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Saturday, April 04, 2009

How To: Upgrade Mac Mini to 4GB RAM Installation (Video)

I recently noticed some sluggishness on my base model Mac Mini Core 2 Duo, with a 1.83 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo and 1GB 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM. Once the machine was up and running and I was looking at iPhoto, Mail, and Firefox, the 1GB of memory would basically be all used up.

I started a search to see what I could do to improve the memory. What I ended up doing was purchasing a 4GB kit of PC2-5300 memory from Amazon, with free shipping (link here) for about $80. A great deal.

The full description if you're interested:
Brand: Transcend
Model: JM667QSU-2G
Type: 200-Pin DDR2 SO-DIMM
Capacity: 2GB
Speed: DDR2 667 (PC2 5300)
Cas Latency: 5
Voltage: 1.8V ± 0.1V
ECC: No
Buffered/Registered: Unbuffered
Heat Spreader: No
Manufacturer: Warranty
Parts: Lifetime limited
Labor: Lifetime limited

If you are familiar with the Mac Mini Core 2 Duo, you know that unfortunately the Mac Mini due to the current BIOS is only able to address 3GB of the 4GB of memory, even though the system fully recognized the 4GB of RAM. A little bit of a bummer, but having matched DIMMs is always a good thing and based on the price I decided to go for it. I am also a little bit of a hold-out in that I hope there will be a BIOS upgrade someday, but I know that's a fat chance.

Now was for the tricky part, opening up the case. First, you must know that you need a putty knife, some precision screwdrivers, and lastly a set of tweezers come in really handily. Rather than recreating some content, below is the YouTube video I used and it really made this a breeze.



In all, it only took me about 20 minutes to open the case, access the RAM slots and upgrade the memory. Just like that my Mac Mini was back in business. And, in fact the upgrade made a huge difference in the performance -- as it uses around 2.0GB during my normal usage of the machine.

Here's a couple of pictures showing the machine recognizing 4.0GB, but Activity Monitor only showing the 3.0GB addressable.

See, the Mac OS X, Version 10.5.6 shows 4GB RAM available to the system:
See, the Mac OS X, Version 10.5.6 shows 4GB RAM available to the system:

But, when looking in activity monitor, only 3GB are addressable by the Mac Mini. You can tell this by adding the free and used values, which roughly come to exactly 3GB. When you add 4GB to the Mac Mini, you are wasting 1GB RAM unfortunately.
But, when looking in activity monitor, only 3GB are addressable by the Mac Mini.  You can tell this by adding the free and used values, which roughly come to exactly 3GB.

If you're considering upgrading your Mac Mini, it is pretty straight forward once you get the case off. As for me, my Mac Mini is happily computing -- although I must admit putting in a 128GB solid state drive, or overclocking the CPU are tempting!

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1 comments:

Brent said...

I just upgraded memory on my Intel 2GHz Mac Mini. Couple things that are different: the connector beside the "watch battery" is not there, and it is highly likely that you will disconnect your Bluetooth antenna from the motherboard when removing the black plastic casing. It's a pain to put back on (and to figure out where it goes!) because the cable is short (which is why it disconnects after removing the black frame), but I did get it working again after I reassembled and discovered my bluetooth peripherals weren't working.