back to article Apple's fresh Mac mini stripped naked

Apple's new Mac mini, announced on Tuesday, is simple to open, easy to upgrade, and requires an exceptionally small amount of power — a mere 10 watts at idle. Such were some of the discoveries made by the intrepid kit-disassemblers, parts-suppliers, and crackerjack troubleshooters at iFixIt in their tear-down of Apple's long- …

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Mac mini Colo Tear down

The Mac mini Colo tear down has more detail pictures. Especially notable that you can access the hard drive very easily without taking apart the whole machine.

http://www.macminicolo.net/macmini2010.html

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Easy access to one drive in the server version

What the macminicolo tear down shows is that you can get at one of the hard drives that is in the server version of the new Mac Mini very easily. As the macminicolo article states, the other drive, the one that is in the non-server version, is buried way down at the bottom.

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Jobs Halo

RAM upgrades

"it's a good thing that easy DIY RAM upgrades are becoming common in Apple products"

Which difficult to upgrade Mac models are you referring to apart from the Mac Mini? The original iMac was a little tricky but not impossible. Adding RAM has always been straight forward on Macs.

The first Mac I added RAM to was a PowerMac 7600 in 1996 which involved pressing two buttons at the back of the case and sliding it off, and the RAM slots were unobstructed. No screws to undo, no hard disks to remove to get access to the RAM slots. G3/G4 PowerMacs had the the cool side door with the rally like D-ring to open to get access to the innards.

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Flame

"No screws to undo"

This is the problem I have with so many computers lately. It seems to have become unfashionable to use anything so mundane and utilitarian as a screw to hold stuff together. Instead everybody wants to use these damn little plastic clips that are nearly impossible to undo with breaking at least one or two.

Bring back the humble screw, I say! If you don't have an assortment of tools, or at least something like a Leatherman near at hand anyway, what business do you have trying to open up a computer and poke around inside?

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Ah the good ol' screw!

We geeks love a good screw!

Ms Bee: Do you prefer a screw? :P

Paris... Well isn't it obvious?

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You don't know how lucky you are

> Which difficult to upgrade Mac models are you referring to apart from the Mac Mini?

I upgraded a Mac 128 to a Mac 512 by desoldering all the DRAM chips (16 of them I think) and soldering in new ones.

Pass the zimmerframe please...

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Alert

Internal power supply

Was this not fingered as the cause of numerous failures of the time capsule?

Something about being difficult to cool the CPU when you have a damn heater in the box...

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Time Capsules

It was heat that killed the TCs by blowing their capacitors. It was probably made worse by the all-plastic construction and a nice thick layer of rubber on the bottom. After my original one went bang, Apple replaced it with one of the newer designs which runs much cooler - the top surface is barely warm.

The MM will probably also benefit from having an aluminium case that doubles up as a radiator.

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Anonymous Coward

Looks like the in-car modding crowd spoke too soon

tear out the power supply, wire your vehicle electrics straight into the motherboard and you're away.

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Not a good idea

"""tear out the power supply, wire your vehicle electrics straight into the motherboard and you're away."""

Yeah, don't do that, you'll just fry the motherboard. A car's power system is extremely noisy, and they're rarely actually 12V. A motherboard expects nice, clean, stable, regulated power from a power supply, connected with short wires, and if it gets anything other than what it's expecting, it's liable to smoke. They make filters for car computer mods, but this computer isn't exactly unique, since they also make mini-itx boards with 12v inputs built in. Chances are OSX in the vehicle would be far more trouble than it's worth.

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Too true

A cars voltage normally sits around 14V while the car is running, with spikes under certain conditions and severe drops when cranking.

At the very least you'd need a decent regulator. I'm looking at this myself to convert a Marvel Guruplug into a car PC, and it aint as easy as you'd think (although this runs off 5V). You need to supply a smooth, regulated voltage to any electronic device, and the higher the current and the higher the *range* of draw, the more difficult it becomes.

The mini here draws between approx 0.8A at idle and 7A. 7A is enough to make it either hard work to DIY or pretty expensive to buy.

Just something to be aware of before you start complaining that you blew up your brand new shiney overpriced Mac and blow it up

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Can be hard to beat the old model

The old model overheated and was poorly designed to stop people upgrading themselves. The internal power supply is still a massive mistake.

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FAIL

BS

Erm, nope x3.

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Test to destruction...

I'm glad you've had the chance to test a statistically relevant number of the new Mac Minis to destruction to observe this. Oh, wait...

Sorry, you merely made a pie-in-the-sky ASSertion....with no collaborating evidence. My fault, I thought you were trying to be relevant. Try "...internal power supply COULD be a mistake".

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Happy

Can anyone name the music in the video?

Sounds really nice.

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Anonymous Coward

According to Shazam on my HTC Hero it's:

'Biosphere Anthem 1999' by Vienna Project, from the album 'World of Progressive Trance'.

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Pint

Is there a copy editor in the house?

"upgrading you RAM or storage in you iPad"

"can be removed the the circular bottom"

*ahem*

On the serious side, Apple's a grandmaster at the industrial design game. You have to give them props for that.

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Jobs Horns

Wish they called this the Mac nano

Then left the door open for a redesigned larger mini with room for a desktop class hard drive, 5.25" optical drive, desktop class CPU and chipset, and single PCIe graphics card. :-/

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re:Wish they called this the Mac nano

Too true.

Now Steam is here, a hackintosh is the only sensible option for Mac gaming. And surprisingly easy to make. A missed opportunity. Even an external PCIe box with disk and graphics card would be nice.

And, these would make great (media) servers - except for the tiny HD.

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What's that slid in the front?

What's that slid in the front? It seems to be to wide for an SD-card. And it cannot possibly be a 5 1/2 inch diskette drive. It might be one of those CD-Rom drives which were popular in eht 1990s, but that would seriously be very retro.

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Nice little box

I'd like one to wipe and pop Linux on to use it as a home theatre PC. But, and this is common to all Apple kit, not at that price. Halve the cost and I'd buy one or even several, and I bet a lot more people would too.

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Anonymous Coward

@Rattus Rattus

Just curious, why Linux? What would make Linux better on this box as a media server? I'm not familiar with media centre software on Linux, but this at least has benefit over the AppleTV (which I own) that you can run Frontrow and watch all your media in iTunes (not just H.264 stuff). Are there Linux packages out there that are superior? Again, I'm just curious.

Agree with you fully about the cost of this thing - if I had oodles of cash, I'd give it a go.

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Why ruin it?

OS X does home theatre very nicely. And everything else, too, especially for dumb users like yours truly. Or is 2010 yet another Year Linux Takes Over Desktops(TM)?

Of course, halving the price would just make it a nasty little computer like the ones punted by Dell, and we know how successful those are, don't we?

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I think...

I think that I'd leave OSX on it, but stick the MythTV client onto it and point it at my Myth backend, it's not the sort of box that I would object to in my living room (we have a strict no-computers in the living room rule) The trouble is that I can't help thinking that it's a bit on the costly side, for any other manufacturer I wouldn't really see it as too expensive, but my experience of Apple's customer services for the G5 that I own is that they are piss-poor at best and that makes it a deal breaker. It's a shame, as I think I'd quite like one otherwise.

Some of the UNIX guys at work got Macs and are now ditching them for PCs with Win/Lin for the same reason.

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Anonymous Coward

@Fraser

Nice post - good info, I'll check out the MythTV stuff, sounds interesting.

As for Apple's customer service, they're actually rated number 1 in the industry, so we must assume it's because you're running ancient hardware!<grin>

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@AC

MythTV is pretty good, but I wouldn't suggest it for a linux beginner. It can run on frontend (player) and backend (recorder) on Linux (mythbuntu and mythdora are the current most popular) and MacOS. There are standalone frontends available for Windows, Linux and MacOS. You can run frontend on the same machine as the backend.

It's all there at www.mythtv.org, I find the current version pretty good, although older versions have been a bit on the flaky side.

As for Apple's Customer services, it's general stuff like: We lost the system rescue disk, they wanted to charge us the full face value of all the software for the replacement. Many people on the helpdesk are clueless (they didn't know what a PPC chip was one time, another time they told be that a point release was the full upgrade to the next OS version.) When I wanted to upgrade from 10.4 to 10.5, they tried to sell me 10.6 for £25, even though it wouldn't run on my hardware, when I insisted on 10.5 they told me that it would be £85. The fan on the machine got louder and louder and they refused to fix it under warrenty, dispite having the extended warranty thing. It's all pretty low level tedious stuff that I've not had from other PC suppliers that I've dealt with. But, that said, if you've had good experiences and continue to have them, I wish you well...

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Anonymous Coward

crappy fan

once that nasty cheap fan left over from "pci slot coolers" craps out it will overheat and die. so if you get one keep an eye on it. (i wonder how much apple will charge for a new one)

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Shocking

Yes, how dreadful, I wish Macs were fanless like PCs.

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Hmm...

One of my PCs is fanless... It's not that fast (1.3GHz), but it's capable of running a MythTV backend and only uses low 20 Watts.

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JBH
Happy

As much as I dislike Apple...

...I've got to admit, they know how to put hardware together.

I had the (dis?)pleasure of working on a Mac Pro recently, and the guts were like no PC I'd ever seen. No cables in sight, and no fiddly screws. Everything just slotted into place. It was a work of art, I'd even say it was beautiful.

It's a pity they can't put as much thought into the rest of their business!

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Jobs Halo

Media Server

I've had one of the old ones for 4 years now. I apgraded the processor to 2.33 and upgraded the memory, and the total cost for 400 quid (300 quid mac mini, 100 quid for processor and memory upgrade).

It has been on 24/7 for 4 years as my living room entertainment system. Plugged into a 50" 1080p plasma via DVI.

Plays anything I throw at it up to 1080p np.

never overheated, never crashes.

They are great little things - just a pity that 4 years later the same spec costs over twice as much :-/

They are great little

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What worries me

is the use of desktop-and-server class processors in something that is built more like a laptop.

If the heat pipes that carry the heat from the GPU and processor becomes less efficient with time (as I believe they do), I'm sure you will see these cook themselves, as there is no direct cooling of the metal above the processors.

I've seen this happen with laptops using AMD mobile processors. They just break due to getting too hot once they get to a certain age!

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what app for video

Does anyone know what they used to create the YouTube video. I've not seen a photo presentation done this way before and it's pretty slick.

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Jobs Halo

lovely but pricey

us apple users are loving this new mini but the price is a disgrace, $699 or £649? eh?

the dell zino hd for £549 is a serious competitor..

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want!

Looks really nice, pity there's a lack of teh blurayz though.

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