Computer Electronics

Apple Mac Mini (A1283) Teardown

01 December 2012
The following is an overview of a teardown analysis conducted by IHS Benchmarking.

Overview / Main Features

When iSuppli tore down the first Mac Mini some four years ago, we indicated that it was built "like a laptop without a keyboard, display or input device." Since that point in time, iSuppli has learned that many Apple computer designs use mobile components for the most part. These design choices are made in part for energy efficiency, but also for the smaller and more compact form factor these components afford.

The new Mac Mini continues this design philosophy, with an Intel mobile processor(Intel Core 2 Duo P7350), a 2.5" HDD, and slim-line ODD. The motherboard is fairly well integrated and does not appear shockingly dense, considering it has full functionality in roughly one-third or so the surface area of an ATX motherboard.

The main consequence of these design choices are that there are various premiums to be paid at multiple levels. For example, 2.5" HDDs and slimline ODDs cost more than comparable desktop computer equivalents, SODIMMs cost more than DIMMs. And this, along with Apple's "off-road" choices (not going with standard anything - enclosures, etc.), as well as software (lest we forget the Apple difference), add up to a more expensive unit to make, and therefore buy. The Apple premium is not just marketing and brand image. Apple systems are designed to be more aesthetically pleasing, more compact and with lower energy consumption - all of which comes at a premium. With Apple computers, you get more than just an image for the money.

Furthermore, it is interesting to note that the latest Mac Mini, as one would expect, has a lot in common with other Mac designs in terms of component selection. Several of the chips involved in Ethernet control and WLAN, for example, have been seen in other designs, and are not ground-breaking devices. Even the CPU (2.0GHz) in this entry level Mac Mini goes back to 2006 per device labeling, and appears obsolete already based on the latest Intel price list. This is likely part of the Apple strategy (seen previously in iPods, the iPhone, AppleTV) to set the entry-level point low in cost, but make upgrade choices more attractive for the customer and more profitable for Apple.

The crux of the change in the new Mac Mini is the abandonment of the Intel supporting chipset for graphics processing and

Target Market

Entry level desktop computing


Per press releases, first release in March 2009 (representing the 4th iteration of the Intel powered series of Mac Minis).

Pricing and Availability

Pricing - $599 for the entry-level unit analyzed here (at the time of writing).

Availability - Worldwide assumed.

Volume Estimations

For the purposes of this teardown analysis, we have assumed a lifetime production volume of 5M units (this is primarily used for calculations of mechanical parts that are common for all variations of the Mac Mini).

As a reminder, teardown volume production assumptions are primarily used for our cost analysis in terms of amortized NRE and tooling costs, especially for custom components specific to the model being analyzed (mechanical components especially). Unless assumed, volumes increment by an order of magnitude. Minor changes in volume (say 1 million vs. 2) rarely have a large net effect on our final analysis.

Market / Sector Performance

Apple ranks 7th among the top PC OEMs (overall) according to iSuppli's "Compute Platforms PC Market Share Update - 2008" analyst report. Apple's overall share was 3.2% in 2008. Apple is also #5 in desktops as of this February 2009 update. Apple saw overall PC space growth of 30.1% in year-on-year growth.

In terms of desktop computing which the Mac Mini is conventionally categorized as, Apple also ranks 7th in world wide unit shipments with approximately 612K units in Q4 2008 according to iSuppli research. This represents a drop of 22.2% quarter on quarter and just over 25% year on year decline.

Cost Notes

Main Cost Drivers (Representing ~85% of total direct materials costs)

$118.35 - Intel - CPU - Intel Core 2 Duo P7350 Processor, 2.0GHz, 3MB L2 Cache, 1066MHz FSB, 45nm Process

$65.16 - Nvidia - MCP79MM-B2 - Northbridge / Southbridge - GeForce 9400M, Graphics and I/O Controller Hub

$46 - Hitachi - HTS543212L9SA02 - Hard Drive - 120GB, 2.5", SATA, 5400RPM, 5V, 700mA

$32 - Pioneer Corporation - DVR-TS08PA - DVD±R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW Drive - 8 x Slot-loading

$18 - Broadcom - BCM94321COEX2 - WLAN / Bluetooth Module Value Line Item

$14 - DongGuan Samsung Electro-Mechanics - A1188 - AC Power Adapter - Input 100-240V, 50/60Hz, Output 18.5V, 6.0A, w/ 1.65m Cord

$10 - Hynix - HMT112S6AFR6C-G7 - SODIMM Module - DDR3, 1GB(128Mx64), 1066 MT/s, 1.5V, Contains 8 Hynix H5TQ1G63AFR-G7C 1Gb DDR3 Chips

$7.55 - Meadville Group - 10 Layer - FR4, Halogen Free, w/ 3 Threaded Standoffs

$6 - Enclosure, Main, Center - Die-Cast Aluminum Alloy

$2.92 - Enclosure, Main, Bottom - Injection Molded Polycarbonate / ABS Polycarbonate, Co-Molded Silicone Rubber Base Pad, Silkscreened, w/ 4 Brass Inserts

$2.29 - Renesas - R4F2117 - MCU - 16-Bit, H8S/2600 CPU Core, 160KB ROM, 8KB RAM, 20MHz, 3.0 - 3.6V, 112 I/Os

$2.18 - LSI Logic - L-FW643E-01-DB - IEEE1394 Host Controller - Integrated 1394b-2002 OHCI PHY/Link-Layer, PCI Express

Total Direct Materials Only $376.20

Total w/ Manufacturing $387.14

What Is Not Included in our Cost Analysis

The total materials and manufacturing costs reported in this analysis reflect ONLY the direct materials cost (from component vendors and assorted EMS providers), AND manufacturing with basic test. Not included in this analysis are costs above and beyond the material manufacture of the core device itself - cost of intellectual property, royalties and licensing fees (those not already included into the per component price), software, software loading and test, shipping, logistics marketing and other channel costs including not only EMS provider and the OEM's margin, but that of other resellers. Our cost analysis is meant to focus on those costs incurred in the manufacture of the core device and exceptionally in some circumstances the packaging and literature as well.

Manufacturing Notes

OEM/ODM/EMS Relationships / Manufacturing

Apple outsources 100% of their manufacturing to ODM/EMS partners in the far-east. According to iSuppli's "Global OEM Manufacturing and Design Analysis - Compute Platforms", Apple's mobile PC manufacturing partners are split between Hon Hai (Foxconn), Quanta and Pegatron (Asustek) in 31%, 55% and 14% loadings respectively.

Country of Origin / Volume Assumptions

Based on markings, the unit was assembled in China. Furthermore, we have assumed that custom mechanicals (plastics, metals, etc.) were sourced in China.

Country of origin assumptions relate directly to the associated cost of manufacturing, where calculated by iSuppli. In the cases of "finished" sub-assemblies (such as the hard disk drive), we do not calculate internal manufacturing costs, but rather assess the market price of the finished product in which case country of origin assumptions may or may not have a direct effect on pricing.

Remember also that labor rates are applied directly only to hand inserted components and systems in our bill of materials, and although regional assumptions do, these new rates do not have a direct effect on our modeled calculations of placement costs for automated SMD assembly lines. "Auto" inserted components (such as SMT components) placement costs are calculated by an iSuppli algorithm which allocates a cost per component based on the size and pin count of the device. This calculation is affected by country or region of origin as well.

Design for Manufacturing / Device Complexity

An important, quantifiable design complexity metric we have always cited are component counts, but component counts are just part of the picture, it is also a function of the number of unique components (not always easy for us to quantify since many passives may be different, but a visual inspection will not distinguish their values, tolerances, etc.), as well as inherent complexities that cannot be easily quantified (parts that are difficult to put together for whatever reason, for example, will increase cycle times and even reduce yields). As a result we focus on component counts as our primary metric.

Overall, the Apple Mac Mini contains a total of 1670 parts, 188 of which are mechanicals or electro-mechanical components. Compared to the first Mac Mini introduced some 4 years earlier, the overall complexity remains virtually unchanged.

Our calculations of manufacturing costs factor counts and more qualitative complexities in the design. The cost of manufacturing is also, to some extent, decreased in this case because of assumed labor rate applied for China. Note that manual labor has a much smaller effect on auto-insertion assembly lines (for the Main PCB, for example), where manufacturing costs are much more capital equipment intensive and driven by these investment costs.

Design Notes

As mentioned above the new Apple Mac Mini is just like the first Mac Mini, and subsequent iMacs we have analyzed in that, unlike other desktop computers, the Apple line of Mac's uses many "mobile", i.e. "notebook" computer components to achieve their very sleek and compact form factors, and also has the added benefit of being typically much lower energy-consuming. Oddly, despite this note, the power supply for the new Mac Mini is approximately 110W, vs. 85W in the original Mac Mini - so despite transitions to smaller process geometries (45nm in the Intel Core 2 Duo P7350 processor, and 65nm for the Nvidia GPU), but then, this device is more powerful than the first model analyzed and has a larger power budget as a result. In recognition of Apple's "green" initiative promotional information, the Mac Mini uses < 13W when in idle mode. The power supply is probably spec'ed that way for peak output needs.

The core processing is provided by the aforementioned Intel Core 2 Duo P7350 processor r, 2.0GHz, with a 3MB L2 Cache, 1066MHz FSB, and made with a 45nm process geometry. We analyzed here the entry-level unit with this already obsolete 2.0GHz processor which is no longer on the Intel price list at the time of writing. The next step up Mac Mini model features a 2.26GHz processor (for a $150 premium). This is a typical design strategy where the entry-point model is designed to have an attractive price point, but offers marginal enough power that a large number of clients will opt for upgrades that make for better average Apple profit margins.

The big differentiator in this model, as mentioned, is the use of Nvidia (and not Intel) GeForce 9400M graphics and I/O controller hub. This device is also used in MacBook designs. Nvidia, as a specialist in the domain of graphics processing and acceleration clearly adds this edge to the Mac line of products. The GeForce 9400M features 16 parallel processors (CUDA technology), a dedicated "PureVideo" HD processor, and proprietary "PowerMizer" microcontroller to optimize energy use.

Other than those core processing devices, the MacMini also features an 802.11 draft-n with Bluetooth module, apparently from Broadcom, but may be built by HannStar, based on label markings. This card features a Broadcom chipset solution for both WLAN (BCM4321) and Bluetooth (BCM2046). The MacMini analyzed here also has a 1GB SODIMM Module (DDR3, 1GB(128Mx64)) from Hynix, a slim outline optical drive (DVD±R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW Drive - 8 x Slot-loading) from Pioneer (DVR-TS08PA), and a 120GB HDD (2.5", SATA, 5400RPM) from Hitachi (HTS543212L9SA02).

Here is a summary of the major components used in the Apple Mac Mini design:


  • Processor - Intel P7350 - Intel Core 2 Duo Processor - 2.0GHz, 3MB L2 Cache, 1066MHz FSB, 45nm Process
  • Graphics Processor and I/O Controller Hub (Northbridge/Southbridge) - Nvidia - MCP79MM-B2 - GeForce 9400M

Others ICs

  • MCU - Renesas - R4F2117 -16-Bit, H8S/2600 CPU Core, 160KB ROM, 8KB RAM, 20MHz, 3.0 - 3.6V, 112 I/Os
  • IEEE1394 Host Controller - LSI Logic L-FW643E-01-DB - Integrated 1394b-2002 OHCI PHY/Link-Layer, PCI Express
  • Ethernet Controller - Realtek - RTL8251CA - 10/100/1000Base-T

Other Subsystems and Components

  • WLAN / Bluetooth Module - Broadcom/HannStar - BCM94321C0EX2
  • HDD - Hitachi - HTS543212L9SA02 - 120GB, 2.5", SATA, 5400RPM, 5V, 700mA
  • ODD (Optical Drive) Pioneer Corporation - DVR-TS08PA - DVD±R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW Drive - 8 x Slot-loading
  • SODIMM Memory Module - Hynix - HMT112S6AFR6C-G7 - DDR3, 1GB(128Mx64), 1066 MT/s, 1.5V, Contains 8 Hynix H5TQ1G63AFR-G7C 1Gb DDR3 Chips

Powered by CR4, the Engineering Community

Discussion – 0 comments

By posting a comment you confirm that you have read and accept our Posting Rules and Terms of Use.
Engineering Newsletter Signup
Get the GlobalSpec
Stay up to date on:
Features the top stories, latest news, charts, insights and more on the end-to-end electronics value chain.
Weekly Newsletter
Get news, research, and analysis
on the Electronics industry in your
inbox every week - for FREE
Sign up for our FREE eNewsletter
Find Free Electronics Datasheets