Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Mac mini Surgery

Yup, that a meat cleaver (with Chinese characters on it)

I forgot to buy a putty knife to open up the Mac mini so I looked around the house for a comparable tool. I also had to use another knife (paring knife) and a couple of Dave & Buster PowerCards to get the case open. It ended up taking me about 20 minutes of prying and cursing to get the !*@&#^% cover off.

Naked Mac mini, cover, and "tools" on my nice placemat

Once the case was open, I had to detach the AirPort (802.11g) antenna and remove 4 tiny screws. It's amazing how much hardware Apple packed into such tiny box but it makes it hard to upgrade components. There are two DIMM slots in the Mac mini which comes with 256 MB modules for a total of 512 MB.

New memory modules on top vs. original memory modules at the bottom

The 1 GB modules had a lot more chips, with chips on the back of the DIMM as well. The actual memory ICs on the new DIMMs were manufactured by Elpita(!) while the original ones were made by Nanya. On my first attempt, I didn't seat one of the new memory modules properly so when I rebooted the Mac, only 1 GB showed up. Good thing I anticipated this and did not close up the case thus saving me another 20 minutes of grief... :)

2 GB!

Amazing. My first computer (Commodore VIC-20) had about 3,500 bytes (that's right, no-prefix bytes) of RAM while my next computer (Apple ][+) had 48 KB of RAM. With 4x the original memory, my Mac mini is a totally different machine. It now boots up quickly and launching/switching applications is really quick. I'm going to reinstall Warcraft III and see how fast it runs compared to the PC version.

The obvious question is why Apple ships the Mac mini with only 512MB? Before the memory upgrade, the Mac mini was really slow and definitely not useable for business. To switch between MS Word and Excel would take at least 15 seconds. Apple should have included at least 1 GB of memory which would only cost an extra $30-$40. Instead, I had to spend >$200 for the new DIMMs and now I have two useless 256 MB DIMMs. Grrr...

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