New Samsung 840 EVO SSD install in 2011 Mac Mini

October 29, 2013 at 11:02 pm 6 comments

My recent post recounted the problems that I’ve had since doing my own DIY Fusion drive installation.  Basically, it sounds like my 500 GB drive was starting to die, even though running a SMART test against it showed everything was great.  The clicking I heard on boot-up definitely sounded mechanical, and since the only two mechanical things in the Mini are the system fan and the hard drive, I think the hard drive is the safer bet as the source of the problem.

I ordered a Samsung 840 EVO 500 GB SSD on Saturday.  It was scheduled to arrive sometime today, so I made sure to have a recent backup via Time Machine and via SuperDuper! (to an external drive).  Once that was complete, I shut down the Mini and proceeded to disassemble it.  It arrived around 5 PM and I set off to installing it.

If you’ve never opened up the DVD-less Mac Mini, I’ll say it’s not for the faint of heart.  Today, I removed both the original hard drive and the 128 GB Crucial m4 drive that had been running as a fused pair.  I have serious doubts about the HDD, but I expect that I’ll reinstall the 128 GB SSD in a machine my kids use for homework and such.

The installation of the Samsung 840 EVO went very well.  The most difficult part was getting it aligned with the two holes in the carrier.  Perhaps I should have done that with the carrier outside of the chassis.  One of the two screws that goes through the perforated aluminum plate wouldn’t reach the SSD hole.  Not wanting to dissemble things again, I let that one minor flaw in place and completed the assembly.

I had previously created an 8 GB flash drive to make re-installing OS X 10.9 easier, so I went that route.  The SSD was seen by disk utility, I formatted it, and then installation went without incident.  After it rebooted, it prompted me to restore.  I selected Time Machine, put in the password to pull the Time Machine Backups off of my NAS, and let it start restoring.  Here, OS X had all sorts of difficulty figuring out how long it would take to completely restore everything.  It might show 51 minutes, or 4 hours.  The restore process actually took more like 2 1/2 hours.

Now, I’m back up and running with 10.9 installed on a 500 GB SSD, with about 370 GB of it in use.

My Mini is now significantly faster than with the Fusion drive.  Don’t get me wrong, the Fusion drive was faster than the HDD alone, but the SSD alone is so much better than the Fusion drive.

The 840 EVO is among the fastest consumer SSD drives available now, at a great price point.  I wasn’t too keen on the 840 series when I read it uses the cheaper TLC.  Not only does it allow for fewer writes than SLC, it’s slower doing those writes.  This means it should be less reliable and perform worse, a bad combination if there ever was one.  However, the EVO version pairs the TLC with a SLC cache of sorts, so you can perform faster writes.  And Samsung’s reliability of the 840 hasn’t been bad at all.  According to what I’ve read, I’m expecting this new SSD to last 15 years or more.

My mini has had new life breathed into it.  Moving from a Hard Drive to a SSD is truly one of the best upgrades you can do yourself.

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Entry filed under: Mac, Storage.

Downside of a DIY Fusion Drive How to get ahead financially

6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Pierre-Luc Ayotte  |  April 2, 2014 at 4:16 pm

    hey, i got the samsung 840 pro 240gb in december and, i don’t know if you had this problem before but, sometimes my mac mini (2012) is rebooting.

    I think it’s probably my user migration that can cause that but, i don’t want to try a new installation, it don’t happen so often, about 1-2 times a week and even if it reboot, it never takes more than 20 secs.

    So, have you ever had this problem? thanks 🙂

    Reply
    • 2. ptaylor  |  April 2, 2014 at 4:21 pm

      I’ve been running this drive since installation last October and haven’t had an issue like this. I did have some strange issues with my old installation (with a 128 GB SSD and a 500 GB HD running as a DIY Fusion drive) that pushed me to make the move to SSD, but it’s been smooth sailing since then.

      Reply
      • 3. Pierre-Luc Ayotte  |  April 3, 2014 at 10:49 am

        Nice ok! I don’t run my drives as fusion drive, i don’t know how, but i let my old HDD pluggued on my mother board and i’m using it for storage/big apps (like games).

        Probably it’s a part of my problem but my company just order 240gb EVO yesterday, i’ll try them soon as possible with and without another HDD connected 🙂

        Thanks for your input.

  • 4. Jamie Forbes  |  December 16, 2014 at 11:42 am

    Well, it’s been over a year since your install. How fares the EVO in your Mini?

    Reply
    • 5. ptaylor  |  December 16, 2014 at 12:25 pm

      I’m still using that Mac mini as my main machine. It has been running great since this upgrade.

      Reply
    • 6. ayottepl  |  December 16, 2014 at 2:11 pm

      Really nice, we’re still using it at job on 3 mac minis and 1 Windows7 and it’s worth a buy.

      Reply

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