Mac mini Model A1283 Teardown

Written By: Miroslav Djuric

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Difficulty Very easy
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We picked up the new Mac mini from our local Apple store and took it apart!

  • Step 1
    • The Mac mini for this First Look was graciously provided by our friends at macminicolo, a Mac mini colocation service. They allow your Mac mini to be used as a surprisingly powerful and inexpensive server.
    • Ladies and gentlemen, without further ado, allow us to introduce the new and improved Mac mini!
    • We immediately tried to open the mini using our iMac opening tool, used in yesterday's iMac First Look.
    • It did not work.
    • We also posted a guide for installing a second hard drive in the Mac mini.
  • Step 2
    • The beauty of evolution at its finest. From left to right: Power PC, Intel Core Duo, Intel Core 2 Duo.
    • Notable differences in the latest model:
    • An additional USB port brings the total to five, one more than the previous model (and three more than the Power PC!).
    • A Mini DisplayPort and mini-DVI port -- which allow for Dual-Monitor support for the first time in a Mac mini -- replace the DVI display port of the previous generation.
    • A Firewire 800 port replaced the old FireWire 400 port, much to the chagrin of Mac users.
  • Step 3
    • Let's rock this thing!
    • Carefully insert a putty knife into the crevice in between the top cover and bottom housing. Start on the left side first.
    • Gently enlarge the existing crevice by twisting the putty knife downward and away from the mini.
    • Repeat the prying motion until a portion of the bottom housing has been nudged upward.
  • Step 4
    • Repeat the same prying procedure on the right side.
    • The top cover should now be marginally separated from the bottom housing. Use your fingers to completely separate the two, starting with the I/O side of the mini.
    • The top cover does not have any cables attaching it to the bottom housing; it should now be completely detached from the bottom.
  • Step 5
    • A quick comparison photo of the three Mac mini generations (oldest on left) showcases their technological progression:
    • No antennas --> One antenna --> Two antennas (Airport card)
    • Desktop RAM --> laptop RAM
    • PATA --> SATA drives
  • Step 6
    • Can you hear me now? Excellent.
    • The wireless board contains a Broadcom BCM4312KFBGH WiFi transceiver on it.
    • The new mini houses three wireless communications antennas, one for use with the built-in Bluetooth and two for the Airport Extreme wireless 802.11n card.
    • All three antennas need to be removed before accessing the hardware underneath.
  • Step 7
    • There are two black posts securing the Airport antenna board to the internal frame.
    • Squeeze both black posts together and gently lift the antenna board from the post.
  • Step 8
    • Rotate the mini 180 degrees.
    • Use a spudger to peel back the black tape and release the antenna cable.
    • Carefully lift the remaining two antennas from the right side of the mini.
  • Step 9
    • Remove the four black Phillips screws holding the internal frame to the bottom housing.
    • We spent a lot of time searching for these screws. Is this an Apple conspiracy to prevent consumers from disassembling their products? Put on your tinfoil hats!
    • After the screws were removed, we separated the internal framework from the bottom housing.
  • Step 10
    • On the left we have the bottom housing, which includes the logic board, CPU, and RAM. On the right is the internal framework, which contains the SuperDrive, fan, and hard drive.
  • Step 11
    • Remove the six Philips screws from the left, right, and back sides of the SuperDrive.
    • Unplug the drive from the interconnect board to completely remove it from the framework.
  • Step 12
    • Use the Mac mini Terabyte Upgrade Guide instead of this First Look to make any modifications to your mini.
    • Next, disconnect the small black two-wire connector from the interconnect board and move it out of the way.
    • Remove the four Phillips screws securing the hard drive to the internal frame.
    • The hard drive easily slides out once it is detached from the interconnect board.
    • The hard drive is a paltry 120 GB. If you'd like to hold more than six photographs on your computer, you can upgrade to a 500 GB drive for just $130 and a little time.
    • Apple only allows you to customize the mini with a 320 GB drive, and they want a whopping $175!
  • Step 13
    • Remove the two screws holding the fan in place.
    • Disconnect the fan's blue/gray cable from the interconnect board. This should allow the fan to be removed from the framework.
    • The top half of the Mac mini is now completely disassembled!
  • Step 14
    • Now for the lower half...
    • The standard quick pry with the fingers (and subsequent pull) frees the RAM from the logic board.
    • Our $599 mini shipped with only a single 1 GB PC3-8500 chip. In this configuration, the NVIDIA 9400M graphics processor allocated 128 MB of this memory as VRAM. When we installed a second chip in this machine, for a total of 2 GB, the 9400M automatically allocated 256 MB VRAM instead.
  • Step 15
    • On to the AirPort/Bluetooth board removal. A couple of steps are needed to remove the board:
    • Disconnect the three antennas (marked in red).
    • Disconnect the AirPort/Bluetooth communication cable (second photo).
    • Remove three Phillips screws (third photo) and then completely remove the AirPort/Bluetooth board.
  • Step 16
    • Once we had removed the AirPort/Bluetooth board, the only thing preventing us from taking out the logic board was two connectors and a T10 Torx screw.
    • Disconnect the power button cable and the power-on LED.
    • Use a T10 Torx screwdriver to remove the standoff screw.
  • Step 17
    • Use a spudger to gently pry up the logic board.
    • Grasp the logic board with your hand and pull it away from the I/O ports.
    • Voila! The logic board is free.
  • Step 18

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