New 2014 Mac Mini RAM cannot be upgraded

RAMIconXAs one of its announcements during Yesterday’s release of OS X Yosemite, Apple introduced a long-awaited update to the Mac Mini, which brings next-generation Intel Haswell processors along with an additional Thunderbolt connection and 802.11ac Wi-Fi connectivity to the small Mac. However, one development noted by Macminicolo is that if you plan on purchasing one of these new minis, you will not be able to upgrade its RAM.

As with some of its other compact systems such as the MacBook line, Apple has made the memory on the Mac Mini a fixed amount, soldered to the logic board, with no slots to install an upgrade. This approach usually has been taken by Apple to better manage temperatures and space requirements for the various components of the system, where at times fractions of a millimeter in a design matter as to whether an industry-standard connector will be allowed, or if a custom option will have to be implemented.

This has been the case for many components of Apple’s systems over the years, and with the push for more power in smaller devices like the Mini, it might have only been a matter of time before Apple resorted to the more compact approach of using soldered RAM.

With this in mind, Apple provides between 4GB to 8GB of RAM in its Mac Minis as default options, with configurable options of 16GB for all models. Even though the upgrade from 8GB to 16GB will cost an extra $200, and from 4GB to 16GB will cost $300 for the cheapest mini, the extra capacity will ultimately be worth it when you consider future OS upgrades, and software demands that will inevitably require more out of your system over time.

Here are some general usage guidelines for the RAM configurations Apple offers:

  • 4GB: For basic use where you only ever have only a few programs and windows open, and for programs like office tools that have little demand on the system. Background application usage should be kept to a minimum for the sake of system performance.
  • 8GB: For anyone who plans on doing multimedia handling, this is going to be a good minimum amount to have. It will work well for office tasks and allow for a number of background applications to be open and running.
  • 16GB: The preferred amount to have, which gives ample room for managing many programs and documents open at once, while performing many tasks in the background. If you are a multi-tasker and keep office programs open while programming, playing games, watching movies, and listening to music all at once, then this is the amount you will need.

With these uses and the idea in mind that new software and uses will progressively require more RAM from your system, I recommend that you at least get a Mac Mini with 8GB, but seriously consider topping it out at 16GB. This will of course push the base price up, but will severely reduce the potential for encountering system slowdowns and frustrating hangs you may experience in the future.

7 thoughts on “New 2014 Mac Mini RAM cannot be upgraded

  1. Robert

    First, no Broadwell and now locked into high-priced Apple RAM—Apple just lost a MacMini sale. How they can even think of selling a modern MacMini with 4 GB amazes me too. 8 GB really is a minimum for any sort of decent performance.

  2. Wilson Ng

    You would be waiting until next year for a Broadwell equipped Mac Mini. If you need it now, get it now. If you don’t need it now, then it is perfectly fine to wait for Broadwell.

    Apple is using economy of scales. The new Mac Mini looks like it uses the same design as the retina MacBook Pro 13″. It makes sense that they just put it into a mini desktop form and not have to worry about a battery and screen. Apple already makes the MacBook Pro 13″. Transferring the design over to the Mac Mini makes it more affordable.

    Was there something that you would want from Broadwell that isn’t in Haswell?

  3. B. Jefferson Le Blanc

    This isn’t the first comment I’ve seen suggesting that Apple uses the same design in desktop computers like the Mac mini as they do in their laptops. I think these people are confusing the use of similar components with the design and layout of the computer itself. If you look at a Mac mini and any Mac laptop you will notice, for one thing, that the I/O ports are in completely different locations. Which means completely different motherboard designs – as these ports are mounted on the motherboard. There may be economies of scale in regard to the cost of components, but not for design, which is substantially different in other ways as well.

    As is often the case with Apple, they give with one hand and take away with the other. For example, there is a second Thunderbolt port on the new minis, but the FireWire port is gone. This reflects Apple’s current design priorities across the Mac product line.

    The non-upgradable RAM, as Topher says, is probably not an arbitrary design choice but reflects the trade-offs required for other component upgrades. While this may seem like a strategy to generate a little more revenue for Apple, they did cut the prices by $100, so it should be more or less a wash.

  4. Ephraim Fithian

    The entry level MacPro looks pretty reasonable next to a clapped-out 2014 Mac Mini. Perhaps that is what Apple had in mind. Education pricing saves some $ on the Mini, but even more on the MacPro.

    1. Robert

      “next-generation Intel Haswell processors” is Apple’s marketing speak. What they actually are is the last run of old-generation Haswell processors before the new (delayed by 9 months) Broadwell processors soon to be followed by Skylake. You’d be NUTS to get locked into this very old processor generation when Broadwell and Skylake are just a few weeks and months, respectively, away. I like Apple but this is cynical marketing to take some Christmas sales with a mild “tick” bump rather than waiting for a radical “tock” upgrade annoys me.
      Fully expect a silent MacMini upgrade to Broadwell in Spring 2015.

  5. JohnJay

    Disappointing Mac Mini upgrade in many respects. Quad core CPUs discontinued. Soldered RAM in combination with Apple’s rapacious prices for RAM upgrades is a dealbreaker for me. No buy! Apple just decreased the value of the Mac Mini.

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