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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  • KirinRiotCrash - Tuesday, January 25, 2005 - link

    #25, you can check Crucial's website for memory that will be compatible for the Mac mini: http://www.crucial.com/store/listparts.asp?Mfr%2BP... Reply
  • Burbot - Tuesday, January 25, 2005 - link

    I am interested in a machine for Java programming and some amateur photochopping and recording. This sounds like traditional Mac domain, but lack of connectivity and expansion of Mini makes it a lot less fitting. First of all, it takes one memory stick, and 1GB SODIMM prices are fairly costly. Then I would like to get an external hard drive (sounds pretty reasonable for my needs), external sound card, mouse, keyboard, printer, scanner, hub to connect all USB stuff to one port, patience to deal with USB problems after those hordes of devices begin talking on the same port... see where it is going? Mini might be a neat thing by itself, but as soon as you try to do something serious with it, you get a rat's nest of external boxes and wires.
    A regular PeeCee SFF box might not be that nice looking, but it will take a couple of disks, a sound card, two memory modules, and will have a quite sufficient number of USB ports (4 rear/2 front is a common combination). So guess which one I will be getting, after all.
  • Stylex - Tuesday, January 25, 2005 - link

    I want to buy one of these, but I don't want to pay apple's ourrageous prices for RAM, what kind of memory should I buy besides apple's? I was unaware that the SPD of the modules would be an issue. Is there any 'safe' non-apple ram for this? Reply
  • lookmark - Tuesday, January 25, 2005 - link

    Nice article, very balanced.

    re hopejr. (#13) -- I imagine the mac mini would be pretty decent for intermediate audio editing, but you'd have to purchase a USB audio adapter like Griffin's iMic (around $40), as the mini has audio line-out only.
  • Questar - Tuesday, January 25, 2005 - link


    The reason why people rudely rant and rave against Macs, or Intel, MS, Etc. is due to their need for validation.

    Most people here are AMD PC users. There is a herd mentality, kind of "you're ok, I'm ok". People are looking for the assurances from others that their decisions/prejudices are the "right" ones.

    Just look at way people here gang up in Intel. I can just see it now, people will respond to this saying Intel makes crap..etc. But Intel makes fine products, just like Apple. Most people here feel elevated by tearing down someone/something that is not their personal preference, and feel pumped up that others support them.
  • rivieracadman - Tuesday, January 25, 2005 - link

    #12 It would be important to remember that the Dell (or any other cheap PC for that matter) only come with a 30 Day warrenty. Don't get me wrong, I'm a PC guy through and through, but I have had to repair more of those pieces of junk then I can count. Not to mention that the mini is quieter, nicer to look at, and much smaller. I have even considered buying one. It would be great for a support unit. A RAM upgrade is only $70 more, and most people already have a keyboard, mouse monitor, and speakers. If I couldn't build my own systems I would perfer to select what I wanted as well. I hate LCD monitors BTW...

    On a side note, you have to consider the market as well. My mother in law is very happy with her 400mhz K62, and my mother is very happy with her 1Ghz Athlon. Both running Mandrake Linux. They play games, edit photos from their digital cameras, surf the web, and who knows. Both machines only have 256MB of RAM and 32MB/64MB MX Nvidia Cards. If they ever allow me to upgrade their machines I think I may go with the minis.
  • ehanneken - Tuesday, January 25, 2005 - link

    Hm, make that a, b, c, and d (not a, b, b, and c).
  • ehanneken - Tuesday, January 25, 2005 - link

    I bought a Mac Mini for two reasons. First, I was curious about OS X. Second, I was looking for a Unix file server that

    a) was small
    b) was inexpensive
    b) consumed little power
    c) looked reasonably attractive

    The Mac Mini fit those criteria reasonably well. My next best option was a mini-ITX PC, but I gathered from my research that they tend to be noisier and less powerful than the Mac Mini.
  • brichpmr - Tuesday, January 25, 2005 - link

    Excellent article, Anand. My own 1.33 ghz G4 is quite snappy with sufficient ram, so the 512 mb suggestion is right on the money. Reply
  • tinydancer - Tuesday, January 25, 2005 - link

    Nice review Anand! Thanks for the objectivity, which is more than I can say for some of your readers. I usually don't respond in these posts, but this I can't avoid. Why people hate on Macs is beyond me. Mac haters were weened to early and have an inferiority complex, which translates into an inability to LET IT GO!. The fact is that Macs are about style and creativity seperate from function. Macs do what they do very well and with reliability. No...Macs are not the fastest, baddest computers on the planet, and who cares--only PC users that have no life except to worry about wether their GPU will handle Doom III. Hardware is hardware, where apple makes up the difference is in the OS and apps. The Mini will fill a void in the market for some wether they have a mouse, monitor or not. But you know what....keep hating. I like being part of the 2% market share, because I don't have to deal with the other 98% of you @$$#0!&$. It really doesn't matter to me if you ever get the point. Enjoy your grey box and your blue screen after it crashes! Reply

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