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Mac Mini Teardown Provides Real-World Look at M1 Chip on Smaller Logic Board

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A teardown of the new Mac mini has surfaced on the forum eGPU.io (via Reddit), providing us with a real-world look at Apple's new M1 chip, which is soldered onto a much smaller logic board than the one found in the 2018 model of the computer.


The M1 is the silver chip labeled with APL1102, housing the 8-core CPU, 8-core GPU, 16-core Neural Engine, I/O controllers, and more all in one. The unified system memory is also visible on the right side of the chip, and takes up far less space than the standalone RAM modules used in the previous Mac mini, contributing to the smaller logic board.


As expected, the switch to unified system memory also means that there is no user-upgradeable RAM, as there was with the previous Mac mini, so choose wisely between 8GB or 16GB of memory when configuring the Mac mini on Apple's online store. The SSD also remains soldered to the logic board, so there is no user-upgradeable storage either.

A video teardown of the new Mac mini has also surfaced, revealing that the overall disassembly process is similar to the 2018 model:


There's also a video teardown of the new MacBook Air, providing a peek inside the notebook, although many components are covered with shielding. We'll have to wait on iFixit for its more in-depth teardowns of the new Macs for a closer look.

Article Link: Mac Mini Teardown Provides Real-World Look at M1 Chip on Smaller Logic Board
 
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adamw

macrumors 6502
Sep 22, 2006
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I am so excited to see what is inside my new Apple Silicon Mac mini! I am especially happy to learn that the M1 Mac mini has 2 Thunderbolt 3 controller chips (one for each Thunderbolt/USB4 port) so they do not need to share bandwidth, nor reduce device speed, between the 2 Thunderbolt 3 40Gbps ports.

I just received my custom order M1 Mac mini yesterday with 16GB RAM and 1 TB SSD Flash drive. I love it! Although 8GB RAM seems to be fine for most people, I chose to go 16GB because of Final Cut Pro video editing. From everything I see the M1 Mac mini works great for video editing (even 8GB RAM). See The Everyday Dad video about Mac mini M1 video editing:

 
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thuchu1

macrumors regular
Oct 16, 2010
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It's interesting too look back and ponder whether the changes to older macs were in preparation for this, or if this just benefitted from it. Mainly thinking about the soldered RAM. Seemed unnecessary (and not defending that) but maybe it was a test to see if people would accept it before they went all-in on the design that integrates it into the SOC.
 

SmileyDude

macrumors regular
Jul 24, 2002
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MA
Why? Then they’d have to make it bigger next year when/if they put more stuff in it.

I think the number of people in the “the Mini would be nice but it won’t fit my available space” crowd isn’t much of a crowd.
I'm guessing macminicolo might have some things to say about that.
 

icymountain

macrumors 6502
Dec 12, 2006
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I am guessing one way the Mac mini "got so cheap" was by using old spare parts that they already have on order in big quantities and the "redesign" will happen eventually with an increased price tag

Another reason why the entry version is now cheaper may just be that Apple knows all the people who need more RAM will pay the extraordinary price that they charge for it. No more people getting the stock 8Gb, and upgrading on the cheap to 32 Gb, like I did just a couple of months ago.

With this in mind, and when more RAM capable Apple chips are released, the average price of the Mac Mini purchases may well go UP, not down, and the same for the margins.
 

chucker23n1

macrumors 601
Dec 7, 2014
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They couldn't make a smaller enclosure for this? Really?
Why do multiple engineering challenges at a time when you don't have to?

Odds are the Air and mini will both receive a redesign in the next two or so years.

Both the 68k-to-PowerPC nor the PowerPC-to-Intel transitions came with mostly identical cases:

  • the 6100 was the same cases as the 660AV
  • the 8100 as the 840AV
  • the 7100 was a little different to the 650, I believe
  • the MacBook Pro was virtually identical to the PowerBook G4 except for things like adding a webcam
  • the (Intel) iMac looked just like the iMac G5
  • the Mac mini was identical
  • the MacBook that came after a few months was a noticeable change from its preceding iBook
So, we might see a model or two next year that looks noticeably (but not drastically) different. The iMac would be one obvious choice.
 

ascender

macrumors 68040
Dec 8, 2005
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I'm assuming this is the same approach they've taken with the laptops. Step 1 is to get the existing machines running on Apple Silicon... step two will be product re-designs.

I'm disappointed with this, but I totally understand why they've done it.

We've also seen that there's clearly going to be tiers of performance across the range, so the M1-powered devices are limited to 8/16GB RAM.

Benchmarks have shown its a very fast machine, so I'd definitely consider one to replace this ageing iMac sitting here.
 

FightTheFuture

macrumors 65816
Oct 19, 2003
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that town east of ann arbor
It's interesting too look back and ponder whether the changes to older macs were in preparation for this, or if this just benefitted from it. Mainly thinking about the soldered RAM. Seemed unnecessary (and not defending that) but maybe it was a test to see if people would accept it before they went all-in on the design that integrates it into the SOC.
That’s a good theory but I think it just boiled down to trade offs. Do you want to do the extra engineering to let the user buy aftermarket memory that may make the experience worse? Or let the user decide at point of purchase how much memory they’ll want.
Buying a system only to upgrade later doesn’t hold as much value as the risks down the road. But I also think a desktop like the mini or iMac should have user upgradable memory.
 
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adamw

macrumors 6502
Sep 22, 2006
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Two TB controller chips (and therefore two TB busses) is a nice surprise. Intel macs often share one TB3 bus over two ports, whereas here each port looks to have its own 40GB/s bus.
I was also wondering if the 2 Thunderbolt ports shared a controller and a bus (i.e. if using 1 Thunderbolt port slows down the speed of the other Thunderbolt port). This is good news. My 2018 Mac mini had 4 Thunderbolt ports but really there were only 2 shared Thunderbolt controllers. I am glad to learn that my new M1 Mac mini has 2 separate Thunderbolt channels that are not sharing data or reducing the other port's speed.
 
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