Mac Mini Mini

The Mac Mini has been roughly the same size and shape for 12 years, as the current design was released in June 2010. However, despite being the same general form factor, the internals has shrunk over the years. [Snazzy Labs] took advantage of this to make a miniaturized Mac Mini.

With a donor Mac in hand, they cracked it open and found an oversized power supply, a diminutive logic board, and a good bit of space. Unfortunately, the logic board attaches to a wide IO shield. He removed that, and the fan attached to the heatsink (checking to ensure it still booted). Relocating the WiFi antennas was the trickiest part of the whole build. Given that he wanted to shrink the power supply and the Mac Mini accepts just 12 volts, he devised a clever solution to use MagSafe as a connector. However, Magsafe negotiates over a complex protocol when attached. So, rather than smarten his port up, he dumbed the charger down by replacing it with a Microsoft Surface power supply spliced into the MagSafe connector.

With his mini Mac Mini board ready to go, he began designing a case to fit what was now a single-board computer. A fan of the channel offered a design reminiscent of the 2019 Mac Pro. Unfortunately, FDM printing struggled with the cheese-grater pattern, so [Snazzy Labs] printed it in resin with some mica powder. As a result, the mini mini looks fantastic while taking up just 28% of the volume of the original.

They’ve posted the STL files online with detailed instructions and a parts list if you want to recreate it at home. Perhaps with the smaller motherboard, it might be worth revisiting the Mac Mini inside a PowerBook hack from a few years ago. Video after the break.

28 thoughts on “Mac Mini Mini

    1. I wouldn’t be surprised if the next Mac mini ends up the size of the Apple TV, with the Mac Studio slotting into the mini’s former position. Either that, or the mini will go away altogether.

        1. I agree, but it wouldn’t be the first time Apple nixed a popular and well-implemented product line. With that said, I don’t think the mini is going away, just likely being downsized and (hopefully) reduced in price. I can see it replacing the Apple TV if they ship it with a remote again.

  1. Considering how little competition the Mac Mini really has in the small desktop space (there’s that Z2 mini from HP and those Intel NUCs), I don’t have a problem with the Mac Mini having a little extra space inside its shell. It makes designing accessories for it relatively easy and futureproof.

      1. I’d forgotten about the ThinkCentre thin clients; those are pretty miniscule compared to their tower brethren, and I’ll definitely have to look into the Asus line (I’m usually more focused on their laptops/convertibles/2-in-1’s/whatever).
        I didn’t even know ChromeBoxes were still being made. Still, is that a fair comparison? The Chrome browser is handy, but it’s no substitute for a full OS, even if it’s Apple.

  2. This computer is still much too large. If it’s not hanging off the HDMI port like a proper computer then it might as well be a 4U rack mount server.

    Between the cables and the external power supply you are not saving anything sizewise here, it’s still going to take up the same amount of space.

    I’m gonna do my Christopher Walken impression here when I grab your arm and tell you that the hacked magsafe adapter is gonna kill another computer someday.

  3. The idea is nice, but man, this execution is dubious. Why are they powering their $700 data coffin with a $3 Chinese DC-DC Step down?? It’s even underrated for the current needed; that’s a XL4015 board and they *need* cooling beyond a couple of amps. Pity that they eliminated the fan!

    if / when the DC-DC dies it could pass full input voltage to the motherboard, and if that fries the soldered SSD controller or NAND you’re SOL.

    Also, as has already been pointed out, magsafe is a silly choice especially considering it is the only rapidly detachable connector present.

    1. I have not looked at schematics, but agree without a battery back up, using magsafe is a ridiculous solution. Also, if the input voltage is 12VDC, why not stick with it and add few chokes, Shockley’s and a fuse. There are plenty of 12 VDC supplies, plus your car that have the amperage needed. Also, much easier to add a battery solution as well.
      I agree removing the fan isn’t smart since Apple ONLY uses fans if it absolutely has to.
      In any case I applaud the effort since this was the direction I was going go to create a “belt pack” for Apple VR I have been working on.

      PS Nine years ago I created a Hackintosh using an Intel NUC. It ran great, even allowing me to work in Unity. I also put on one of those white 🍏 logo decals on it. NUC is still my fun favorite form factor, so much you can do with them AND a 20 VDC LiION power tool battery with 3D printed power bracket.

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