upgrading the mini's hard drive?

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upgrading the mini's hard drive?

Postposted on Sun Mar 08, 2009 3:18 pm

when I buy the mini, I'll probably dual boot win XP, and install some older games at least to run on the XP partition--Civ, older Heroes games, AOEII, etc. Couple that with the major media library I have built up and the factory 120 might be a bit too small. I also don't want to pay what they charge for the upgrades--the RAM prices aren't horrid but the HDD prices sure are! So how would I go about installing and setting up an aftermarket hard drive? I know the mini's supposed to be a pain to upgrade but being able to slap in a 500 gb for 100 instead of a 320 for 165 is very appealing. So would the mini throw a fit if I installed a new HDD and resintalled the OS on it?
Also, if i choose to go with aftermarket RAM--I know that the GPU included is set to only use 128 megs of graphics memory if shipped with the normal 1 gig ram. What happens I upgrade the ram? Did apple lock it in to that 128 megs, or will it detect the new memory and allow itself to use 256 megs for graphics memory?
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Re: upgrading the mini's hard drive?

Postposted on Sun Mar 08, 2009 3:22 pm

Here's how (with some extra stuff if you want to yank the optical drive and put in a second HDD). Just pop in the new drive, boot from the DVD, then once you pick your language, go to Utilities -> Disk Util, highlight the drive, go to the Partition tab, and set up what you want.
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Re: upgrading the mini's hard drive?

Postposted on Sun Mar 08, 2009 3:27 pm

woot thanks :) I think I'll keep the optical drive though--I still use disc! how else can i play all my old games?

edit: Mac sure seems to hate the fact people tinker. Something that'd take what, 10 minutes, on a pc is an involved 30 step process? sheesh. I hope they do come out with a 7200 RPM 2.5 HDD soon too--that seems like it'd actually make a notable difference in hard drive intensive task.
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Re: upgrading the mini's hard drive?

Postposted on Sun Mar 08, 2009 3:36 pm

something else that might be easier without giving up the footprint (and faster, to boot, if you use FW800) is the NewerTech MiniStack v3. FW800 gives you a theoretical max of 100MB/s, which might be a tad slower than some drives nowadays, but tons tons tons faster than the stock Mini HDD and easier to deal with on top of it. The only thing is that it's kidna pricy. If I were to come into possession of a Mini and want more, faster HDD space I might look at a different FW800 enclosure instead (they can be had for considerably less than $110).

It's not that they hate people that tinker, it's that they try to get everything in as small of a space as possible. Apple caters to people that tinker with a Nehalem-based single or dual Xeon setup called a "Mac Pro". If you want to add drives, they make it stupidly simple and tool-less. And the Macbooks are also pretty easy to get into and change HDDs. The Mini and the iMac are just meant to be as tiny as possible.
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Re: upgrading the mini's hard drive?

Postposted on Sun Mar 08, 2009 4:03 pm

I feel like an idiot but that product confuses me. It looks like a glorified hard drive enclosure?
The footprint isn't actually as important as gross height--I have a 13X13X5" space. So whatever I get can't be taller than about 4.5". I've thought about slapping on an external brick drive behind it, and just loading all my media on there. That'd save probably 40 gigs of space...


And while I *love* the mac pros, they're simply A: Huge and B: Ungodly expensive. They start at what, 2 1/2 grand? I think they're butt ugly too :p I think they could have done something like...oh, a quick release on the mini to pop it apart? Just something that damn basic would be a lot more user friendly. Using a standard SATA connector probably would help too. And neither of those would increase space taken up.
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Re: upgrading the mini's hard drive?

Postposted on Sun Mar 08, 2009 6:50 pm

No, no, you're not an idiot - that's exactly what it is. Your mini sits on top of it and it comes wiht cables exactly the right length to fit the new mini.

I would have liked a quick-release on the mini to open it, but then it would have required re-thinking the innards to make it worth their while. It's still a pain to get to everything. The G4 mini was the most accessible, making the solo DIMM slot available without removing the drives. You should also note that according to a bunch of pictures all over the internet, the CPU is not upgradeable - it's soldered on. So if you want that 2.26GHz Core 2 Duo, you need to order it up front. $150 is kinda pricy, so I'd probably avoid it.

And you can't really see it in the pictures, but it IS a standard SATA connection that goes to that card in the back that slots into the motherboard.

Oh, and if you're looking for some performance numbers...

http://www.macworld.com/article/139267/ ... html?t=201

Note that the 120GB model has a single 1GB DDR3 SO-DIMM and the 320GB model has a pair. Folks that like taking stuff apart will order the low-end Mini and pop the top. $200 for a $20 SO-DIMM and a $80 HDD? No thanks. But only morons buy upgrades from any OEM.
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Re: upgrading the mini's hard drive?

Postposted on Sun Mar 08, 2009 7:04 pm

The base CPU's probably more than adequate for what I'll do. I haven't noticed my old X2 3800 choking yet, so that's one thing I'm *not* worried about.
I'm really impressed by those benchmarks--I know the resolution's a bit lower than I'm used to but it's still decent and 35 FPS in COD4 is at least playable. Very impressive for an integrated GPU!
I think the baseline mac mini, plus a RAM upgrade and maybe a faster HDD will be the way I go. 599+40+90....720 once I'm done upgrading it, but it ought to be a very nice, very small and quiet machine. I could build a more potent rig for less, but it'd be *huge* in comparison and I'm willing to spend some cash for space savings.
possible hard drive choice
edit: I could just boot of an external drive connected via firewire I know but...that just doesn't seem as cool :)
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Re: upgrading the mini's hard drive?

Postposted on Sun Mar 08, 2009 8:21 pm

yeah, a 320GB/7200RPM drive is better than Apple will offer. What are you looking at for RAM? Bear in mind the Mini is using DDR3, so $40 that gets you 4GB of DDR2 turns into about $55 for DDR3. Still, not a bad price considering what prices used to be back in "the day".
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Re: upgrading the mini's hard drive?

Postposted on Sun Mar 08, 2009 8:28 pm

derFunkenstein wrote:something else that might be easier without giving up the footprint (and faster, to boot, if you use FW800) is the NewerTech MiniStack v3.
...
The only thing is that it's kidna pricy. If I were to come into possession of a Mini and want more, faster HDD space I might look at a different FW800 enclosure instead (they can be had for considerably less than $110).


Geez, $110 for a fiwi hub wtf?

This Rosewill hdd enclosure has usb2, eSATA, FW400, FW800 (with a daisy chain link) for only $59.99.

Got one sitting on my desk, and it will even accept 1.5 TB drives (had it running a Seagate 1.5 until I got sick of how long it took to hash big files).
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Re: upgrading the mini's hard drive?

Postposted on Sun Mar 08, 2009 9:07 pm

I forgot about the DDR3 :oops: But yeah, I was looking at 4 gigs, figure why not. 2 gigs isn't bad granted, and 2 gigs of DDR have served me well for years--if I wasn't looking at doing the hard drive, I'd probably just go with the 2 gigs from apple and call it a day, but since I'm probably gonna cut it open anyway, figure I might as well toss in lots more ram :) I'd like to see benchmarks with 4 vs 2 gigs, and with the faster HDD in it, to see how much difference it really makes, bu that'll probably take time for the review sites to do. They benchies I've seen were all for stock options.
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Re: upgrading the mini's hard drive?

Postposted on Sun Mar 08, 2009 9:44 pm

Leopard is lighter on RAM usage than Vista, but it'll want more than XP. Depending on what you're doing, 4GB may not make that much of a difference, but you might as well do the whole "Mini to the max" thing...load 'er up!

Am I the only one that wonders what the difference is between the 24" iMac/Macbook Pro 17" and the rest of the nVidia-based Macs? Apple only allows 8GB upgrades in specific configs that use the same chipset...in fact, the 15" and 13" DDR3 notebooks can't use 8GB; they only ever "see" 6GB. Weird.
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Re: upgrading the mini's hard drive?

Postposted on Sun Mar 08, 2009 9:48 pm

derFunkenstein wrote:Am I the only one that wonders what the difference is between the 24" iMac/Macbook Pro 17" and the rest of the nVidia-based Macs? Apple only allows 8GB upgrades in specific configs that use the same chipset...in fact, the 15" and 13" DDR3 notebooks can't use 8GB; they only ever "see" 6GB. Weird.


The 20" iMac refresh uses an TN film screen.

I'm not sure what the current 24" iMac uses, but last year's model used an IPS screen.

Not sure what could be causing the 6 GB RAM limitation - OS? Chipset? BIOS?
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Re: upgrading the mini's hard drive?

Postposted on Mon Mar 09, 2009 7:37 am

Voldenuit wrote:The 20" iMac refresh uses an TN film screen.

I'm not sure what the current 24" iMac uses, but last year's model used an IPS screen.

Welcome to...errr...2007. The 20" iMac has used a TN screen since they got moved to the aluminum casing. While what you're saying is true, it's not what I was asking in the context of the discussion.

Not sure what could be causing the 6 GB RAM limitation - OS? Chipset? BIOS?

Well, that's what I was asking. What's the difference? The OS is the same build - you can install the retail 10.5.6 version from the Mac Box Set on any Intel-based Mac yet somehow some GeForce 9400 models will take 8GB and some will only see 6GB.

The Mini seems to be in the latter category and yet the iMacs released the same day go in the former as evidenced by the fact that Apple supports 8GB. They support 8GB in the 17" MBP but not in the 15" MBP or 13" unibody MacBooks.

It's confusing. It's also a non-issue for probably 95% of all people out there.

More on topic, if you're going to pop $110 for an empty Mini Stack v3, you might as well pop another $90 for a 1TB hard drive. With "only" 16MB of cache, a quick Newegg search tells me it's probably this Hitachi as all other 1TB drives on Newegg are 32MB cache models.
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