updated 08:45 pm EDT, Fri October 26, 2012
Scores eight of 10, still has second drive expansion option
Repair and tool-selling site iFixIt has done a teardown of the very latest Mac mini and found it basically unchanged from last year's model in terms of repairability. The company revealed that the RAM, hard drive and even the power supply can be replaced or repaired, with only the processor and graphics not able to be upgraded. The teardown also revealed that the new Mac mini still has an extra SATA connection and room for adding a second hard or sold-state drive. The unit received an overall repairability "score" of eight out of 10.
The examination started with iFixit commending Apple for keeping the no-tools twist-opening panel on the bottom that allows access to the machine. It specifically noted that there was no glue used to secure components, an element that has been dinged by environmental analysts before in the construction of the Retina MacBook Pro models.
The Mac mini was found to be easily upgradeable to 16GB of RAM using PC3-12800 DD3 modules, with the hard drive also removable. The examiners noted that the entire unit must be completely disassembled in order to extract the power supply, but still felt it was a job that -- while time-consuming -- most technically-capable users could accomplish.
The teardown revealed various chips being used to perform specific functions, including those from Broadcom (handling all forms of wireless innovation), Intel (the new Ivy Bridge processor itself plus various Thunderbolt controller chips), and a Cirrus Logic audio processor. As with the previous model, the Mac mini lacks an optical drive and can be configured with a SSD unit as its main drive (or Apple's new Fusion Drive hybrid), making it possible to have no moving parts at all.
The latest version ships with either a dual-core i5 or quad-core i7, both from the current Ivy Bridge family. Configurations start at $600.