This month Apple introduced the first major update to its Mac Mini line of desktop computers in two years. The new models feature Intel Haswell processors and starting prices of $499, which makes the new entry-level model about $100 cheaper than the 2012 Mac Mini it replaces.

The new models also feature 802.11ac WiFi and 2 Thunderbolt 2 ports.

That’s the good news. The bad news is that the new models are much tougher to upgrade than their predecessors.

mac mini teardown

We’d already heard that the RAM on the new Mac Mini was not user upgradeable. Now the folks at iFixit have cracked open the computer and report that not only are the memory and CPU soldered to the motherboard, but you also need a very specific type of screwdriver to even open the case.

The new Mac Mini is held together by T6 Torx Security screws. Odds are you don’t have a screwdriver that can remove this type of screw — the iFixit team are pros at taking apart computers, and they’d never actually seen this type of screw used for a real-world device.

If you do manage to open the case, there’s no glue to remove and it is possible to replace or upgrade the hard drive. But if you were hoping to buy an entry-level Mac Mini and upgrade the RAM or processor on your own, you’re out of luck. The only option is to buy a model that’s pre-configured with the CPU and memory you need.

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15 replies on “Apple’s 2014 Mac Mini may be cheaper… but it’s also harder to upgrade”

  1. you see apple thinks they own everything for life even though they sell it to you at an astronomical profit…shows you the mindset they have,,no sd cards non nonononononononon nothing but what we say you can have….thank goodness for windows , Linux, and android,,can you imagine if ios were the only os….thank you $7000 for that ipad please !!!! and don’t forget its still OURS !!!!

  2. This still has the stupid blower fan so I’m not interested. I thought maybe this generation would be fanless. Maybe next generation.

  3. The other option is to stay away from the brand and buy a NUC or a Brix instead.

      1. The Intel NUC, and the Gigabyte Brix are Mini PCs (smaller than the Mac Mini), and they are sold in a Barebones fashion (no ram, or storage).

        They are MUCH better than a Mac Mini for running things like Linux, and Windows.

        But in Apple’s defense, you can’t build an i5 NUC or an i5 Brix for as cheap as a Mac Mini.

  4. I’m really turned off by the lack of upgradability, but the Mac Mini is still a decent value.

    The cheaper $499 pricepoint was not without a loss in performance. The new 1.4ghz i5 is a downgrade from the last model.

    Although to Apple’s credit, the next step-up $699 model is a fantastic value compared to the old $599 pricepoint. You get a 2.6ghz i5, 8gb of ram, Intel Iris GPU, and a 1TB hdd.

    Sure you can build an i5 NUC for cheaper, but it won’t be as powerful of a CPU, and it wont have an Iris GPU. You can build an i7 Gigabyte Brix, which will beat it in CPU performance, but still doesnt have as good of a GPU, and it will come in over $750 to build.

    1. Keep in mind these new mac minis are just dual core machines, not quad core ones.

        1. The last versions had a Mac mini server with a quad-core i7. That’s what.

    2. SFF (small form factor) computers are not designed for (easy) upgrading. They are meant to be used as-is.

      If you want something easy to upgrade, go for a regular ATX desktop box.

      1. Almost every mini PC on the market is not only smaller than the Mac Mini, but also upgradable.

  5. There is absolutely no reason for Apple to try this hard to keep customers out of the hardware THEY BOUGHT. At least with the memory they can say it saved a bit of money or saved a bit of space. Using rare screw types actually costs them more money and adds nothing to the product. A big middle finger to Apple.

    1. Meh. I don’t think the screw is all that rare, but it does puzzle me why they had to solder the ram in.

    2. Non-(or very limited) upgradablity has been the norm for Apple products since the original Macintosh.

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