2018 Mac mini Teardown: User-Upgradeable RAM, But Soldered Down CPU and Storage

The repair experts at iFixit have completed their teardown of the new Mac mini, providing a look inside the portable desktop computer.


Disassembly of the new Mac mini remains fairly straightforward. iFixit popped off the plastic bottom cover with its opening tool and then used a Torx screwdriver to unfasten the familiar antenna plate underneath.

With access to the inside, iFixit then unscrewed the fan and popped out the logic board with some old-fashioned thumb pressing. While the RAM in the previous-gen Mac mini from 2014 was soldered to the logic board, the new Mac mini has user-upgradeable RAM, as discovered earlier this week.


As seen in older iMacs, the RAM is protected by a perforated shield that allows the memory modules to operate at a high frequency of 2666 MHz without interfering with other device functions, according to iFixit. To upgrade the RAM, the shield can be removed by unfastening four Torx screws.

Other silicon on the logic board of this particular Mac mini includes the Apple T2 security chip, a 3.6GHz quad-core Intel Core i3 processor, Intel UHD Graphics 630, 128GB of flash storage from Toshiba, an Intel JHL7540 Thunderbolt 3 controller, and a Gigabit Ethernet controller from Broadcom.


Despite the good news about the RAM, the CPU and SSD are soldered to the logic board, as are many ports, so this isn't a truly modular Mac mini.

iFixit awarded the new Mac mini a repairability score of 6/10, with 10 being the easiest to repair, topping the latest MacBook Air, MacBook, MacBook Pro, iMac, and iMac Pro, and trailing only the 2013 Mac Pro.

"Back in the day, a Pro Mac meant a computer you could upgrade, configure, and connect as you pleased," iFixit's teardown concludes. "This new mini aligns so well with that ideal that we're surprised it didn't earn itself a "Pro" title—especially compared to the increasingly closed-off MacBook Pro line."

The new Mac mini earned its higher repairability score thanks to its straightforward disassembly with no tough adhesive or proprietary pentalobe screws and user-upgradeable RAM. However, it didn't earn a perfect score due to the soldered-down CPU, storage, and ports, impacting repairs and upgrades.

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2018 MacBook Air Teardown Confirms Improving Repairability With Adhesive Pull-Tabs Under Battery and Speakers

The repair experts at iFixit have completed their teardown of the new MacBook Air, providing a closer look inside the notebook.

iFixit started by confirming the keyboard on the new MacBook Air has the same silicone membrane under the keycaps as the latest MacBook Pro, as expected since they both use Apple's third-generation butterfly keyboard.


Next, they flipped the notebook onto its bottom side and encountered Apple's usual pentalobe screws that require a special screwdriver to unfasten. On the inside, there is a compact array of components, including a small logic board, a fan, a pair of large speakers, and a "radiator-esque heat sink."


iFixit proceeded to remove the logic board, providing a glimpse at the Apple T2 security chip, along with a Thunderbolt 3 controller from Intel, 128GB of flash storage from SanDisk, and 8GB of LPDDR3 RAM from SK Hynix.


Diving deeper, iFixit discovered that the two Thunderbolt 3 ports in the new MacBook Air are modular, and applauded Apple for this repair-friendly design consideration. "This MacBook is off to a good start as far as we're concerned," they wrote. "All the ports sit on their own boards and are easily replaceable."

Continuing the repair-friendly trend, iFixit uncovered ten pull-to-remove adhesive tabs securing the 49.9 Wh battery and speakers.

"The mere presence of stretch-release adhesive generally means that someone at least thought about possible repair and disassembly situations," the teardown says. "Are you there, Apple? It's us, iFixit. Have you heard our pleas?"


As first reported by MacRumors, the battery in the new MacBook Air is still glued into the top case — the aluminum enclosure that houses the keyboard and trackpad — but Apple will be providing Apple Authorized Service Providers with tools to remove the battery and reinstall a new one with no top case replacement required.

In all other MacBook and MacBook Pro models with a Retina display released since 2012, Apple has replaced the entire top case when a customer requires a new battery, so the change is good news for both repairability and the environment.

Last, iFixit confirmed that the Touch ID sensor is also modular in the new MacBook Air. According to the new MacBook Air's service guide obtained by MacRumors, the Touch ID button does not require a logic board replacement, but the notebook must pass Apple diagnostics in order for the repair to be completed.

While the new MacBook Air has improved repairability relative to Apple's standards, the notebook earned a low 3/10 repairability score from iFixit.

"The Air still uses external pentalobes to keep you out, requires lots of component removal for common fixes, and both RAM and storage are soldered to the logic board," said iFixit. "All together, that means Apple has an easy time with their knowledge and tools, but the average DIYer is left out to dry when it comes to upgrades."

Nevertheless, iFixit said it hopes this is "just the beginning of an upswing in repairable design" for Apple products.

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Apple Watch Series 4 Teardown: 4% More Battery Capacity, Hidden Barometric Sensor, and Streamlined Internals

iFixit has completed a teardown of the Apple Watch Series 4, providing a look inside a larger 44mm model with LTE.

Image Credit: iFixit

The repair experts believe that while the original Apple Watch was awkwardly layered together and used too much glue, the Series 4 lineup feels "much more thoughtfully laid out," likening it to the iPhone 5.
Apple pundit John Gruber has compared this to the leap in design brought by the iPhone 4, and we might even go a bit further and call it an iPhone 5: a device that knows its priorities, and wants to look as elegant inside as out.
At first glance, the internal design of Series 4 models looks more or less the same as previous models, with the battery and Taptic Engine taking up most of the space. Dig deeper, however, and the changes become evident.

Image Credit: iFixit

Teardown highlights:
  • 291.8 mAh battery, which is 4% more capacity than the 279 mAh battery in 42mm-sized Apple Watch Series 3 models.
  • A thinner and longer Taptic Engine, but iFixit says it still takes up a lot of space that could have gone to a larger battery.
  • The barometric sensor may have been relocated to the speaker grille for access to the outside atmosphere. The sensor had its own dedicated hole beside the microphone on Apple Watch Series 3 models.
  • The new Apple S4 chip is secured only with screws, whereas the processor is also "fiercely glued" in previous Apple Watch models.
  • The golden ring is likely a streamlined antenna system, as iFixit says it has not seen the usual fiddly brackets or golden gaskets.
  • The entire rear casing pops off more easily.
  • The display is not only larger, but also thinner.
iFixit says the Apple Watch Series 4 is nearing iPhone levels of repairability, with the highly-glued display being the primary remaining obstacle. Beyond that, they say the battery is straightforward to replace.

Image Credit: iFixit

All in all, the Series 4 received a "solid" 6/10 on iFixit's repairability scale, with 10 being the best possible score. That's the same repairability score iFixit gave the iPhone XS and XS Max in its teardown of those devices.

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iFixit: iPhone XS and XS Max Have ‘Notched’ Batteries, XS Max Has Apple-Designed Power Management Chip

The repair experts at iFixit have shared teardowns of the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max, providing a look inside the latest models.

iPhone XS on left and iPhone XS Max on right via iFixit

While the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max have improved IP68-rated water resistance, iFixit says it could not find any obvious evidence of increased waterproofing, with the SIM tray gasket and other seals looking more or less the same. Dutch repair website FixjeiPhone had found the iPhone XS was a bit harder to open.

After removing the displays, iFixit uncovered a few differences with the iPhone XS Max compared to the iPhone XS, including a resized Taptic Engine and an extended logic board, with one of the display connectors moved to the bottom. It appears the iPhone XS Max also has a slightly louder earpiece for phone calls.

The teardown corroborates that the iPhone XS has a new single-cell L-shaped battery, while the iPhone XS Max battery remains two cells. As uncovered in Chinese regulatory filings, the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max have battery capacities of 2,658 mAh at 3.81V and 3,174 mAh at 3.80V respectively.

iPhone XS Max on left and iPhone XS on right via iFixit

Since the L-shaped batteries have six sides, rather than four like a rectangle, iFixit says Apple has "notched" the internal corners of the batteries in the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max to prevent undue stress from thermal expansion.

"This dramatic shift opens up a lot of design possibilities, but the large notch is responsible for the decrease in capacity relative to the X," its teardown email says. "Only time will tell how this new cell performs with age."

Moving on to the logic board, there is a new Apple-branded power management chip in the iPhone XS Max. Reports had suggested Apple would start using its own power management chip in at least a portion of its 2018 iPhones, as it gradually reduces its dependance on Dialog Semiconductor.

Apple-designed power management chip labeled in green via iFixit

The teardown does not indicate whether the gigabit-class LTE modems in the latest iPhones are supplied by Intel and/or Qualcomm.

iFixit confirms the wide-angle sensor size has been increased by 32 percent in the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max. Pixel size has also been bumped, providing better low-light performance and contributing to the new "Smart HDR" feature.

iFixit gives the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max an overall repairability score of 6/10, with 10 being a perfect score. The repair experts say display and battery repairs remain a priority in the iPhone's design, but the all-glass design means the entire chassis must be replaced if the back glass cracks.

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iPhone XS Teardown Reveals New Single-Cell L-Shaped Battery

Dutch repair site FixjeiPhone today shared a teardown of the iPhone XS, providing us with our first look inside the 5.8-inch model.

A side-by-side comparison shot with the iPhone X reveals that the internal layout of the iPhone XS has not changed significantly, with the most obvious difference being a new single-cell L-shaped battery with a capacity of 2,658 mAh.


The battery was also L-shaped in the iPhone X, but it was a two-cell configuration, instead of a single lithium-ion battery pack.

While the iPhone XS's battery has around 2.2 percent less capacity than the 2,716 mAh battery in the iPhone X, Apple says the iPhone XS gets up to 30 minutes longer battery life than the iPhone X per charge cycle, presumably due to efficiency gains from the A12 Bionic chip and other components.

FixjeiPhone shared a photo of the iPhone XS almost completely disassembled, but it has not labeled any components or manufacturers.


Their video teardown, which can be watched with English subtitles on YouTube, indicates that the display is a bit harder to remove due to additional seals that help the iPhone XS achieve its improved IP68-rated water resistance.


Repair site iFixit should have more detailed iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max teardowns soon after the devices launch in stores tomorrow.

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Samsung Galaxy S9+ Teardown Reveals Components for Dual-Aperture Camera and ‘Lower-Tech’ AR Emoji

Over the weekend, iFixit shared its latest teardown, this one for Samsung's upcoming Galaxy S9+ smartphone. The Galaxy S9 and S9+ will both launch this Friday, March 16 for around for $720 and $840, respectively, and some initial reviews took to comparing the devices to Apple's iPhone X.

iFixit did so as well in the new teardown, starting off by trying to get into the back of the S9+ to look at its rear-facing camera components. After applying heat, the iFixit team got into the smartphone and found its dual-aperture camera system, which the team described as one of the only significant hardware changes this year.

Images via iFixit

iFixit explained that the S9+ has a rear-facing camera that automatically adjusts its aperture for low light, and at f/1.5 it has the widest aperture of any phone. For normal photos, Samsung's new device still has a "more standard" f/2.4 aperture. In comparison, the iPhone X's dual 12 MP rear cameras include f/1.8 and f/2.4 apertures.
Standard camera lenses use at least five aperture blades to keep the aperture roughly circular throughout many f-stop adjustments. This Galaxy's aperture has just two rotating, ring-like blades for its single adjustment.
After some trouble dislodging the rear fingerprint sensor, iFixit moved to focus on the battery within the S9+ and discovered a 3.85V, 3,500 mAh battery. As the iFixit team pointed out, the battery in the S9+ shares the same specs as those found in the S8+ last year, and in the Note7 in 2016. The iPhone X's battery teardown uncovered a 3.81V, 2,716 mAh battery in Apple's smartphone.

Eventually, the team got underneath the S9+ display and compared its front-facing camera components side-by-side with the iPhone X. iFixit noted that Samsung's AR Emoji are "lower-tech" compared to Apple's Animoji, mainly because the S9+ front-facing hardware -- composed of an iris scanner, camera, IR emitter, and proximity sensor -- are "pretty much exactly" the same as the tech from the Galaxy S8+.

Galaxy S9+ (left) and iPhone X (right)

Because of this, iFixit pointed out that it might have been a bit too soon for Samsung to debut its own animated emoji characters "without a hardware update to bring it up to speed." To further explain the distance between the technologies, the teardown team described Apple's Animoji as having Kinect-level tracking, while Samsung's emoji are more akin to Snapchat filters.

iFixit gave the Samsung Galaxy S9+ a repairability score of 4 out of 10, explaining that there are a few modular components while noting the chance for breakage if attempting to repair the display and rear glass panel. The iPhone X fared slightly better in its teardown with a 6 out of 10 score. To read more about the Galaxy S9+ and its teardown, visit iFixit's website.


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HomePod Teardown Reveals Hidden 14-Pin Connector, 16GB Storage, and Very Low Repairability

iFixit has completed an exhaustive teardown of the HomePod and found that, while the speaker appears to have a simple design on the outside, it will likely be extremely difficult for customers to complete do-it-yourself repairs.

HomePod's mesh has a drawstring

The teardown experts, who admit there might be a better way to open the HomePod that they've yet to learn, were forced to use a variety of tools to gain access to the internal components, including a heat gun, a guitar pick, a knife, and after all else failed, even a hacksaw and an ultrasonic cutter.

Underneath the rubber foot, iFixit found a hidden 14-pin connector that they speculate is probably used to test or program HomePods on pogo pins during assembly in Taiwan. Given the port sits below a layer of strong adhesive, it's unclear if it will be used for any other purpose, such as diagnostic testing.

HomePod's hidden 14-pin port

Digging further, the team found the HomePod has an Apple A8 chip, as advertised, likely paired with 1GB of RAM layered underneath. There's also a 16GB flash storage chip from Toshiba, although users can't store songs on the speaker directly, as music must be streamed from Apple Music or an AirPlay source.

HomePod also has a two-part power supply, composed of an inner block handling the AC/DC conversion, and an outer ring distributing power to all eight of the speakers. The seven tweeters each have a conductive screw post.


In the end, the teardown concludes that the HomePod is very durable, but extremely difficult to open. This might explain why Apple is charging $279 to replace the HomePod entirely if it is damaged, unless only the power cable is damaged, in which case Apple charges a more reasonable $29 fee to have it repaired.


There's also AppleCare+ for HomePod, which adds up to two incidents of accidental damage coverage, each subject to a service fee of $39 in the United States, plus the upfront cost of the plan. But even then, it still appears that Apple is simply replacing damaged HomePods outright beyond power cable repairs.

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iPhone X Teardown: TrueDepth Camera System, Stacked Logic Board With 3GB RAM, and 2,716 mAh Battery

iFixit has completed an iPhone X teardown, providing a closer look inside the device, including its new TrueDepth camera system, stacked logic board, L-shaped two-cell battery pack, and Qi-based inductive charging coil.


Like every other model since the iPhone 7 Plus, the iPhone X is a sideways-opening device. A single bracket covers every logic board connector.

iFixit said the miniaturized logic board design is incredibly space efficient, with an unprecedented density of connectors and components. It noted the iPhone X logic board is about 70 percent of the size of the iPhone 8 Plus logic board.

The extra room allows for a new L-shaped two-cell battery pack rated for 2,716 mAh, which is slightly larger than the iPhone 8 Plus battery.


iFixit's teardown includes some high-resolution photos of the iPhone X's new TrueDepth camera system that powers Face ID and Animoji.

For those unfamiliar, a flood illuminator covers your face with infrared light. Next, the front-facing camera confirms a face. Then the IR dot projector projects a grid of dots over your face to create a three-dimensional map. Last, the infrared camera reads this map and sends the data to the iPhone X for authentication.


Like the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus, the inside of the iPhone X's rear shell is affixed with an inductive charging coil based on the Qi standard.

Other components in this iPhone X include Apple's custom A11 Bionic chip, 3GB of LPDDR4x RAM from SK Hynix, 64GB of flash storage supplied by Toshiba, Qualcomm's Snapdragon X16 LTE modem, and a Cirrus Logic audio amplifier.


Some minor changes: Apple's Taptic Engine continues to be a linear oscillator vibration motor, the earpiece speaker has been shifted down, and the Lighting connector is said to be more greatly reinforced with a wider bracket that screws into the sidewall of the iPhone X's stainless steel frame.

iFixit gave the iPhone X a so-called repairability score of six out of a possible 10 points. It said a cracked display can be replaced without removing Face ID's biometric hardware, but it added that fussy cables tie unrelated components together into complex assemblies that are expensive and troublesome to replace.

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Apple TV 4K Teardown Reveals 3GB of RAM and Larger Venting System With Replaceable Fan

iFixit has shared an Apple TV 4K teardown, providing a closer look at the device's internal design and components.


We already know the Apple TV 4K is equipped with Apple's 64-bit A10X Fusion chip, and now the teardown confirms the device has a total of 3GB of LPDDR4 RAM supplied by SK Hynix. That's up from 2GB RAM in the previous Apple TV.

1GB + 2GB of LPDDR4 RAM outlined in yellow for a total of 3GB of RAM

The new power supply is rated for 12V at 1.083A, a modest increase over the 12V at 0.917A power supply in the previous Apple TV.

According to the teardown, Apple merged the new fan with the heat sink/EMI shield assembly from the fourth-generation Apple TV to create a larger thermal assembly for cooling and ventilation.


iFixit said the bottom of the unit has been redesigned with a total of eight exhaust ports and a new, replaceable fan driven by a Nidec brushless motor.

Beyond the return of a Gigabit Ethernet port and the removal of the USB-C diagnostic port, which we learned about before the teardown, the Apple TV 4K's design is largely the same as the previous Apple TV.

Apple TV 4K has no USB-C port

iFixit gave the Apple TV 4K a repairability score of 8 out of a possible 10 points. The device is easy to open and has modular components, but they're soldered to the logic board, so board-level soldering or full board replacements are required.

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Apple Watch Series 3 Teardown Reveals Larger Battery and Air Vent Moved Next to Diagnostic Port

iFixit has completed a teardown of the Apple Watch Series 3, which has a virtually identical form factor as previous models.


The display is unchanged from the Series 2, with one key difference being that it now functions as a multifrequency antenna for cellular. Series 3 models support LTE and UMTS, according to Apple's tech specs.


The battery in the 38mm model with GPS + Cellular has a capacity of 279 mAh at 3.82V, or 1.07 watt hours, which is only a slight increase of about 3.8 percent over the 38mm Series 2 model without cellular.

Apple said Series 3 models with cellular get up to 18 hours of battery life, including four hours of LTE and 14 hours of connection to an iPhone via Bluetooth. Series 2 models are also rated to last 18 hours with mixed usage.


iFixit was surprised that Apple managed to increase the battery size while still leaving room for the added functionality of cellular antennas, radios, power amplifiers, the embedded SIM card, and so on in the same form factor.

The embedded SIM, outlined in red, appears to be sourced from ST Microelectronics, and it is positioned next to a Wi-Fi module from Broadcom and other RF chips that enable cellular capabilities in the watch.


Last, we finally know what the tiny meshed hole is next to the diagnostic port: it's an air vent, since the Apple Watch Series 3's new barometric altimeter took over the vent's previous location next to the microphone.

Apple Watch Series 3's relocated air vent outlined in yellow

iFixit gave the Apple Watch Series 3 a repairability score of 6 out of a possible 10 points. Display repairs and battery replacements are both possible, albeit tricky, but replacing any of the component cables requires micro-soldering.

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