Upgrading the Mac Mini Intel Core 2 Duo to 2GB

So I’ve had my Mac Mini for about half a year now. I thought the base 1GB configuration should have been good enough, but lately the Mac has been ‘feeling’ like the slowest machine here. I’ve already mentioned that the Mac Mini is not good for running VMware. And I have a lot of trouble with Firefox on the Mac (currently using 2.0.11) compared to my other linux boxes. I do open a lot of tabs, and maybe I’m hitting some memory limit earlier on the Mac (due to OS X resource use) compared to the linux boxes here. I’m not sure.

Anyway, RAM is cheap at the moment, so I thought I’d upgrade the RAM in it from 1GB to 2GB. You can sort of put 3GB in a Core 2 Duo Mac Mini, but I was a little unsure whether you needed specific brands of RAM for that to work. 2GB seemed like a safe bet. For the Intel Core 2 Duo models you need DDR2-667 SO-DIMM memory (The older PowerPC Mac Minis use different RAM). I bought 2 x Hynix 1GB DDR2-667 SO-DIMMS from Elive.co.nz.

The hard part is pulling the Mac Mini apart. You need quite a bit of time and patience. I had read about the technique using putty knives to open the case, but came across ‘Opening the Mac Mini without a Putty Knife’. That technique uses a bunch of wires looped through the base of the Mac Mini. I used the strands from an old solid core CAT5 cable. It’s quite fiddly trying to loop the strands and you need a good light source to help guide you. There’s 16 strands you have to put in (I think older Mac Minis only have 3 tabs at the front, so you only need 15 strands of wire).

Once I had all the wire loops in place, it was still not budging, so I had a look at ‘Headwedge’s Guide to Opening the Mac Mini using the Wire Method’. That gave me a few more hints like “I should have made the wires a lot longer!” and to use a small screwdriver around the back of the Mac Mini to start levering the base out. I still wasn’t getting far, so I tried using a Pizza Cutter down the sides and with a bit of persistence I eventually got the lid off and I don’t think I’ve damaged anything. Then I used ‘Headwedge’s Guide to replacing the RAM’ to work out how to get the RAM in. His Mac Mini is an older Core Solo model, but its pretty much identical to mine.

Putting the case back together was actually pretty easy. I had read that it was also rather hard. Maybe I did it wrong?

Anyway, it boots up, it hasn’t crashed … and I haven’t really opened 6 billion tabs in Firefox to see if it works any better. We’ll see.