By Collin Allen

Mac Mini/G4 Cube Hack

November 5, 2006

123macmini is featuring a mod in which the guts of a new Intel Mac Mini have been transplanted into a beautifully repainted G4 Cube, seen at right. To attain the “new Apple product box” look, the internal casing was removed and painted matte black. When the core of the computer is slid back inside the clear plastic cube, it looks very much like an Apple-designed piece of electronics, especially with the white illuminated logo.

The real achievements of this hack, though, are the technical ones inside the box. Like the original G4 Cube, the redesigned model had to be carefully packed into quite a tiny space, which is why the Mac Mini was an obvious source for donor components. To overcome some of the storage limitations, the stock 2.5” laptop hard drive that shipped with the Mac Mini was replaced with a 3.5” 500 GB desktop SATA hard drive, which brought much more storage and speed than laptop drives currently offer (as well as better video playback and recording, as you’ll see in a moment). However, a small 5v/12v power supply was required to run the new hard drive, as it draws considerably more power than the 2.5” drive. Wiring in the cube’s touch-sensitive power switch was a bit trickier than the plug-and-play hard drive, and required some rather detailed electronics work and reading up on the data sheet for the sensor. When completed, both the Mac Mini’s power switch and the Cube’s touch-sensitive switch can turn on the machine.

With power and storage out of the way, cooling was the next problem to tackle, as the Mac Mini’s fan didn’t push enough air to cool the whole assembly. A separate Zalman fan – originally intended for cooling video cards – was modified to lower the temperature of the Mac Mini’s CPU. To finish off the mod, an EyeTV Hybrid was attached externally to provide DVR capabilities, as well as Apple Remote integration. This G4 cube hack is one of the best looking and well executed Mac mods I’ve seen in a long time, so you’ll undoubtedly want to check out all the detailed step-by-step pictures.