SSDs comprise memory chips with no moving parts. The flow of data is governed by basic physics — how fast electricity moves across circuits, the bandwidth of the controller chips and the peripheral interface. Replacing the hard drive with an SSD removes that bottleneck. Now the Mac mini performs more like a MacBook Air albeit still slower than one. Two or three bounces and apps open. I can open several apps at once without suffering the indignity of endless beach balls.
Upgrading Mac Mini (2014-2017): Installing an SSD
Sometimes the changes were subtle, sometimes dramatic. But in the end, it went smoothly and without incident. But I wanted to save myself time. Cloning creates a bootable bit-for-bit copy of the existing hard drive. T6 security screws differ from standard Torx screws with an indentation in their center that keeps a regular Torx bit from fitting. Again, iFixit saved my bacon here — their toolkit included everything I needed, except for a motherboard removal tool read on for details.
To replace the hard drive on a Mac mini, you have to disassemble the Mac mini case, carefully disconnect the Wi-Fi antenna, disassemble the fan, remove the main logic board and the power supply. Most of that is pretty straightforward, albeit time consuming, often frustrating work because of the small space and tiny components. I budged an entire morning to do the upgrade, but I was doing a lot of other stuff while I worked.
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Most of the guides I saw mention a Mac mini motherboard removal tool, which is inserted into two holes on the motherboard to help you slide it out of the back of the case. It was unnecessary in my experience — just pushing the board out the back with my thumbs was enough to get it out. But forewarned is forearmed.
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If you want to make sure you have everything you need, make sure to have that on-hand too. Select a Language: Help Translate iFixit. Sam Lionheart and 13 other contributors. Difficulty Moderate. Steps Time Required 30 minutes - 2 hours. Sections 8. Flags 1. Featured Guide This guide has been found to be exceptionally cool by the iFixit staff. Introduction Use this guide to replace the hard drive in your hard-drive-only or Fusion Drive Mac mini Late Tools Buy these tools. Parts Buy these parts. Step 1 Bottom Cover.
Add Comment. Step 2. One comment. Step 3. Step 4 Antenna Plate.
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Step 5. Add a comment. Step 6. Step 7. Step 8. Step 9. Step 10 Fan Assembly.
OWC SSD Flash Storage Upgrade for Mac mini
A user from the MacRumors forums first determined that the needed part is referred to as the "Bottom Hard Drive Flex Cable" Apple Part Number and successfully installed a second drive. More recently, site sponsor Other World Computing began offering a " Data Doubler " upgrade kit for the Aluminum Mac mini models that includes everything needed to perform this upgrade -- the cable, drive bracket, precisely sized screwdrivers and screws -- in one convenient package.
However, it is possible to buy this cable later. The current "Late " models have onboard storage and it cannot be upgraded at all after the initial system purchase. To upgrade the memory in the Aluminum "Unibody" Mac mini models released before and after the Late models, Apple has made it straightforward. Replacing the hard drive or hard drives is a more complicated procedure and Apple does not support users performing this upgrade themselves.
In the User Guide , Apple formally states the following:. As Apple does not consider the hard drive to be a "customer installable part," EveryMac. Most likely should instead add a quick and easy external hard drive or alternately hire a professional. Given the small and densely packed nature of the Aluminum Mac mini models this certainly is not a good system to upgrade yourself without substantial experience upgrading the hard drive in similar systems. However, for highly experienced users, upgrading the hard drive or hard drives -- or swapping in one or more SSDs -- is difficult , but feasible nevertheless.
These videos from OWC cover the procedure for the optical-drive equipped "Mid" models and the optical drive-less "Mid" Server, "Mid," and "Late " models, in a step-by-step fashion:. It is hoped that by watching the videos you should be able to determine whether or not you feel comfortable performing the upgrade yourself or if you would rather hire a professional. In theory, just about any hard drive or SSD that meets the minimum requirements should work in the Mac mini.
However, it always is best to buy from a trusted company with Mac knowledge for the most trouble-free experience.