Late 2018 Mac mini Teardown
 
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Late 2018 Mac mini Teardown  

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itsage
(@itsage)
Illustrious Member Admin
Joined: 4 years ago
 

I picked up an i5 Mac mini tonight at a local Best Buy. After unboxing, I took everything apart. One thing I noticed right away about the packaging is that the cardboard material feels cheap. It's unusual for Apple packaging.

There's a strip of black tape covering the rear ports. The plastic bottom cover is easy to remove. You simply place a thin object such as a credit card/guitar pick to pry it apart.

There are 3 raised Torx T6H screws and 3 sunk ones holding the bottom metal shield in place. The raised screws are where the plastic bottom cover snap onto. Once the bottom shield is loosened, carefully push it to the side to access the antenna connector and retainer screw. This screw can be removed with the same Torx T6H.

The main cooling fan is held in place with four Torx T6 screws. Lift the fan up to access the fan connector on the the logic board.

There are two Torx T10H anchor screws  on the logic board assembly. Remove them and unplug the power supply connector as well as front status light connector.

Push the logic board by the cooling fin to release it from the Mac mini casing. Here's a look at the logic board backside.

One good news about this model year Mac mini is the return of RAM slots. It's not easy to access but not terrible compare to most modern Macs. There's a metal shield covering the RAM modules and slots. The four screws are Torx T5. Once the screws are out, push the shield back towards you to remove.

You can then swap the stock RAM modules with up to 2x 32GB DDR4 SODIMM modules. Right across from the CPU is the Apple T2 chip.

I also located the soldered NVMe flash storage and the two Titan Ridge Thunderbolt 3 controllers.

Last component to remove was the power supply. I pulled the metal sleeve sitting on top of the power plug.

There's a tiny metal retainer clip at the bottom of the power plug. Undo this clip then the plug can be tilted sideway to release the PSU.

The power supply label shows it's a 150W unit [12V ~ 12.5A].

Here's the full component view. While I was at it, I upgraded the RAM and applied a proper amount of thermal paste.

I quickly plugged the WX 9100 + Mantiz Venus in macOS to test

Boot Camp Windows 10 1803 worked plug-and-play with the RTX 2070 + Razer Core too. Here's the HWiNFO screen capture showing the two Thunderbotl 3 controllers are attached to the CPU.

external graphics card builds
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2020 15" HP Spectre X360 [11th,4C,G] + RTX 2080 Ti @ 32Gbps-TB4 (AORUS Gaming Box) + Win10 2004 [build link]  


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esatamacmodular
(@esatamacmodular)
Estimable Member
Joined: 4 years ago
 

@itsage sweet teardown photos and it just came out today! when you say "applied a proper amount of thermal paste" (to the CPU) ... are you implying that there could have been more/better paste to begin with?

Also its funny that the manual looks like it has an apple monitor in it (due to the iMac-like base).

iMac 2013 10.14.1, Macbook Air 2013 10.11, MBP 2016 13" 10.13.6 , HP 4530s 10.11, node lite, DA-2 PSU w/mod, PE4L 2.1b expresscard34, GTX460,1050Ti,1060,1070/Ti RX470,560,580

 
2016 13" MacBook Pro [6th,2C,U] + GTX 1060 @ 32Gbps-TB3 (AKiTiO Node Lite) + macOS 10.13.6 [build link]  


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itsage
(@itsage)
Illustrious Member Admin
Joined: 4 years ago
 

I always find the amount of thermal paste from the factory is too much. Since I had everything apart already, it's a no brainer to reapply a good amount with Thermal Grizzly Kryonaut. Here's a photo with the 2018 Mac mini next to an Intel NUC7i5 and InWin Chopin Ryzen 5 2400G for scale.

external graphics card builds
best laptops for external GPU
eGPU enclosure buyer's guide

 
2020 15" HP Spectre X360 [11th,4C,G] + RTX 2080 Ti @ 32Gbps-TB4 (AORUS Gaming Box) + Win10 2004 [build link]  


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detunedradios
(@detunedradios)
Trusted Member
Joined: 3 years ago
 

RAM looks tedious to get to, but not really difficult. Just a bunch of screws. Awesome to hear an eGPU in Boot Camp worked right out of the box!

2016 15" MacBook Pro - 2.7GHz Core i7, Radeon Pro 460 4GB, 1TB SSD
Sonnet Breakaway Box 350, modded with 650W PSU, with Radeon RX Vega 64


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Eightarmedpet
(@eightarmedpet)
Noble Member Moderator
Joined: 4 years ago
 

Amazing tear down and great to hear about Bootcamp working so effortlessly. Will keep my eyes peeled for further tests... (amd).

I think its worth noting that there is no room for a GPU in that InWin Chopin so folks who wanted one in the Mini may have been being unrealistic (ok, on board Vega would prob work/fit).

2017 13" MacBook Pro Touch Bar
GTX1060 + AKiTiO Thunder3 + Win10
GTX1070 + Sonnet Breakaway Box + Win10
GTX1070 + Razer Core V1 + Win10
Vega 56 + Razer Core V1 + macOS + Win10
Vega 56 + Mantiz Venus + macOS + W10

---

LG 5K Ultrafine flickering issue fix

 
2017 13" MacBook Pro [7th,2C,U] + RX 5700 XT @ 32Gbps-TB3 (Mantiz Venus) + macOS 10.15.4 & Win10 2004 [build link]  


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itsage
(@itsage)
Illustrious Member Admin
Joined: 4 years ago
 

I will test with an AMD eGPU later tonight. The air intake through the gap between the circular bottom cover and casing is fairly narrow. Seeing thermal throttling issues from the i7 is definitely a concern. I will keep HWiNFO sensors running during my tests to observe the i5 thermal performance.

external graphics card builds
best laptops for external GPU
eGPU enclosure buyer's guide

 
2020 15" HP Spectre X360 [11th,4C,G] + RTX 2080 Ti @ 32Gbps-TB4 (AORUS Gaming Box) + Win10 2004 [build link]  


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DanHC
(@danhc)
Eminent Member
Joined: 2 years ago
 
Posted by: itsage

I will test with an AMD eGPU later tonight. The air intake through the gap between the circular bottom cover and casing is fairly narrow. Seeing thermal throttling issues from the i7 is definitely a concern. I will keep HWiNFO sensors running during my tests to observe the i5 thermal performance.

If the AMD eGPU you planned do with windows setup is your WX9100 it would be my life saver, I own a Vega FE and WX9100 would be the one that most assembles it. 

2013 15" MacBook Pro (GT750M) [4th,4C,H] + RX Vega FE @ 16Gbps-TB2>TB3 (Sonnet Breakaway 650) + Win10 [build link]  

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itsage
(@itsage)
Illustrious Member Admin
Joined: 4 years ago
 

@danhc Yes, the Mantiz Venus + WX 9100 will be one of the AMD eGPUs. I will be testing different configurations as well. The Sonnet Breakaway Puck RX 560 is a nice addition to a Mac mini.

external graphics card builds
best laptops for external GPU
eGPU enclosure buyer's guide

 
2020 15" HP Spectre X360 [11th,4C,G] + RTX 2080 Ti @ 32Gbps-TB4 (AORUS Gaming Box) + Win10 2004 [build link]  


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Grumz
(@grumz)
New Member
Joined: 2 years ago
 

@danhc Great tear down! Thank you!
My ideal set-up right now is the i7 Mini with a Razer Core X + Vega 64 (or 56) GPU. The biggest block for me right now is how that set-up work will with Windows Bootcamp. When you say it was possible to boot into Windows 10, and that this was plug&play,  is that without any hot-plugging or alternating cables and such? I really, really just want a eGPU connected where I can alternate between OS and Windows with the normal, easy, booting into Bootcamp.

To do: Create my signature with system and expected eGPU configuration information to give context to my posts. I have no builds.

.

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joevt
(@joevt)
Noble Member
Joined: 3 years ago
 
Posted by: itsage

Here's a photo with the 2018 Mac mini next to an Intel NUC7i5 and InWin Chopin Ryzen 5 2400G for scale.

The NUC looks tiny compared to the Mac mini, but it doesn't have a built in power supply like the Mac mini and it's 40% taller. Well, the M.2 only version of the NUC is the same height, but none of them can have 64 GB of RAM or four Thunderbolt 3 ports.

Mac mini (2018), Mac Pro (Early 2008), MacBook Pro (Retina, 15-inch, Mid 2015), GA-Z170X-Gaming 7, Sapphire Pulse Radeon RX 580 8GB GDDR5, Sonnet Echo Express III-D, Trebleet Thunderbolt 3 to NVMe M.2 case


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