Upgrade 2014 Mac Mini to an SSD. Help.

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by I Need a Drink, Oct 31, 2016.

  1. I Need a Drink, Oct 31, 2016
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2016

    I Need a Drink macrumors regular

    Oct 14, 2013
    I have a 2014 Mac Mini (2.6 dual core i5 version with 8GB of RAM) that has a 1TB HDD. Honestly, it is pretty slow, especially when I use Virtual Box to boot into Windows. It can take up to 5-6 minutes before I can get Windows to a usable state and that is simply terrible. In addition, iTunes, Office and other programs take more time than I think is reasonable to load as well. I don't do video editing or other "high end" tasks. Mostly I use it for Web, Music, Office and Virtual Machines.

    I am considering two options right now. One is to crack it open and replace the 5400 RPM drive with an internal SSD. The other is to add a external Thunderbolt SSD and clone my internal drive to that so I can use Trim vs USB 3 which I can't.

    So here are my questions.

    1. At the moment the Mini is really only good for simple tasks. Is the HDD truly the bottleneck and would an SSD make the Mini usable?

    2. If I go external with Thunderbolt, will I have problems with the Mini disconnecting the drive when it sleeps and issues when waking?

    3. If I went USB3 external, would I have disconnecting and waking issues when sleeping?

    4. If I install a new internal, does the Mini have the same problems as the iMac with fan speed issues due to replacing the internal drive?

    I am also considering adding an external Thunderbolt SSD to my 2013 iMac, but I have the same concerns with the sleep/disconnect/wake issue and would like some clarification as I especially don't want to open up the iMac as that is a real pain in the ***.

    Thanks for you help.
  2. hallux macrumors 68030


    Apr 25, 2012
    As your problems are with opening apps, you're on the right track. Your bottleneck is disk access. An SSD would certainly help. To replace the platter drive with an SSD would require complete disassembly of the Mac, unless you get the cable/socket for the Apple SSD that was an option. This is all speaking about the Mini, I don't know much about the iMac.
  3. bplein macrumors 6502a


    Jul 21, 2007
    Austin, TX USA
    One option is to pick up an external SSD (Thunderbolt if you can afford it, USB3 if the TB is too pricy for you), say 512GB or 1TB and migrate/clone all of your existing data to it. Leave it external, boot from it, and rename your original internal 1TB drive to something else and use it as a secondary drive.

    This way you can have 1TB for slow bulk storage (think: pictures, music, video) and 512-1TB for your OS and applications. As long as you don't mind having an external drive, it will work well for you.

    I actually boot my late-2012 iMac from an external 512GB Thunderbolt SSD, and have a Fusion Drive (upgraded to a 2TB HDD) as my internal drive.
  4. antonypg macrumors member

    May 8, 2008
    As an experiment I built myself an external Fusion drive. I managed to get a cheap Thunderbolt external case, which I fitted with an extremely old SSD (64GB, 300MB/s read, 100MB/s write). I paired this with a USB 3 spinning hard drive. With the help of a few terminal commands I formatted the drives as a single Fusion and then installed Sierra.

    The result, I was very impressed. Boot time is very quick, application launch times are instantaneous. I seem to have all of the speed of an SSD but with a lot more space. I have tried the same Fusion drive on my 2012 Mac Mini and also my 2011 Mac Book, and the performance is just as impressive on both.

    This was achieved with a really slow, cheap SSD. My plan now is to upgrade the SSD to say a 480GB, and upgrade the spinner to a 4TB, which will give me a 4.5TB Fusion drive. I will then use a second 4TB drive as a Time Machine.

    The advantage of this setup is that every time I upgrade/change Macs I should be able to keep the same hard drives.
  5. I Need a Drink thread starter macrumors regular

    Oct 14, 2013
    Thanks for the heads up. What about the issues I've read with sleep using either a USB or Thunderbolt External? I've read that people have had problems when waking using an external SSD and that they've had to reboot to get their system working again, but I've also read that some people say it works just fine. Any thoughts?
  6. antonypg macrumors member

    May 8, 2008
    I put my MacBook to sleep a few times when running off my external Fusion drive and so far no problems. I will continue to test for the next couple of days.

    My main machine I normally keep awake 24/7 as it acts as my iTunes and Time Machine server.
  7. BrettApple macrumors 65816


    Apr 3, 2010
    Heart of the midwest
    I've SSD swapped at least 10 of these current Mac Mini's at my place of work because we use them all over campus for everything from running lights in Vista and running audio apps like MainStage or Reaper to ProPresenter and the SSD is a must for those computers. Especially on stage as the bass from the speakers can make the HDD skip and corrupt audio recordings.

    It's not super hard, especially once you've done a few but there is a great iFixit guide on how to do it. You will need a TR6 screwdriver though for the security screws under the cover, and a logic board removal tool helps a lot but it can be done with a couple of small screwdrivers too. We needed internal drives because we use the Thunderbolt ports and fill up the USB ports pretty quickly on them. That and I felt that it would be more reliable than an external drive housing the OS for critical applications. May not be any truth to that but I felt better and it only takes about 20 minutes to swap it out anyway. Then I just clone the HDD to the SSD via a USB 3.0 to SATA dock which moves pretty quick.

    Regardless of the path you take, it will be a huge improvement! We have a few of the base model 1.4 GHz Mini's around here that are totally useable with the SSD. Pretty much a MacBook Air in a box. So even those can be made to be productive.
  8. Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009
    OP wrote:
    "The other is to add a external Thunderbolt SSD and clone my internal drive to that so I can use Trim vs USB 3 which I can't."

    Don't waste your money with thunderbolt, "just to have TRIM".

    Let me relate personal experience:
    I've been booting and running my late-2012 Mini using an SSD mounted in a USB3/SATA docking station since I took the Mini out of the box in January of 2013.

    It has NEVER had TRIM enabled -- can't do it with USB3.

    BUT... the SSD boots and runs as good today as it did on day 1 -- benchmarks nearly the same.

    In my opinion, the lack of TRIM when booting/running via USB3 MAKES NO DIFFERENCE AT ALL in real-world operations or in user experience (shouting is intentional).
    No difference.

    Others are going to try to tell you differently, but I'll bet that -- to a poster -- they have no experience in running their Mac this way.
    I have that experience, and am relating it.

    I think your fastest, easiest, cheapest way to get to where you want to be is to buy something like this:

    Plug it in.
    Initialize with Disk Utility.
    Set it up as you wish.

    And go.
    That's all there is to it.
  9. I Need a Drink thread starter macrumors regular

    Oct 14, 2013
    Yeah, I don't really have any concerns with swapping the internal in my Mini, but I am worried about doing it on my iMac. Not only is taking the monitor off the iMac a pain, but seems easy enough, I've read that swapping the internal on the iMac causes the fans to run at full speed at all times because the controller gets the temperature from the installed Apple HDD and a replacement would not have that firmware. I was thinking it would be just as easy to go with externals for both machines so long as I wouldn't have problems with my drives being ejected when the Mac sleeps and then have to reboot all the time. I would prefer not to have to set my computers to have to stay awake at all times, if possible.
    --- Post Merged, Nov 1, 2016 ---
    Thanks. I was actually looking at this.


  10. Partron22 macrumors 68020


    Apr 13, 2011

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