Levelling Up a Mac Mini

by Chris Adamson

I spent a few hours this weekend upgrading a Core Solo Mac Mini to a Core 2 Duo. Here are a few thoughts on the experiences and lessons learned.


2007-07-23 11:14:52
Uh - sorry. The best way to open a Mini is a Pizza Cutter - hands down.

But nice article otherwise.

2007-07-23 11:32:25
I did the very same upgrade myself about 6 months ago, and the machine is chugging along nicely. The biggest illustration for me was the ability to play 1080p HD movie content with no dropped frames - that would have been completely impossible with the original Core Solo

What Apple really needs to do, though, it replace the Mini with an expandable mini-tower desktop - a Mac Pro Mini if you like.

rob Miller
2007-07-23 13:39:45
This is the type article that has been missing from Mac DevCenter. Years ago we got these type articles about once or twice a month. Great job on the article. I hope to see more of these type writings in the near near future.
Andy P
2007-07-23 16:46:56
Interesting article ... although I probably would have just sprung for the new mini and given the older one to the kids. I use a G4 mini (512 MB) at home as a Subversion server, a name server and a PVR using an eyeTV 200. We don't have HD video so it's sufficient. At some point I'll open it up and upgrade the RAM but for the time being it works well enough.

Oh, BTW: what's with all of the apostrophes in the sentence, "So, having seen reports of people who replaced Core Solo's and Core Duo's with Core 2 Duo's in their Mini's?" An apostrophe is NOT used to make a plural!

2007-07-24 18:58:53
I can tell you what the orange flat cable is - it's an audio cable. Last time I upgraded my hard drive I inadvertently disconnected this cable and had no sound on bootup. I had to open up the box again (which I HATE doing!)
Chris Adamson
2007-07-25 10:56:33
Followup: re-reading the Arctic Silver instructions, I noted that they suggest doing a couple full power-down / cool / power-up cycles to give the thermal paste a chance to settle and adhere. I had been powered on full-time for about a day after the upgrade, so I did two full cycles over the next day or so and found that the idle temperature had gone down by about 3C.
2007-07-25 12:20:05
Best tool to open is a 4" Putty knife (Spackle blade). Chris could you mention that you installed a T5600 Core 2 Duo? I found nothing in the article. And best price I found on a T5600 is about $220. To upgrade a Refurbed ($600) Mini to a T7600 + Ram will set you back another $800. At $1400, I am $700 from a refurb'd Quad 2.66 Mac Pro.
Chris Adamson
2007-07-25 12:50:21
Yes, what I installed was a T5600 (1.8 GHz Core 2 Duo). $244 from NewEgg. RAM from Fry's was like $70. I don't follow your math about the T7600, or why you're counting the cost of a refurb Mini. This is an upgrade; I'm not suggesting this approach is competitive with buying new hardware.
2007-07-30 10:39:23
Very interesting, I am looking to upgrade my Mac Mini but also adding a bigger hard drive. I would like to see how much heat putting a faster spin drive would be. Anyone have some numbers?
2007-08-08 08:30:50
Great article, but you should have procrastinated 2 more weeks and bought the goods straight from Apple. Of course you would have lost out on the geeky fun.
Art Mickel
2007-08-08 13:18:01
I bought a solo mini on a CompUSA close out with the intent of upgrading to a Core 2 Duo (new in the box for $350). I've been hoping the price on the T7600 would drop with release of the Santa Rosa hardware but am still waiting.

I'll probably do the T7600, try 3 gigs RAM (basically same as MacBook), upgrade the wi-fi to N and upgrade the hardrive to a 7200 rpm, 200-250 gig unit. The combo drive's fine (I have a MacBook with a SuperDrive and an external Super).

Yes, it's probably going to be overkill but having tried to use the solo in an office situation for several months and I do need a faster CPU & more RAM.

Besides the mini should serve my needs until Apple builds that maxi-mini or sub Mac Pro!

2008-02-16 05:43:13
This morning I finished upgrading my Core Solo to a Core 2 Duo 1.83 (a gift from an broken laptop). I think I won't be able to repeat it again, I almost broke the motherboard when trying to remove the heatsink.
Thanks a lot for this guide, and the links you provide.
I stil have to check how much better VMWare works.

Greeting from Spain!

Pimped outbMac Mini User
2008-02-27 14:42:06

Go here to get a free mac mini to try this.