Mac mini Late 2014 Teardown
By Sam Lionheart • Difficulty: Moderate

It's been two years since the Mac mini's last appearance on iFixit's teardown table, but a newly revised version joins Apple's lineup this week. Is this truly a refreshed mini, or merely a mini-refresh? Stay tuned to find out just what two years of innovation has to say for itself—it's Mac mini teardown time.

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Step 1
  • Apple's "affordable powerhouse" offers a range of hardware configurations (but no gold color option, so you can't configure for bling). Our unit's internals include:
  • 1.4 GHz Dual-Core Intel Core i5 (Turbo Boost up to 2.7 GHz) with 3 MB L3 cache
  • 4 GB of 1600 MHz LPDDR3 memory
  • 500 GB Hard Drive
  • Intel HD Graphics 5000
  • 802.11ac Wi-Fi + Bluetooth 4.0
  • OS X Yosemite
Step 2
  • The backside of the mini remains almost identical to the previous iteration. The only change is the omission of a FireWire port in favor of an extra Thunderbolt 2 port.
  • The Mac mini Late 2014 retains the model number identifier of A1347, but is distinguished by the EMC number 2840.
Step 3
  • Gone are the handy thumb indents and indicators. This mini doesn't appear to have twist-off bottom cover!
  • We've got a bad feeling about this.
  • A flick of our bottle opener plastic opening tool pops this (lower) cap off.
  • Well that was nice! But now we're greeted with something new: a solid door where there was once handy access to the RAM and fan.
  • We're starting to feel like the locks on our apartment changed and we weren't given the new keys...
Step 4
  • Time to break down the door and see what's changed inside. The plastic bottom cover snaps onto three screws—three TR6 Torx Security screws. Really? Rude.
  • This is the smallest Torx Security screw we've ever seen—our kits go down to T7 Security, so we asked our tool design team to get improvising.
  • Improvisation complete! Our packrat engineers produced a lone prototype T6 Torx Security screwdriver, a tool we originally abandoned because nobody had seen such a screw used in real life
  • Thanks, Apple.
  • We'll get this ridiculous driver in the store shortly.
Step 5
  • After a bit of work—more than we were expecting—we're able to flip the Wi-Fi antenna/shield plate out of the way.
  • Unfortunately, we're not home free yet. One end of the Wi-Fi antenna cable is clamped firmly to the plate, while the other end is screwed down onto the logic board.
Step 6
  • Upon removal, the fan seems identical to the one from the previous model—but let's not be too quick to judge a fan by its cover.
  • Advanced Hydraulic Bearing
  • Hmm. Interesting. What exactly is Advanced Hydraulic Bearing? Let's find out. According to Asia Vital Components:
  • AHB "consists of a polished steel shaft, a sintered bearing and fluid lubricant." In this system there "is no contact between shaft and bearing" and thus "the bearing load is carried solely by a film of fluid lubricant."
  • AHB is best for fans that operate at a lower speed. It's better at absorbing shock and dampening vibration than traditional ball bearings, making for a quieter fan.
Step 7
  • The AirPort card is dispatched after removing one screw and disconnecting two more antennas from their sockets.
  • Gone is the funky cable-connected AirPort card of yesteryear, this AirPort card is now full-fledged PCIe, supporting Wi-Fi ac.
  • Let's take a look at the ICs found on the AirPort card:
  • Broadcom BCM4360KML1G 5G WiFi 3-Stream 802.11ac Gigabit Transceiver
  • Skyworks SE5516 Dual-Band 802.11a/b/g/n/ac WLAN Front-End Module
  • RF Micro RFFM4293 2.5 GHz FEMS and RFFM4591 5 GHz FEMS
  • Broadcom BCM20702 Single-Chip Bluetooth 4.0 HCI Solution with Bluetooth Low Energy Support
Step 8
  • Using our handy hand-powered Mac mini logic board removal tool, we handily remove our Mac mini's handsome logic board.
  • While past Mac minis have featured two SATA ports, allowing users to upgrade their base model with an extra hard drive, this year we only get one.
  • However, this empty socket over here may well be a spot for a PCIe cable, enabling the installation of a blade SSD.
  • More on this once we get our hands on a Fusion-equipped Mac mini.
  • True to our word, we cracked open a Fusion drive equipped Mac mini, and it looks like our suspicions were accurate.
  • The empty connector is now filled—by a PCIe cable, glued to the top of the hard drive tray.
  • The SSD matches the one we found in the MacBook Air 13" Mid 2013 with the same chips:
  • Samsung S4LN053X01-8030 (ARM) flash controller
  • 8 x Samsung K9LDGY8SIC-XCK0 16 GB flash storage
  • Samsung K4P2G324ED 512 MB RAM
Step 10
  • Let's have a look at the ICs on the logic board:
  • Samsung K4E8E304EE-EGCE 8 Gb LPDDR3 DRAM (8 Gb x 4 = 32 Gb = 4 GB)
  • Unfortunately, the RAM is soldered to the logic board. This means that if you want to upgrade the RAM, you can only do so at time of purchase.
  • Cirrus Logic 4208-CRZ Audio Codec (a returning champion from a bevy of recent Apple products including the Mid 2013 MacBook Air and Mac Pro)
  • Broadcom BCM57766A1KMLG Ethernet PCIe Controller with SD3.0 Card Reader and ASF 2.0
  • Intel DSL5520 Thunderbolt 2 Controller
  • Delta Electronics LFE8904C-F Discrete LAN Filter
  • NXP 6142F and NXP PCA9501BS 8-bit I/O Expander
Step 11
  • The IC party continues:
  • Microchip Technology 1428-7 420BE5A BMY System Management Bus (SMBus) Temperature Sensor
  • Cypress Semiconductor CY7C63833 LTXC enCoRe II Low Speed USB Peripheral Controller
  • Texas Instruments TPS51916 DDR3 Memory Power Solution Synchronous Buck Controller
  • Texas Instruments 58873D Synchronous Buck NexFET Power Block MOSFET Pair
Step 12
  • The IC after-party:
  • Intel Core i5-4260U Processor with Intel HD Graphics 5000
  • Texas Instruments/Stellaris LM4FS1EH Microcontroller
  • Parade PS8401A HDMI Jitter Cleaning Repeater
  • Macronix MX25L6406E 64 Mb CMOS Serial Flash
  • Delta Electronics LFE8904C-F Discrete LAN Filter
  • Intersil 958 26AHRZ M419VL
Step 13
  • We've got the power (supply) at the tips of our fingers. It's an easy extraction, even if it took a while to get here.
  • We get a slight rush before we realize it is the same as the 2012 model...which was the same as the 2011 edition.
  • In the immortal words of Gertrude Stein, "This is the lesson that history teaches: Repetition." (Put another way: Apple doesn't fall far from the tree.)
Step 14
  • Before we go, let's pull out the hard drive tray and take a look at the platter drive our mini came loaded with.
  • Tucked under the tray: a 500 GB, 5400 RPM HGST hard drive, coming in at 2.5" wide and 7 mm thin.
  • And on the top of the tray, a promising mounting point for a blade-style PCIe SSD, presumably what we'll find in a Mac mini equipped with Fusion Drive.
  • To test just how promising, we dropped in the SSD from our recently torn down 27" Retina 5K iMac (and used its mounting screw). Looks like a nice fit!
Step 15
  • Mac mini Late 2014 Repairability: 6 out of 10 (10 is easiest to repair).
  • There's no glue anywhere inside that needs to be removed while disassembling the mini.
  • With the proper tools, disassembly is straight-forward and simple.
  • T6 Torx Security screws are intended to lock you out of your mini, and make it hard to clean the fan or replace the hard drive.
  • The CPU is soldered to the logic board and not user-upgradeable.
  • The RAM is now also soldered to the logic board, and not user-upgradeable.