Rejuvenating '09 Mini

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by multicore, Oct 19, 2015.

  1. multicore, Oct 19, 2015
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2015

    multicore macrumors member

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    Aug 11, 2009
    #1
    I was looking forward to the 21.5" retina iMac, but I'm not satisfied with the internals - no Skylake, thus lackluster GPU with no dGPU option - not to mention the base hard drive. I'm going to wait for the next iteration or a new mini that knocks my socks off.

    But, in the mean time, I'm going to put an SSD in my 2009 Mac Miini running Snow Leopard. It has 2x2GB memory now, and I'm debating whether to bump that to 2x4GB while I'm dusting things off in there. It's mostly just an internet terminal, but I've forgotten how to interpret Activity Monitor info in my old age. It's showiing 1.03GB free right now, with page ins: 1.21GB, page outs: 899MB, and swap used: 270MB. Looks good to me, but what do I know?

    I'm asking because I may have to wait another year with this set-up but what's the sense of spending more than I have to just to tide me over?
     
  2. Micky Do macrumors 68000

    Micky Do

    Joined:
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    Location:
    An island in the Andaman Sea.
    #2
    If its mostly just an internet terminal, for just another year or so, why not leave it as it is?

    If you feel it is worth increasing the RAM, why not just replace one stick with a 4 or 8 GB stick, thus giving you 6 or 10 GB RAM.

    SSD will give you a faster boot time, and open apps faster, but beyond that the advantage depends on what you are doing with your computer. If it is mainly internet, there will probably be no great improvement. If you are using apps with large files, you will likely see some significant benefit.

    I have an early 2009 Mini that I use for internet and much more, including work as a teacher. It still has the original 120 GB HDD (and I have another 500 GB external HDD for storage, plus a 1 TB HDD for time Machine). Along side the original 1 GB RAM there is another 4 GB, giving a total of 5 GB RAM. I am running Mountain Lion. I reckon on using it for at least another couple of years or so as is. If the HDD fails, the local repair shop can have it sorted within a day or two….. or, depending on what is available, I may decide it is more cost effective to replace it with a new Mini.

    My Mini is usually on 24/7, with the apps I use frequently mostly open. Sure, opening a new app may take a few seconds, but that is no big deal. Once open, most apps respond quite quickly. The only one that I use often where there is ever any significant delay is iPhoto.
     
  3. multicore, Oct 19, 2015
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2015

    multicore thread starter macrumors member

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    Aug 11, 2009
    #3
    Micky Do, thanks for the reply, I like that one stick of 4GB suggestion, for a total of 6GB. 8GB is the max for these minis.

    As far as the SSD, I guess it's kind of a consolation prize for not getting my new iMac just yet, although there are a lot of threads that make it to be the best upgrade you can do. And the internet browser does make heavy use of it's disk cache, no? And like you said, iPhoto is sloooooww. The 120GB SSD is only $60, and with the original 120GB HDD almost 6 1/2 years old (I leave the mini on 24/7 also), it seems like a good investment regardless.
     
  4. ApolloBoy macrumors 6502a

    ApolloBoy

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    San Jose, CA
    #4
    An SSD will greatly improve the performance of your mini, go for it.
     
  5. adam9c1 macrumors 65816

    adam9c1

    Joined:
    May 2, 2012
    Location:
    Chicagoland
    #5
    A SSD make everything more snappy.

    My main machine is a 2009 Mac Pro (which is currently down) and so I'm using 2009 Mac Mini 2.53 C2D 8GB AM, 96GB SSD (older style not super fast drive but still faster than a regular spinner drive).
    This is my home server machine running Yosemite and Server 4.

    When I'm on the internet using Safari I find the video adapter is struggling some. Plus I think Chrome handles better multiple tabs.

    I have another SSD in my laptop and that really woke up the machine. It's a Crucial CT 250MX 200SSD1
    Recently there was another Crucial for sale for about $65 and the specs were very similar to this drive.

    Replacing HD (or RAM) in a 2009 MM is rather simple (it's easier in this model than the previous gen Mini IMHO due to the easier ribbon cable connector).
    Really all you need is thin screwdriver and a spatchula. If you decide to do it, when you remove the antennas you will think you will break them but they do come off. You may see others say the same thing.
    Visit ifixit.com for a guide and follow step by step.
    I would also recommend replacing the optical drive with a hard drive caddy. If you decide to do this, do get one specific for your machine. I've replaced few of these and one was not very specific to this model and few holes did not align.

    In the end I'm not sure what your budget is, but a SSD (even an older model) will really wake up the machine. The factory hard drive is 5400 rpm.
     
  6. multicore thread starter macrumors member

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    Aug 11, 2009
    #6
    I have watched the iFixit video guide, but I haven't yet seen any, or read of any reference to a size difference between the original HDD and the replacement SSD and how well the SSD seats in the internal frame.
     
  7. ApolloBoy macrumors 6502a

    ApolloBoy

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    #7
    It should fit just fine, there aren't really any height concerns with the Mac mini so a 2.5" SSD should go in without issues. Just plug it in, screw it into the drive cage and that's it.
     
  8. multicore thread starter macrumors member

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    Aug 11, 2009
    #8
  9. jpietrzak8 macrumors 6502a

    jpietrzak8

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    Location:
    Dayton, Ohio
    #9
    Hmm. Any "Swap used" value should mean that the OS has run so far out of RAM, it is now paging memory into persistent storage. 270MB of swap used is fairly significant; at some point, you were apparently performing some task that required that much more RAM than physically existed on the computer. The machine should have slowed down fairly significantly while that was happening. I think you should be able to notice some substantial performance improvements with more RAM...
     
  10. multicore thread starter macrumors member

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    Aug 11, 2009
    #10
    Thanks, JP.
     
  11. adam9c1 macrumors 65816

    adam9c1

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    Location:
    Chicagoland
    #11
    What I meant by the holes not lined up is on one MM I reused a caddy from a white macbook and while I was able to mount the HD correctly, when it came to install the caddy in place of the optical drive two holes did not line up. It was not a big deal for me as the unit would stay stationary. That's all.

    IMHO I would proceed as follow:
    1. SSD (smallish OK to host OS and Apps)
    2. remove the optical drive and install the original drive into the optical slow (using the appropriate tray)
    3. upgrade to 6 or 8GB

    If your budget allows for it.
    If you are tight I would keep the RAM at 4, replace the HD with SSD, and use the original HDD in a USB or Firewire (more difficult to find) enclosure.

    Good luck.
     
  12. multicore thread starter macrumors member

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    Aug 11, 2009
    #12
    Thanks, Adam.
     
  13. multicore, Oct 29, 2015
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2015

    multicore thread starter macrumors member

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    Aug 11, 2009
    #13
    Well, as I stated in the original post, this upgrade was mostly in response to the shortcomings of the new retina 21.5" iMac. What I didn't mention was that, due to a power outage that fried my internet modem, I was using my iPad Air 2 for internet access around and about for almost two weeks, and Safari seemed much faster than my mini had ever been - which pushed me even more along to wanting the new iMac. But....still waiting.

    I decided to go with the 120GB Crucial SSD and the 2x4GB Crucial memory upgrade. The memory finally arrived yesterday and I just finished the installation a couple of hours ago. There is a big difference. I might be even more impressed had I not been running off the SSD externally, through USB2 no less, for almost a week waiting for the ram to get here before I opened things up. That was a big improvement to begin with. Now Firefox is a whole new app. Scrolling is much quicker, along with page renders and tab switching. Of course, start-up, app launches, and System Preferences all are much, much quicker. And iPhoto is almost instantaneous after launch, which is now under two seconds.

    A note for anyone considering the same upgrade - I had carefully bookmarked the appropriate Crucial installation pdf's for the upgrade on my iPad, but found when I opened the Mini that things were different looking. Maybe their's is for the late 2009 Mini - mine is the early model - but I saw only one link on their website. So I loaded the OWC youtube video for the 2009 Mini and that was spot on.

    I left the optical drive alone, as I didn't see a need to re-install my old HDD in there since I already have a 1TB external for back-ups and whatever. And I still buy my music on CDs. I told you I was old :(.

    Have a good one...
     

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