2 - 4 hours
No problem. I just wanted to upgrade my Mac Mini (2011) with an SSD 'Fusion' arrangement that the new 2012 has as an option with a dedicated 'Fusion' drive. My nearly two year old Mini was beginning to feel a bit slow, especially compared to my iPad Mini and iPhone 5. My wife has the MBP Retina with the SSD and loves it, so I thought, why not? After all, iFixit says I can do it with a moderate degree of difficulty. What could possibly go wrong?
It went relatively well. My only real difficulty was how tightly packed Apple designed this little gem of a desktop computer. My thick fingers had to yield to tiny needle nosed pliers in order to make some of the connections putting it back together.
I enlisted the aid of a silicone trivet that has little square spaces in it, Ideal for holding those tiny, tiny screws. I put them in the trivet in the order in which I remove them, left to right mirroring the position in the Mini. I hadn't looked but iFixit might consider carrying such a device to keep track of and secure those little buggers.
Speaking of which, one did escape. Possibly the smallest fastener in the bunch, a little tiny thing that holds down one tip of Cowling. I heard it hit the floor and it may as well have bounced into a black hole. After searching for an hour I returned to the unit and judged that the machine would function quite well, sans screw as other components seemed to be holding it in place well. Does iFixit sell those screws?
The hardware aspect of this took me about two hours, including the time spent hunting for the errant screw (3.5mm T6 Torx). The most time was spent figuring out how to boot from the Fused drive in order to bring over my Time Machine backup to it. I bought a 16GB USB thumb drive and made a boot out of it because my other boot drive backup was my Time Machine drive, which, of course didn't want to be a boot drive. I know, you buy them books and buy them books and all they do is eat paper. What's a guy to do?
Wait mostly as USB thumb drives are about as slow as the time I had to use two floppies on my Mac Plus when my hard drive went South. It took me the better part of a day getting into a position where I had my nest fluffed and began to use the new arrangement. Oh, the actual Terminal commands were simple and fast to turn the SSD (a Samsung 120GB SATA III SSD) and my factory installed 500GB HDD into a single drive. Once I began using it I was totally satisfied with the way OS X manages the dual drive. Opening my commonly used apps are nearly instantaneous!. All sorts of system functions are blindingly fast.
Some take aways from this experience are:
1. Put down a large sheet under your workspace to aid in capturing runaway bits and pieces.
2. Have tiny needle nosed pliers to aid in re-connecting some of the itty bitty connectors in the very tight confines of this device.
3. Have a separate HDD boot drive that isn't your TimeMachine backup and use it to install OS X on the newly created fusion drive.
4. ALWAYS use iFixit's kits and tools. I've been inside Macs since the Fat Mac 512KB back in '86. I've fabricated my own tools at times, spent a fortune on others, but the quality of the kit from iFixit is without peer. It is high quality and appropriate to the task. I found other 'kits' from other companies, but always returned to iFixit's.
Finally, this project was rated 'moderate' for a degree of difficulty. I might push that up a bit as you are pretty much gutting the little machine and putting it back together without using grease to reassemble the parts is a task, especially for a guy with real 'man hands'.
Again, kudos to iFixit for another 'fix 'er upper' success!