A hardware hacker has modified a Mac mini so that it doesn't necessarily need an AC power connection, and instead can run on the Power over Ethernet protocol.
Ivan Kuleshov on Twitter teased the project on Twitter over the weekend. He has delved into more details since.
The project is not a simple one for most. To start, he de-soldered the native Ethernet connector from the motherboard, and modified it.
Demo of Mac mini with PoE and power redundancy.— Ivan Kuleshov (@Merocle) July 31, 2023
The project has gotten a serious response, 7 times higher than I expected.
I think it's better to put everything on the site, I'm working on the article, and after that, I'll do the video.
I promised more details, and I'll drop pic.twitter.com/JSxB71TvF2
He used donor components as to not have to spin up a custom solution. Kuleshov took a donor magjack component from a previous project that had the necessary power delivery magnets, and used that to draw power.
All told, he implemented the Power over Ethernet (PoE) standard in the Mac mini, but it's not clear yet which variant. Regular AC power hasn't been disabled, and PoE here is used as a back up power source.
Given the relatively low power of the PoE spec, the USB connectors probably don't provide power to downstream devices.
The M1 Mac mini is an obvious candidate for a project like this. Idle, the Mac mini draws about 6W. Under full load, it will pull less than 40W.
Apple's M2 Mac mini takes a bit more power. The newer non-Pro version pulls 7W idle, and 50W under load.
The Intel-based Mac mini it replaced draws about 125W under load.
Kuleshov is planning on further detailing the project soon. He also has other projects, like a series of rack-mounted Mac mini motherboards, a larger cylinder Mac Pro rack-mount project, and more with the Raspberry Pi.