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Installing a hard drive in the Apple Mac Mini (Late 2012)

June 9, 2013

I recently purchased two Apple Mac mini 2.3GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 computers for my home lab.  Apple offers a 256GB Solid State Drive [Add $300] which is manufactured by Toshiba.  Samsung was offering a promotion of $208.99 for their 256GB 2.5-inch SSD 840 Pro Series, which is arguably one of the best Solid State Drives in the market.  As a result, I decided to buy the Apple Mac mini computers with the standard 1TB hard disk drive, and planned to upgrade them myself.

Although hard to believe in such a tiny footprint, the Mac mini can support up to two 2.5″ hard disk drives.  If you plan on keeping the existing hard drive and installing a new one, you will need to purchase a second cable.  I contacted my local Apple Store at Barton Creek in Austin, Texas and was told that they do not sell the internal hard drive cable.  I sourced a cable on eBay for $29.95 Mac Mini Top Flex Hard Drive Cable with Sensor and ordered it for the future.

When you remove the cover of the Mac Mini, if you find that Apple installed your hard drive on top the upgrade is very easy and takes about 10 minutes.  Cindy Luftballoon’s YouTube video Mac Mini SSD Replacement illustrates the easy way to do it.

If Apple installed the drive on the bottom the upgrade is a little more time consuming.  OWC’s YouTube video How to Add a Second Hard Drive in a 2012 Mac mini with the OWC Data Doubler does an excellent job detailing the installation.

Note: I created my own logic board removal tool using an oversized paperclip that I bent with a pair of pliers.

If you plan on performing this installation keep in mind that the components and cables are very delicate, take your time when performing the upgrade.  You will need a Precision Micro Bit Tech Set with a T5 and a T8 star bit.  I purchased the Wiha 75992 27 Piece Micro Bit Tech Set at Amazon.

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