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FireWire for 75% Better Mac mini Disk Performance

timothy posted more than 9 years ago | from the outside-in dept.

Upgrades 533

peterdaly writes "As a proud new owner of a Mac mini, I quickly discovered the internal hard drive performance was so pathetic compared to what I was used to that I needed to do something about it ... preferably on the cheap. I ended up trying a FireWire attached storage enclosure and using an older 80GB drive I had in my closet from a dead PC. My mini got about a 75 percent disk performance increase for about $50 (or $100 if you need a drive). Here is a benchmark of before and after as well as information about my research and upgrade. If you already have at least 512MB RAM, this may be the best performance bang for your buck if you're looking for your mini to be faster and more responsive."

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And if you want something really cool (5, Informative)

daveschroeder (516195) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550132)

Yes, it's true that since the Mac mini uses a 2.5" laptop hard drive by default, which is why the disk performance is relatively poor. This is why you can achieve greater performance with a 3.5" drive coupled with a FireWire enclosure. But many of the FireWire enclosures out there are what I would call, well, damned ugly. And huge. Way more huge than they need to be. And way too ugly and clunky to go with a computer like the Mac mini, unless you bought it completely for price and could care less about appearances.

Enter miniMate: a FireWire 400/USB 2.0 hub with integrated Ultra ATA 3.5" disk bay with up to a 400GB 7200RPM disk, all in an enclosure aesthetically designed exactly like the form factor of the Mac mini (except a bit shorter):

http://www.micronet.com/General/minimate.asp [micronet.com]

Re:And if you want something really cool (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12550162)

$160 extra just so it looks nice? I just bought a 400GB 7200 Firewire drive for $400. This costs $560!

Re:And if you want something really cool (1)

MagPulse (316) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550178)

Can you buy two of those and run them in RAID-1?

Re:And if you want something really cool (5, Informative)

daveschroeder (516195) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550187)

Can you buy two of those and run them in RAID-1?

Absolutely.

With Disk Utility, it's just a matter of dragging the disks into a RAID set, and you're done.

Re:And if you want something really cool (5, Informative)

itistoday (602304) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550256)

*ahem* For those not aware Disk Utility is a free hard disk utility that comes with every mac, and every OS X installation.

Re:And if you want something really cool (5, Funny)

Fulcrum of Evil (560260) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550366)

Can you buy two of those and run them in RAID-1?

1 macMini: $500
2 400GB external drives: $1000
Spending $1500 to run RAID on an entry-level machine: priceless.

Re:And if you want something really cool (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12550181)

Yes, it's true that since the Mac mini uses a 2.5" laptop hard drive by default, which is why the disk performance is relatively poor. This is why you can achieve greater performance with a 3.5" drive coupled with a FireWire enclosure.
snip
The internal drive is slow cause it is a cheap/low end drive. A decent 7200 rpm notebook drive as a replacement will greatly improve the performance of a mini. (And the run cooler) Just upgrade the internal drive (yes, many people have done this) and you dont need an ugly extra external drive or even a pretty one that takes up more space.

Re:And if you want something really cool (0, Troll)

ottothecow (600101) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550233)

7200rpm notebook drive?

Re:And if you want something really cool (3, Informative)

rossifer (581396) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550322)

7200rpm notebook drive [ebay.com]

Regards,
Ross

Re:And if you want something really cool (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12550446)

why does a faster rpm drive run cooler?

Re:And if you want something really cool (-1, Troll)

TerranFury (726743) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550186)

Business Plan:
  1. Write "hobbyist" article
  2. Get article on slashdot
  3. Make first post advertising own product
  4. Profit!

I have nothing to do with that product... (3, Informative)

daveschroeder (516195) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550199)

...and no vested interest of any kind in anything relating to it, and didn't submit the story.

But thanks for your concern!

Re:I have nothing to do with that product... (2, Insightful)

mosb1000 (710161) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550341)

Even if you did, I don't see how that would be a bad thing. What is wrong with placing an advertisement here, where it is safe to say most/all readers would be interested in it. Certainly it is beneficial to the readers to have this information here, and also to the business to have the readers see that information. It's a win-win situation.

Re:I have nothing to do with that product... (4, Funny)

TerranFury (726743) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550468)

Don't worry; I'm not so paranoid to think that you're involved in an elaborate conspiracy to sell a hard drive enclosure! Any true conspiracy theorist can tell you that you'd need at least a black helicopter or two for that...

Perhaps, so as to avoid future misunderstandings, the two of us can start a conspiracy to get the W3C to add a <joke> tag to the next draft of HTML...

Re:And if you want something really cool (5, Funny)

value_added (719364) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550194)

... relatively poor ... way more huge ... way too ugly"

A thoughtful analysis if ever I read one.

Re:And if you want something really cool (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12550213)

uses a 2.5" laptop hard drive by default, which is why the disk performance is relatively poor

I would say that Apple wanted the disk performance to be very poor, so they designed a 2.5" drive into it.

It would have been cheaper to ship a regular drive and the form factor would be nearly identical.

Re:And if you want something really cool (3, Insightful)

daveschroeder (516195) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550262)

Have you seen the inside of the Mac mini?

It's completely full. There is no more room, and, if space were no issue, Apple would most certainly have used a 3.5" drive, if only for reasons of specifications (larger drive for the money) and cost.

Re:And if you want something really cool (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12550435)

Umm, so make it slightly larger, space isn't an issue.

There's no real reason it's that small except as an excuse for crippled performance.

Re:And if you want something really cool (1)

toddestan (632714) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550450)

Have you seen the inside of the Mac mini?

It's completely full. There is no more room, and, if space were no issue, Apple would most certainly have used a 3.5" drive, if only for reasons of specifications (larger drive for the money) and cost.


And there is no reason why Apple couldn't of made the Mini slightly larger, and crammed a 3.5" drive into it. For whatever reason, the slow 2.5" drive in the Mini was an intentional move by Apple. My guess is that it has to do with Apple's history of purposely mucking with their low end machines in order to sell their higher end models.

Re:And if you want something really cool (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12550332)

unless you bought it completely for price and could care less about appearances.

You mean couldn't care less (because you don't care at all).

Your post was informative, but it's hard to concentrate on your message when you present it through these annoying grammatical oddities.

Re:And if you want something really cool (1)

sucati (611768) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550388)

umm by saying he couldn't care less you are implying he cares some, right?

Re:And if you want something really cool (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12550477)

No. Rather the phrase means that the state of concern is null, as it can not be further decreased with "could not care less"; it is however as you describe for the "could care less" phrase that it requires a state above null concern such that it could be decreased. You are wrong on all accounts as you even attribute this characteristic to the "could not" phrase it does not apply to and attempt to infer that the "could" phrase that is susceptible to it is somehow not.

Morris Plains - GET OUT! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12550133)

Morris Plains is a borough located in Morris County, New Jersey. As of the 2000 census, the borough had a total population of 5,236.

Billed as "The Community of Caring", Morris Plains is a small town where social people soon get to know everyone else, which can be simultaneously heartwarming and irritating. Teenagers sometimes refer to it as "the Bubble", presumably because it is in many ways a stereotypical idyllic suburb, i.e. there is little for teens to do, and everyone is upper middle class, so life in Morris Plains does not reflect "the real world". The cops always harass teenagers because they have nothing to do in the tranquil town.

The main attraction in Morris Plains is Arthur's, a restaurant located on Speedwell Avenue, Morris Plains's "Main Street". Arthur's is famous throughout the area for its steaks, and is of absolutely no interest to vegetarians. Teens driving through the town are likely to stop at Quick Chek, a conveniently located 24-hour convenience store, where they can buy soft drinks and sandwiches, and then stand around in the parking lot and talk.

When Morris Plains teenagers wish to be entertained, and they are tired of hanging out at someone's house, there are few options. Some kids like to walk around the woods and parks that are plentiful in Morris Plains, although the woods are gradually giving way to housing developments, and the police often view teenagers in the woods with suspicion. One popular destination is Greystone, a partially abandoned insane asylum. The abandoned buildings are full of artifacts, as if everyone just ran out the door one day and left everything behind. Some go to explore, take pictures, and bring back souvenirs, while others simply want to drink and smoke. Unsurprisingly, adventurers of both kinds are often picked up by the police. A slightly less risky activity involving Greystone is to drive through it slowly at night, with your headlights off. This plunges you into total darkness, since the abandoned buildings do not have lights. Greystone is technically in Parsippany, but the nearest houses are in Morris Plains, and as the municipal boundary is not obvious, most people think it is in Morris Plains.

The other popular activity in Morris Plains is departing from it. As local band Optimus Prime put it in their humorous song Morris Plains, "they've got a train station so people can leave!" Indeed, the train station is popular, as many people commute into New York City for business and pleasure. Otherwise, people go to Morristown next door, where the shops and restaurants, the movie theater, and the high school are all located (the Morris Plains school system only goes up to grade 8).

Morris Plains is also a major base of operations for Pfizer, which has a large complex that creates jobs for a few thousand workers. The plant belonged to Warner-Lambert before it was bought out by Pfizer, and it now attracts twice as many helicopters as it did before. Pfizer also sponsors the Health and Medical Science Academy at Morristown High School and has a annual 5k race around Morris Plains.

not surprising (4, Interesting)

ostiguy (63618) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550151)

a year ago, we stuck with hp while deciding upon a new standard laptop as the nc6000's had 5400 rpm drives vs a couple ibm units we were evaluating which had 4200rpm's. I wonder if anyone could ever decommoditize themselves as a pc maker by promising to sell quicker machines at a minor price premium - how much more would it cost to install 512MB and a 7200rpm drive instead of 256MB and 5400rpm?

ostiguy

Re:not surprising (1)

R2.0 (532027) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550254)

Was that the only criterion? 5400 RPM vs 4200?

Nice purchasing process ya got there.

Re:not surprising (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12550260)

I'm not aware of any 7200rpm 2.5" drives, and if there were any, they still wouldn't keep up with high performance 8MB cache designs such as those offered by Western Digital and others.

There simply isn't enough room nor heat disipation capacity in the 2.5" form factor for desktop level performance.

Re:not surprising (1)

LurkerXXX (667952) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550337)

You mean like this [pricegrabber.com] 60GB 7200RPM 2.5 inch drive with an 8 MB cache?

Become aware.

Re:not surprising (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12550407)

Try installing it in something. Let me know how it goes.

Re:not surprising (1)

LurkerXXX (667952) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550439)

Dell has been installing them as an optional upgrade for a few years now. What's your point?

Re:not surprising (1)

v1 (525388) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550272)

Do they even make 7200rpm 2.5" HDDs? I've heard of the 4200's and the 5400's, but only seen 7200 and 10000 rpm ratings on 3.5" drives.

Re:not surprising (2, Informative)

LurkerXXX (667952) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550298)

Yes, lots. I've had a 60GB 7200 2.5" laptop drive for a few years now. Hitachi just came out with a 7200 RPM 100 GB drive.

Re:not surprising (0)

cbreaker (561297) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550414)

I bet those little suckers can generate some heat!

Re:not surprising (2, Funny)

LurkerXXX (667952) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550426)

I refer to my laptop as the 'nut roaster'.

Think of it as male contraception.

Re:not surprising (2, Informative)

Janitor (107737) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550489)

Hitachi makes a 7200RPM 2.5" IDE drive:
Hitachi 60GB TravelStar 7K60 7200RPM 8MB Cache.

yo (1)

sakura the mc (795726) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550164)

try out one of those wiebetech drivedocks, they attach directly to your hard drive and arent enclosed by an ugly case.

Re:yo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12550174)

ok thanks man

Holy Crap that was a lot of Google ads. (1, Offtopic)

FosterKanig (645454) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550169)

Seriously dude, what the fuck? Just putting the Google ads once on the page wasn't enough for you?

This is news? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12550173)

You buy a system with a 4500 RPM drive, and you're surprised that an external FW 5400 or 7200 RPM drive performs better? Furrfu ...

Next on slashdot: a new and exciting way to suck eggs.

If you're in the crowd that would be bothered by a slow HDD, then I'd expect you to understand the implications of the mini's specs. I'm aware of this, yet bought a mini anyway, and it's chugging along fine for my needs, without any external storage.

Re:This is news? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12550274)

The question is "why would Apple put a default drive that is so slow that it appears to rely on the rotation of the earth for spin?"

Re:This is news? (2, Insightful)

Jeffrey Baker (6191) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550421)

It's cheap, low-power, and quiet. Other than those, no reason.

Never mind that, 10.4.1 is out! (-1, Offtopic)

GrahamCox (741991) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550182)

No doubt a Slashdot story about it will be published by the time 10.4.2 is available....

Re:Never mind that, 10.4.1 is out! (1)

rekenner (849871) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550271)

Check ... oh... two stories ago.
Idiot.

I bought the MacMini for the form factor.. (5, Interesting)

Amich (542141) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550188)

The form factor sold the machine for me - I don't want to go adding an external drive to the machine, even for a performance boost. I knew I wouldn't be playing Unreal Tournament 2k4 or DooM3 on the machine, I bought it to have a small form factor desktop in addition to my laptop.

That said, the findings of improved speed with an external firewire drive is hardly surprising. Laptop hard drives (which the Mini uses) are notoriously slow, and if you're one of those who got a 4200 RPM drive with their Mini it's even worse than normal.

Still, nifty to know it works.

I'm curious though - has anyone replaced their mini's hard drive with a higher RPM laptop drive? Did that help matters much? I wouldn't mind going for a speed upgrade if I can keep the sleek, tiny form factor =)

-Amich

Re:I bought the MacMini for the form factor.. (1)

superpulpsicle (533373) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550343)

I know of two people who came real close to buying a Mac Mini, and didn't due to performance reasons. Instead they bought large/ugly/beige/boring generic PCs. One of them squeezed in a striped SATA hard disk set for the same cost.

Re:I bought the MacMini for the form factor.. (1)

kayak334 (798077) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550465)

...large/ugly/beige/boring generic PCs

Yes, because I just can't feel unique unless my computer is a small/pretty/blue/exciting MacMini.

Re:I bought the MacMini for the form factor.. (0, Redundant)

RickHunter (103108) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550368)

You might want to check out the MiniMate [megamacs.com] ... (Also visible on engadget [engadget.com] .)

Re:I bought the MacMini for the form factor.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12550423)

I've replaced the hard drive in my iBook with a 5,400 model, and have noticed... negligible benefits. When I'm zeroing all bits or performing a surface scan it's much faster, but, well, I only did that once (when I first got the drive). I suppose Secure Empty Trash is faster too.

WHAAAT!? (-1, Flamebait)

realmolo (574068) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550191)

You mean the MacMini isn't *perfect*?

But...but...Apple is the greatest designer of computers EVER! It's so elegant, and...industrial design...and...elegance...and...iLife...and...RISC ...and...elegance...I got nothing.

Question (2)

elid (672471) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550193)

Can one actually run the OS off the Firewire hard drive?

Yes (4, Informative)

peterdaly (123554) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550201)

Recent Macs boot from a firewire drive just fine.

Re:Yes (2, Informative)

Shanep (68243) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550353)

Recent Macs boot from a firewire drive just fine.

Just make sure the firewire enclosure you use will boot fine from a mini. I purchased a Zynet Firewire/USB2 combo enclosure so that I could boot from an external seperate drive for testing (Mac OS X on external, various other OSes on internal), while allowing protection of my OS X stuff by unplugging it. The mini just gives me a grey screen with no Apple logo when I try to boot from the firewire drive.

I've not seen much complaint of this with firewire drives, so I assume this is due to the cheap Zynet.

Recent Macs only? Not (3, Informative)

sjonke (457707) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550472)

I don't consider my clamshell iBook G3 333 or my PowerMac G4 Dual-533, or my iMac G3 400 MHz to be recent. All of them boot from firewire. Indeed the only firewire Mac that doesn't boot from firewire is the very first one: the blue & white PowerMac G3 tower. If you're looking for a Mac on the cheap, my advice is that you take a pass on any Blue & White - it isn't worth any price IMHO, and not just due to the non-booting firewire.

Re:Question (2, Interesting)

Cennon (837504) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550212)

Yup - I've got mine running from a 160GB Firewire drive myself - no problems at all.

Re:Question (-1, Redundant)

boomerny (670029) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550223)

yes. macs have always been bootable off of their firewire buses.

Re:Question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12550247)

Not always, my b&w G3 can't boot off of its firewire...

http://lowendmac.com/ppc/g3c.shtml [lowendmac.com]

Re:Question (3, Informative)

sankyuu (847178) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550325)

The process (from TFA):

1. Install the IDE drive into the FireWire Enclosure. In addition to opening the enclosure and putting it back together, this will probably involve plugging in two cables (power and IDE) into the drive and possibly (depending on the design) screwing in 4 screws.

2. Plug the enclosure into the Mac Mini using a FireWire cable and power.

3. Format/Erase the drive using Apple's Disk Utility...OSX may prompt you depending on how the drive setup. (You'll lose any data on the drive during this step.)

4. Clone the internal disk to the FireWire Drive using Carbon Copy Cloner (CCC)

5. Change the Startup Disk using the System Preferences Startup Disk control panel

6. Reboot

7. Make sure everything went well, do some testing to make sure everything is working and all your data is on the new drive.

8. Erase your internal drive to avoid confusion of duplicate files.

Either that, or he's just trying get you to mix up the steps and erase both your drives. ;)

Re:Question (4, Interesting)

vought (160908) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550499)

Yes. In my mind as an IT person, one of the chief advantages of a Mac is that you can boot any Mac with built-in FireWire from a FireWire disk - including an iPod.

You can prevent this from happening by setting an Open Firmware password, but for re-imaging machines, it is a godsend.

As a bonus for those of us who want more utility out of our portable boot disks, all FireWire-equipped PowerBooks and any FireWire equipped desktop since some of the later G4s have the ability to boot in what Apple appropriately calles "FireWire disk mode". Pressing the "T" key at startup turns your $2500.00 Mac into a $100.00 firewire disk enclosure.

Dollars signs aside, I can assure you that FireWire disk mode is quite gratifying to watch when you've done something stupid to your machine and rendered it unbootable.

I don't know if the same thing is possible with USB and PCs, but I know that trying to recover Windows 2000 by using a FireWire disk enclosure is impossible, and I assume this holds true for XP as well.

Too bad (0, Flamebait)

thundercatslair (809424) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550209)

It seems that to make the mini even worth using is to spend lots of money on upgrades.

Re:Too bad (1)

Cennon (837504) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550269)

Worth using to who?

Like another poster (and seemingly every other article that mentions the Mac Mini) alluded to, your expectations have to be in line with what you get. I've got a Mac Mini, and fully realize that I won't get EXCELLENT performance from things like Garageband, or World of Warcraft. I knew that going in.

It doesn't mean I won't *run* those programs, but I'm not going to complain when they don't fly. In the meantime, it does what I need it to do (and for WoW, there's my PC.)

Re:Too bad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12550284)

It seems that to make the mini even worth using is to spend lots of money on upgrades.

I disagree. I recently got a Mac Mini, which I use for developing Palm OS software all day long (and for just about everything else I do on a regular desktop machine). I don't need a particularly fast machine to do what I do (since Palm programs aren't big and don't require all that long to compile), but I wanted an upgrade from the aging G4 tower I was using.

My experience with the Mini is that it is definitely faster than the G4 tower at most things. However, the G4 tower I had did have a 10000 RPM SCSI drive in it, and that was certainly faster than the laptop hard drive in the Mini. So, yes, disk performance is worse.

However, to an extent, you can alleviate the need to hit the disk at all by upgrading the memory (and thus allowing the OS to cache file data). I have 1 GB of RAM in the Mini, which is twice what I had in the G4 tower, and the result is that I don't really feel the slowness of the disk that often. Yes, it takes longer than it could to start up an application for the first time, but that is the only area where I really notice it.

Re:Too bad (4, Insightful)

Shanep (68243) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550329)

It seems that to make the mini even worth using is to spend lots of money on upgrades.

No, this is not true. Remember you are at /. No matter how fast a computer people here have, many of them will want to tinker with thier computers to make them faster. Like people who soup up cars.

The tinkering is fun.

The Mac mini is a fantastic little machine. I have an AMD XP2800+ with 2 7200 RPM drives and 2GB of DDR RAM, but I mostly use my little Mac mini because of Mac OS X. A faster computer is always nicer, but part of the minis appeal is its size and price. It runs OS X nicely given this in mind.

Well... (1, Redundant)

Jethro (14165) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550251)

If I recall correctly, the drive inside the Mac Mini is a laptop (2.5") drive. Those aren't really known for great performance. I'd not be surprised if it's the same kind of drive they put in Powerbooks (a 4500RPM).

So... basically this article is saying that fast drives are faster than slow drives. Heck, if I want to do anything intensive on my Powerbook (like DV capture or heck, use GarageBand), I need to use an external firewire drive.

Maybe I should write an article about how my Powerbook is faster with a Firewire drive, too!

Re:Well... (1)

mister_tim (653773) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550403)

So... basically this article is saying that fast drives are faster than slow drives

Well, when you put it like that it seems kind of obvious. But the real equation this article is pointing out is that
fast drive + firewire > slow drive + ATA

I find that quite interesting.

Re:Well... (1)

Holi (250190) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550413)

What about replacing the internal drive with a 7200rpm 2.5" drive. I have 2 of them in my laptop now and I like em.

Mac Mini look-alike Firewire cases? (1, Redundant)

tinrobot (314936) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550253)

I wonder if people are making firewire cases that are the same dimensions as the Mac Mini, so you could stack them neatly. I think would be an obvious product, but I haven't seen any yet.

Re:Mac Mini look-alike Firewire cases? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12550290)

Am I the only one here to suggest that changing the drive to a 5400 RPM 2.5in drive or even 7200 RPM 2.5in drive would improve the performance AND preserve the good looks ?

Re:Mac Mini look-alike Firewire cases? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12550296)

Yes, they are. Here is one that lets you add another hard drive and a number of USB and Firewire ports. It was advertised in macworld magazine and is sold at mac mall.

Re:Mac Mini look-alike Firewire cases? (1)

Forum Joe (841804) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550338)

Errr, isn't that exactly what the first commenter is promoting? Ok, well not exactly, but pretty similar, only not an empty firewire case in the right form-factor but a firewire case WITH drive, and a USB/Firewire hub to boot. That product sounds pretty cool, I'd by one if I had a macmini, or cared about form factor. But I don't, which is why I've got my chunky ol' eMac.

Been using a USB 2.0 Drive.... (4, Informative)

Chanc_Gorkon (94133) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550265)

I use a 120 GB Simpletech USB 2.0 drive as my capture/video editing repository and it works smashingly well. One time I forgot about saving the project to the Powerbook drive and was wondering why in heck iMovie HD was dropping frames and discovered I was using the internal drive. The USB 2.0 drive performs WAY better.

Re:Been using a USB 2.0 Drive.... (1)

lowid (24) _________ (878977) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550517)

I do audio work, and I also use external drives for all my storage. I actually used to use a 120 gb Simpletech usb/firewire drive, until I'd owned it for about 3 months and it just perished miserably and unexpectedly, taking my data with it. (One project, which I was in the middle of, wasn't backed up anywhere else, and I spent a few long days and nights getting it re-recorded.) I guess the lesson I learned from this was that you get what you pay for... the next drive I bought was from a reputable company and wasn't just the most super-dirt-cheap thing i could find, and I'm still using it with no problems after nearly 3 years. Think twice about that Simpletech drive, my friend. :)

You're right though - when I'm traveling and I record stuff directly to my laptop drive, there is a noticeable lag when editing stuff later on, especially if i'm working with a lot of different tracks. 5400 rpm totally isn't enough to handle all of what's going on.

Thanks (1)

3D Monkey (808934) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550270)

Thanks for the info. I'm about to do an upgrade to our office and wanted to get rid of our clunky G3 and G4 towers in lieu of some mini Macs. It's good to know that we should invest a few FW400 drives.

About time... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12550285)

I don't want to start a holy war here, but what is the deal with Mac Mini hard drive performance? I've been sitting here at my freelance gig in front of a Mac Mini for about 20 minutes now while it attempts to copy a 17 Meg file from one folder on the hard drive to another folder. 20 minutes. At home, on my Pentium Pro 200 running NT 4, which by all standards should be a lot slower than this Mac, the same operation would take about 2 minutes. If that.

In addition, during this file transfer, Safari will not work. And everything else has ground to a halt. Even SubEthaEdit is straining to keep up as I type this.

I won't bore you with the laundry list of other problems that I've encountered while working on my Mac Mini, but suffice it to say there have been many, not the least of which is I've never seen a Mac Mini that has run faster than its Wintel counterpart, despite the Mac Mini's faster chip architecture. My 486/66 with 8 megs of ram runs faster than this 300 mhz machine at times. From a productivity standpoint, I don't get how people can claim that the Mac Mini is a superior machine.

Mac Mini addicts, flame me if you'd like, but I'd rather hear some intelligent reasons why anyone would choose to use a Mac Mini over other faster, cheaper, more stable systems.

Re:About time... (0, Troll)

NiceGeek (126629) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550367)

-1 Old, dull troll

Re:About time... (2, Funny)

R2.0 (532027) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550372)

Before you throw it away, let me know - I'll buy it from you.

Re:About time... (1)

imemyself (757318) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550389)

Does anyone have any info to back this up? If this actually has some truth to it, then there goes my interest in a Mac Mini.

Re:About time... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12550445)

Check out the "300 MHz machine" line. It's a troll from several years ago with some words changed.

FYI, it wasn't true when it was written either.

Re:About time... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12550512)

Actually it was true. Old versions of MacOS had absolutely godawful network file peformance and really would knocker Netscape while copying files in the background.

Re:About time... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12550483)

MAc Mini is 1.42Ghz not 300Mhz the person speaking is an obvious troll, stop feeding him.

300 MHz machine? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12550503)

"My 486/66 with 8 megs of ram runs faster than this 300 mhz machine at times"

Ah, that's your problem. I was just in a local Apple store checking out the Mac mini, and the real models are at least 4x that speed, starting at 1.25 GHz. Caveat emptor: don't buy Mac minis on the street corner from guys in trenchcoats. By the way, are you running Windows on that 486/66 with 8 MB? You must have really optimized the heck out of it. I took the processor out of a wristwatch, put Linux on it, and it's faster than a Dual AMD64 with 4 GB RAM running Windows XP. Go figure. I must be doing something wrong.

minis have 5400 rpm drives (1)

stefanmi (699755) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550289)

I thought all the minis had 5400 RPM drives from the factory, right?

How about hardware , or maybe even apple ? (1)

oh_the_humanity (883420) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550310)

wrong catagory and as far as the topic , everyone knows that 2.5" hard drives are not as fast as there desktop counterparts. unless you put a 7200 rpm drive in your mini , which would generate too much heat. even then it would be twice as expensive.

kinda defeats the "mini" part though (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12550318)

I mean, if you're adding a seperate external enclosure, it kind of defeats the main point of the Mini doesn't it?

This just in.. (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12550334)

This just in..
Mac user upgrades slow standard hard drive to a faster one and then gets better performance. A PC user was overheard saying "no shit".

Recommended HD? (2, Interesting)

erwin (8773) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550346)

I bought the mini for the price and form factor with the plan to upgrade it for performance. Adding RAM helped a lot with the pin-wheel-o'-death, but I haven't gotten to the HD upgrade yet. And, I haven't been watching the HR market lately.

What's good in the 2.5", 5400-7200RPM 80GB+/- market now? I'm looking to avoid the scenerio where a crappy drive fails in the 2nd year of the warrenty and you just have to decide to get the next one bigger rather than do the warrenty repair.

If you want performance, don't use mac (0, Troll)

neonv (803374) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550347)

If you really want a performance boost, don't use a mac, let alone a mac mini. There are very few benchmarks, real or synthetic, that a mac comes even close to a PC. Apple always uses low performance parts (such as a slow hard drive) in it's hardware, and overcharges those who purchase it. Apple tries to make their hardware look like it's great because of a flashy number such as "1 GB of RAM," but it's PC133, or "100 GB Hard Disk," but only 4200 rpm with 50 ms seek time. I've pointed out the hardware problems many times to those thinking apple is a top performer or economical in price. Just find a PC with the same or better hardware and look at the price comparison. The PC performs better in most applications as well. The only good part about a mac is the user friendliness. Don't confuse that with performance.

Re:If you want performance, don't use mac (1)

CoolMoDee (683437) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550406)

Hardware, no matter how fast it is, is useless without decent software. Find me a userfriendly unix that runs on x86, and I may consider it. (I love linux, but it is nowhere near as userfriendly as os x).

Re:If you want performance, don't use mac (3, Interesting)

wall0159 (881759) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550473)

There is some truth to what you say.

However, there are two other aspects you fail to acknowlege.

Firstly, most people, most of the time, are not waiting for their computer to do something. It's the chair-to-computer interface that is the bottleneck (people interacting with their software), so an increase in efficiency here is a big boost in (what I would call) performance. There's a lot more to performance than GFLOPS - remember, a computer is a tool, not an end in itself.

Secondly (and perhaps less importantly), although the specs of Macs might not be as great as PCs, the quality of their componentry is arguably better. Macs, in general, have a low hardware fail rate, and this could be attributed to better (albeit, less powerful) hardware. Many 'high-performance' PCs, especially those that are relatively cheap, are not made by Tier 1 companies from reliable hardware*.

*This is my opinion only, and hasn't been extensively researched. ;-)

Re:If you want performance, don't use mac (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12550494)

Apple tries to make their hardware look like it's great because of a flashy number such as "1 GB of RAM,"

1GB of Ram??? I challange you to find the Mac with that kind of memory. Even their top of the line $3000 Powermac only has a measily 512MB.

Gooooogle (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12550357)

seems to be the new trend:

- create a lousy article
- put some goooogle ads
- post on slashdot
- ?
- PROFIT

I don't get it (5, Insightful)

foonf (447461) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550390)

There has been a whole spate of these "I bought a Mac Mini, found out it really was a cheap, low-end computer, and then spent additional money to bring it up to a barely usable level" articles recently. Most of them involve either major, warranty-voiding modifications to the chassis, or as is the case here, ugly external peripherals that negate the main attraction of the Mini, its external appearance.

People seem to be buying these things as fashion accessories rather than making a serious decision based on their computer needs. It has one DIMM slot, a relatively slow CPU, and a notebook hard drive -- if thats not what you want, you should look for something else rather than expecting the rest of the world to salute your cleverness in partially addressing its shortcomings. If you don't really need a Mac, you can put together a PC for under $500 with a real hard drive and much better expandability. If you want a $500 computer to run OS X on, you can get a used G4 with specifications similar to a Mini, except again with useful internal expansion capacity. And if you want to spend more than that, well, you have the entire rest of the current Apple lineup.

My similar story was rejected (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12550392)

I upgraded my GF4 MX400 to a 9800XT and got 200% performance increase. I submitted the story and my links which had benchmarks to show the increase, my story was rejected. I guess upgrading a slow part to a faster part in the Mini seems so much more sexy then upgrading a PC.

Funniest part of the the article, dude pulled out something he had pitched in his closet and it is faster then the drive in his brand new machine. Half the Mac diehards rate that as insightful, the other half make excuses and try to justify why the standard Mini drive is so slow.

this is not NEW news. check bareFeats.com (5, Informative)

henk (29183) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550401)

from Feb 4th 2005
REVIEW: Mac mini -- internal and external hard drive tests

http://www.barefeats.com/mini01c.html [barefeats.com]

good analysis w/ lotsa pretty graphs

FireBus? (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550443)

There's some talk that Apple will abandon FireWire for cabled peripherals, in favor of USB. But, with such high performance, is it a viable CPU bus? Maybe allowing better expandability of all devices, including multiprocessors?

So... (1)

chill (34294) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550444)

Not owning a Mac Mini, I want to know, why didn't he just replace the internal crappy drive with the 7200 RPM Hitachi? The Hitachi is a 2.5" laptop drive. Won't it fit?

The Real Crime... (5, Insightful)

TheNetAvenger (624455) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550462)

The real crime here is that Apple would have even shipped a computer with a 4200rpm drive.

Yes I understand the slight cost difference and the slight possibility of heat difference, but a 4200rpm Drive? Give me a Break; it is almost 3 generations old in technology.

It is hard to even buy a laptop drive that is not at least 5400rpm anymore, and the 7200rpm and upcoming 10000rpm drives equal desktop hard drive performance.

They saved what, maybe $10-25 on the computer by using the 4200rpm drive, and yet I would imagine almost every user would rather pay the extra money to have a computer with a hard drive with 'normal' performance.

How is this innovative or cutting edge, when the technology they are shoving at Mac users, and first time Mac buyers that are not technical was top of line 5 years ago?

Apple can do SO much better than this, and we need to remind Apple that if they want to be the innovators and 'technology' leaders they can't get away with giving people sub quality performance and outdated technology.

I know a lot of people here love Apple and their Macs, but there are times when you need to tell Apple what you think and PUSH them to DO the right things and PUSH them to provide truly the best technology they can.

(In. example, you still can't buy a Mac Laptop with a high resolution LCD Screen, you still can't buy a Mac with graphics that are even in same class as top of the line PC graphics cards, The G5 is a great CPU, but even OSX (yes even Tiger) does not fully even utilize the features of this CPU. Tiger isn't' even a real 64bit OS, and should be (apple controls all the hardware, this should be easier for them than Microsoft and yet Microsoft is the one with a real 64bit OS for consumers. There are numerous other issues that truly bother me when people tell me they are the 'technology leader when it comes to graphic design or imaging' - technically the hardware falls short of what is available to the PC world.

One other note on the G5, if Microsoft can take a tri-core G5 based CPU and put it a Video Game Console (Xbox360) at 3+GHz, why can't Apple do this in a desktop system and be a technology leader?

Ironic that the hard hitting G5 based Tri-core CPU from IBM is running Windows NT and Direct X for gaming and will be sold for playing Games.

Ok, I got off a bit on an Apple Rant, but darn it I used to love Apple back in the late 80s, and they keep disappointing me and disappointing me. I had so hoped OSX would be the saving factor for what I had expected from Apple, yet it is still catching up to Microsoft and Open Source OSes in a lot of ways and Apple still is NOT providing the cutting edge hardware that they 'market' that they are.

Apple fans, don't just accept what Apple gives you is always great, question it, compare it to the PC world, and if it isn't truly the level you expect from Apple, TELL THEM. Maybe some good user feedback will push Apple a bit more.

Take Care all... and sorry about the long rant. :)

I am going for the iMac (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12550480)

Ok this is it, I am going for the iMac G5, 64 bit and I don't have to buy the wireless and the 100$ or so for the firewire disk. Etc...
NO longer will apple sell me cheap stuff
Now let me auction my kidneys for that iMac

512MB RAM? (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12550501)

I'll be flamed by die hard Mac zealots, but have to point that out: while the Mini is pretty unusable with 256MB under OSX it literally screams under Linux.
Debian installs just fine; some tweaking and a small patch may be needed to get X and audio to work properly (kernel 2.6.12 should already contain the audio patch) but after an evening you'll end up with a rock solid system that no Mini-Itx can match when it comes to price and power consumption.
Mine is a great cool and quiet DVD-DivX-Mp3-Photo player/viewer built on top of Debian Sid + gdm (for automatic login) + Ratpoison minimalistic WM + Freevo + Mplayer.
Getting Freevo to run was the hardest task since I had to tweak here and there and resolve manually some dependencies. Mplayer works like a charm, but if you compile it from source disable the (still buggy) Altivec optimization at ./configure time or video will get corrupt.
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