Hi, I thought seen as I upgraded my mac mini's RAM today I thought I would write a blog post about how to do it. Many people look at computers, either mac or PC and seem to think the inside of them is made from some form of magic. This simply is not true! Self upgrading components can be a very cost effective and easy thing to do. With Mac's you generally have a lot less freedom to upgrade components than with PC's, and even less freedom with the example here, the mac mini. I wouldn't suggest trying to upgrade any of the other components in a mac mini, the thing is so "neatly" put together it would take someone with great skill (and confidence) to take it apart and put it (successfully)  back together again. But a RAM upgrade is a VERY simple thing to do, and very cost effective. I'm based in the UK, so my example is in Pound sterling, at the time of writing this, the mac mini that I purchased costs £529. This comes with 2Gb of RAM, and a pretty good i5 processor and a 500Gb Hard drive, while this machine is certainly competent at running most basic tasks, upgrading the RAM can significantly boost its performance. To buy the 8Gb RAM upgrade from apple costs £240. Thats nearly half of the whole machine! I purchased 8Gb of mac compatible RAM from Ebuyer for £36.99. (find the RAM i bought HERE) Yup. £35.99. thats £204.01 difference. lets spell that out. Two hundred and four pounds difference. As you can see, this isn't a couple of quid. this is a SIGNIFICANT difference. Before I go any further, I'd like to point out that I don't know what kind of effect upgrading the RAM has on the warranty, I didn't look it up, there is a guide on the apple website for self upgrading (find it HERE, its pretty much the same as what I'm writing!), which doesn't mention it invalidating the warranty,  but I wouldn't like to say for sure that it does or doesn't. I also don't take any responsibility for your computer if you follow this guide and break your machine. The RAM you will need to buy for this (as that link above probably wont work forever, and will be useless if you live outside the UK), is DDR3 1333Mhz SO-DIMM memory, SO-DIMM memory is most commonly used in laptops. The mid 2011 mac mini also only supports a maximum of 8Gb of Memory, so don't waste your time buying more than 8Gb. It won't register more than 8. Also, there are only two slots in the machine. You can either use one module or two, In my example below I bought two 4Gb sticks, a total of 8Gb of RAM. Anyway, here goes. Here's the "about this mac" page before we begin   To start off with, Turn off your mac mini, and unplug any cables attached. Turn it over to see the underside. Find the dots at the top, and the two circle impressions on the black baseplate. Twist the base plate to unlock it. You should see something like this: The blue Chip on the right is the RAM module. Identify the silver pins which hold the RAM in place, there will be one on each side of the chip. There should be two chips inside the machine, one on top of the other, slightly offset from each other (you should be able to see part of the chip underneath the top one)     Use your Finger nails to gently pull the silver pins away from the memory chip. Pull outover, and do both sides at once, the chip should "pop" upwards, only being held in place at the base. The pins will only bend a couple of millimetres, don't try and completely remove them or be rough with them, there is no need, you will only damage the machine. Repeat the same process for the second chip. The above picture shows the machine after the first memory module has been removed and the pins have been moved to get at the second one, hopefully you can see that it has "popped" up, and can now easily be removed. You should now be left with something that looks like the above image. Notice the "notch" pointed out by the lovely green arrow. As you can see this is not in the centre, take this as reassurance that you can't go wrong and put the new memory module in the wrong way round. Only SODIMM memory modules (or "laptop RAM") will fit into a mac mini, and also only DDR3. the placement of the notch in the RAM module will  line up with the notch in the machine, if they line up, then you have it the right way up. if you don't, it's the wrong way. There is literally only one way to get it in. You can also see the silver pins better on this image, take note of where they are and how they hold the memory chips in place. They are pretty much the key player in this upgrade! Here is a picture of our new RAM module.   As you can see I've pointed out the notch in this chip again, it will really only go in one way up, so you know you've done it right! Also, note the cutout notches on the sides of the module, these are where the little silver pins latch onto your RAM module. Just so you know!   Once you've got your new module the right way up, it's time to install it! Line the module up so that you can push it into the bottom slot, push it in from the back, it'll go in the exact opposite way that you took the originals out. So push it in at a bit of an angle, it will have to be pushed, and once it's in you'll only be able to see a small amount of the gold coloured contacts on the bottom of the chip. Once you've pushed it in, push it down to lock it into place, the silver pins will "click" when it's installed correctly, thats them snapping into the little cutout's in the side of the chip. Repeat the process for the second module. When I took this picture I hadn't actually pushed this module in far enough, so as you can see there is still a lot of the gold contacts showing, when installed correctly you should only see a small amount of the contact showing. Thats pretty much it! Now just replace the back cover, and screw it back into place, the exact opposite way you took it off in the first place. This is probably the hardest part of the whole job as these little buggers are really awkward to get back on!   All done! The whole process only takes a few minutes! and can really boost the performance of your machine! To test to see if the process has worked properly, simply plug the machine back in, then turn it on, if it boots sucessfully then at least one of the modules has been correctly installed, Click the apple logo, then select "about this mac", you should see immediatly that it will read "8Gb of 1333Mhz RAM" (assuming you upgrade it with that of course!)     if you only have 4Gb registering, or if your machine fails to boot at all, you probably haven't pushed the modules far enough into the socket. remove the back cover again, and push the modules in further. (push them into the socket, dont push directly "down"). This is one of the most simple PC/Mac upgrades you can do, the concept is the same on a Desktop, laptop on mac and PC, but how you get into the machine will be different. I.e. on a laptop you'll have to unscrew a plate, on a desktop you'll have to take off the side panel. But the concept is the same. If you don't feel confident with doing this upgrade yourself, then ask someone who is, this article is only intended to be a guide to help you through the process, I don't take ANY responsibility if you try it and end up breaking your machine. I hope you've enjoyed this article and it has helped you understand more about upgrading your machine. Please feel free to comment on the article in the comments below. thanks for reading. Chris

2 Responses

  1. Diana

    Just what I needed. I ordered a Mac Mini from the Apple and paid for the upgraded RAM. But after finding your blog post here, I canceled my order and then made a new order for the minimum RAM. I will do the upgrade myself and save some $$. Thanks!

    Reply

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