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cbone's picture
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Littlest cash for drive(s) to make my Mini(s) work

Adespoton mentioned using adapters makes things more pricey, and it makes sense, but I couldn't help looking at a few adapters online and they are remarkably cheap.

Quick summary: my three 1.25GHz G4 Minis cost me $19.99 apiece (w/no drive and p/s); I was never in a big rush to get these running, but I'm willing to gamble a little on some really cheap upgrades. I just don't want to get any 'wrong' parts that won't fit or work at all inside them. I understand that any of these adapters need actual drives, but that can be my next step in the puzzle (hopefully I'll have work at that point) If anyone thinks I'm barking up the wrong tree w/these tempting choices, please sound the alarm:

Overseas: less than $4 for a mSATA SSD to IDE adapter
for less than $2.50, this and this CF to IDE adapter both look very attractive to have for the size

Europe: unfortunately, while this one looked solid, but it ships from England and I'm not going to visit there anytime soon, atm!

I also mentioned before that I've had trouble booting them w/a burned CD (which I very well could have burned wrong) and via firewire (the cable works fine w/my other FW Macs), so I'm a little worried about why I haven't gotten anything show on the option-boot screen. Come to think of it, I haven't tried inserting my PPC iMac G5-specific boot CDs, or any other 'official' boot CDs I might have (possibly from my used eMac?), to see if any of those show up on the option-boot screen though.

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OpenSourceMac's picture
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Joined: 2019 Jan 21

the big issue with the adapter is how cramped those little guys are on the inside. The adapters are like under $5 and work well, but are really usually too be for that space. You could loose the optical drive maybe? OR just network-boot them, if you have a machine you can keep in the closet to feed them. Honestly, makes sense just to find some good old IDE drives like these: https://www.ebay.com/itm/Hitachi-Travelstar-80GB-2-5-ATA-IDE-7200-RPM-Ha...
They are awesome little drives and very reliable.

adespoton's picture
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Joined: 2015 Feb 15

Heh... those Travelstars are what I currently have in my G4 Minis; I'd be replacing those with SSDs. So far, I haven't bothered.

As for the adapters though: there's almost no height clearance in the Mini bay, but there's a good 3 inches between the end of the drive and the end of the slot it goes in -- plenty of length to fit an adapter in there (although the screws won't line up anymore).

cbone's picture
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Joined: 2011 Sep 17

Oh! So lengthwise, there's enough room for me to add a $12 320gb 7200rpm 2.5" drive using a sata to ide adapter and securing it w/something other than the screws? Depending on the price of the adapter, that may/may not be more economical than a $35 320gb 5400 IDEs!

Like you said, the costs keeps inching up, which is why I'm trying to see if doing this or something along these lines makes more sense (just for now, I'll fix my Minis soon enough). I can't help it: I also find new (when it's cheap; it's gotta be cheap!) tech exciting, what can I say?

Jatoba's picture
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Joined: 2018 Apr 16

Yeah, aside from getting greater SSD storage capacity (which doesn't seem to be the goal here) for PATA/IDE, adapters are sometimes necessary to deal with the form factor that will fit in the target machine.

I didn't try your particular adapter, but I'll show you the ones I have, the ones other people have, which ones work/fit and which ones don't, plus my opinion on what to go for. Hopefully I can write all that tomorrow (it's sleep time here right now. Sad)

All I can say for now is: take your time to discover which adapter you'll want. Smile The less rushing, the better.

OpenSourceMac's picture
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Joined: 2019 Jan 21

P.S. Unless you find a Sandforce SSD, the lack of TRIM command will soon catch up to you and bring the party down. Maybe a spinning drive is just what the doctor ordered.

Jatoba's picture
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Joined: 2018 Apr 16

No, not at all the case. The lack of TRIM simply means more free space is required for the SSD not to get overloaded than if there was TRIM. Been using a 512GB SSD on my mini regularly, since 2018 with zero issues of the sort.

It's recommended to leave between 10~20% of all the capacity free. The bigger the drive capacity, the greater the percentage. IIRC, 20% was ideal for 1TB ~ 2TB SSDs.

OpenSourceMac's picture
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Joined: 2019 Jan 21

But considering how slow the machines are anyway, and the OP mentions cost as a factor, there is just no beating a great 7200 RPM Hitachi.

Jatoba's picture
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Joined: 2018 Apr 16

No-- I really have to disagree there, from experience. There is a lot of beating a 7200 RPM Hitachi. If the SSD is of small-enough capacity, the costs will also be kept low.

Aside PATA read/write speeds, there is also the time inbetween the requests, happening inside the storage device. There's a proper name for that time, but I forgot (IOPS?). Can't ignore the lack of moving parts, too (more silent), and draws less energy (less heat generation). And AFAIK they also are more resilient (spinning PATA drives only gave me headaches, either refurbished or brand new).

But of course, anyone can choose whichever they prefer, as long as they are satisfied with the results.

OpenSourceMac's picture
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Joined: 2019 Jan 21

But you are talking 4x the price. Now apps open faster, but they don't run faster. And if you go to run cache-intensive apps like Photoshop (talking from 5 years experience with an SSD on a PPC), garbage-collection will eat your lunch. I've had 10 minutes or more that I couldn't login, after working on say a wedding. Finally wound up moving the SSD to serve as high-speed VM and back to a spinning drive for actual use. SSDs are a lot like capitalism - great in theory, crappy in practice.

cbone's picture
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Joined: 2011 Sep 17

On RAM caches, since they're a real dream to use when available, could a section of an SSD serve in that capacity as well? I guess that question is a moot point since the swap disk and RAM disk are on the same drive!

So for either my 2400c or Pismo as examples, a CF card in the PCMCIA slot may be a good option for a high-speed VM and a HHD IDE (Hitachi) inside the actual Powerbooks since it's cheap, durable and not much different speedwise than a more costly SSD.

Jatoba's picture
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Joined: 2018 Apr 16

Using SSDs as a "RAM expander" of sorts is actually a very popular topic, and while that would be better with an SSD than an HDD, nothing will be as fast as your own actual RAM Disk. Whenever you can afford to use a RAM Disk, I suggest do it. On the mini, as I mentioned in my other post below, I used it for caching Classilla's cache. It'd also be great for any virtual machine (i.e. mini vMac, SoftPC, Atari ST / Amiga / other personal computer emulators).

Just be careful to remember to save important data to a permanent disk! (Which also means, be mindful of electricity shortage and other risks.)

About prices, I'm not sure how much CFs and some other options (SD Card?) go for, but take a look at my post below, where I elaborate on that in the beginning, as that might be helpful.

OpenSourceMac's picture
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Joined: 2019 Jan 21

All you have to do is repoint the rc file to the ssd and it becomes your VM. The advantage is you are never going to be using enough for garbage collection to slow-down progress, and on say a 128GB SSD, you are also not using it enough to have to worry significantly about wear-to the blocks. When used this way, an SSD might well last the life of the computer and since it can both read and write simultaneously, results in very efficient VM with far fewer errors. On an MDD, it's like having a virtually limitless pool of RAM running at 1/3 the speed of Main RAM, and on older machines that use PC133 it is essentially limitless RAM.
Best of all if it does fail, you loose nothing. Your data is still on the physical drive. When I first set this up did a stress test and opened over 50 tabs on TenFourFox and then two 9000x7000 pixel images in Photoshop and performed an action on both that doubled their size in 10% increments. Was rocking about 20GB of Scratch. Was able to aternate betwen TenFourFox tabs and history states of both images in Photoshop with no more than 1/10 of second to "shift gears".
Having your system start fast and apps open fast if fine, but really doesn't add up to better performance. SSD VM does and if you don't also rely on the SSDs to hold the apps, and files being read-from you not only are duplexing the data, you are also not jeopardizing the SSD's responsiveness by overburdening it.

Jatoba's picture
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Joined: 2018 Apr 16

4x price?
7200 RPM Hitachi HDD, 2.5" PATA, 60 GB, used - $45.00 (link)
Crucial BX500 3D NAND TLC SSD, 2.5" SATA, 120GB, new - $24.99 (link)
Digitus IDE to SATA Adapter, fits on Mac mini & (likely) PowerBooks - $10.10 (link)

If you go for lower RPM, and even lower capacity (that Hitachi HDD was 60GB, while the SSD was 120GB), then you can get lower and lower deals, naturally, but even then nothing even close to 4x the price, and speed problems will become even bigger.

Arguing "apps open faster, but they don't run faster" doesn't make any sense, because we are precisely discussing storage devices, not CPUs or GPUs. Attributes unrelated to storage devices have nothing to do with the discussion. But even then, your statement
is both wrong and heavily downplays the vast benefits of SSDing. Some points:
- Apps actually do run faster, whenever disk access is required: Opening files in Photoshop, or loading a game save file, saving documents or any other file to disk etc.;
- File browsing apps and picture viewing apps are, as above, much faster.
- Browsing the Finder, opening Finder Windows. (Each. Window.);
- Bringing up the context menu;
- System boots a lot faster;
- Waking up the device after it has idled too long is much quicker (and keeping that disabled for HDDs is bad for them). In fact, do SSDs ever idle really?

Those are the ones at the top of my head. I'm sure more could be brought up, but the message is the same: the overall system responsiveness and pleasure of use is incomparable when using an SSD. It baffles me this is being at all argued.

I'm not sure what you mean about Photoshop's caching. In fact, any caching Photoshop or any other program does to disk will be much better and faster on an SSD (I assume you always left enough free space on your SSD, yes?), but perhaps you mean the excessive garbage collecting will kill off the SSD. That'd certainly take a lot of caching. Does it use more caching than Classilla with its default settings? Because that one certainly caches a lot.

Not because I was concerned with the SSD durability, but rather interested in pursuing maximum operational speeds, I put all my Classilla caching in a RAM Disk (the one thing that, as you must know, kicks any SSD's ass in speed, especially in our PATA situation). But before I used RAM Disks, Classilla was doing all of its caching on my SSD very happily, and it's still there, perfectly functional. Of course, the bigger the capacity of the SSD, the longer it will last, too, and my 512GB is no small size. Surely Photoshop is capable of the same by telling it where to put its cache, or, if not, by putting the program itself in a RAM Disk and running from there, no?

OpenSourceMac's picture
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Joined: 2019 Jan 21

The eBay links for new 7,200 RPM Hitachis I sent him was $13-$14 with free shipping for NEW-Oldstock drives. This is an unbeatable price. And they will fit the system without mods and easily satisfy the system's very modest capabilities.

As for the App opening/vs running question: Your CPU isn't suddenly getting any faster, and the VM advantage only applies if your SSDs are not burderned with garbage collection - in which case they actually can perform much worse than spinning drives (from personal experience and per manufacturer's own admission). TRIM really makes a difference since data sharing a block doesn't have to be moved to reclaim individual pages after deletion. Without it, you have to move/relocate 3-4 pages for every one you delete - this equals OVERHEAD.

cbone's picture
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Joined: 2011 Sep 17

So OSM:
1. TRIM SSDs are the best from an efficiency perspective, but pricey $$$ Cash
2. HDDs (Hitachi if possible) are simply a perfect fit and value for the given task

And JT:
1. Anything below 7200 RPM on a HDD will be a bottleneck
2. Real RAM is the way to go for true speed
3. SSDs and adapter combo are gen. fast and reliable

So if I got something like this $16 Hitachi 7200rpm 100gb 2.5" IDE HDD, I should be okay then?

the only hiccup is these aren't old-stock new, but open-box like-new

Jatoba's picture
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Joined: 2018 Apr 16

"1. Anything below 7200 RPM on a HDD will be a bottleneck"
Yes, the lower you go, the bigger the bottleneck. However, I emphasize that, at 7200 RPM, they are still a bottleneck, just not as much. But depending on your desires and expectations, you can go for lower drives. As long as they fulfill your requirements, I think there's no making a mistake here.

Also, between an open-box like-new Hitachi, and a brand new Hitachi (like the one from OSM's link), I'd recommend the brand new one, even if you do pay a bit of an extra. The cheaper ones may work, too, but it is more of a gamble. Personally, I'd play safe there, but it's up to you, of course.

Regarding TRIM SSDs, to my knowledge, if they support TRIM, it is not used unless the operating system can invoke it, and Mac OS 9 is not new-enough a system to do so (it took Windows and Mac OS X some time to catch up on that, too). Normally, TRIM support doesn't affect prices (are SSDs without TRIM support still sold?). The ones I pointed out earlier do support TRIM, and are almost as cheap as the 7200 RPM Hitachis.

Long-story short, TRIM support is not relevant for us, as on top of the OS not supporting it, it is unecessary as long as you keep from 10 to 20% of your total SSD space free (10% for 120GB).

And just to be very clear, you can partition 100% of the space (partitions are inexistent from the SSD's operational standpoint, as file systems & partitions are an OS concern), and a partition can get 100% filled up with data without problems, as long as the total drive capacity contains the required % of free space, so that the SSD will have "room" to move around and clean up unused data blocks, AKA garbage collection. TRIM is essentially just a manual invocation of garbage collecting, triggered by OSes that are aware of it and configured to do it. With enough room, you successfully let the SSD automatically take care of it just as well. TRIM only allows you to slightly "tighten up" the amount of room you'll need (but you still need some room).

Jatoba's picture
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Joined: 2018 Apr 16

Oh, I totally forgot about your earlier link, sorry about that. However, that's still nearly the same price (per GB) for the stand-alone SATA SSD I put up there (that HDD would translate to $21, while the SSD is $25 at 120GB), and even with the adapter price included (which is only applicable for those without one yet), it still won't reach even 2x the price, let alone 4x. That was the point. However, yes, that is a reasonable price saving, although you do get what you pay for.

Also, I must bring up this point again, quoting myself: "I assume you always left enough free space on your SSD, yes?"
The issues you describe about garbage collection are completely blown out of proportion ("can perform much worse than spinning drives"), if even at all applicable. Did you and/or the manufacturer claim this to be the case regardless of how much free space you leave on the SSD? (I'm really playing the devil's advocate here by even posing this question.)

This is also applicable to the whole TRIM thing. Even when an OS doesn't support TRIM (or a specific drive's TRIM), nearly all SSDs today manage their own blocks for garbage collection very well. The only thing to note is, again, how much space you have left (in %), which is a consideration to still have even with TRIM.

cbone's picture
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Joined: 2011 Sep 17

On the 'trimming' issue, does it matter if the space is unallocated, or does everything happen within the partition made? Let me use an example:

Say I get the 120gb SSD+adapter and I create a 100gb partition for OS 9.2.2, leaving the other 20gb unallocated; will the 'available' space that was not allocated be good enough for the SSD card to trim itself or does the SSD need it to be part of the free space within the partition?

cbone's picture
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Joined: 2011 Sep 17

I have three of these puppies waiting for drives. Initially, I was going to get 2-3 HHDs since the cost w/shipping would be around $35. I could still get a couple for a lower price due to combined shipping, then work out a CF/SSD/MicroSD card solution for the third Mini.

I'd still like to get my hands on a FireWire external, I just have to jump on a good cheap one on eBay.

SkyCapt's picture
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Joined: 2017 Jan 11

Some SSDs have the free space "feature" built in already. Ya know memory capacity is supposed to be a power of 2, like your 512GB SSD. The SSDs I use are 120, 240, and 480 GB and they are truthfully 128, 256, and 512 capacity units in which the inaccessible 8, 16, and 32 GB are internally reserved for at hand free space. Then there are new SSDs with perfect random access, no benefit from having *trim.

Jatoba's picture
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Joined: 2018 Apr 16

Exactly. One of the appeals of TRIM is that you don't need to leave as much a percent of the entire drive free, but even with TRIM, there are limits that, if you surpass, will be felt. If you leave enough empty space, the lack of TRIM support doesn't seem to be at all relevant, and is certainly irrelevant when you are putting them against any HDD, inherently so. (Again, provided you leave 10~20% free space.)

It's really no rocket science.

SkyCapt's picture
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Joined: 2017 Jan 11

There's hardly ever been a need for Trim on PowerPC. The hardest I can drive the SATA bus is SATA-I speed around 95 MB/s realworld, while the SATA-III driveunits we're buying are capable of 500 MB/s. This means Internally the SSD runs circles around any G4 therefore it is always satisfied and ready to go at 95 MB/s, even if it were the retarded type of device with an appetite for "garbage collection".

Jatoba's picture
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Joined: 2018 Apr 16

As promised, here's a bit of info I can share from my own research on adapters and whatnot.

SATA to PATA adapters seem all to come with 1 out of 2 possible chipsets, regardless of form factor (2.5", mSATA or M.2): one called Marvell, and another called JM20330. Peeps left and right say the Marvell ones are either more trustworthy or "better", or that they should be more compatible, but people have successfully used adapters with either chipset with the same speeds that PATA is capable of. So they should be the same, but perhaps this should be confirmed by people other than me who knows more about this in detail. (Also, Marvell adapters are more expensive.)

Another thing that one might want to keep in mind is that not all PATA adapters have jumpers, which are sometimes desirable to customize master/slave/cable select setups.

Some threads on MacOS9Lives! and MacRumors PPC go in great length in testing and reporting back what are all the adapters that worked and didn't, along with some benchmarks. Here is one from each place:
http://macos9lives.com/smforum/index.php?topic=4435.0
https://forums.macrumors.com/threads/post-your-ssd-cf-sata-pata-powerpc-...

Hopefully these will aid you in deciding what adapters (if any?) and storage medium you'll want to try out. Also, if you go the Digitus route (the little adapter I posted a link to in my earlier post), I'm very confident it will work, but before you buy it too (if you plan to), let me know before so I test mine on a mini to be 100% sure it will be a good investment for you (it uses the JM20330 chipset, by the way).

I also have the red, Marvell-based DeLock mSATA adapter, but no mSATA disk to go with it (for now). There's also a JM20330-based nameless M.2 adapter I'm eagerly waiting for to arrive. I also have the StarTech Marvell-based adapters, but those, unlike the Digitus ones, I personally confirmed they don't fit on a mini, unless if you slice off some of the plastic inside the mini, which is a lot more doable than it sounds. (If you don't mind angering original hardware cosmetic preservation purists... to which I personally relate a lot.)

cbone's picture
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Thanks for all the research, JT! Smile

This means a lot, guys, really. I've been trying to figure out which way to get my OS 9 Mini fix Laughing out loud

On the slicing, as long as it's for cost savings, not only for cosmetic reasons, I'm okay with Wink

Jatoba's picture
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Joined: 2018 Apr 16

OK, so I tested both the Digitus 2.5" adapter and a nameless M.2 adapter.

The M.2 adapter suprisingly works perfectly. Used it on a Samsung EVO 860 2TB. It's more space than what even I would know what to do with. And it boots OS 9.2.2 just fine, no gotchas or work-arounds. Just needed to format partitions in OS X. (One partition 2GB, another one 1.8TB.)

As for the Digitus one, it does not fit, barely. This means 2.5" SATA SSD adapters are a no go (slicing plastic etc. aside), and that for Marvell-based adapters (like the red board Ableconn or red board DeLock), you need to use mSATA for the mini and PowerBooks. Else, either mSATA or M.2 is fine. The nameless adapter I used was this one.

adespoton's picture
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Joined: 2015 Feb 15

Hmm... looks like to get those Digitus adapters, I'd have to export from the US... increasing the price considerably. The StarTech ones are available locally... at 3x the price they are in the US. Chinese knockoffs abound, but they tend to put the full-size PS connector beside the ATA pins, meaning it's going to be way too wide to fit in the Mini's drive bay.

The Chinese ones are around 2/3 the price of the Digitus, so pretty cheap. But I suspect there will be overlap with the Superdrive bay if I use one of those.

Jatoba's picture
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Joined: 2018 Apr 16

Yeah, I just made a comment above on Digitus, they don't fit in the mini, by a little, despite being so tiny.

If getting an SSD for the lowest price on the mini is the goal, the best I have come across is:

- M.2 adapter (any) for around 9 Euros or USD (free shipping usually).

- 120 GB Kingston M.2 SATA SSD (28 USD or 30 Euros)

Not bad for 37 USD or 39 EUR in total.

(Then again, it seems some mSATA SSDs are also very competitive. If you settle for a non-Marvell mSATA adapter, this price can probably be brought down even further.)