When Apple introduced the M1 Mac mini in 2020 it was shockingly powerful for such a small device, easily besting the previous generation Intel version and providing a first look at how competitive Apple Silicon would be. The M1 processor is based on Apple’s A14 chip, which is what powers the iPhone 12 series. If an A14 works in a super thin and compact iPhone without overheating, why can’t a Mac mini be placed into a smaller case? Apparently, it can.
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With some time, patience, and effort, the modders at Snazzy Labs were able to remove the core components of an M1 Mac mini and fit them into a much, much smaller case that was created with a 3D printer. With nearly three-quarters of the bulk cut off the original 7.7 by 7.7-inch footprint, the end result was 78-percent smaller than the original. This begs the question of what was lost? According to Snazzy, the performance of the mini Mac mini was not affected by this drastic reduction in size, which is quite remarkable.
Making A Mini Mac mini
Snazzy Labs had to remove the fan to fit an M1 Mac mini into a much smaller case. That ordinarily would be cause for concern, since overheating can hurt performance and also might damage the computer itself. The volume of this modded mini Mac mini, based on Snazzy Labs volume calculation is nearly the same as that of an M1 iPad Pro 12.9, which means it should have a somewhat similar cooling capacity simply based on bulk. Of course, thermal computer design is much more complicated than that. The power supply also had to be swapped to reduce the size and a few other components rearranged.
Additional instructions and the files needed to 3D print the mini Mac mini case are located at Snazzy Labs project page on PrusaPrinters. There’s no question that Apple’s original Mac mini with an active cooling fan is a safer design and packing this amount of tech into a plastic case could reduce performance over the long term or shorten the life of the product. However, it’s a good demonstration of how Apple could significantly reduce the size of the Mac mini in the future.