Ask Max: Which hard drives can I use to replace my G4 Mini's drive?
The 80GB hard drive on my Mac Mini G4 just went out. What should I replace it with? Will drives made for the Intel Mini work with it? What's more important, drive speed or storage space?
The G4 Mac mini uses the same type of hard drive that iBooks and PowerBooks use. It is a 2.5" PATA laptop hard drive and can be found in sizes up to 160GB. The Intel Mac mini uses a 2.5" SATA drive similar to the ones found in MacBooks and MacBook Pros. SATA drives will not function in any G4 Mac unless it is a tower with a PCI adapter card.
So you will need to find a 2.5" PATA drive and you have to make some additional choices. There are three drive speeds and the speed of the drive will affect prices and size limits. Laptop drives are offered in 4200 RPM, 5400 RPM, and 7200 RPM speeds. Low drive speed can significantly decrease the performance of your computer. For that reason I would not recommend buying a 4200 RPM drive, despite their low cost. Instead, decide between storage space and speed. If your Mac mini is your workhorse, then choose a 7200 RPM 2.5" drive. You will be limited in size, but the speed of the 7200 RPM drive will increase yoru computer's performance. However, if your computer is just a depository for your digital life and performance is not an issue for you now, the 5400 RPM drive will have enough speed. I would recommend either one of these following two drives:
For 7200 RPM drives
PN: G68346, 100gb Ata Mobile Hdd 7200 2.5in
Or for a 5200 RPM drive
PN: J36308, 120gb Eide 5400 RPM 2.5in Mobile Hdd
Both will cost about the same, but prices do fluctuate so call into the sales phone line to place an order. Note that any internal work on a Mac mini can be difficult. If you are not comfortable doing the work yourself, please seek the assistance of an Apple Authorized service center.
One final suggestion would be to use an external hard drive as the new boot drive. There are many Mac mini look alike drives that will stack underneath your mini and work as well as a 7200 RPM internal drive option. Look at this LaCie drive as an example: http://www.powermax.com/product/Factory_Refurbished_Major_Manufacturer_HD_160GB_Mini_FireWire_2MB_7200RPM/d-rl-301105ur.html