Mac mini Wrong Choice?!

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by Santabean2000, Apr 28, 2009.

  1. Santabean2000 macrumors 68000


    Nov 20, 2007
    So, I had been experimenting with my wife's iBook hooked up to our old(ish) 42" (1024x768) via VGA with good results.

    Then... impulsively, I just bought a new Mac mini (2.0GHz, 4GB RAM, 120GB HDD) with a view to set it up (slowly, over time) as a media center.:D

    Subsequently however, researching these forums (and others) for tips and tricks I have read about people who've had issues with the resolution displaying properly - to the point of getting myself rather confused.:confused:

    My questions are:

    1. Can I expect to have problems with the display's resolution? (any fixes required?)

    2. What is the best connection to hook this machine up to the TV?

    Any help, (esp in layman's terms), much appreciated.
  2. AVR2 macrumors 6502

    Jan 16, 2006
    Possibly. Depends on the TV. However, the fix could well be as simple as switching overscan off on the TV - it's not a given that you have to mess around with the likes of SwitchResX. It took me less than a minute to get my 2009 mini working perfectly with my 42" Panasonic plasma.

    DVI to HDMI. Forget VGA, it's an analogue connection and will never be as crisp and sharp as a digital one.
  3. Santabean2000 thread starter macrumors 68000


    Nov 20, 2007
    Thanks for that.

    My plasma is the Panasonic TH-42PV600H (good tv in its day, and still ok now too really); what model is yours?
  4. JonHimself macrumors 68000


    Nov 3, 2004
    Toronto, Ontario
    This confuses me (and maybe it's just me and my inability to perceive things) because when I use my 360 over HDMI onto my lcd tv (only 32") it does not look as good as my VGA connection from my 360.

    I do have a question for you (which the OP might appreciate) but what do you mean by "working perfectly"? I occasionally hook-up my macbook pro to my TV, somtimes using DVI to HDMI and other times DVI to VGA. I never tooled around with switchresx (well, that's a lie.. I did but couldn't seem to get it to work) so maybe that's the issue.

    I found that the VGA was a better picture (crisper) but the resolution was too low... then with HDMI the picture was a little bit blurry (blurry is the wrong word.. maybe softer) but overall was a better experience (in terms of usability as a monitor) but the resolution could never get worked out and I ended up with black bars, stretched images or part being cut-off. Could have been a limitation of the TV (in terms of VGA resolution) or inability to use switchresx (for the HDMI connection) but I was hoping, for the OP's sake, you can elaborate on how good your set-up is when compared to using a "regular" computer monitor.
  5. tobefirst macrumors 68040


    Jan 24, 2005
    St. Louis, MO
    Chris Breen at MacWorld just recently went through the process of setting up a Mac Mini as a media center. He'd done it before a couple years ago, but wanted to try it again based on the new hardware and software options. It was a pretty in-depth look that might be worth the read. Here's the link to the final part of the series.
  6. robotartfashion macrumors 6502

    Jan 1, 2009
    Phoenix, AZ
    the general consensus is that most tvs have a pixel to pixel mapping selection and if you choose that and use overscan on the mini, you'll be ok without switchrez

    haven't tried it yet but will be getting a couple of minis as media centers once i move so i've done a lot of research
  7. Santabean2000 thread starter macrumors 68000


    Nov 20, 2007
    Looking forward to hearing more about it from you.

    Thanks everybody for your help and ideas.

    I'm guessing the only real way to find out for sure is to get started with the setup and go from there. Will initially head down the HDMI route and see what happens...:confused:
  8. design-is macrumors 65816


    Oct 17, 2007
    London / U.K.
    Just jumping on your thread here a bit, sorry...

    Can the new mini's output to s-video?

    I want to use a mac as a media centre but currently have a conventional crt TV and have heard that mini's have had problems outputting to these screens. I've also heard that the new mini's don't support this old tech at all...

    I can't afford to get a new TV and a second mac at the same time. I'm considering a second hand macbook pro (not unibody) if I can find one cheap enough.

    Anyone know the truth?

    Cheers :)
  9. spacepower7 macrumors 68000

    May 6, 2004
    By default, any Macs with the Nvidia 9400 graphics chip (Current Macbooks, Minis, and lower level iMacs) cannot output a S-video or composite signal. Only Mini-Displayport, DVI, and VGA.

    You might be able to get a VGA to S-video Converter that may work.
    Check out this one,

    but they have a disclaimer to check with the video card manufacturer.

    I thought I might have read somewhere on Macrumors that it won't work.

    Back to the original poster,

    It all depends on the TV. Even a brand new Panasonic Plasma that I just read a review about, doesn't have 1:1 Pixel mapping and it has two modes:
    Underscan, where there are black bars on the sides and top and bottom.
    Overscan 3%, can't be changed except maybe on the Mac. This causes the top menu bar to be clipped off the screen.

    This is a brand new Panasonic, which doesn't even have a vga in.

    If you have vga working with the iBook, then vga should work fine with the Mini.
    HDMI will be hit or miss with various possible solutions, or maybe none.
  10. design-is macrumors 65816


    Oct 17, 2007
    London / U.K.
  11. TuckBodi macrumors 6502

    Jan 10, 2007
    Yeah, this is what happened to me with my older mini through DVI to HDMI and my Sammy LCD. I had to go the VGA route and I now have a sweet crisp picture and now using the whole screen. I really think it depends on what TV you have and what route you go.
  12. Undecided macrumors 6502a

    Mar 4, 2005
    Why wouldn't you turn off overscan on both the TV and the mini? Wouldn't that result in the TV being used like a monitor, pixel for pixel?
  13. bigbossbmb macrumors 68000


    Jul 1, 2004
  14. illtype macrumors member

    Jun 10, 2008
  15. Santabean2000 thread starter macrumors 68000


    Nov 20, 2007
    Thanks again everyone; don't know if I'm any less confused, but hey.:eek:
  16. gkarris macrumors 604


    Dec 31, 2004
    "No escape from Reality..."
    And just in case it hasn't already been mentioned...


  17. OrganMusic macrumors 6502

    Sep 21, 2008
    Had been using our MBP hooked up to the TV so often I just picked up a Mini to leave plugged in there. Any mac (or PC even) I've ever hooked up to my Sony LCD (about 2 years old) via VGA correctly detects its native resolution (1920x1080 IIRC) and displays a full screen picture without even having to fool with the display prefs (except to turn mirror on in the case of my MBP). The picture via VGA is a touch fuzzy but I don't sit close enough for it to matter most of the time. I'll have to give HDMI a go sometime.

    My next problem is finding a cheapish receiver with 3 optical inputs (TV, PS3, Mac Mini)
  18. the vj macrumors 6502a

    Nov 23, 2006
    My mini work perfect with 42" at 1080p

    I am using a mac mini with 256MB of VRam, the top of the line. And it works just fine with my 42" lcd. Is connected via DVI and it runs just fine.

    I can playback full 1080p videos with no problem.
  19. Chris Rogers macrumors 6502a

    Chris Rogers

    Jul 8, 2008
    my house
    I know upgrading the RAM to 2GB makes a HUGE difference, but if I'm using the mini as a media server only, would i get anything out of it by upgrading even more to 4GB? I know you can never have too much ram :)

    Also, the 1GB that comes inside, is it 2x512 or 1x1024?
  20. Santabean2000 thread starter macrumors 68000


    Nov 20, 2007
    I believe it's a single 1GB piece.

    I dropped in 4GB, (as opposed to just 2GB), to give me options with the machine in the future; I might pass it on to my father.
  21. Bye Bye Baby macrumors 65816

    Bye Bye Baby

    Sep 15, 2004
    i(am in the)cloud
    Definitely HDMI. Also tosslink if you want 5.1 audio.

    There is also a program for fixing screen resolution. I can't remember the name but it worked well with older minis and screens.
  22. gcmexico macrumors 6502a


    Dec 22, 2007
    New York City
    sweet thread...I have my new mini with same specs...waiting for my new flat screen to arrive...based on the this thread sounds like it won't be a problem...I'm going to have a drobo connected to it where all my media will be stored
  23. dernhelm macrumors 68000


    May 20, 2002
    middle earth
    It's a shame you can get Dolby 7.1 surround. It is a digital audio port after all...
  24. Santabean2000 thread starter macrumors 68000


    Nov 20, 2007
    Quick update:
    Have successfully hooked up to the TV first time using HDMI, but have encountered the clipping, which is kinda annoying without being too much of a hindrance.

    I've been searching for a solution, but haven't found an easy one as yet, (wish Apple could address issue - it must be a common one).

    Will try switching to the VGA if I have to, but I'd rather stay with the digital path if possible.

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