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The long-awaited refresh of the popular Mac mini. Processor options include 3.6 GHz quad-core Intel Core i3, 3.0 GHz 6-core Intel Core i5, and 3.2GHz 6-core Intel Core i7 processors.

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What PSU connector is used?

Planning a battery powered MAC Mini 2018. It seems to have an additional row of pins compared to the previous 85w 2014 model. Does anyone know the pin out of this, and also if apple’s using a custom connector or if it’s a standard one I could find and crimp? Thanks!:)

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Here’s a picture of the power supply:

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The logic board header is a standard 20 pin.

Its not a simple replacement! As there are multiple voltages coming from the power supply.

Its just smarter just getting a DC to AC converter to run on a car or boat battery.

Many of todays trailers & cabin cruisers offer AC outlets which are directly wired to the motor or generator.

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Thanks Dan - upvoted! I noticed the header looked “keyed” in the highres picture in the teardown, but might’ve just been my imagination. Considered using an inverter but trying to avoid the wasted energy in the conversion process. Keyed connector aside, Do you know if the pins are “paired” - the connectors under the soldermask seem to be linked vertically? Otherwise no worries happy to stick a multimeter probe in the outputs ;)

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You really can't do want you want as there are multiple voltages.

Just like a PC you'll have multiple 12 volt circuits besides multiple wires servicing the same circuit and you still have a switch line and SMC sensor line mixed in here as well.

So as much as you want to by pass the power supply it's just not possible at this location!

Your only hope is to get a spare so you can take it apart. so you can redesign the unit.

Here you would strip away the AC part of the circuit and insert a DC version. So you end up with a DC to DC power supply.

And, yes the connector is keyed

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nice information. thank you so much

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Daniel,

I just opened up my 2018 Mini and measured the voltage (not plural) coming from the power supply connector as well as a continuity measurement of the logic board connector.MacMini2018_DC_Connector.pdf

As with the 2012 & 2014 models, the logic board needs ~12VDC. That’s it. The people claiming the 2018 power supply is outputting multiple voltages have clearly never opened one up and measured it. There is no basis to support this information as I have just confirmed for myself. As for the claims that these machines run on a “strict voltage tolerance”, I’m not buying that either. I ran my last Mini (i5 2014) on 13.6VDC because the point was to power it with a LiFEPO4 backup battery.

However (as noted in the drawing) the logic board connector shorts the pin marked with an asterisk (*) to 0V or GND. This is a little suspicious considering this connection is not made on the 20pin cable that connects the PSU to it. All other connections are mirrored. This could be Apple’s way of trying to foul up the not-so-savvy DIY enthusiast trying to convert his/her 2018 Mini to run on straight DC power. Meaning… it could be designed to where the power supply has to see that connection or else it’ll shut the computer down. Doubtful since I was able to measure voltage potential with the 20pin cable not connected. Probably more like ground loop prevention in some other part of the machine.

As for why they chose to use a 20pin connector to carry a single voltage… in a word - amperage. The previous models had a 85W PSU. 85W / 12V = 7A This one is 150W. So, 150W / 12V = 12.5A. They chose to use multiple runs of thinner wire instead of two big fat wires which is perfectly acceptable. Also because if one of the smaller wires break, it will probably still work. If too many break, it will have issues starting up. The only reason it needs such a big supply is for when it is starting up. It has large voltage spikes during that process. I measured them as high as 11A. It seems to idle around 2A. Any decent size Lead Acid or Lithium battery you use will simply laugh at that.

Keep in mind while looking at the diagram that it is drawn from the POV of looking at the CONNECTION SIDE of both the male and female counterparts. In other words, they are a mirror image of one another. I made sure to include the key on the end of the connector for reference. Hopefully this all makes sense.

Be sure to let me know how it goes if you are still planning on carrying out your initial plan. These machines are still pretty new and I imagine there are plenty of people like myself who are hesitant to start hacking up their machines which are probably still under warranty.

-Aaron

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Aaron - You have a few errors in your drawing!

As to multiple voltages there are multiple 12volt services running in parallel gaging them together is not what you want here.

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I’m not sure I understand your reply but… If you run a continuity test on both the logic board and power supply output (not while powered, of course) you will find that my drawing is indeed correct. As stated in my post, there are multiple conductors carrying 12V. There are also multiple conductors carrying 0V. Your reply would lead me to believe that you are under the impression they are coming from separate regulators but this is not the case. Spreading the voltage out over 7 conductors is just a way of supplying enough current to the logic board safely.

Have you opened up your machine and performed these test? If you are comfortable with it, I strongly urge you to do so and you will see for yourself.

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@Aaron Thompson - Apple is doing both! Take a look at the power supply and you'll see there is two independent circuits.

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Do you think a unit like this one could work:

http://www.mini-box.com/picoPSU-160-XT

perhaps with an adapter like they mention here: https://www.computerhope.com/issues/ch00...

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Hi Aaron

Is there a power on signal, comparable to an ATX power supply (pin 14 green)?

I want to build my Mac Mini 2018 in a normal ATX case. For this I want to build an adapter between ATX power supply and Mac Mini.

According to the standard, the ATX power supply has three + 12VDC and one -12VDC connections.

Unfortunately I have not yet found a replacement cable for the Apple power adapter to use it for testing.

Dennis

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Just thought I’d post this update. I did a dry run to confirm that the Mac Mini 2018 CAN be ‘simply’ modified to run on a straight DC supply. By following my pinout diagram posted earlier, I was able to temporarily affix some jumpers to the appropriate header pins and clip lead those to the terminals of a SLA battery and the computer started up fine. No weird, multiple voltages required.

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Incidentally… I also tried a power supply I have laying around which is 100W @ 12VDC. As anticipated, the machine would not start from this supply as it is only capable off supplying ~8.3A. I imagine the battery is capable of 20A or more so it was the obvious choice for testing.

I will be carrying out the full mod in the coming days/weeks and will post again after completion.

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Hi Aaron, did you complete this project? I’m curious if I can find a source for just the 20 pin connector?

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The connector and the associated pins can be purchased from Digikey.

http://www.digikey.com/short/zqq9pf

The proper crimp tool is very expensive but you may be able to fudge it with a cheaper crimp tool.

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Curtis Abbott - Yes, I completed the mod. I could have sworn I snapped some pictures with the intention of sharing them here but I guess not. What I did was measure the spacing on the pins and found a connector on Mouser... I think. The only one I could find was too long but wasn't a problem. I cut it down and filed the ends until it fit. I used DIY Layout to make a PCB with the proper connections. After etching, drilling, etc. I soldered it to the header-style connector and soldered a cable to that. The cable goes through a rubber cable-protector-grommet thingy and terminates to a 4-PIN XLR that hangs about 6 inches off the back. This is perfect for interfacing with my PSC PowerStar Life 12V supply.

I could have cut the wires on the apple harness (as most do with the 2012 & 2014 minis) but to cover myself in case something went wrong with the mod, I decided to put forth the extra effort and keep the original harness still fully intact. I looked around for that part but couldn't find one. Probably too new.

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@Aaron Thompson Sounds like we work in the same industry as my mod will also be used with a PSC PowerStar Life. I am trying to avoid using the ZEUS and just use the PowerStar Life, maybe the HD if needed. Could you tell me how many Amps the Mini draws in idle and under a load. I need to keep my whole cart under 24amps to use the PowerStarLiFE. Thank you!

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It looks like I actually found the connector on Amazon.

uxcell 20 pin header row - 2mm Pitch

I printed this out and transferred one of them to a piece of copper clad PCB material. I always fill up the page in case I need some spares.

MM2018_DC-MOD_PRINT.pdf

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As mentioned in my comment yesterday, the connector housing and the sockets can be ordered from Digikey. http://www.digikey.com/short/zqq9pf

Here is my progress so far on the mod using the pinout described by Aaron Thompson. I designed and 3D printed a little bracket that holds the Anderson connector in place. I was originally going to JB weld this in place, but I plan on redesigning the bracket so that it screws into the same holes that the original PSU was attached to on the frame. Or not. I don’t know. :-P

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Looks great. I like the Power Pole connectors.

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I did the wiring exactly to the diagram. I get fan spin and a boot screen but then just after the apple logo pops up the machine turns off. I got it to the login screen once but then powered off.

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What type of power supply are you using? Did you keep in mind the peak power draw during the boot up phase?

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@curta I just re-read your previous comment and realized that you’re using the same power supply as Aaron. If his is working and yours isn’t, I would suggest double checking your connections. Also make sure you didn’t insert the pins into the housing mirrored. That could be bad.

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I had a 12V 10A power supply but that’s not enough to get past boot. I had a battery and it supported boot. Got it working and seems to function as normal while on battery. I tried it with a cigarette lighter socket in a car and it didn’t get past boot, not sure why. I used a high amperage locking barrel connector from switchcraft that fits in the chassis without having to modify it.

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I’ve done this dc 12v out wires. I’ve kept the ac power so I solder bridged the exposed wires in my Mac mini (just 4+,1nc, 4- groupings not 20 wires). I drilled two holes in the front near the ir and power led for the two wires to come out. The power ac unit plug become loose so I had to wrap cello tape around the plug to stop it dropping loose.

this is eight years old Mac, but my last hold on to this operating system I spent several years coding on. Macs too expensive and I’m going focusing on software available on Pc , unity, fusion360 etc.

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I’m keen on getting a 12v battery for this. Got an expensive battery backed touch screen to make this thing portable. Such a cool concept to run a Mac mini as a portable. But dang all shops are closed for a month in the nz nation wide covid19 lockdown.

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