Mac Mini On DC Power

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by dragonpark14, Jun 30, 2014.

  1. dragonpark14 macrumors newbie

    Jun 30, 2014
    I want to create a "suitcase PC" out of a mac mini. The display would be USB powered, so would the keyboard while the mouse would be Bluetooth. The mac mini I'm looking at is the one viewable on apple's site right now - unsure of release date. If an older version would be more suitable, that would be fine - as long as it supports my intentions.

    How do I wire dc power into the thing? DC to AC inverters are out of the question. I have found other guides to wire the board to a dc power source, but there are no further instructions with regard to voltage, amps, and regulation of the power supply beyond that.

    I have a basic understanding of electronics and circuits, but soldering together a PCB is beyond me. I would prefer a build-once no-maintenance solution - otherwise I would find a dc-powered PC with thunderbolt and build a hackintosh.
  2. 1080p macrumors 68030


    Mar 17, 2010
    Planet Earth
    Doesn't seem practical. You are probably more in the market for a Macbook.
  3. dragonpark14 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 30, 2014
    While I did consider that for a great deal of time, my wallet won't permit it. I can buy a mac mini for $800 with the top cpu, and upgrade everything else when I can. If I buy a macbook, I need to spend an extra (I don't even know how much) just so it isn't obsolete in a year. All components are soldered to the motherboard. To add to that, the mac mini can also be upgraded to 32 GB instead of just 16.
  4. 1080p macrumors 68030


    Mar 17, 2010
    Planet Earth
    Best Buy had a base 11" MBA on sale for $799 a week ago. You could have used it with the $150 off student coupon (I could show you how to get one.)

    Keep an eye out. I am sure they will put it on sale again for "Back to school" sales.

    You'd be in a MBA for $650+ tax.
  5. dragonpark14 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 30, 2014
    Your recommendation and the practicality of what I want to do aside, I am seeking additional information for powering a mac mini on DC power.
  6. chrfr macrumors 604

    Jul 11, 2009
    No, 16GB is the maximum on the Mini. 16GB SO-DIMMs compatible with this computer do not exist.


    You would need to determine the pinouts for the built in power supply and figure out how to feed that voltage to the pins on the main board in the computer. This is an extremely non-trivial task.
    A basic understanding of electronics is unlikely to give you a positive result.
  7. COrocket macrumors 6502

    Dec 9, 2012
    The built in power supply would really complicate powering the computer off an external DC power source. I'm curious what exactly are you doing on a mobile device that needs a quad core i7 and 32GB of RAM (you never specified your intentions). The mini supports a maximum of 16 GB and that seems to be a hardware limit that cannot be bypassed. The mini shares a lot of the macbook mobile architecture, so any hope that the mini would remain not "outdated" longer doesn't really make sense IMO. The current macbooks have even newer generation hardware.

    Anyways, to address your question - to wire the thing for DC power first you would have to take apart the mini to get to the power supply and find out which pins output voltage(s) and which pins are ground. This could probably be accomplished using a volt meter but I've never really messed around with computer power supplies. Next you'd have to make some sort of circuit board with voltage regulators that stepped the voltage down from your battery (i assume) to each of the required voltage(s) that the computer uses. IIRC the mini has a 85W power supply so I'd plan on matching that. For example if the computer needs 5VDC you would need to be capable of outputting 17 amps. I imagine finding info on the mini PSU is difficult since it is custom manufactured for the mini.

    Depending on power consumption and how far you are stepping down the voltage, you might need to cool the voltage regulators so they don't overheat. Same thing with the mini - the computer is very sensitive to ambient temperature changes so you can't run it in enclosed spaces and ensure adequate airflow (i've read stories on this forum of mini's overheating when placed in enclosed media cabinets)
  8. blanka macrumors 68000

    Jul 30, 2012
    In theory Ivy bridge and Sandy Bridge (mini 2011) support 32GB in 2x16GB configurations. Nobody was able to try though because the 16GB modules are non existent.
  9. paulrbeers macrumors 68040

    Dec 17, 2009
    As someone who has tried to piece together something that just wasn't made to do what I tried to do and failed (repeatedly), you are better off buying the RIGHT tool (i.e. a Macbook or a PC laptop that can be hacked) instead of trying to cobble together something that ultimately will just leave you wishing you had just bought a laptop to begin with.
  10. haravikk macrumors 65816

    May 1, 2005
    This seems like something you should hackintosh; compatibility with a Brix Pro for example is pretty good, and it uses DC power as standard, plus it has more recent processor options.

    The only real downside is that its fan is horrible; however, if you're building your own case anyway then you should be able to just leave the Brix case open (or do away with it entirely and just keep the chassis) and make your own mount for a much better 140mm+ fan, so long as it's drawing heat away you won't need the tiny little blow dryer fans they supply you.

    Basically any NUC type machine would be a better fit than a Mac Mini IMO, as the internal PSU of the mini is one of the things I love about it, meanwhile NUCs can't fit them so are all DC powered to begin with, no need to complicate things. Although, you do add the issue of hackintosh compatibility, but many NUCs work pretty well with minimal effort, and as long as you're not rushing to update OS X you can avoid most headaches.

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