The Mac Mini external SATA hack

So, finally as promised, here is my short picture walkthrough on how to do the Mac Mini external SATA hack.
I’ve added quite a few comments to the images.
And before you start complaining about the bad picture quality, I’ve shot the whole procedure with my non-HD DV cam, sorry. The pictures are from several takes, so they might differ at some stage.
Anyways, just click on the first image below to start the slide show – navigate by clicking the left or right side of the photo.
I hope you like it and please leave me a comment afterwards. Thanks!
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WD Raptor + Mac Mini Intel = external 10k rpm SATA madness

Alright, I had this crazy idea last week: Let’s see if I can somehow route the internal SATA interface of the Mac Mini to the outside of the case so I could attach a bigger and faster external (e)SATA drive. Well, guess I wasn’t the only person with such ideas:
Perle over at already has brief instructions on how he did the internal to external mod.
I’ve made some refinements to his process which I will post shortly – along with a few pictures and links where to get the parts. Update: It’s here.

So, after doing the science (finding the right adapters and cables etc.) and tearing apart the Mac Mini with a pizza cutter (yes, you read right!), I finally have my fast drive (Wester Digital Raptor WD1500ADFD 150 GB @ 10k rpm) and the Mac Mini is still as energy efficient as previously – mostly due to the fact that another FireWire drive is now in standby mode most of the time.

That should make me the first person with a WD Raptor in use on a Mac Mini. W00t! ;)

Obligatory XBench results that mean absolutely nothing:
Comparison with modded 7200 rpm Mac Mini

I’m using the Pleiades Super S-Combo external enclosure with the WD Raptor. The enclosure is made of aluminium. No cheap plastic parts here. It’s pretty solid and the aluminium functions as passive heatsink. That way, even under load the Raptor won’t cross the upper 55°C specification limit. My initial thought was that given the S-Combos universal FW400/FW800/USB2.0/eSATA-bridge it may perform worse than when connecting the cable directly to the drive. This is not the case. Actually, some benchmarks performed slightly better. I can only assume this being due to some sort of caching going on inside the bridge.
Also, if you think the drive is loud with its 10000 rpms, I can assure you it isn’t. Actually, in idle mode it is very much on par with the latest Seagate Barracuda drives which have a reputation for being very silent. The only thing that’s loud are the access noises, but in my opinion it’s not annoying.

Workaround for broken Windows Sharing on Intel OS X

So, it seems Apple broke Windows Filesharing / Samba with the 10.4.5 update on Intel-based systems. Windows clients are unable to connect to OS X shares, because the server refuses the password.
There are several threads describing the issue in detail:

Here is a temporary workaround for the problem:
You’ll have to change the authentification settings on your XP/2k box and here is how to do that:

Start -> Run “secpol.msc”
In the tree open and click Security Settings -> Local Policy -> Security Options
Scroll the left pane down to ‘Network Security: LAN manager authentication level’
Change this to ‘Send NTLMv2 response only’

It works for me. Please let me know, if it works for you too…

Update: Apple has released OS X update 10.4.6 which resolves this problem.

Mac Mini

So, it’s been almost 2 weeks since I got my Mac Mini Core Duo. All I can say is, I don’t regret having replaced my beloved Cube with this mean little machine @ 30 Watt. It’s definitely faster than the Cube and for most stuff it’s almost faster than my Windows development workbeast Athlon MP 2600 which runs at roughly 300 Watt. Quite impressive. The faster FSB, bigger cache and faster memory definitely play a big role here.
And yes, I tried Windows on my Mini. It’s nice and all, but there is still a lot left to finish for the guys over at Suspending doesn’t really work and shutting down the machine crashes it hard. I can only assume this being due to the incomplete BIOS implementation.
Anyway, I couldn’t resist benchmarking the machine against my Athlon, so here are the results from SiSoftware Sandra 2005 SR2:

Machine		Dual Athlon MP 2600+ 	Mac Mini Core Duo
Clock			2.13 GHz		1.66 GHz

Arithmetics 		17248			15147
(higher is better)	 6657			 6085

Multimedia		39921			31699
(higher is better)	42412			35177

Memory Bandwidth MB/s	 1449			 3588
(higher is better)	 1481			 3559

Power consumption	 295-302 Watts		 28-30 Watts

If you keep in mind, that I’m comparing an upgraded year 2001 workstation with a new system running a mobile CPU, those results are still quite impressive.
However, what I’m missing on the Mini is dual monitor support and a decent graphics card. Also there is one major point keeping me from getting rid of that power-sucking box under my desk: hard drive performance. I don’t think we’ll be seeing 15k rpm U320 drives in a Mac mini compatible form factor any time soon. ;)