Apple new mac mini M1 teardown in 2021 – how to do memory upgrade?

Apple mac mini M1 teardown 2020
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How to do Apple new mac mini M1 memory upgrade? Does Apple mac mini M1 performance improve? Apple is claiming up to three times faster CPU performance than the previous Mac mini, and up to six times the graphical performance. The M1 allows the new Mac mini to compile Xcode up to three times faster, play intensive games, and render complex Final Cut Pro scenes much faster than the previous model, all while retaining its small and compact chassis. Find more in Apple new mac mini M1 teardown 2021.

Pros & Cons – Apple new mac mini M1 teardown

PROS

  • New, lower starting price
  • Much improved overall performance from 2018 model
  • Especially promising bench results with native “Universal” apps
  • Surprisingly quiet and cool operation under load

CONS

  • Boosting RAM and SSD capacity at purchase time is pricey
  • Fewer Thunderbolt ports than previous Mac mini
  • Memory no longer upgradable post-purchase

Specifications

  • CPU: Apple M1 (8-core)
    Graphics: Integrated 8-core GPU
    Storage: 256GB SSD
  • RAM: 8GB Unified PDDR4X-4266 MHz SDRAM
    Connectivity: Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.0
    Ports: 2x Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C), 2x USB-A, Ethernet, HDMI 2.0, 3.5mm headphone jack
    Size: 1.4 x 7.7 x 7.7 inches (3.6 x 19.7 x 19.7cm; W x D x H)
  • Weight: 2.6 pounds (1.2kg)

What is Apple new Mac mini M1 chip?

The M1 is the silver chip labeled with APL1102, housing the 8-core CPU, 8-core GPU, 16-core Neural Engine, I/O controllers, and more all in one. The unified system memory is also visible on the right side of the chip, and takes up far less space than the standalone RAM modules used in the previous Mac mini, contributing to the smaller logic board.

Who is this for – Apple new mac mini M1 teardown in 2021?

Good for

You want a Mac, for less
The new Mac mini is the cheapest way to get a new Mac, and thanks to its powerful components, it easily rivals the likes of the iMac, but for a lot less cash.

You want a powerful and compact PC
The Mac mini (M1, 2020) is a small and silent PC that really does impress when it comes to performance.

You own a lot of iOS apps
Got an iPhone or an iPad with loads of iOS apps and games? You can now also run them on the Mac mini thanks to the M1 chip.

Not recommended if

You want a gaming PC
Sure, the Mac mini can play the odd game, but it’s really not built for that. Look elsewhere if you want to play Cyberpunk 2077.

You want some serious graphical firepower
While the Mac mini offers some excellent video editing performance, even at 8K, it can’t compete with workstations with discrete GPUs. The loss of eGPU support stings as well.

You want to upgrade in the future
Even by Apple’s less than stellar standards, the Mac mini is a PC that cannot be upgraded. Due to the M1 chip, even memory and storage can’t be replaced. Go for an Intel NUC instead.

Price and availability – Apple new mac mini M1

The new Mac mini (M1, 2020) is on sale now globally, and starts at $699 / £699 / AU$1,099 for the model with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage.

There’s also a model with 8GB RAM and 512GB storage space for $899 / £899 / AU$1,399. Both of these have the same M1 chip with an 8-core CPU and 8-core GPU, which is the same chip as the one in the Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020).

Both models can be further configured to offer up to 16GB of unified memory and up to 2TB of SSD storage.

The base model is also cheaper than the 2018 Mac mini, which started at $799 (£799, AU$1,249), so you’re getting drastically improved hardware for less money. It’s good to see Apple get competitive with pricing, as compact desktop PCs from competitors like Zotac and Intel often cost a lot more – although they are usually more customizable.

Compare Apple new Mac mini M1 vs Apple Mac mini 2018

M1 Mac mini 20202018 Mac mini
Price$699 (starting)$799 (start)
CPUApple M1 (8-core, 8-Core GPU)Intel Core i3-8100B (4-Core)
RAM8GB / 16GB8GB / 16GB / 32GB / 64GB
Storage256GB / 512GB / 1TB / 2TB256GB / 512GB /1TB / 2TB
PortsThunderbolt/USB 4 (2), HDMI 2.0, USB-A (2), Ethernet, 3.5mm headphone jackThunderbolt 3 (4), HDMI 2.0, USB-A (2), Ethernet, 3.5mm headphone jack
Dimensions7.7 x 7.7 x 1.4 inches7.7 x 7.7 x 1.4 inches
Weight2.6 punds2.6 pounds
FinishSilverSpace Gray

Apple new mac mini M1 teardown in 2021 – how to do memory upgrade?

Build

Its rounded corners, matte metal (“Silver” in Apple speak) finish and glossy black Apple logo on top, and the tiny Power button hidden on the rear corner give it a sleek yet unassuming look to match its diminutive stature. The pinpoint-size white light in the front corner, which glows when the system is on, remains the only additional adornment.

Design

With dimensions of 1.4 x 7.7 x 7.7 inches (3.6 x 19.7 x 19.7cm), the Mac mini (M1, 2020) is exactly the same size as the Mac mini (2018), though its weight of 2.6 pounds (1.2kg) is slightly lighter than the 2018 model, which weighed in at 2.9 pounds (1.3kg).

Ports

Port-wise you get Ethernet LAN, two Thunderbolt ports, HDMI, two USB  and an audio jack for headphones. Thanks to the M1 chip, the Mac mini can now support up to two displays (one with up to 6K resolution at 60Hz connected via Thunderbolt, and one with up to 4K resolution at 60Hz connected via HDMI 2.0).

Processor

The CPU powering all of Apple’s latest Mac releases is the eight-core M1. It’s divided into four performance cores and four efficiency cores, the former do things faster and the latter do them while drawing less power. (Obviously less of a concern with a desktop, but no matter.) 

Apple has paired this CPU with an on-board GPU; like those on the MacBook Pro and the top-tier MacBook Air, the Mac mini’s GPU offers an additional eight processing cores of graphics power.

The M1 is also offered in just one variant that clocks in at 3.2GHz at most. Before, you had the choice of three 8th-generation Intel processors, consisting of a 3.6GHz quad-core Core i3, a 3.0Ghz 6-core Core i5, and a 3.2GHz 6-core Core i7.

Can you use magic keyboard?

Another factor is the wireless connectivity, which includes Bluetooth 5.0 and ticked-up-for-2020 Wi-Fi 6. Bear in mind that unless you’re using a Bluetooth mouse and keyboard (like the Apple Magic Mouse 2 and Magic Keyboard supplied with our review sample, but are extra-cost options), you’ll want to budget a USB port or two for wireless or RF dongles, or wired peripherals. We’re fine with the Apple Magic devices for most everyday use, but some folks are passionate, say, about mechanical keyboards, and most of those require a wire. As for the Ethernet jack, it’s straight Gigabit.

Apple mac mini M1 teardown 2020 - how to do memory upgrade?
Apple mac mini M1 teardown 2020 – how to do memory upgrade?

Setup

Setup is quick, and can involve porting over key files and apps from another Mac if you’re already in the macOS ecosystem. Once you hit the desktop, you’ll be faced with the new look of macOS, Big Sur, which is one of the biggest switch-ups to the OS in recent years. The first time you install an app built for Intel chips, you’ll be prompted to download Apple’s Rosetta 2 software, which is the secret sauce in how those apps play so well with the M1 chip.

Apple new mac mini M1 teardown in 2021 – performance review

Cinebench R23 CPU: Single-Core: 1,515; Multi-core: 7,755
Geekbench 5 Single-Core: 1,754; Multi-Core: 7,676

Benchmark tests also showed just how good this little PC is. In the multi-core Cinebench R23 test, the M1 chip scored an excellent 7,755 points. This put it above the powerful 12-core Intel Xeon X5650, and offers a seriously impressive level of performance.

For the record, we also ran through our benchmark tests on 16GB models of the MacBook Air and the MacBook Pro and found very little variance in performance from the 8GB versions. The chief exception was Photoshop. Both scores — 652.7 for the MacBook Air, 649.3 for the MacBook Pro — were noticeably better, if not disruptively so.

Civilization VI: Gathering StormResolution
M1 Mac mini (@ 4K)17.33840 x 2160
M1 Mac mini (@1080p)31.51920 x 1080
M1 MacBook Air371440 x 900
M1 MacBook Pro381440 x 900

First of all, while the Mac mini (M1, 2020) can be configured with up to 16GB of unified memory, the Intel version can pack up to 64GB of RAM; and not only is this a lot more, it’s also not unified. The Mac mini (M1, 2020)’s unified 8GB or 16GB of memory is shared between the CPU and GPU, and this has benefits, as Apple argues that the “unified memory architecture gives the CPU, GPU, and Neural Engine access to the same pool of superfast memory”, so data stored in the memory can be transferred between the CPU and GPU without any of the traditional overhead.

Gaming prowess is harder to compare, as the Mac mini let us do better testing at more standard resolutions than the laptops. But for the record, its frame rates of 31.5fps and 17.3fps in Civilization VI: Gathering Storm, respectively at 1080p and 4K, represent pretty solid playability for that game at midrange settings. 

Its frame rates in Rise of the Tomb Raider at Very High settings, 20.2fps at 1080p and 5.7fps at 4K, show that more serious 3D gaming is not ideal for this machine. 

How to do Apple Mac mini M1 memory upgrade?

The M1 Mac mini is disassembled roughly the same as the previous version with some TR6 screws. 

For previous models, it was possible to change some elements inside of the Mac mini to improve its performance. For the 2018 Mac mini, you could carefully extract the components and replace the RAM but not the internal drive, while the 2014 Mac mini offered the chance to replace the hard drive with a new SSD — but not the RAM.

In 2020, the Mac mini doesn’t give either option. The RAM and SSD are part of the M1 system-on-chip, which means they cannot be replaced by users at all, with upgrades effectively requiring a wholesale exchange of the Mac mini to get a better SoC configuration.

The 2018/2020 Intel Mac mini motherboard took up most of the desktop’s casing minus the power supply, while the M1 motherboard probably takes up 30-40% less room.

Maybe with the 2nd-gen M1 Mac mini we’ll see a redesigned, much more compact form-factor.

While some may be disappointed in RAM, SSD, etc. being soldered/integrated to the M1, Apple Silicon is the shift where Macs have become like iPhones and iPads. Those who value iPhone and iPad accept the trade-off of them not being user-upgradeable for the tight hardware/software and great performance.

Apple new mac mini M1 teardown in 2021 video

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