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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  • ehanneken - Tuesday, January 25, 2005 - link

    I got my Mac Mini yesterday. It came with iLife on a DVD *and* preinstalled.

    gibhunter, the upgrade to 512 MB is a $75 option when ordering the Mini; the owner is not required to do it himself. The only other expenses I had were taxes and a $13 USB adapter for my old PS/2 keyboard and mouse. I already had a spare 17" monitor. Altogether, I spent about $630.

    I may buy a cheap new keyboard, though. My old keyboard doesn't have a Windows key, and I think OS X maps the Apple key to it.
  • deathwalker - Tuesday, January 25, 2005 - link

    #12..I'm in your corner. If you can see through the fog of the $499 price tag then you are really looking at a $900-$1000 "Pig"...no thanks!~! Reply
  • ianwhthse - Tuesday, January 25, 2005 - link

    #4, downtowncb

    They might not know the speed of the hard drive, true, but they're definitely going to notice it's slow.

    I think you underestimate the average user's ability to notice that their computer is running like a pig. Why deal with a spyware infested Windows machine when you can switch to a Mac and get a system that's barely faster than said infested machine because Apple decided you needed a slow HDD, and pathetic amounts of ram?

    Anand commented about how the 256 MB of ram was insufficient, but do you think most people are going to magically know that they need to double the ram to get a good experience? (Assuming "most people" aren't Anandtech readers).

    Anyway, I'm done with that rant.

    Anand, are you going to look more closely at the iMovie, Garageband, iDVD trifecta? I currently use the Adobe Video Collection Professional (Premier, After Effects, Encore DVD, Audition, and Photoshop). I’m just looking for something that can make something nice for the smaller projects I end up working on. So those applications are interesting (plus the fact that you can buy the Adobe collection on Mac would allow me to make a complete move off the PC). Well except for gaming. But all I play on my PC now is KOTOR, so I won’t cry too hard.

    (I can also get a Mac version of Seti@home, how ‘bout that?)
  • Avalon - Tuesday, January 25, 2005 - link

    #13, most people do NOT have $300 flat screens and USB keyboards/mice just simply laying around. Take this for what it is: the cheapest way to use OS X. Reply
  • hopejr - Tuesday, January 25, 2005 - link

    #11, I have a 1GHz iBook G4 and it's good for audio editing with Garageband. I'm sure the Mac Mini will be better

    #12, many ppl already have those things laying around (apart from the RAM).

    Good article!!
  • gibhunter - Tuesday, January 25, 2005 - link

    You're all forgetting the fine print.
    First, a Mac mini is crap with 256MB of RAM. Gotta buy the more powerful Mac. Do they offer them with 512? If not, suddenly the average Joe needs to learn how to upgrade. Suddenly it's $600.
    Gotta get a keyboard and a mouse. Only USB ports are available though so they will be pricey. $700.
    Gotta get a monitor. A stylish PC absolutely requires a stylish flat panel. $300.

    Suddenly you have a very weak personal computer for a thousand bucks. What a bargain! (sarcasm)
  • ksherman - Tuesday, January 25, 2005 - link

    hey Anand, do you think this little box would be any good at Audio Editing? My lil bro is starting to get pretty heavy into it and REALLY wants a Mac, and this mini seems like it may be in his price range. Reply
  • downtowncb - Tuesday, January 25, 2005 - link

    I know a few techie friends who have always been PC users that are purchasing Mac minis because they are a cheap way to get familiar with OSX while getting to work with BSD. Also the built-in Apache server is good for them (and can be activated by a single click). I'd say there are at least 2 crowds buying minis, the techie "I just want to try it out and it's 25% the cost of my last system" crowd and the $499 "I always buy the cheapest thing" crowd. You're right, the normal arguments don't apply because in the first case the arguments are overlooked in favor of software and OS and in the second they've never even heard our arguments (to them RPM is how fast your engine is going).
  • bob661 - Tuesday, January 25, 2005 - link

    Itunes isn't preinstalled. It's part of the iLife package.
  • jfpilon - Tuesday, January 25, 2005 - link

    About the office compability: why not just use openoffice.org?

    check it out: http://developer.apple.com/darwin/runningx11.html

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