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Mac Mini M1 Cube

Joined
Jul 21, 2021
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8
Motherboard
M1
CPU
M1
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M1
Mac
  1. iMac
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  3. Mac mini
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Last year I got more and more interested in old Mac’s (again) and started searching the web. First, I bought an iMac G4 to put in my home office. I had to work from home, so I wanted something beautiful in there. Then I started looking at the Cube. They’re very hard to come by in The Netherlands, but after seeing all these wicked builds on this forum I wanted to do the same.

And what better way to use a Cube than to put a super fast Mac Mini M1 in there! After searching for 2 months I found a Cube 200km away and picked it up the same day. I never did a build like this before, so I was quite nervous about it. I did all the research I could do to make sure I wouldn’t mess up a Cube and a brand new Mac Mini.

Before I started, I set myself these goals:
  • Create a clean build. It had to look nice from to outside as well as the inside
  • Keep the case as original as possible. I didn’t want to cut away major parts or leave anything out.
  • Create a nice I/O plate. A lot of builds I’ve seen did not pay that much attention to this part, but I wanted it to look like factory-work.

Disassembly
This part was quite easy, with all the builds on here and the use of YT. I disassembled the Cube and the Mac Mini. I only wrecked the Wifi-antenna from the Mac Mini in the proces and had to cut one wire from the Wifi antenna from the Cube (which I regret hindsight)

Then the first big change was up: cutting out the original I/O plate from the Cube’s frame. I used a Dremel and kept the cut as clean as I could.

Fitting the motherboard
Because there was only one spot to put the motherboard in, I drilled two holes in the Cube’s heatsink. I had to tap thread in there and messed one up. That meant I had to enlarge the mounting point on the motherboard.

Motherboard to heatsink.png


With just two screws, the motherboard was in place and quite sturdy. The motherboard would also lean on the new I/O plate, so this was sufficient.

Power
To reuse the adapter from the Mac mini, I stripped it from it’s case. That way it fits perfectly in the Cube. I cut off the connector and soldered on two new wires to connect to a new C8 connector. Connecting the adapter to the motherboard took me a bit longer. Eventually, I figured out a USB 3.0 extension cable could do the trick! It only has 19 pins, instead of 20, but I found out not all 20 pins are used (Mac Mini 2018 DC Connector pin layout)

Power.png


Power button
One of my big wishes was to keep the original power button. It has a bit of a hassle, but I made it work. I connected the motherboard using a connector to the original wires of the power button. But I needed to power the switch as well. So I put in a AC/DC transformator to get 5V. It fitted perfectly under the power adapter in the case.

Tested it, and it worked!

Unfortunately, after putting it all together for the last time, something went wrong. I’m not sure what, but the switch isn’t working anymore. I’m still pissed off about that, but I’ll have to find another way to make this work again :(

WiFi/Bluetooth

To make the WiFi and Bluetooth work, I bought new antenna’s and mounted this one on the original place in the case. The WiFi antenna that was in the Mac Mini I screwed on to the heatsink, in one of the original screw holes. I have to admit: it’s not perfect. I can’t get any further than 5m from the Cube with my AirPods and I connected an ethernet cable. Maybe putting in a different antenna will help, but it’s no priority.

Antenna.png


I/O plate
Last thing to do was to put in a new I/O plate. I designed a plate to get it cut out of aluminium, to fit in the case. Designing the part only took me about three hours. Then I found a company online to get the piece cut and send over. You can find the .dxf-file here. I thought I could solder this plate in there, but that didn’t work for me. Eventually I’ve used epoxy to keep it in place. After that I've sanded the backplate and spraypainted it.

Onshape.png


Backplate.png


After these pictures
I've disassembled the cube again to fix the crack in the backplate. I painted it again and it looks better now.

Files and components
 
Last edited:
Joined
Oct 12, 2021
Messages
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Ati
THX alot. Great Build.
Would you mind share which Power Supply you have used for the switch?
Also the Cutout-File I cannot see.
The Heatsink is actually not used anymore, right. I was thinking to attach the Heatsinks together but then the Connectors will not fit the I/O Panle anymore.
Can you explain the USB C Solution for the Power Supply more in detail?

Thanks again.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Jul 21, 2021
Messages
8
Motherboard
M1
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M1
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M1
Mac
  1. iMac
  2. MacBook Pro
  3. Mac mini
Classic Mac
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Mobile Phone
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I've put the file and the components I've used in the post.

The heatsink is not in use anymore. But you don't need to with the M1 chip. I kept the original Mac Mini fan to cool it.
I meant an USB 3.0 cable, not USB-C. I've put links to the product and pin layout of the Mac Mini 2018 in my post. That pin layout helped me figuring out that I could use this extension cable.
 
Joined
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Thanks alot for your help and congratulations to your great build.
 
Joined
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this is dope. I built a cube a few years ago and I've been thinking lately that I'd *love* to build one of these new ARM macs inside. I'm hoping to update mine in a few years using that ability- thanks for the info and pictures!
 
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Brilliant craftsmanship. I wish I had the patience to build such beautiful things.
 

neilhart

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MacEnthousiast I am pleased to see your project and read through this thread. The G4 Mac Cube is one of my favorite Apple products and I still own one of my G4 Cube hacks.

Neil
 
Joined
Nov 16, 2021
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Amazing Project!!!! I have ordered all the missing parts from the list and hope I will have them within a week or two (including the I/O Plate in both Aluminium and stainless steel).
I already have the M1 Mac mini and broken Cube that I can use for the purpose. Hopefully I am able to re-create this great project.

I'll post my success (or failure) here ...
 
Joined
Nov 16, 2021
Messages
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Question about the Converter Board:
do you have a plan on the wiring?

On the button side it should be:
1 +5V
2 N/C
3 Leave Unconnected
4 Positive side of Mini Power Switch
5 Negative side of Mini Power Switch

In theory that should end up looking like this:
1 Connect to +5V on the small power supply
4 + of Power Switch
5 - of Power Switch and - of small power supply

when I watch the video, it looks like the wires 1 and 5 were soldered to the converter board which connects to the button directly. I couldn't see the other two wires in the video fully. In case 4 is connected to +5V I wonder what the last wire is used for? In the video it looks (and some assumption on my part) like in the below table (1 and 4 are switched):
1 + of Power Switch
4 +5V on small power supply
5 - of Power Switch and - of small power supply
 
Last edited:
Joined
Jul 21, 2021
Messages
8
Motherboard
M1
CPU
M1
Graphics
M1
Mac
  1. iMac
  2. MacBook Pro
  3. Mac mini
Classic Mac
  1. Power Mac
Mobile Phone
  1. iOS
I've connected the wires from the switch to the new connector this way:
  • 1 => 5V+ from AC/DC module
  • 3 => 5V- from AC/DC module
  • 4 => 1 on converter board
  • 5 => 6 on converter board
Not really sure if 3 is necessary
 
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