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Tips: Guide for upgrading the CPU in a Mac mini
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TyPod
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 12, 2007 10:29 pm    Post subject: Re: :D :D Reply with quote

bsnoel wrote:
I just installed the 1.83GHz Core 2 Duo and a 2.5" Seagate 5400.3 160GB SATA drive. I'm very happy with the results. 93.76 on Xbench. Very Happy Very Happy
Yeah, I could have went with a faster CPU, but it would have been overkill for what I need. I have been using the mini for recording HDTV with an eyeTV Hybrid. The stock 1.66GHz Core Duo worked, but on HD content, the CPUs were pegged at 100%. With the Stock CPU, the HDTV recordings would stumble and stutter every once in a while. With the 1.83GHz Core 2 Duo, its smooth sailing. On HD recordings, the CPU bounces between 53% - 65%. The CPU temp during recording is about 156F. Mission accomplished.

The upgrades were fairly easy, but removing and installing the CPU heat sink is a bit tricky. You need to be patient and take your time. You also need to be very careful when you swap the drive to remove the foam rubber air deflector and transfer it to the new drive. Don't attempt any upgrade unless you can afford to eat the cost of the computer should you end up turning it into a paper weight. Sad


Great job! Glad your upgrade went well.

Just a reminder, I think your signature needs a little updating. Very Happy
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Ben Tex
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 13, 2007 1:05 am    Post subject: Re: Woot! Upgraded My mini! Reply with quote

bsnoel wrote:
You also need to be very careful when you swap the drive to remove the foam rubber air deflector and transfer it to the new drive.


Did the foam stick to the new drive well? I just mentioned my worries about the foam deflector sticking to the new drive here. I was afraid it might lose its stick. I'm going to be installing a 160GB WD drive this weekend.
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 13, 2007 1:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, it stuck just fine, but I transferred it from one drive to the other immediately. I did not give it a chance to pick up dirt. There is a clear plastic backing under the foam. You need to pull up the plastic backing not the foam. Avoid pulling the foam away from the clear plastic backing material. I found it best to start with the part that is on the back of the drive, not the rib that goes up the middle.
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Ben Tex
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 13, 2007 1:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

bsnoel wrote:
Yes, it stuck just fine, but I transferred it from one drive to the other immediately. I did not give it a chance to pick up dirt. There is a clear plastic backing under the foam. You need to pull up the plastic backing not the foam. Avoid pulling the foam away from the clear plastic backing material. I found it best to start with the part that is on the back of the drive, not the rib that goes up the middle.


I tried peeling it off some with my fingernail when I was upgrading the RAM. It seemed to come off pretty easily. That's why I was worried it losing some of its stick. I'm going to slap it on the new drive immediately, so hopefully it works out.

How do you like the 160GB Seagate? I had my doubts about buying the WD because of past history with their drives. But the price was really good, so I decided to take a chance. I really wanted the model you that have. I think Seagate 2.5" drives are super quiet.
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 13, 2007 8:20 am    Post subject: Re: Woot! Upgraded My mini! Reply with quote

bsnoel wrote:
I just installed the 1.83GHz Core 2 Duo and a 2.5" Seagate 5400.3 160GB SATA drive. I'm very happy with the results. 93.76 on Xbench. Very Happy Very Happy
(Xbench benchmark update: 102.45 with the Widgets turned off.)

Yeah, I could have went with a faster CPU, but it would have been overkill for what I need.


Hi bsnoel, just one question on the hard drive, why the 5400.3 instead of the 7200.2 ? I assume the effort involved in the upgrade process is worth the price difference of a 5400 RPM to a 7200 RPM hard drive.


What RPM does your fan run at with such a processor. Putting money aside, it seems that with 2.33 Core 2 Duo, the fan makes too much noise. Indeed, the guys on hardmac reported that they had to set the fan speed to 2400 RPM (for some reason the mini wouldn't manage fan speed and they felt the CPU was too hot). When I set the fan to 2400 RPM, the mini becomes too noisey for me (I haven't seen anyone post a link to a upgrade to a fast and quiet fan).

Cheers,
EJC
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 13, 2007 8:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ben_tex wrote:
bsnoel wrote:
Yes, it stuck just fine, but I transferred it from one drive to the other immediately. I did not give it a chance to pick up dirt. There is a clear plastic backing under the foam. You need to pull up the plastic backing not the foam. Avoid pulling the foam away from the clear plastic backing material. I found it best to start with the part that is on the back of the drive, not the rib that goes up the middle.


I tried peeling it off some with my fingernail when I was upgrading the RAM. It seemed to come off pretty easily. That's why I was worried it losing some of its stick. I'm going to slap it on the new drive immediately, so hopefully it works out.

How do you like the 160GB Seagate? I had my doubts about buying the WD because of past history with their drives. But the price was really good, so I decided to take a chance. I really wanted the model you that have. I think Seagate 2.5" drives are super quiet.


So far, I am happy with the drive. It is quiet, and fairly fast. I wanted the 160GB, because I want the storage space for my DVR activities. I think you will be fine with the WD drive too.
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 13, 2007 8:46 am    Post subject: Re: Woot! Upgraded My mini! Reply with quote

cerasie wrote:
bsnoel wrote:
I just installed the 1.83GHz Core 2 Duo and a 2.5" Seagate 5400.3 160GB SATA drive. I'm very happy with the results. 93.76 on Xbench. Very Happy Very Happy
(Xbench benchmark update: 102.45 with the Widgets turned off.)

Yeah, I could have went with a faster CPU, but it would have been overkill for what I need.


Hi bsnoel, just one question on the hard drive, why the 5400.3 instead of the 7200.2 ? I assume the effort involved in the upgrade process is worth the price difference of a 5400 RPM to a 7200 RPM hard drive.


What RPM does your fan run at with such a processor. Putting money aside, it seems that with 2.33 Core 2 Duo, the fan makes too much noise. Indeed, the guys on hardmac reported that they had to set the fan speed to 2400 RPM (for some reason the mini wouldn't manage fan speed and they felt the CPU was too hot). When I set the fan to 2400 RPM, the mini becomes too noisey for me (I haven't seen anyone post a link to a upgrade to a fast and quiet fan).
Cheers,
EJC


The 5400.3 is fast enough for my needs. I Put a 7200 RPM Hitachi in my old machine and it produced a constant hissing sound. I opted for lower noise levels this time. Besides, the 160GB drives are actually pretty quick in their own right due to the higher platter density.

I too was concerned about the Hardmac report. In my case, all is well, the fan runs between 1498 - 2200 RPM most of the time. The noise level is generally very low, but the mini is not directly on my desk either.. During Video recording, the mini generally stays at about 60% CPU utilization with a temp of about 158F. So far, I have never taken the CPU to 100% for any long run, so I don't know what the Max RPM and thermals are at these levels.
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bsnoel
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 13, 2007 8:49 am    Post subject: Re: :D :D Reply with quote

TyPod wrote:


Great job! Glad your upgrade went well.

Just a reminder, I think your signature needs a little updating. Very Happy


Thanks, Signature Updated. Smile
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Ben Tex
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 13, 2007 1:12 pm    Post subject: Re: Woot! Upgraded My mini! Reply with quote

bsnoel wrote:
The 5400.3 is fast enough for my needs. I Put a 7200 RPM Hitachi in my old machine and it produced a constant hissing sound. I opted for lower noise levels this time. Besides, the 160GB drives are actually pretty quick in their own right due to the higher platter density.


I came to the same conclusion. I thought about going with a 100GB 7200RPM to see what the performance boost would be like over a 5400RPM drive. But in the end, the extra capacity ended up being more important.
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 15, 2007 5:59 pm    Post subject: 1.83GHz Core 2 Duo Upgrade / Update Reply with quote

I wanted to pass this information along to anyone considering the possibility of upgrading their Mac mini to an Intel Core 2 Duo CPU.

When I am using my upgraded 1.83GHz Core 2 Duo Mac mini as a DVR, the CPUs to not generally exceed 60%. This appears to allow the Mac mini to operate at a safe and reasonable CPU temperature.

However, after installing unsupported hardware, I thought it would be prudent to run the CPUs at 100% for a while in a controlled manner to discover, just how high the Core 2 Duo temperature will rise. I setup the Mac mini to run some jobs for the Stanford Xgrid Computing project. With the CPUs under full load, the processor temperatures rapidly climbed until the began to approach the danger zone (90C). Needing to act quickly to save my CPU, I used smcFanControl to increase the fan speed enough to cool the CPUs back down to a safe level and allowed the Xgrid job to finish. I know that Hardmac had reported that their Core 2 Duo Mac mini's fan was stuck at 1500RMP. This was not the case with my Mac mini, my fans had slowly climbed up to about 2300RPM, but it was not enough to keep the fully loaded CPU cooled down. Apple's fan control algorithm would appear to be biased toward quiet operation and I believe is too conservative for a modified Core 2 Duo Mac mini operating under heavy load.

I like the smcFanControl program, but I'm not crazy about the idea of always leaving the fan cranked up, even if I'm not running a heavy load. I decided to install Fan Control 1.1 by Lobotomo software. This product is intended to be used to cool down a MacBook (Pro). However, it appears to work just fine with the Mac mini (results may vary). The advantage of this software, is that it allows me to set a minimum fan speed of 1500 RPM along with two temperature thresholds (min) & (max). This program essentially lets me adjust the slope at which the Mac mini's fans will ramp upward based on temperature. Using Fan Control 1.1 has allowed my mini to stay whisper quiet during normal work loads, while safely ramping up the Fan RPM when the CPU is under 100% load. Now, the maximum CPU temperature is 71C. That leaves a very comfortable 29C cushion between the CPU and "meltdown" at 100C. OK, it may not actually melt down. In theory when a mobile Core 2 Duo reaches 100C, it should switch to Thermal Monitor automatic mode. This mode, causes the CPU to skip processing cycles until it cools back down to a safe level. The problem is that I am not sure if Apple has this feature enabled, and I was not willing to risk a brand new chip to find out.

I just thought I would pass my findings on to the group here in case someone else gets the crazy idea to void their warranty and hack up a perfectly good computer.

However, in this lawsuit crazy world, I must make this disclaimer. It is not a good idea to modify or re-engineer consumer electronics. The Mac mini CPU upgrade articles that 123macmini and others posted discuss a warranty voiding unsupported hack, with unknown long term consequences that might result in damage, injury, or worse. Do not hurt yourself or someone else, start a fire, burn down your building, create rolling blackouts, or mess up the time space continuum. You accept full responsibility for any alterations made to your computer. Don't blame anyone but yourself if you decide to modify or alter your Mac mini. If things go bad, too bad, you are on your own. I do not guarantee that any of the information in my posts is correct. Use this information entirely at your own risk. In other words, do not do this to your computer, it is really a very bad idea!

Rolling Eyes Rolling Eyes Rolling Eyes
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 15, 2007 7:52 pm    Post subject: Re: 1.83GHz Core 2 Duo Upgrade / Update Reply with quote

bsnoel wrote:
In theory when a mobile Core 2 Duo reaches 100C, it should switch to Thermal Monitor automatic mode. This mode, causes the CPU to skip processing cycles until it cools back down to a safe level. This mode, causes the CPU to skip processing cycles until it cools back down to a safe level. The problem is that I am not sure if Apple has this feature enabled, and I was not willing to risk a brand new chip to find out.


Are you talking about Thermtrip? Actually, I think that number is like 125C. My 2.GHz Core 2 Duo hangs around 60C-70C most of the time. I'm not even using any of the fan apps. No real worries here.
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 15, 2007 9:03 pm    Post subject: Re: 1.83GHz Core 2 Duo Upgrade / Update Reply with quote

blazer wrote:
Are you talking about Thermtrip? Actually, I think that number is like 125C. My 2.GHz Core 2 Duo hangs around 60C-70C most of the time. I'm not even using any of the fan apps. No real worries here.


For my T5600 Core 2 Duo, the "Thermal Specification" can be found here. In the Case of the Core 2 Duo 100C is the maximum temp. The thermal monitor is a fail safe circuit in the Core 2 Duo that attempts to control the processor temperature by modulating (starting and stopping) the processor core clocks. This is done in a way that allows the computer to stay running albeit much slower. Automatic mode kicks in when the CPU approaches the CPUs Thermal Specification limit. This has to be enabled by the bios or in the case of an Intel Mac in the EFI . I'm just not sure if Apple has enabled this feature or not?

I believe the Thermal Trip or THERMTRIP# you are talking about is employed by earlier CPU / system boards as a fail safe and it is a hard stop of the processor resulting in a system crash. Effective, but kind of annoying.

When I run my mini as a DVR, my CPU stays in in the 50-60% utilization range. The resulting temperature is very similar to the temps that you report. However, have you ever checked to see what your CPU temperature reaches when it remains at 100% power for 10-minutes or longer? You might want to check, certain kernel panics can put your CPU in a similar situation. A good way to totally hammer your CPU is to hook up to the Stanford University Xgrid . Joining the Xgrid is sort of fun, its an all Mac grid computer that runs at 400+ GHz. The technology was developed by Apple and its already built into Tiger. All you have to do is configure the Xgrid setting under System Preferences. I always select "accept tasks always" or you will not be able to monitor the results. After you follow the directions, reboot and wait. It might take up to an hour for the grid to activate your computer, but once it does, your CPUs will be hammered and you can see what kind of Temps your processor reaches. Just be certain to keep a very close eye on the temperatures if you decide to try the Xgrid.
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 15, 2007 9:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Another way to max out the CPUs to do load/thermo testing is to open up two Terminal windows, type in "yes > /dev/null" in to each and press return. Each processor core should be loaded to 100% within about 5 seconds. When you want to end the test, press Control-C in each windows.

*nix knowledgeable folks will know how to send these tasks to the background, or execute two in a single window, if they so desire.
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 15, 2007 9:50 pm    Post subject: Re: 1.83GHz Core 2 Duo Upgrade / Update Reply with quote

bsnoel wrote:
I believe the Thermal Trip or THERMTRIP# you are talking about is employed by earlier CPU / system boards as a fail safe and it is a hard stop of the processor resulting in a system crash. Effective, but kind of annoying..


I thought that might be the feature you were talking about. I never read much about the Thermal Monitor's automatic mode. To be honest, I thought the threshold was a little higher to go into a protection type mode. Thanks for sharing that.


ClunkClunk wrote:
Another way to max out the CPUs to do load/thermo testing is to open up two Terminal windows


I would love to have a machine that required opening four or eight windows. (wink, wink, nod, nod).

I'll try to post some of my max numbers when I get home from work or this weekend.
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 15, 2007 9:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ClunkClunk wrote:
Another way to max out the CPUs to do load/thermo testing is to open up two Terminal windows, type in "yes > /dev/null" in to each and press return. Each processor core should be loaded to 100% within about 5 seconds. When you want to end the test, press Control-C in each windows.

*nix knowledgeable folks will know how to send these tasks to the background, or execute two in a single window, if they so desire.


That will load the CPU, but I'm not certain that it will activate the FPU portions of the processor? That would leave a significant amount of the transistors out of the picture.
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