Sometimes we just don’t understand what goes on in hardware designers’ heads. Apple took one of their most-fixable, most-upgradable products and broke it. The design didn’t change at all from the outside, so we can’t blame the product designers who keep making things smaller, thinner, and lighter.
So what happened? Apple decided to throw us a repair curveball by preventing access to internals via T6 Torx Security screws. Thankfully, we had one prototype screwdriver on-hand; otherwise, we would’ve had to use pliers. The second detriment is the now-soldered-on RAM. So whatever RAM your Mini came with, that’s the amount it’ll take to its grave. Internal space didn’t change much, so it’s not like Apple had to solder the RAM in order to save space.
The 2014 Mini lost two repairability points, getting a 6 out of 10 on our scale. Quite the shame, as it used to be a repairability star in Apple’s lineup. That’s no longer the case.
• The RAM now joins the CPU in being soldered onto the logic board. Thankfully, the storage drives are still upgradable.
• Gone are the handy thumb indents and indicators that made for a twist-off bottom cover. But no problem — we got it off anyway.
• We’re greeted with something new when the bottom cover is removed: a solid door held in place by T6 Torx Security screws, where there was once easy access to the RAM and fan. 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.
• 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 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.