12 Replies Latest reply: Jan 27, 2014 11:28 AM by motrek
MIKEinMICH Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

Hi, bought a late-2012 Mini i7 with stock 1TB HD.  Considering replacing that with an SSD

but need to know a couple of things to decide yes or no.


The machine is used in an acoustically treated studio room where occasional recording is done

in somewhat close proximity...and purchased in large part for the low noise.  There is some

self-noise apparent during idle - and btw during recording i would not expect the machine to go

into a fan mode because i would be trackingsimple mono/single channel voice 95% of the time.


Questions are:  Could/would the SSD be noticeably quieter - like my MBPro which is absolutely

quiet with its Sandisk - or in fact might an SSD be more likely to invoke fan or processor noise

than the stock Standard HD ?  


FWIW I have 2008-era Minis that are virtually noise-free - quieter than the Quad i7 - in a similar

setting at another location - but i realize there's a lot more going on under the hood on the 2012.


I also do a lot of audio editing and all data gets written to the same disk that the editing app

resides on.  Might the SSD be better suited for this than the Standard HD in any way?


Thanks for any advice.  Much appreciated,




Mini=  Late 2012- 1TB internal HD/16gb Ram/OSX: 10.8 

iMac, Mac OS X (10.6.8)
  • keg55 Level 5 Level 5 (6,855 points)

    An SSD is quieter and cooler than an HDD. No moving parts, just RAM chips.


    I have a late 2012 Mac Mini i5 that came with a 500GB HDD. I added a 120GB SSD drive and the only thing I hear is the USB3 external drive I use for Time Machine back ups. Unplug that and it's even quieter.


    Fans may start up to cool the CPU and/or GPU depending on processor/video load which means it wouldn't matter if you had an SSD drive or HDD or both.

  • woodmeister50 Level 4 Level 4 (3,975 points)

    keg55 wrote:


    .... No moving parts, just RAM chips.......

    Actually they are NAND Flash memory chips.

  • MIKEinMICH Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Ordered a Crucial 240Gb internal for abt. 130.00 this week.  Now comes the fun part.  Hopefully it won't be

    any harder than taking apart an '08 era Mini - which i was brave enough to tackle a couple of times.   I'm

    presuming if i have a well-stocked torx and micro-tool collection i don't need to buy a "kit" - videos seem to

    suggest the cabling connection/reconnection is the biggest hassle.  Beyond that i'm sure i can find the

    detail of how to initialize ("image"?)   the new SSD and reinitialize the replaced HDD as an external.


    Thanks for your info!



  • keg55 Level 5 Level 5 (6,855 points)

    Check out iFixit.com for a Guide on how to add an additional drive to your 2012. I also bought their dual drive kit which included all the tools, mounting grommets and SATA cable that were needed to install it into the upper drive bay.


    Just take your time, go slow and study the Guide before you start the process. It really is easy to install a 2nd drive in a Mac Mini.


    I also bought a USB3 SATA enclosure to clone my HDD over to the SSD before I installed it. Sure makes the whole process easier and you can use the enclosure in the future. I restarted into my Recovery HD on the HDD and then used Disk Utility's RESTORE tab to clone BOTH the Macintosh HD and Recovery HD to the SSD. I selected my Macintosh HD on the HDD, clicked the Restore tab, ensured the Macintosh HD was the SOURCE then dragged my SSD in as the DESTINATION and clicked the Restore button. This did a block copy and verify.


    Good luck and enjoy!

  • motrek Level 1 Level 1 (25 points)

    You are in luck because late-2012 Mac Minis have USB 3.


    You can just throw your SSD into an external USB 3 hard drive enclosure, plug it into your Mini, choose it as your boot drive, and you're done. No need to open your Mini at all, and you can use the internal hard drive for storing large files.


    That's what I do, and it works great. The internal drive turns off if you don't access it for a few minutes, so it's quiet.


    One might argue that the SSD would be faster if it were connected via SATA internally. No doubt true. But connected externally, its latency is still 100x better than any hard drive, and it has higher bandwidth, too.

  • MIKEinMICH Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Ahh, that is an intriguing idea! (especially after reading the ifixitguide and remembering working in past Minis). 


    I did order a USB 3 HD enclosure to put the removed HDD.


    If there really isn't a significant performance difference or any issue in making the 3.0 external the boot drive...

    yes i definitely can see it.   And as far as the internal 1TB drive, that wouldn't still be producing some noise

    'idling' - i mean, it is at a complete stop if not being accessed?  Just need to be absolutely sure about that as

    i'm going for as close to zero self-noise as possible...


    Thanks !!

  • motrek Level 1 Level 1 (25 points)

    When the hard drive spins down, it should make zero noise, since nothing is moving. (Sometimes solid-state electronics do produce noise, e.g., capacitor whine, but no need to go into that here.) I don't know how long the drive has to be idle before OS X decides to spin it down. This feature is controlled via the Control Panel -> Energy Saver -> "Put hard disks to sleep when possible" option, in case you want to Google for more information.


    There's a possibility that some random piece of software will randomly decide it wants to access something on the drive and cause it to spin up when you don't expect it to, which sounds like it might ruin one of your recordings. So maybe it is a better option for you to install the SSD internally.

  • MIKEinMICH Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Does the enclosure necessarily have to be Powered or can i get by okay with a non-powered USB 3.0 external HD enclosure?  Just wonder how much real difference there is in a situation where the external is only for backups / storage - not necessarily for read/write during day-to-day computing as an attached work drive...


    Thanks for any thoughts



  • dwb Level 7 Level 7 (20,920 points)

    Not all USB 3 enclosures are created equal but if you have a high quality enclosure you'll find the SSD in an enclosure is quite fast. When I got a mini for work this fall I was appalled at how slow it was and knew it had to be the 5400 RPM drive. I had a USB3 enclosure from OWC and a small SSD so I threw them together and cloned the drive to it. I was quite pleased with the result. I did later open the computer and install a larger SSD and got a slightly higher benchmark but really didn't notice any difference between the internal installation and the external enclosure in real life use. The enclosure I have is bus powered.

  • tbirdvet Level 4 Level 4 (2,240 points)

    When using an SSD in an external USB3 enclosure you need to be sure the enclosure has the latest chip or you will not see the max. speeds.  Not all USB3 enclosures have the same speed.  My SSD in my enclosure is very close to my internal speed (~420 mbps).  You can google but find enclosures that use the ASmedia 1053e chip.

  • MIKEinMICH Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Thanks for these replies.  I will actually be simply taking the 1TB HDD internal out of a new Mini and replacing with a Crucial 240GB SSD internally.  Then putting the 1TB HDD into a USB 3 Enclosure to use as a backup drive- so the SSD is definitely going internal.  While i got a rather cheaply priced Enclosure on Amazon for about $10, it didn't specify chip and wasn't bus-powered... but i'm thinking for this purpose - just backups and storage,

    it's not going to matter based on what you've suggested.





  • motrek Level 1 Level 1 (25 points)

    There shouldn't really be any difference in enclosures in terms of reliability (esp. re: bus powered or not) as long as you're not buying complete crap. I'm sure they're all tested to run 24/7 indefinitely with perfect data accuracy. If you think about it, reliability problems for these drives/enclosures are not really acceptable even for drives that are "only" intended to be used occasionally (and especially not for backups, those are important!).