News Archive for: Tuesday August 24, 2010 Goto Current News Page|
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|Report on Mac Mini eSATA Mod (using Mini-PCIe SATA Card)|
|(NOTE/WARNING: 2009 and later Mac Minis DO NOT have a Mini-PCIe Airport card and therefore cannot use this mod. Here's a page from iFixit's 2009 Mini Take-Apart that shows the different form factor (cable connection) Airport/BT combo card. (And here's ifixit's 2010 mini take-apart page that shows the Airport/BT combo card for the 2010 Mac Mini.) Many Intel-based Macs have had a Mini-PCIe slot Airport Extreme card (even the AE "G" card in early intel-based macs), but some later models have combo Airport/BT cards that are not Mini-PCIe form factor such as the 2009 and later Minis. (There was no 2008 mini update.) PPC Macs also do not have Mini-PCIe Airport cards. (My G5 has a mini-PCI Airport Ext. card, not Mini-PCIe. Original (802.11B) Airport cards were based on a subset of PCMCIA.)|
Bottom Line: Verify your Mac has a Mini-PCIe Airport card slot BEFORE buying the Mini-PCIe SATA card.)
(original post from Aug 24th follows)
From a reader mail yesterday (a reader in Germany)
(BTW: This could also be usable for iMacs w/mod to bring the cables out the bottom. Not checked the older iMacs but the 2010 models have the airport card very near the bottom and it should be possible to run the cables out the bottom with a mod to the plate, similar to what OWC does with their 27in iMac (onboard) eSATA mod.)
"Hi, I've read your site for more than 10 years and it helped me a lot upgrading my old beloved 7500. But in late 2007 I finally switched to a new mac mini and upgraded RAM and HD. Now I want to report about removing my Airport card (which I don't need) and replacing it with a mini PCI-e SATA card, since this is not very common.
(FYI: Of course you lose your Airport card with this mod, but if you must have wireless, there's USB Wireless options or better yet (IMO) an Ethernet to 802.11n (and g/b) Wireless bridge. Rather than the usual single ethernet port models, I'd be more interested in this Buffalo model with 4 Ethernet ports.-Mike)
The switch is no more difficult than installing memory and HD. To move out the cables it was necesarry to remove a small peace of the case. (I.E. for the eSATA card cable pass-thru. I asked if he could send a pix of that - he said he would over the weekend.) You should not try the switch if you are not used to this kind of work.
I used the following card: Commell MPX-3132, Modul, Mini-PCIe, 2x SATA-II (Silicon Image 3132 chip based)
drivers for the card can be found at SI's 3132 drivers page.
(FYI: Gunter later noted he used the RAID driver and some others said only the RAID driver version worked for this mini-PCIe card. However 1 report from a user with a different card/setup (using a MiniPCIe to PCIe card adapter) said he used the non-RAID drivers OK.
That reminded me of some past mails on 3132 drivers in general, where some had problems with the SI site driver installs working where I didn't (ever - I installed at least 3 different versions over the last year from the SI site (used with 10.5.x and 10.6.x - all worked OK), yet some have had problems with them. For those that did the recommendation in the past was to use the Sonnet driver installer (their 3132 expresscard/PCIe card drivers - which as I've mentioned many times in the past appear to the very same ref SI driver extension in their installer package as is in the SI site non-RAID driver download although the SI site has had a later version/update).
Regardless, if you do see a problem with one version of the SI driver, try the other to see if that helps.-Mike)
(Is this the card you used?
and did it come with cables? (they show this cable pix)-Mike)
Yes, that is this card. I bought it here in Germany (product page link)
It came with two cables. One side fits in the connector of the card, the other on the sata port of an internal HD. To connect to an e-sata port of an external drive you need an additional adapter (sata->e-sata).
- 1.83 GHz Core2duo Mini w/2.5GB RAM (667MHz),
- OS X 10.5.8 and (bootcamp) Win XP SP3
- Int. HD: WD WD3200BEVT (320 Gig, 2.5") Partition 1 Mac extended, 200GB, Partition 2 NTFS, 120GB
- Ext. HD: Seagate ST350041-8AS (500GB, 3.5") Partition 1 Mac extended, 250GB, Partition 2 NTFS, 250GB
The bad thing about the SATA card is that I can not boot from it. (If anyone knows of a natively supported card (i.e. JMB 36x, etc) send a note to see if we can test one.). I think it is a problem with the firmware of the mini that it does not recognize the mini pci-e port as something to boot from. (Generally cards that require 3rd party drivers to work (no rom/efi support) are not bootable either) If someone knows better please let me know.
When selecting the boot device on the mac os the drive can be selected but it does not boot from the drive. The drive can be dismounted in the finder and after power down and power up again the drive remounts.
Under XP the drive behaves like an internal drive. I have not set up any raid system for maximum speed.
Here some real world copy tests:
(I asked if he'd run tests duplicating the folder/files also. That rules out the effect of other drives.)
Copy Tests w/OS X: 1 folder w/20 files (11.94 GB) using either the eSATA port or an external USB port
- Internal HD -> Ext. USB HD: 495s
- USB Ext. HD -> Int. HD: 435s
- SATA Internal HD -> eSATA HD: 239s
- eSATA HD -> Internal HD: 253s
Copy using Win XP: 1 folder w/1366 files (total 2.76 GB:
- Internal HD -> eSATA HD: 137s
- USB Ext. HD -> Internal HD: 138s
- Internal HD -> eSATA HD: 124s
- eSATA HD -> Internal HD: 105s
And Benchmarks with HD Tune 2.55 under Win XP:
- Internal HD: Min 18.8 GB/s, Max 63.9 GB/s, AVG 49.4 GB/s
Access: 17.0ms, Burst 38.2 GB/s, CPU 2.8%
- Ext USB HD: Min 23.6 GB/s, Max 28.0 GB/s. AVG 27.3 GB/s
Access: 14.8ms, Burst 20.6 GB/s, CPU 21.1%
- eSATA HD: Min 68.6 GB/s, Max 109.8 GB/s, AVG 100.6 GB/s
Access: 14.5ms, Burst 79.0 GB/s, CPU 3.8%
(Could be limited by the drive, not the card)
Unfortunately the card does not allow me to set up a multiboot system. The speed gain in copying large files is worth the appx $30 for the card, at least for me. (Plus access to much larger HDs, at a lower cost per GB than 2.5in HDs)
For one to get most out of the mini, you can replace the int. SATA drive with a solid state drive as boot system and use this card to have access to large data sets.
(If he were closer, I'd buy one of the $99.99 (intro price for Aug) 40GB Sandforce SSD and send him for tests with it as a boot drive and use larger eSATA HDs for data.-Mike)
I hope this report is helpful to someone.
best wishes, Gunter"
He later sent a photo of the mini w/ext cables showing.
Update: For 2 other reports on this mod (including photos), see this separate page on Mac Mini SATA Card Install/Mod.
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|Another (really) cheap early Mac Pro CPU Upgrade|
"Hey Mike, Just wanted to add I (FINALLY) upgraded my 2006 MacPro from Dual 2.0Ghz (5130) Xeons to Dual 3.0Ghz Xeons (5160) [Dual-cores] for $125 ($62.50/CPU from geeks.com). These were server pulls and tested.
I had picked up a long 3mm hex tool (from All-spec), along with some Artic Silver 5. Cores are running very cool under load (transferring files, Photoshop...).
Installation was so-so as you have to watch is the memory cage hexnuts don't spin. (FYI - links to how-to guides/video included in earlier reports) Plus someone at Apple (thank you for the engineering changes after 2006 Mac Pros /sarcasm) used an Aluminum headed screw that will likely strip (philips/x-point). Oh well, even us "techs" experience unfriendly designs firsthand...they even have a special tool (flat wrench) to hold the hex posts.
BTW - I just back-ordered a Velociraptor 600GB (10KRPM) as the startup drive to speed things up. As much as I would like to get an SSD from OWC, until prices are inline with HDDs, not worth the expense.
As much stated, unless really really cheap to replace CPUs, it would be worthwhile to consider later models (used/refurb, etc) ... for my next upgrade ;)
Also added this to the CPU Upgrade reports db (which has several earlier 2006 Mac Pro reports, as well as yesterday's 2008 Mac Pro dual 3GHz Quad-Core upgrade report.
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