October 06, 2006
The perfect Mac mini case tool
I've upgraded my first-gen, low-end Mac mini to its full 1 gigabyte of RAM. It continues to capture TV programs, converting them to iPod format and streaming them to other machines on the home LAN, and to serve a few static web pages and images associated with my weblog (including my resume).
I was concerned about getting into the box. The mini literally snaps together, and all the online sources I've seen suggest you have to take great care to keep from damaging the tabs that snap the cover into place when opening the machine for upgrades.
The recommended tool around the web is a standard putty knife, and many sources suggest that you bevel one edge of the putty knife so you can more easily slide it between the bottom and top cases of the Mac mini.
When I went hunting around the tool shelf, I discovered that I have a wallpaper scraper that's essentially a 4 1/2" putty knife with a beveled edge. Having successfully upgraded the mini, I would suggest this is the perfect Mac mini open/close tool. It almost certainly came from Home Depot, and is labeled a Hyde Tools 33200.
The extra width means I was able to pop all 6 side tabs on either side or all 3 side tabs on the front at the same time. If I did this all day, I would use two at the same time. With just one, you have to open one side far enough that it won't slide back into place while you're prying open the other side.
It took three tries to get it back together right -- the trick is to get the back in place, then work the top on from back to front, until it snaps on the front tabs, good as new.
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