Everybody has their weird opinions on Apple product design, but most people can agree that the 2002 iMac G4 is ridiculous, unique, and beautiful. That’s why it’s such a popular modding platform—people just can’t give up the old “iLamp.” But we need to prepare ourselves for a new wave of iMac G4 mods, because someone just turned theirs into a powerful M1 machine.
To celebrate the life of Steve Jobs, who passed just 10 years ago, aspiring app developer Colby Sheets cracked open an iMac G4, took out its guts, and stuck an M1 Mac Mini inside. The mod required a lot of tinkering, but the results speak for themselves. It’s the most powerful iLamp of all time.
In a MacRumors forum post discussing the mod, Sheets says “I’ve always wanted the iMac G4 since I was a kid and I knew a few people made some hackintosh’s with them but I didn’t want that, I wanted a real Mac.” Stuffing a “real Mac” inside the iLamp seems like an obvious solution, but as Sheets acknowledges, Intel Macs just don’t have the thermal performance to pull off the job.
In celebration of Steve Job’s life and his inspiration to many, I wanted to show a passion project I’ve been working on that I think Steve would be proud of. Something that wasn’t possible 20 years ago but is now.
Hello, iMac G4 with an M1 chip. pic.twitter.com/q6zUpyFrwu
— Colby Sheets (@ColbySheets) October 5, 2021
The new M1 Macs, on the other hand, have better thermal performance than any other modern laptop or desktop computer. And the M1 Mac Mini can fit inside the iLamp (with some tweaking), making it the perfect candidate for this mod. (And yes, that’s the original iMac G4 display. Sheets could upgrade it, but there’s something special about that old LCD.)
Sheets isn’t an engineer, so a lot of community resources went into this project. YouTuber Pendleton115 helped Sheets get the iLamp’s display connected to the Mac Mini’s board, for example. And Sheets referenced some decade-old modding instructions from Dremel Junkie to get the wiring straight.
Hopefully this project inspires others to mod their classic Macs. Colby Sheets hasn’t shared any instructions to duplicate the M1 iLamp mod, but because there are so many community resources centered around the iMac G4, we expect similar projects to pop up in the near future.