Apple is expected to launch a smaller and more powerful Mac Mini at an event this month. However, a hobbyist appears to have beaten the Big Tech firm to the punch. YouTuber Quinn Nelson behind the channel Snazzy Labs has made an M1 Mac Mini significantly smaller than the current-generation model without compromising performance.
Honey, I Shrunk the Mac Mini
Apple’s unibody design for the Intel-powered Mac Mini introduced in 2010 was not modified when the product range transitioned to Apple silicon in November 2020. This appears to have been done to save tooling costs and reuse existing production infrastructure to manufacture the M1 Mac Mini with as few changes as possible. The M1 Mac Mini’s smaller unified memory and chip components took up much less space inside the case without sacrificing performance or thermal efficiency.
Taking a page out of the small form factor (SFF) PC community’s tricks, Nelson pulled out the 150W power supply housed inside the Mac Mini. He replaced it with a custom external 65W Microsoft Surface power supply that supplied power to the Mac’s logic board through a DC voltage regulator connected to a MagSafe 2 connector. He also removed the fan but left the IHS and its heatsink attached to aid passive heat dissipation. This reduced the total internal volume required in his custom case.
So, Nelson designed, and 3D printed a custom enclosure in resin. He then relocated internal components to optimize the use of space and reassembled the M1 Mac Mini. The 3D-printed enclosure didn’t skimp on aesthetics either. He used Apple’s distinctive cheese grater design on the 2019 Mac Pro for effective passive cooling. Now, the M1 Mac Mini’s components occupy only 28 percent of their original volume, so the Modified Mac Mini is 78 percent smaller than the original.
Despite switching to passive cooling and a denser component layout, Nelson claims that the performance remains unaffected. The modified M1 Mac Mini returned benchmark scores comparable to the original one Apple sells. Staying true to the open-source nature of the hobbyist community, Nelson has curated a detailed build guide for M1 Mac Mini owners who wish to follow in his footsteps and make a smaller computer for themselves. The project files include the printable STL files, recommended print settings, and a how-to guide for assembling the Mac back together.
If you feel confident and excited to try this project out, make sure to check out the video below:
What do you think of Nelson’s 3D printed tiny Mac Mini? Do you think Apple should have launched a smaller Mac Mini when it transitioned to the M1 chip? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section.