Mac Mini > External HD > Display

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by sambaker, Apr 27, 2015.

  1. sambaker, Apr 27, 2015
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2015

    sambaker macrumors newbie

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    #1
    Hello!

    Quick question.

    I have a Mac Mini, it has 1 HDMI port and 1 thunderbolt port. I have a G-Drive external HD which has 2 thunderbolt ports. I have 2 display screens. I want all of these things connected at the same time. I read that the G-Drive allows daisy-chaining (which is why it has 2 thunderbolt ports) and that I can connect one of the displays to the G-Drive and it'll carry the signal through (if I use a thunderbolt>hdmi adapter). However, when I do this, the 2nd display doesn't show anything. I suspect maybe I have the wrong adapter. It's an official apple adapter, but is it possible that I have 'mini displayport > hdmi' adapter rather than a 'thunderbolt > hdmi' adapter? Is there a way to tell if I have the wrong adapter? and if I bought a 'thunderbolt > hdmi' adapter' will it definitely do what I'm intending?

    Reason I think I might have a 'mini displayport' adapter is because it has this logo on it (on the right)
    http://i.imgur.com/gJrgVEl.jpg?1
    -- does this confirm I have the wrong one?

    I just went looking for a thunderbolt>hdmi adapter from apple and they don't seem to have one. just mini displayport - so what do i do?
     
  2. JTToft, Apr 27, 2015
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2015

    JTToft macrumors 68040

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    #2
    - No, you have the right one (probably; post a link so we can se which one): Mini DisplayPort to HDMI, which is compatible with Thunderbolt ports. Thunderbolt to HDMI is impossible.

    You didn't mention which Mac mini you have (which year and model) or which resolutions you are attempting to run on your monitors. Depending on those factors, you may or may not be able to use two displays.

    Also, for clarification: What you're trying to do is one display on the mini's HDMI and another on the G-drive's Thunderbolt port?
     
  3. sambaker thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #3
    It's a G-TECH 4TB G-RAID Thunderbolt Hard-drive and a Mac Mini, either late 2012 or early 2013, I'm not with the Mac right now so I'm relying on the receipt in my email but the specs are as follows:

    2.6 GHz Quad-core Intel i7
    16GB Memory
    1TB Fusion drive

    I'm not sure about the resolution, I'm not with the equipment and I can't even remember the dimensions of the monitors. What are my options based on the mac and hdd I've got?

    Thanks a lot for your help!
     
  4. JTToft macrumors 68040

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    #4
    - That would be a Late 2012. According to my information, the HDMI port on that machine will only do up to 1920x1200, so if you're trying to go above that, it won't work. The TB port will do at least 2560x1600, and the machine can use two displays at once on the two ports.

    Which adapters/cables are you using?
     
  5. sambaker thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #5
    I've got just a single HDMI cable one for display and what seems to be a mini displayport > hdmi adapter which I'm using on the g-drive but it's not producing a signal on the monitor - what should I be doing?
     
  6. sambaker, Apr 27, 2015
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2015

    sambaker thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #6
    I was just thinking, is it possible to connect the hard drive wirelessly? It would render the advantages of thunderbolt useless but at least it would work. My only worry is that how would you do it because it uses thunderbolt to connect, I can't think of how you can connect it to a router wirelessly.

    ----------

    Another thought, is there a way to connect the thunderbolt hard-drive somehow via ethernet or firewire? If not to the Mac Mini then to an Apple router?
     
  7. campyguy macrumors 68040

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    #7
    Two bits, and one tip...

    First, I have two displays connected to my Mini Server (Late 2012, i7, 16GB - same as yours). I do not have any TB devices connected to my Mini. I'm getting up to 4k via SwitchResX on my Dell 4k display @30Hz and HD @60Hz over HDMI via either SwitchResX or the Displays Pref Pane; over a mDP-DP cable (DP 1.2 compatible) I'm getting HD @30Hz (HiDPI) and 2560x1440 @60Hz at "low resolution" with other options available.

    Second, what I can't help you with is whether or not the G-RAID is demuxing (demultiplexing) the video signal or passing it through, like most TB docks do - G-Technology will have to address this point. Only a TB display (Apple or LG) would be able to remux that demuxed video signal.

    Tip: What I can help you with is that adapter, sold by Apple, is not an "active" adapter but rather a "passive" adapter, meant to work with the nifty electronics wizardry in Apple displays but not generally present in displays by other manufacturers. There are several other manufacturers of active adapters (for TB ports to VGA, DVI, and (yes!) HDMI), made by Monoprice and Cable Matters, for instance. Make sure you get one that specifies "active" - and there's likely dozens of YouTube videos that rant about this, going back 3-4 years…

    We've got a few of these in our offices - they work great, and they're under $20:
    http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00PJ3LSIG?psc=1
    http://www.monoprice.com/Product?c_id=104&cp_id=10428&cs_id=1042802&p_id=9426&seq=1&format=2

    Also, see Item 10 for clarification:
    https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT204149

    FWIW, I have 8 or 9 of these "passive" adapters in a box, in the storage room. :mad: At least you only have one now…
     
  8. JTToft macrumors 68040

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    #8
    That's two cables. You must have at least three, surely?

    You have:

    Mac mini -> HDMI to HDMI cable -> Display 1
    G-Drive -> Mini DisplayPort to HDMI adapter -> HDMI to HDMI cable -> Display 2
    Correct?

    But what about between the Mac mini and the G-Drive? There, you would need a Thunderbolt cable - otherwise it certainly won't work.
    If you have that TB cable in place and the above is correct, I'd say your setup should work. If it doesn't, try connecting your second screen directly to your Mac mini's Thunderbolt port. If that works, you have a problem with the G-Drive. If it doesn't work, my guess is you have a hardware error someplace. Or perhaps try a Mini DisplayPort to DisplayPort cable from the G-drive to the monitor (provided the monitor has such an input).

    And about connecting wirelessly: To be honest, that somewhat defeats the purpose of a Thunderbolt drive, so I'm not sure anyone has released a product for doing that. TB is a high-end professional interface, and connecting a TB drive to a wireless router is a bit like buying a Porsche and then only ever driving it at 30 MPH around the block. ;)
     
  9. sambaker thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #9
    So using one of these active adapters will carry across the display signal from the Mac Mini to the external HD to the display?
     
  10. campyguy macrumors 68040

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    #10
    The TL;DR version: Yes, provided you have the correct connector. Read that Apple web page I directed you to and find a few YT videos - they'll explain how and why. Apple's adapters are just that - adapters, as most of their displays have "converters" built in. Active adapters are adapters with built-in signal converters.
     
  11. sambaker thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #11
    That's interesting because I was thinking the limitation was with the external hard drive not knowing how to carry the display signal, as opposed to lack of power. Is there still a chance that the hard drive won't send the display signal because it hasn't been programmed to do that?
     
  12. campyguy macrumors 68040

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    #12
    That's why you'd need to get in touch with G-Technology, as I'd alluded to earlier. I'm a G-Tech user - I have an older G-RAID on my desk right now, but it's USB 3 and not TB as they had lots of problems with TB drives until not too long ago. G-Tech is not clear as to what their drives do to the TB chain - I have looked recently, and my needs aren't that great with my Mini Server as all of my fast products are connected to my rMBP on the same desk.

    Since 10.10.3 came out I have not explored my Mini's graphics limits, but I do know that that update turned my rMBP into a beast. My Mini is driving my displays very nicely now, maybe I'll push it a bit and load FCPX or PS CC later this week and see how it responds. If I were you, I'd get in touch with G-Tech and see what the drive you have does to the "daisychain". Last I left this with one of my guys we had a TB drive with a pass-through, with a short TB cable leading to an active HDMI adapter with a short HDMI cable leading to the display, and a second display being fed from the HDMI port in the back of the Mini - he's in Seattle and I'm in PDX and he's on my deadline and I can't bug him until Friday. I've taken to driving just one of my displays from my Mini Server over either HDMI or mDP - but no TB devices are connected to it as all of my drives have both TB and USB 3 or eSATA (with which I use a USB 3 adapter...).
     
  13. sambaker thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #13
    If your guy is able to test it out that would be perfect. I contacted G-TECH and they basically said they're not sure if it will work or not, which is helpful. So if you're able to experiment and let me know that would be great!
     
  14. campyguy macrumors 68040

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    Portland / Seattle
    #14
    So, here's what works for my employee with one 2012 i7 Mini with 16GB RAM and two Dell DVI HD displays and a G-Tech TB2 G-RAID.

    • From the Mini HDMI port: Mini>Apple HDMI-DVI adapter (passive)>DVI cable>Display
    • From the Mini TB port: Mini>Apple 0.5M TB cable>G-Tech G-RAID TB port
    • From the (other) G-Tech G-RAID TB port: Apple 0.5M TB cable>Monoprice Active TB-DVI adapter>DVI cable>Display
    Two notes: The G-RAID has to stay powered on - powering off the G-RAID disables the attached display. It's obvious to us that the Mini was struggling just a bit with the G-RAID - but we're aware that this could be the graphics-based applications we're using and the displays are about 4 years old, and the Mini Server connected to my 4k display (at HD resolution) looks much better to us old folks.

    We want to get a TB2 dock, but I'm wanting to wait to see what Apple says at WWDC before spending my money on potentially-soon-to-be-outdated tech.

    I have my Mini connected to one of my two Dell 4k displays via HDMI; in the next day or two I'm due to receive via UPS a mDP-mDP cable that's DP 1.2-compatible and I'm interested to see how it stacks up via the HDMI cable. Amazon had only one in stock, but I have more ordered - intending to get a G-RAID between my Mini and a 4k display to see how things fare.
    Cheers!
     
  15. sambaker thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #15
    Thank you so much for all of this, very useful information. So from what I understand looking at your tests, theres no way to have 2 HD displays connected at the same time with this external hard drive. Any option of those options downgrades one of the displays to DVI quality, right?

    Thanks again!
    Sam
     
  16. JTToft macrumors 68040

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    #16
    - DVI is fully capable of handling HD resolutions. 1920x1200 using Single Link and 2560x1600 using Dual Link. Both at 60Hz.

    - That would be a Mini DisplayPort to DVI adapter, not TB to DVI (which is impossible). :)
     
  17. sambaker thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #17
    I think the country I'm in is 50hz, I'm in Brazil, would that make any significant difference?
     
  18. JTToft macrumors 68040

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    #18
    - If you mean that the wall power outlets are 50Hz, then no, that wouldn't make any difference at all.
     
  19. campyguy macrumors 68040

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    #19
    Well, until a few days ago I would have written "maybe" or "it depends" to your answer, and I still can't offer a definitive answer - clear as mud, right? "Maybe" if you're still on 10.8 or older, and "it depends" on whether your displays have DVI-D ports. Read on...

    About six weeks ago, I saw that a couple of new products were announced and how have been made available - either of which might suit you IF you have DVI ports on your displays. I'm hoping that DP versions are announced soon!

    Years ago, I discovered Matrox, a company that makes graphics solutions for PCs and Macs. Six weeks ago or so, they announced Yosemite-compatible solutions for using multiple DVI-D displays (2 or 3) using their proprietary external graphics solutions. They also sell older units that work over DP but they're certified up to Mountain Lion (10.8), after which Apple started sandboxing requirements. I suspect - in a good way - that 10.10.3 (mainly, that .3 at the end) - that there are some massive changes going on with Apple's graphics support, as the two newest adapters DON'T work with 10.9 but do work with 10.8 and earlier - again, for DVI-D only. For instance, I could drive only one of my 4k displays @ 4k @ 60Hz over DP with 10.10.2 but can drive both 4k displays @ 4k @ 60Hz over DP with 10.10.3 plus the internal display on my late-2013 rMBP.

    Matrox initially only supported VGA since that was pretty much the main graphics interface for displays, then later added DVI-D and DP as the years went on.

    I'm actually stoked (excited) a bit. I didn't see the new products on Matrox's web site last week, and here they are - both supporting the Mac platform:
    http://www.matrox.com/graphics/en/products/gxm/dh2go/digital_me/
    http://www.matrox.com/graphics/en/products/gxm/th2go/digital_se/

    The units are basically external boxes with graphics cards in them. They're getting power, I'm guessing, from the computer's USB port.

    The main page for all of their graphics expansion units:
    http://www.matrox.com/graphics/en/products/gxm/
    These units get you a potentially huge extended desktop, using Matrox's software with their units.

    I checked for compatibility of our Minis here (http://www.matrox.com/graphics/en/products/gxm/mac/choice/) and both units are listed as compatible. I also looked at one more bit, under the "Specifications" for both new units - no "30Hz" output at all, mostly 60Hz output!!!!!!!! :D

    Matrox's support for the Mac platform has been great, for years. Now that they're back on track with support for Yosemite - this is a good thing!
     
  20. sambaker thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #20
    What if the display is 50hz?
     
  21. JTToft macrumors 68040

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    #21
    - That's still fine. If DVI can do 60Hz (which it can), it can also do 50Hz - and anything lower.
     
  22. sambaker thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #22
    So I just spoke with my friend who is with the displays, turns out it doesn't have a DVI port, just HDMI and VGA. This might be a silly question but if you stuck a DVI>VGA adapter on the end of some of the methods suggested here would it still work?
     
  23. JTToft macrumors 68040

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    #23
    - I would assume so, yes. You might be better off using an active mDP to HDMI adapter in that case, though.
     
  24. sambaker thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #24
    The problem is I don't know if it's going to work with that adapter, even G-TECH don't know if their external hard drive will pass through the display signal
     
  25. JTToft macrumors 68040

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    #25
    The G-Tech clearly is capable of outputting a display signal, or the above solution with the active DVI adapter wouldn't work.
    And since that's the case, I can't see a reason an HDMI adapter wouldn't work if a DVI one does.

    That said, I understand your reluctance to go the HDMI route when you know DVI works...
     

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