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Any problem putting SSD in Mini?

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
I'm considering getting a Mini for web programming. I do a lot of text searches so I want to put a SSD in it. Does the Mini have any limitations that might effect the performance of a SSD?

I'm trying to decide if I should get a Mini Server. I'd like to be able to have two internal drives so one can be SSD for OS and the code I'm working on, and the other can be my storage drive. However, I'm not sure if I'll be using the extra functionality of the server edition OSX or not, so I'm reluctant to pay the $200 premium. In a "regular" Mini I could put the SSD internal and use an external big drive, but would the external drive be fast enough via Firewire?

Thanks in advance for any info.
post #2 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by hsvfdvcadjhdf View Post

I'm considering getting a Mini for web programming. I do a lot of text searches so I want to put a SSD in it. Does the Mini have any limitations that might effect the performance of a SSD?

I'm trying to decide if I should get a Mini Server. I'd like to be able to have two internal drives so one can be SSD for OS and the code I'm working on, and the other can be my storage drive. However, I'm not sure if I'll be using the extra functionality of the server edition OSX or not, so I'm reluctant to pay the $200 premium. In a "regular" Mini I could put the SSD internal and use an external big drive, but would the external drive be fast enough via Firewire?

Thanks in advance for any info.

Hello

I hope you are still "considering"


The SSD would be a straight swap, if you just wanted to do that.

As for using Firewire for the external, that would be only half as fast as an installed drive in terms of top speed. That's where you intend to store movies and music, right?

I'm not gonna write too much about this right now, but if you are still interested in this question, please reply, so that i'd know what to suggest, and we can figure out what would work best for you.

I'm trying to find what would be better value, so i'd need to know what your needs are...

Things like, you are buying the Mini because...

it's reasonably priced? (money question most important)
or...
it's a pint-sized desktop? (maybe you'd want to focus more on performance)

and, do you use Photoshop at times? like image resizing, compression, etc?

or use a bulky IDE for writing serverside code?

or are you a front-end developer instead, and use a VM (or dual boot) to check browser compatibility?

Are you very squeamish, or would you feel comfortable doing some swap mods yourself (keeping the old hardware for "just in case", as to not void the warranty)?

I hope it's not too much of an overload, it's just things that would help me narrow down the options



Dan

P.S. ...i'm a web dev myself, how funny
post #3 of 9
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the detailed reply. I've decided to build my own system and use Linux for this machine. Apple just doesn't have anything to fit my needs right now without spending $3000 on a BTO Pro. And even then it would use more power than I consider necessary.

When it's time for a new notebook I'll probably get a MBP. Apple makes a nice notebook.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DayRobot View Post

Hello

I hope you are still "considering"


The SSD would be a straight swap, if you just wanted to do that.

As for using Firewire for the external, that would be only half as fast as an installed drive in terms of top speed. That's where you intend to store movies and music, right?

I'm not gonna write too much about this right now, but if you are still interested in this question, please reply, so that i'd know what to suggest, and we can figure out what would work best for you.

I'm trying to find what would be better value, so i'd need to know what your needs are...

Things like, you are buying the Mini because...

it's reasonably priced? (money question most important)
or...
it's a pint-sized desktop? (maybe you'd want to focus more on performance)

and, do you use Photoshop at times? like image resizing, compression, etc?

or use a bulky IDE for writing serverside code?

or are you a front-end developer instead, and use a VM (or dual boot) to check browser compatibility?

Are you very squeamish, or would you feel comfortable doing some swap mods yourself (keeping the old hardware for "just in case", as to not void the warranty)?

I hope it's not too much of an overload, it's just things that would help me narrow down the options



Dan

P.S. ...i'm a web dev myself, how funny
post #4 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by hsvfdvcadjhdf View Post

Thanks for the detailed reply. I've decided to build my own system and use Linux for this machine. Apple just doesn't have anything to fit my needs right now without spending $3000 on a BTO Pro. And even then it would use more power than I consider necessary.

When it's time for a new notebook I'll probably get a MBP. Apple makes a nice notebook.

Yeah, that would be much cheaper for sure.

You'll save at least $300...

As for the Mini, if you were to get one, you could almost push it into the iMac category, which is what Apple hopes you won't do.

A properly modded Mini can cannibalize half of their desktop lineup

Which is why Apple went out of its way to make sure that the CPU would be non-removable. It's soldered on, AND epoxied. Nice way to kill the enthusiasm. The '06-'08 Minis were socketed though, and people would buy the low-end machines with Core 2 Solo and swap out the CPU.

The upside though is that the '09s with new firmware + Snow Leopard can take 8Gb of RAM, something they don't advertise. Works flawlessly though.

I'm glad you decided not to get the Mini Server.. It's a bit of a rip-off IMHO, when you end up replacing one drive with an SSD.

4GB RAM + 2.53Ghz + (2nd hard drive, but the board is identical, with only two SATA ports) = $1,000.. Yikes..

$800 box + top-of-the-line CPU, 2.66Ghz, with Superdrive and only one HDD = $950...

With the second option, you can, yourself, put in the 8gb + an SSD, which would probably kick a low-end iMac's ass..

But they've tried other stuff to discourage modding as well, like the female (!!!) SATA connectors on the logic board to confuse people....

But it's possible to "have it all"....with the setup above, one can disconnect the Superdrive and with a little bit of work (and no alteration to the Mini itself) run a 1.5 Tb hard drive underneath in a Mini-shaped enclosure, where the drive would run natively thru the SATA interface, along with the SSD, but reside outside. The Superdrive will stay inside, but using a little bridge board, it will actually connect thru Firewire.

In doing that you'd have to butcher the cables a little bit, but nothing too dramatic..

Still though, i agree with your choice..

If you'll want the links to stuff, i still have them, if you are curious about the enclosure and whatnot. It's probably the most that can be gotten out of a Mini, but i'm sure you'd agree that the setup would blow a stock Mini out of the water (and still not void the warranty ) ...2.66Ghz, 8Gb RAM, say 64Gb SSD, 1.5 TB storage drive, and a Superdrive that performs equally well



Dan
post #5 of 9
Thread Starter 
Sure, I'd be curious to see the links. Thanks.

I'm into the new machine for $1100 not including monitors. Xeon L3426, 4GB Kingston DDR3 1333 Mhz R-ECC, Intel X25-M 80GB SSD, HIS Silent 1GB Radeon HD 4670, Seasonic SS-300SFD 80+ PS. I'm hoping it will idle around 50 watts at the wall. I'll add more memory and a 1TB+ HDD as funds allow.
post #6 of 9
I finally brough a Mac mini yesterday at the Apple store (2.53 GHz + 4 GB + 320 GB HDD), with Iomega's 1TB external drive.

The machine is so small and it is totally silent, in full contrast with my now dying G5 "monster" (huge enclosure and frequently very noisy).

However, I'm upset at Apple for not developping better the mini concept, which is the right way to go, IMO. This small computer could be extremelly powefull, with a better video card and a 7200 rpm HDD (or SSD).

Mac mini 2.53 GHz, 4 GB, NVidia's 9400M.
13" MacBook Pro 2.66 GHz, 8 GB, NVidia's 320M.
OS X Snow Leopard 10.6.8

Reply

Mac mini 2.53 GHz, 4 GB, NVidia's 9400M.
13" MacBook Pro 2.66 GHz, 8 GB, NVidia's 320M.
OS X Snow Leopard 10.6.8

Reply
post #7 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kali View Post

I finally brough a Mac mini yesterday at the Apple store (2.53 GHz + 4 GB + 320 GB HDD), with Iomega's 1TB external drive.

The machine is so small and it is totally silent, in full contrast with my now dying G5 "monster" (huge enclosure and frequently very noisy).

However, I'm upset at Apple for not developping better the mini concept, which is the right way to go, IMO. This small computer could be extremelly powefull, with a better video card and a 7200 rpm HDD (or SSD).

The Mini is a laptop-desktop hybrid, kind of like the iMac....so with the 18 month update interval, you are stuck with an aging integrated card every time. But i don't expect any better of them... The Mini is supposed to be low end \

If they allowed it to be any better, it would take over completely...but i really agree with you.
If Apple came out with a super Mini, i'd buy one



Dan

P.S. I will post the links sometime today...just need to finish some stuff first
post #8 of 9
Been busy, didn't get to any of this last night, but here it is


Bridge board, SATA to Firewire
http://www.span.com/product_info.php...s&currency=USD

This is what you'd use for the Superdrive conversion. That frees up the 2nd SATA channel to use for the 2 TB hard drive. Oxford bridge chips are really good performance-wise, so you are not losing out on anything, considering the speed of optical drives. And if you are creative about it, you can also use the board's 2nd SATA channel to give your Mini an eSATA port (although it'll only be as fast as Firewire )

The board powers thru a standard Molex connector, "branch off" adapter included, so it takes only a few seconds to install. The bracket comes off, so as cramped as the Mini is on the inside, the board should fit somewhere.

All you'll need next is some shortened cable.

Here's a site that sells 4" SATA cable with a 90 degree end...
http://www.cooldrives.com/seatasalacau.html

Now you'll need a Firewire cable, to run thru one of the slots in the bottom of the Mini.

LaCie makes some nice flat cable, but in orange. That's easy to fix though. A silver Sharpie will do the job.

http://www.amazon.com/LaCie-130851-F.../dp/B001NXDQ9U

As a perfectionist, i'd probably go as far as to put an angled connector on the outside end of the flat cable, since it has to be cut anyway. Plastic cable ends can be opened up with a razor blade and glued back together.

Angled cables... if you buy them, be sure to pick correct orientation...
http://www.usbfirewire.com/fcable66.html

If you need an open Firewire port all the time, Belkin makes a Mini-shaped hub. It's ugly in white though, but can be painted. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00...SIN=B0009VU7BW

If i were to do that though, i'd probably make two tiny flat angled Firewire cables and one USB (both are necessary since they will power the hub) ...and spraypaint them. But that's just me. I'd like a setup to be as clean as possible from the back.


And finally, here's the Mini-shaped HDD enclosure..

http://www.newertech.com/products/ministackv2_5.php

Here's one with a 2 TB drive.

http://eshop.macsales.com/item/Newer.../MS2SF7W20T32/

To use it with the "straight to SATA" setup i'm describing here, one'd have to run a SATA cable out of the enclosure thru the Kensington lock hole.

I'd save the enclosure's internal cable, and find one that has a female eSATA connector, which i'd cut and solder to make the 2TB drive(s) hot swappable, rather than permanently attached to the Mini.

Here's someone's guide to shortening SATA cables, which should be helpful.

The final part of connecting an external 2TB drive to run at internal speeds is to use a male adapter, since the Mini's logic board has female connectors, just like regular cables...
http://www.cpustuff.com/7-pin-male-m...r.-7male2.html

or in our case, perhaps this...

http://www.cpustuff.com/esata-panel-...th-screws.html


So what i'm trying to do is to connect a male end to a female SATA port on the logic board, then run the cable thru a slot in Mini's bottom. The cable will end in a standard eSATA port, which will also be in use on the drive enclosure. The two can be connected via a standard eSATA cable.... Done!

Here's a good Mini take-apart guide with pictures, by a guy that's done exactly this, though with a slightly different setup. He's replaced the internal drive with an external...

http://katastrophos.net/andre/blog/2...nal-sata-hack/

His article...

http://katastrophos.net/andre/blog/2...-sata-madness/



Dan

P.S. The 8Gb RAM setup is just two 4GB sticks... here's a kit http://eshop.macsales.com/item/Other.../8566DDR3S8GP/

(awfully expensive though...)
post #9 of 9
While this setup is not the cheapest, it is definitely true to Apple's design ethic...something that even Steve himself would find tolerable....while doing what you've sort of asked, as in running an SSD and a large storage drive without compromising performance.

It might be an overly detailed read for the average person, but i've just made a point that it IS possible...

I hope you enjoy at least some of the information...



Dan
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