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chikit

macrumors member
Original poster
Dec 24, 2009
31
1
Looking for advice on a purchase decision later this year... I use a mac for my personal computer but also extensively work from home. My work computer is a Lenovo ThinkPad Laptop running Windows 10.

Wondering if I should get a nice display, KVM switch and Mac Mini M1/M1X... or an 2021 iMac M1X and use it as a target display? From past experience the wireless screen mirror is a bit laggy with Windows 10 and hard to switch between machines on the fly. I'm crossing my fingers for a wired thunderbolt display solution built into the 2021 iMac and possibly a KVM switch.

Any advice from others that use dual operating systems for work and personal use?

Thanks!
 

antipodean

macrumors regular
May 2, 2014
198
145
Personally, I found the mini + separate display a better solution. I have an M1 mini (16GB/1TB) and Dell 32” 4K display (U3219Q). The display handles KVM duties very well if you use it as a hub. I have webcam (Brio 4K), microphone (Blue Yeti) and the wireless receiver for the keyboard and mouse (MX Keys and MX master 3) all plugged into the Display. Upstream USB of the display switches with video (e.g. between USB-C and DP). I have my work laptop (Surface laptop 3) on a stand next to the display. I can switch between Mac mini and the work laptop with a single button on the display (user-configurable shortcut buttons). I also have an MBP that I occasionally swap in place of the work laptop (e.g. at weekends).

Previously I‘ve had various 27” iMacs (2009, 2013, 2015). Target display from a windows machine only worked on the earlier non-thunderbolt models. I wouldn’t hold out much hope for target display making a comeback this year. At best, I would expect it to be Mac-only as now.

I’ve also tried the other option you mention: RDP into the work laptop from the iMac. The wrinkle with that is you may run into problems if you want to VPN to your office network from the laptop. Now it won’t be on your home network, so you can’t RDP to it from you iMac. Any work of screen sharing is likely to introduce lag as compared with a display connected natively.

If you can wait a bit, it will be interesting to see if anything comes of the rumours of a mid-priced Apple display. A mini pro (M1X) and Thunderbolt Display successor could be an awesome combination (assuming the display can be driven by your ThinkPad).
 

TrenttonY

macrumors 65816
Nov 14, 2012
1,218
1,535
Looking for advice on a purchase decision later this year... I use a mac for my personal computer but also extensively work from home. My work computer is a Lenovo ThinkPad Laptop running Windows 10.

Wondering if I should get a nice display, KVM switch and Mac Mini M1/M1X... or an 2021 iMac M1X and use it as a target display? From past experience the wireless screen mirror is a bit laggy with Windows 10 and hard to switch between machines on the fly. I'm crossing my fingers for a wired thunderbolt display solution built into the 2021 iMac and possibly a KVM switch.

Any advice from others that use dual operating systems for work and personal use?

Thanks!
Target Display Mode has been removed, who knows if it will come back with the new iMacs.
But if they dont you can always get a refreshed Mac Mini (if they release one) or last years model at a Black Friday discount.
 

chikit

macrumors member
Original poster
Dec 24, 2009
31
1
Personally, I found the mini + separate display a better solution. I have an M1 mini (16GB/1TB) and Dell 32” 4K display (U3219Q). The display handles KVM duties very well if you use it as a hub. I have webcam (Brio 4K), microphone (Blue Yeti) and the wireless receiver for the keyboard and mouse (MX Keys and MX master 3) all plugged into the Display. Upstream USB of the display switches with video (e.g. between USB-C and DP). I have my work laptop (Surface laptop 3) on a stand next to the display. I can switch between Mac mini and the work laptop with a single button on the display (user-configurable shortcut buttons). I also have an MBP that I occasionally swap in place of the work laptop (e.g. at weekends).

Previously I‘ve had various 27” iMacs (2009, 2013, 2015). Target display from a windows machine only worked on the earlier non-thunderbolt models. I wouldn’t hold out much hope for target display making a comeback this year. At best, I would expect it to be Mac-only as now.

I’ve also tried the other option you mention: RDP into the work laptop from the iMac. The wrinkle with that is you may run into problems if you want to VPN to your office network from the laptop. Now it won’t be on your home network, so you can’t RDP to it from you iMac. Any work of screen sharing is likely to introduce lag as compared with a display connected natively.

If you can wait a bit, it will be interesting to see if anything comes of the rumours of a mid-priced Apple display. A mini pro (M1X) and Thunderbolt Display successor could be an awesome combination (assuming the display can be driven by your ThinkPad).
Wow, thanks for your detailed reply! I had no idea there were displays that can handle KVM duties and other USB devices. One less KVM switch on the desk would be great as I'm trying to go minimalist. I think I'll have to give up using my favourite keyboard, the Apple Magic Keyboard w/ Numeric Pad and find something that feels similar with a USB wireless receiver. I will wait for a Mac Mini M1X because I want to get back into some casual gaming :)

@antipodean How do you deal with audio?
 
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antipodean

macrumors regular
May 2, 2014
198
145
Wow, thanks for your detailed reply! I had no idea there were displays that can handle KVM duties and other USB devices. One less KVM switch on the desk would be great as I'm trying to go minimalist. I think I'll have to give up using my favourite keyboard, the Apple Magic Keyboard w/ Numeric Pad and find something that feels similar with a USB wireless receiver. I will wait for a Mac Mini M1X because I want to get back into some casual gaming :)

@antipodean How do you deal with audio?
I should have said, the Dell display has a headphone out port that I have connected to some old speakers (Bose computer speakers).

I know what you mean about the magic keyboard. I found the MX keys a decent replacement. Backlit, usb-c charging and good for multiple devices. I have the version with windows and mac key caps.

All in all, it’s a pretty seamless windows-mac setup. I would prefer a bit more GPU power than the M1 has, but GeForce Now will tide me over until M1X/M2 I think.
 

Fquen

macrumors newbie
Oct 28, 2020
12
14
I’m in the exact same situation. I’d really love to get one of the new iMac but I want a one screen setup.

Unless Apple brings back TDM, it leaves me with the Mac Mini as the only option for a desktop. I really hope we get an M1X mac mini this year. I’ll buy the M1 otherwise.
 

ADGrant

macrumors 68000
Mar 26, 2018
1,689
1,059
Wow, thanks for your detailed reply! I had no idea there were displays that can handle KVM duties and other USB devices. One less KVM switch on the desk would be great as I'm trying to go minimalist. I think I'll have to give up using my favourite keyboard, the Apple Magic Keyboard w/ Numeric Pad and find something that feels similar with a USB wireless receiver. I will wait for a Mac Mini M1X because I want to get back into some casual gaming :)

@antipodean How do you deal with audio?
Personally, I don't like the Apple Magic keyboard much. I use a mechanical keyboard, a Vortex Race 3 with Cherry MX Clear switches. It can switch between PC and Mac layout and comes with replacement keycaps for the Mac.

For the iMac vs Mac mini question, I was considering this when I bought my 2020 iMac. At the time there was no M1 Mac Mini and the Intel Mac Mini has a pitiful integrated GPU. When I priced it with an external GPU and a 27" 5k monitor the iMac was much cheaper and more powerful. The ability to share the monitor among multiple computers is attractive though.

The M1 Mini is a much more attractive option than the Intel Mini of course. However, I remote into my work PC via Citrix. My employer's support for remote access from Intel Macs is not brilliant, I would not want to risk trying to use an M1 Mac for this purpose right now. I also have a Windows 10 Bootcamp partition on my iMac just in case a MacOS upgrade breaks my remote access.
 

Tubastrea

macrumors newbie
Oct 1, 2021
2
0
I had similar dilemmas about a purchase of M1 Mac mini or latest iMac to connect to home working system. I've purchased an M1 Mac Mini but not collected it yet as I can't find a suitable KVM switch. Any suggestions? Do I need a KVM switch and a docking station? Really want to minimise wiring and extra kit!
I want to have 2 operating systems - my work HP laptop and the Mac mini for home use, to be connected to dual hp screens (provided for home working), keyboard, mouse. I will purchase a webcam too as I'll lose that from my current (early 2008) iMac (it's done well!). Have seen YouTube setups with 2 cables needed for each OS and multiple cables overall so will need a KVM switch with enough ports, and the right ones!
 

Tubastrea

macrumors newbie
Oct 1, 2021
2
0
Has anyone heard news on the M1X MacMini? I see it was possibly due to come October / November so may be worth waiting, and not picking up the M1 MacMini I've purchased but not yet collected?
 

CWallace

macrumors G5
Aug 17, 2007
12,222
11,006
Seattle, WA
Has anyone heard news on the M1X MacMini? I see it was possibly due to come October / November so may be worth waiting, and not picking up the M1 MacMini I've purchased but not yet collected?

Conflicting rumors saying it will either launch with the MacBook Pros or has been pushed back to H1 2022.

Guess we will know when the MBPs land - if no "Mac mini Pro" then seems a safe bet it would be 2022 - possibly in the same event as the "M1X" iMac which rumors say also will be a H1 2022 product.
 
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