M1 Mac mini teardown reveals smaller logic board, non-upgradeable RAM

Posted:
in General Discussion edited November 2020
What appears to be one of the first Mac mini teardowns reveals an M1 assembly that requires much less space than the previous Intel logic board.

Credit: Brandon Geekabit
Credit: Brandon Geekabit


About a week after going up for preorder, shipments of the new Mac mini equipped with Apple Silicon chips are starting to arrive to customers. Having received his, YouTuber Brandon Geekabit has shared an initial teardown of the device.





Disassembling the M1 Mac mini is pretty much the same as tearing down previous iterations, and the major difference is the fact that the M1 board takes up much less space. The size discrepancy is even more apparent since the M1 Mac mini shares the same chassis as its Intel predecessor.

Although the M1 chip has performed incredibly well in early benchmarks, there are some trade offs with the new devices. In the Mac mini's case, Apple has cut the number of Thunderbolt ports in half and Gigabit Ethernet is no longer an upgrade option.

Additionally, because the RAM and SSD are part of the M1 system-on-a-chip, the Mac mini's memory is no longer user upgradeable.

The base tier Mac mini does start at $100 cheaper than the previous model. The variant with an M1 chip, 8GB of RAM, and 256GB of SSD storage starts at $679.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 31
    entropysentropys Posts: 3,116member
    The RAM is separate to the SOC? Interesting.
  • Reply 2 of 31
    entropys said:
    The RAM is separate to the SOC? Interesting.
    this must be a misunderstanding surely.
    dysamoriawatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 31
    maltzmaltz Posts: 277member
    entropys said:
    The RAM is separate to the SOC? Interesting.
    this must be a misunderstanding surely.

    Yes, the RAM is part of the M1 SOC.  The video simply said "everything is soldered to the board, so we do not have any user-upgradeable RAM..."  Which I suppose is technically soldered to the board, but not separately.
    stompyforgot usernamewilliamlondonStrangeDaysdysamoriawatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 31
    No gigabit option any longer? :neutral: 
    williamlondon
  • Reply 5 of 31
    No 10 GbE option, 1 GbE is standard. I think a 10 got left off the article?
    edited November 2020 forgot usernamewilliamlondonbonobobtokyojimucaladanianwatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 31
    mjtomlinmjtomlin Posts: 2,446member
    entropys said:
    The RAM is separate to the SOC? Interesting.

    Yes and no. The actual logic is separate from the RAM, but they are both in the same SoC package. All the photos we have seen clearly showed this. I’m not sure why the article thinks “RAM is soldered to the motherboard”. The SSD sure is, but no, the RAM is part of the M1.
    forgot usernameStrangeDaysdewmedysamoriarandominternetpersonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 31
    mjtomlinmjtomlin Posts: 2,446member
    No gigabit option any longer? :neutral: 

    Not for this SoC. I personally believe the M1 was originally intended for the MacBook Air only, so Apple may have kept PCIe support to a minimum. As several Apple engineers have stated, they were shocked by the performance they got, and I think that's when they decided to also use it in the 13" Pro and mini. Maybe hoping his limitation might keep higher end users from purchasing these "low end" models.

    I think the next SoC will increase expandability, then maybe we'll get 10Gb Ethernet, more Thunderbolt ports, support for more displays and possibly support for eGPUs.
    edited November 2020 randominternetpersonlkruppcaladanianargonautwatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 31
    mjtomlin said:
    No gigabit option any longer? :neutral: 

    Not for this SoC. I personally believe the M1 was originally intended for the MacBook Air only, so Apple may have kept PCIe support to a minimum. As several Apple engineers have stated, they were shocked by the performance they got, and I think that's when they decided to also use it in the 13" Pro and mini. Maybe hoping his limitation might keep higher end users from purchasing these "low end" models.

    I think the next SoC will increase expandability, then maybe we'll get 10Gb Ethernet, more Thunderbolt ports, support for more displays and possibly support for eGPUs.
    I have a feeling eGPU support is over.
  • Reply 9 of 31
    1GbE only?  That is so last century.

    Actually I am surprised they included wired ethernet...  given Apple's tendency to eliminate anything they (even remotely) feel is passé.
    elijahgviclauyycwatto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 31
    netroxnetrox Posts: 1,055member
    Isn't USB4 capable of doing 10GbE?  
    yoyo2222caladanianwatto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 31
    dewmedewme Posts: 3,827member
    As impressive as these first generation M1 Macs are, it's very clear to me that the upside potential of products using this technology is enormous. All of these products are very sparse in terms of getting all of the working bits in the existing product dimensions. I think that 18 months from now we'll be looking back at these are being "bare bones" compared to what will be coming next.  
    elijahgcaladanianargonautwatto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 31
    netrox said:
    Isn't USB4 capable of doing 10GbE?  
    USB4 supports the data rate...  and then some.  Whether there will be support for a hardware adapter is another matter.
    caladanianwatto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 31
    The M1 Mac mini must be a transcoding beast.  It should be good for my conversions of mp4 to mkv video/movie files.  I can't wait for the second generation M-series chips.  Not that I need something more powerful, but I figure Apple's second-generation hardware will have new form factors.  Apple had done a pretty good job with Apple Silicon and I hope Apple receives some proper respect from the computer industry and not some knee-jerk criticism because Apple is going in a different direction with ARM-based, low-power chips.
    Samsonikkmuthuk_vanalingamwatto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 31
    entropys said:
    The RAM is separate to the SOC? Interesting.
    He didn't remove the heatsink.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 31
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 5,737member
    If Apple really wanted to, they could probably get the Mac mini's footprint to be slightly larger than what an AppleTV box is.  I bet when it comes time to redesign the chassis, it's going to shave a lot of heft off the next gen ASi systems.
    exappleemployeedewmechiatmayargonautwatto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 31
    mjtomlinmjtomlin Posts: 2,446member
    sflocal said:
    If Apple really wanted to, they could probably get the Mac mini's footprint to be slightly larger than what an AppleTV box is.  I bet when it comes time to redesign the chassis, it's going to shave a lot of heft off the next gen ASi systems.

    Only if they remove the power supply. At least 25% of the inside is taken up by it.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 31
    XedXed Posts: 1,030member
    The M1 Mac mini must be a transcoding beast.  It should be good for my conversions of mp4 to mkv video/movie files.  I can't wait for the second generation M-series chips.  Not that I need something more powerful, but I figure Apple's second-generation hardware will have new form factors.  Apple had done a pretty good job with Apple Silicon and I hope Apple receives some proper respect from the computer industry and not some knee-jerk criticism because Apple is going in a different direction with ARM-based, low-power chips.
    I’m curious why you’re removing the MPEG-4 container in favor of Matroska. Also, there is likely no need to conversions if you are doing a reencode. You can swap containers if they contain H.264 or H.265-based content.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 31
    XedXed Posts: 1,030member
    sflocal said:
    If Apple really wanted to, they could probably get the Mac mini's footprint to be slightly larger than what an AppleTV box is.  I bet when it comes time to redesign the chassis, it's going to shave a lot of heft off the next gen ASi systems.
    The amount of free space amazed me. It would be great to see these smaller.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 31
    stompystompy Posts: 367member
    mjtomlin said:
    sflocal said:
    If Apple really wanted to, they could probably get the Mac mini's footprint to be slightly larger than what an AppleTV box is.  I bet when it comes time to redesign the chassis, it's going to shave a lot of heft off the next gen ASi systems.

    Only if they remove the power supply. At least 25% of the inside is taken up by it.
    Return to the mini's roots -- give us an external power supply. Would this M1 Mac even need a fan, if not for that power supply? Sadly, we'll have to wait a long time for a full redesign. I'd guess the mini will be the last Mac to get a new enclosure.
    edited November 2020
  • Reply 20 of 31
    No gigabit option any longer? :neutral: 
    Gigabit - yes.

    10Gigabit - No, not from Apple.  You can get a TB3 -> 10Gb ethernet adapter for < $150.  Apple was charging $100 for 10Gb as an option on the Intel based Mac mini.

    edited November 2020 caladanianwatto_cobra
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