Mac Mini Mid 2011 Repair

Released on July 21, 2011. Core i5 or Core i7 Processor. Thunderbolt. This unit is also used to run the Mac Mini Server configuration.

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Does 2011 Mac mini have proprietary hard drive thermal sensors?

I am considering purchasing the 2011 Mac mini since I want a computer that is both cool and quiet, if possible. My question concerns the thermal sensor(s) on the internal hard drive(s) used to control fan speed in the 2011 Mac mini. My question is specifically this: Can the hard drive(s) in the 2011 Mac mini be replaced with non-Apple supplied “off the shelf” hard drive(s) (or an SSD) without causing the cooling fan to ramp up to maximum speed due to lack of thermal data from the hard drive(s)? This would make the computer too loud, in my opinion.

Some background information may help some readers understand why I am asking this question.

On the 2010 Mac mini, a thermal sensor was taped to the hard drive. This was also done on the older iMacs. But the 2011 iMac switched to proprietary sensors internal to the hard drive itself, as noted the following article:

http://www.macgasm.net/2011/05/16/owc-in...

It starts out:

Other World Computing (OWC), supplier of many parts for new and old Macs, has gone in-depth into the reported restriction of Apple’s mid-2011 iMacs. The issue is that if a non-Apple hard drive is placed into the 2011 iMac, the fans will eventually spin at their maximum speed and the iMac will fail the Apple Hardware Test.

Apple is using custom firmware on their supplied hard drives to monitor the thermal properties of the hard drive while it is operating. In order to accomplish this task, Apple must use a special 7-pin SATA cable with the additional two pins being used for thermal monitoring.

__________________________________________

Was this change also made to the 2011 Mac mini? I thought that it might have since there is no longer a thermal sensor taped to the drive in the iFixit teardown.

The teardown is here:

Mac Mini Mid 2011 Teardown

But some of the commentators hint that basically there are no thermal sensors for the hard drives at all! I would like to have a clear answer, if possible. If the drive were to fail after the warranty expires, I would want to install a non-Apple supplied “off the shelf” hard drive myself rather than pay apple to do the work to install their proprietary hard drive.

Thanks!

Answer this question I have this problem too

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+ for a very well written and thorough question. Want to know the answer to this myself. I love Apple products, but it seems like Apple tries to ties us consumers down more and more as time passes. Things like this are done intentionally to force the consumer to upgrade through Apple. Another example is how Lion only supports Trim for SSD's supplied by Apple. If you want to enable Trim support for any other SSD, you have to do some fancy hacking. Apple's business practices are starting to really suck!!!

by Majesty

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I have a mid-2011 i7 Mac mini and I've replaced the HD with a (non-Apple) SSD. It's working great. When I use iStat Menus to view the sensor readouts for temperature/voltage/fan speed, etc, I note there is nothing listed for HD temperature. However, I have removed the Apple HD - as I said - so I can't tell you definitely without replacing the original HD whether Apple use a thermal sensor built-in.

On the other hand, I can assure you that the fan appears to work just fine. It idles silently, and turns the room into a wind tunnel when Flash is being played (all functioning normally, then :D ).

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Wind Tunnel huh? Well, it's good to know the fans are working. +

by Majesty

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Just bought an mid 2011 i5 Mac Mini and replaced the Stock 500gb HD with a Scorpio Black 750gb. It works well and istat reports around 32 degrees for the drive although the fan now runs all of the time starting at around 1800rpm. I didn't notice it before.... maybe the new apple drives do have some fancy firmware loaded onto them?

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SUCESS: Notes on Installing SSD in 2011 Mac Mini

hi all,

I replaced the HD in my mac mini with a OWC Electra SSD 6G.

1. Fan speed the same after; there is no sensor to worry about.

According to the temp readouts from iStatPro, the hard drive temperature is still being read in this year's model, likely via the S.M.A.R.T. hd interface. It's uncertain if the mini's one main exhaust fan factors this temp into its rotation speed. My SSD never changes in temp by more than a few degrees C.

2. make sure to remove black plastic cover off of old hard drive before pulling SATA cable out of old HD; otherwise you won't be able to.

3. The OWC video guide is great, but you don't need to pull out the motherboard; there is just enough room to slide the old HD out and the new one in.

4. Installing Lion over the Internet with Int Recovery worked, but I had to change my wireless network from WPA2 security to WPA and disable uPNP; not sure why. Go with most basic/compatible settings, and as Crunch suggested below, use an Ethernet cable if at all possible.

After Lion downloaded (4 hours), it installed in 4.2 minutes flat. Jaw-dropping speed.

thanks all,

d

ps: mac mini exhaust fan speed of ~1800 rpm is normal under light load.

PS: I used both the iFixit guide and the OWC video when I did my upgrade, and I needed both to do it right. Note that OWC suggests removing the motherboard to exchange the hd, but as iFixit points out, this is not necessary to get the HD out or the new one in.

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I second Daniel's post as to how there are not only no proprietary thermal sensor to be dealt with, as you can see in the OWC video, but there are none at all to contend with.

I just purchased the second of two 120GB OWC Mercury EXTREME Pro 6G SSD's, both with the new 32nm Toggle NAND flash. My plan is to RAID them, so as to achieve a 240GB speed monstrosity that will allow for data transfers of 900MB/s - 1GB/s. To do this, I will have to take the Mini apart almost completely, so as to swap the 2nd hard drive out for the 2nd SSD. I have the server edition of the Mac mini, so the 2nd proprietary SATA cable that is needed to install an SSD or hard drive is already there. I can't wait to find out if it will make a noticeable difference, as just one of these SATA III (6Gbps) SSD's are unbelievably fast. OS X installs in 4 minutes and change. Windows 7 in Boot Camp needs an extra minute or two and booting up is virtually instantaneous.

Lion Server (which includes several server components) downloads for me in about 30-35 minutes. The speed of the download will depend on two things: For one, if your own Internet connection is not a healthy broadband setup, it will take well over an hour. Secondly, you should plug your Mini into your modem via Ethernet, instead of using WiFi. Even the strongest signal of an advanced multi-channel 802.11n wireless connection can never be as fast as a wired one.

You also might want to make your own bootable Lion Installer on a USB flash drive and do the same for Windows 7, if you plan on using Boot Camp. I'd also recommend that you make your own USB Flash Recovery drive using the Recovery Assistant software that Apple recently posted on its website. This will help a lot, in case the (hidden) Recovery partition on whatever system drive you end up with gets corrupted or lost. That way, you won't have to rely on any Internet connection at all if you ever need to re-install Lion.

Sorry for the long post. I hope this will help the OP or someone else. I'll post the results of several benchmark tests on both OS X 10.7 as well as Windows 7 64-bitas soon as my dual OWC SSD 6G setup is complete. ;-)

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Hi, Jrstech!

Well, let me see if I can help you find this out. Is it a Momentus 7200.4? Apple has been using a lot of Toshiba drives for its 500GB 5400rpm configurations, including the Mac mini with the Core i5 and the AMD GPU that you have as well as the new 2011 MacBook Pro's. I don't like the Toshiba 5400 drives, as they are mediocre drives. They used 500GB Seagate 7200rpm drives in the high end mini, although in my case, it doesn't matter anymore, as I finally installed my 2nd OWC SSD.

Rest assured that you have made a significant upgrade to your machine. I say this with such confidence, because that's exactly what I did with the Toshiba 750GB 5400rpm drive that I found in the 2011 17" MBP that I had for approx. 2 months, which retails well over $2,500 without tax. The first thing I did was upgrade it to a Hitachi 7200rpm drive and while it is certainly no SSD, the difference was significant enough for me to feel it in day-to-day use.

And this is also where a quick response to the OP's revised question/comment fits in:

Quoting OP: <<(...)+ for a very well written and thorough question. Want to know the answer to this myself. I love Apple products, but it seems like Apple tries to ties us consumers down more and more as time passes. Things like this are done intentionally to force the consumer to upgrade through Apple. Another example is how Lion only supports Trim for SSD's supplied by Apple. If you want to enable Trim support for any other SSD, you have to do some fancy hacking. Apple's business practices are starting to really suck!!!>>

I do agree with you on this and as I just stated above, it felt almost as if, after buying a 17" MacBook Pro, there was another step to be performed. Why can't a $2500 MBP come with a decent hard drive? Well, I think we know why, but BTO (Built-To-Order) options are not available in a store, so it's almost as if you're stuck until your 7200rpm drive arrives in the mail before you can really feel that you have a "complete" system on your hands, with all high-end components. The stock 5400rpm drive almost made the 2011 17-incher "look bad" with all of its otherwise high-end components, i.e. Quad Core i7-2720QM with clock speeds of up to 3.3GHz, Turbo Boost permitting, the AMD 6750M 1GB GDDR5 GPU, and ThunderBolt, to name the most well known and advertised examples.

There is, however, one part missing on the spec sheet that gets mentioned quite rarely and that is the SATA III capability, which can, of course, mean the kind of mind-blowing speeds that we have recently seen with all of the new SATA III 6Gbps-compliant solid state drives. What surprises me here is the fact that yes, Apple loves to sell the overpriced SSD's from Samsung and Toshiba, and collect healthy profits for itself, but they are only SATA II drives. Therefore, all "Apple SSD's" (read: Samsung/Toshiba) are significantly slower than other 3rd party SATA III SSD's. Often times, Apple likes to downplay the difference of new (as well as existing) technologies as "not worth pursuing" because...(insert your favorite Apple explanation here). In case of SATA III vs. SATA II, the difference, however, is nothing short of stunning, amazing, mind-blowing, and maybe even..."magical"? I kid you, Steve Jobs, I do. We all love you! :-P

To be fair, I also want to point out that replacing the hard drives in the 2011 Mac mini is somewhat easier than in the previous generation 2010 model, as it no longer uses the type of thermal sensors that Apple used in the 2010 models. At the same time, Apple made sure that upgrading the 2011 iMac's all but impossible with the use of its new proprietary SATA connection. This move cannot be explained away other than to recognize that this is a sincere attempt by Apple to keep us from using our own equipment in the 2011 iMac line, and the SATA III argument very much applies here as well.

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I have a mid-2011 i5 Mac mini and replaced the 500gb 5400 rpm drive with a Seagate 750gb 7200 momentus drive and can report that iStat is displaying status for the drive (32 degrees). Although this isn't a SSD drive I did not buy it from Apple, possibly it is the same model that comes with the 750gb equipped mini's.

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I replaced my stock 500G drive with two 1T Samsung drives, been running almost a week now, 24hrs a day, non-stop. I've been copying data back and forth from both drives. I haven't noticed any odd fan behavior. It does kick in when the system is under a load, but nothing I felt was in-appropriate. As soon as the system cooled off the fan slowed down. I've also been monitoring the temps with iStat and don't see it getting very hot.

Overall I'm very happy with my purchase and cheap and easy upgrade to a 2T system over Apple's prices. The kit was very easy to install and the documentation is pretty clear and understandable. Even if you're not technically inclined but not afraid to get your hands "dirty" you should be able to do this upgrade.

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there's loads of people complaining about fan issues after disk swaps ... there's got to be more to it.

I'm one of the affected btw.

I'm taking this piece of c to the "genious" bar so they can do another logic board replacement .

Sorry about the rant but im so $@%%^& off.

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The 2011 Mac mini is simply awesome! I put two SF-2281 SATA III SSD's in RAID 0 and got speeds of nearly 1GB/s! Stunning. And beautifully small. Just gorgeous. Another example of "Good ridden's, optical drives"!

Can't wait for Ivy Bridge and the new MacBook Pro's: Relieve it from its useless SuperDrive and give us two SATA III bays. To make a laptop even thinner, there are many SSD's that also come in 1.8" variants and except for high-capacity (480+GB 1.8" SSD's) ones, they are equally as scorching fast! ;-)

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where are these "loads of people"? i haven't seen any issues posted anywhere.

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I'm having problems. Bought a new core i5 mini that was made this past November. Installed a ssd immediately. It was fine for about 2 weeks then the fan started going crazy, spinning up and down. Sent it in to an authorized repair center, they determined it was the fan according to the tests it failed. Got it back and its still doing it! So im sending it back in again. I'm wondering if may they changed something and added custom firmware to the drives? Anyways, I have bad feeling this is going to end up being a "lesson learned the hard way" and have to buy a new one. :(

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I just replaced the stock 5400 RPM drive in my i5 mini with a 256GB Crucial M4 and got the issue myself. Fan running full blast (~5500 RPM) constantly. I then tried putting the original HDD back in and still got the same afterward, so not sure if a sensor got knocked loose or what.

I decided to put the M4 back in and let it run that way until I have time to take it to the geniuses, and now the fan isn't maxed out but also iStat pro shows the fan speed at 0 RPM. Not sure if the fan connector got knocked loose or what. Will have to take it back apart to check the connector.

I have ran the Apple diagnostic test on the machine and got this error code:

4SNS/1/C0000008:TMOP

Which supports the theory that a temp sensor isn't working properly.

Anyway, this is all just to say that I have had issues with swapping out the HDD as well.

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Hi .

I got my motherboard replaced ... i did the SSD swap and now it works perfectly... i'd recommend if someone is facing this issue ... just take it to the apple store get it replaced and try again..

I'm using a ocz vertex 2.

Thanks!

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Mid 2010 Mac Mini Server (Macmini4,1 - Intel Core 2 Duo 2.66GHz)

The server had two hard drives (one formatted for the OS and the other for storage). Replaced the OS hard drive with a Samsung SSD. The removed HDD had a wire coming off it (turns out it was a thermal sensor) that the replacement SSD did not have. Upon reassembly and restart (after install of OS on SDD) the Mac Mini Server cooling fan went on high and stayed there. Problem was eventually solved by removing the thermal sensor from the old HDD and reinstalling the sensor in the Mac Mini Server (connector to mother board, sensor just stuck on something inside the case).

/edit : ps. the sensor was simply stuck to the outside of the old HDD; removing it was merely a matter of sliding a razor blade between the sensor and the side of the HDD.

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helpinghand4macs will be eternally grateful.

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