Friday, Mar 05, 2021, 09:30 Hardware

Video: The First iMac M1 – A DIY Build

The first iMac with an M1 chip has been brought to life! However, it doesn't stem from the glorious halls of Apple itself. Although Apple did deliver the necessary components for the build, the device itself is of course still entirely unofficial in nature. Youtuber "Luke Miani" simply couldn't wait any longer on an iMac with M1, so he set himself to the task. He only needed 2 basic ingredients, an iMac's housing and the "guts" of a Mac mini. The project stretches back quite a few years, with Luke having purchased an iMac to equip with new hardware several years ago, however – his first try was a complete failure and led to a "lost patient".

Defective iMac & Mac mini Base
The reveal of the new M1 Macs awoke a new-found sense of motivation in Luke concerning his failed project. Of course, the project required complete brain transplantation, as the M1 chip can't simply be transitioned to the iMac's current board without the occurrence of complete defects. The easiest step in the entire operation was stripping the iMac of its guts, the second easiest – the opening of the Mac mini and placement of its hardware within the newly gutted iMac.



A New Breath Of Life For The Old iMac
In order to get the iMac's display to function with the new components, an additional controller board was required. The adapter allows for DVI, HDMI, or DisplayPort to connect with the iMac's proprietary display connection. As the first test run proved, the new M1-equipped iMac works. A true miracle for the 10-year-old iMac which now runs without a fan, and with impressive performance.

...Albeit With One Large Limitation
It became clear relatively quickly, why this "new" iMac wouldn't ever achieve much greater status than that of a "Frankenstein" machine. Although Luke was able to get the machine started and even work on it, regularly forgetting that it was even a "Frankenstein" device, difficulties did arise from time-to-time. Connecting to Bluetooth or WiFi was difficult, if at all possible – the Mac mini's base plate works as a third antenna but this component is missing inside the M1 converted iMac. These features only began to work after Luke connected the antenna to the iMac (the connector still hasn't changed in 10 years). However, the largest deficit of the device, there are no connections. These are all present inside the iMac's housing.

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