Bottom line: Apple’s new M1-powered MacBooks and Mac Mini have received glowing reviews. Many outlets have praised the surprising performance that gives x86 powered computers a run for their money. However, Apple has yet to upgrade its iMac and Mac Pro lineups to the new silicon, so an enterprising YouTuber decided to take matters into his own hands.
Luke Miani initially took apart his Intel-powered iMac to upgrade it to more modern parts, but he ended up bricking it instead. After lamenting about the lack of an M1-powered iMac, he decided to try to build it himself. The project itself is impressive and is relatively simple, all things considered. He basically just puts the logic board of an M1 Mac Mini into an iMac shell (sans all the original parts).
To start, Miani first removed all of the internals of his 2011 iMac, reducing it into a mostly empty shell. He then installed a converter board that essentially turns the iMac into a faux-Cinema Display. He connected the M1 Mac Mini to it to show that it could be used as a monitor. But of course, that wasn’t enough. He took the logic board out of that Mac Mini and screwed it into the iMac case using existing standoffs. Once that was completed, he had successfully MacGuyvered a homemade M1-powered iMac.
Miani did note that there were a few “wrinkles” after the build. Initially, the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth signals were feeble because only two of the three antennas were connected. He mitigated that by repurposing the original iMac antenna bands and hooking them onto the motherboard since it used the same connectors.
Additionally, since all he did was put the Mac Mini logic board into an iMac husk, it left him with no ports. Turning on the computer also required him to remove the screen entirely, which obviously isn’t ideal.
It’s an interesting video to watch and only fuels speculation about how Apple will engineer its chips to work in a much larger chassis like the iMac or Mac Pro. The extra thermal headroom will allow Apple to cram bigger and more powerful silicon and seriously compete against Intel’s and AMD’s best chips while being considerably less power-hungry.