Apple’s Mac mini uses the same M1 processor the company’s MacBook Pro 13″ laptop, and offers similar performance at a lower price point. But it’s not mobile: there’s no keyboard, display, or battery, which means the Mac mini is meant to stay put.
YouTuber Scott Yu-Jan changed that… kind of. With the help of a 3D-printed case and an iPad mini, he made the Mac mini into a portable computer that you can take with you… but you’ll still need to plug it into a wall outlet when you get where you’re going.
Yu-Jan noticed that Apple’s iPad mini and Mac mini are exactly the same width. So he designed a 3D-printed case that basically holds the two together like a laptop. Run a cable from the Mac mini to the iPad mini and you can the Duet Display app to use the tablet as a touchscreen display.
Of course, without a built-in keyboard or battery, this isn’t really a laptop. But it’s a lot more portable than most desktops, as the combined weight of a Mac mini and iPad mini is just about 3.3 pounds, plus a little extra weight for the 3D-printed case, cables, power supply, and a wired or wireless keyboard.
While folks shopping for a new mobile computer would probably be much better off paying for a MacBook Air or MacBook Pro, Yu-Jan says this project filled a very specific need that he had without requiring investing in new hardware, since he already had a Mac mini and iPad mini.
He’s posted two videos about the project, with the first explaining the inspiration and design process of the DIY Mac mini portable and the second answering viewer questions. While he has no plans to mass produce the custom case, he has posted the 3D design files to Thingiverse for anyone who wants to build their own.