeks. It changes the install a little but essentially you can not follow the videos out there step by step. OWC should have a new video out soon.
     
  7. doadam thread starter macrumors newbie

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    May 6, 2013
    #7
    Eventually, did you manage to install extra SSD?


    And another question: Once installed the SSD, how do I install OS X? the first reboot would probably be done after the extra SSD is installed, is there anything special I should do? or just reboot and go on?
     
  8. blanka macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2012
    #8
    Torx is a jew-star shaped driver, but a flat one at the right size might work (not ideal).

    Leave the mobo in place.
    Check this video, much easier:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ymGnXdwvabg

    Besides torx, you also need 2mm hex. The 2 airport grill screws that lock the bottom plate might look similar to the torx screws, but you will destroy them eventually with torx drivers. 2mm hex is the correct bit for that, never included in the SSD cable kits.
     
  9. opinio, May 6, 2013
    Last edited: May 6, 2013

    opinio macrumors 65816

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    #9
    The question of moving the logic board or not can only be relevant when you find out your HDD config. As noted above apple is putting OEM HDDs in the upper bay now. By upper I men the bay closest to the alloy top of the mini. By lower I mean the bay under the wifi grill. If the HDD is in the upper then you must (no questions asked) remove the logic board. If you are replacing it with an SSD that is. If you are adding an SSD to the OEM if it is in the upper, then simple add the SSD to the lower drive under the wifi grill. But you will need two proprietary aligning headless torx screws. You cannot use normal HDD screws in the lower bay. Technically, if the OEM single drive is in the upper bay, then adding the SSD to the second lower bay under the wifi grill is easier than the traditional second drive install. The only problem is getting the aligning screws.

    A source has told me they put the single OEM in the upper bay now as a base config for shipping so all they need to do to make a fusion or server is add the drive to the bay under the wifi grill when needed. This is probably an outcome of the increased sales in the fusion compared to the old single drive setup. In other words they have more of a need to double up on the hard drives now. Where as before it was only the server and special orders that warranted the second drive.

    Don't buy anything until you get your drive config. Also use a kit or buy proper parts. Nothing 'sort off fits' in a mini.

    Check the instructions on 'adding a second drive' on owc or ifixit. That covers both upper and lower bay removal.

    You seem to be doing well with your research, so check these posts.

    http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1574336

    http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1573780

    Note also OWCs comments on getting kits ready.
     
  10. tmanto02 macrumors 65816

    tmanto02

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    #10
    It's called a "Mac Mini"! Haha sorry it's one of those things that grinds my gears :p
     
  11. talmy macrumors 601

    talmy

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    Oregon
    #11
    If you want to save your gears you should be accurate. It's a "Mac mini" not a "Mac Mini". :)
     
  12. tmanto02 macrumors 65816

    tmanto02

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    #12
    Haha I stand corrected
     
  13. Bear macrumors G3

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    Jul 23, 2002
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    Sol III - Terra
    #13
    When you get the Mac mini, set it up, make sure it works. sign in to the Mac App Store. This will register the software licenses for the bundled software.

    After you're sure the machine is ok and you've gotten the licenses registered, that is the time to upgrade your system. The odds are you'll get a machine with no problems, but if you modify it right out of the box then you won't know if it's an issue the Mac came with or if it's something you did to it.
     
  14. drsox macrumors 65816

    drsox

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    #14
    I changed the drive in my Mini according to iFixit and not OWC. This would be my recommendation. Don't be tempted to leave all the cables and stuff in place and work around them. I had to do this as one of the screws was stuck. BAD MOVE. I pulled out the connectors to the fan and had to buy a new one.

    I also found that reconnecting the cables is tricky as you need a visual guide as to which side is up (sounds daft, but true) - so remember how it was before you remove them !

    Also, it can be tricky to fit the drive(s) in the side support rail, so I stood the Mini on it's side and let gravity help me align the screws.

    I'm about to do the same again for a second Mini, so hopefully I haven't forgotten !

    I bought the iFixit Pro Tech Base Toolkit and the Logic Board remover tool - much to be recommended, even if it did cost me in Postage and Import duties.

    Here's a link to iFixit :http://www.ifixit.com/Device/Mac_Mini_Late_2012
     
  15. doadam, May 9, 2013
    Last edited: May 9, 2013

    doadam thread starter macrumors newbie

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    May 6, 2013
    #15
    @Bear: Thank you, I may do that.

    After I fuse the hard disks (and therefore wiping all my data) can I restore these softwares?

    That's what I am actually searching right now. I plan to buy something like this. OWC takes extra 17$ for the shipping (and that's in case I choose the cheapest method) while eBay gives me the same cable and the same stuff for 30$ with shipping. iFixit wins the most expensive award with 50$ for their product (and I'm not sure if shipping is included).


    And about my 2nd issue - I didn't actually talk about leaving everything in place, but taking out the RAM or the logic board seems to me as a useless move as the hard drive is located in parallel to the logic board. (correct me here?)


    I do think you should take out the fan the WiFi (obviously) and more some more plastics (but not actualy devices). but the RAM\logic board doesn't make it any harder. Is that what you mean?

    EDIT: after watching the iFixit guide, I think I'll take out the logic board :\


    EDIT 2#: I now see another eBay deal "for the upper BAY" - which one do I need (if I buy the latest Mac Mini currently sold by Apple - most probably in London).

    This one? http://www.ebay.com/itm/170983911962
    or this one? http://www.ebay.com/itm/400484386862


    And thank you everyone for your help!
     
  16. philipma1957 macrumors 603

    philipma1957

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    Apr 13, 2010
    Location:
    Howell, New Jersey
    #16
    I guess you are in the UK if you are that kit should be good. wait for the mini to be sure it is the correct kit.


    my install thread
    when you get the mini see if the hdd is in the same spot that mine is in. then that ebay kit is good

    http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1568313
     
  17. doadam thread starter macrumors newbie

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    May 6, 2013
    #17
    There's a kit for "upper bay", and it says that since March 2013 most of the Mac Minis requires an "upper bay" kit (the just flipped the flex cable's position).

    Which one do I need?
     
  18. drsox macrumors 65816

    drsox

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    Xhystos
    #18
    Some of the videos I have seen show the fan removed but still with the leads attached. Don't do that. To get to the second drive position it seems pretty clear that the logic board and the PSU have to be moved. Again, I would trust iFixit if there is a doubt.
     
  19. doadam thread starter macrumors newbie

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    May 6, 2013
    #19
    I rechecked everything again and my little research results are the similar to opinio's post.

    Mac Minis, as of March 2013 (more or less) reproducted with the HDD on the upper bay (lower bay is near the wifi grill, upper bay is the other one).

    If your Mini came with HDD in the lower bay, then you must take out the logic board. HOWEVER!! if the HDD comes in the upper bay, then the produce is just like in iFixit\OWC's video when they return the original HDD, but in our case that's would be the new SSD.

    [​IMG]

    in OWC they use the "lower bay" cable (so in the new production line the upper bay is needed).

    Again, this information is just from the net, but just to make sure, after I get my Mac Mini (gonna be around 25-39th in May) I will post my results about the upgrade produce.
     
  20. opinio, May 10, 2013
    Last edited: May 10, 2013

    opinio macrumors 65816

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    #20
    Here... this is from the Technician Guide.

    These are the proper Apple part numbers:

    The "Hard Drive Flex Cable, Lower Bay, w/Tape" is part number 076-1390
    The "Hard Drive Flex Cable, Upper Bay, w/Tape" is part number 076-1391

    Just do a google search with the part number and 'Mac mini" and you will get a number of hits.
     

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  21. philipma1957 macrumors 603

    philipma1957

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    #21
    if you show a photo of the oem installed drive we can tell you.

    no photo we can not tell you.
     
  22. drsox macrumors 65816

    drsox

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    Xhystos
    #22
    New Mini arrived yesterday and was converted in less than an hour.

    Some comments for general info :

    1. My unit arrived with the drive in the usual place (i.e. nearest the bottom cover) - so no need to fully disassemble.
    2. There's a WiFi fix on the aerial connector. Two black sections of tape covering the plug. One long plastic one with a short sticky one underneath. Makes reconnecting tricky as both these have to be kept out of the way while reconnecting. I think they have also rerouted the cable slightly.
    3. The build quality seems to have gone downhill a bit. Last time the motherboard etc slid out like a swiss watch when pulled by the two pronged U shape tool. This time the LHS moved but the RHS was stuck ! (Potential brown trouser moment). Also the aerial metal mesh didn't want to align with the base so the screw points were off. I had to really push it back (previous time there was no problem).
    4. One of the fan mounts still insists on coming out linked to the pin underneath. Unless you realise this, there's a tendency to try to take them apart - resist this idea.
    5. I forgot to clone the drive before removing it (doh), which caused no end of install problems with the new one. Fortunately I have a handy SATA-USB lead (Icy Dock), which saved the day by allowing me to boot from the old bare drive.

    Now it works fine and the Samsung 840 really zips along.
     
  23. doadam, May 12, 2013
    Last edited: May 12, 2013

    doadam thread starter macrumors newbie

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    May 6, 2013
    #23
    Where did you buy your Mac Mini? (which country, and retail or online store?)

    Second, what is the "usual place"? A or B?

    [​IMG]


    Third, what do you mean by forget to clone the drive? I don't have any SATA-USB leads or any dongle with OS X to save my day... :\


    Also, why did you take out the logic board if it wasn't necessary to disassemble everything?


    Anyway, thank you very much for your information!

    P.S I will be grateful if you can post a picture of the WiFi fix and all this tricky area.
     
  24. drsox, May 12, 2013
    Last edited: May 12, 2013

    drsox macrumors 65816

    drsox

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    Xhystos
    #24
    1. I bought the Mini from Amazon Germany. They have some of the the cheapest prices around (occasionally Amazon France are better) plus they have free delivery and a 15 day free post return option.

    2. The usual place used to be A - nearest to the bottom and the easiest to work with when changing drives. The Mini I modded in 2012 also had the drive in position A. There is some evidence that new Minis come with a single drive in position B ready for a second fusion enabled drive to be in postion A.

    3. The right way to deal with changing drives and reinstalling the OS is to clone before replacement. I didn't. To do it properly do the following :
    a. Install CarbonCopyCloner on the original in-situ drive.
    b. Attach a USB drive (Thumb or Harddrive) of at least 32GB.
    c. Use CCC to clone the in-situ drive to the attached USB drive. (Including the Recovery Partition).
    d. Check that the USB drive actually boots.
    e. Do whatever you intended wrt changing the in-situ drive.
    f. Boot from the USB drive.
    g. Use Disk Utility to format the new in-situ drive.
    h. Clone the USB drive to the new in-situ drive.
    i. END

    4. I'm following the iFixit guide for the 2012 Mini. Steps 15 and 16 require the logic board and the attached I/O board to be moved slightly to allow easier access to the in-situ drive in position A. I didn't take out the board, merely moved it a bit.

    5. I don't have a pic of the WiFi connector (it's reassembled), but if you look at the pic in step 10 of the guide you'll see the connector. In the one I have this is covered by a black plastic strip about 2cm long and 0.5cm wide. Under this is a smaller piece of sticky tape. You need something like a spudger to prise is off delicately. These black strips can be "hinged" for access with the hinge on the LHS by prising them up from the RHS. Plus in my Mini the connector wiring is routed around the connector from top to bottom on the LHS underneath the metal cover. The pic in step 10 shows it routed from bottom to the RHS. (RHS=Right Hand Side; LHS=Left Hand Side)
     
  25. opinio, May 12, 2013
    Last edited: May 12, 2013

    opinio macrumors 65816

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    #25
    Most of the instruction websites still use the 2011 Mac mini pics from what I have seen so there are very minor differences but that should not cause confusion.

    For example there is more emi tape on the 2012 due to it having USB 3.0 (see comment below). And you will notice the fan blades on the 2012 are further apart.

    Ifixit as noted does not show the two square EMI (electro magnetic interference) patches because it is the 2011 model. Apple put the patches on the wifi module due to USB 3.0 emi. Whereas the 2011 model being USB 2.0 does not need or have them.

    So make sure you keep the two square patches on the wifi module in place when reassembling.

    Having said all that, I genrally follow iFixit. They have clear pics. I prefer that to video. I also remove the fan. Too much risk you will rip something off.

    FYI, the Apple method is to remove the fan and also dislodge the logic board a few mm (which are the common two disagreed points on the SDD/HDD swap).
     

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