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I'm looking to replace a drive with unfixable SMART errors, so I've asked my local repair shop about trying to install a WD Blue 500GB SSD on my Mac Mini (late 2012, OS 10.11.6, but building a Sierra bootable flash drive for the reformat/reinstall) -- and they were rather firm in saying that trying to install anything other than an Apple SSD is likely to lead to problems, including a much shorter life for the drive, and that putting an SSD in a machine that didn't ship with one is also inadvisable. They also insisted that installing a hybrid drive would run into similar problems (though their explanation for why that should be doesn't quite jibe with what little I know about how hybrid drives are supposed to work).

Frankly, very little of what they're saying really jibes with what I'm seeing in various forums, so I need a second opinion as to whether or not what they're saying holds up -- is what I want to do reasonably do-able? I'm seeing a lot of success stories from 2013 or so, but I'm wondering about the long term as well....

  • I'm using a Samsung Evo SSD without any issues. Neever heard of an SSD inside a Mac failing because it was not an Apple SSD. It's usually another hardware related issue, which can occur on Apple SSDs too. The only possible plus side you may see with an Apple SSD is the warranty apple will give you, but again - is it worth the extra cash? I say go for it. – Rushat Rai May 9 '17 at 4:55
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    What they are telling you is utter rubbish. Apple doesn't manufacture hard drives, they OEM them (meaning someone makes it for them). If you can add an SSD from any manufacturer into your Mac Mini and you will not have any issues. I am personally running a Samsung EVO 850 1TB in my iMac with zero issues – Allan May 9 '17 at 6:34
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There is a small element of historical truth in their recommendation. Until quite recently (10.10.4), the Mac didn't support TRIM on 3rd party SSDS. That meant that in some use cases with some SSDs, the drive could theoretically wear out faster and suffer from performance degradation over time. The practical effect was always hotly contested but it doesn't really matter since TRIM for 3rd party drives is supported in Sierra.

There's no obvious reason that your WD Blue SSD wouldn't work

A Fusion drive is a bit trickier as you have to completely disassemble the Mac Mini to install two drives in it. Replacing a single drive isn't too bad as long as you have the right tools, a reasonable amount of dexterity, and are good at following directions. There are a couple of tricky bits and sliding the drive back into the right position can be frustrating but nothing too bad. I've done it about 10 times without screwing anything up. One SSD failed but it was after 5 years so I doubt it was related to the install.

Macsales is a good source of the right tools, adapters/parts, and instructional videos. They also provide good tech support if you buy one of their drives.

Either look for another shop that is more comfortable doing the upgrade, tell the current shop that you appreciate the advice but you want what you want, or do it yourself. For a simple replacement, MacSales sells the toolkit for $5.

https://eshop.macsales.com/item/OWC/TOOLKITMHD/

  • First of all: many, many thanks for the answer. If nothing else, it's a relief to know that my suspicions of that shop were correct. The only reason I'm looking at having a shop do the install instead of doing it myself is that my hands have simply become too shaky to do the kind of fine detail work I'm seeing in the how-to videos for the Mini. C'est l'age, I guess...;-) – Rob H May 10 '17 at 4:48
  • I know the feeling. I had to get one of those headlamps with a magnifier a few years back to do this kind of work. There's no particular technical skill required so you just need someone with steady hands, good eyesight, the right tools, the video, and some patience to do it. MacSales actually offers it as a service so you can ship the Mini to them, they will install one of their drives, and ship it back. Costs more for the labor, shipping, and buying one of their drives, but I'd be comfortable that they would do it right. – Bill Tanner May 11 '17 at 6:15
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The Apple SSDs and HDDs are not produced by apple. Most of them are from Samsung, Toshiba, ... I have a Samsung Pro SSD in my Macbook, made a fusion drive with my internal HDD and never had any problems. Your local repair shop is trying to get a lot of money from you, just ignore it and buy a different SSD.

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