iFixIt Chastises Apple For 'Breaking" The Flexible And Upgradeable Design Of Latest Mac Mini Model

Apple has a history of trying to prevent owners of its products from mucking around inside its devices, and in case you thought the company turned over a new leaf with its Mac Mini system, think again. Though the previous model was relatively easy to service at home -- it scored an 8 out of 10 on iFixIt's teardown analysis -- the recently announced late 2014 model is an entirely different story.

"Sometimes we just don't understand what goes on in hardware designers' heads. Apple took one of their most-fixable, most-upgradable products and broke it," iFixIt laments. "The design didn't change at all from the outside, so we can't blame the product designers who keep making things smaller, thinner, and lighter. So what happened? Apple decided to throw us a repair curveball by preventing access to internals via T6 Torx Security screws."

Mac Mini Screwdriver

If that's where the story ended, Apple could be forgiven for what would amount to a minor annoyance. Unfortunately, that's not the only knock against the late 2014 model Mac Mini. Once you work your way inside to the logic board, you'll quickly discover that Apple soldered the RAM in place. That's disappointing on a number of levels.

For one, it means that the only way to upgrade the RAM is to make that decision at the time of purchase and pay a premium. To go from 4GB to 8GB costs $100, and to go from 4GB to 16GB is a $300 upgrade. In other words, the upgrade cost to 16GB is about double what a comparable 16GB kit of DDR3-1600 costs on Newegg.

Mac Mini RAM

The other problem is that RAM can go bad, even if using cherry picked modules. If or when that happens, the Mac Mini transforms itself into a paperweight, a feature that's not advertised, but perhaps should be.

Carrying on, the last bit working against the latest Mac Mini is that the CPU is also soldered to the logic board, and therefore not upgradeable (not very easily, anyway) either.

Mac Mini Parts

It wasn't all bad news though. The new Mac Mini won brownie points for the lack of glue anywhere inside that would need to be removed when disassembling the system, and with the proper tools, taking the Mac Mini apart is "forward and simple." Those redeeming qualities bumped its Repairability Score to the upper end of mediocrity -- a 6 out of 10.