2018 Mac mini more repairable than 2014 model with socketed RAM and design choices

Posted:
in Current Mac Hardware edited November 11
Apple's revamped Mac mini is both easier to repair than most recent Macs and its 2014 predecessor, according to a teardown published on Friday.

2018 Mac mini teardown


Once a Mini is open, the logic board for instance can be removed with thumb presses instead of a tool. RAM is safeguarded under a shielding cage, letting it operate at high frequencies without generating electromagnetic interference, but can still be swapped out at will. This contrasts with the 2014 Mini, which used soldered, non-upgradable chips.

Some other components like the 150-watt power supply can also be easily removed. iFixit ultimately scored the computer 6 out of 10 for repairability, distinctly better than Macs like the 2018 MacBook Air, which garnered just 3 out of 10.

The RAM cage.
The RAM cage.


"Back in the day, a Pro Mac meant a computer you could upgrade, configure, and connect as you pleased," iFixit wrote. "This new Mini aligns so well with that ideal that we're surprised it didn't earn itself a 'Pro' title -- especially compared to the increasingly closed-off MacBook Pro line."

Update: The Mac mini has a pair of Thunderbolt 3 controllers, as opposed to one. This makes it equivalent to the bandwidth and performance of the 2018 15-inch MacBook Pro, and iMac Pro from an I/O perspective.

Apple has often chosen to glue or solder Mac components together in the pursuit of smaller and/or more efficient designs. That's resulted in criticism from professionals and hobbyists who would rather fix or upgrade devices on their own, especially given the premiums Apple charges for factory customization.

The 2018 Mac mini includes a variety of upgrades, including faster internals, Thunderbolt 3/USB-C ports, and optional 10-gigabit Ethernet. Starting at $799 it's the cheapest new Mac a person can buy, though its cost doesn't include a monitor, keyboard, or mouse.




Comments

  • Reply 1 of 17
    FYI, over on the eGPU.io forum new Mac Mini owners have been gathering evidence that it does have two TB3 controllers, on separate x4 CPU links. They seem pretty happy. :)
    racerhomie3watto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 17
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 3,608administrator
    FYI, over on the eGPU.io forum new Mac Mini owners have been gathering evidence that it does have two TB3 controllers, on separate x4 CPU links. They seem pretty happy. :)
    I've seen that. Unless it's hidden someplace on the motherboard or Intel hasn't changed numbers on the Titan Ridge controller and dramatically upgraded the chip quietly, it doesn't look like it.
    edited November 9
  • Reply 3 of 17
    The iFixit teardown seems to show, on step 8, two TB3 controller chips.
    edited November 9 watto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 17
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 3,608administrator
    The iFixit teardown seems to show, on step 8, two TB3 controller chips.
    Hah! That's what I get for not going back after the first pic was published. Thanks for the heads up. Article updated.
    edited November 9 michaelVDayswatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 17
    nhtnht Posts: 4,303member


    Update: The Mac mini has a pair of Thunderbolt 3 controllers, as opposed to one. This makes it equivalent to the bandwidth and performance of the 2018 15-inch MacBook Pro, and iMac Pro.

    WOOT!  If I didn't still like my 6 core trashcan so much I'd have bought one yesterday...it is much faster once I get a eGPU...
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 17
    davgregdavgreg Posts: 117member
    Quite happy with mine. 

    Have not decided what eGPU to buy, but the performance seems solid with the i7.

    Tried transcoding a massive MKV file with Handbrake over to 1080P 60 m4v yesterday and the fans spun up enough to hear it, but it ran a similar FPS as my 2010 Quad Core Mac Pro Cheesegrater with the stock NVIDIA GPU, but that could have been limited by the USB3 connection to the source file.
  • Reply 7 of 17
    davgreg said:
    Quite happy with mine. 

    Have not decided what eGPU to buy, but the performance seems solid with the i7.

    Tried transcoding a massive MKV file with Handbrake over to 1080P 60 m4v yesterday and the fans spun up enough to hear it, but it ran a similar FPS as my 2010 Quad Core Mac Pro Cheesegrater with the stock NVIDIA GPU, but that could have been limited by the USB3 connection to the source file.
    Handbrake doesn’t officially support the discrete GPU.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 17
    If it's that easy to move out of the enclosure, it probably wouldn't be too hard for somebody to offer an aftermarket enclosure so you could have the Mac mini internals and a more powerful graphics card all in one with a short thunderbolt connection bridging them. I'm not sure how much of a market there would be for that, though, especially with the modular Mac Pro on the horizon.

    EDIT: Nevermind, this sentence in the article was a bit deceptive. "Once a Mini is open, the logic board for instance can be removed with thumb presses instead of a tool." According to iFitIt, that's actually a 15 step process before you get to that point.
    edited November 9 GeorgeBMacwatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 17
    nhtnht Posts: 4,303member
    If it's that easy to move out of the enclosure, it probably wouldn't be too hard for somebody to offer an aftermarket enclosure so you could have the Mac mini internals and a more powerful graphics card all in one with a short thunderbolt connection bridging them. I'm not sure how much of a market there would be for that, though, especially with the modular Mac Pro on the horizon.

    EDIT: Nevermind, this sentence in the article was a bit deceptive. "Once a Mini is open, the logic board for instance can be removed with thumb presses instead of a tool." According to iFitIt, that's actually a 15 step process before you get to that point.
    No it wouldn't be that hard to transplant into another enclosure...
    GeorgeBMacwatto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 17
    fallenjtfallenjt Posts: 3,920member
    You asked and Apple gives you that: upgradable by users. It’s a little more expensive than the previous releases but you can upgrade it which means this Mac Mini could last you a decade (ref: My 2011 Mac runs great up to now).
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 17
    fallenjt said:
    You asked and Apple gives you that: upgradable by users. It’s a little more expensive than the previous releases but you can upgrade it which means this Mac Mini could last you a decade (ref: My 2011 Mac runs great up to now).
    It is.  That's true.   But as pointed out on another thread, it's a delicate operation with multiple points of failure.  And, if you break it, you'll have to pay for the fix.   While it can be done, it's not for the weak or clutzy -- and be sure you have all the right tools - especially screw drivers.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 17
    entropysentropys Posts: 1,346member
    fallenjt said:
    You asked and Apple gives you that: upgradable by users. It’s a little more expensive than the previous releases but you can upgrade it which means this Mac Mini could last you a decade (ref: My 2011 Mac runs great up to now).
    Partially upgradable. There is still the soldered SSD. This could have been great if both the RAM and SSD were user replaceable. This Mini isn’t what was asked for, it’s just some of the way there.
    zen_arcade
  • Reply 13 of 17
    Its very close though... Its much better than what most of us thought we'd get i'm sure.

    It would of been the complete deal if it had swappable PCIe SSD's. That would really be something...

    Give feedback to Apple - it may not be too late to nudge the Mac Pro into a changeable SSD setup
    GeorgeBMac
  • Reply 14 of 17
    MacProMacPro Posts: 17,736member
    The iFixit teardown seems to show, on step 8, two TB3 controller chips.
    Hah! That's what I get for not going back after the first pic was published. Thanks for the heads up. Article updated.
    Hey sorry this OT and feel free to remove to another thread but it relates to a Mac mini.

    I have a techy question for you Mike.  I control a bunch of PCs all with Windows 10 Pro with Microsoft's pretty cool v10 RDT from my Mac Pro trashcan on the same LAN, i.e. all PCs run headless.  Several are running MySql databases for OpenSimulator.  One of the 'PCs' is actually a 2012 Mac mini running Bootcamp.  So here's the weird thing, the Mac mini allows me via RDT to open and run OpenSim viewers i.e. the viewer is running in Windows seen via RDT on my Mac Pro's screens.  Not one of the genuine PCs can do that reporting the graphics are not capable.  One of those PCs has an NVidea GTX 1080!  So I am guessing this is related to BootCamp drivers, would I be correct and can you think of a way the PCs could do the same as the Mac mini?  By the way, this not related to permissions etc. I have all host file loopbacks set up correctly, it is purely a graphics related issue.
    edited November 10
  • Reply 15 of 17
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 3,608administrator
    MacPro said:
    The iFixit teardown seems to show, on step 8, two TB3 controller chips.
    Hah! That's what I get for not going back after the first pic was published. Thanks for the heads up. Article updated.
    Hey sorry this OT and feel free to remove to another thread but it relates to a Mac mini.

    I have a techy question for you Mike.  I control a bunch of PCs all with Windows 10 Pro with Microsoft's pretty cool v10 RDT from my Mac Pro trashcan on the same LAN, i.e. all PCs run headless.  Several are running MySql databases for OpenSimulator.  One of the 'PCs' is actually a 2102 Mac mini running Bootcamp.  So here's the weird thing, the Mac mini allows me via RDT to open and run OpenSim viewers i.e. the viewer is running in Windows seen via RDT on my Mac Pro's screens.  Not one of the genuine PCs can do that reporting the graphics are not capable.  One of those PCs has an NVidea GTX 1080!  So I am guessing this is related to BootCamp drivers, would I be correct and can you think of a way the PCs could do the same as the Mac mini?  By the way, this not related to permissions etc. I have all host file loopbacks set up correctly, it is purely a graphics related issue.
    At first glance it does sound like a driver issue. I am unexpectedly moving furniture about the house today, so I'll see what I can find out before Monday.
  • Reply 16 of 17
    MacProMacPro Posts: 17,736member
    MacPro said:
    The iFixit teardown seems to show, on step 8, two TB3 controller chips.
    Hah! That's what I get for not going back after the first pic was published. Thanks for the heads up. Article updated.
    Hey sorry this OT and feel free to remove to another thread but it relates to a Mac mini.

    I have a techy question for you Mike.  I control a bunch of PCs all with Windows 10 Pro with Microsoft's pretty cool v10 RDT from my Mac Pro trashcan on the same LAN, i.e. all PCs run headless.  Several are running MySql databases for OpenSimulator.  One of the 'PCs' is actually a 2102 Mac mini running Bootcamp.  So here's the weird thing, the Mac mini allows me via RDT to open and run OpenSim viewers i.e. the viewer is running in Windows seen via RDT on my Mac Pro's screens.  Not one of the genuine PCs can do that reporting the graphics are not capable.  One of those PCs has an NVidea GTX 1080!  So I am guessing this is related to BootCamp drivers, would I be correct and can you think of a way the PCs could do the same as the Mac mini?  By the way, this not related to permissions etc. I have all host file loopbacks set up correctly, it is purely a graphics related issue.
    At first glance it does sound like a driver issue. I am unexpectedly moving furniture about the house today, so I'll see what I can find out before Monday.
    Cheers, watch your back!  :)

  • Reply 17 of 17
    Little speakers, interesting.

    Speaking of soldered vs. socketed RAM, I wonder is it always that important.  It's obviously not on performance or it's more reliable (more parts can leads to more issues, like damaged sockets), that there's always the upper limit by CPU's memory controller.  If the system is obsoleted, upgrading RAM won't make much differences because newer one are always faster.

    There's that playable value like sticking a faster RAM for overclocking, and a must if you want to build a desktop, but I think it isn't practical for some other system.
    edited November 12
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