NewerTech's 'HDMI Headless Video Accelerator' Keeps GPU Active for Better Performance With No Display

Discussion in 'Mac Blog Discussion' started by MacRumors, Nov 10, 2015.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    NewerTech today announced the launch of its HDMI Headless Video Accelerator, an adapter that's designed to plug into the Mac mini's HDMI display port to fool it into thinking there's a display attached. With the adapter plugged in, the Mac mini's GPU is activated and video drivers are loaded, resulting in smoother performance.
    Apple's small and portable Mac mini is often used sans display as a storage device or a media server, but without a display, the Mac mini does not take advantage of its GPU. Without an active GPU, certain tasks performed on the Mac mini can be choppy and laggy, such as visiting websites, as described in a Macminicolo blog post on the subject.

    This kind of adaptation has been used by Macminicolo on video intensive servers for several years, but as the site says, even simple web browsing benefits from having active video drivers. Macminicolo even recommends a similar dummy dongle product directly on its site.

    The NewerTech HDMI Headless Video Accelerator is designed to work with the following Mac mini models: Mac mini Mid 2010 (Macmini4,1), Mac mini Mid 2011 (Macmini5,1 / Macmini5,2 / Macmini5,3), Mac mini Late 2012 (Macmini6,1 / Macmini6,2), Mac mini Late 2014 (Macmini7,1). It works with OS X 10.6.8 and later.


    Mac mini owners interested in purchasing the NewerTech HDMI Headless Video Accelerator can do so from third-party retailers like OWC. The adapter is priced at $19.50.

    Article Link: NewerTech's 'HDMI Headless Video Accelerator' Keeps GPU Active for Better Performance With No Display
  2. OldSchoolMacGuy macrumors 68040


    Jul 10, 2008
    Use to have to buy headless adapters from Dr. Bott back in the day when Macs wouldn't run without a monitor cable connected.
  3. keysofanxiety macrumors 604


    Nov 23, 2011
    Am I right in assuming that even with GFXCardStatus, the GPU wouldn't be activated? I know the 2012s onwards don't have a dGPU option, but on the earlier ones if you set it to always run on the dGPU, would this do the same thing? :confused:
  4. Laird Knox macrumors 68000

    Jun 18, 2010
    Haha, I developed the Microcom Advanced Video Terminator to solve that issue. It was a paperclip. :)

    Since we did a lot of work with IBM big iron it seemed everything had a four word acronym so the MAVT was born. I even created a document with fancy diagrams to send to our customers.
  5. ArtOfWarfare macrumors 604


    Nov 26, 2007
    Ha. Funny little device. But since this is really just a software problem, I would think there's a software solution available for it? Surely there's some way to tell OS X to load a driver from, IE, the command line? Then maybe just stick it in your VNC startup script so that the graphics drivers are loaded whenever you VNC into the machine?
  6. jsm4182 macrumors 6502

    Apr 3, 2006
    Beacon, NY
    This isn't a new product, I've had one on my Mac Mini server for a few months. It does greatly improve video performance.
  7. Quu macrumors 68020


    Apr 2, 2007
  8. joueboy macrumors 65816

    Jul 3, 2008
    Why do we have to have this in order for our device to have the optimal performace. Does this mean Apple intentionally crippled the device down so the premium products justifies the pricing. That's s just sad!
  9. critter13 macrumors 6502

    Aug 23, 2010
    sorry, noob here. if you don't have a display attached, why would you care about UI performance. or even know about it for that matter?

    Edit: ah remote desktop / vnc
  10. wlossw macrumors 6502a


    May 9, 2012
    Montreal, Quebec, Canada
    The fact that such a thing is required in order to have a non-sucky remote desktop/vnc session is ridiculous... but it is what it is...
  11. rick987611 macrumors member

    Oct 28, 2008
    For when you remote into it from another computer. When used as a server a very common way to perform maintenance is by removing in using various software.
  12. adamjackson macrumors 65816

    Jul 9, 2008
    This is great. Wow, some awesome innovation still happening in the 3PP area and it doesn't cost an arm and a leg. $39 for a performance boost for VNC would be awesome.
  13. chrissnv macrumors newbie

    Jan 16, 2009
    You really only need this when you don't have a monitor connected and run graphic intensive apps or simulators. Example Xcode with iOS simulators and need to see them via remote desktop etc.
    Also there are many other solutions out there.
  14. PilotWoo macrumors regular

    Jul 14, 2006
  15. Glassed Silver macrumors 68020

    Glassed Silver

    Mar 10, 2007
    Kassel, Germany
    $19.50? Excuse me?
    Probably excluding shipping, too. :eek:

    This asks for a software hack IMHO. Or a Chinese knockoff.

    There will be people who will try to tell you, that this is good design, because it's a niche use case and normally this should be the way it is.
    Still doesn't explain why there isn't a documented software switch. Hell, at least through the command line.

    Glassed Silver:mac
  16. StevieD100 macrumors 6502


    Jan 18, 2014
    Living Dangerously in Retirement
    OWC will ship to the UK.
  17. Jsameds Suspended

    Apr 22, 2008
    An excellent way round a problem that shouldn't be there in the first place.
  18. timtjohnson macrumors newbie

    Nov 10, 2015
    I purchased one over a year ago from TinyGreenPC (£14) here in the UK.
  19. elmateo487 macrumors 6502a

    Jun 12, 2008
    What are you talking about? The device doesn't load the full display driver if no display is attached. Presumably for power savings.

    But for people like me who want to remote into my headless Mac Mini server, it lags noticeably because this driver is not loaded.

    There is a cheaper fix if you have a vga adapter to just arc a few pins together.

    But this is a much better option, as it is HDMI and it isn't crazy expensive at 20 bucks.
  20. tullys macrumors member


    Jun 8, 2007
    Lowlands of Hampshire
    Just try eBay 'hdmi headless' had one for ages on my mini cost about £10
  21. icrew macrumors member


    Feb 18, 2003
    Wish they'd make a version of this with a HDMI female port on the other side, so it could be used in a passthrough setup. I have a Mac mini that I use as a HTPC and home server attached to an HDMI switcher box. If I have the switcher set to another device, the Mac mini thinks it doesn't have a display attached, with all the detrimental effects described in this article...

    Hmmm....maybe I could use this device in conjunction with a displayport-to-HDMI adapter, then set my mini to mirror the two "screens"? That's a kludge, though.....
  22. justperry, Nov 10, 2015
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2015

    justperry macrumors 604


    Aug 10, 2007
    In the core of a black hole.
    Well, almost right, you need a resistor in between 2 terminals, which will cost you next to nothing.
    And, I think you can also do this with a DVI cable, had a picture showing which terminals to connect but I threw it away just last week.

    Edit: it was the picture below, so not a DVI connector.

  23. Laird Knox macrumors 68000

    Jun 18, 2010
    Yes they crippled the product so that they can harness the GPU cycles themselves to control HAARP. :rolleyes:

    It is common practice to disable the GPU when there is nothing connected to it. It saves power and reduces the heat load. This has been done for at least 30 years on the desktop.

    Modern software is making increased use the GPU for non-display purposes. It is probably time to revisit the practice but I expect it isn't high on the priority list.
  24. jsviper96 macrumors newbie


    Mar 1, 2010
    Portland, OR
    Hopefully one of you wise people can answer this for me. I run a Plex server on a Mac mini (mid 2011), which is connected to a TV via HDMI, which is more often than not powered off. So my question: If I have my TV powered off, does it affect the transcoding performance of the Plex server? Thanks in advance!

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