After yesterday’s upgrade of my Late 2006 Mac Mini (MacMini1.1) it was time today to see if I could get OS X 10.7 (Lion) working on it. As per discussions on Apple’s discussion forms this should be possible (as the hardware supports after the upgrade I did). However, the standard OS X Lion installation did not want to install on this hardware yet. As per the discussion on MacRumors.com I had to remove the file
before the installation wanted to start. Once I did that, I could do a clean install on the new SSD Harddisk withougt any issues or additional hacks needed. Also transferring the users, apps and settings from the old system still on the external USB harddisk went fine and actually totally surprised me (I never used it before) as it turned the clean install in a totall usable system including the configuration of the OpenDirectory server.
After the installation it is important to enable Trim support on OS X to extend the lifetime of my SSD harddisk with the excellent tool Chameleon.
Right now I am very happy with the end result: a Late 2006 Mac Mini running OS X Lion (10.7):
Obviously only 3 Gb of memory is available as that is the max. the hardware supports, but still this is a very good solution to have a 2nd Mac Mini system for my children.
As I already wrote in my last post, I was looking into upgrading my old late 2006 Mac Mini to extend it’s techinical live. Today I have successfully managed to upgrade the hardware of the old machine and it is running fine again. The steps I did were:
- Replaced the Core Duo 1.66Ghz CPU with a Core 2 Duo 2Ghz CPU
The exact CPU I purchased for about €25 through e-Bay was an Intel Core 2 Duo T7200 SL9SF 2.0GHz/4M/667 Laptop CPU. To install it I basically followed the steps as in the iFixIT step-by-step guide to replace a MacMini CPU, which were pretty straightforward.
- Booted OS X from the MacMini’s USB harddisk while the machine was still open to install the MacMini2.1 firmware
As per this NetKas forum guide, the firmware must be updated before adding the additional memory or the Mac Mini won’t boot. The links to the firmware were broken, I actually downloaded them MediaFire and followed the steps from the French Mac forum post that linked to them.
- Replaced the 2x 1Gb memory with 2x 2Gb memory modules
Through Marktplaats.NL I acquired 2 used memory modules for only €35. As the machine was still open it was pretty straightforward to replace the memory modules.
- Replaced the 80Gb broken harddisk with a 60 Gb SSD Drive
I purchased an ADATA S511 60GB SSH Harddisk online for only € 39,00. Again installing it was straightforward as the machine was still open.
After all steps were completed, the Mac Mini was still working as before on Mac OS X Snow Leopard (10.6.8) without problems. The extra memory did help, but as it was still booting from an USB Disk it was still very slow.
As extra bonus I noticed that the Mac Mini now supported the modern Mac keyboards (the flat iron ones) during the BIOS startup. Before this update I always needed the old (plastic) keyboard I got with the machine to be able to intervene in the boot process, but now this also worked with the modern keyboards :-).
Tomorrow I will look into upgrading OS X and see how that goes. So far so good, the machine is working faster already and for about €100 in total not a bad investment to keep using it.
One of the Macs in our house is a late 2006 model Mac Mini (MacMini1.1 model MA206LL/A). The machine itself still works hapily with Mac OS X Leopard (10.6), but it only has 2Gb of memory and since its harddisk broke a while ago, it is working from an USB harddisk. All in all technically still OK, but terrible user experience as it is just slow.
Today I did some investigation on the Internet to see to what extend this old machine can still be upgraded and bumped into an interesting overview on xlr8yourmac.com. It turns out that the basics are quite good and with a few changes it can still be used for some time:
- CPU – currently a Core Duo that could be replaced with a Core 2 Duo
The Core Duo processor is a 32-bit one that does not support 64-bit OS X. Fortunately the processor is on a socket (and not soldered to the main board) and its pin layout is identical to Core 2 Duo models. This is also being discussed on Apple’s discussion forum (still exists so Apple is not stopping it) and according to posts on MacRumors.com others have done this successfully, so this is definitely something I will try. Guess what, there is even a step-by-step guide on iFixIT on how to do it!
- Memory – currently limited to 2GB but potentially could support 3Gb (of 2x 2Gb)
Memory is limited to 2Gb (2x 1Gb) with the Core Duo processor, but the Core 2 Duo can support up to 4Gb (2x 2Gb) of memory. Unfortunately the MacMini1.1 model firmware does not support it but it turns out to be possible to flash the firmware of a MacMini2.1 as the folks on the NetKas forum explain. The links to the firmware no longer worked, but I found them on a French Mac Forum thanks to this post. After this upgrade 3Gb can be used, which is still 50% more than the machine had.
There is a separate step-by-step guide on iFixIT for replacing the memory, but I don’t think I will need it as I will do it when I replace the CPU.
- Harddisk – currently broken 5400rpm 80Gb disk, replacing this with a 60Gb SSD harddisk is a no-brainer
Replacing a broken harddisk for an SSD disk is nothing fancy, though it is important to enable Trim support on OS X after replacing it when you use a non-Apple disk. For this I found the excellent tool Chameleon some time ago for my Macbook Pro.
Also for this step there is a step-by-step guide on iFixIT, that I won’t need either as I will install the new harddisk when I replace the CPU.
- Software – currently OS X Leopard (10.6) is the maximum
Replacing the Core Duo CPU for a Core 2 Duo would turn the MacMini1.1 effectively into a Macmini2.1, which is capable of running OS X Lion (10.7) according to discussions on Apple’s discussion forms. There is apparently only one hack needed (removal of a file on the installation media) to be able to perform a clean install according to a discussion on MacRumors.com.
As I am not that uncomfortable with opening my old Mac Mini (did it before when I added memory) and the other steps appear doable, I will give this a shot. I just ordered the components and plan to perform the upgrade next weekend (assuming all parts will be in).