Late-2009 Mac Mini does not boot, keyboard boot options not recognized with fresh-from-box SSD?

I’m having an issue trying to replace a failed HDD in my late-2009 Mac Mini with a new, blank, 480GB SD Ultra II.

The original drive is almost completely dead - click of death - so I’m unable to use it to initialize / clone the SSD.

When I pull the old drive out and install (very carefully) the new SSD I get the following behavior:

  1. Power light
  2. Startup chime
  3. Brief green light on Apple wireless keyboard
  4. Gray/white dislay

None of the keyboard actions that should control the boot sequence do anything - Opt-R doesn’t get me the boot drive picker, control-opt-R doesn’t get internet recovery, ‘c’ doesn’t boot from the OSX install DVD that shipped with the system…

If I try using a Lenovo USB keyboard instead, it doesn’t appear to do anything - no lights and none of the boot option key combos do anything either (ctrl-alt-r, alt-r, c, etc).

If I put the old drive back in then the keyboard works, boot option shortcuts work, etc, it’ll boot from the install DVD…

I put the SD Ultra II into a Windows laptop and verified that the BIOS recognizes it (but I don’t have any bootable media to try anything else on that front) so the SSD is nominally alive and not just an empty plastic shell.

The behavior on the Mini (both SSD and old drive) has peristed through several disassemble-swap-reassemble passes, so I’m pretty confident that no cables are pinched, disconnected, loose, etc.  

Suggestions would be appreciated.  I’m working on locating an external SATA dock so I can verify the SSD’s functionality from my Windows system.

Can anyone verify that the SD Ultra II will correctly downgrade to SATA 2.0 ?


My notebook is a 5-year old VPCF132FX/B model SONY VAIO.

I am currently having the exact same problems.  Same symptoms. I still need to try a few things, but cloning to external drive then allows the Mac Mini to boot to that drive perfectly.  When the drive is then transfered into the Mac Mini (Late 2009 like yours) I get a prohibited sign. Circle with diagonal line through it.  Then, white screen with no real keyboard response. If you hold the option ket down on boot up for a long time, then you might get the the ssd drive as a boot choice, but then the boot fails.

Stange.  The cloned SSD (SanDisk Ultra II 480GB) works perfectly from a USB enclosure, but once it gets installed in the Mac Mini, it fails.  The Mini must not see the boot file.  I think that is what the circle symbol means.

Have you had any success?

I am still trying a few more things before I install a traditional 7200 RPM HDD.  Almost ready to give up.

SanDisk tech support says that the the Ultra II should work just fine.