When Apple started its move from Intel to Apple Silicon a few years ago, the company promised to deliver higher performance and reduced power consumption and so far Apple has largely delivered on that promise.
But the company’s first desktop computer with an M1 chip? It didn’t really take full advantage of the processor’s low power consumption. The 2020 Mac Mini is exactly the same size and shape as previous-gen models with Intel chips despite having a much smaller motherboard. So YouTuber Snazzy Labs decided to make a Mac Mini that’s… more mini. There are also instructions for making your own.
The result of this build is a Mac Mini that’s just 28% the size of Apple’s version in terms of volume, but which delivers similar performance.
In order to do that, Snazzy Labs basically ripped apart the Mac Mini, removed its large fan and 150W power supply, carefully removed the antennas and power button from the front panel, and transplanted everything into a 3D printed chassis.
The end product is passively cooled: even without a fan, the heat sink apparently does a good job of keeping the computer from running too hot and causing CPU speeds to throttle.
It sounds like the trickiest part of the build was coming up with a more compact power supply. To do that, developers basically fused together a 65-watt Microsoft Surface power adapter, a MacBook Pro MagSafe 2 DC-IN power board, and a MagSafe 2 cable.
Since the Mac Mini with an M1 processor consumes far less power than its Intel predecessors, the original 150W power supply was overkill for day-to-day use. Odds are that the only reasons Apple used it was because the company didn’t want to go through the trouble of redesigning very part of the computer… and that by keeping the Mac Mini size and shape consistent, it made it easier for schools, businesses, or other institutions that had already invested in accessories to ensure that they’d be compatible with the latest model.
That said, not only does the Snazzy Labs DIY Mac Mini(er) show that it’s possible for home users to shrink the size of Apple’s already-small desktop considerably, but it also provides clues to what Apple could do in the future: either offer smaller Mac Minis with M1 chips or keep the form factor the same while stuffing even more powerful chips into the existing chassis.