New Apple Mac Mini desktop computer is easy to repair, upgrade, says iFixit

New Apple Mac Mini desktop computer is easy to repair, upgrade, says iFixit

Summary: Finally, Apple builds a device that isn't soldered to death.

TOPICS: Apple, PCs

Apple haters love to point to iFixit's teardowns of its recent products as a sign of the company's consumer unfriendliness. For instance, the site just failed the new MacBook Pro 13-inch with Retina Display on its repairability, scoring it a mere 2 out of 10. Conspiracy theories abound that Apple makes it difficult to repair and upgrade its products in order to make consumers buy new models instead of trying to fix their existing ones.

They'll have to hold their tongues about the new Mac Mini, however. According to iFixit's teardown of the tiny computer, Apple has actually made a device that is surprisingly easy to repair and upgrade. In fact, it gives the Mac Mini circa 2012 an 8 out of 10 on its repairability scale.

How did that happen? For starters, Apple makes it simple to open up the Mac Mini: just twist off the disc-shaped back panel to access its components. It also makes it easy to upgrade the system's RAM, as it uses PC3-12800 DDR3 RAM; in comparison, the new MacBook Pro has its RAM soldered to the logic board, meaning there's no option to replace or upgrade.

iFixit also gives Apple props for an easily repairable power supply, and it was successful in installing its own $69.95 Mac Mini Dual Hard Drive Kit without hiccups. The new Mac Mini lacks some of the other bugaboos that have made other recent Apple products difficult to upgrade and repair, like proprietary screws and numerous parts that are glued together.

Not everything is perfect, however. One part that is soldered on is the CPU, so you can't really replace it with a new processor in the future. And even if it's not hard to replace the power supply, you have to excavate it from a mountain of parts first. Still, I have a feeling the Mac Mini will easily top the score for the new iMac, whenever iFixit gets around to tearing that down.

[Image: iFixit]

Topics: Apple, PCs

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  • If I owned a Mac

    it would be a Mac Mini, priced at $599 and $699 U.S. Love the form factor. Amazing that one can still purchase an OS X-based desktop system for the price of an iPad. And it is repairable and upgradable.
    Rabid Howler Monkey
    • OS X is indeed the selling point

      And with its form factor, Ivy Bridge, et al, it runs as fast as a desktop made only a couple years ago.

      It's great the RAM and HDD can be easily replaced.
    • Wow

      Love my job, since I've been bringing in $5600… I sit at home, music playing while I work in front of my new iMac that I got now that I'm making it online(Click on menu Home)
  • "Apple haters love to point to iFixit's teardowns of its recent products ..

    a sign of the company's consumer unfriendliness."

    They do, but it is actually sign of Apple's excellence. Because of parts density Apple is able to provide the most compact devices ever. And that density, of course, makes products less manually repairable. Though no worry to customers, since they just go to Apple service and that it is. It is the same as with automobiles (cars): very few fanatics ever try repair an engines, if something happens to it.
    • Wouldn't the Mac Mini be a truck?

      "It is the same as with automobiles (cars): very few fanatics ever try repair an engines, if something happens to it.
      Rabid Howler Monkey
    • Not quite

      Most customers don't care about how things work (which is one claimed reason why the US is falling behind, but whatever)... but I'd like to add more RAM or a larger and/or faster HDD or SSD. Some Apple models prevent this, limiting not just repair-ability but customer-friendliness.

      Since the main circuit board with CPU tends to be replaced from the get-go, even a failing network card would create much waste in having to replace the whole board. That's the downside...
      • This is how IBM told you decades ago

        Back then, Apple's computers weren't extremely modular, because cost was concern.
        Most people never, ever open their computer's case, much less think about replacing memory or even much less replacing the CPU.

        With current automated production and assembly technologies, it is cheaper to replace the whole part (motherboard), than to replace the CPU/heatsink/etc. Eliminating weird hardware just as the CPU socket also improves reliability significantly.

        Of course, in order for this this to make sense, you need good engineering and understanding of the technology and components -- so that you don't have to 'fix' later what you didn't engineer properly in the beginning. Building such complex systems is not for everyone.
  • But... but... trolls say iFixit is anti-Apple!!!

    With luck, the next iMac will be easier to upgrade as well. And have proper cooling mechanisms so the screen won't yellow, burn in, or roast a chicken sitting in front of it...
  • Apple is consumer unfriendly

    If you compare a MacBook Pro 13" Retinal to a car, the motherboard would be like the engine that people will not be able to repair themselves. However, the hard drive or RAM could be compared to simple maintenance like changing the air filter or battery or other SIMPLE EASY do it your self maintenance like replacing the wind shield wiper blades. Anyone can change an air filter or wiper blades and anyone should be able to do simple upgrades like the RAM or hard drive. I Loved APPLE products, but some of their products are consumer unfriendly or not user friendly. I've been using Apple products for 7.5 years and I have gotten to hate the design because it is like Apple is working against the consumer. The other comment that you just take it to the Apple store to be repaired, well I could do my own RAM or hard drive replacement; it is a way for Apple to maximize profit to FORCE the consumer to bring it in for SIMPLE replacement of RAM or hard drive. The iMac can't be upgraded for something as simple as RAM or replace a failed hard drive by the consumer; there is not an access panels for the RAM or hard drive. I only purchase Apple products I can do upgrades or minor repairs. I have built over 30 PC computers running Windows or Linux and if Apple continues to make all their products consumer unfriendly, I will go back to the Linux operating system. The other problem with Apple is they don't support the operating system with security updates after only 6 years; at least Windows XP has been supported for 11 years with security updates. I have a Mac mini (POWER-PC CPU) I purchased April 2005 and Apple does not support the OS X anymore for that model; it is a way to force the consumer to purchase new Apple products when I have a perfectly good Mac mini.
    Love & Hate Apple
    • RE: Apple is consumer unfriendly

      Most of Apple's products can be upgraded, although not as easy as a behemoth of a PC desktop. It's always a tradeoff between compact, and ease of upgrade. Just the same as automobiles, the more compact, the harder it is to get to components. Most people user their computers for 3-4 years, then upgrade. Most people prefer a compact size rather than ease of upgrading.

      As far as your 2005 computer goes, that was the budget mac in 2005. It had a 40GB hard drive, and 256mb of RAM.
      What would run on that computer aside from word processing? I've had a computer over fiver years old, and they just can't keep up. Yours is over seven years old. Even at that age, as long as you pay for support, you can still get assistance with 10.5 or newer OSs.
      • Apple is consumer unfriendly

        Don't get me wrong, Apple makes good products, but some are are NOT user friendly. I use 10.5.8 OS X and Apple does NOT support the older operating system. There has not been an update in over a year and I read Apple does not support their older OS X that I have and again Windows XP has supported its OS for 11 years. I'm not a gamer and an older Mac mini works fine for my use (office suite and internet and photos). I upgraded the hard drive a few years ago with a Solid State Drive (SSD) and 1 gig of RAM. That is the maximum this Mac mini can be upgraded.

        Many people who upgrade their RAM or Hard Drive by taking it to Apple for service are computer illiterate; I'm not computer illiterate, I have built over 30 PC and I want to be able to upgrade my system myself because it is an easy process except for some of Apple's products.
        Love & Hate Apple
      • I've got a five year old PC. It runs everything just fine.

        I'm typing this on a 2006 Mac Mini which is also running fine. What's wrong with older hardware?
      • You are the kind of customers that Apple loves

        Because you really do not understands that most computers even after several years of use are still perfectly fine for the everyday simple tasks.

        I have a Dell notebook computer that is over 7 years ago. The HDD failed 2 years ago and I replaced it along with upgrading the memory. I had even upgraded the OS to run Windows 7 (yeah it wasn't even rated for it). Works perfectly fine for the daily task and can even keep up with video chat using Skype. I have an even older notebook that is running Linux and works just as good now than it was back then (8-9 years).

        Apple has 'educated' their users that it is 'required' for them to keep up with their newer generation of HW on an annual or bi-annual basis. Or in the case of their tablet, apparently, 6 months. No Thanks.
        • [I'm] the kind of customer that Apple loves?

          I have an iMac that's nearly 5 years old (it will turn five after Christmas) and it's running the latest version of OS X.

          I did increase the RAM about a year ago to 4gb, which took all of five minutes, and I've added a Firewire external drive, but otherwise it's just as I bought it. It runs every program that I have very nicely.
      • Speaking as someone

        who owns a "behemoth of a PC desktop" I gotta say I'm running things quite well on a Dell XPS 400 that was released in 2005 - including Windows 7, Microsoft Office 2010, Skyrim, SWTOR, and pretty much whatever else I throw at it with no issues at all. The only upgrades I've done was to bring the RAM up to 3GB and added about 2TB of storage.

        If Macs are so great why can't they run more than 5 years?
  • Have you ever used an iMac?

    " The iMac can't be upgraded for something as simple as RAM or replace a failed hard drive by the consumer;"

    Ahhhh... Yes it can... easily...

    You can add new memory to an iMac in a few minutes. Hard-drive is a little trickier due to the simple (if you have a suction cup) front glass removal.
    • iMac

      I have not seen an access panel on an iMac to upgrade RAM or hard drive. HOW!!!
      Love & Hate Apple
      • iMac memory upgrade

        Except the latest 21.5" iMac, every other iMac has an easily accessible (two philips screws) door on the bottom to replace memory.
    • removing the glass panel

      Removing the glass panel is not very good access. The iMac needs an access panel with a few screws on the back to upgrade. It is NOT consumer friendly.
      Love & Hate Apple
      • Some computer repairs ...

        ... are not intended to be "consumer friendly" due to how the computer is put together. As some else here put it, the "target consumer" is not a tech guy like you seem to be (Love & Hate Apple).

        The Mac/PC wars have been going on for years. Isn't it about time we put them to rest, and accept the companies and their equipment for what they are?

        BTW I'm sure you know that that PPC G4 Mac mini (I don't recall what speed your CPU is) can be easily upgrade to 1.50 GHz? However, it's not a job for a non-techie.

        The first generation intel Mac mini up through Late 2007 model can easily have it's CPU upgraded as well as a efi update to allow those units to run4 GIG RAM total. However, (again) it is not a job for a non-techie.

        My 2 Cents worth.