Taking it Apart

Taking the Mac mini apart is pretty simple once you get the case off.  An excellent video of doing just that has been circulating the net and the actual process is just as simple as the video makes it out to be. 

The mini is put together much like an iPod, with plastic latches keeping the base of the chassis locked to the outer shell.  Flip the mini over and use something like a thin putty knife to separate a few of the latches on each side, then just pull the two apart.

Once you're inside, there's still a little more work to do, but it thankfully requires no more prying, just a little unscrewing.  The slot-loading optical drive and 2.5" hard drive are contained within a single removable assembly.  There are four pegs that attach the assembly to the base of the mini, and three screws that need to be removed in order to lift it off (the fourth peg is just a peg, no screw in it).

After you unscrew those pegs, the assembly simply lifts up.  Apple employed a single PCB that interfaces with both the hard drive and the optical drive as you can see in the picture below:

You simply have to lift the connector out of its slot in order to pull up the entire assembly from the case.

The assembly also houses the only fan in the entire system, attached to a duct that helps draw air in through the inlets at the bottom of the mini:

The final member of the optical drive/hard drive assembly is the built-in speaker, which is actually pretty reasonable as an entry-level sound solution.  For someone who doesn't care about music too much, the internal speaker will suffice for whatever occasional audio that the user needs to hear:

Stability and Out-of-Box Software Completeness Taking it Apart, II


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  • JeffDM - Wednesday, January 26, 2005 - link

    "and remember that the shuttle has an Internal PSU. Without that unit, it would likely be fairly close to the mini's size."

    That depends on what "fairly close" means. A desktop internal DVD drive is about as big in volume as the mini. The Shuttle cases are about twice as deep, four times taller and a third wider (12" x 8" x 8"). They aren't really in the same order of magnitude in volume, even when you include the power supply. That, and the three Shuttles I've had the pleasure of being around were obnoxiously loud. Otherwise, Shuttles don't seem to be too bad.
  • tinydancer - Wednesday, January 26, 2005 - link


    1st read #18
    2nd read #23
    then read this: http://www.macworld.com/weblogs/editors/2005/01/mi...

    Maybe you'll have some perspective after that!
  • msva124 - Wednesday, January 26, 2005 - link

    We must not be visiting the same websites. Viruses have never been an issue for me, I haven't had an AV program installed since maybe Windows 95. As for spyware, running Ad-aware once every week or two will usually find nothing. I am using XP SP1.

    I agree that macs are free of spyware and viruses, and that is a huge convenience for most users. But for someone who has been using pc's and macs for over 10 years? Please.
  • cryodude - Wednesday, January 26, 2005 - link

    I just love reading the rants, the nice responses and the clueless ridicules. Unfortunately, most people have never used a mac, will never understand that most people really do not want to have to mess with their computers, they simply want them to work. I'm a dual user, pc's and mac's both for over 10 years beginning with windows 3.1 and mac system 7. Both have come a long ways, but having windows at work, and a high end AMD machine at home, (strictly for playing games) and then having my macs, I can from many years on both platforms tell you that there truly is no comparison between the systems when it comes to downtime, system maintenance, ease of use, and the big one, "Peace of Mind". Until you understand that you really have an alternative, although it will cost you more in $$'s up front, never ever having to deal with spyware/malware/addware/virus protection, blah blah blah, is worth 4 or 5 times the cost in a machine. Now I'm not advocating that you go spend that much, or even close to that, but honestly, if you could get something that just did the things u want to do with ease, without heartache, headache and frustration, is that such a bad thing? If your answer is yes, ( or you are stuck on the money issue) then there is no hope for you to ever understand what macs have always been about. Simply a choice, to do things easier and in many ways, better in the long run when you consider the big picture of computing. Reply
  • JeffDM - Wednesday, January 26, 2005 - link

    Anand didn't compare the warranty lengths (the cheapest Dells have only 90 days, vs. mini's 1 year) or support when comparing with a Dell. According to a big PC Magazine survey, Apple rates noticibly better than Dell in support quality and how often people need to call support. Reply
  • Burbot - Wednesday, January 26, 2005 - link

    #71: I am recording and mixing a community radio program. Thus, I need at least one input and one output with decent sound quality. Mac Mini has only one output, so an external sound card is needed.

    On programming: I am mostly interested in SWT/JFace for GUI, and various stuff (Perl, Python, Java, AspectJ) for anything else. I am not interested in win32-specific stuff, so pretty much any machine and OS will work fine for me in this area.
  • WaltC - Wednesday, January 26, 2005 - link

    I am constantly amazed at the bias Anand obviously feels compelled to demonstrate when comparing Wintel to Apptel....this particular comparison could have been penned by the RDF gang at Apple PR--no doubt about it...;) (I'm sure it rates their stamp of approval for being so masterful in failing to actually reveal any pertinent facts while wandering heavily into crass product promotion and PR. Good for Apple, no doubt--but I think not so good for the consumers who read Anand's site.)

    First, does the $499 Apptel actually cost the same as the contrasted $499 Wintel?

    Well, let's see...by the time you add for the keyboard, mouse, 15" lcd monitor and the 256-mbs of extra ram Anand states is needed to make the mini something useful, all of which is built in to the compared Wintel box...gosh, I guess we're talking at least $1,000 for the actual MiniMac Anand likes--which makes it--oh, 2x the cost of the contrasted Dell consumer box. This is leaving all other considerations as to processing power, graphics horsepower, 3.5" desktop IDE hard drive perfomance, expansion capacity, and the rest of it, aside, give or take the $40 more you might have to spend to put a DVD/CD-RW *of your choice* into the Wintel box.

    I was delighted to see how petite and quiet the $1,000 mini appears to Anand--no doubt courtesy of the *external power brick* it requires--whereas the contrasted Dell box athalf the price, I'll bet, not only includes a lot more expansion room but also something as exotic as an *integrated power supply* so that sans monitor, keyboard, and mouse the Dell comes in one piece as opposed to the two pieces required for the mini. (My HP Deskjet 722C has an external power brick, too, so I hardly feel left out...;))

    And of course, only Anand would pair a "$500" minicomputer with a ~$2,000 monitor, and then declare how great the graphics on the "$500" computer looked, as if the far more expensive monitor had nothing to do with anything...;) Nothing like testing a $3000 + system while telling your readers--over and over again--that it costs "$499"...;) And then there's the whole prospect of "taking the miniMac apart to see what's inside" that I find very amusing--as if this is exactly what the "computer illiterates" Anand recommends consider a miniMac are ever apt to do...;)

    I'll never understand why Anand is so shy and timid about publishing a "price as tested" sticker along with the MSRP for the base package! Seems like nothing except common sense and good ethics, to me. There's much more I could say but I think this covers the basics pretty well. You know, I'd have much more respect for this kind of superficial "comparison" if Anand would say something like: "Well--compared to the Dell box the mini is literally 2x it's price, so it's certainly no bargain. Even so, I liked it a lot, and if novelty gadgets or conversation pieces trip your trigger you can't go wrong with the MiniMac." That would certainly be much closer to the mark.
  • semo - Wednesday, January 26, 2005 - link

    post 100!

    uuhh what was the topic again?
  • pringlis - Wednesday, January 26, 2005 - link

    eek.. I should note that it wasn't on a Mac mini but on a PowerBook with specs a little lower than the mini (except the RAM which was 512megs). Reply
  • pringlis - Wednesday, January 26, 2005 - link

    #75 - I used Microsoft Remote Desktop to work from home for several months and I've never had any problems with it. Fairly speedy and no crashes. Reply

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