Sunday, June 26, 2022

The mashup of an M1 and G4 is the whimsical Apple desktop I want

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Apple is releasing cool new desktop Macs again, but people are still doing a lot of fun projects with older Apple machines. A nice example that we spotted recently (h/t Input) was this mod by someone named Connor, who took the insides of an M1 Mac Mini and stuffed them into one of Apple’s most iconic desktops, the iMac G4.

As Connor shows in a YouTube videothe G4 still has all the original functionality after its mod – it can play DVDs from an internal drive (although they did have to swap the original ones, which connected to IDE) – and at first glance it hasn’t changed at all. But with the screen on, it’s clear that the computer is running modern macOS Monterey, rather than OS X 10.5 Snow Leopard, the last operating system to officially support the G4’s original hardware.

Connor is far from the first person to mod the iMac G4. Their post even quotes another MacRumors user who has built an M1-based G4 and gives credit? a guide from the (often quoted in the Mac modding community) Dremel Junkie. Searching on YouTube reveals that plenty of others have done G4 mods. You’ll find a few Hackintosh PC builds, a Raspberry Pi based arcade machine, some upgrades and restorations, and even someone who turned it into an external displayThe edge even made one – one of our producers, Creighton DeSimone, modified a G4 with a Surface tablet so hosts of a live YouTube show could use it.

It’s no wonder that people are attracted to doing fun things with this computer. It has a unique design (as long as you don’t compare it to) lamps), but the inside is old enough that you don’t risk much by taking it apart.

There is a lot going on in the basics of this G4.
Image: Connor55

However, for me, Connor’s build is the gold standard when it comes to doing this kind of mod. It keeps nice things like the CD drive and screen from the original, while updating the parts that were old and creaky, like the actual computer and I/O. They also posted an incredibly in-depth look at their process at the MacRumors forumso if you’re interested in all the blood, sweat, and intricate electronics work that went into this mod, be sure to check it out.

When I dropped this mod in our Slack, roadside editor-in-chief Nilay Patel replied, “I want this so bad.” I totally agree, but given the amount of work that went into making it, I think I’ll stick with it on YouTube for now.

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