Mac mini 2020 teardown – how to do mac mini 2020 SSD RAM upgrade?


The Mac mini was updated in October 2018 in what Apple described as its “biggest update ever”. It was a big update and it had been a long time coming – four years to be exact. A year and a half later Apple has updated the Mac mini again, but this time the only change is that the Mac mini gets twice as much storage as before. Find more on our Mac mini 2020 teardown. The March 2020 update means that the line up looks like this thanks to the relatively minor changes to the line up. how to do mac mini 2020 SSD RAM upgrade? What is the key difference – Mac mini 2020 vs 2018?

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Mac mini 2020 teardown – how to do mac mini 2020 SSD RAM upgrade?

What is a Mac mini?

Mac mini is literally a mini Mac — a tiny desktop device — that has been around for quite a while. It’s been normally positioned by Apple as a computer for casual users up until the 2014 model. However, the new Mac mini updated in 2018 has made a solid jump towards a more professional audience. 

For those who’ve never seen a Mac mini before, it’s essentially a small square box, measuring 7.7 x 7.7 x 1.4 inches (similar in shape but slightly larger than Apple TV), that now only comes in Space Gray color (same color as in MacBooks or iMac Pro). It’s got a variety of ports to connect any external devices (e.g. a monitor, a keyboard) and can be used anywhere, from being your everyday computer to a part of a solid server infrastructure. 

Still, some questions remain: What’s the Mac mini price? Are there any Mac mini deals? What about Mac mini ports? And should you buy a Mac mini 2020 if it becomes available? Can you upgrade 2020 Mac mini RAM? Let’s take this step by step.

Mac mini 2020 teardown – how to do mac mini 2020 SSD RAM upgrade?
Mac mini 2020 teardown – how to do mac mini 2020 SSD RAM upgrade?

Mac mini 2020 specs – Mac mini 2020 teardown

For the most part, the Mac mini 2020 is nearly identical to the Mac mini 2018, down to the same 8th-generation Intel Coffee Lake processors and up to 64GB of RAM. The only difference is that SSDs are bigger this time around, starting at 256GB and going all the way up to 2TB (Mac mini 2020 teardown). 

This is a lot better, as the 2018 Mac mini only had a 128GB SSD to start, which is borderline unacceptable for a desktop PC these days (Mac mini 2020 vs 2018). 

The Mac mini also comes with a default of 8GB of DDR4 RAM, but you can configure that in 8GB increments all the way up to 64GB. However, for the level of performance you’re getting out of the other components, we can’t help but think that if you need a computer with that much memory, you’re going to want a more powerful desktop processor (Mac mini 2020 teardown). 

Which, it would be nice to see more powerful desktop components make their way to the Mac mini, as 8th-generation Coffee Lake processors are nearly three years old at this point.

When was the latest Mac mini release date?

Unfortunately, Mac mini updates are not nearly as consistent as the ones for MacBook Pros or iPhones. The new Mac mini came out in late 2018, over a year ago. And a version before that was released in 2014.

So is there hope for Mac mini 2020? MacRumors, a website that tracks all Apple updates scheduled, estimates that on average new Mac minis come out every 588 days. Given that we’re getting close to 500 days since late 2018, it’s highly probable that we’ll see a new Mac mini released during Apple’s WWDC conference this June. 

How much does the new Mac mini cost?

Right now, Apple offers Mac mini in two base models: 

  • 3.6 GHz Quad-Core Intel i3 with 128 GB of storage for $799 | 
  • 3.0 GHz 6-Core Intel i5 with 256 GB storage for $1,099 | 

The latter model also offers a Turbo Boost of up to 4.1 GHz. 

However, if you’re not satisfied with this stack, there are lots of upgrades you can buy, from increasing RAM to 64 GB to getting a 2 TB SSD, to levelling up to an Intel i7 chip, to installing a 10 Gigabit Ethernet. The most expensive setup you can build right now will cost you $3,200, most of it coming from RAM and SSD upgrades (Mac mini 2020 vs 2018). 

Some people might be wondering if Mac mini is DIY upgradeable. And generally it is, but since you have to take it apart, Apple wants you to only do that at a licensed dealer, using licensed Apple parts. Upgrades at home are then certainly not advised. 

Are there any Mac mini design improvements? 

Given that Apple had four full years to redesign the product, you might think there would be radical design improvements. Nope. The new Mac mini looks exactly like the old Mac mini, save for the new color alignment (Space Gray) with the rest of the Mac lineup. The old silver color is no longer available. 

To sum up the new Mac mini appearance, it’s 7.7 x 7.7 x 1.4-inch Space Gray box that weighs 2.9 lbs, and has just a single light indicator in the front to show if the machine is on or not (Mac mini 2020 teardown). 

What did change considerably, though, are the internal components, which underwent a complete overhaul. 

What are the internal Mac mini updates?

The most impressive change in the new Mac mini and, possibly, in the upcoming Mac mini 2020 is the power output.

Mac mini now boasts brand new eighth-generation Intel processors and speedy 2666 MHz DDR4 memory, which results in up to five times faster system performance. Can you upgrade 2020 Mac mini RAM?

As more power means more heat, Apple has also redesigned Mac mini’s thermal architecture for double the airflow and up to 70% more maximum sustained power (Mac mini 2020 vs 2018). 

In line with all the other Macs, Apple has added a T2 security chip to the new Mac mini as well, which ensures that all hard drive data is safely encrypted at all times.

For ports, Mac mini might surprise you with its versatility, especially when compared side-by-side with the latest laptops (which are often pretty bare). It features an HDMI, two USB-As, four USB-Cs, Ethernet, and a standard headphone jack. So no USB adapters or docks immediately required. 

Mac mini 2020 teardown – how to do mac mini 2020 SSD RAM upgrade?
Mac mini 2020 teardown – how to do mac mini 2020 SSD RAM upgrade?

How to do mac mini 2020 SSD RAM upgrade?

Here’s how you install it.

  1. Flip over the Mac Mini.
  2. Place your thumbs in the circular divots and twist the base clockwise.
  3. The base should simply pull away, but may need prying with a plastic tool or even a credit card.
  4. Pry apart the metal brackets around the current RAM sticks.
  5. As they pop up, gently pull them away.
  6. Line up the new RAM sticks and push gently into the slots.
  7. Push down gently until they lock into place.

To verify all is well, boot up the Mac Mini and check out the About This Mac information. If it shows the amount of RAM you installed, all is well. If not, you’ll need to go back in and troubleshoot your installation one stick at a time. Remove one, reboot, and check About This Mac again to verify.

By doing it a stick at a time, you can easily identify if you have any bad RAM. If this is the case, the system won’t post, so it’s easy to spot.

One of the best upgrades to make is to swap out the old mechanical hard drive for an SSD. Data transfer speeds will be at least four times faster, and that will make a huge difference in the day-to-day running of your Mac Mini.

It’s also very simple to accomplish.

  1. Flip over the Mac Mini.
  2. Place your thumbs in the circular divots and twist the base anti-clockwise.Source: iMore
  3. The base should simply pull away, but may need prying with a plastic tool or even a credit card.
  4. Grab a Torx T8 and T9 screwdriver.
  5. Remove the screws on the wireless shroud.Source: iMore
  6. Move the shroud to one side carefully, making sure you don’t snap the cable.
  7. Grab a Torx T5 screwdriver.
  8. Remove the two screws on the fan and the single screw on the black shroud.Source: iMore
  9. Pull away the black shroud and set it aside.
  10. Carefully pull the fan away from the logic board.Source: iMore
  11. Slide a business card or something similar beneath the existing hard drive and prize it up slightly.
  12. Carefully detach the SATA cable for the hard drive from the logic board.
  13. Pull the existing hard drive clear of the Mac Mini.Source: iMore
  14. Detach the Torx T8 screws from the existing hard drive.
  15. Attach those same screws to the left-hand side of your new SSD.Source: iMore
  16. Detach the ribbon cable from the existing hard drive.
  17. Connect the same ribbon cable to the new SSD’s SATA connectors.
  18. Turn the SSD over so it’s upside down and the screws from step 15 are facing the edge of the Mac Mini.
  19. Using a business card again for support, slide the new SSD into place until the screws lock into place on the bracket inside the Mac Mini.Source: iMore
  20. Reconnect the ribbon cable to the logic board.
  21. Reassemble the Mac Mini reversing the steps above, first installing the black shroud, then the fan, then the wireless shroud.
  22. Line the markings on the base up with the corresponding markings on the Mac Mini.
  23. Twist the base back into place.

One additional thing to do throughout this process is to use some canned air to blast out any dust. You’ll be surprised at how clean the inside of a computer this old is, but it never hurts to clear it out while you’re inside.

What are the mac mini 2020 SSD RAM upgrade option?

If you are planning on buying a Mac mini, here is the configuration that I recommend:

  • 3.2GHz 6‑core 8th‑generation Intel Core i7 (Turbo Boost up to 4.6GHz)
  • 8GB 2666MHz DDR4
  • Intel UHD Graphics 630
  • 256GB SSD storage
  • 10 Gigabit Ethernet

To get the best performance out of your Mac mini, expect to invest in additional RAM and external graphics. With those two additions, the Mac mini transforms from just an okay machine to a machine that performs more like a baby iMac Pro. Of course, it lacks the display found in the iMac Pro, but the beauty of the Mac mini is that you can pair it with a display of your choice.

This configuration will set you back $1199 but features a much faster CPU and 10GbE connectivity. It also includes 256GB of flash storage by default, instead of the paltry 128GB that used to come with this configuration.

Lastly, you should consider an eGPU, because if you’re doing anything that involves graphics on the Mac mini, you’re going to be extremely disappointed with the performance of the integrated graphics.

It is recommended to add Blackmagic eGPU Pro. The performance of the Blackmagic eGPU Pro’s Vega 56 is also really good; it makes the Mac mini feel more like a baby iMac Pro.

As mentioned, you don’t have to splurge for the Blackmagic eGPU Pro if money is tight, you can always go for some other cheaper eGPU solution by purchasing the external chassis and graphics card separately.

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