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Unibody 2010 Mac mini gets iFixit teardown

post #1 of 76
Thread Starter 
Apple's new 2010 Mac mini is wider (7.7 inches square, just like the existing Apple TV) but significantly thinner (just 1.4 inches thick) and easier to take apart than previous models.

A teardown report by iFixit shows how Apple fit the slim system's power supply inside the unibody aluminum case and reveals a variety of new innovations.

Rather than needing an external power supply, the new unit ships with simply an AC power cable (similar to Apple TV and Time Capsule), and Mini DisplayPort to DVI adapter. The new model also includes a built in HDMI port for delivering audio and digital video to an HDTV display over one cable.

The new Mac Mini includes an SD Card slot just like recent MacBook Pros, and includes four USB 2.0 ports, along with the standard Gigabit Ethernet and a FireWire 800 port. After taking a new unit apart, iFixit discovered a variety of new changes:

The Mac mini's unibody top enclosure is machined from a single block of aluminum, with a twist off rubber base that exposes RAM components for easy access. "Removing the RAM is very simple this time around, requiring only the simple prying of two clips." The bottom cover also provides a radio window in the metal case for WiFi and Bluetooth.
"There are two blind holes in the case of the Mini that are meant for the ends of Apple's custom U-shaped logic board removal tool. We just used two Torx screwdrivers. We call them the 'Mac mini logic board removal tool.'"
The new Mac mini's power supply provides "a minuscule 7 Amps at 12V. Compare that to the 25.8 Amps at 12V cranked out by the 27 inch iMac, and you can understand how they fit the power supply inside the Mini."
"The fan doesn't have too much work to do, since the new Mac Mini is the most energy-efficient desktop, running on less than 10 watts at idle! In keeping with its space saving design, the fins directing air toward the vent hole are slanted to allow for better fan placement."
The fan cools the CPU and CPU via a wraparound heat sink tube that wicks heat toward the fins and blows it out the wide slot on the back panel.

iFixit notes that the Mac mini's 3/8 inch woofer dome "won't be popping ear drums anytime soon."
post #2 of 76
Holy crap these new Mac Minis are SOOOOOOO much easier to take apart and change components than the old ones (the basic design they've been using the past several years). I used to be a tech for Apple back in the day, and all my friends that have mechanical problems or want to upgrade parts always come to me to have it done. Even something as simple as upgrading the RAM was a pain in the royal A. As soon as I heard the words "Mac Mini" I would cringe, but this new design makes everything so much simpler.

Still ... I'm a little tweaked by the $100 jump in price ...
post #3 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by blursd View Post

Holy crap these new Mac Minis are SOOOOOOO much easier to take apart and change components than the old ones (the basic design they've been using the past several years). I used to be a tech for Apple back in the day, and all my friends that have mechanical problems or want to upgrade parts always come to me to have it done. Even something as simple as upgrading the RAM was a pain in the royal A. As soon as I heard the words "Mac Mini" I would cringe, but this new design makes everything so much simpler.

Still ... I'm a little tweaked by the $100 jump in price ...

I remember it taking 45 mins to switch out ram and using a putty knife to pry the case off. Sucked
post #4 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by blursd View Post

Holy crap these new Mac Minis are SOOOOOOO much easier to take apart and change components than the old ones (the basic design they've been using the past several years). I used to be a tech for Apple back in the day, and all my friends that have mechanical problems or want to upgrade parts always come to me to have it done. Even something as simple as upgrading the RAM was a pain in the royal A. As soon as I heard the words "Mac Mini" I would cringe, but this new design makes everything so much simpler.

I'm not a 100% certain it's the case, but it looks like you need to unscrew the logic board from the case and slide the back out a little to access the HDD. It would be nice if they made it removable without taking the logic board out.

I also wonder what the space is for the HDD. For example, Apple using 9.5mm HDDs in their Unibody MBPs but they all will take the 12.5mm HDDs just fine. If the Mac Mini does this it could mean 1TB capacity (or 2TB for the Server version).

Quote:
Still ... I'm a little tweaked by the $100 jump in price ...

Looking at the engineering (or "over-engineering" as Marvin put it) I don't think it's an excessive for the product. Plus, i have to think Apple knows who's buying them more than we do.


PS: Waiting anxiously to read replies about you can buy all these parts off the shelf and your own for a lot less.
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post #5 of 76
looks killer outside and inside.

One thought he was invincible... the other thought he could fly.

They were both wrong.

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One thought he was invincible... the other thought he could fly.

They were both wrong.

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post #6 of 76
More interesting is whether this means an HDMI port (hopefully with HDCP!) on the next Apple display.
post #7 of 76
Pure art.

End of story.
post #8 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by MoXoM View Post

First!!

Please, no. Either have something to say relevant to the article or don't say it. "First" is pretty widely frowned upon on the internet, it's not a good idea to do it.
post #9 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

Looking at the engineering (or "over-engineering" as Marvin put it) I don't think it's an excessive for the product. Plus, i have to think Apple knows who's buying them more than we do.

It looks a well engineered product. I'd say represents value for money. It is the cheapest Mac. However, it is not cheap. Apple seems to be moving away from their original goal of offering a cheap entry level Mac targeting people switching from PCs.


Quote:
Originally Posted by hexor View Post

More interesting is whether this means an HDMI port (hopefully with HDCP!) on the next Apple display.

I'd guess not. Apple only recently switched to display port and besides HDMI is really a TV standard. The Mac mini has the port because many people are using them as part of their home theater set ups.
post #10 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by hexor View Post

More interesting is whether this means an HDMI port (hopefully with HDCP!) on the next Apple display.

not happening.
post #11 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by hexor View Post

More interesting is whether this means an HDMI port (hopefully with HDCP!) on the next Apple display.

Apple's LED Cinema Display already support HDCP and it looks like at some point Apple added HDCP support to their older ACDs.

Since all Macs will have the better spec'd mDP and all future ACDs will also include mDP there really is no reason for it unless you hooking up a non-Mac. I wouldn't expect any Apple display to include HDMI.
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post #12 of 76
I have to say the PSU report bit is incredible. A miniscule 7A at 12V PSU. Compare that (and PS3's integrated PSU) to the new XBOX 360 Slim power brick - You know Microsoft, we don't use power bricks anymore.. if you could just go far enough you'll find the solution exists..
post #13 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by Orlando View Post

It looks a well engineered product. I'd say represents value for money. It is the cheapest Mac. However, it is not cheap. Apple seems to be moving away from their original goal of offering a cheap entry level Mac targeting people switching from PCs.

Maybe they were getting too many switchers.
Maybe there sales showed most opted for the $700 model anyway.
Maybe the will lower it to $600 next year once they recoup the costs for this engineering feat.

I'm still in awe at that case once being a block of aluminium and being part of a mass produced product. Just how far as Apple come with CNC efficiency?

Quote:
I'd guess not. Apple only recently switched to display port and besides HDMI is really a TV standard. The Mac mini has the port because many people are using them as part of their home theater set ups.

And it's the same signaling as DVI, but with audio and a smaller port. They pay a very small fee for inclusion of the port per unit (3ยข, I think) and an large annual fee but they are paying that now for the AppleTV so why not. On this product it makes some sense but I can't imagine paying $700+ for a media extender that has no good media extender software.
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post #14 of 76
Love It! I have a mini connected to my TV now and can't wait till I find a reason to upgrade. Only thing I wasn't happy about was the illusion (on my part, they never said it was the same size) the new unit was the same footprint as the old only shorter. I can live with it being a bigger footprint...but would have loved to just see the old one sliced in half.
post #15 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by hexor View Post

More interesting is whether this means an HDMI port (hopefully with HDCP!) on the next Apple display.

You know the mini-display port converted to HDMI supports HDCP right? Works great on itunes HD movies the require HDCP display to play with my projector and mini-display port to HDMI convert I got from monocable
post #16 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by Splash-reverse View Post

I have to say the PSU report bit is incredible. A miniscule 7A at 12V PSU. Compare that (and PS3's integrated PSU) to the new XBOX 360 Slim power brick - You know Microsoft, we don't use power bricks anymore.. if you could just go far enough you'll find the solution exists..

What I'm worried about is how hot the thing gets ergo how much the fan needs to work ergo how much noise it makes. I may get this beast, but one of the main selling points on the old mini was that it ran pretty much dead silent, even under heavy load. I hope this one is equally as quiet.
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post #17 of 76
I just ordered one to use as a media server and I can't wait till it gets here.

iPad + Mac mini my replacement for my dying MacBook.
Portability with the power of a full MacOS through VNC tools.

I can see that combo being the new norm for most families.
post #18 of 76


Anybody know if:

1. That processor is socketed or soldered, and if the i3/i5 etc are socket compatible?

2. That graphics chip (the 320) could be easily replaced with a 330 in a future revision if Apple chose to do so?

If I understand it correctly, no company is allowed to pair an Intel processor newer than the Core 2 Duo with a Nvidia integrated graphics chip. Apple will eventually have to stop using Core 2 Duo's in their low end products (they should have already), and at that time they'll either be forced to include dedicated graphics in all of their Macs, or downgrade the graphics of the low-end models to Intel's flavor of integrated graphics. Yes?
post #19 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cory Bauer View Post

Anybody know if:

1. That processor is socketed or soldered, and if the i3/i5 etc are socket compatible?

2. That graphics chip (the 320) could be easily replaced with a 330 in the future revision if Apple chose to do so?

The answer to both of those questions is no. You cannot upgrade the CPU, and definitely not to a Core 2010 processor which requires a completely different Intel chipset. And the graphics chip isn't just a graphics chip, and thus cannot simply be replaced by a better one.
post #20 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by jacob1varghese View Post

I just ordered one to use as a media server and I can't wait till it gets here.

iPad + Mac mini my replacement for my dying MacBook.
Portability with the power of a full MacOS through VNC tools.

I can see that combo being the new norm for most families.

If you disregard the screen, how does the Mac mini compare with the iMac in terms of its specifications, and also with the MacBook or even the entry level MacBook Pro. I am considering going to the same option that you have -- Mac mini as "desktop" and an iPad. I was hoping to wait for the next gen iPad though, but tempted. If I wait until next year for the iPad, I would need to have a notebook to replace my aging notebook.

CGC
post #21 of 76
just a uneducated observation.

this new mini looks like a real winner and will surprise an awful lot of people. just the power supply alone is a blessing. i keep tripping over my old mini brick.
post #22 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by cgc0202 View Post

If you disregard the screen, how does the Mac mini compare with the iMac in terms of its specifications, and also with the MacBook or even the entry level MacBook Pro. I am considering going to the same option that you have -- Mac mini as "desktop" and an iPad. I was hoping to wait for the next gen iPad though, but tempted. If I wait until next year for the iPad, I would need to have a notebook to replace my aging notebook.

CGC

As is usually the case, the entry-level Mini is identical in specs to the entry-level MacBook (plastic) except for the Mini having a 320GB hard drive instead of 250GB. The entry level MacBook Pro doubles the memory to 4GB, and that's about it. The entry level iMac on the other hand beats the pants off all of them, with a 3.06Ghz processor instead of 2.4Ghz, 4GB of memory instead of 2, 500GB hard drive instead of 320, and of course the gorgeous screen. The other Macs do have one advantage though: the 320M integrated graphics is supposedly half as slow as the 9400M graphics that the entry-level iMac still uses. The iMacs will probably get a refresh soon though, and I expect that will change.
post #23 of 76
Can it play back 1080p mkv's?
post #24 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by FuturePastNow View Post

The answer to both of those questions is no. You cannot upgrade the CPU, and definitely not to a Core 2010 processor which requires a completely different Intel chipset. And the graphics chip isn't just a graphics chip, and thus cannot simply be replaced by a better one.

So Apple will have to create a whole new motherboard when they move to i3s or i5s and the 330M graphics? It seems foolish of them to build a whole new product from scratch that can only use last-generation processors.
post #25 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cory Bauer View Post

So Apple will have to create a whole new motherboard when they move to i3s or i5s and the 330M graphics? It seems foolish of them to build a whole new product from scratch that can only use last-generation processors.

It's probably only the circuit board that changes. Remember that the old mini design had two entirely different architectures, most of the difference was just a new main board, and later, a new riser card and back panel.

Making a new board isn't that big of a deal when you consider that Apple probably sells hundreds of thousands or millions of machines with any given circuit board. They'll design a new board when they decide to do an upgrade.
post #26 of 76
Aww, it's so cute. It's like a little netbook without a screen, keyboard, or battery. Not sure what I would do with such a low power machine that is meant to stay at home, but kudos on the design.
post #27 of 76
Users still aren't going to care. It's still WAY overpriced and lousy performance. And most people don't care how big it is, they'd just rather have a decent affordable mac.

Nice to see the improvements, but with the price increase and still crappy specs, the nice design just makes it suck a teeny bit less.
post #28 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by minderbinder View Post

Users still aren't going to care. It's still WAY overpriced and lousy performance. And most people don't care how big it is, they'd just rather have a decent affordable mac.

Nice to see the improvements, but with the price increase and still crappy specs, the nice design just makes it suck a teeny bit less.

I do have to agree. This is what you buy if you truly feel you can't live without an Apple computer and don't mind paying extra for the equal of a netbook. This will not live up to the expectations of anyone planning to do much more than Email, web surfing, and typing documents. Unless of course you can get iPhone apps on it. It should be powerful enough to run those pretty decently. It's clever in design and size, but needs more power. This would be great as a starter computer for children though. Of couse there are cheaper as powerful/more powerful options, but it is an Apple to say the least.
post #29 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by ruckerz View Post

Can it play back 1080p mkv's?

I don't see why not. I ripped one of my Blu-Rays using software for that purpose, and it plays through my Mac Pro out through the ATI card to my monitor. No reason why this should be different.
post #30 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by druble View Post

I do have to agree. This is what you buy if you truly feel you can't live without an Apple computer and don't mind paying extra for the equal of a netbook. This will not live up to the expectations of anyone planning to do much more than Email, web surfing, and typing documents. Unless of course you can get iPhone apps on it. It should be powerful enough to run those pretty decently. It's clever in design and size, but needs more power. This would be great as a starter computer for children though. Of couse there are cheaper as powerful/more powerful options, but it is an Apple to say the least.

I beg to differ. While I'm in agreement that given the availability of non-mac options whose specs outperform this machine at a lower price point, you aren't being fair in saying that it can't do much more than email, surfing and docs. My current MacBook Pro has specs that aren't this high, and it's my primary computer, used for everything from email to docs, to music creation in Logic, to photo manipulation in Aperture. It can do some pretty heavy lifting. Is it a mac pro? Of course not. But I don't believe it's fair to say that this computer is just a "starter for children". I'm sure it can handle quite a bit more than apps.
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post #31 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by ruckerz View Post

Can it play back 1080p mkv's?

It's a new Mac, so yes. How could their be any question with a 2.4 C2D and Nvida 320M?


Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post

It's probably only the circuit board that changes. Remember that the old mini design had two entirely different architectures, most of the difference was just a new main board, and later, a new riser card and back panel.

Making a new board isn't that big of a deal when you consider that Apple probably sells hundreds of thousands or millions of machines with any given circuit board. They'll design a new board when they decide to do an upgrade.

Remove the ODD and there will be room for the Core-i and dGPU.


Quote:
Originally Posted by druble View Post

Aww, it's so cute. It's like a little netbook without a screen, keyboard, or battery. Not sure what I would do with such a low power machine that is meant to stay at home, but kudos on the design.

Netbook with the performance of a 13" MacBook Pro. I'd love to see that.
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post #32 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by druble View Post

I do have to agree. This is what you buy if you truly feel you can't live without an Apple computer and don't mind paying extra for the equal of a netbook. This will not live up to the expectations of anyone planning to do much more than Email, web surfing, and typing documents. Unless of course you can get iPhone apps on it. It should be powerful enough to run those pretty decently. It's clever in design and size, but needs more power. This would be great as a starter computer for children though. Of couse there are cheaper as powerful/more powerful options, but it is an Apple to say the least.

I guess you two guys must be right, and the first three reviews out must be wrong. I suppose they're ALL Mac fanboys:

http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2365157,00.asp

http://reviews.cnet.com/desktops/app...-34118624.html
http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/...ZnoHAD9GCHU1G0


Yes, it's not THE most powerful machine. And expect to pay a bit more for Apple's superior engineering.
post #33 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by druble View Post

I do have to agree. This is what you buy if you truly feel you can't live without an Apple computer and don't mind paying extra for the equal of a netbook. This will not live up to the expectations of anyone planning to do much more than Email, web surfing, and typing documents. Unless of course you can get iPhone apps on it. It should be powerful enough to run those pretty decently. It's clever in design and size, but needs more power. This would be great as a starter computer for children though. Of couse there are cheaper as powerful/more powerful options, but it is an Apple to say the least.

...given that (I'lll wager good money on this and win) you've not used one yet, you are basing your valuation merely on specs/features and not actual use. This is where so many arguments fail miserably in the consumer electronics market. Consumers are slowly getting wise to the "feature" or "spec" over-burden on devices and looking more closely at the actual experience. This is something that Apple banked on (I speculate) when they released the iPad. And I think based on my own experiences with netbooks - they mostly are just smaller, crappier laptops. Email, web-surfing and typing documents are moving rapidly in the direction of the iPad or iPad-like device.

The assumption of "I know, based on my own personal experience" more than Apple about what configuration of the Mac Mini will sell the best seems a trifle silly as a claim. You categorically don't, so the claim is doubly damning. As Apple is in the market to make a good profit off of the device, its form, function and characteristics have been thoroughly thought out and presented (as you see in the article) for the consuming public. There is a reason why you are merely a blog poster and not the CEO of a major electronics company (directed to as many as to whom it applies). Obviously you don't get it, and probably won't buy it. Apple is obviously OK with that. This will make a perfect interactive kiosk device, it will make a fine media box, and it will make a nice upgrade to several home PC systems in desperate need of getting away from Windows.
post #34 of 76
no one in this forum has asked the crucial question, which one should ALWAYS ask - WHY? Why did Apple go this way with the Mac Mini? What are the key drivers? In light of just recently introducing the iPad, for example. What does this mean for Apple and their vision of personal computing for the average consumer. Because these are the key drivers behind what Apple does and how they make their decisions. Figure out where Apple is going, figure out what Apple's vision of the future of personal computing is and you get a window into the mindset and drivers behind the design and execution of their products.

But mostly just think. Think, ponder and give your fingers a rest so your brain can grapple with these concepts - BEFORE you type
post #35 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by druble View Post

I do have to agree. This is what you buy if you truly feel you can't live without an Apple computer and don't mind paying extra for the equal of a netbook. This will not live up to the expectations of anyone planning to do much more than Email, web surfing, and typing documents. Unless of course you can get iPhone apps on it. It should be powerful enough to run those pretty decently. It's clever in design and size, but needs more power. This would be great as a starter computer for children though. Of couse there are cheaper as powerful/more powerful options, but it is an Apple to say the least.

I have a 10 year old iBook that can handle e-mail, web-surfing and typing documents without a problem. It can even play games. I'll wager the average computer user does no more with their machines. I imagine a brand new Mini has more than enough power and speed to handle those tasks with ease.
post #36 of 76
Looks stunning. Very glad that mac mini is still alive (and still overpriced).
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post #37 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by masternav View Post

...given that (I'lll wager good money on this and win) you've not used one yet, you are basing your valuation merely on specs/features and not actual use. This is where so many arguments fail miserably in the consumer electronics market. Consumers are slowly getting wise to the "feature" or "spec" over-burden on devices and looking more closely at the actual experience. This is something that Apple banked on (I speculate) when they released the iPad. And I think based on my own experiences with netbooks - they mostly are just smaller, crappier laptops. Email, web-surfing and typing documents are moving rapidly in the direction of the iPad or iPad-like device.

The assumption of "I know, based on my own personal experience" more than Apple about what configuration of the Mac Mini will sell the best seems a trifle silly as a claim. You categorically don't, so the claim is doubly damning. As Apple is in the market to make a good profit off of the device, its form, function and characteristics have been thoroughly thought out and presented (as you see in the article) for the consuming public. There is a reason why you are merely a blog poster and not the CEO of a major electronics company (directed to as many as to whom it applies). Obviously you don't get it, and probably won't buy it. Apple is obviously OK with that. This will make a perfect interactive kiosk device, it will make a fine media box, and it will make a nice upgrade to several home PC systems in desperate need of getting away from Windows.


Also when comparing specs you need to factor in the impact of the operating system. I have a Dell Mini 9, that runs like treacle when using MS XP Home; making for a frustrating experience indeed. However, when it runs Mac OS X on exactly the same hardware it is a completely different experience: snappy, responsive and a joy to use.

Disclaimer: I am an Apple fanboy, but in my previous life I have written retail banking apps for MS Windows 1, 2, 95 and XP; for me Mac OS X is a huge differentiating factor.
post #38 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cory Bauer View Post

So Apple will have to create a whole new motherboard when they move to i3s or i5s and the 330M graphics? It seems foolish of them to build a whole new product from scratch that can only use last-generation processors.

I see this product (the new Mini) as prep for 2011 launches from AMD and Intel. That would be Sandy Bridge from Intel and AMDs Fusion line. That would put a quad core processor into the machine in an SoC implementation.

This new Mini combined with the coming SoC generation will have a long and impressive life.


Dave
post #39 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by stevegmu View Post

I imagine a brand new Mini has more than enough power and speed to handle those tasks with ease.

I have the last generation mini as the main mac, and it's fine. it does everything I need. It could do everything I do at work too. CPU power hasn't been an issue for years. I got 7 years out of my 2002 Quicksilver with dual 1 Ghz processors, and although I added hard drive space, the processors were fast enough. New software than was Intel only what finally forced me to upgrade.

i spend more time waiting on the internet (and I have a 100 Mb connection) than waiting on the mini's hardware. It's not even worth upgrading the HD to 7200 rpm.
post #40 of 76
So it has a Core 2 Duo, huh. Very 2007.
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