back to article Slash your way inside Apple's Mac Mini

You can break into Apple's new Mac mini, but it's nerve-wracking. However, if you do, you can up its storage capacity to one terabyte. On Wednesday, the folks at Mac repair-shop and parts-supplier iFixit tore a new 20-inch iMac into pieces. Today, they did the same with the new Mac mini. Popping open a Mac mini for the first …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    It's easy,

    Stop moaning about it and grow some naddgers yer bunch of jessie's.

  2. P

    Top to bottom or bottom to top?

    Erm, the caption under the picture quite clearly states that the original Mac Mini is on the bottom (and is easily verified with the discovery of the modem jack on the bottom unit) while the paragraph directly under that picture states that the original Mac Mini is at the *top* of the picture ... unless you are trying to state that a picture that could contain an original Mac Mini is at the top of the page?

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Mac Mini

    I've been buying Apple kit for over 20 years now, but the machine that has consistently impressed me the most is the Mini. It's an excellent little device.

  4. Matt
    Paris Hilton

    Balls of Steel

    I've serviced G4 and first generation Intel Mac mini's and really don't see why cracking them open is considered such a big deal. Whenever I carried out RAM and HDD replacements I actually thought the G4's were laid out really well given the size constraints. My only gripe was the location of the PRAM battery required the removal of the internal frame, but how often is that an issue?

    The Intel mini's aren't so easy to work on, with some fiddly cables to disconnect, but you can still be in and out in under 10 minutes, no problem. Sounds like El Reg needs to grow a pair. ;-)

    Paris, because she knows a thing or two about cojones and rapid entry.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Why oh why.... they insist on making things so bloody hard to upgrade.

    oh yeah. greed.

    Oh you want the larger capcity drive version. That'll be £250.

    Shame because they are nice little bits of kit.

  6. Paul Isaac's

    Just needs eSata Raid0+1/5 & Blu-Ray

    ...still waiting for the ultimate home media server and REALLY do want it to be a Mac Mini but its STILL not quite there yet! :(

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Components inside...

    The power supply didn't fit though did it?

    Isn't it left dangling outside to help cool it, like a giant techno-bollock?

  8. Christopher A Light

    Back when I were a lad...

    Remember the ORIGINAL Mac?

    That was WAY easier to dismantle. All you needed was nerves of steel, a 12" steel rule, and...

    Er, maybe those with a nervous disposition should stop reading....

    A 4lb club hammer.

    Start with the case standing normally. Place one long edge of the ruler in the groove on the top of the case between the font and back case components, pressing against the back case, at roughly 45 degrees.

    Smack the other edge of the ruler briskly with the hammer. Repeat, if necessary (IE. if its a 'virgin' case) each side, then back to the top. Never had to 'ease' the case this way more than four times - previously opened cases often came open after the first blow...

    Seriously. It worked. Never broke one doing it either. Bloody dangerous things to work inside though. Made those 'toxic waste' iMacs look like child's play!

    Ah! Them were the days!

  9. Paul Bruneau

    Power supply and putty knife

    Yes, the power supply is outside, where it should be on such a nice small device. Hide the supply under your desk or tape it somewhere, what could be better?

    And for ease of cracking, try a putty knife with a wider blade.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: what could be better?

    Well, putting it inside the device could be better then you don't have a soap-on-a-rope train of boxes all over the place.

    I don't see why it "should" be outside the box, except from a testicular perspective.

  11. James Pickett
    Jobs Horns


    "oh yeah. greed"

    Which is why I won't be buying one. Or an iPhone (can't change the battery). Closed architecture is one thing, but making owner maintenance difficult or impossible rules them out for me, so it's a bit counterproductive...

  12. richard
    Jobs Halo

    why did gorilla boy bother?

    really, what was the point?

    you take apart most pc/gadgets and there's lot's of stuff crammed in fooking what?

  13. Paul Bruneau


    I'm sorry, I don't follow what you mean by testicular perspective.

    But to me, it makes complete sense to have the hot, interference-creating power supply sit outside of that nice small box. I'm sorry you don't agree and I don't understand what my testicles have to do with it.

  14. Anonymous Coward

    giant techno-bollocks

    Giant techno-bollocks assist with cooling, rather like real bollocks. Early computers of the mini-tower formfactor didn't have the cooling problems modern computers have. All they needed was a couple of big noisy fans, they didn't even bother with heat sinks. Now big noisy computers were good enough for my father, and his father, and his fathers father, so they are good enough for the likes of you and me.

    I'll have none of this new fangled technology and modern thinking in my computers, if it doesn't look like it was put together in a car factory by panel betters in the 1980's then it can't possibly be a computer.

    While I'm at it why won't they let me keep my dot matrix printer, it wasn't that noisy when you wore the ear defenders and at least no one could run off with my Car phone, not without clapsing at the end of the street under the weight of it's lead acid battery.

  15. Jared Earle
    Jobs Halo

    That's my weekend

    I've got a single 2GB stick from Crucial ready to install in the brand new Mini and the missus is picking up the putty knife from her maws.

    Good times, good times.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns

    it's crap - just like the others

    Lock in, average hardware and outrageous prices. Even more outrageous upgrade and repair prices.

    Apple - for iDiots.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Testicular?

    Ah well, then you should be aware that they're outside the body for temperature regulation.

    The box wouldn't be so small with the supply in but the overall package would be better. After all they never photograph it with the supply in shot do they? Although you can't run it without one.

    Heck, you could go the whole hog and have separate cdrom and hard drive there too after all, they're hot and have electrical fields too.. The cd/dvd/whatever especially gets relatively little use and could be kept in a draw making it even smaller.

    I guess my point is that the diddy box on the end of the lumpy cable laden chain of boxes isn't the only thing of relevance.

  18. Bad Beaver

    External supply = less heat = less noise

    Yeah well, you know, those "real computer users" just prefer to have a big honkin' case with all the hot stuff inside and plenty of air vents and droning fans and stuff. Personally, the less noise emanates from my computer the better.

    Oh and what is the general story value here? You need a putty knife to open a mini, it's never been different. If you lack the balls, have your dealer do the upgrade. Might be a little more expensive but you won't get shafted the same way as when having Apple do it.

  19. fluffy

    My tool of choice

    The first time I opened my G4 Mini (to upgrade the RAM) I used a putty knife as recommended, and found it to be difficult and fiddly. The second time (to replace a head hard drive) I found that simply using a nice stiff bench knife (also known as a dough knife, pastry scraper, and a bunch of other things - basically that large flat kitchen utensil used to lift up chopped ingredients) works exceptionally well.

    I also found that standing it on the front of the case instead of the top helped immensely - that way I could use gravity to my advantage instead of having to fight against it.

  20. Martin Silver badge

    >Components inside...

    Power supply outside is a great feature (they charge an extra £100 for it on a shuttle)

    Apart from saving on a fan it makes it a lot quicker and easier to get to market if you don't have to meet mutually incompatible electrical safety regs from 50 different countries.

    The real question is why don't Shuttle/Asus/Dell do one of these for $300 ?

  21. Bod
    Jobs Horns

    A rare chance to say...

    Just get a PC ;-)

    (as after all, if you wanted upgradability and the option to do what you like with *your* own purchases, you wouldn't buy Apple in the first place. Why would you want to mess with your Coffee table show piece?)

  22. Murray Pearson

    Ah, that ain't so hard to open!

    I had a generation 1 iBook (a tangerine one, with the curvy case) and THAT was a bitch to open.

    When its warranty expired I cracked it open to upgrade the appallingly tiny hard drive and, though I was impressed with its clever trapeze-like structure that avoided baning things while it was carried around with the handle, I was *not* impressed that I had to remove every damn component to get down to the hard disk.

    When I dissected it down to there, I took the drive out, and found it was 9.5 millimetres tall, while the replacement drives I could find were 10.5 mm tall. This sucked so massively that it took me over a month to gather the mental wherewithal to reassemble the damn thing. Then, when I finally did, I plugged it in and the battery charging light didn't turn on. I was, to say the least, monumentally sad.

    So I went off and crashed out for the night, figuring my computer was dead; and then in the morning, with a heavy heart, pressed the power button to confirm it was, in fact, deceased.

    It bonged and started up! The only part that didn't work was the charging indicator light. I have never been happier with a malfunctioning conputer in my life.

  23. Bad Beaver

    Re: >Components inside...

    They don't make one for $300 because you pay $500. Also, Tsi Ming and Ling Pi from the assembly line say they actually get a bowl of rice a day plus chicken feet on Sundays at current prices and that they would be most unhappy if that was cut back to just half a bowl & chicken feet only on holidays, even if it meant that you could save three or four days worth of minimum wage on your computer.

  24. Cullen Newsom

    Hard to upgrade?

    You can have the thing open in under a minute with only a butter knife. Take that and a screwdriver, you can max out its RAM and install a bigger disk in the time it takes to dig your tower PC out from under your desk.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Really slick design, NOT!

    So you're impressed that they managed to put a barely useful computer into a box that size? Really? Every laptop on the market manages a similar feat, and many of those are a whole lot better designed than that thing.

    Did you ever see a Vaio UX1XN?!? It's a quarter of the size, and that includes a keyboard and display. OK calling that a keyboard is a stretch, but it's still better than most smartphones at least ;)

  26. Another Anonymous Coward

    It's easy enough.

    Have done it myself. Pop the base off, undo a few screws and it's sorted, as far as RAM goes.

    No way in hell would I attempt that 1TB upgrade though, there are too many things that could go wrong when you start having to solder wires to things, and hand-craft your own custom molex connectors.

    I bought the mini last year because it was cheap, small, and pretty much silent compared to my "old dinosaur" PC with the vacuum cleaner fans and cranky hard drive.

    This year though... mac mini's gone up by £100, not good when you also factor in the fact that, over the last year, big PC companies have finally started to realise that it might be a good idea to design something that isn't a variation on the "great big heavy noisy black box" theme.

    @ Martin - Dell's studio hybrid is cheaper, with a slightly better spec, and then there's this little beauty from ASUS:

    Lots of good stuff floating around these days. :)

  27. Lukin Brewer
    Thumb Up

    As Jimi Hendrix would say...

    ...all you need is a little experience. I have lost count of the number of (cheap) plastic things that I have levered and popped open, often in spite of the fact that there were no serviceable parts (user- or otherwise) inside, or screws outside. If I had to get the top off a Mac Mini, knowing that there were no vulnerable parts waiting to be gouged (and that the case wouldn't split) would be *all* of the battle.

    Cojones be damned!

  28. Jared Earle
    Jobs Halo

    What they don't tell you

    What they don't tell you: Reattaching the antennae is really, really hard, and I say that as someone who works on mechanical watches for fun. Still, my new RAM was duff, so I'll have to try again soon.

  29. Barry Lane
    Black Helicopters

    Well, if I can do it...

    Upgraded my Core 2 doodah Mini a few weeks back and it was easy-peasy. And the antenna reconnect turned out to be simpler than it looked, thanks to a pair of tweezers and my new varifocals. As for buying a PC, those things seem to run something called Windows and we wouldn't want that kind of dross on any serious computer. Nasty old business!

    External power supplies are no problem. My Mini runs a 24-inch HP monitor very successfully, and while it's true that I'd prefer it to have better graphics - onboard stuff is a cop-out, I'll grant you - the Mini works superbly well and looks a treat. I'm aware that culturally challenged people who run enormous PCs with blue lights, water-cooling and more storage space than ASDA so they can play WoW and download pron to their little hearts' content, don't understand anything about aesthetics, or indeed operating systems, but (and I speak as a reformed PC user here) Apple continually raises the bar that all you drones and your squalid peecees scramble to keep up with every year.

    I don't buy computers so I can take them apart, like I don't service my own car - if we were meant to do that, God wouldn't have given us mechanics - but even I discovered that breaking open the Mac Mini is a doddle. So there!

    The bug, cos I ain't never 'ad one.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    >Power supply outside is a great feature

    >Power supply outside is a great feature (they charge an extra £100 for it on a shuttle)

    Charging for something does not in itself make it great.

    >Apart from saving on a fan it makes it a lot quicker and easier to get to market if you don't

    >have to meet mutually incompatible electrical safety regs from 50 different countries.

    Well, one's the testicular reason and the other is a manufacturing benefit not a

    specific improvement to the device from the consumer perspective.

    BTW You can get fanless supplies.

    The fact is that all the components aren't in the box.

    My telly seems to cope with the power supply inside, would you want a separate power brick for your telly? The dvd player? the hifi? All of a sudden you have lots of power bricks next to each other that are each hoping to use ambient cooling.

    It does make the box small and pretty, and it might be less so with an inbuilt supply.

  31. Paul Bruneau

    Testicular is a poor word for this

    First, there is no regulation. There is simply keeping the heat of the power supply away from the sensitive guts of the computer. My body doesn't lower my testicles away from my body to prevent my body from getting too hot.

    Second, I don't buy this whole "that's why they are outside the body" argument. What better regulation of temperature could there be besides actually having them INSIDE the body??? A standard 98.6f 24 hours a day. You're telling me in millions of years of evolution it was easier to develop a varying size scrotum to keep sperm a "good" temperature than it was to just make sperm that enjoy 98.6??? Sorry, it makes no sense.

  32. Dave_H
    Thumb Down


    Where's the gorilla’s antistatic wrist strap then?

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Paul Bruneau

    You could view it as keeping the sensitive guts of the computer away from the heat of the power supply..

    I agree on the evolution argument. Cooling is the reason that's always reeled out for the dangling, but evolution doesn't work with "reasons" as such.

    @Barry Lane

    Does your 24 inch HP monitor have an external PSU?

  34. Anonymous Coward

    I love inbuilt power supplies...

    ...because they cool my PC, sucking hot air out, not all the way around. The PSU is pretty much the main way to cool the PC, anyway, in case any other fan collapses.

    I hate those dangling cables, with weights hanging on them (they look like Argentinian boliadeiras), they look like they are specific designed to be such tripping hazards. Not to mention adding to cable clutter.

    Plus I hate 'fat' cell phone battery chargers, you need tons of eletrical outlets if you want to charge 2 things like that at the same time.

    My 2.1 subwoofer system also has external power supply, but it serves a noble purpose of non-interference, but it adds to cable clutter on the back of my PC.

    However, my dad's ginormous COF 300 Watt - RMS amplifier has it built inside the case (hence the ginourmous) so all the mains plugs fit tightly together with the DVD / Telly / Cable set-top-box. Even the back-panel on the media shelf looks clean and orderly, thanks to no-dangling-psu, and all the cables neatly tied together. Talk about aesthetics now!

    The only cables dangling loose there are the oldish non-coaxial twisted speakers cables, for obvious reasons.

  35. Mick F
    Thumb Down

    No need for a Putty Knife

    Just use a chain saw.

  36. Colin Millar

    The heat of the power supply?

    If your PSU is running hot (internal or external) its cos the cowboy who built the system underspecced it.

    If your fans are running noisy its cos you have too many/too small/too fast. You also probably don't have proper fan control and replaced the intel stock fan with something called Pro or IceAge cos it looked cool.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    It's obvious why the device is hard to open and has an external power supply.

    It's made from laptop components.

    That's also why it's the price that it is and why it's difficult to open.

    Get used to it or stop crying.

    If your big gripe is that the power supply is external then please go out and kick yourself in the knackers. If something goes wrong with it, you can easily replace the power supply. There are still the same number of cables, just one of them has a small brick on it. Considering how much smaller a Mac Mini is compared to a desktop PC, you've still gained space.

    ...and btw, last time I looked the power came from an electricity substation. It wasn't even generated there. Next people will be complaining that there isn't an electric generator built into their computers too and that it's hanging somewhere outside the box like some kind of bollock. I've got a new name for these fools - Teste-tards.

  38. Craig Chambers


    Natural selection (one facet of evolution) work with reasons, provided that they are reasons why one feature remains or is modified within a population. Unfortunately many adaptations happened so far back that it's difficult to make a suggestion on what selective pressure may have been present.

    Add to natural selection the idea of genetic drift and the fact that genes that currently are not under selective pressure are subject to random fluctuation and perhaps you get a fuller picture for why some features may have appeared even without selection.

    As it turns out, in the case of descended testicles it may have been an early mammalian, or pre-mammalian trait that is actually being deselected across the branches of the mammal family tree. See

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    >It's obvious why the device is hard to open and has an external power supply.

    >It's made from laptop components.

    Err no, it's because the supply won't fit in the box, it's pretty obvious that if you made the box bigger you could put the supply in it.

    >That's also why it's the price that it is and why it's difficult to open.

    >Get used to it or stop crying.

    >If something goes wrong with it, you can easily replace the power supply.

    So what if something goes wrong with the hard drive for instance?

  40. Sam Radford
    Paris Hilton

    Beat this

    I've got it down to a fine art. I can de-shell a Mini in just 20 seconds with the bottle-opener blade of my pen knife. Heck, it takes me longer to swallow an oyster!

    P.H. because she knows about swallowing.

  41. E
    Paris Hilton

    @Sam Radford

    Buddy, if it takes you twenty seconds to swallow an oyster, you should introduce yourself to Paris right quickly.

    Paris, because she has a nice oyster.

  42. Andy

    What no putty

    How come there is no putty on your putty knife, surely fake photos!

  43. David Kairns

    More appropriate tool...

    ...would be a post driving sledge hammer, perhaps a ten pounder.

    Reducing the average quality but overpriced Apple scam footprint in the world is a good thing.

  44. Peter Gathercole Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    Dangling testicles

    I always believed that the reason why testicles were on the outside was that the optimum temperature to keep stored wrigglers was a few degrees below body heat.

    This is normally quoted as the reason why you should bin the Y-fronts or briefs for boxers if you are trying to procreate. Apparently, higher temperatures make male gametes lazy, like Paris on a sunbed, so they don't move as fast.

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