In this hands-on video walkthrough, we show you how to upgrade the RAM in the 2018 Mac mini. If you’re comfortable with opening your machine, you can save a significant amount of money upgrading Mac mini RAM yourself. Watch our step-by-step hands-on video walkthrough for the details.
Apple recently brought a desperately-needed refresh to the Mac mini, which included faster processors, memory, storage, and more. Needless to say, as noted in our 2018 Mac mini review, we thought it proved to be a great upgrade.
However, the one major downside of the new Mac mini is its cost. Although the machine still remains the cheapest way to buy a brand new Mac from Apple directly, the price has ballooned from $499 to $799 for the entry-level model. To help offset some of the cost, I decided to upgrade the Mac mini RAM myself instead of choosing to upgrade during the build-to-order process.
Upgrading the RAM in the 2018 Mac mini isn’t what I would call simple, but it can be done relatively easily with a little patience and know-how. Apple uses standard SO-DIMM modules for the memory in the Mac mini, meaning you can buy RAM at a much cheaper price and install it yourself.
The 2018 Mac mini can accommodate up to 64GB of RAM, and features two SO-DIMM slots. This means that you’ll want to upgrade using one of the following configurations:
- Two 8GB memory modules
- Two 16GB memory modules
- Two 32GB memory modules
The base Mac mini comes with two 4GB memory modules for a total of 8GB of RAM. Unfortunately, two 32GB memory modules are still fairly rare, and quite expensive. The sweet spot appears to be two 16GB modules, which will give you 32GB of RAM in the 2018 Mac mini. Apple charges $600 for a 32GB Mac mini upgrade, but I ordered 32GB of Crucial RAM from Amazon for less than half of what Apple charges.
Eventually, 64GB of RAM will increase in availability and come down in price. The good news is that you can use this tutorial to do whatever RAM upgrade you wish to do on your Mac mini.
RAM for the 2018 Mac mini should meet the following requirements:
- 2666MHz DDR4 SO-DIMM memory
Note: For the record, Apple recommends that all 2018 Mac mini RAM upgrades be performed by an Apple Store or Apple Authorized Service Provider. Therefore, proceed at your own risk.
Tools you will need
- Anti-static strap
- Opening tool or credit card
- TR6 Torx driver
- T10 Torx driver
- T5 Torx driver
You can buy each of the aforementioned tools individually, but all of these tools are provided in iFixit’s Pro Tech Toolkit. Although it isn’t a requirement to use iFixit’s tools, I think it’s worth it for anyone who likes to tinker with electronics, as it will no doubt come in handy in the future. I used iFixit’s excellent Mac mini tear down and RAM replacement guides to help me out during this video walkthrough, and I highly recommend supporting their work.
How to upgrade RAM in the 2018 Mac mini
Note: It is recommended that you use an anti-static strap throughout this tutorial.
Step 1: Power down your Mac mini and remove all cables and accessories
Step 2: Place a soft towel on a flat surface where you can rest your Mac mini face down without scratching the Apple logo or space gray anodized aluminum surface.
Step 3: With the bottom cover facing up, use an opening tool, such as the one provided in iFixit’s excellent Pro Tech Toolkit, and gently pry off and remove the back cover. Sit the back cover aside.
Step 4: Remove the six Torx security screws that secure the antenna plate. Three of the screws are 4.1 mm screws and three of them are 1.8 mm screws. Once the screws are removed, be sure to put them in a place where they won’t be lost. When refastening the antenna plate, make sure you use the right screws in the right places.
Step 5: Do not fully lift off the antenna plate, because the antenna is still fastened to this plate. Instead, gently lift the plate to avoid putting stress on the antenna wire and locate the screw securing down the antenna to the logic board.
Step 6: Once the antenna screw is removed, gently lift the connector off its socket on the logic board. Sit the antenna plate aside.
Step 7: You’ll next need to remove the fan. Start by removing the four screws that secure the fan to the logic board and exhaust vent.
Step 8: Once the screws are removed, gently lift the fan and detach its connector from its socket on the logic board. Remove the fan and sit it aside.
Step 9: Disconnect the power supply cable.
Step 10: Disconnect LED indicator connector from the logic board. iFixit recommends pulling straight up on the connector with tweezers.
I wasn’t good enough to do this, so I settled on removing each pin from the connector instead. That’s definitely not the ideal way of removing the cable, but it worked for me. If you’re a little more patient and a little more skilled, you could probably do it the way iFixit recommends in their picture guide.
Step 11: Remove the two 7.5 mm screws securing the logic board in place with a T10 Torx screwdriver.
Step 12: Unclip and slide out the logic board assembly by gently applying pressure to the ears (where the screw holes are) of the exhaust vent. The Logic board assembly should slide completely out of the Mac mini housing.
Step 13: Remove the four 2.8 mm screws securing the RAM shield using a T5 Torx screw driver. Slide off the shield to reveal the SO-DIMM slots containing the RAM.
Step 14: Remove the RAM by spreading the tension clips away from the memory modules. You may also have to remove the two rubber inserts on each side of the RAM modules. Remove both SO-DIMM modules.
Step 15: Install the two new SO-DIMM RAM modules — ensuring the the notch is positioned correctly — and making sure they are firmly seated into place.
Step 16: Perform the steps in reverse order to put the Mac mini back together! Watch our video above for a full walkthrough.
Upgrading RAM in the 2018 Mac mini isn’t what I would call super-easy, but it’s definitely not difficult, and it is doable if you have the right tools, exercise patience, and are careful.
After just doing the process once, I’m confident I could install memory in a 2018 Mac mini in less than 20 minutes. Be sure to watch the full video above, because it explains the process in a way that’s much better than static pictures.
32GB of RAM in my new Mac mini
That said, if you’re at all uneasy about performing such an upgrade yourself, I definitely recommend calling on Apple support for help. Or you could always just pay Apple the upgrade price to configure the amount of RAM that you need during the build-to-order process.
In all, I saved about $300 on the Mac mini RAM install after factoring in the iFixit Toolkit purchase. What do you think about upgrading RAM in the 2018 Mac mini? Is it something you’d consider doing to save money? Sound off in the comments below with your thoughts and opinions.
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