After my success with upgrading the Late 2012 Mini to a dual drive system, I was asked to do a similar upgrade on a Late 2014 model. There have been reports of lower performance in the newer models compared to the older models and this machine was quite sluggish in comparison with the 2012 model.. As usual, I consulted the Ifixit website for information and discovered that Apple had made a few small but significant changes.
Opening the 2012 Mini was a simple operation of turning the base to line up with case markings and allowing the cover to fall out. On the 2014 model, the base must be pried up from three clip points. The entire inside is covered by a metal shield with 6 special T6S-head screws. The tool can be purchased separately but may also be included in some upgrade kits.
When the Mini is purchased new, memory size must be specified and the chips are soldered onto the main board so there is no longer an option to add memory after purchase. The storage configuration options are
- Hard drive
- Solid State drive (Apple proprietary PCIe)
- Fusion drive (both traditional and Solid State)
Regardless of the storage option chosen at purchase, the Mini comes equipped with a hard drive caddy. The hard drive would be installed in the caddy and/or the PCIe SSD would be installed on the other side. Installing a hard drive requires complete disassembly of the machine to gain access to the caddy. PCIe drive installation only requires the cover plate removal.
The SATA cables are available through iFixit along with an excellent Repair Guide. Complete kits, with the required tools, for installing an SSD are available from OWC with capacity from 240GB to 2.0TB. OWC Tech Support are very helpful in assisting with selection of the correct kit. The products are also available on Amazon, with free shipping.
While the SSD installation should provide a performance boost, replacing the standard Apple HDD (5400rpm), with a 7200rpm model could also provide additional improvements.
Once the hardware has been installed and tested successfully, OSX can be installed on the SSD. Keep in mind that Apple will only update the operating system if the SDD is created with the new APFS format. The HDD can be formatted in HFS to allow files to be shared with versions of OSX. If the original user files are available, they can be imported to the SSD using Migration Assistant.
The best configuration for performance is to move user data files to the HDD and link to them from the SSD. After all the user files have been restored,
- Determine the mount point of the HDD
- Create folders on the HDD for the data folders that will be moved from the SSD
- Copy the data files to the HDD
- Delete the folder on the SSD
- Create a link to the new folder on the HDD (ln -s [SDD folder path]/[Follder name] [HDD mount point]/[HDD folder name])
- Repeat for each folder to be moved .