I am currently doing a very similar thing. I just ordered an i7 2.66Ghz with 4 GB RAM and the slow drive. I also ordered a Mercury Extreme 240GB SATA 6 and 16 GB of RAM with the kit to install the SSD on top of the original drive. I'm going to do the upgrade before I even turn the system on. Then once it's all together use the Disk Utility to format the drive and copy the whole system to the SSD. Once it's up and rnning then I'll erase and reformat the HD and use it for media storage.
I guess I didn't exactly answer your question. If you do the upgrade yourself you void the Warranty. I don't know if when you register your Mac that it transmits anything other than the serial number back to Apple. It is possible for them to "inventory" your system online, it may be prudent to not install anything before you register it, then if it dies you can put all the original parts back for warranty service and they would not be aware of the tinkering.
You may want to check out the installation
video from OWC:
Upgrading a drive on a Mini is not for the timid, so you may
want to check the video before you attempt.
I've installed a SSD in my iMac, repaired the vibrator in the iPhone 4s and replaced the SSD in 2 of our MacBook Airs. I've done electronics repairs for my entire career sometimes in some very challenging environments (at sea in the Navy) and I've watched the video and it looks pretty straight forward albeit a complete teardown but mostly modular. I'll post back with the results. If they can get kids in China to build these things I'm pretty sure others can do it too!!
I took delivery of a refurbished Mac mini that came with Lion, and shortly thereafter, purchased Mountain Lion, built a bootable USB stick, and then ugraded to ML. It was then that I decided to install an SSD.
Unrelated to the drive installation itself or Mountain Lion, I had an email exchange with Apple over an iLife software issue. The rep indicated that because the original 500GB drive remained in the mini, that the addition of the SSD did not void my warranty. Take that with a grain of salt.
Next, I purchased the OWC Mac mini drive kit, which proved to be very comprehensive, both in color manual, and tools critical for the job. The key to a successful SSD install is deliberate patience, organizing pools of screws, and exercising great care with miniature connectors. Anything you break in there will cost a fortune to fix.
Apple blocks third-party SSD from using TRIM. Some of these drive vendors actually discourage the use of third-party TRIM enablers as the TRIM purpose of block writes on drive idle, is already programmed into the drive controller firmware. My Vertex 4 had that caution. If you attempt to use a third-party TRIM enabler, you risk losing all the data on your drive. These are block-level kernel driver hacks. No guarantees.
Make certain that your SSD drive firmware is current before installing OS X. Many vendors only provide Windows or ISO Linux DVD boot solutions to install firmware. Be prepared to back up your entire drive before a firmware update, as it may be data destructive.
Thanks for all of the feedback guys. I certainly appreciate it.
I ordered the OWC tool kit. I plan to not use the stock 500 gig drive, just run with the SSD. I am in no need of the extra space as I am running a 1 TB network drive that I put all of my stuff on. The client machine just runs the OS and apps, nothing more. I was reading that the SandForce controllers really don't need the TRIM as it has the firmware garbage collector built in as you alluded to, so I don't plan to mess with it. As far as I can tell, the Intel 520 original firmware, I believe its the i400, is still the only firmware version for the drive I am going to attempt to use. If I have problems with the drive I will likely return it and get an OWC Mercury Pro drive. I bought both the Minis and the drive from Best Buy so I figure if I screw something up I can return it and play ignorant and they won't know the difference. I have watched the OWC video several times and it appears this will be an easy upgrade as long as I don't down a pair of cappuccinos before I get into it and have jittery hands.
That leads me to another question. In the unlikely event I decided to purchase the Apple Care warranty for the 3 years, by putting in this drive and supposedly voiding the warranty, would the Apple Care then not cover anything since I swapped the drives? It appears as though Apple is not straight forward on what they consider a voided warranty. I have read that obviously if you toast something during the upgrade process they won't stand by the warranty, but if you didn't mess anything up and then later have a problem it won't matter and they will cover it. Its almost as if depending upon what the fix requires they have left themselves a loophole in that if they feel like covering it they will if they don't they won't. Maybe not a fair or accurate observation, but other than saying that "any damage caused by the end user doing any upgrades other than memory will not be covered" doesn't say to me that if I upgrade the hard drive and 5 months later the logic board goes south they won't cover it under warranty since the board going south 5 months later is not a result of me doing it when I upgraded the drive 5 months earlier.
Apple is pretty succinct in discussing what they will cover with AppleCare. At the link, choose Terms and Conditions within your device category, and then the language specific PDF. Read Section 3, What is Covered.
You may infer or excuse what you believe AppleCare actually covers. Ultimately, if you need AppleCare service, Apple will have the last word on your coverage.
Essentially, they will cover what came in the original Apple-branded packaging, Apple-sourced RAM, and selected Apple products (e.g. Thunderbolt Display) that are eligible for bundling into the AppleCare plan at time of original purchase.
Got it up and running. Made a bootable USB stick drive and then performed the upgrade. That went smooth as silk albeit one issue with getting both antenna grate case screws to line up and I believe that has to do with the new drive and the bumper around the edge of it causing something to not line up perfectly, so I left that screw off. No way shape or form will hurt anything. Booted with control-r and it went out to download the disk recovery untility off of Apple's servers and I then formatted the new drive and had it install Mountain Lion from the Internet. No problem at all so I didn't even end up needing to use the USB drive because it automatically did its thing never prompting for a boot disk.
I did do a Time Machine backup with the original drive in it before doing the upgrade. I tried to do a restore from it thinking it would recognize the new unformatted drive and format it before doing the restore and it wouldn't. After I formatted the new drive I went back through trying to use the Time Machine backup restore and it said it did not recognize or could not open the Time Machine backup. Not sure what that was all about, but it didn't matter as I have not personalized anything on it yet. The boot time with the new drive is 12 seconds and I clocked the factory drive to be about 20 seconds. This **** thing screams. It boots as fast as my Ipad. I still have the stock RAM in it but I have 8 gigs comming in the mail early next week not that that will bump things up much but it ought to be icing on the cake. Now to play around for a bit to make sure there are no issues with freezes on the new SSD and then I will start to migrate everything over for good from my Windows machine.
You should have installed the OS on the drive then it would have recognized it and restored all your settings. Glad to hear the install went fairly well and the system works as expected. must say that the SSD drives are my favorite for OSX and Apps because it boots sooo fast. If you render video save space on the SSD as it also improves the thru put there. Enjoy!!
I did something similar, but in trying to set up the original HDD as the local home drive, I ran into some issues.
What I have done so far:
Install 128 GB SSD into late 2012 Mac Mini (very first thing out of the box)
Cloned HDD to SSD
Made SSD the boot disk
Transfered apps from mid-2007 iMac to SSD
relocated Home folder of Mini to HDD
What I can't do now is delete the 650GB Mountain Lion recovery partition on the HDD, nor can I completely wipe the HDD (I wouldn't mind wiping it completely, there's really nothing on it right now). Terminal commands such as eraseVolume HFS+ (as suggested in the OWC video) don't work, and through Disk Utility, I get an error message that the disk cannot be unmounted.
Is the fact that the home folder is pointed at the HDD preventing me from cleaing that precovery partition? Some searching around seems to indicate that error message shows up when you're trying to erase the boot disk.
"That went smooth as silk albeit one issue with getting both antenna grate case screws to line up and I believe that has to do with the new drive and the bumper around the edge of it causing something to not line up perfectly, so I left that screw off."
Nothing to do with the new drive. I used the OWC kit to add a 128Gb Samsung Pro SSD. The SSD went into the spare bay, and the original 1Tb HDD was left in it's original bay. However, I had the same issues with screw alignment even though it was the same drive going back into the same bay.