Use an old iMac as a screen for a new Mini?

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by bookmanjb, Feb 25, 2014.

  1. bookmanjb macrumors newbie

    Jul 23, 2006
    The hard drive on my Core 2 Duo, 2.66 20-Inch (Early 2008) iMac died so now I boot up off an external SSD via USB as a temporary fix. I don't really want to buy another iMac nor do I want to put a new HD in a 7 year old box, and it occurs to me that I could just get a new Mini running Mountain Lion or Mavericks, and use the old iMac as its screen. My question is: is that advisable and, if so, what would be the best way to do that? Would I need to buy any special cables or adapters? Would there be any limitations that a newer screen wouldn't have? Thanks.
  2. Jambalaya macrumors 6502a

    Jun 21, 2013
    How do the specs of the iMac screen (size at least) compare to a new HD monitor, a 23 inch one will cost you about $100.

    Linking the iMac screen will require an adapter, $25 or so, e.g. mini-DVI out to VGA or such as I imagine that old iMac won't have HDMI or another directly suitable input supported by new Minis (could be wrong).

    Your most cost effective solution is clearly to put a new HDD into the iMAC and keep it it. Eg $75 bucks for a WD black 750GB running at 7200 rpm (have this in my 2009 Mini, again not sure about sure of specs on the old iMac but I imagine it's OK)

    Or new HDD into the iMac and sell it. Then buy a mini and a new monitor.

    Or buy new (or used) Mini, take the HDD out and out in into the iMAC (need to check that works spec wise) sell it then and put an SSD into the Mini (warranty issues to be considered).

    Sorry about the lack of specifics but others will know those. Seems a waste to bin the iMac or just use it as a screen after the expense of a new (or new-ish) Mini
  3. fhall1 macrumors 68040


    Dec 18, 2007
    (Central) NY State of mind
    That iMac is too old to use as an external monitor. I believe you need at least a 2010 model (maybe late 2009, but not early 2009 as I have one and it doesn't have that capability).

    The only way your 2008 could do it is by booting it up and "screen sharing" to your new Mini and that would be laggy as all heck.
  4. Jambalaya macrumors 6502a

    Jun 21, 2013
    Based on the above I would do some research as to what you can sell your iMac for on the basis it has a new HDD in it. Then you can decide whether it's worth it to fix it up and sell it and/or whether you can justify the new Mini expense (cheaper than an iMac if you go for a $100 23" or $300 27" monitor)

    Be aware there is lots of speculation (see multiple threads here) about a Mini refresh, so you have a choice as to wait and buy a new refresh Mini or take advantage of various refurbs which have been appearing or a second hand machine (tend to sell quickly). I just do normal home computing on mine plus use it as a media centre but my 2009 Mini is still going strong with Mavericks, 8gb ram and 750gb hdd upgrades.
  5. cyber16 macrumors 6502

    Jan 12, 2013
    Heck a good used 500GB hard drive cost next to nothing, even new storage is cheap.
    Install a drive into the imac sell the imac and purchase a nice monitor.
    Then get the mini,
    Yet why not just install the hard drive use the imac until the new mini is released.
    This way you can take advantage of the new offerings OR the now cheaper prices of the prior model.
    my 0.02
  6. BigRed1 macrumors 6502

    Dec 13, 2011
    Does that iMac have firewire 800? If so, your ssd might be a little less laggy in a fw800 enclosure.
  7. Pharmscott macrumors 6502a


    Dec 13, 2011
    Sacramento, CA
  8. Alekto macrumors regular

    Nov 15, 2012
    If it were me (I know it's not but...) I'd be tempted to shove an SSD in and max out the RAM in that old iMac, just for fun. Then I'd sell it off later or give it to a relative who needs a machine down the line.
  9. paulrbeers macrumors 68040

    Dec 17, 2009
    To further clarify, the iMac doens't require a Thunderbolt port. However, it has to be a Late 27" 2009 and 2010 with a Displayport or a 2011, 2012, 2013 21.5" or 27" with a Thunderbolt port. I just want to be clear, Thunderbolt is not the only option. Older 27" iMacs with Displayport also support Target Display Mode.

    I will also point out, that Target Display Mode works well, but it requires your iMac to be fully booted which means it is using a LOT more energy than just a regular LCD Monitor. I would only recommend this option if you have a Mini acting as a Server or a Macbook you periodically want a bigger screen and an iMac already. You would not want to use an iMac as a display all the time as this is just completely wasteful.

    However, in the above scenario for the OP. None of this matters since a 2008 can not do Target Display Mode.

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