By gutting a Mac mini M1 and jamming everything inside an old iMac, a YouTube content creator improvised what he calls the world’s first Apple Silicon iMac, with important caveats.
Miani points out that the Mac mini’s motherboard is so small that it can fit comfortably inside the iMac’s chassis without any modifications. Using a Mac mini motherboard HDMI display adapter to the custom Apple iMac display connector was the vast majority of the work on the project.
Essentially the Mac mini runs unmodified inside the iMac chassis and uses it as a display with the help of that adapter circuit. However, this has several limitations.
First, the 2011 iMac has a very low resolution by today’s standards. Its 27-inch 2560-by-1440 pre-Retina display isn’t an ideal way to use macOS. Second, the “computer” part of this setup is the Mac mini, inside the iMac chassis. With the current version, all ports, and the power button, are inside the chassis and are completely inaccessible from the outside without removing the screen.
Eventually, the Bluetooth and Wifi radios were optimized using a three antenna array used in the Mac mini, but one of those antennas was incorporated into the Mac mini chassis. He overcame this limitation by connecting the additional antenna to the iMac’s antenna wiring harness.
While the project was mostly successful, Miani says the setup is not recommended even though it is easy to achieve. However, he says it’s worth turning the iMac into a Mac mini display if you have one lying around.