Versatile Mac mini powers DIY workstation [Setups]


An M1 Mac mini drives a n LG display in this Chicago-area setup.
An M1 Mac mini drives a n LG display in this Chicago-area setup.
Photo: Bill Penhale

While Apple is finally putting out an M2 Mac Pro even as its powerful Mac Studio machines conquer most hardcore computing tasks, the truth is most users can more than get by with an M1 or M2 Mac mini. That goes for Bill Penhale, who sent us his setup from Shorewood, Illinois, near Chicago.

“I am pretty techy for 70, ha!,” the retired sales director told Cult of Mac. And judging by his M1 Mac mini-powered setup, with a fine 4K external display, solid audio and loads of external storage, that’s certainly true.

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M1 Mac mini on Satechi hub drives LG 4K display in capable setup

“I have loved seeing and getting inspirations from your various readers for help in getting my setup complete the way I wanted it,” Penhale told Cult of Mac by email when he sent in information and photos showing off the workstation in his house.

“As I am retired, I use my Mac mini, etc. for tracking finances, news and following sports,” he said. His Mac mini sports an M1 chip, 16GB of integrated memory and a 1TB SSD. But even with that generous storage, he also relies on 1TB external hard drives from Suhsai and Seagate.

The little desktop machine sits on a Satechi Type-C Stand and Hub. The popular accessory, made for Mac mini and Mac Studio, adds external storage and broadens connectivity options with several useful ports.

DIY desk and monitor stand/desk shelf

Penhale said the thing about his setup that pleases him most is the do-it-yourself (DIY) desk he built.

“I built the desk from 3/4-inch black pipe, flanges, tees and caps,” he said. “I bought the wood at Menards. That inspiration came from Etsy. I just tweaked the dimensions to make the desk taller and bigger.”

And a “special touch” he added took the form of a hand-built monitor stand on the desk wide enough to hold a pair of Edifier R1280T Bookshelf Speakers.

The reliable brand‘s popular speakers — they’re the No. 1-selling bookshelf speaker on Amazon — serve as good near-field monitors at low cost. They sport 13mm silk dome tweeters, 4-inch woofers, two AUX inputs, and dual RCA and 3.5mm headphone jack outputs, though Bluetooth models may vary.

Universal Control helps, and so would a 15-inch M2 MacBook Air

And as it happens, Apple pretty much solved the one challenge Penhale mentioned in developing his setup.

“Prior to Universal Control, I had the challenge of using two keyboards, one for the Mac mini and one for the iPad Pro,” he said, adding, “Solved!”

As for future plans with the setup, why not add a more potent to-go option when he needs to leave it behind?

“I would love to add a new 15-inch M2 MacBook Air to take with us south in the winters,” he said. “But the iPad Pro handles things pretty well.”

Shop these items now:

Computer and hub/stand:

Tablets and stand:

Display and light:

Input devices:



If you would like to see your setup featured on Cult of Mac, send some high-res pictures to Please provide a detailed list of your equipment. Tell us what you like or dislike about your setup, and fill us in on any special touches, challenges and plans for new additions.

Satechi Type-C Stand & Hub

Built for M1/M2 Mac mini and Mac Studio, the versatile stand and hub features an SSD enclosure for M.2 SATA SSD, plus USB-C data port, Micro/SD Card readers, USB-A and headphone jack port.

Buy Now
03/08/2024 12:23 am GMT


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