Mac mini 3.5" HD / case modding potential?

in Current Mac Hardware edited January 2014
It might be a bit early to be asking, but has anyone considered recasing a mini into an enclosure that included room for a 3.5" HD?

Issues that I can see to overcome-

Power- i've heard the mini's power brick is rated to 85 watts; laptop HD connectors include power pins. A 3.5" mechanism would draw too much power, so a mini-itx style PSU with standard molex power adapters would be required. Would the standard 12v / 5v voltages be relevant to the mini? I imagine that soldering 12 and 5v power onto the board in place of the external connector would not be for the faint of heart.

Cables / connectors - has anyone sussed out the IDE cable's mobo connector? I assume that it is a custom one? in that case, you'd need an adapter that was the reverse of those used to mount a 2.5" drive in a desktop enclosure. (these take 40 large pins + a molex power connector and have a 44 pin female plug that does data+power to the HD).

Cable length- If the cable can't be replaced with one of a custom length, then cable length is a critical problem- is there enough "slack" to allow the optical drive to be raised to accomodate the larger HD?

Heat- if the existing IDE cable has to be kept, and the 3.5" HD is located over the CPU, then heat wil become an issue.

If you were going to do this, you might as well go the hack and include a USB2 hub and a card reader somewhere in the case. If you've got to make room for the larger drive + a PSU, then why not go the whole hog? Would be a kick arse (not to mention better performing) solution, and still pretty damn small. Adding external 3.5" drives to extend storage / improve performance seems to ruin the all in one-ness of the device.

A case mod might be the answer..... has anyone else considered doing this?


  • Reply 1 of 2
    I'm sure a whole subculture of case modding will spring up around the Mac Mini. Look to the people who released the Powercube enclosure to bring out a case that lets you use a 3.5 inch HD and a bigger heatsink (for overclocking) at some point.

    BUT.... the ATA connector on the motherboard is indeed a laptop mini ata (44 pins??) connector and a brief google could not locate any reverse adaptors (there are plenty to connect a 2.5 inch laptop drive to standard ATA, but not the other way round).

    There are other limits too, you need 80 pins for ATA6 speed (ATA133) and for 16x DVD burning so you'll have to forget about that on this version of the mac mini anyway.

    I intended to buy one and just take out the guts and stick it inside my PC case, the idea being to allow me to use 3.5" HD and standard size optical drive (16xDVD-R) but it looks like the ATA bus may sink that idea. Maybe firewire is the better way after all......
  • Reply 2 of 2
    um, i think that even ultra ata-100 / 133 use standard 40 pin connectors, and 80 conductor (wire) cables... there's an explanation here

    Does someone who's pulled one apart want to let us know if it uses 80 wire cables? My bet would be "yes" or else Apple wouldn't band the "ATA-100" term around in mentioning the (lame) 2.5" internal drive.
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