Dissecting the core of Apple's Mac Mini

Research firm iSuppli takes the lid off the Mac Mini and finds $274.69 in hardware, much of it coming from Foxconn Electronics.

The sleek Mac Mini from Apple Computer costs $499 at retail, but the total sum of the parts is less, says research firm iSuppli.

Analysts at the research firm dissected one of the Mac Mini computers and estimated that the total component bill likely comes to $274.69.

"With manufacturing costs added, the total rises to $283.37," iSuppli stated in a recent research note.

The total does not include costs for intellectual property, software, licensing fees, shipping, marketing or other expenses, so Apple's total bill for putting a Mac Mini together is actually higher.

The dissected Mac Mini included a 1.25GHz PowerPC chip, 256MB of memory and a 40GB drive. The Mac Mini does not come with a keyboard, screen or mouse and is generally more expensive than similarly configured computers housed in bulkier, larger chassis.

To cut costs, Apple adopted a number of technologies and components from the PC world. The optical disk drive, for instance, is a standard laptop unit. The chipset has also been reduced from two pieces of silicon into one.

Foxconn Electronics, which is based in Taiwan and has factories in China, likely serves as the contract manufacturer, iSuppli concluded. A number of connectors inside the box come from Foxconn.

"In general, the Mac Mini's high level of integration makes it one of the most cutting-edge systems iSuppli has ever dissected," iSuppli stated.

Analytical teardowns are one of the few jobs at research firms that require pliers.

Earlier this year, IDC scoped out the innards of the flash-based iPod Shuffle, finding two chips, far fewer than in iPods built around hard drives, and estimating the cost of materials to be about $59.

Recently, Current Analysis ripped open one of Hewlett-Packard's new consumer inkjet photoprinters and found that $199.80 worth of components.

iSuppli, meanwhile, dissected 30 phones to analyze .

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