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Apr
07

Cracking the Intel Mac Mini

Well, my new 1.67GHz Core Duo Mac Mini arrived at my home
yesterday.  After making sure it booted
right out of the box (it did), today was time to take it apart, take a look at
its innards and upgrade the puny amount of memory that comes stock with the
machine.  If you’re a PC hack like me,
you’re used to doing just about everything you need with a Phillips P1 or P2
screwdriver.  You’re going to need a lot
more to open this baby up, including putty knives – no kidding.

Courtesy of MacWorld

I’m not going to go into it here, but Other World Computing has an excellent
video on cracking the case and taking the unit apart.  Here are a few extra pointers, though, from
experience I gained today:

  • When
    opening the case, it’s much easier to use two putty knives rather than a
    credit card or business card. 
    You’ll see what I mean.
  • Pay
    special attention to the small wire at the front of the unit that connects
    the mezzanine board with the motherboard. 
    Just to the left of B, above.
  • Pay
    even more attention to the wire connected to the AirPort antenna.  A in the picture above.  If you don’t do as the video instructs
    (and I did not), you’ll pull out the wire that connects the antenna with
    the motherboard below.  The
    connection point is so small, you’ll have to search for a while to find
    where it is to reconnect it. 
    That’s, of course, if you don’t damage the wire or the connector.
  • One of
    the screws holding the mezzanine board to the case is slightly longer than the others.  Remember where it came from when you
    take the box apart.
     

Once you get the mezzanine card (includes the hard disk and
the DVD/CD plus some circuitry) off, you’ll need small fingers or long
fingernails to release the memory.

After reassembling the guts of the Mini, but before putting
the screws in a case back together, I decided to boot it up to see if I
destroyed anything.  As Murphy would have
it, the machine appeared to boot, but I had no video.  After swapping the memory back out and examining
every wire in the box, I realized that the motherboard had moved forward in the
case about a millimeter and the DVI connector was not completely tight.  Once I remedied this, everything booted
fine.  I put the box back together
without any issues. 

For those of you changing memory, you should know that
although the Mini uses DDR2 memory, you do not have to use two matched sticks
of memory in the box.  You can use one,
leaving one bank open.  You don’t take
advantage of the dual channels, of course, but it works just fine.

With several screwups and being the first time I’ve ever
cracked open a Mini, it took me about 45 minutes to get the job done.  If you have the right tools, the Bower Factor
of this project is
between 2 and 3.  If you don’t have the
right tools, it may go as high as 10.

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 April 7th, 2006  
 Will  
 Computers  
   
 4 Comments

4 Responses to Cracking the Intel Mac Mini

  1. Well this would be expected; you buy one to hack and I buy one to play!  I just got my Mac Mini  but I don’t want to open it just yet.  When I say play, it is to do more with the Adobe creative suite.  I wanted to try Boot Camp also but I am using Bluetooth input devices and so far the software does not work unless you are directly connected via USB. Anyway…I am impressed with everything I have tried except the internal Bluetooth.  The mouse is unreliable. Let me know if you play with Boot Camp and what you think about this software…I think it is a good strategic move.

  2. Well this would be expected; you buy one to hack and I buy one to play!  I just got my Mac Mini  but I don’t want to open it just yet.  When I say play, it is to do more with the Adobe creative suite.  I wanted to try Boot Camp also but I am using Bluetooth input devices and so far the software does not work unless you are directly connected via USB.

    Anyway…I am impressed with everything I have tried except the internal Bluetooth.  The mouse is unreliable.

    Let me know if you play with Boot Camp and what you think about this software…I think it is a good strategic move.

  3. Boot Camp is OK, but I want to be able to use both at the same time without having to reboot.  Then I ran into a post about Parallel’s new vitualization solution that runs in Intel-based Macs.  I hate to sound like an advertisement here, but it is working very well and lets me run XP in a window.  I installed and ran Photoshop CS on XP and ran it while running other OSX apps in aother windows and it performed surprisingly well. There’s a free tiral download.  Check it out http://www.parallels.com

  4. Boot Camp is OK, but I want to be able to use both at the same time without having to reboot.  Then I ran into a post about Parallel’s new vitualization solution that runs in Intel-based Macs.  I hate to sound like an advertisement here, but it is working very well and lets me run XP in a window.  I installed and ran Photoshop CS on XP and ran it while running other OSX apps in aother windows and it performed surprisingly well.

    There’s a free tiral download.  Check it out http://www.parallels.com

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