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[Guide] Mac Mini to Quad-Core Hack Mini Hackintosh (for under £400!)


jayp94
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Hi everyone,

 

(Just a heads up, I give a LONG introduction but it contains important info so please read)

 

I decided I wasn’t going to be another leecher of a forum so I decided to document my new project. As you can tell by the title, I am going to do a Mac Mini mod – referred to as the ‘Hack Mini’. I will try and make it as detailed as I can with lots of pictures. I will try to answer as much questions as I can and answer questions of my project that I would want answered if I was reading it. I will give measurements so it gives people wanting to do this a good idea of the sizes involved.

 

Common Question: “Why a Hack Mini? Why not buy a real Mac Mini? Its just as cheap?”

My Answer: “1. Where’s the fun in that? And 2. You cannot buy a quad core Mac Mini (to date) so the Core i5 Quad Core I will fit makes my Hack Mini 2 x faster than the current core i7 (dual core) Mac Mini. Oh, and its about £100 cheaper than the base line (i3) Mac Mini. (This excludes the Mac Mini server, which is a quad core i7 but its only 2.0Ghz and its £849! So mine is still faster and cheaper!”

 

 

Please Note: I don’t claim to be a genius and I am doing this Hack Mini my way so if you don’t like something, when you do your mod, change it!

Also, I HIGHLY recommend you do you’re research! I’m not the only Mac Mini Hackintosh guy out there and I roughly do about 10 hours + research before even starting the project.

 

I don’t plan on “hard modifying” the case or components. This means unlike my G5 mods, I am not going to cut, saw or change the aluminum case in any way. This gives good overall effect and it saves time and money. Also, I do not want to solder unless it is last resort. On the contrary to this, I have ‘designed’ my setup so I would not have to do this.

 

The Tony Mac method of OSX will be installed on this. This is using Tony Mac and a retail copy (I highly recommend a retail copy of OSX of any update (whether 10.6 or 10.7 and the upcoming 10.8)) of OSX Snow Leopard 10.6.3 (will be updated to Lion 10.7.3 after install).

 

Last thing before the mod, pay lots of attention to the online manuals of any motherboard/CPU or components you buy!! I say this because (I will go into detail when I get it but…) the motherboard I am using is very specific. Due to obvious size restraints, most mini ITX boards wont fit (most will fit width and length but not height due to the back I/O ports being to high) and the processors you can use are restrained. For example, the motherboard I am buying supports LGA1155 processors BUT only supports LGA1155 processors UP TO 65W TDP. This narrows the search down but I generally found that LGA1155 processor that end in ‘s’ will work. Although, the main processors I will decide against are either the i3 2105 @ 3.10Ghz (dual core) about £110 and the i5 2405s @ 2.7Ghz (quad core) £165. Both will work. The Intel website is very good for this information.

 

Last last thing, this motherboard has a MAJOR advantage, it doesn’t need an internal power supply. Now this is good for this Hack Mini as there is simply not enough space! This motherboard has a female power port at the back, and like a laptop, gets its power from a power brick on a power lead. (The only con is the power bricks can be expensive as I live in the UK, most are from China or USA).

 

Okay, hope I haven’t bored you! Onto the good stuff now.

 

I started with ordering the Mac Mini case. Mine was bought of eBay for a total of £48 (£43 + £5 PandP). This seller was in the UK so got it the next day! There is a seller of these Mac Mini cases (new) from china and they are £50 + PandP. I did not go for this as there may be a HIGH chance (because its Chinese) its fake. Although it looks VERY realistic. In addition to this, the postage would take about 7-10 days at least and I did not want a delicate case like this handle by that many careless postage guys! Plus they don’t include the back I/O shield/plate which I might need (not decided yet).

 

The case is a 2010 model with the CD/DVD slot. I personally like this, as my Hackintosh will require a CD drive to load i-Boot and install OSX. Plus it adds to the overall practibility of the product and does not affect its looks (in my opinion).

 

Box came today:

sam0922o.th.jpg

Box again

sam0923z.th.jpg

 

Just unwrapping it...

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Still in (opened) apple plastic

sam0925c.th.jpg

Top

sam0926.th.jpg

Front

sam0927i.th.jpg

Back

sam0928y.th.jpg

Bottom View with Bottom off

sam0929c.th.jpg

Mac Mini with I/O plate

sam0930tb.th.jpg

Width of Mac Mini:

sam0931h.th.jpg

Back I/O length:

sam0932.th.jpg

Internal length:

sam0933bz.th.jpg

On my desk with the Cinema Display: (the display is showing my PowerMac G5 Hackintosh screen, NOT the Hack Mini)

sam0935g.th.jpg

 

sam0936w.th.jpg

What disks look like in it:

sam0937lb.th.jpg

 

sam0939v.th.jpg

 

 

I have to say, it looks fantastic. It also looks untouched! (New for the slow minded). Not a scratch or micro scratch on it!

 

As you can see from the photo, the measurements of the case are 197mm long x 197mm wide x 30mm high. The CD slot is 132mm wide and 3mm high.

 

The INTERNAL measurements are 187mm long x 187mm wide x 21mm high.

 

I think that’s all the measurements you will need. Pay attention to the internal measurements as that is, after all, what you need to know. Most mini ITX boards are 170mm x 170mm so that not a problem. The problem (as mentioned above) is the back I/O ports are too high.

 

So just to clarify, the Mac Mini’s corners, although do take up room, would not effect an ITX board’s placement due to the length and width of the Mac Mini.

 

The setup I will be installing is

 

Intel DH61AG and 150W Power Supply – eBay - £115

Core i5 2405s @ 2.7Ghz (quad core) – eBay - £165

OCZ Agility 60GB SSD (fast!) – Novatech - £60

8GB (2x4GB) DDR3 1333Mhz RAM – eBay - £25

Apple Airport Extreme Wireless Mini-PCI card – eBay - £15

Power button – eBay - £5

Slot Load DVDRW SATA – eBay - £15

USB Bluetooth – eBay – No more than £5 (I already have one)

 

(all prices include postage)

 

Total = £400

Including the Mac Mini Case £448

 

The cheaper option would be

 

Intel DH61AG and 150W Power Supply – eBay - £115

Core i3 2105 @ 3.10Ghz (dual core) – Novatech - £110

Seagate 7200rpm 2.5” 500GB HDD – eBay - £60

4GB (2x2GB) DDR3 1333Mhz RAM – eBay - £15

(No wireless, some people use USB wireless or wired internet)

Power button – eBay - £5

(May not need a CD drive, you might have an external USB drive or use USB sticks to install OSX)

 

Total = £305 (Including mac mini case = £353!!)

Add/Upgrade the components at your discretion.

 

So no graphics card? No, The CPU’s in the list’s above have Intel HD 3000 graphics which is natively supported on OSX and it is apparently not bad, games like battlefield can be played or Skyrim. Although this not meant to be a gaming machine (see my G5 Hackintosh for that) it could be. Intels HD 3000 graphics is on the current Mac Mini models anyways.

 

Possible problems.

  1. Fitting it all in. I am 95% confident it can fit all the above in no problem but you never know till its in front of you.
     
  2. The Slot load drive may effect space even more!
     
  3. Cooling the CPU and airflow. Details below
     
  4. Motherboard compatibly with OSX More below as well

 

So the CPU. I am planning on installing a laptop heatsink. This will have to be left until I have the Motherboard and CPU so I can see exactly how much space I have (or don’t have!) to work with. I will fit the biggest cooler in there as possible. I think I read somewhere that this (or ITX motherboards in general) are made so cooling is not essential. I, however, will ignore this, as it would give me peace of mind if there were a cooler of some sort in there.

 

Motherboard compatibility. I THINK I can get this to work 95-99% (no ATX motherboard is 100% with OSX). This means sound, display, USB 2.0, USB 3.0 ect. Again, when it’s all together and working, I will see then.

 

What do you guys think?

 

I did not intend this to take 1400 words but at least its pretty detailed.

 

Keep tuned for the next update – probably the motherboard and CPU.

 

I may sell this at the end so tell me if you’re interested!

 

UPDATE #1

 

Bought the CPU (i5 2405s), Motherboard, Power Adaptor, RAM (8GB), and the Power Button. Just need to buy the SSD/HDD and Airport Card. I am also going to experiment with an internal speaker. Not the little black beeper things some motherboards have, I'm talking about a proper speaker. This would complete (apart from the optical drive)

the Hack Mini.

 

Okay so the slot load drive will be on hold for a while. I am going to wait until i have the rest of the components and see if there is space. I have not needed my Optical Drive on my Powermac G5 Hackintosh so i will not go to extreme lengths to make one fit in this one.

 

 

UPDATE #2

 

Bought a Corsair Force 60GB SSD with a 250GB Samsung HDD. Also an internal speaker, bluetooth, Airport extreme wireless and cable ties. The next set of pictures is coming Friday so keep tuned and dont forget to follow this thread!

 

To add more detail, the total cost of this build is £394.98. My budget was £400.

 

My build:

 

Intel DH61AG and 150W Power Supply – eBay - £116.35

Core i5 2405s @ 2.7Ghz (quad core) – external website - £149,99

Corsair Force F60 60GB SSD – eBay - £48.09

250GB Samsung HDD - eBay - £31.05

8GB (2x4GB) DDR3 1333Mhz RAM – eBay - £29,54

Apple Airport Extreme Wireless Mini-PCI card – eBay - £10

Power button – eBay - £4.99

USB Bluetooth (Ultra low profile) – eBay – £1.28

Internal 0.5w speaker - eBay - £3.69

 

(all prices include postage)

 

So again photos and videos of the build to follow shortly and thanks for your support.

Remember to FOLLOW THIS THREAD!

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I've been looking into doing this for quite a while, it would be a nice addition to my G5 mod, so good on you for taking the plunge.

 

I noticed you are ordering from Novatech, are you based in the south by any chance? (I live 5 minutes from the original Novatech in Portsmouth).

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Thanks for your comment.

 

And yes i live in Bristol. Funny thing about Novatech, I wondered into PC World (Cribbs) and was looking for a HDD and RAM, I asked the manager of the PC parts area for his opinion and he said and i quote "to be honest, we (meaning PC World) overcharge for parts, i recommend Novatech in Portishead". I was shocked in a good way for his customer service so ever since then, i have shopped with Novatech. I find they are reliable and their parts are just as, if not cheaper than parts on eBay!

 

I am considering using them to supply parts for my new top-of-the range computer company. Where i supply SSD drives as standard. So hopefully they stay open. I wanted to share the word about Novatech too as they are just brilliant so im glad you noticed!

 

With you wanting to do this, go for it! unless you want me to do it first to (try) and give some lead or instructions? It would be good to share thoughts and tips..

 

Thanks again,

jayp94

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Novatech were bought out a few years ago, (they started out as 1 guy selling printer ribbons from his bedroom) so they're safe.

 

Apart from eBay, novatech is the only place I go, the company I work for also uses them, has a business account etc, so I would think Novatech would be a safe bet for the company you are starting.

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Nice mini hack - love the case - what are the cpu temps at idle with that case?

 

I built a hack mini last week using the Asus Rock 67M-ITX board and the i3-2105 for the HD3000 graphics. Was able to finally get HDMI video/audio working flawlessly with a DSDT patch and kext edit (running 10.7.3 on it). Like you I didn't really care about gaming since I don't have time for that anymore - just needed a rock-solid fileserver and media machine for driving my flatscreen.

 

Cheers!

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@g_jj

 

Thanks very much for your comment. Thats good to hear. I haven't yet built the Hack Mini yet so i dont know the temps yet.

Any chance i can ask some questions about your build? What did you use to cool the CPU? Did you use a CD drive? How was the motherboard fit and any chance of some pictures?

Thanks again,

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  • 1 month later...

Hi. I'm trying the same. In a chinese forum, chiphell, there are several users trying with success same as you. You can see them googling "chiphell mac mini case". But I don't speak chinesse, I'm spanish. Any news about your hack? I got several questions, about how to fix the motherboard to the case, the original back black panel and the cooling. The cooling is an aspect that I think it's the most important. I'm thinking about i5 2405S. ¿Better option than i3 2105? What I've seen in the mentioned forum it's very very difficult for me, because it's necessary to use industrial tools for built the sink and the adapter for the motherboard, instead of the back panel, that (I presume) it doesn't include with your ordered mini case from ebay. Tell me your progress, please, I'm very interested. If not, I've got looked several different cases "like" mac mini one.

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could you please suggest a specific seller where to buy the case for that price?

 

thanks,

cili0.

 

Here you are: http://www.ebay.es/i...984.m1423.l2649

It's cheap, but the process it's very very dificult. I've found the guy in China who mades the specific sink and the specific internal "mounters" for the motherboard, and the black back panel too. In chiphell forum his name is "jianhui10", aka "Iceman", and this is his post: http://www.chiphell....240768-1-1.html He sell his own products in taobao web: http://shop35506220....browseType=grid

I've try to contact with him by qq messenger, but he doesn't respond. He, and no one through the whole internet , is the person that has made possible customs mini hacks in the original mac mini with the intel h61 mini itx mobo. I hope he read this post!!

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Here you are: http://www.ebay.es/i...984.m1423.l2649

It's cheap, but the process it's very very dificult. I've found the guy in China who mades the specific sink and the specific internal "mounters" for the motherboard, and the black back panel too. In chiphell forum his name is "jianhui10", aka "Iceman", and this is his post: http://www.chiphell....240768-1-1.html He sell his own products in taobao web: http://shop35506220....browseType=grid

I've try to contact with him by qq messenger, but he doesn't respond. He, and no one through the whole internet , is the person that has made possible customs mini hacks in the original mac mini with the intel h61 mini itx mobo. I hope he read this post!!

 

Thanks for your help. In fact I was referring to the UK seller jayp94 used to buy the mac mini case. Buying from China on e-bay is always risky.

 

ciao

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  • 1 month later...

Here you are: http://www.ebay.es/i...984.m1423.l2649

It's cheap, but the process it's very very dificult. I've found the guy in China who mades the specific sink and the specific internal "mounters" for the motherboard, and the black back panel too. In chiphell forum his name is "jianhui10", aka "Iceman", and this is his post: http://www.chiphell....240768-1-1.html He sell his own products in taobao web: http://shop35506220....browseType=grid

I've try to contact with him by qq messenger, but he doesn't respond. He, and no one through the whole internet , is the person that has made possible customs mini hacks in the original mac mini with the intel h61 mini itx mobo. I hope he read this post!!

 

I also noticed that they don't even ship in Italy. I'm still looking for a place where to buy a current / previous generation mac mini case (at a reasonable price). Any suggestion?

 

ciao!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Try to see these web sites:

http://www.taobaosho...4864184015.html

 

http://www.taobaosho...4103736869.html

 

Please let me know your impression

 

Hi everybody from Italy

 

Thanks for the links!

They look like the original ones. For 15$ I'm quite tempted to buy the mac mini case.

 

ciao!

 

P.S.: If you're Italian don't forget to contribute to the Italian subforum ;)

 

EDIT: after further investigation it seems that you cannot buy directly from the website. 15$ is the price of the item, but in addition you have to pay for a lot of other stuff + international shipping. The website doesn't say neither the amount of all these fees nor how much the international shipping will cost.

 

Still looking for a reliable place where to buy an empty case :(

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  • 4 months later...

This project is great for tinkerers. I am a hack builder ever since this community first formed some years ago. Though I share 100% of the sentiment, I find that doing this project may defeat the sole purpose intended in the design of the Mini-power envelop. Of course the gain in CPU peer is obvious, but the payback is perhaps not all that clear. Furthermore, the graphics constraint is still there. It would be great if PC board maker could launch ITX board using Calxeda chip instead of Intel. But then we may have to wait forever since Apple is starting to move OS X/iOS towards their own ARM platform, which may exclude all of us in the future.

Please do not scold me for this is just a 1-man opinion!

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  • 3 months later...

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