I'm running a 2011 Mac Mini and I, too am considering a 520 SSD for a boot drive. I presume this can be made to work, but beyond just pluggin it in, I would not know how to set it up without BIOS. I also wonder if the Intel toolbox can be run from a virtual PC partition. Sorry to not be addressing your question but you are one of the only folks I've seen with any experience using Intel SSD in a Mac. What was rerquired to set up your 320? Any thoughts? Thanks a lot.
I can tell you what I did with the Intel 320 ssd. I don't think it should be any different with the Intel 520 ssd unless I am not aware of hardware specific impediments related to Mac Mini and/or the Intel 520 ssd.
I bought a program called CopyCatX that can clone a hdd (with bootcamp partitions as well) and I cloned my original hdd (Momentus XT) to the 320 ssd, plugged it in and booted the computer. At the time I was using SnowLeopard with a Windows 7 64 bit bootcamp partition. I wanted to run windows natively to have full performance. In theory things should have worked fine but in reality they didn't. When I booted my MBP to windows, windows didn't run in AHCI mode. I found a hack on a forum that allowed me to enable AHCI in the bootcamp Windows partition which I did apply and the HDD started to performed better. Overall it was not as fast as it should have been but I could live with that. I attempted to contact Intel support and I posted a message to this forum but I got nowhere.
Fast foward, Lion was out, and I needed to run osx and windows in parallel, so I decided to use Desktop Parallels. I installed Lion, Desktop parallels and I installed a new version of Windows 7 64 bit as a vm under Parallels. Lo and behold, the performance of the HDD under vm windows was better then when I run it natively under bootcamp (I run tests using AS SSD). Since then (approx Oct 2011) I am using my MBP in this configuration and I am happy with it.
Under the virtualized Windows, Intel Toolbox doesn't do anything, only the View Information button is enabled.
Because the new intel 520gb boasts better speed and the MBP 2011 supports the 6gb SATA interface I was thinking of upgrading to the new one but the results of the random 4k test on the tom's hardware site kind of worries me. So, I am not too sure I want to spend the money hence my post.
To answer your specific question, I don't have experience with Mac Mini, but according to these guys:
you can swap the hard-drives yourself (it seems more complicated than doing it for a MBP though)
So, first, you could clone your existing HDD to the SSD provided that you have enough space (you can use CopyCatX, or Carbon Copy Cloner or Superduper to clone the hdd; you'd have to use a SATA enclosure to access the SSD), swap the drives and the computer should boot up. If you don't have enough space you should consider putting the SSD in the mac mini first, and then install Lion from scratch, then copy the existing data from the other hard-drive. Again, you can always use a SATA enclosure to access the external hdd.
I hope this helps,
Wow, that's really helpful. Thanks for taking the time to give me the benefit of your experience. I also run windows under Parallels - sorry to hear that the toolbox doesn't do anything on the Mac (makes firmware updates problematic). I think I'm going to give it a shot with the 520 ssd using your approach. Thanks again for the intelligence on this endeavor.