Help with CD Mini RAM upgrade (damn screws!)

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by FatSweatyBlldog, Oct 12, 2007.

  1. FatSweatyBlldog macrumors regular

    Aug 16, 2007
    So, I managed to pop the top to the mini without too much difficulty, and with nary a scratch to the case. Along with working it slowly, two extra thin plastic cards helped get the case open (as per OWC video).

    What's tripped me up now are the 4 damn screws. The unit is a refurb, and the screw beneath the bluetooth card is slightly stripped already (w/o me having added to it, yet). The only screw that came out easily/at all was the right front (i.e. the one long one).

    Can anyone recommend a good screwdriver to deal with possibly/sem-stripped screws? I believe this is a phillips 0 head.

    Is it possible to easily remove the bluetooth card ala the wifi card to get at the screw beneath it? No guides list this as a necesary step. Do I need an extremely tiny/bendable phillips #0? I can see where the Apple refurb technician pressed a screwdriver against the soft metal mesh along the top edge of the blueooth card to get at the screw beneath it. I'd rather avoid doing this, myself. Any technique tips?

    Anyway, rather than force the issue with the equipment I have (A Rosewil 45piece computer toolkit), I'll take a pause and look for equipment and technique advice from those who've worded on a similar mini.

    Thanks for any suggestions, and taking the time to read. :apple:

  2. headhammer macrumors regular

    May 15, 2007
    i work in a store that sells these (and all of apples' products ;)), and i'll breifly run you through what i do to upgrade ram in these.

    after opening the case, which you've done, i use a small philip's head screwdriver to remove the screws. i place the case upside down behind the guts and base of the computer as i work. on the base, i have the vents and ports facing away from me. i'm going to assume that this is the layout that you have as well when i refer to top-right, bottom-left etc.

    the screwdriver is one that is normally used to repair sunglasses or glasses. i'm sorry, but without my toolbox i don't know off the top of my head how big this is. as i remove each screw, i place it in its corresponding corner in the empty case. the screws are different lengths, and rather than try to keep track of which one goes where, it's far easier to pick up the top right one and put it in the top right corner when re-assembling ;)

    note that the bottom left one is really easy to access, and the top left is really hard. i need a magnetic screwdriver to fit the top left screw after it's out, and it is still a huge pain. for me, anyway.

    after undoing the 4 screws, there are 3 things left to detach. none of them require screwing, but i use the screwdriver for 2 of them, because i have big hands, and my fingers can't reach where i need them to in order to do these otherwise.

    the first is the foil at the top. i don't know what it does, but i think it carries information to and from the hard drive. to detach it, you need to pop its housing up, and the foil will slide out fairly easily. i (gently) use the screwdriver to push up each side of the clip, and then pull the foil out, and carefully fold it away from the hard drive, so that i can pull it out without any major hassles. reattaching is fairly easy, just make sure the foil is all the way in before pushing the clip down, otherwise your computer won't turn on after you assemble it, and you'll have to take it apart and detach and reattach it again.

    the second is the bluetooth (or it could be airport...) antenna. it's in the top right, and is shaped like a rectangle with one corner cut off at 45 degrees. to detach, squeeze the rod immediately underneath with forefinger and thumb, and it will spring up of its own accord. note where the cable disappears underneath the hard drive, and lay it out the top side of the case in this position. you will need to squeeze the rod to attach it again later. dispite my big fingers, i don't need a screwdriver at all for this step.

    the third, you can actually manage (if you're extremely careful) without detaching, but i would suggest taking it out, as it makes life easier. it's a small black square port with 2 thin black cables, near to the speaker at the bottom. i have seen people flick it out with a fingernail, but my fingers are too big, so i use the screwdriver to help me, both taking it out and putting it back.

    after disconnecting everything, you should be able to remove the hard drive and access the ram slots. i normally have to wiggle the hard drive a little (not forcefully, though, just a bit of encouragement) to remove it. pay attention to the cable holding the bluetooth/airport (whatever it is) antenna as you remove the hard drive; it will need to go back in the same way, or the antenna card won't reach where you need it to, when you fit the hard drive again. there's also a little bit of foam protecting the cable, this helps to show you where to put the cable when you put the whole thing back together.

    daunted yet? :p
    it took me a few goes with my boss at my side before i could do this without him, but maybe you'll be better at this than me.

    just take it slow, never force anything, and you'll be right. ;)
  3. FatSweatyBlldog thread starter macrumors regular

    Aug 16, 2007

    Thanks for the detailed reply.

    I'll go out and look for an eyeglass repair kit with the appropriate screwdriver.

    Thought popping the top would be the hardest part, but dealing with at least one semi-stripped screw, and an inadequate screwdriver is the real bottleneck. Kind of annoyed that the computer CAME with stripped screws (though a smaller screw driver may help).

    The airport card is the one that you HAVE to remove to get at the screw beneath it. I don't believe the hard drive needs to be removed to access the RAM (the housing just needs to be flipped over).

    If there are any other tool/technique suggestions, they're more than welcome!

    Thanks again! :)

  4. spinne1 macrumors 6502a


    Mar 12, 2005
    Hermitage, TN USA (near Nashville)
    You do not need to remove any foil. You open the case. Then pinch two black plastic pieces inward below the airport triangle and it will pop up. Remove the spring and set aside. Now, get a mini phillips. You can get them anywhere. Harbor Freight, Lowe's, Home Depot, etc. as part of a screw driver kit. I'd highly recommend you get only magnetic screwdrivers. Harbor Freight has a great kit I got for $10 or so with a full set of large and tiny screwdrivers with orange and black hand grips. They are magnetic.

    Remove the four screws. Three are identical, one is bigger. The bigger one goes near the internal fan.

    Remove the two-wire connector nearest the large round battery.

    Gently pull up the whole computer and hold the airport triangle up while you do so and swing it around the black plastic piece while you lift straight up on the computer mass. Then flip it over and gently rest the computer guts over the side of the case.

    Now, you can access the ram. Be very gentle on the metal that releases the ram. It is fragile. Next, be sure to note how deep it is inserted. I did not insert deep enough a couple times and had to redo it. Reverse all steps and boot to see if it boots and all ram is recognized before you put the case back together.
  5. FatSweatyBlldog thread starter macrumors regular

    Aug 16, 2007
    Thanks some more

    Thanks also for the detailed reply. The above will be useful as soon as I get to the RAM.

    The screw beneath the bluetooth card is stripped worse than I thought. I hope I can use a hex type screwdriver to get enough grip to get at it, but I need one smaller than the smallest I have. The other screws came up no problem once I got a thinner screw driver to fit in the tight spaces.

    FYI, the bluetooth card can be/is removed through sheer (gentle) force. Lifting straight up, it will eventually fly/pop loose. That allows for direct (i.e. non angled access) to the screw. See:

    If I can't get the screw up with a hex type head, I'm going to try my luck with the local apple store and hope they'll help me a)remove it b)provide replacement screws. The unit is still under warranty.

    Sucks that the Apple refurb technician did this, and couldn't/didn't replace the stripped screw, and now I potentially have to rely on the good faith of apple store employees to help out with my situation.

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