iFixit Pro Tech Toolkit: Is there really one toolkit to rule them all?

Welcome to the first installment in our Cool Tools series. In this article, we use the iFixit Pro Tech Toolkit to upgrade a Mac mini and add an SSD. Is this toolkit for you? Read on and find out.

This is the first article in our series called Cool Tools. The idea is to spotlight tools that can make your professional life easier, save you some time, or help you get more done. In this inaugural column, we focus on the $69.95 Pro Tech Toolkit from iFixit.

iFixit Pro Tech Toolkit review and Mac mini SSD upgrade

As the accompanying video shows, most of us have lots of plastic boxes filled with tools. When it comes time to tear apart a PC or upgrade a machine, we often go digging through until we find the right tools. Others may not have ever tried to open up a computer or fix a piece of consumer electronics, precisely because you never had access to tools that could extract weird shaped screws or remove tiny parts.

iFixit has made a name for itself by creating a resource for do-it-yourself electronics repairs. They are famous for their right-after-release teardowns of new hardware to determine repairability and maintainability. The company also maintains a large library of step-by-step guides for disassembling many devices.

I've been working through our fleet of Macs and updating them all to SSD. One of the two remaining machines was a 2011 Mac mini that I've been using in my studio. When iFixit sent me one of their Pro Tech Toolkits, I decided to put it to the test.

Let's spend just a minute discussing the product. The big marquis feature is the huge collection of custom bits arranged in a coherent order in their kit. The toolkit has 64 bits, many of which are specialty bits needed to open electronics gear.

The kit also includes a nice variety of pryers (not pliers) which are tools meant to pry things apart. This is hugely helpful because trying to jam a screwdriver blade under a delicate circuit board almost always results in damage. These plastic and nylon tools can apply force without tearing the delicate traces on the boards.

Overall, I liked the kit and the collection of tools. In opening the Mac mini, I needed a specialized tool that didn't come with the kit for removing the motherboard. Fortunately, because I've cracked open a bunch of Mac minis in the past, I'd actually made my own tool so it was on-hand. However, if you don't have the tool, which can be made out of a coat hanger, you can always buy one from iFixit for under five bucks.

Actually, that brings up an odd rip-off caution. These days, it seems people are out to scam you no matter where you turn. Take a look at the image below. The top product is on iFixit's site and is their price for the simple removal tool, all of $4.95. The bottom products are from third-party resellers on Amazon, including one predatory seller who's trying to resell iFixit's $4.95 tool for $107.


Caveat emptor.

Even in an area as obscure as Mac mini logic board removal tools, there are scammers. Do your homework whenever you need to buy a new tool (or anything else, for that matter).

With that minor disturbance out of the way, I really liked the iFixit toolkit. It will be a great addition to your kit bag of resources. It costs $69.95. I think it's worth it, given how many computer upgrade and repair tools are contained in that one kit.

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