2018 Mac Mini Teardown Highlights User-Upgradeable Memory And Average Repairability
Apple recently updated the Mac Mini, its entry-level desktop that had not seen a significant upgrade since 2014, and the refreshed box packs quite the punch on paper—its pairs up to an 8th generation Intel Core i7 processor with as much as 64GB of RAM, with storage options topping out at 2TB. The Mac Mini is also somewhat easy to service and upgrade, depending on the specific component, a teardown analysis reveals.
The 2018 Mac Mini comes housed in the same chassis as the previous generation. Some people speculated that Apple might refresh the form factor as well, specifically by switching over to the same chassis as its Apple TV set-top box, but that is not the case (literally). The only visible changes are the color and the identifiers (model A1993 and EMC 3213).
To get at the guts of the 2018 Mac Mini, you need to flip the system over and pop open the bottom cover, which is made from 60 percent recycled plastic (fist bump to Apple on that one). The cover pries off rather easily, and underneath is an antennae plate with half a dozen TR6 Torx security screws that need removed.
Once inside, there is a fan that sits on top of everything else. "The fan unscrews with zero fuss, giving us a better view of the Mini's depths," iFixIt notes. After removing the fan, it takes a little effort (and elbow grease) to remove the logic board assembly, but it does indeed slide out of the chassis without any additional tools.
After removing the logic board, it's easy to access and upgrade the RAM, which sits underneath a "heavy metal cage—almost as if they don't fully trust modular RAM to behave itself." It's held in place with four Torx screws and slides off effortlessly once those are taken out. Then it's just a matter of popping SO-DIMM modules in or out of the slots.
As is common in ultra-compact systems, the CPU is soldered to the logic board, so that's not something a typical user is going to replace and/or upgrade. Unfortunately, the storage is also soldered. That's a bummer, as it means users can't ever add more storage. The Mac Mini also lost points because if any of the many ports ever get damaged, the entire logic board needs replaced.
On the plus side, there is no tough adhesive to contend with, and servicing the Mac Mini can be done with fairly common tools. It also earned kudos for using standard SO-DIMM memory module. Overall, the 2018 Mac Mini earned a 6 out of 10 'Repairability' score.
Images Source: iFixIt