View Full Version : Mac Mini "dim display" bug...

Feb 18, 2005, 12:53 PM
It seems I'm not alone in noticing the very dark video output of the Mac Mini as compared to other Macs or PCs. Very obvious on my mini setup here at the office. This phenomenon seem primarily (only?) to be connected with use of the mini with VGA output, typically with a CRT display. Note this thread in Apple's forums:


I did some digging and found articles about the issue:

-- http://www.appleturns.com/ ("It Had To Be Something" story)

-- http://www.macintouch.com/macmini07.html#feb14

The last link, above, includes testing details that reveal a low-voltage to the mini's video output:

"During our measurements of the analog signal quality of the VGA adapter another weakness (besides low 3D frame rates ed.) came to light: the peak voltage measurements stayed below 530 mV and therefore outside of the VESA norm. This leads to washed out pictures on many displays, especially when using higher resolutions. Good analog monitors with high contrast ratio's can compensate for this to a large extent, but using the digital connection will lead to much better picture quality."

I called Apple to get a complaint on-file with my mini as soon as possible. The tech I spoke to indicates there is no known issue of this type in Apple's database, but promised to point out that Apple Discussion thread to technicians.

Hopefully a service arrangement will be worked out from Apple sooner rather than later...


Feb 18, 2005, 12:54 PM
A recent posting in the aforementioned Apple discussion thread:

I bought 4 Minis for our small ad business, to drive 4 Sony 200ES CRT monitors that still display beautifully with our old Macs. The video is uniformly dim with all workstations... in fact, the dimness makes our eyes hurt. Cranking up the brightness just washes out the screen, as the contrast is already maxed out. This is the first time I've actually seen OSX display badly, like a generic windows box with $75 monitor you'd buy from one of those traveling expos. What's the consensus? Is Apple going to do anything? Any suggestions?

Clearly something is amiss.


Feb 18, 2005, 01:24 PM
yeah i read about it in the german c't where they posted about the too low voltage the first time ...it's a bummer ..i'm already thinking about canceling my (delayed) order as well... i simply can not afford shelling out the money for a dvi-lcd or for a vga lcd either

i've got a fine CRT picture wise but it's not very 'bright' with my pc graphics card so i doubt i will be able to compensate...

Feb 20, 2005, 06:24 AM
The display on my Mini was a little dim, but after color calibration (system prefs>display>color>calibrate) it looks fine.

Feb 20, 2005, 08:06 AM
I've only got an old Dell 15' CRT monitor. Should I cancel my mac mini order? Is white still white? Or is it just grey?

Feb 20, 2005, 01:15 PM
My mini is hooked up to a 19" Dell with DViIand everything is ok. Some people had some problems with DVI as well.


Mar 7, 2005, 11:45 AM
My Mini is having the same issue with an old CTX 19" CRT. I'm using a KVM and when I change to the PC side, I have to turn my brightness way down not to be blinded!

What's the best way to log a complaint with Apple?


-- N

Mar 7, 2005, 12:15 PM
I would suggest that anyone who has this problem with a Mini call Apple and discuss available solutions because this is not a common fault. My own Mini works perfectly with both my NEC LCDs, an IBM 15" CRT monitor and a CTX 17" monitor.

However, I've heard a number of complaints about dim video on various displays - some of which were resolved by flexing the DVI/Analog converter (which may not be making solid contact on all pins) or by calibrating the display.

One way or another, not only is dim video output not normal and therefore warrant a call to Apple, but if it is a widespread problem, the more people who report it to Apple the more likely they are to take it seriously.

Mar 7, 2005, 12:37 PM
Yes...I did call Apple tech support and pointed out the various complaints in forums to them. They said the best thing is for people to call Apple in order for them to have the complaints on file and then they can categorize the issue as an "emerging issue." The tech guy had me do various hardware tests and reset my NVRAM -- nothing solved it. I did tell him I was planning on going to my local Micro Center to see if I can pick up a 3rd party DVI-VGA adapter and see if that solves it...

-- N

Mar 7, 2005, 12:44 PM
Yeah, before anyone freaks out about this issue, please do bear in mind that Apple have described it as an "emerging issue". I used to work in tech support, and there was one particular "emerging issue" (http://support.microsoft.com/kb/q236437/) that I worked on, literally, for months trying to figure out what was causing it (I wrote the linked article). I sent out replacement CDs, I collected "bad" CDs from customers for analysis, I spoke with the people at the CD replication plants, I spoke with the developers. You name it, I did it. In the end, we never did find out exactly why the problem occurred for one user but not for another, but we did make sure it never happened again.

If you have a "bad" VGA experience with a Mac mini (mine works perfectly, knock on wood), try the suggestions that have been posted, and if they don't resolve the issue, call Apple.

Mar 7, 2005, 01:49 PM
to see if I can pick up a 3rd party DVI-VGA adapter and see if that solves it...As far as I understand, this adaptor does not do anything to signals as DVI connector already has analogue RGB signal on it (three out of those four standalone pins if you're curious.) So it is nothing more than a couple of straight wires inside.

Mar 7, 2005, 02:05 PM
I guess I was lucky. My 19" LaCie is as bright now as it was when I used it with my Quicksilver tower.

Maybe it's a problem that doesn't show up with certain monitors.

Mar 7, 2005, 03:35 PM
As far as I understand, this adaptor does not do anything to signals as DVI connector already has analogue RGB signal on it (three out of those four standalone pins if you're curious.) So it is nothing more than a couple of straight wires inside.

Well..I got a 3rd party adapter (which BTW had less pins on the DVI side than the Apple one) and it did absolutely nothing to fix the problem...


Oh, well...let's hope Apple comes up with another solution...before I go blind from squinting!

-- N