Help setting up triple monitors?

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by chris1015, Jun 19, 2014.

  1. chris1015 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2014
    #1
    As the title states, I'm a bit tangled up in all of the different variations of connectors, inputs, and ports available on the Mac Mini (latest 2013 refresh) and my monitors to hook up to a three display setup.

    Here is the breakdown of my setup currently.
    I have 3 Dell Ultrasharp U2311H monitors.

    1st Monitor: VGA unused, Displayport unused, DVI used by my PC.
    2nd Monitor: VGA unused, Displayport unused, DVI used by my PC.
    3rd Monitor: VGA unused, Displayport used by my PC, DVI used by my Xbox 360.

    *I already have a Displayport to mini-displayport cable (aka thunderbolt) ready to go on the first monitor.

    Using all of the available inputs I have, what are my options? Preferably, I would rather not disconnect anything already attached to the monitors. I realize that there is a way to "daisy chain" Displayport monitors into the Mini's thunderbolt port, but I'm not sure how to do so.

    Thanks in advance for your help!
     
  2. Abazigal macrumors 604

    Abazigal

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2011
    Location:
    Singapore
    #2
    You can connect the 3 monitors in the following manner:

    Monitor 1 - DVI to mini-display (using the mac mini's thunderbolt port)

    Monitor 2 - HDMI to DVI adaptor (the adaptor should have come with your Mac mini)

    Monitor 3 - USB to DVI adaptor (note that these are pricey, probably because they are so uncommon and demand for them is fairly low). You can find one on Amazon here.

    http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0079VXOWO/?tag=stackoverfl08-20

    Take note that Monitor 3 will lag somewhat because it's being driven over USB. It will still suffice for "static" like viewing documents or browsing the web, less so for tasks like watching video.

    I am not sure about daisy-chaining; I believe it works over thunderbolt, not mini display (think of thunderbolt as something like mini-display with super-fast USB).
     
  3. chris1015 thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Jun 19, 2014
    #3
    What would the best solution be so that I have full bandwidth on all three monitors?

    And, according to your solution, I would need to disconnect my PC from my second monitor as it is already using the DVI port on the monitor.
     
  4. mattspace, Jun 20, 2014
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2014

    mattspace macrumors 6502a

    mattspace

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    Jun 5, 2013
    Location:
    Australia
    #4
    That actually looks like a really good adapter - it's the only one I've seen which explicitly states it supports rotation. I'm wondering if the USB2 version would be a way to get my 2010 mini to do the setup I want - 27" middle flanked by twin 24" portrait screens.

    *edit* it seems to be getting pretty poor reviews however.

    cheers,
     
  5. Abazigal macrumors 604

    Abazigal

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    #5
    You can try using the display ports as well, I am just not familiar with how well they work. In this case, you would need a thunderbolt to mini display and HDMI to mini display?

    So your monitors are serving double duty by being linked up to either your Xbox, PC or Mac mini?
     
  6. fhall1 macrumors 68040

    fhall1

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    Dec 18, 2007
    Location:
    (Central) NY State of mind
    #6
    Before you invest in a USB adapter I suggest going to the J5 Create and Displaylink Mac support forums and read a little bit first....many, many users have severe issues getting them to work properly.

    You can't daisychain your monitors....if I remember correctly, only a TB monitor would allow you to daisychain another TB monitor.
     
  7. FreakinEurekan macrumors 68040

    FreakinEurekan

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    Location:
    Eureka Springs, Arkansas
    #7
    A different computer. Your Mac Mini can only handle two displays directly; the third will certainly have to be on a USB adapter.

    Honestly, you really can't do it quite as you want. You're going to need to open up a DVI port in order to use the built-in HDMI on the Mac Mini. The HDMI port won't support analog (VGA) and can't be converted to DisplayPort. Plus, under Mavericks the drivers from DisplayLink allow you to only use one USB-connected display.

    So you can connect one via mDP-DP cable to the Thunderbolt port, and one via USB-VGA - but no way to connect a third without opening a DVI port on one of the displays.
     
  8. paulrbeers macrumors 68040

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    Dec 17, 2009
    #8
    This is completely accurate.

    OP: I would assume you have a VGA port on your PC. You will need to switch it to that. Thus you will have:

    Monitor 1: VGA - PC, MDP - unused, DVI - HDMI port on Mini
    Monitor 2: VGA - Unused, MDP - TB on Mini, DVI - PC
    Monitor 3: VGA - USB on Mini, MDP - unused, DVI - Xbox

    Unfortunately there is no way to have 3 monitors on your Mini. Even if you used something like a coupld of Caldigit or Belkin TB docks strung together, you will still only be able to use two. You can't even use 2 TB Displays and the HDMI port at the same time. It's a limitation of the "drivers" in OSX with the Mini (might even be a hardware limitation, not sure if that was ever determined).
     
  9. FreakinEurekan macrumors 68040

    FreakinEurekan

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    Eureka Springs, Arkansas
    #9
    That wouldn't even help; with any of those docks that have HDMI or DVI in them if you use the on-board video then the Thunderbolt output loses its DisplayPort signal - as described in HDMI FAQ #2 here: http://www.caldigit.com/thunderboltstation/faq.asp

    The config you describe for the 3 displays would be the most practical option, switching one PC connection to VGA.

    OP, I had a similar scenario of trying to share my 2012 Mac Mini with my two UltraSharps that were connected to my PC. I finally decided to get VMWare Fusion, cloned my PC to it, and got rid of the PC :cool:
     
  10. paulrbeers macrumors 68040

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    #10
    If you use two it isn't an issue....
     
  11. FreakinEurekan macrumors 68040

    FreakinEurekan

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    #11
    Kind of off on a tangent, but as it turns out it still won't work. There is only one DisplayPort "channel" in the Thunderbolt interface on the Mac. One the Mac detects an attached DP or adapted HDMI/DVI/VGA display anywhere on the thunderbolt "chain" it will activate that display. From there other Thunderbolt-native devices like a TBD, disk, etc will continue to work but no more display devices (including other docks' display outputs, or a mDP monitor or adapter at the end of the chain) will be recognized. The Thunderbolt Display is an exception because it's not using the DP "channel" that docks & adapters use.

    With a rMBP you could use two docks with displays, one on each Thunderbolt port - but you can't chain them off the same port, so with only one TB port on the Mini options are limited.
     
  12. paulrbeers macrumors 68040

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    Dec 17, 2009
    #12
    And yet El Gato states just the opposite and since they make them and thus have a vested interest in getting it right, I'll trust them....

    http://help.elgato.com/customer/portal/articles/1491132-how-many-displays-can-be-used-with-elgato-thunderbolt™-dock-
     
  13. X-Ravin macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2008
    #13
    So I just tonight got a USB 3.0 to DP device to test since I'm looking to get a Mac Mini and I need dual 1440p monitor support. Granted I'm testing this on a 10.9.2 Hackintosh, but thus far I'm quite impressed. After setting the monitor to native resolution and 60hz, it's working well. It looks more like 30-40hz due to the slight lag of the adapter, but I tested a 1080p blu ray full screen and it looks pretty darn good.

    My patience on a revised Mac Mini is waning. So I may bite the bullet and get one after further testing.

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B008CXFM64/ref=oh_details_o01_s00_i00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
     
  14. Abazigal macrumors 604

    Abazigal

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    Jul 18, 2011
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    Singapore
    #14
    Then how is this person powering 3 monitors off his Mac Mini?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wWBFeVAcYcE
     
  15. paulrbeers macrumors 68040

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    Dec 17, 2009
    #15
    Did you even read this thread? The question was how to attach 3 monitors without using a USB to VGA/DVI. The answer is that it can't be done. That is exactly how the guy accomplished it in the video you pointed to.

    Let me rephrase that, Matrox used to (and maybe still does) sell a device called the triple Head to go that takes one MDP port and splits it into 3. Your computer just jinks it has one huge monitor. It's very expensive last time I looked into it.
     
  16. Abazigal macrumors 604

    Abazigal

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    #16

    I am re-reading his question, and nowhere does it state that he doesn't want to use a USB connection. Where did be mention it?
     
  17. paulrbeers macrumors 68040

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    Dec 17, 2009
    #17
    Post #3 where he asks about full bandwidth. That means NOT using a USB video connector. #facepalm
     

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