Can (any) Mac Mini drive 3 monitors?

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by courteous, Nov 8, 2011.

  1. courteous macrumors newbie

    Mar 26, 2011
    Twice 1920x1200, once 2560x1440. All monitors have both DisplayPort and HDMI.

    (1) Any way that it'll work on 2011 Mac Mini (via daisy-chaining or something else ... but not with $200 "adapters")? :confused:
    (2) Is the discrete GPU needed?
    (3) What about the 2009 models (with DVI and mini-DisplayPort)?

    Thank you.
  2. courteous thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 26, 2011
    I have (already) read ALL of the threads you've linked!

    Can anybody, please, give me straightforward answer? :( Is it possible, and would entry (non-discrete-GPU) 2011 :)eek:) Mini suffice?
  3. mcb001982 macrumors regular

    May 27, 2008
    Manhattan NY
    Here is your answer for which display chips can run 2 monitors off TB, otherwise all Mini's can run 1 display off the hdmi and 1 off the TB port.
  4. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere


    May 16, 2008
    The OP already excluded TB displays.
  5. mcb001982 macrumors regular

    May 27, 2008
    Manhattan NY
    # 2 in your post will be the only one that can run 2 TB displays daisy chained together unless you go with a USB video card which will not have the best performance but is usable for basic browsing/word processing.
  6. reebzor macrumors 6502a


    Jul 18, 2008
    Philadelphia, PA
    You will still need some assortment of adapters.

    Specifically you'll need a USB adapter for the third monitor. 2009-2011 mini's can only (natively) support two monitors.
  7. mcb001982 macrumors regular

    May 27, 2008
    Manhattan NY

    Got ya, I guess I missed that as I thought he was including those displays since he mentioned the monitors would have a MDP.
  8. dolphin842, Nov 8, 2011
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2011

    dolphin842 macrumors 65816

    Jul 14, 2004
    To the OP:

    - Looks like you can only get 3 displays if you use an Apple Thunderbolt Display and if a separate Thunderbolt peripheral is involved. Apple doesn't let you directly daisy-chain a vanilla DisplayPort monitor off the Thunderbolt Display, but several third-party Thunderbolt peripherals will let you do so.

    - The HDMI port is limited to 1920 x 1200.

    - Here is a $70 USB video adapter that claims a max resolution of 1920x1280.
  9. courteous, Nov 8, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 8, 2011

    courteous thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 26, 2011
    Does any (reasonably priced) USB adapter support 1920x1200 resolution?
    Then I can use
    • the Thunderbolt output to DisplayPort monitor*,
    • HDMI to HDMI,
    • and this USB-adapter to the 3rd monitor.
    Will this work? Even on entry model (without ATI GPU)?

    Please suggest any Thunderbolt -- DisplayPort adapters ... with reasonable price. BTW, can iMac's display be easily rotated (by 90°)? Because then I'd get more value/$$$ with an iMac.
  10. dolphin842 macrumors 65816

    Jul 14, 2004
    After checking the quickstart guide of the adapter I linked to in my last post, it looks like that model supports 1920x1200. Keep in mind though, that this adapter doesn't do much aside from put text and pictures on the screen. Anything that's GPU accelerated like iMovie or Keynote slide animations won't work very well (if at all).

    Given the USB video card caveat above, yes that will work. Since you're only driving two displays from the native system graphics, the entry-level Intel HD 3000 Mini will work fine.

    Also, if you're only driving one display off of the Thunderbolt port, you only need a cheap vanilla MiniDisplayport-->DisplayPort cable. I'm using one right now from and it works fine.

    You can't natively rotate the iMac's display. You can, however, work around that by getting a somewhat-hackish vesa-mounting kit from here.
  11. courteous thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 26, 2011
    Thank you Dolphin! Now I just have to check the performance of those USB adapters (just that there isn't too much flickering when scrolling text).
  12. dcoulson macrumors member

    Aug 21, 2010
    I use one with my 2009 Mini and it works nicely for browsing and most applications - Definitely don't want to do video/youtube with them.
  13. spinkb macrumors newbie

    Aug 4, 2007
    iMac on its side...90 degree rotation

    I would suggest not putting the iMac on its side. If you do, you need to add an external fan to force air through the machine keeping it cool. If you don't, heat is now radiating in a way it wasn't designed for, and the machine *will* crash. I learned this myself as i wanted to see what the 27" would do in this scenario. I got about 5 minutes before the machine froze. Turned it back, and no more crashes. So its possible, and you can force the displays to rotate the graphics with a hack, but you have to take care of the heat issue or risk crashes and damaging hardware.

    USB video cards get slower and slower on the size of resolution you put through them. I use one at 1920x1200...fine for web pages, email...and small videos. You never want more than say 25% of the pixels actively changing on it or it starts showing lag. A video at fills green and your now down to about 5 FPS redraw on the monitor and even moving your mouse to stop the video is difficult. A USB video card at 1600x1200 or 12801024 would be faster.

    So any mini can drive two external USB monitors, but for good performance, you need to do 2x thunderbolt, plus the built in DVI which is only on the high end mini.

    I personally do an iMac, display port for DVI monitor, and USB to another DVI monitor for a 3x setup.
    Left to right: 1920x1200, 1600x2560, 2560x1440
    Having a tall center monitor screws with apps that don't let you choose the monitor of preference. (iTunes, Quicktime, Steam) And forget about "full screen mode" in 10.7, its worthless.
  14. colonelclick macrumors newbie

    Jan 17, 2013
  15. biroshima macrumors newbie

    Mar 31, 2013
    I'm interested to know the same thing posted as the OP but in relation to the newest 2013 mac mini models with Intel 4000 graphics.

    My specific details...
    Not interested in anything to do with thunderbolt displays, I currently run:
    (DVI) 1680x1050 [Lenovo], (DisplayPort) 2560x1440 [Dell], (DVI) 1680x1050 [BenQ].

    My audio is running through my DisplayPort monitor so I would like to maintain that connection but if that's not possible and I need to use DVI instead I'm willing to sacrifice audio as long as I get full resolution.

    (I'm looking at the cheapest model, I don't know if there are any differences between models that would have any effect here)
  16. paulrbeers macrumors 68040

    Dec 17, 2009
    Only if you want to use a USB to DVI/VGA/HDMI adapter. You can not use the HD4000 to drive more than 2 monitors.
  17. biroshima macrumors newbie

    Mar 31, 2013
    Thank You Sir,

    I think that would have to be the most clear, concise & straight to the point reply I have ever received on any forum. You deserve a medal!
  18. colonelclick macrumors newbie

    Jan 17, 2013
  19. dscoob, Dec 31, 2013
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2013

    dscoob macrumors newbie

    Aug 1, 2010
    3 DVI monitors in portrait mode

    I am switching from Windows to Mac and am thinking of getting the current Mini 2.6 i7. I want to attach my 3 DVI monitors in portrait mode. They are all HP LP2065 monitors, currently hooked up to a Windows desktop with 2 video cards, with each monitor in portrait mode 1200 x 1600. I want to have the same setup on a Mac. I like having a separate instance of Chrome on each monitor, and Word or other apps open on different monitors.

    I was hoping to avoid some of the DisplayLink issues by getting a USB to DVI adapter with the latest generation DisplayLink chip (dl-3x00) and USB 3.0, but I’m not sure if that will help much.

    I’m not gaming or doing video editing or any graphic intensive apps on the 3rd monitor, just web browsing, word processing and audio production. I don’t want to buy a new monitor now because I’d rather wait until there are reasonably priced retina displays in the next few years.

    1. Is there any reason to get the Matrox DualHead2Go instead of a USB DisplayLink adapter?

    2. Is anyone using a DisplayLink adapter with the latest generation chip and USB 3.0 and still experiencing any of the problems mentioned above?

    3. I guess I could buy a Thunderbolt PCIE expansion box and buy a video card, but that seems like an expensive solution around $500. Any thoughts on that, or any other solutions?

    4. If I want to run 3 monitors in portrait with no performances difference between the 3 monitors (no lag, etc.), do I need to get a Mac Pro instead of a Mini?

    5. Will the problems with DisplayLink be tolerable since I am not doing anything graphics intensive?


    USB DisplayLink adapters:
    HP LP2065 monitor specs:
    Matrox DualHead2Go and TripleHead2Go:
  20. NoJamSteele macrumors newbie

    Nov 9, 2014
    3 Monitors on Intel graphics Mac mini

    So I'm aware that I am uber late on this response but this is a question I've had for quite some time now but found out around every corner that the mid-2011 Mac mini with the Intel HD graphics card only supported two displays. I just bought an AppleTV and tried out the Airplay but wirelessly on a crappy network that produced a laggy image. I'm going to give it a shot properly wired through my home system and see if that cuts out most of the lag which would make it bearable as a third monitor not needed for video content.
  21. paulrbeers macrumors 68040

    Dec 17, 2009
    If you wire it, it should be somewhat better. However, only expect the AppleTV to be good enough as a basic display. Stuff like email and basic office duties will be okay, but anything where you need instant response will still be impossible to use.
  22. dokindo macrumors regular

    Feb 4, 2009
    Similar but not the exact same question- possible to drive this setup?
    2012 mini
    One at 1080p and 2 at 2560x1440. All monitors have both DVI and HDMI

    It seems the usb option could work but at a lower resolution. But then I found this

    If I used this and then a dp to dvi cable would I still get the higher resolution?

    I've searched and searched, but not come up with an answer. Appreciate any thoughts.

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