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Teardown of Apple's new Mac Mini reveals space for second hard drive

post #1 of 51
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A teardown of Apple's just-released Mac Mini reveals a similar design to the previous generation, though with the addition of the new processor, Thunderbolt controller and Bluetooth 4.0, while the company's decision to remove the optical drive made room for a second storage drive.

Apple released the latest version of the Mac Mini on Wednesday, adding next-generation Intel processors, improved graphics for up to twice the performance, and the high-speed Thunderbolt port. The company also released Mac OS X 10.7 Lion, new MacBook Airs and a Thunderbolt LED Cinema Display.

The teardown specialists at iFixit have taken apart the 2.3GHz Core i5 version of the new diminutive desktop, noting that the innards "look rather identical to the previous model."

As is often the case with the company, Apple has given and taken away. This time around, the Mac maker has made the controversial decision to remove the optical drive. But, with the centimeter and a half of extra space gained, the company has made room for a second hard drive or solid state drive.

The publication suggests that users may be able to install a second hard drive by themselves, with the only deterrent being "the availability of a second SATA hard drive-to-logic board cable." Apple does offer dual hard drive build-to-order options for its more expensive 2.5GHz i5 model and the quad-core 2.0GHz i7 server version comes standard with two 500GB HDDs, but iFixit's teardown appears to show that users can add a second drive to the low-end model on their own.



According to the report, the Mac Mini utilizes a similar Thunderbolt port controller to that found in the Early 2011 iMac. The desktop also contains the same Bluetooth 4.0 chip as the one discovered in the MacBook Air earlier
post #2 of 51
Cool...Looks like this will be my next purchase. Before switching to the mac last November I had been using an HP Windows Home Server to store music, videos and pictures for our household. I've been waiting for a mac mini refresh so that I can do away with the WHS!
post #3 of 51
Uhm... The mini has an option for two drives, at least the 2.5ghz model.
post #4 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by res1233 View Post

Uhm... The mini has an option for two drives, at least the 2.5ghz model.

But doesn't come with the connecting cable for the second drive if you only buy it with one, is what it's saying.

Originally posted by Relic

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Originally posted by Relic

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post #5 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by res1233 View Post

Uhm... The mini has an option for two drives, at least the 2.5ghz model.

You beat me to it! How is it that an article like this is published, when a simple check on the Apple Store tells you its a feature! I'm going to buy one, and add a 3rd party SSD, still cant decide if the i7 is worth the $160 NZD upgrade...
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post #6 of 51
I'll just use the Thunderbolt/RAID option if I want more drive space.
post #7 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by sabuga View Post

You beat me to it! How is it that an article like this is published, when a simple check on the Apple Store tells you its a feature! I'm going to buy one, and add a 3rd party SSD, still cant decide if the i7 is worth the $160 NZD upgrade...

The article actually points out that Apple sells the mini with an option for 2 hard disks, but that the space is there in the low-end model for folks to add their own second HD.
post #8 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Booga View Post

The article actually points out that Apple sells the mini with an option for 2 hard disks, but that the space is there in the low-end model for folks to add their own second HD.

But the cable to do so also isn't there.

Originally posted by Relic

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Originally posted by Relic

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post #9 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Booga View Post

The article actually points out that Apple sells the mini with an option for 2 hard disks, but that the space is there in the low-end model for folks to add their own second HD.

Yes, NOW it does. They changed the article without stating that it was changed, which is poor journalism.
post #10 of 51
Wonder if this includes the mid range version with a discrete GPU or if the space is used for the graphics card
post #11 of 51
Apple is all over the place with Mac repairs and upgrades. You can't upgrade the hard drive in an iMac but you can screw with all the parts in the Mini.
post #12 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by res1233 View Post

Uhm... The mini has an option for two drives, at least the 2.5ghz model.

That has been true for some time. In fact, I have a previous generation Mini Server on my desk which has 2 hard drives and no optical drive.
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Gatorguy 5/31/13
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post #13 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

But the cable to do so also isn't there.

I can see MCE Tech or some other company offering their own version of such a cable in a few months, or some other retailer maybe selling Apple's part.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bdkennedy1 View Post

Apple is all over the place with Mac repairs and upgrades. You can't upgrade the hard drive in an iMac but you can screw with all the parts in the Mini.

It's simplified, but it still takes about 5 steps to get the drive out, and 5 to get it back in again. Maybe simpler than an iMac, but not something I'd recommend for very many people. I think a lot of people can do it pretty easily if they set their mind to it, but it's still a somewhat delicate operation.
post #14 of 51
Would have liked to have seen the teardown of the model with the discrete graphics card. Specifically, is it upgradeable in the future or just a soldered on chip?
post #15 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Goldenclaw View Post

Would have liked to have seen the teardown of the model with the discrete graphics card. Specifically, is it upgradeable in the future or just a soldered on chip?

How are you going to upgrade any laptop's GPU? Because that's what this is.

Originally posted by Relic

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Originally posted by Relic

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post #16 of 51
WTF did Apple decide to put the SD card slot in the fscking rear of the Mini? Oh sure, that's where all the port h/w is already located but how the heck are we users supposed to reach around under our monitor and snake our hands between the rat's nest of cable to insert the SC card?

This is totally ridiculous. I can see a 3rd party market for outfits like OWC, Newer, and Belkin* to make port extenders that stack under the Mini and provide a USB, FW and HD card ports in the faking front where they'll be used!

* Like this: Belkin hub
post #17 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ecphorizer View Post

unfamiliarity with the way Apple designs things

You're new to this whole thing, aren't you?

Originally posted by Relic

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Originally posted by Relic

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post #18 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ecphorizer View Post

WTF did Apple decide to put the SD card slot in the fscking rear of the Mini? Oh sure, that's where all the port h/w is already located but how the heck are we users supposed to reach around under our monitor and snake our hands between the rat's nest of cable to insert the SC card?

This is totally ridiculous. I can see a 3rd party market for outfits like OWC, Newer, and Belkin* to make port extenders that stack under the Mini and provide a USB, FW and HD card ports in the faking front where they'll be used!

You want the ports and card slot on the front? Turn it around!
post #19 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ecphorizer View Post

WTF did Apple decide to put the SD card slot in the fscking rear of the Mini? Oh sure, that's where all the port h/w is already located but how the heck are we users supposed to reach around under our monitor and snake our hands between the rat's nest of cable to insert the SC card?

This is totally ridiculous. I can see a 3rd party market for outfits like OWC, Newer, and Belkin* to make port extenders that stack under the Mini and provide a USB, FW and HD card ports in the faking front where they'll be used!

* Like this: Belkin hub

yep, it's really dumb. it was discussed on these boards when they launched this design.

Apple has an annoying tendency to sometime put form before function, which is of course very bad design.

Another recent example was the original unibody MacBook Pros which had the mini displayport to the right of the USB ports because it looked better there, even though it meant that if you had a monitor plugged in it meant that the USB ports were blocked. At least they addressed this with the 2nd gen case design and swapped the ports...
15" uMacbook Pro 2.4Ghz 8GB 128GB SSD/500GB 7200rpm, iMac 27" i5 16GB 1TB, MacBook Air 8GB 256GB, iPhone 5s 64GB, iPhone 4 32GB, iPad 4 64GB, Apple TV2/3, iPod Nano 2nd gen, iPod Touch 4th gen,...
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15" uMacbook Pro 2.4Ghz 8GB 128GB SSD/500GB 7200rpm, iMac 27" i5 16GB 1TB, MacBook Air 8GB 256GB, iPhone 5s 64GB, iPhone 4 32GB, iPad 4 64GB, Apple TV2/3, iPod Nano 2nd gen, iPod Touch 4th gen,...
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post #20 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ecphorizer View Post

WTF did Apple decide to put the SD card slot in the fscking rear of the Mini? Oh sure, that's where all the port h/w is already located but how the heck are we users supposed to reach around under our monitor and snake our hands between the rat's nest of cable to insert the SC card?

This is totally ridiculous. I can see a 3rd party market for outfits like OWC, Newer, and Belkin* to make port extenders that stack under the Mini and provide a USB, FW and HD card ports in the faking front where they'll be used!

* Like this: Belkin hub

I'm going to sit my mac mini underneath my HP LP2475w and run a single cable up to the monitor. It will be 35 inches away from me. Real tough to slide in one of those cards. Of course, I have no current use for them. I'll have the RAID/Thunderbolt set up before I have a need for an SD card, but that doesn't change the fact it's painfully easy to get to it.

Apple shouldn't care that your set up is a tangle of cables. That's your problem to resolve.
post #21 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by jg-in-ct View Post

You want the ports and card slot on the front? Turn it around!

Why should this be necessary? A card slot in the back is awkward, and having all the cables face the user is even more awkward. Your response just doesn't make any sense unless you're trying to parody an Apple apologist.
post #22 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by bsblair View Post

Cool...Looks like this will be my next purchase. Before switching to the mac last November I had been using an HP Windows Home Server to store music, videos and pictures for our household. I've been waiting for a mac mini refresh so that I can do away with the WHS!

It feels that a NAS (possibly with RAID) would be sufficient?
post #23 of 51
If you have 2 drives in a mini can you RAID them?
post #24 of 51
I'm disappointed that an option to include an SSD is not available except in the Server version. A Mac mini with an SSD and 8GB's of memory would be perfect as a desktop machine. Especially with thunderbolt connected storage. Not sure why its only available in the Server version.

Sorry, I jumped the gun. Just noticed it is available in the high end desktop version. For an additional $600!
post #25 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post

Why should this be necessary? A card slot in the back is awkward, and having all the cables face the user is even more awkward. Your response just doesn't make any sense unless you're trying to parody an Apple apologist.

No, seriously, why not have the end that you will use facing you? Easy to access the card slot, swap cables, and turn on and off. If it's behind a monitor, who cares? (unless it's in the living room, of course).
post #26 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by bdkennedy1 View Post

Apple is all over the place with Mac repairs and upgrades. You can't upgrade the hard drive in an iMac but you can screw with all the parts in the Mini.

Changing the HD in an iMac is not hard, but it's harder (and first time you do it - scarier) than undoing four screws underneath or at the back and unhooking the drive.
post #27 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post

Why should this be necessary? A card slot in the back is awkward, and having all the cables face the user is even more awkward. Your response just doesn't make any sense unless you're trying to parody an Apple apologist.

Yes, the card-slot should be at the front, or side. At the back with the cables is bad, or lazy design.
post #28 of 51
If they had not ditched the DVD Drive I would get one. I use a 2.0Ghz Mini in a Home entertainment center and still have a larger DVD movie library ( And do not want spend countless hours ripping all of the movies ). I wanted to upgrade the Mini in the entertainment center and use the old one as a small Web/FTP server.

I know that I could add the external super drive, but that would be one more thing cluttering up my system. In fact that is why I got the 2.0Ghz mini to dump the old clunky DVD player and have a much cleaner looking ( i.e. Wife approved ) entertainment system.

P.S. Bought a 2.66Ghz from the refurb store instead. It is a shame that the DVD was not at least an option since it would obviously fit in the case. I guess if you were willing to cut a slot in the case it still would fit....
post #29 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by jg-in-ct View Post

No, seriously, why not have the end that you will use facing you? Easy to access the card slot, swap cables, and turn on and off. If it's behind a monitor, who cares? (unless it's in the living room, of course).

I think that assumes that you're hiding the mini behind a monitor, which I don't think a lot of owners will do that, they'll have at least the front face visible under the edge of the monitor. And most of the other connectors probably aren't going to be touched nearly as often. Besides, the optical slot used to be on the front, so why not a little SD slot in its place?
post #30 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gmac View Post

If you have 2 drives in a mini can you RAID them?

I don't see why not. It would be just the basic software RAID, either kind you pick.
post #31 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by sranger View Post

If they had not ditched the DVD Drive I would get one. I use a 2.0Ghz Mini in a Home entertainment center and still have a larger DVD movie library ( And do not want spend countless hours ripping all of the movies ). I wanted to upgrade the Mini in the entertainment center and use the old one as a small Web/FTP server.

I know that I could add the external super drive, but that would be one more thing cluttering up my system. In fact that is why I got the 2.0Ghz mini to dump the old clunky DVD player and have a much cleaner looking ( i.e. Wife approved ) entertainment system.

P.S. Bought a 2.66Ghz from the refurb store instead. It is a shame that the DVD was not at least an option since it would obviously fit in the case. I guess if you were willing to cut a slot in the case it still would fit....

They did drop the base price by $100 though. A new mac mini + an external superdrive is still cheaper than the base price of the previous model. I don't think an external drive would really clutter up a media center (just put it on top of the mini and use a short USB cable to connect it).

Congrats of the refurbished mini though. You got a really good deal on it since the removal of the optical drive and $100 price drop led to massive discounts on the previous gen refurb models

As an aside, they redesigned the internals as a result of the DVD drive removal. I doubt it would fit without going back to the old internal design. One of the major benefits of the redesign is that both hard drive slots are easily accessible for upgrading. With the old two drive server models, you have to remove the logic board to get at the second hard drive. That's not the case anymore. There is some reason behind the madness.
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post #32 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by cmf2 View Post

They did drop the base price by $100 though.

What, when? The current base model is $599, the previous base model was $599.
post #33 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post

What, when? The current base model is $599, the previous base model was $599.

No, the first gen of the redesign was $699.

Originally posted by Relic

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Originally posted by Relic

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post #34 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post

What, when? The current base model is $599, the previous base model was $599.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

No, the first gen of the redesign was $699.

Indeed, it was $699:

http://www.engadget.com/2010/06/18/m...d-2010-review/
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post #35 of 51
Quick technical question about these dual drives:

If you get the BTO option with both the 256GB SSD and the 7200rpm drive with the SSD as the startup disk, can't the 7200rpm drive still produce an overall slowdown than with just the SSD alone?

I've been using a 2010 Mac Mini with an SSD and would never go back, but my experience has been that whenever I connect an external USB drive, the speed advantages of the SSD almost completely disappear, at least when accessing the Finder. Using the Open File command in an app or opening a new Finder window after a while will cause the whole system to hang for a few seconds as the external USB drive starts to spin. It happens even when I don't even navigate to that drive. I'm assuming it has something to do with indexing or Spotlight or something, and that USB drives are simply just not that fast.

When I disconnect the drive, everything's cool, but of course you can't just disconnect an internal drive. So I wonder if the internal drive will cause a similar slowdown. Does it create any kind bottleneck, however minor, that diminishes the advantage of having a singular SSD alone? Whst about an external Thunderbolt drive?
post #36 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

No, the first gen of the redesign was $699.

I had forgotten about that, so it was something of a temporary price increase.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Phong View Post

I've been using a 2010 Mac Mini with an SSD and would never go back, but my experience has been that whenever I connect an external USB drive, the speed advantages of the SSD almost completely disappear, at least when accessing the Finder. Using the Open File command in an app or opening a new Finder window after a while will cause the whole system to hang for a few seconds as the external USB drive starts to spin. It happens even when I don't even navigate to that drive. I'm assuming it has something to do with indexing or Spotlight or something, and that USB drives are simply just not that fast.

That's one of the down sides of Finder, if one Finder window is stalled, the whole program stalls.

Have you tried it with Lion yet?
post #37 of 51
No, but the problem isn't just the FInder. It's in any program that needs to open a file. I just hit command-O in Movist and waited a full five seconds just for the window to pop open. I wasn't even going to open something on an external drive either. And that was after I added the external volumes to Spotlight's privacy list.

Unplug the external drives, though, and everything is snappy.
post #38 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Phong View Post

No, but the problem isn't just the FInder. It's in any program that needs to open a file. I just hit command-O in Movist and waited a full five seconds just for the window to pop open. I wasn't even going to open something on an external drive either. And that was after I added the external volumes to Spotlight's privacy list.

Unplug the external drives, though, and everything is snappy.

Does it do that even if you aren't opening a file in the external drive?

I think what you were probably seeing is that the software (or maybe OS) is waiting for the drive to wake up, it spins down if it is not accessed often enough.
post #39 of 51
Personally, I don't understand them ditching the optical drive. Strategically, obviously it has to do with driving everything to digital downloads. Got to hand it to Apple, it can be extremely frustrating but they really don't worry about getting sales from people that they're not likely to get sales from... Blue ocean all the way.
post #40 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gmac View Post

If you have 2 drives in a mini can you RAID them?

If the drive is recognised by the system, yeah. OS X supports that. You can plug in 2 USB drives and make a RAID out of it, for example... You can play around with OS X's built-in RAID using Disk Utility. https://discussions.apple.com/thread...art=0&tstart=0
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