Deriving bulk materials with ultra-high mechanical strength from nanometer-sized single metalic crystals depends on the consolidation procedure. We present an accurate molecular dynamics study to quantify microstructure responses to consolidation. Aluminum single crystals with an average size up to 10.7 nm were hydrostatically compressed at temperatures up to 900 K and pressures up to 5 GPa. The consolidated material developed an average grain size that grew exponentially with the consolidation temperature, with a growth rate dependent on the starting average grain size and the consolidation pressure. The evolution of the microstructure was accompanied by a significant reduction in the concentration of defects. The ratio of vacancies to dislocation cores decreased with the average grain size and then increased after reaching a critical average grain size. The deformation mechanisms of poly-crystalline metals can be better understood in the light of the current findings. © 2013 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.