how to get two monitors out of a mac mini

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by Cosy Pete, Mar 9, 2013.

  1. Cosy Pete macrumors newbie

    Mar 9, 2013
    Hi Guys,

    please forgive any ignorance that follows. I am a new convert from a PC and have bought a Mac Mini 2012. I want to be able to use a monitor that I can see my music programme but run a second monitor that will allow me to display visuals from a VJ programme. Here is my journey.

    I bought the mac mini and the thunderbolt to vga adapter. Generic VGA monitor - worked a treat. I then wanted to run a second generic vga monitor form the hdmi port. After a lot research I chose an adapter for £15 that one of the reviews said worked perfectly for a mac mini and VGA. Bought it form Amazon. Didn't work - no signal etc - refund. Then I thought I would buy a monitor / DVD with a HDMI cable and do hdmi to hdmi and use that as the music monitor and use the thunderbolt port for the projector and VJ programme. Bought one from Asda. Plugged in great picture etc worked a treat but got a ground hum from new HDMI monitor. More research and realised that ground hum was a nightmare. HDMI monitor back and refund.

    It is doing my head in.
    I will be a happier man if someone could say that they have a mac mini 2012 and they bought this HDMI VGA converter and use a generic vga monitor and it works a treat. There is only so much stuff I can return before my lick runs out.

    I don't think I'm asking for much.

    Any help would be gratefully received.

    Cheers Pete
  2. benwiggy macrumors 68020

    Jun 15, 2012
    If you're buying a new monitor, then I would get one with a DVI or miniDisplayPort connection.

    VGA is an ancient, analogue protocol, which although still found on some monitors has been superseded by digital connections like DVI etc.

    There do seem to be some problems using HDMI on the Mini, with some monitors, though I think it's fair to say that the higher quality monitors are less likely to have problems than the cheapo ones.

    I would never buy computer hardware from Asda.

    It's possible that cheaper cables may cause problems, though that's less of an issue with a digital signal than an analogue one like VGA.
  3. Brian Y macrumors 68040

    Oct 21, 2012
    You cannot go from HDMI to VGA with a cable. You need a digital -> analogue converter for it to work. HDMI is all digital, VGA is all analogue. The two won't work together.

    You can buy HDMI to VGA cables, but they only work either in conjunction with a converter.

    Possible conversions are:

    HDMI -> DVI-D
    DVI-I -> VGA
  4. Cosy Pete thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 9, 2013
    thanks Ben Wiggy for your input. If at all possible I don't want to buy a new monitor as outlined before with the possible ground hum issue. I know vga is old school but that is what I have got at the moment and how I will connect to the church where I will be doing most of my work.

    Thanks again.



    Thanks Brian Y for your input. I am sorry as I didn't make myself clear. I understand the science behind it. I just need someone to say that I have the same set up as you and this is the converter I bought and it works. I just can't keep guessing anymore.
    Thanks for taking the time to reply.

  5. dbroncos78087 macrumors regular

    Feb 27, 2013
    Northern Virginia
    My guess is your work around wont work without a USB dongle. I have one at work that let's me output to a third monitor. I would spring for the monitor though. My setup works great.

    I have a dual monitor setup and its very simple. The HDMI to DVI adapter out of the box gets me to my first monitor and then a $5 DVI to mini display adapter gets you to the second monitor. If you want more you'll need something like a USB dongle.
  6. Omnius macrumors 6502a

    Jul 23, 2012
    Is it a convertor or a basic cable? It's my understanding it should be either box-like or have a really fat connection on one end to actually convert digital to an analog signal. I've seen cables with no convertor that really seem to have no purpose or some really really specialized purpose that I'm oblivious to.
  7. kensic macrumors 6502

    Jan 11, 2013
    i was at Bestbuy today, and they had 10 monitors going off of 1 mini using thunderbolt. there's probably a splitter somewhere in the back, but i couldn't see it.
  8. dbroncos78087 macrumors regular

    Feb 27, 2013
    Northern Virginia
    They probably have an amplifier for the signal.
  9. Fishrrman macrumors G5


    Feb 20, 2009
    What connections OTHER THAN VGA do you have on the second monitor?
    (by "second monitor", I mean the one that's going to get connected to the HDMI port)

    Do you have DVI?

    If you decide to replace the second monitor, look for one with (preferably) DVI, or HDMI, or DisplayPort.

    Then put together the appropriate cable combination "at the Mini end".

    My mini came with an HDMI-to-DVI adapter "in the box". Easy to connect to a display with DVI...
  10. Colchiro macrumors member

    Feb 2, 2013
    First of all, you need to see what connectors you have on your monitor. Many have vga AND dvi connections and will usually come with a blue cable for vga and a white one for dvi.

    DVI will always give you a better picture than vga

    I had great luck with cables from and have dual monitors on my 2011 mini. I use hdmi cable for my first monitor and a thunderbolt to hdmi for the second, but also picked up a thunderbolt to dvi cable as a spare. These cables each run about $7 US each and they ship fairly fast.
  11. Cosy Pete thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 9, 2013
    thanks guys

    Hi Guys,

    sorry for the delay in replying to your comments but this is the first time to get to the computer today.

    To sum up all I have read, for my second monitor all I have is a VGA adapter no DVI I am sorry.

    Just to be clear I know the "science" behind it all. I just need some hard facts of which equipment to actually buy. Bare in mind I live in the UK and at the moment have only a VGA second monitor.

    Thanks for all your help and advice. Much appreciated.

  12. Cosy Pete thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 9, 2013
    thanks colchiro

    Thanks for the links

    I have bought 1 like the first 2 links you sent and it it had a review that it worked with a mac mini but it didn't and I had to send it back. I am really reticent to try things that may or may not work. I am probably being idealistic but I would value if someone was using a certain device with a mac mini and could say yes this product works with a Mac.

    Thanks for your help though.

    Much appreciated.

  13. raniel macrumors regular


    Jan 2, 2011
    thanks for this link. I have the same problem with the TS
  14. scottw324 macrumors 6502

    Mar 5, 2012
    I jumped around with the different connectors as well when I first got my mini. HDMI to DVI. Then got a second monitor and went MDP to VGA. Worked but eventually switched to MDP to DVI for it on my new Asus monitor. The older Proview LCD monitor I got from a friend works just as my second monitor when I need the extra space for viewing things. Sometimes I move iTunes over there and work off the Asus monitor since it is brighter and clearer.

    I would say that you will probably need to buy a new monitor with a DVI port. Look on Amazon. They can be found for relatively cheap. I wanted a 24" monitor so mine was about $150 plus shipping. If you don't need that big of a monitor you can probably find one cheaper. Keep in mind that the mini defaults to the MDP as the primary screen and the HDMI port as the extra screen. I haven't been able to find a way to switch it. You can mirror the screens though. Look to see if you can find a refurb for cheap.
  15. benwiggy macrumors 68020

    Jun 15, 2012
    You may want to see if the 10.8.3 OS update improves the HDMI situation.

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