SSD for running 2014 Mini

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by mvenuti1980, Mar 29, 2017.

  1. mvenuti1980 macrumors newbie

    Mar 29, 2017
    I just bought the midrange 2.4Ghz/8 Gb Ram Mini with the the 1 Tb SATA (windows laptop was dying and Best Buy had a sale). Like I'd heard, Sierra is slow on the this Hard drive. It seems running the computer on an external SSD seems to be the solution. I can't seem to find all the info I need in my searches. Can I simply clone the internal drive to the external drive, then run the Mini from the SSD and use the internal drive for additional storage? Is a USB 3 drive fast enough for this or does it need to be Thunderbolt?

  2. estabya macrumors 6502


    Jun 28, 2014
    I have had this drive for about a year and a half and haven't had any issues. I have the 240GB version. I had Windows 10 installed on it for a while and booted my MacBook Pro with it. Worked flawlessly, and it's very fast. Now I just use it for storage.

    You could get a way with a USB3 drive too. Shouldn't be an issue.

    As far as cloning, I've had the best luck with just restoring my new drive with my most recent Time Machine backup.
  3. Agent47 macrumors member

    Jun 11, 2014
    Why not clone the hard drive to the SSD as you mentioned, then install the SSD internally? You'll be shocked how fast this computer can be with an internal SSD. I'm using the exact model as you right now with an internal Crucial 512GB SSD. I did this 2 years ago but if I did it now, a 1 TB SSD is around $325. Installation is not difficult-check for details.

    Running the drive externally will work, but will be much slower over USB. Even thunderbolt will be slower. Plus Thunderbolt enclosures tend to be expensive.

    Also for cloning, I recommend SuperDuper. it's free and does a good job. Another good clone utility is Carbon Copy Cloner.
  4. treekram macrumors 68000

    Nov 9, 2015
    Honolulu HI
    I have a Micron (Crucial) M500 480GB in my 2014 Mini. I tested it in a USB enclosure before putting it in the Mini and it was about 10% slower with the USB vs. internal SATA using the Blackmagic test. I also have the Monster Thunderbolt SSD that estabya mentioned in post #2. Read speed is about the same as the 500GB M500, write is about 15% slower. It's slower, but I think it's because of the size (240GB) - it's supposedly also a M500. Larger capacity SSD's of the same model may be faster if they can interleave data between NAND chips. Thunderbolt 2 is 20Gb/sec., vs. 6Gb/sec. for SATA3 but for most people that's irrelevant because to take advantage of the Thunderbolt 2 speed over 500MB/sec. you need a substantially more expensive external drive.

    Doing a clone, if done properly, will work.

    I've put a SSD in both my 2012 and 2014 Mini's. If you search the posts on this forum, it's not difficult to find people who have broken stuff doing the work. Others find it a breeze to do. For me, I didn't find it easy but the second time with my 2014 Mini was definitely easier and less stressful because of the familiarity (despite the differences between the computers and the time between the two jobs - probably two years). If it's something that you are considering, you can also look for authorized Apple service providers to do the installation - there are people on the forum who were able to get it done for about $50-60.

    Finally, a topic that always engenders heated discussion - TRIM. You can use it if the SSD is installed internally or if a Thunderbolt SSD is used but not on a USB SSD (at least not confirmed by somebody who has actually documented it on this forum). Do some research and make a determination if it's important to you or not.
  5. Boyd01 macrumors 601


    Feb 21, 2012
    New Jersey Pine Barrens
    I would not open up a brand new Mini to install a SSD. Apple has made it very hard and it will void your warranty. There are plenty of threads here where people thought they could do it and ended up damaging something. There's a current thread where the OP's fan runs continuously at high speed after he installed a drive for example.

    I setup a 2012 base Mini with a Samsung T3 USB 3.0 500GB SSD recently. Used Carbon Copy Cloner to move everything to the SSD (and also made another clone to a hard drive just in case). I setup the internal 500gb drive with time machine to backup the SSD. Works really well, here's what the Blackmagic test shows for the SSD.


    Now it's true that the right kind of internal SSD will be much faster, but do you really need the speed, and are you willing to gamble with a new computer?
  6. SpinalTap macrumors regular


    Sep 25, 2003
    Bournville, UK
  7. Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009
    OP wrote:
    "Can I simply clone the internal drive to the external drive, then run the Mini from the SSD and use the internal drive for additional storage? Is a USB 3 drive fast enough for this or does it need to be Thunderbolt?"

    I've been booting and running my own late-2012 Mini for more than 4 years this way. Probably longer than anyone else on this forum.
    Things will work just fine.
    If you don't believe me, just try it and see.

    Just about any SSD will do.
    These days, I'd probably get something like this:

    Your plan to use a cloning app like CarbonCopyCloner (or SuperDuper) will work well. CCC is FREE to download, and it's FREE to use for the first 30 days.

    You DO NOT need thunderbolt.
    USB3 will do the job.
    DISREGARD anything you hear about "TRIM".
    FOUR YEARS of great running have proven this to be an absolute non-issue.
    Of no importance at all.
  8. Boyd01 macrumors 601


    Feb 21, 2012
    New Jersey Pine Barrens
    That was one of the models I looked at but some of the reviews spooked me, people complained about the connector failing on the drive. So I went with the Samsung T3 instead, although it was a bit more expensive. I have two of them, a 500GB and a 1TB and they both perform the same as the screenshot I posted above.
  9. treekram macrumors 68000

    Nov 9, 2015
    Honolulu HI
    I think you're referring to the non-SATA Apple SSD, which is quite a bit faster but has a whole bunch of different factors to consider. As I mentioned, my testing shows that having the same SATA SSD connected via USB will be a little slower vs. having it connected internally. If somebody has actually tested it and found it to be much slower, it would be good if you can share that information.

    There was a poster in another thread whose WiFi in the 2012 Mini was broken. A SATA SSD had been added by the previous owner. It was covered by AppleCare and Apple had no problem fixing the WiFi. So that's anecdotal evidence that adding the SSD yourself will not void the entire warranty. Obviously if you muck up the SATA connector, Apple's not going to fix that one for free. But if you want the internal SATA SSD without the possible warranty issues, you can go to an Apple-authorized repair center to have it done.

    To me, it depends on the individual circumstances as to what is the "best" solution. The three options - internal, external USB or external Thunderbolt are all viable and have their advantages and disadvantages.
  10. Boyd01 macrumors 601


    Feb 21, 2012
    New Jersey Pine Barrens
    My 2014 mini has a hard drive but my 2012 quad mini has an original Apple 256gb SSD. It is a bit faster than an external USB SSD, and is especially noticeable when booting which takes 15 seconds vs 30 seconds booting from the external SSD. Here is the speed of the 2012 internal SSD


    My understanding is that the 2014 mini has the same internal interface as my 2013 MacBook Air and I get about 700MB/sec throughput on that 512gb SSD.
  11. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    Feb 12, 2007
    Neander Valley, Germany; just outside Duesseldorf
    Yes, you can.

    "Fast enough" can only be decided by you. I think it's fast enough but your needs may be different. So, two questions, how much money do you want to spend, and do you value capacity over speed?
  12. kwikdeth macrumors 65816

    Feb 25, 2003
    Tempe, AZ
    2014 mac mini has two internal drive interfaces - one standard SATA and one blade-type M2-style (but not actually M2) like found in the macbooks.

    im pretty experienced in mac repair and I found the first time opening these minis to be a little bit of a challenge. but then again Minis always have been. things like fans running full speed and airport not working are 9 times out of 10 somebody forgetting to reconnect or check a cable to make sure its fully seated. And in those minis it can be especially hard to even notice you've loosened one of those let alone put it back. I remember getting quite frustrated with the airport cables in 2012 minis when doing drive upgrades.

    thunderbolt will not be slower than USB3. USB3 is a 5 gigabit connection, Thunderbolt on 2014 mini is TB2 which is 20 gigabit connection. USB3 however will be much cheaper. But, high end SATA SSDs max out around 500-550MB/sec which is equivalent to about 4 gigabits, so there's a chance you could potentially max out the USB bus before maxing out the drive.

    internal M2-style SSD will give you the best performance, followed by internal SATA, Thunderbolt should be about equivalent, followed lastly by USB3. Internal SATA is likely the best price/performance ratio. something like a samsung EVO 850 would be a great choice for performance/price.

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11 March 29, 2017