Violet is taking an architectural drafting class!

posted in: Tech, Tinkering

So why wouldn’t I use this as an opportunity to needlessly complicate my life?

Let me explain.

Violet uses a Mac mini and requires AutoCAD for the class. The instructor recommends the Windows version as that is what the coursework is based upon. He also recommends using BootCamp instead of running Windows virtualized in MacOS to give it all the resources you can. That all makes sense, but the Mac mini in question still has a fusion drive — a spinning hard drive melded with a small SSD — which is painfully slow now.

I’ve been through this quite a few times over the years, HDD replacement, BootCamp, etc. But … I recently installed a new 1TB SSD in my main Windows machine and at the same time noticed that the mobo has an M.2 slot and can run an NVMe drive. Why not move that SSD to Vi’s mini and install an NVMe drive into my Windows computer? While I’m at it, why not install an additional 16GB RAM in the Windows computer, bringing it up to 32GB? 

All of the new parts arrived on Saturday and I set up my work area on the back patio to enjoy the fresh air and sunshine. The Sabrent NVMe drive is freakishly small, slightly larger than a stick of gum. One TB, unbelievable!

Setting up the drive was pretty straightforward after installing it, simply by enabling M.2 in BIOS. Sabrent has a crippled version of Acronis TrueImage available on their website that does a fine job of disk cloning and that went without a hitch. Things got weird after I installed the additional RAM, boot issues and devices not being found, and it turned out that one of the sticks was bad. Replacements are on the way.

Everything went pretty smoothly with the Mac mini portion of the project.

I cloned the Fusion drive to my old Windows SSD with my current cloning/backup program of choice, Carbon Copy Cloner. Installing the SSD was easier than I remember, but that is because my last couple of projects were iPhones, which are so much smaller and fiddlier.

Installing BootCamp took two tries, the first time the partitioning got screwed up but it worked the second time using the same default settings. Windows installed without a problem and then prompted me to install the drivers that are part of the Boot Camp utilities that get created at the beginning of the process. All of the hardware works in Windows, including the wireless Apple keyboard and trackpad.

AutoCAD installed via download after a student account was set up for Violet.

I showed Violet how to switch between OSs on boot — hold down the Option key — and boom, another project done!