5 Replies Latest reply: Jan 19, 2014 5:18 PM by MIKEinMICH
MIKEinMICH Level 1 (0 points)

Hi, just bought a refurb 2012 i7 quad 2.3/1TB Mini from Apple Store.  I have a recording studio and want

a machine that'll be quiet as possible when recording with a mike in near proximity to the Mini. 


About the HD --   Some suggest i will have lower noise with a SSD HD vs spinning conventional Drive -

less potential to invoke fan noise primarily.  I decided to buy this stock and test that theory first. 


1TB is vastly more capacity than i need for my daily needs/workflow  -  i'm running an audio workstation/editor,

recording mostly mono audio voiceover tracks with a lot of editing - usually with browser and email client open simultaneously. 


I got this with stock 4gb Ram and figure on maxing Ram to 16gb.  Beyond that the question is the HD -- whether i should

change out the stock HD for an SSD.. and the issue of both noise - and processor demand relative to the type of HD installed.


Thanks for any thoughts,



Mac mini, Mac OS X (10.5.8)
  • K Shaffer Level 6 (11,860 points)

    Before upgrading to the SSD, try the RAM upgrade if the cost isn't too great... in that with more RAM installed, the hard disk drive would not require as many read-writes as virtual memory while handling larger files or complex processor activity where swap files or temp files have to go into VM at slower disk drive speeds than the bus speeds on the logicboard. And the unit may be a bit cooler with less fan noise, until it heats up.


    The capacity of the 1TB HDD is tempting and a value for the money in several ways; so long as you acquire more than one method of extensive backup of your work. And also consider a clone of the OS on an external drive device enclosure that supports booting your Mac, as a real backup outside of TimeMachine methods.


    A value in upgrading from the larger HDD to a solid state drive, and retaining the relatively new HDD with a partition for a complete clone of your Mac's system, could be good if managed carefully.


    There is a limit in length if cables are utilized to access an external hard drive or other components at distance from the main computer unit, so if you had to boot and run from an external drive that has a self-powered enclosure and a clone (or main system) you'd want to carefully not marginalize by overextending this limit. Maybe have an SSD inside the Mini and a capable enclosure with the large drive outside.


    Should you check into the cable limits to be sure the microphone and other components can be at reasonably good distance to minimize sound interference with your recording, and if needs be, consider inquiry into the basics of constructing a sound minimizing box that has ventilation & access door to handle the Mini as needed. Just so long as nothing near the computer can retain heat, conducts cooling air flow, it can be done. So long as the materials do not block wireless BT keyboard & mouse. Or run USB cable within limits.


    {A thought in the above, concerning use of heat conductive electronic modules that are in use in portable refrigeration, as adapted to cool a vented enclosure for a computer (without liquid, etc) to make a cool box?}


    The SSD is a good idea, and some replacement upgrade brands are maybe a notch above the rest. I'd seen where OWC has some quality builds but I have never bought anything from them. There is even a retro-fit SSD for older PPC Mac desktop and portables to get more umph out of an iBook for example. Maybe.


    Best of luck in your studio work.

    Good luck & happy computing!

  • MIKEinMICH Level 1 (0 points)

    Thanks!  Some good ideas to consider and greatly appreciate you taking time to suggest these options.





  • Camino fan 2010 Level 1 (90 points)

    From my experience the 5400 RPM stock hard drives are extremely quiet.  The only noise I can ever detect from a Mac Mini is the occasional whooshing noise of the fan.  That only turns on if you really use some processor or graphics such as compiling gobs of C++ or hard core Quartz Composer..


    In either case an SSD puts off less heat implying less liklihood of the fan operating in high mode.


    Audio processing shouldn't really require lots of processor or graphics.


    I think you'll be ok any way you decide to go...

      Safari / HTML / Website these days like lots of RAM.. so perhaps get more RAM..


    But for all around performance SSD is great (basically 4 times disk performance).

      Rebooting is rather slow using a 5400 RPM hard drive..

        but Mac Mini can go weeks without needing a reboot.

  • woodmeister50 Level 5 (4,835 points)

    FWIW, from Apple specs for Mini:

    • Typical acoustical performance, sound pressure level (operator position):4
      • Dual-core model: 12 dBA at idle
      • Quad-core model: 15 dBA at idle

    with note 4 being:


    Acoustics measured from typical operator position sitting in front

    of standard Mac mini system. Acoustics may vary by configuration.


    How much louder it gets depends on primarily processor load

    and fan kick in.  With stock fan control software, the fan will not

    even start to crank up until CPU gets to about 90C, at which

    point it will get quite loud until it cools down or CPU load drops

    signifigantly.  This will likely be more of an impact than HDD noise.

  • MIKEinMICH Level 1 (0 points)

    Delayed thanks for this note.  I have just gotten' round to setting this up this week and definitely seeming to be reasonably quiet on idle - enough so that with decent mic placement of a distance say, 5 or 6 feet away i doubt it would be an issue unless fan were to engage - which during typical recording (mono track) i figure hardly ever would.  Debated whether to replace the stock 1TB with an SSD but thought i'd at least test it with the spinning drive first and so far, not feeling like it's an issue.


    Nice Avatar btw.  I've got one of those too; )  (along with a huge 20MB external HD:).