Is the New Mac Mini Easy to Upgrade?

Apple has been less and less repair friendly, but is the new Mac Mini going to save us from that?

Quinn Nelson from Snazzy Labs does a fantastic teardown in this video. I like that he considers how much general users will actually want to take apart their computer. There's a point at which you'll just want somebody to do this for you.

The 2018 Mac Mini is the most expandable machine Apple is currently making. The RAM is technically replaceable, and the Thunderbolt 3 ports allow for serious SSD expansion and external GPU support. From my perspective, this is the perfect marriage between Apple’s design over function mentality and what a regular user wants.

It’s worth noting that Thunderbolt 3 has become the saving grace for Mac upgrades as of late. To say that the Mac Mini is now upgradable sort of feels wrong. The only major advantage it has over other Mac devices is the replaceable RAM. While you can technically switch out the RAM in an iMac Pro, it’s a total pain.

A MacBook Pro will see pretty much the same benefit from Thunderbolt 3 as the Mac Mini.

My 2018 MacBook Pro works really well with an eGPU and external NVMe SSD because of Thunderbolt 3. I think the reason we consider the Mac Mini to be a least a little bit better for upgrades is because it’s a desktop. You won’t mind a big eGPU enclosure taking up space and you’re already plugged into the wall.

What do you think about it, though? Does it remind you of the external USB Superdrive that the original MacBook Air customers needed to buy? Or is this a sleek solution for a user base that might not want to build a PC from scratch?

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6 Comments

Samten Norbù's picture

It's mostly seems to be a first step to a modular "pro" system and apple want to take the t° to see if people would go for such a solution.
With a "desktop" you can choose a decent screen for a tier part, you can add a eGPU and fast storage ... so now it's just a matter of time before they come with a more "pro" version of it next year I guess ... and that will make me think about going to apple again after a few years of hackintosh ... and I'm pretty sure I won't be the only one waiting for this to happen !

There is no reason they won't let users upgrade the SSD and RAM.

I still feel Apple is pulling some tricks on its users.

Maxal Tamor's picture

I am upgrading my old Mini 2011 with a OWC SSD kit + RAM 16 GB.
It is absolutely enough for a normal everyday use with Lightroom and Photoshop, or similar.
I don’t like the actual politic of Apple: all closed, all soldered, 45 different kind of screws, glue everywhere, etc…
Apple user since 1983… I am thinking to switch to Windows when I will buy my next computer :(

I was a long time Apple user until this year. Mainly because I largely preferred OSX to anything else. Having been recently frustrated with Apple I decided to build my own PC a few months ago. Windows 10 is great. So far it’s as reliable and stable as OSX, easy to navigate files and launch apps. I find generally that the OS doesn’t make much difference as 99% of the time in an adobe app which basically becomes my OS in a way. So really the only difference I’m experiencing is th shortcut changes to which I’m used to now. As a bonus it’s a lot of fun building a PC from scratch and not to mention cheaper overall plus easier to upgrade parts as I see fit in the future.

Michael Kormos's picture

Macs aren't meant to be upgraded. They're meant to be replaced.