Apple Mac Mini 2011 teardown: Goodbye optical drive, hello Thunderbolt port

Apple upgrades the 2011 Mac Mini with Intel Core i5 and i7 processors, more RAM, a larger hard drive, and a Thunderbolt port. But, they removed the optical drive.

In July 2011, Apple updated their Mac Mini product line. The new machines have the same model number (A1347) as the 2010 Mac Mini, but the 2011 versions have Intel Core i5 or i7 processors, more standard RAM, and larger hard drives. Apple also removed the optical drive, but added a Thunderbolt port.

The 2011 Mac Mini is available in three configurations and starts at $599 (US). Our $799 Mac MIni came with a 2.5GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor, 4GB RAM, 500GB hard drive, and AMD Radeon HD 6630M graphics processor. The 2011 Mac Mini measures 1.4 inches (H) x 7.7 inches (W) x 7.7 inches (D). It weighs 2.7 pounds.

Full teardown gallery: Cracking Open the Apple Mac Mini (2011)

Cracking Open observations

  1. Case is easy to open: Unlike the MacBook Air, which has tamper-resistant pentalobe screws, you can remove the bottom cover on the Mac Mini's case without any tools. Simply, twist the cover into the unlock position and lift it off.
  2. Has standard Torx screws: Apple used standard Torx T6 and T8 screws throughout the Mac Mini. Unfortunately, the screws come in various lengths. You'll need to mark which screws go in which holes.
  3. Internal hardware layout very similar to the 2010 Mac Mini: Except for the missing optical drive, the 2011 Mac Mini has an internal hardware layout that's nearly identical to the 2010 Mini.
  4. Must remove motherboard to replace power supply: Although the Mac Mini is one of the easiest Macs to take apart, there are a few annoyances. For example, you must first remove the motherboard before removing the power supply.
  5. Assembled by Foxconn: Motherboard markings indicate that the 2011 Mac Mini was assembled by Foxconn.

Internal hardware

Update 12/19/2011: This post originally appeared in our TR Dojo blog.