YouTuber Modifies M1 Mac Mini to Be 78% Smaller
A YouTuber has successfully made the M1 Mac mini 78% smaller and added MagSafe in a unique DIY project, highlighting Apple's iterative approach to the current entry-level Mac mini ahead of the expected launch of a redesigned high-end model.
When Apple introduced the M1 Mac mini in November 2020, it retained the exact same unibody design that the company has used since 2010. Subsequent teardowns revealed that the M1 Mac mini contains a very large amount of empty space.
This is because the unibody design was conceived for Intel processors and hardware from over the past twelve years, while modern components such as the M1 chip and its unified memory system are extremely small and thermally efficient, being suitable for the likes of the thin and passively cooled MacBook Air.
Now, Quinn Nelson, the YouTuber behind the popular channel Snazzy Labs, has shrunk the M1 Mac mini as much as possible by relocating its internals and engineering a new casing.
Since most of the Mac mini's internal space is taken up by a 150W power supply, Nelson replaced it with an external 65W Microsoft Surface power supply with a retrofitted MagSafe 2 connector, which connects to a DC voltage regulator leading to the Mac mini's logic board.
Nelson created a smaller new enclosure for the Mac mini using resin 3D printing, adopting the distinctive "cheese grater" design of the 2019 Mac Pro for enhanced thermals. Nelson relocated parts such as the antennae and power button to the new enclosure and removed the Mac mini's fan. Overall, the modified device is 28% of its original volume internally.
Despite the Mac mini's logic board being in a much smaller enclosure with no fan, Nelson noticed virtually no change in performance, with the device benchmarking just as well as the original machine. Nelson has made a detailed build guide available for any skilled users who wish to undertake the project for themselves.
The Mac mini is due to get a significant overhaul this year, featuring the M1 Pro and M1 Max chips from the MacBook Pro in an all-new design. According to leaker Jon Prosser, who shared renders of the new Mac mini's alleged design last year, the new Mac mini will retain a similar form factor to the current Mac mini, but with an overall reduction in size.
The new design is purported to feature a "plexiglass-like" top, sitting above an aluminum frame, much like the first-generation Apple TV. The rear of the device is said to feature the same ports that are currently available with the high-end Intel-based Mac mini, including four Thunderbolt ports, two USB-A ports, one Ethernet port, and one HDMI port, but will add a magnetic power connector from the 24-inch iMac.
Apple is believed to have been working on a new Mac mini for some time. Apple updated the entry-level Mac mini with the M1 chip in November 2020, but the high-end offering is still the Space Gray model with an Intel processor from 2018. It is this high-end model that is expected to be replaced this year with an Apple silicon model that features the first redesign since 2010, but an update for the entry-level M1 model to add the M2 chip also seems plausible.
Apple is reportedly planning to launch the new Mac mini at an event in the spring. For more information about what to expect from the high-end Mac mini, see our detailed guide.