6 Replies Latest reply: Jun 18, 2008 12:55 PM by AndyO
makken Level 1 Level 1 (5 points)
Right, I've got a 1.83GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, 80GB Hard Drive, 1GB memory etc (Standard buy). I want to upgrade the 80GB internal 2.5", 5400rpm, SATA Hard Drive but i'm unsure of what i can go up to internally without causing any problems. Obviously it has to be a 2.5" 5400 SATA Drive. On the Apple sight it says you can go to 160GB yet you can get a 250 or 320GB Western Digital Scorpio say to exactly the same specification (2.5" 5400 SATA) so what difference would it make?. So can i put a 250 or 320GB in without any probs and why doesn't apple give any specific information on maximum upgrade for the hard drive. Could someone please clear my mind up about upgrading the internal hard drive as i'm not the most technically minded and i'm a little confused about it.

By the way i'm aware of the external upgrading and read the article on modifying with the SATA lead but i don't particularly want to hack my Mac Mini case to do it unless i could pick a cheap case up from somewhere to use.

mac mini, Mac OS X (10.5.1), 1.83Ghz Intel Core 2 Duo
  • 1. Re: Upgrading Mac Mini Hard Drive Confusion.
    a brody Level 9 Level 9 (63,285 points)
    The Mac Mini's hard drive is not user upgradeable normally.
    That said, anything Apple sells as a build to order option likely has Apple's testing certification for being compatible as far as heat considerations.
    the Intel Core2Duo Mac Mini hardware wise should be able to support the 2.5" SATA hard drives as big as they get, as long as the drive itself does not create too much heat. So the real question is, are there any people reporting issues with larger hard drives they custom installed themselves as far as heat, unexpected shutdowns, etc...

    http://www.xlr8yourmac.com/ may have additional reports you might be interested in.

    Message was edited by: a brody
  • 2. Re: Upgrading Mac Mini Hard Drive Confusion.
    AndyO Level 6 Level 6 (17,045 points)
    You might find the page at http://eshop.macsales.com/Search/Search.cfm?Ne=5000&Ntt=2.5+hardDrive&Ntk=Primary&Ns=P_Popularity%7c1&N=6892 of interest in terms of hard drives which are being sold as suitable for use in an Intel-based Mac mini. These contain options for 7200rpm drives, and capacities up to 500Gb.

    There have been a number of users posting here (and elsewhere) over the months with stories of successful upgrades to larger/faster drives without suffering additional heating, so while there is always some risk to DIY work, you should be able to replace the drive with something better without hazardous consequence.

    If you were minded to be conservative, there is no reason a 5400rpm drive up to 320Gb should generate any notable additional heat over and above the original unit.

    In terms of the upgrade itself, as a DIY task it's not hard, but certainly requires a bit of care, some time and is a tiny bit fiddly, but it can certainly be done by those with very little technical skills. However, you could add an external drive without hacking the mini, simply by opting for a firewire device. This isn't as fast as an external SATA drive would be, but would avoid having to open the system, would leave the existing drive in place, and if used to boot the mini could still give performance gains while giving considerably greater options in terms of capacity.
  • 3. Re: Upgrading Mac Mini Hard Drive Confusion.
    makken Level 1 Level 1 (5 points)
    So you got two drives both 2.5", 5400rpm, SATA the only difference being the capacity 80GB and 250GB, how does just the extra capacity generate more heat, i don't understand. I could understand a difference in RPM 5400 to 7200 generate more heat because it will spin faster which also leads me on to can you put the 2.5" 7200rpm drive in the mac mini without any major Heat problems.

    Cand these Heat problems from bigger hard drives be controlled in the mac mini by the fan in anyway?

    I've got a 250GB External Lacie mini connected via firewire which isn't or doesn't seem fast enough and my purpose is for Music Production so a faster and larger hard drive is pretty much required for that purpose. I would like to connect the external to the SATA interface but from what i've read the mod requires a little bit of the case to be hacked for the SATA cable to come through and like i say i don't really want to hack my new Mini case, if i can get another case to hack it would be ok but i dont think you can buy the cases on there own.

    It's because of the case hack that i would rather just upgrade the internal drive to as big as i can get it without any problems which is obviously to do with heat.
  • 4. Re: Upgrading Mac Mini Hard Drive Confusion.
    AndyO Level 6 Level 6 (17,045 points)
    So you got two drives both 2.5", 5400rpm, SATA the only difference being the capacity 80GB and 250GB, how does just the extra capacity generate more heat, i don't understand. I could understand a difference in RPM 5400 to 7200 generate more heat because it will spin faster which also leads me on to can you put the 2.5" 7200rpm drive in the mac mini without any major Heat problems.


    Larger drives tend to result in more head seeking activity, so heat levels will be affected to a small degree. Not usually by much on same-speed drives of course, and additionally on-board cache size plays a part, with larger cache reducing drive activity.

    Cand these Heat problems from bigger hard drives be controlled in the mac mini by the fan in anyway?


    Yes, you can run smcFanControl and increase the standby fan speed slightly, which cools the mini a little more aggressively. It would likely not be necessary however.

    I've got a 250GB External Lacie mini connected via firewire which isn't or doesn't seem fast enough and my purpose is for Music Production so a faster and larger hard drive is pretty much required for that purpose.


    You would only notice improved system performance if the external was not just larger capacity, but a faster (7200rpm) drive AND was also used as the system startup volume. That would give you an overall boost to performance. Swapping out the existing 5400 drive for another of the same speed but larger capacity would not give you improved performance of course.

    I would like to connect the external to the SATA interface but from what i've read the mod requires a little bit of the case to be hacked for the SATA cable to come through and like i say i don't really want to hack my new Mini case, if i can get another case to hack it would be ok but i dont think you can buy the cases on there own.


    There are some instances of mini casings being sold by a few suppliers and of course on ebay if you were interested in experimenting, but it's not for the faint-hearted since you'd need a full disassembly of your existing system to put it into a different enclosure. However, you might just need a casing top, which is a much easier proposition. If memory serves, the SATA modification does not need much of a casing alteration though. Not something to do if the system s still in warranty, but perhaps worth considering if it is not.

    It's because of the case hack that i would rather just upgrade the internal drive to as big as i can get it without any problems which is obviously to do with heat.


    Many others have had similar needs and concerns, but there is no history of issues reported here to suggest that 7200rpm drives in themselves, cause overheating issues when fitted to Mac minis. I would personally have no concern at fitting one in my systems if I had need of better speed, and I doubt a respected supplier such as OWC would include the faster drives in their list of compatibles if they had had complaints (as surely they would)!
  • 5. Re: Upgrading Mac Mini Hard Drive Confusion.
    makken Level 1 Level 1 (5 points)
    Thanks for that, that's clarified a few things for me, greatly appreciated.

    Just one last thing, what make Hard Drive would you recommend or one that seems to have the most praise for reliability etc if this is a valid question to ask. I've been looking at these:- Seagate Momentus, Western Digital Scorpio, Hitachi Travelstar, i've also seen fujitsu and toshiba drives but i think the first three are the ones i've seen most talked about.
  • 6. Re: Upgrading Mac Mini Hard Drive Confusion.
    AndyO Level 6 Level 6 (17,045 points)
    You're most welcome to any assistance I can give!

    It's hard to say which drives are the best to look at in terms of reliability, because failure rates are so low that statistically there isn't a conclusion you can reasonably draw from them. I must admit that personally I generally buy Seagate and Western Digital most commonly, and have rarely had reason for disappointment. In amongst those I'd look for largest cache, fastest seek time and highest speed if comparing drives at any given point. However, in a very general sense, hard drive reliability has come an awful long way over the last few years, so there is really very little to choose between brands and even models.