Upgrade Mac Mini HDD and SSD (ordered as fusion drive)?

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by MooseWeird, Jun 9, 2015.

  1. MooseWeird macrumors newbie

    Jun 24, 2011
    Lima, Perú
    Hello everyone, I have a late 2012 BTO Mac Mini 2.6Ghz i7 (Quad) with 1TB Fusion Drive option. I'm thinking about upgrading both hard drives to a Crucial MX200 500GB SSD and an HGST 7200RPM 1TB HDD. Is this compatible? Has anyone successfully upgraded a fusion drive'd Mac Mini before? Will I see any improvement in a 7200RPM drive? Will use it to load samples and VSTs (audio work). Any tips on the upgrade? I know that I have to "separate the Fusion Drive" before doing this, however, the only time I have manipulated the hardware was when I upgraded the RAM to 16GB.

  2. steve217 macrumors regular


    Nov 11, 2011
    You separate the drives via software command. As far as I know, any drives can be fused. This article mentions fusing a couple of thumb drives.

    Are you unhappy with the current performance? I don't think you'll notice the gains, especially going from a 5400 HDD volume to a 7200 HDD volume.

    You're also going to lose TRIM support by using a non-Apple SSD.

    If you really want uber-disk drive response, get the 2014 Fusion drive Mac Mini or take out a second mortgage and grab a 15" MBP. Those drives are ridiculous! 1300/1100 Read/Write!
  3. tentales macrumors 6502a


    Dec 6, 2010
    Hold onto that 2.6 quad i7 MacMini. It's faster than the 2014 MacMinis.

    Is speed or capacity the issue ? With a Fusion drive, the difference between a 5400rpm and 7200rpm is negligible. You won't see any perceptible improvement. With the SSD drive you might, but only because you're now storing more data on the SSD vs the HDD, but you'll loose native TRIM support and will have to hack your way around that especially on Yosemite and going forward, Apple might lock down non-Apple SSDs altogether.

    You have the fastest MacMini to date and the only improvement to it I can see is to switch the 1TB drive for a 2TB one if capacity is getting tight, but even then, I personally bought a 4TB (2x2TB Raid-0) USB 3.0 Seagate 2.5" mobile drive for storing large media files.

    If you need more speed, buy the new MBPs they've doubled the SSD speeds on all of them.
  4. tentales macrumors 6502a


    Dec 6, 2010
    Forgot to mention, upgrading the drives on a MacMini is major surgery. Not as easy as upgrading RAM.
    There's a great guide on ifixit.com that you can follow, but if you're unsure or don't have the right tools, don't do it.
  5. Dark Void macrumors 68030

    Dark Void

    Jun 1, 2011
    OWC has wonderful video tutorials on YouTube that will guide you through a hard drive swap for the 2012 Mac Minis. It's more than just removing the backplate, you also have to remove and unplug both the fan and WiFi antenna before getting to the drive itself. There is even a guide and a kit that they sell to install a second one underneath the primary.
  6. MooseWeird, Jun 9, 2015
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2015

    MooseWeird thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 24, 2011
    Lima, Perú
    I've kept my OS at Mountain Lion (and have the Mavericks install app if needed; I definitely won't be upgrading the OS past Mavericks at any point), does that mean that I'll still have access to TRIM on the new SSD?
  7. MooseWeird thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 24, 2011
    Lima, Perú
    That's the thing, once I have disabled Fusion Drive I'm keeping it this way, managing the hard drives separately. I'll keep the OS and apps on the SSD (which is why I need more capacity), the VSTs and samples on the HDD (which is why need more speed) and planning to use an external SSD as a scratch disk for sessions, also an external USB 3.0 drive for manual (yet constant) backups. Does the RPM upgrade on the HDD improve speed as I'll need it then?
  8. tentales macrumors 6502a


    Dec 6, 2010
    Certainly, if you disable Fusion and just write to a 7200rpm HDD, you will see some improvement over a 5400rpm, but I'm not sure why you wouldn't want to benefit from the Fusion drive intelligently managing your data that is most in use and kept on the SSD and least used on the HDD. Furthermore, is the 1TB 7200rpm more important than a 2TB 5400rpm ? My needs may be different, but I found very little lag using my 2TB + 256SSD Fusion drive on my Mac Mini.
  9. Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009
    My advice will be different from all the others.

    If you wish to "De-fuse" the fusion drive, go right ahead and do it, BUT...

    ... don't bother swapping out the drives. I predict that for the money, time and trouble involved, it won't be worth the effort once all is said and done.

    Having said that, I predict that you -will- notice a modest but nice uptick in "perceived performance" once you have de-fused the drive, and have the internal SSD running as a "standalone SSD" (instead of part of the fusion drive).

    I'd take the money not spent, and consider it "put away" for when the NEXT version of the Mini is released (it won't be for some time yet). I sense that THAT ONE is going to incorporate some very noticeable improvements!
  10. BradHatter macrumors regular

    Oct 7, 2014
    The new Hitachi drives are multiples faster than the old ones. Spindle speed is part of it but they use a new AF advanced format with much higher areal density, which means they pack more bytes into a single track than the used to, so when they do one rotation, they pick up a lot more data, hence the speed increase. Make sure it's the AF type and not the "old" type that uses 512 byte sectors natively because if it doesn't it won't be much faster than an old 5400 RPM drive. The AF drive use 512e (512 byte to 4K sector emulation)

    I installed one of these AF 500GB Hitachi in a unit for a friend. I use Scannerz to test it. Scannerz is a diagnostic tool not a performance tool, but when I first ran it on the Hitachi I thought it was SSD…well, not really, but it was progressing through a surface scan fast enough that the difference in speed is very noticeable. If you put an Hitachi of that type with an SSD, I think you'll be happy with the results.

    Here's some info on the drive I installed:


    If you look at the specs, the media transfer rate is 1369 Mb/sec which is very fast.

    Just make sure it's the AF type. I think this is similar but larger:


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9 June 9, 2015