Mac Mini Mid 2011 Teardown

Teardown

Teardown

Teardowns provide a look inside a device and should not be used as disassembly instructions.

We find ourselves in possession of a brand new Mac Mini with promise of "2x faster everything" and the new Thunderbolt I/O. Naturally, we had to take a look inside, just like we did with the new MacBook Air earlier today.

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Edit Step 1 Mac Mini Mid 2011 Teardown  ¶ 

  • We received some big promises with the introduction of this new Mac Mini. The most exciting included:

    • Core i5 & i7 Processors

    • 500 & 750 GB HDD or 250 GB SSD

    • 2GB or 4GB DDR3 SDRAM

    • AMD Radeon HD graphics processor with 256MB of GDDR5 memory (2.5 GHz models only)

    • Thunderbolt and HDMI ports

    • SDXC card slot

  • Apple removed the optical drive from this Mini, but would characteristically love to sell you one for an additional $79.

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Edit Step 2  ¶ 

  • Model Number A1347... This feels a little bit like déjà vu.

  • The Mini's port layout seems only slightly different from last year's Mini:

    • Built-in 10/100/1000BASE-T Ethernet

    • FireWire 800

    • HDMI

    • Thunderbolt

    • Four USB 2.0 Ports

    • SDXC card slot

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Edit Step 3  ¶ 

  • After a few finger pushups and a firm twist, we get our first glimpse of the innards.

  • They look rather identical to the previous model...

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Edit Step 4  ¶ 

  • The first thing out the hole? The fan.

  • No surprises here. The new Mini has the same fan as the old Mini, and even the older Mini.

    • Sticking with the brushless, high blade density blower, this single fan is quiet and effective.

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Edit Step 5  ¶ 

  • Four T8 Torx screws hold the Wi-Fi antenna plate in place, an easy victory for iFixit's 54 Piece Bit Driver Kit.

  • With a little wiggle this-a-way and a little wiggle that-a-way, we remove the antenna plate.

    • WOW! Look at that-- the plate is identical to the one from last year. We like to imagine what else you could do with a grill like that.

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Edit Step 6  ¶ 

  • A couple screws and a connector and the hard drive is out, revealing a whole lot of, well, nothing.

    • But wait-- was that an empty hard drive cable port next to it?

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Edit Step 7  ¶ 

  • The big question with this unibody Mac Mini: "Can I install a second hard drive myself?" The centimeter and a half of extra space seem to imply so.

  • There is definitely plenty of room for a second hard drive underneath the first. The only deterrent is the availability of a second, longer SATA hard drive-to-logic board cable.

  • Let's get the logic board out so we can get a better look.

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Edit Step 8  ¶ 

  • The release of the new Mac Mini means the return of our favorite tool: the Mac Mini Logic Board Removal Tool! Luckily, we have come prepared this time.

  • No longer forced to use two screwdrivers, we insert our Mac Mini Logic Board Removal tool, and it does the trick. The logic board assembly slides right out of the aluminum unibody.

  • With the logic board removed, we see how a second hard drive could be installed.

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Edit Step 9  ¶ 

  • Two T6 Torx screws hold the speaker in its place on the logic board.

  • With the speaker removed, this Mac Mini can no longer bump fat bass beep at you.

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Edit Step 10  ¶ 

  • Our trusty spudger makes quick work of the Wi-Fi board's cables.

  • More T6 screws hinder our path, but we will not be deterred.

  • 802.11n connectivity is possible thanks to a Broadcom BCM4331 "single-chip wireless solution."

  • The Broadcom BCM20702 Single-Chip Bluetooth 4.0 Processor with Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) support is identical to the chip found in the 13" MacBook Air we just took apart.

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Edit Step 11  ¶ 

  • Just like in the previous Mac Mini, the heat sink is held in place by a bunch of spring-loaded T8 screws.

  • Some of the screws were a little different, though. We found T6 screws that were screwed into the top of T8 screws. A screw within a screw . . .

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Edit Step 12  ¶ 

  • After de-routing a couple cables and unscrewing a few #00 Phillips screws, we were able to remove two antennas and the I/O wall from the logic board.

  • The antennas are attached to the plastic I/O wall since wireless signals don't transmit well through metal.

  • Ah ha, we meet again L-block.

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Edit Step 13  ¶ 

  • Main ICs on the underside of the logic board:

    • Intel BD82HM65 Platform Controller Hub

    • Intel V116A068 2.3 GHz Dual-Core i5

    • Intersil ISL6364 Dual PWM Controller

    • Parade PS8171 HDMI/DVI Level Shifter

    • SMSC USB2513B USB 2.0 Hub Controller

    • AELTA 8904C-F

    • SMSC 1428-7 System Management Bus temperature sensor

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Edit Step 14  ¶ 

  • Big players on the top side of the logic board include:

    • Intel L116IA35 Thunderbolt port controller IC, similar to that found on the Early 2011 21.5" iMac

    • Broadcom BCM57765 gigabit ethernet and memory card controller

    • Texas Instruments XIO2211 FireWire Controller

    • Cirrus Logic 4206B Audio Controller

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Edit Step 15  ¶ 

  • One T6 screw holds the power supply in place.

  • After removing a small metal bracket and twisting the AC power-in port, the power supply slides right out through the Mini's empty front.

  • Look familiar to you, too? Good, then it's not just us.

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Edit Step 16  ¶ 

  • One more T6 screw and we can pull the IR sensor/receiver from the optical drive-- what? No optical drive? To make room for the additional hard drive option, Apple has removed the optical drive from this year's Mini and replaced it with some good old-fashioned emptiness.

  • The IR sensor stares straight into the depths of our souls. Sorry buddy, you won't find your lost optical drive here.

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Edit Step 17  ¶ 

  • Mac Mini Mid 2011 Repairability: 8 out of 10 (10 is easiest to repair).

    • No proprietary screws are found within the device.

    • You can easily upgrade your RAM and hard drive, as well as add a secondary drive.

    • There's no glue anywhere inside that needs to be removed while disassembling the Mini.

    • The CPU is soldered to the logic board and not user-upgradeable.

    • While not difficult to do, you still have to remove almost all the internals in order to replace the power supply.

Required Tools

TR8 Torx Security Screwdriver

$5.95 · 50+ In stock

Spudger

$2.95 · 50+ In stock

T6 Torx Screwdriver

$5.95 · 50+ In stock

T6 Torx Screwdriver

$9.95 · 29 In stock

T6 Torx Screwdriver

$4.95 · 50+ In stock

Recommended Tools

Universal Drive Adapter

$29.95 · 50+ In stock

iFixit Lock Pick Set

$29.95 · 50+ In stock

Inspection Scope

$39.95 · 50+ In stock

Frictionless Ratchet

$24.95 · 50+ In stock

Portable Anti-Static Mat

$34.95 · 40 In stock

Popular Device Products

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Arctic Silver Thermal Paste

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Arctic Silver ArctiClean

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Comments Comments are onturn off

What is the empty socket located about an inch above the CPU and GPU on the motherboard (same side as the SATA sockets)?

Edge, · Reply

Maybe it has something to do with the Radeon 6630m model? I ordered the Core i7/6630m model, I'll check when I get it and report anything different I see.

Francois,

The same socket exists on the 6630M version (I put an SSD in my i5/2.5/500 prior to this take apart.)

Edge,

What sort of cable is recommended for adding a second drive? I would like to buy a bare bones man mini, install a second ssd drive, and then install Lion on the ssd drive and use that as the boot drive.

rmiller67, · Reply

As we say in Step 7, you'll need an Apple proprietary SATA cable. Maybe someone will get their hands on a server version of the new Mac Mini and reverse engineer both of the cables so that they can start manufacturing ones that will fit perfectly.

David Hodson,

Is there any hard drive sensor cable this time around? Less small cable to remove/put back = less chance of breaking things! :)

Francois, · Reply

There is no separate temp sensor, just the single flat cable from motherboard to the SATA hard drive (unless the temp sensor wiring is included in a custom SATA port on the 500GB hard drive. With an SSD in place, my fan is noticeably running, but I am not sure whether it is due to heat from the SSD/GPU/CPU combination.)

Edge,

Can you check your fan speed RPM? With istat or something like that? I think the max speed is 6000RPM, so let't hope that upgrading the HDD won't give the same problem as the 2011's iMac

Francois,

SMC fan control reports 1800rpm minimum fan speed. This is with an upgraded SSD and a Dual-DVI -> 30" Cinema Display (using discrete 6630M GPU.)

Edge,

The 2010 Mac Mini models had temperature sensors on the hard drive, that proved to be a little trick to remove and install a replacement hard drive.

Is it still an issue or did Apple change it?

Zillo, · Reply

Is it possible to upgrade the Intel processors?

Zillo, · Reply

No. See the note in the guide, it is soldered to the motherboard.

Edge,

How hard is it to add a second hard drive?

Kraven Craft, · Reply

The possibility to add a second hard drive does exist for a long time!: http://www.mcetech.com/optibay/

qsd, · Reply

How about a link to buy one of those funky sata cables? For people who want to install a 2nd hard drive

James Young, · Reply

That would be nice! I'll buy a intro Mini to use as a media server if I can add another HDD to it.

Alex Reich,

I would be véry interested in that as well. Apparently we need a "SATA hard drive-to-logic board cable", but I'm really eager to know this for sure. I've also read that the Mini 2011 has a SATA-III (Sata-600) connection, which would make installing an SSD afterwards all the more interesting.

The second someone has a link to the "SATA hard drive-to-logic board cable", I'll buy me one and a Mac Mini with dedicated GPU and the i7 CPU… that would be one seriously little powerhouse! :)

Joram Oudenaarde,

Does the 2011 Mac mini have SATA revision 3.0? I would like to know if I need to buy a new 6Gb/s OWC SSD to take full advantage of any revision. If not, I can put my existing 3Gb/s SSD in the machine, and use the drive it comes with as a data/media HDD.

Alex Reich, · Reply

From what I've read on Appleinsider's and Macrumor's forum so far, it has SATA-III :)

Joram Oudenaarde,

Yes.

I can confirm that System Information reports a 6 Gigabit link. My SSD is only SATA II (3 Gigabit) so I am unable to test throughput.

I also have a flat cable from a 2010 mini server to test the second HD.

Edge,

Can the previous man mini's DVD drive be connected to this logic board?

shklak, · Reply

Hm... is possible to put the a DVD burner on this new model? the space is the same? If is possible, i just need to "cut" the case, right? What is the DVD burner model? Thanks.

Sergio Eurico, · Reply

I was thinking you could swap the case from the 2010 model, but would like to see someone else try.

Ash,

I've been looking at the teardowns for both models. The shapes of all the relevant parts appear to be the same, so it seems likely that the case + drive bracket + optical drive of the previous model should be compatible with the other parts of this new one. We won't know for certain until someone gives it a try, though.

cityzen,

I found the attached site which sells 2010 Server 2nd HD cables, which I am guessing would be nearly identical? Would something like this work for the 2011 Mini?

A teardown of the Mini Server would be really great just to see how they are packing the two HD's now.

http://www.welovemacs.com/9229560.html

codemonkeyx, · Reply

Interesting that that isn't just the same part (the one in the device, not the longer one you need), but it's also the same photograph of the part.

So who takes these photographs. I always assumed that they were taken by iFixit when they disassembled the device.....

alex,

Nice catch, alex. The teardown image was taken without iFixit's permission and used as the product picture on their site.

Miroslav Djuric,

Looks like the second hard drive cable part number is 922-9560 the same one as the 2010 mac mini server

Peter Scott, · Reply

If that's true, then adding a second hard drive just got a lot easier. Thanks for the info!

David Hodson,

*Notes on Fan Speed & 2011 Mini Noise Level*

--

I've owned both the 2010 base model as well as the 2011 Radeon model of the mac mini, so I wanted to post some comments about the exhaust fan an noise level. As read from iStatPro system monitoring tool, there are at least 10 temp readout locations inside the mac mini. Both the 2010 and 2011 models single fans idle at around 1800RPM, when the temp of the processor is around 70 deg C, and HD is around 33 deg C (and Radeon GPU core around 65 dec C in 2011 model). RPMs increase linearly primarily in response to CPU heat; at medium CPU load at 74dC, it increases to ~2800RPM, which is lightly audible; at moderately heavy CPU load, 78dC, it inc to ~3500, which is minorly annoyingly audible; at full CPU load it goes past 80dC and ~4000rpm, which is quite loud by mac mini standards. This was rare in my 2010 C2Duo, and is rare in my 2011 core i5 2.5ghz; usually, in my 2011 model, CPU usage hovers around 30% across the cores, even under pretty heavy load. When gaming, the GPU gets as hot as 74dC, but the CPU is not at full capacity, and the fan usually sits at around ~2900RPM which is pretty quiet. This was in max resolution, highest detail game (Bioshock for Mac).

--

Regarding replacing the HDD with a non-apple SSD, Fan speed the same after; there is no special HDD sensor to worry about. According to the temp readouts from iStatPro, the hard drive temperature is still being read in the 2011 mini, likely via the S.M.A.R.T. hdd interface. It's uncertain if the mini's one main exhaust fan factors this temp into its rotation speed. My SSD never changes in temp by more than a few degrees C.

-

Hope this helps regarding noise level concerns!

Daniel Valencia, · Reply

Is the additional hard drive port available on all models of the mini, or is it limited to the higher-end models?

Zhi Wei Ho, · Reply

It's the same on all models, since none of the models have a Superdrive anymore. So the space exists… it's just a matter of figuring out which "SATA hard drive-to-logic board cable" to get.

Joram Oudenaarde,

We tore apart a 2.3 GHz model, so if it's there, it's likely to be in all models.

David Hodson,

So is it correct that the HD replacement is much easier than on the previous unibody Mini? From this teardown it looks like the HD can be removed without lifting up the logic board, and the HD cover looks more substantial than on the previous model.

amenewooduk, · Reply

Well wait....I understand that I need an additional special cable to hook up a SECOND HDD. But for a simple replacement of the 500gb with a 2TB (which should be what lot of us are looking for) I can use the existing cables? Would a simple replacement work?

Peter Forks, · Reply

From what we've seen, you should be fine. There aren't any funky thermal sensor cables or anything like that, just a classic plug-and-play HD swap.

David Hodson,

the second port was Optical drive flex cable

EduardoRomcy, · Reply

hi! I have a 2011 Mac Mini and wanted to add an SSD to it, rather than replacing the existing 500GB harddrive; I looked everywhere for a compatible SATA flex to logic board cable without much luck, but I finally found a solution from OWC the SSD manufacturer, originally aimed at MacBook Airs, that looks like it would work -- do you think it would? Thanks! - Daniel

http://eshop.macsales.com/shop/SSD/OWC/A...

Daniel Valencia, · Reply

It looks similar, but the geometry is different so it wouldn't work. The cable in that link has the board-side connector rotated 90 degrees from how the Mac mini cable has it, and the cable extends in the wrong direction on it. Sorry to burst your bubble.

Andrew Bookholt,

You're right, I see that now. I guess this is the only option: http://www.welovemacs.com/9229560.html

Question: Does it matter if the SSD, with OSX on it, is on the secondary SATA port? (the default unused one)

Daniel Valencia,

We put a 60 GB platter HD with OSX on the second port and it was recognized right away in disk utility. I don't see why adding an SSD would be any different. Should work just fine.

Andrew Bookholt,

Thanks Andrew. Quick question, does this cable support SATA III? Is this the one you used?

http://www.welovemacs.com/9229560.html

thank you much,

daniel

Daniel Valencia,

Yes, it does.

Andrew Bookholt,

SUCESS: Notes on Installing SSD in 2011 Mac Mini

hi all,

I replaced the HD in my mac mini with a OWC Electra SSD 6G.

1. Fan speed the same after; there is no sensor to worry about.

2. make sure to remove black plastic cover off of old hard drive before pulling SATA cable out of old HD; otherwise you won't be able to.

3. The OWC video guide is great, but you don't need to pull out the motherboard; there is just enough room to slide the old HD out and the new one in.

4. Installing Lion over the Internet with Int Recovery worked, but I had to change my wireless network from WPA2 security to WPA and disable uPNP; not sure why. Go with most basic/compatible settings.

After Lion downloaded (4 hours), it installed in 4.2 minutes flat. Jaw-dropping speed.

thanks all,

d

Daniel Valencia, · Reply

-Video Guide to replacing HDD in 2011 mac mini-:

http://eshop.macsales.com/installvideos/...

-word from OWC regarding no thermal sensors-:

"Daniel,

Any 2.5" drive will work on your Mac mini 2011. There is no specialized thermal sensor to worry about.

Sincerely,

OWC Jose"

ps: mac mini exhaust fan speed of ~1800 rpm is normal under light load.

Daniel Valencia,

PS: I used both the iFixit guide and the OWC video when I did my upgrade, and I needed both to do it right. Note that OWC suggests removing the motherboard to exchange the hd, but as iFixit points out, this is not necessary to get the HD out or the new one in.

Daniel Valencia,

PPS: If you want to install 2 HD's, the dual hard drive kit from iFixit is your best bet: http://www.ifixit.com/Guide/Installing-M...

Daniel Valencia,

Hi everyone, 3 questions please:

1. It is mentioned that the HDD has 2 screws to unscrew but from the images I fail to see where these screws are located. Can you please shed some more light on thieir exact locations?

2. I got the Mac Mini Server 2011 so question is if I want to replace one of the drives with SSD drive, which one of the pre-installed drive should I replace with the SSD drive?

3. Which SSD drive & cable to use? Would I require additional parts to hold/wrap the SSD so it'll fit well?

Thanks!

Tal, · Reply

Your Questions:

1. The 2 screws holding the HDD in place are actually 2 of the screws that also hold the antenna plate in place (the 2 closest to the edge of the antenna plate). The teardown glosses over this, but once the antenna plate is gone, the HDD screws are also out.

2. I think there are only peg holders for one drive; so I would install the rotary hd in the pegged slot, and then the SSD, which is lighter and less subject to vibration, perhaps on the bottom using some removable mounting tape.

3. You'll use the cables already in your server model. As far as drives, I've done a lot of research and almost any SandForce 2281 controller 6Gb drive should do well. I'm using the OWC Electra 6g. I like OWC because they test all of their equipment across the Mac lineup.

hope this helps,

d

Daniel Valencia,

Is it possible to upgrade the 6630m graphics card?

rikky, · Reply

Once you take the server version apart, you'll be able to see what the second disk cable looks like. It will also be interesting to see if the i7 quad-core is much bigger than the CPUs installed in this model.

off-topic, sorry: I look at the size of the motherboard and can envision a Mac blade server using the quad i7 with the MBA memory drive for booting. The mini's have Thunderbolt so connection of RAIDs not a problem. Expand RAM capability to 4 slots and you could have half a 5U rack with 1-2 dozen mini blades with the other half holding a bunch of disks.

plink53, · Reply

I too have successfully bought the iFixit 2nd hard drive kit and installed an OWC Mercury Extreme SSD and loaded the OS only on it which has really made a huge difference and increased overall speed of my 2011 Mac Mini. I found it fairly easy to do and have also upgraded Ram to 16gb. I am extremely happy with the results. I encourage anybody to try the SSD option to load just the OS option on the SSD. I most cases you can get away with a very affordable 64gb SSD drive.

Alex Gaston, · Reply

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