Our Intel-based Mac mini has always been a great computer. About a year ago, the WiFi on it started acting up. The signal was fine when the machine was first booted up, but would gradually degrade until it could not see any WiFi networks no matter what we did. We tried all kinds of things (software upgrade, reinstallation, relocation, etc...), but nothing helped. We eventually accepted the fact that the Mac mini would be a stand-alone machine...until today.
We thought the WiFi problem might be temperature related. It would explain why the connection worked when the machine first booted up, then petered out. It would also explain why it had been more of a problem recently. The office can get a bit warm in the Summer. To get more support for our theory, we opened up the Mac mini to get a better understanding of where the WiFi antenna was situated relative to other things. The process of opening the Mac mini has been previously documented in a series of articles we did back in 2008.
The wire of the WiFi antenna to the main Airport card runs right past a giant heat sink. The internals of the machine get pretty hot during use. Perhaps when we last opened the Mac mini, we left the wire too close to the heat sink? With that as a working theory, we moved the wire away from the heat sink the best we could and closed everything back up. The WiFi worked a bit longer with the wire rearrangement, but the problem came back after about 30 minutes. Would providing more cooling to the Mac mini make a difference? We repositioned the Mac mini in front of the window fan and the result was immediate. Fan on, we were WiFi-connected after about 20 seconds. Fan off, the WiFi connection disappeared in about 30 seconds. Seems pretty conclusive to us. The increased airflow has kept the machine cool and connected for several hours now. We will look for a more permanent solution to the heat problem, but it is nice to know that other machines in the office will once again be able to "talk" to the Mac mini. [Permalink] - Mac mini WiFi problem
Update: Check out the latest fix here.