New Mac Mini = Component out?

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by akaSurreal, Mar 3, 2009.

  1. akaSurreal macrumors member

    Mar 3, 2009
    Does anyone know if the New Mac Mini will offer more component output options than the previous model. I am hoping since they changed to NVidia, it may offer better options since my nvidia standalone cards do great component output out of the box.

    I owned a previous gen Mac Mini but even after buying a $300 external device to convert to component, I never could get it to work right with all my TVs. I want to use the Mac Mini as an HTPC running PLEX and distributed across my house using the system I already have in place that sends component signal to 5 HDTVs in the house. I do this currently with a PC/windows desktop with nvidia card, and it works perfectly but I really want to run PLEX.

    DVI/HDMI is great and all, but distributed video systems for those are very expensive and I would have to run a bunch more wires across the house.
  2. belvdr macrumors 603

    Aug 15, 2005
    No longer logging into MR
    Very highly doubt it. With HDMI, I see component connections decreasing along with their accessories.
  3. akaSurreal thread starter macrumors member

    Mar 3, 2009
    I just find it frustrating that all standalone Nvidia (ATI too?) cards have a little adapter that provides perfect component output. If apple would just supply the same, it would make my life so much easier =) And would allow a true replacement of Apple TV as well.
  4. brand macrumors 601


    Oct 3, 2006
    That's not what it's designed for.
  5. Durandal549 macrumors member

    Jul 13, 2007
    Yes and no. In the consumer space I agree. However HDMI sucks for any kind of distance. So component will probably stick around in the high end/pro space for a while yet (at least for those not wanting to spend money on HD-SDI).

    akaSurreal: This is a shot in the dark but some HDTV's will do RGB or YPbPr over the component RCA jacks. Others will do the same but over the HD15 VGA. Then all you would need is the correct HD15-to-component breakout cables.

    If not it sounds like you already have something like this:

    That should do any RGB/component conversion needed before running through your DA.
  6. akaSurreal thread starter macrumors member

    Mar 3, 2009
    Thank you Durandal549 for a helpful post for once =)

    Yes I do have something very similar to that, but I could not get it to work with the previous gen Mac Mini. I endlessly adjusted refresh rates with DisplayConfigX and the other one for hours, but could never get it to sync any HD resolutions properly across more than one TV. Maybe the new Nvidia chipset will be friendlier. *crosses fingers*
  7. Durandal549 macrumors member

    Jul 13, 2007
    No problem. :)

    You could also do a scaler instead of just a converter. I found this one:

    Instead of trying to get the mac to output the correct res and refresh rates, you let the scaler change the signal. The one accepts up to SXGA and will output a standard HDTV signal 720p/1080i. The output is over a HD15 so you would need a VGA-3RCA breakout cable.

    Scalers can get very expensive. Some AV receivers will do scaling but I haven't looked into it. I don't know how practical a solution a scaler is for you but it is another option to look at anyway.
  8. akaSurreal thread starter macrumors member

    Mar 3, 2009
    Thanks, yeah I did look into Scalers, but at some point I am questioning the purchase of the Mini (to save money) when I spend almost as much just to get it to do component output.

    Also I am concerned with any loss of video quality in the process.

    Getting a Mac Pro for example, I imagine would solve this issue as it uses a standalone nvidia card that should have the breakout cable as my other nvidia cards do, but costs a lot more.

    The Mac Mini seems like the perfect HTPC if it just had more output options.
  9. Durandal549 macrumors member

    Jul 13, 2007
    I totally agree. In your case a mini may not be a good solution. You might want to try AVS forum. They may have some ideas to get a mini working for you or good alternatives anyway.
  10. akaSurreal thread starter macrumors member

    Mar 3, 2009
  11. robotartfashion macrumors 6502

    Jan 1, 2009
    Phoenix, AZ
    apple doesn't seem to care about the still "niche" market of HTPC's and isn't marketing the mini as this

    for them it's a switcher, pure and simple

    also, they do not want to detract from the idea of the apple tv

    i'm willing to bet that their version of the HTPC will be an expanded apple tv with the ION processor to take allow display of 1080p
  12. jw2002 macrumors 6502

    Feb 23, 2008
    What is perfect about component output? You can only achieve 1080i or less. I would be more concerned with the downstream device that is forcing you to use such a low bandwidth, non-digital video connection.

    If you mean easier in terms of number of physical connections, I agree. Why not just use mini DVI-vga and then vga-component adapters which I assume you probably own already if you have an old mac mini.
  13. gkarris macrumors 604


    Dec 31, 2004
    "No escape from Reality..."
    Some video cards allow a "breakout cable" that goes from VGA to Component (or maybe DVI to component) - so the card and drivers know to output to component.

    I don't think Apple's implementations of the cards allow for this, though. Would be cheaper to just get an AppleTV and the computer as the server for it.
  14. SevenInchScrew macrumors 6502a


    Jun 23, 2007
    Component cables CAN send a 1080p signal, it just depends on the devices sending and receiving as to what happens. Both the PS3 and the Xbox 360 will send a 1080p signal over component, but they will only do this with NON-copyrighted material (ie games, etc). And, it's hit or miss as to your TV accepting 1080p on its component input. But, a component cable can certainly DO it.
  15. Durandal549 macrumors member

    Jul 13, 2007
    akaSurreal was basically running into two problems with that.

    If the mac mini was outputting an HDTV signal like 720p (YPbPr), breakouts would work fine. However macs only do that if the display requests it. That request only works over vga and DVI because component RCA doesn't carry that kind of info. I forget what the term is, but when there is no display communication to the mac, display preferences only gives RGB signal types. So while a VGA-3RCA breakout cable will carry RGB, the HDTV may not know what to do with it.

    Now the HDTV may be able to work with an RGB signal over component connections but it is very hit and miss and really dependent on the TV. I have seen it on video monitors but only sometimes on TV's.

    The other related issue is that he is driving 5 displays. So there must be some kind of DA and probably a switch. Those device might pass an RGB signal and some of the TV's might take it(lots of ifs). Or the DA or switch may just throw the signal out.

    Apple TV would be easier because it will do component standards easily.
  16. SevenInchScrew macrumors 6502a


    Jun 23, 2007
  17. Durandal549 macrumors member

    Jul 13, 2007
  18. akaSurreal thread starter macrumors member

    Mar 3, 2009
    The device I use to feed my house (5 HD displays) over long distances:

    At the time of purchase, about a year ago, I found no other easy/cheap solution to wire my whole house with HD easily. Sure I am losing 1080P, but on most of my devices the difference between 1080i and 1080p is hardly noticeable and many of the signals are 720P anyways.

    Apple TV would be great if it wasn't so underpowered for running PLEX with 1080P x264 content. Mac Mini is perfect size/spec/price if it had component.
  19. Durandal549 macrumors member

    Jul 13, 2007
    Nice piece of gear! I do large venue AV events and we have started to go a smiler route with cat5/6 senders. And a having the matrix switch as well is really nice.

    I had an idea. Take a look at this:
    It looks like it was made to solve the problem you have.

    You could hook that up to an HDMI or DVI port on the HDTV to grab the EDID info. Then hook it up to the mac with DVI with EDID info that includes component resolutions and use a DVI-3RCA into the matrix. That might actually work. The manual seems to indicate it will anyway. And it is only $70.
  20. akaSurreal thread starter macrumors member

    Mar 3, 2009
    Hmm yeah that is an interesting route.

    Is that different from what I did? Which was:

    1) Bought this:
    2) Hooked up my TV to Mac Mini DVI and grabbed EDID info
    3) Hooked up transcoder (1) and used DisplayConfigX to match the EDID info.

    Unfortunately this didn't work right for some reason. I was able to get an image at times, but it was messed up. (wrong size, rounded corners, flickering pieces, etc) not synced
  21. Durandal549 macrumors member

    Jul 13, 2007
    First let me say that I am fairly confident in my theory about what is happening in your situation. Normally when I am doing things like this it is a bigger convention/show situation with a video switcher/scaler involved. Units that cost a lot but will take anything you throw at it and change it to anything else. Take it with a grain of salt, but I think I know what the issue is.

    Why does that converter not work?
    Because it is changing the color space and I think some sync things, but not the resolution. For example the TC1500 faq says:

    "Does the TC1500 change the resolution? Upconvert or downcovert?
    The TC1500 does not change the resolution or refresh rate in any way. It simply converts a VGA (RGBHV) input signal to a component signal. The TC1500 outputs whatever resolution you feed it. Absolutely nothing is changed."

    A similar device I found has the same fine print:
    These units are not format converters. They pass the horizontal and vertical synchronization timings and pixel content to the outputs without modification.

    So basically they solve only half the problem, color space. Resolution is still an issue.

    I did find this. It has a fairly good explanation and some resolutions that work.

    Now you mentioned that sometimes you could get one TV to work but not others. Resolution issues is the reason. different TV's will have different "native" resolutions, based on the physical characteristics of the type of panel used. All HDTV's have to accept the HDTV spec resolutions. Basically HDTV's have very basic scalers that take a very limited number of resolutions. Usually just the spec ones and whatever the native panel is.

    Example time:
    All the TV's will accept spec 720p or 1080i
    TVA will take 1366x768
    TVB will take 1280x792
    TVC-E will take "whatever"

    If you had one HDTV, you could play with resolutions and find one that might not be to spec but close enough that the HDTV will display it. Trying to find a resolution they all "play nice with" probably isn't going to happen.

    So I think it comes back around to the same issue of needing to get the mac to display the spec HDTV.

    Another example:
    My projector is hooked up DVI-HDMI to my mini. Display preferences knows that and gives 720p60 as an option because of the EDID. I don't know if the color space is RGB or YPbPr because that is a setting I can change on the projector. So it could be the mini that "knows" to output YPbPr, or the projector "knows" to convert the RGB to correctly. Also it is HDMI so there is probably other things going on.

    Really long post but I think that Gefen device would solve your resolution issue. It may even solve the color space issue but even if it doesn't you already have the TC1500 that will.

    Wow long post, sorry.
  22. akaSurreal thread starter macrumors member

    Mar 3, 2009
    Yeah I was going for 720P/1080i specs when testing. It would show up on all the screens as the appropriate mode, but would look all messed and different on each monitor, whereas when I do 1080i out of my NVidia card in my other HTPC, it shows up great on all TVs, some have a little more overscan than others, but is plenty usable.

    I am considering this device as its reasonably priced for a scaler:

    Sick of all the tweaking, so if that will fix all the issues and make life easier, then so be it =)

Share This Page