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Mac mini Upgrade Guide

Upgrade Your Intel Mac mini

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Mac mini
Courtesy Apple, Inc.

Every time Apple releases a new Mac mini, you may wonder if your current Mac mini is still up to snuff. If you're trying to decide between buying a new Mac mini, or just upgrading your current mini to gain performance without spending too much money, then you've come to the right place.

Intel Mac mini

In this upgrade guide, we'll look at the Intel-based Mac minis that have been available since the first Intel Macs were introduced in early 2006. If you have one of the earlier PowerMac-based minis, you'll probably want to purchase a newer model. Even so, this upgrade guide can be of help by revealing what the upgrade options are for each Intel model.

DIY? Maybe, Maybe Not

Both the RAM and the hard drive in a Mac mini can be upgraded, but it's not the easiest DIY project. If you're concerned about your DIY skills, you may wish to have an Apple specialist perform the upgrade for you. Most dealers offer this type of service. If you're a bit adventurous, you can perform these upgrades yourself, and save a bit of cash. Just be careful, and take it slow.

If you do decide to tackle it yourself, I recommend performing both a RAM and a hard drive upgrade at the same time. You don't want to be taking your Mac mini apart on a regular basis, so doing everything at once is the best course of action.

Find Your Mac mini's Model Number

The first thing you need is your Mac mini's model number. Here's how to find it:

  1. From the Apple menu, select 'About This Mac.'
  2. In the 'About This Mac' window that opens, click the 'More Info' button.
  3. The System Profiler window will open, listing your mini's configuration. Make sure the 'Hardware' category is selected in the left-hand pane. The right-hand pane will display the 'Hardware' category overview. Make a note of the 'Model Identifier' entry. You can then quit the System Profiler.

RAM Upgrades

All of the Intel Mac minis have two RAM slots. I recommend upgrading your Mac mini's memory to the largest configuration supported by your specific model. Because the upgrades are a bit difficult to perform, you don't want to have to go back and upgrade the RAM again at some future date.

Be sure to check the information for your specific Mac mini model, below, for the correct type of RAM to use.

Internal Hard Drive Upgrades

Like the RAM upgrade, the hard drive upgrade is best suited to individuals who have a bit of computer DIY under their belts. Whether you're experienced or just adventurous, this is something you probably don't want to do more than once, so install the largest hard drive you can afford when you perform this upgrade.

Mac mini Models

The Intel-based Mac minis predominantly used Intel Core 2 Duo processors of various speeds. The exceptions were the 2006 models with the Mac mini 1,1 identifier. These models used the Intel Core Duo processors, the first generation of the Core Duo line. The Core Duo processors use a 32-bit architecture instead of the 64-bit architecture seen in the Core 2 Duo models.

2006 Mac mini

Model identifier: Mac mini 1,1; all 2006 models

Memory slots: 2

Memory type: 200-pin PC2-5300 DDR2 (667 MHz) SO-DIMM

Maximum memory supported: 2 GB total. Use matched pairs of 1 GB per memory slot.

Hard drive type: SATA I 2.5-inch hard drive; SATA II drives are compatible.

Hard drive size supported: Up to 2 TB

Installation video for memory and hard drive

2007 Mac mini

Model identifier: Mac mini 2,1

Memory slots: 2

Memory type: 200-pin PC2-5300 DDR2 (667 MHz) SO-DIMM

Maximum memory supported: 4 GB total. Use matched pairs of 2 GB per memory slot. Apple officially supports only 3 GB of RAM in these models. You can install 4 GB, but your mini won't use all of the available RAM.

Hard drive type: SATA I 2.5-inch hard drive; SATA II drives are compatible.

Hard drive size supported: Up to 2 TB

Installation video for memory and hard drive

2009 Mac mini

Model identifier: Mac mini 3,1

Memory slots: 2

Memory type: 204-pin PC3-8500 DDR3 (1066 MHz) SO-DIMM

Maximum memory supported: 8 GB. Use matched pairs of 4 GB per memory slot. Apple officially supports only 4 GB of RAM in these models, but you can install and use 8 GB successfully.

Hard drive type: SATA II 2.5-inch hard drive

Hard drive size supported: Up to 2 TB

Installation video for memory and hard drive

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