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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  • Ecgtheow - Tuesday, January 25, 2005 - link

    #56: Probably not. Reply
  • sluramod - Tuesday, January 25, 2005 - link

    Probably stupid question, but I'll ask anyway...

    Is Tiger upgrade going to be free for Panther users?

  • HardwareD00d - Tuesday, January 25, 2005 - link

    the Mac Mini sounds like it would be a fun toy to play around with, but it's a bit too expensive for what you get. If you don't mind paying close to $600 for a screenless laptop, go for it. I personally hate laptops cause they have such crappy performance. They're only useful if your always on the go. Reply
  • msva124 - Tuesday, January 25, 2005 - link

    Exactly #53. I can't see the word of mouth from all of the 256MB mini owners being too great, which is a shame because at 512MB it would have had a much better reputation. Reply
  • bob661 - Tuesday, January 25, 2005 - link

    Unless the buyer is an AT reader or the salesman is an AT reader or the Best Buy ad says buy the extra 256MB of ram, they'll buy the unit at $499 without upgrades. Unless they specify the extras or a salesman suggests getting some extras, they'll get the unit as is. If it gets too much over $499, they'll choke and go get a Dell with the "free" flat panel. Like #32 said, cost and name. I guess it really is hard for some of you to imagine yourselves as a typical computer buyer.
  • downtowncb - Tuesday, January 25, 2005 - link

    Anand concedes:
    "Working as a simple file, ftp or web server with no end user interaction in the OS, you can get by with a 256MB configuration, and the same goes for a single user, single application usage environment..."

    I know that most of the people here would never dream of using a machine with only 256 MB of RAM, but for a few people 256 MB is enough, especially those who just need a cheap, reliable web server that they can stick in the basement and administer with VNC or even ssh.
  • MIDIman - Tuesday, January 25, 2005 - link

    I'm not sure if this has been mentioned above, but I think a smaller system, along the lines of something at mini-itx.com's store front would be a more useful comparison than the stock Dell. It would allow a better representation when you take size into the comparison.

    IMHO - when these two are put side-by-side, you'll find similar performance issues as well - i.e. needs for 512mb, a faster HD, etc.
  • elvisizer - Tuesday, January 25, 2005 - link

    48, that might be it- i always keep my pictures huge, since I don't have a webpage of my own like anand :) Reply
  • sprockkets - Tuesday, January 25, 2005 - link

    Perhaps the applications alone are worth me trying a Mac Mini. BUT, more ram, and use Hitachi's 7200RPM hdd and that will make it MUCH better.

    Then again, I rather just use apps on a completely GPL system rather than a proprietary system. If only it was easier to find more PM itx systems, a PM system in a cubit case would appeeal more to me.
  • jasonsRX7 - Tuesday, January 25, 2005 - link

    I get the feeling that he's using export to resize the pictures for the web. Just dragging them out of iPhoto will retain their original size. Reply

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