2018 Mac mini Teardown: User-Upgradeable RAM, But Soldered Down CPU and Storage

Discussion in 'MacRumors.com News Discussion' started by MacRumors, Nov 9, 2018.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    The repair experts at iFixit have completed their teardown of the new Mac mini, providing a look inside the portable desktop computer.


    Disassembly of the new Mac mini remains fairly straightforward. iFixit popped off the plastic bottom cover with its opening tool and then used a Torx screwdriver to unfasten the familiar antenna plate underneath.

    With access to the inside, iFixit then unscrewed the fan and popped out the logic board with some old-fashioned thumb pressing. While the RAM in the previous-gen Mac mini from 2014 was soldered to the logic board, the new Mac mini has user-upgradeable RAM, as discovered earlier this week.


    As seen in older iMacs, the RAM is protected by a perforated shield that allows the memory modules to operate at a high frequency of 2666 MHz without interfering with other device functions, according to iFixit. To upgrade the RAM, the shield can be removed by unfastening four Torx screws.

    Other silicon on the logic board of this particular Mac mini includes the Apple T2 security chip, a 3.6GHz quad-core Intel Core i3 processor, Intel UHD Graphics 630, 128GB of flash storage from Toshiba, an Intel JHL7540 Thunderbolt 3 controller, and a Gigabit Ethernet controller from Broadcom.


    Despite the good news about the RAM, the CPU and SSD are soldered to the logic board, as are many ports, so this isn't a truly modular Mac mini.

    iFixit awarded the new Mac mini a repairability score of 6/10, with 10 being the easiest to repair, topping the latest MacBook Air, MacBook, MacBook Pro, iMac, and iMac Pro, and trailing only the 2013 Mac Pro.

    "Back in the day, a Pro Mac meant a computer you could upgrade, configure, and connect as you pleased," iFixit's teardown concludes. "This new mini aligns so well with that ideal that we're surprised it didn't earn itself a "Pro" title--especially compared to the increasingly closed-off MacBook Pro line."

    The new Mac mini earned its higher repairability score thanks to its straightforward disassembly with no tough adhesive or proprietary pentalobe screws and user-upgradeable RAM. However, it didn't earn a perfect score due to the soldered-down CPU, storage, and ports, impacting repairs and upgrades.

    Article Link: 2018 Mac mini Teardown: User-Upgradeable RAM, But Soldered Down CPU and Storage
  2. Blackstick macrumors 6502


    Aug 11, 2014
    Sunny South Florida
    Considering this is the last time the Mini will see attention until 2022 at the earliest, I suppose this will hold us over.
  3. Mettwurst macrumors newbie


    Jul 20, 2018
    Basel, Switzerland
  4. Rudy69 macrumors 6502a


    Mar 30, 2009
    Let's be real, for most users the ram is too hard to install. It can be done by a lot of tech people but not the average user.
  5. Broken Hope macrumors 6502a

    Jan 15, 2015
    Not the average user no, but for anyone who’s ever built their own PC it’s really easy.
  6. MTW macrumors member

    Apr 13, 2015
  7. rednif macrumors newbie

    Oct 31, 2018
    The soldered on SSD is a dealbreaker. Plain and simple. There goes another option to replace my old MBP...
  8. archvile macrumors 6502


    Oct 27, 2007
    Why not just buy an iMac with dedicated graphics? With that Mac Mini setup you’d be spending at least $800 PLUS an eGPU PLUS a monitor, and it will take up way more physical space.
  9. dual64bit macrumors 6502


    Nov 9, 2004
    Because the end user could replace the display and/or eGPU anytime. As newer ones are released... upgradability.
  10. rom3o macrumors regular

    Dec 22, 2014
    A big eGPU undermines my idea of a clean Mac mini setup.
  11. Shiro_Simba macrumors regular


    Sep 28, 2018
    Why not buy a iMac Pro ? It’s a serious question , because the biggest issue with the iMac is no screen and no dedicated CPU. By the time you add those , iMac Pro is a faster machine and a much less messy setup .

    The no dedicated GPU is really a problem for the Mac mini - as Apple is not saying it’s a machine for pro users, which will mean buying an E-GPU. The more i look at the iMac Pro, I have one , it’s a better machine , and I have an egpu sitting around , but it’s loud.....
  12. mamcx macrumors regular

    Mar 13, 2008
    This is so sad. I wish that with the high prices of upgrading the SSD storage at least exist a path for it. Now, again, I must reconsider my options and look at a hackintosh or compromise my needs...
  13. NightFox macrumors 68020


    May 10, 2005
    Shropshire, UK
    Does anyone know how many RAM slots the Mini has and how Apple fills them? For example, if I bought a 8GB model and wanted to upgrade to 16GB myself, is there space to add another 8GB or do I need to lose the original 8GB and replace with 16GB (which might make just buying a 16GB config in the first place a more cost-viable option)
  14. Smeaton1724, Nov 9, 2018
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2018

    Smeaton1724 macrumors 6502a


    Sep 14, 2011
    Leeds, UK
    2014 - Solder the RAM, allow user replaceable Storage.
    2018 - Solder the Storage (Base 128GB on a desktop!), allow user replaceable RAM.

    The Mac Mini is Apple's troll machine.
  15. Kabeyun macrumors 68000


    Mar 27, 2004
    Eastern USA
    Really?? I can think of three reasons to replace the native drive:
    1. Outgrow your storage
    2. The native drive is lousy
    3. Net cost of a 3rd party is less

    As to 1, if 2TB isn’t enough, you should probably be looking at external storage options.
    As to 2, I’m sure it isn’t.
    As to 3, might well be, but deal breaker over maybe a couple of hundred bucks?

    I also prefer swappable drive and have done so on my 2012 Mini (loving the OWC Mercury), but I don’t understand not buying a new Mini over this. Am I missing something?
  16. BillyBobBongo macrumors 68020


    Jun 21, 2007
    On The Interweb Thingy!
    Two slots, and both are filled.

    8GB = 2 x 4GB SO-DIMMS
    16GB = 2 x 8GB SO-DIMMS etc
  17. Jordezn macrumors newbie


    Apr 28, 2016
    Medical Student, UK

    Because then you’re tied down to what ever gpu is in your iMac.... with an egpu you could have had a 1070, then upgrade to a 2070, then a 3070 etc. as more modern gpus are released.

    It’s not for everyone, but I can see why you could do it over an iMac, especially if you already have an egpu/gpu/decent monitor already, then those ‘extra costs’ were already spent.

    You’d probably also get better graphical performance for both gaming and professional applications than any currently offered iMac including the pro if you had something like a 1080ti or 2080, even via egpu which loses some performance due to the thunderbolt 3 to pcie lane communication/limitation
  18. Christoffee macrumors 6502


    Jul 26, 2012
    Why can’t a soldered SSD be removed and a new one soldered in it’s place?
  19. harriska2 macrumors 6502


    Mar 16, 2011
    Are they updating the imac? I think it’s getting that time. Currently an imac spec’d with I7, 512 ssd, 16gb 27” is almost $2600. Almost fully loaded. A comparable mac mini is $1600, add LG 27” 5k is $1400 for a total of $3000. Not sure why the monitor is so expensive.
  20. Luap macrumors 65816


    Jul 5, 2004
    You can clearly see the 2 slots in the picture.
    An 8gb Mini will have both slots filled with 2 X 4gb sticks.
  21. HailstormX macrumors member

    Nov 21, 2012
    Bummer... I was really hoping they would allow for storage upgrades. Glad the ram is upgradeable but really sick of apple treating all their computers as appliances... I have a 2012 MacBook pro non retina and I love the fact that I have been able to upgrade the storage to a 2TB SSD, added 16gb of Ram and upgraded the DVD-R drive to a blu-ray burner (do a lot of video work).

    Really sucks to be stuck with what you buy out of the gate. I don't wanna have to spend $4,600 or more to get the specs I need and then hope it all works awesome for 5 year or more with out having to deal with Apple for any crazy repairs.

    Im scared to death on what the new revision to Mac Pro will cost...
  22. neliason macrumors 6502

    Oct 1, 2015
    The answer for me is #3. Third party storage isn’t just less, it is a lot less. What Apple charges to upgrade your SSD size is ridiculous. This is a common Apple gimmick. They do the same thing with their phones. They sell the base with a nearly unusable amount of storage. So the base price isn’t really a base price. You have to add $100 or with the Mini $200 to get the next storage bump.
  23. crsh1976 macrumors 6502a

    Jun 13, 2011
    The GPU downgrade and insane SSD upgrade prices imposed by Apple given it put a lousy soldered 128 GB drive in the base model is a sure way to make me skip this Mini after the 4-year wait.
  24. Kabeyun macrumors 68000


    Mar 27, 2004
    Eastern USA
    I sort of agree. You will almost always fine third-party upgrades cheaper than OEM upgrades. This is not unique to Apple. But as I said, a couple of hundred bucks out a couple thousand dollar machine is a deal breaker for you?
  25. rednif macrumors newbie

    Oct 31, 2018
    Yup. That this is just your personal opinion which you are entitled to. If the cost for apple's additional storage upgrade is a non issue for you, congrats.

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