G4 IMac Gets An M1 Heart Transplant

The second-generation iMac was a big departure from the original brightly-colored release. The chunky CRT aesthetic was dead, replaced with a sleek design featuring a slim LCD monitor on a floating arm. [Connor55] recently laid his hands on such a machine, and decided it needed a transplant of some modern M1 hardware.

There’s a lot going on in there.

The machine, as it came into his possession, lacked WiFi, and had a disc drive struggling to open its own tray, so it made a good candidate for hacking. Out came the original motherboard and drives, leaving room for a motherboard from a Mac Mini to be substituted in, with the powerful new M1 system-on-chip onboard.

First up, the screen had to be converted to use DVI input, with a guide from [Dremel Junkie] helping out with that. The Mac Mini motherboard was then prepped to install in the iMac’s dome-shaped housing; notably, the entire board is smaller than the stock iMac G4’s hard drive. It still took plenty of cramming, with a multitude of adapters finagled and massaged to fit inside the original housing.

It’s a very completionist build; even features like the original power button and optical drive still work. It took some fiddling, but the display and backlight operate properly as per the original functionality, too.

Apple’s tasteful industrial design has always proved popular with modders. We’ve seen similar builds before over the years, from Intel NUCs stuffed into G4 iMacs to classic Macs outfitted with iPad hardware. It’s always satisfying to see vintage hardware given a new lease of life with modern grunt!

4 thoughts on “G4 IMac Gets An M1 Heart Transplant

    1. Doubt it. It’s only four people with one person doing the main work. The low-hanging fruit was easy, but lots of stuff is still unsupported and they haven’t made any progress on the more complicated stuff (e.g. GPU).

      It will probably end like the Nouveau driver for NVIDIA GPUs. In a couple of years some older M1 Macs will be mostly supported, but the more recent models will always be a pain, progress will slow down, and then Apple decides it has to tighten security and locks down all new models.

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