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New Mac mini teardown shows easy access, clever PSU

updated 09:10 pm EDT, Wed June 16, 2010

Mac mini 2010 much easier to work with

A customary teardown of the new Mac mini has revealed how relatively easy it is to get at the components compared to earlier models. Beyond the user-accessible RAM slots, the unibody aluminum case is actually more accessible than the original. The putty knife isn't needed any longer and instead is replaced by either a custom Apple tool or a pair of Torx screwdrivers; unscrewing at two points lets the entire logic board and ports slide out as one piece.

The surgery has also revealed the extra lengths to which Apple has gone to keep the system cool and quiet. The fan is already a many-bladed fan that avoids pushing too much noise, but Apple has gone so far as to use rubber dampers on the fan screws to prevent vibration noise. Idle speeds should run as low as 14dB.

Apple's claims about power consumption appear to be true as well, as evidenced by the internal power supply. The new Mac mini only needs to put out 7A of power at 12V where a 27-inch iMac's supply has to produce 25.8A at the same voltage.

Virtually all of the main components are similar to those of the 13-inch MacBook and MacBook Pro with the exception of the optical drive, which comes from Hitachi.

By Electronista Staff


  1. JeffHarris

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Oct 1999


    Easy Hard Drive Swap?

    The new mini is looking pretty compelling as an HDTV add-on.

    How easy is it to swap the hard drive for a 7200 rpm unit? That and maxing out the RAM might help balance the crappy integrated graphics.

  1. solefald

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Oct 2008



    NVIDIA GeForce 320M graphics processor with 256MB of DDR3 SDRAM shared with main memory

    would not call it crappy graphics...

  1. WiseWeasel

    Junior Member

    Joined: Apr 1999


    Re: Easy Hard Drive Swap

    The Mac Mini can only take 2.5" laptop drives, and given the tight space and the care Apple has taken to ensure heat dissipation, a 7200 RPM drive would likely be a bad idea, as it would generate too much heat. The best bet is to have plentiful storage attached to a computer in a separate room streaming content to the Mac Mini if you're using it as an HDTV add-on.

  1. CmdrGampu

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Aug 2009


    7200rpm drive

    I've had a mini for three years and the first thing I did was crack the case to max out the RAM and install a 7200rpm drive. Never had any heat problems.

  1. TomSawyer

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jan 2008



    With FW800 on board, just connect an external HD of 7,200rpm or faster and use that drive for OS and apps. Use the built-in drive for document storage or backup. This takes the extra heat outside the box and allows for less expensive 3.5"drives. I know it kind of blows the compactness/aesthetics of the the mini form-factor, but if heat/performance/expense are your beefs then its the solution for you. ;-)

  1. TomSawyer

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jan 2008


    If aesthetics are your thing

    Then just wait for the miniStack v4 from NewerTech. It shouldn't be too far off. It'll give you speed, style, and port expansion as an added bonus. In the mean time, just try your new mini out the way it may be pleasantly surprised at its box-stock performance.

  1. SgtBaxter

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Dec 2009



    HDMI output but no Blu-Ray drive?

    Steve, you need a kick in the nuts for that one.

    Some of us actually care for the improved picture quality Blu-Ray affords, and quite a lot of us still don't - and won't anytime soon - have access to broadband fast enough to download HD movies.

    Time to eat some crow like you did with CD burners and put in Blu-Ray!

  1. OtisWild

    Junior Member

    Joined: Feb 2005


    Still overpriced

    So you're basically getting a laptop without the display for the same price as a laptop?

    $499 is a much more compelling price point.

    $699 with a proper desktop video card chipset would make more sense, say 512MB + ATI 5670.

  1. Jonathan-Tanya

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Oct 2004


    comment on 7200rpm drives

    7200rpm drives are dog slow and they are roughly in the same class as 5400rpm drives.

    You are talking about a very marginal difference. Putting in an SSD, is a dramatic, overwhelming difference. You have to try one to understand.

    Take the analogy of upgrading a Pentium III from 600mhz to 750mhz. Would you do it today, or would you just say its an old machine, not worth upgrading.

    Traditional rotating hard drives are slow...and by the way, the tech hasn't changed much since those Pentium III days...

    SSD is the only choice. Apps will load almost instantly. Even if you have to go with a 40GB boot drive (intel x25)...and put the old internal drive, now in a usb that.

    Otherwise, if you are on the slow track, just keep the slow drive that came with it...why go through the expense to upgrade to another rotating disk drive, that is only marginally faster, and still incredibly slow by modern just doesn't make sense, imho.

  1. Jonathan-Tanya

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Oct 2004


    btw, 10,000 rpm and 15,000 rpm drives are also slo

    I had an array of 15K rpm SAS drives, 8 of them in a RAID, all short stroked (short stroking is a method to speed up the drive even further by lowering the access times basically what it does is block out the inner rings of the drive, so that the head only travels say, half as far to go from data point to data point on the remaining active area of the drive)

    So 8 drives, 15,000rpm, short stroked drives, pretty fast eh? Nope.

    Not really, I popped in one X-25M Intel drive one day, and it smoked everything.

    The only thing that traditional drives are competitive on, is this: $ per GB. But NewEgg is selling 1 TB drives for $39 right now....I mean, get one fast SSD as your boot drive, and slap a $40 1 TB drive into a firewire case, and call it a day.

    Or, even cheaper, just take the old internal drive that came with your mac mini, throw it in a hub powered case...for like $20 bucks and make that your external storage.

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