Rescued IMac G4 Restored And Upgraded With Mac Mini M1 Guts

Three abandoned iMac G4s, looking for a loving home... (Credit: Hugh Jeffreys)
Three abandoned iMac G4s, looking for a loving home… (Credit: Hugh Jeffreys)

The Apple iMac G4 was also lovingly referred to as the ‘Apple iLamp’ due to its rather unique design with the jointed arm on which the display perches. Released in 2002 and produced until 2004, it was the first iMac to feature an LCD. With only a single-core G4 PowerPC CPU clocked at around 1 GHz, they’re considered e-waste by the average person.

That’s how [Hugh Jeffreys] recently found a triplet of these iMacs abandoned at an industrial site. Despite their rough state, he decided to adopt them on the spot, and gave one of them a complete make-over, with a good scrub-down and a brand-new LCD and Mac Mini M1 guts to replace the broken G4 logic board.

The chosen iMac had a busted up screen and heavily corroded logic board that looked like someone had tried to ‘fix’ it before. A new (used) 17″ LCD was installed from a MacBook Pro, which required the use of a Realtek RTD2660-based display controller to provide HDMI to LVDS support. The new logic board and power supply were sourced from a Mac Mini featuring the M1 SoC, which required a 3D printed adapter plate to position everything inside the iMac’s base. Wiring everything up took some creative solutions, with routing the wires through the flexible monitor arm the biggest struggle. The WiFi antenna on the Mac Mini turned out to be riveted and broke off, but the iMac’s original WiFi antenna could be used instead.

Although some clean-up is still needed, including better internal connector extensions, the result is a fully functional 2024 iMac M1 that totally wouldn’t look out of place in an office today. Plus it’s significantly easier to adjust the monitor’s angle and height compared to Apple’s official iMac offerings, making it the obviously superior system.

11 thoughts on “Rescued IMac G4 Restored And Upgraded With Mac Mini M1 Guts

  1. This is one of the very few retro computers that’s genuinely genuinely desirable in 2023 even without the nostalgia angle.

    The one fly in the ointment is the tiny screen – I assume the arm mechanism is critically sensitive to weight, but perhaps it’s possible to adjust it and / or make a 24”+ display that weighs the same as the original…

    1. They come in 15′ 17’and 20 inches so there are choices. And yes the arm can be Adjusted / Tightened. But carefully..
      I have a 15 inch 1ghz with a ssd upgrade
      Pretty snappy and connecteds to the wi fi. / Internet with ten four fox

    2. Modern curved LCD are a lot lighter than 20 years old flat LCD, curved didn’t need much metal support. So it is probably easy to swap for 27″ FHD curved display. The only drawback is white bezel LCD isn’t common at all, virtually all desktop LCDs uses black.

  2. I’m not going to downplay the exelent work done here.

    Your article title on the other hand is dumb.

    They neither “restored” nor “upgraded” anything.

    They gutted a nice chassis and filled it with something new.
    This is a well done case-mod.
    It is no different than building a PC into an old NES shell.

    Well done to the modder though.

    1. Gunna have to disagree with you here: the plastic was restored (cleaned) and the back arm, which wasn’t aligning/closing right, was restored. Sure, it’s debatable whether gutting the insides and putting in a whole new computer is an “upgrade” – it’s not like he swapped out a 512MB stick of ram for 1GB – but it’s certainly an upgrade by the definition “to replace something (such as software or an electronic device) with a more useful version or alternative”.

  3. Surprised, just 2 years and some art and design person got paid and now the dump gods are appeased. However this does the best with such packages, a modern mini and high def screen without loosing the original appeal-peal.

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