4 Replies Latest reply: Jul 1, 2008 6:01 PM by Bryan9
Bryan9 Level 1 Level 1 (5 points)
The Mac Mini has only one video output port. I very nearly didn't buy a Mac Mini system because I need to work with two monitors. I use the second monitor to display information in Web pages, PDFs, and Word documents while I am working in the main window.

However, I discovered after quite a bit of Googling that it is possible to set up dual monitors using an inexpensive USB video adapter (about $70).

So I bought my Mini (1.83Ghz, 2GB RAM, 200GB 7200rpm Seagate Momentus), and I also bought a USB video adapter called the EVGA Plus.

I've installed this system and used it now for a week, and I am quite pleased with it. So I thought I'd pass this information along to anyone who's interested. Please note that, although this is my first post to this forum, this isn't spam -- I have no financial relationship with any of the companies mentioned here, other than as a customer.

LINKS

EVGA Plus:

http://www.evga.com/articles/409.asp

Their literature does not mention Mac OS X compatibility. However, the underlying technology is made by Display Link. You can download beta Mac OS X drivers from their site:

Go to Display Link to download the beta Mac OS support -- see

http://www.displaylink.com/macbetadrivers.html

The disk image includes a very well written PDF document that explains the driver's status and limitations.

PICS

My Mac Mini setup, with dual monitors:

http://lh5.ggpht.com/BPfaffenberger/SGV5A7lA2QI/AAAAAAAABMI/CBuR4m3uGRA/IMG_0144 .JPG?imgmax=800

The EVGA+ USB display unit - a tiny little thing - driven by Mac OS beta drivers from Display Link:

http://lh3.ggpht.com/BPfaffenberger/SGV49qpHuQI/AAAAAAAABME/b9wo9TZPJdE/IMG_0143 .JPG?imgmax=800

*MORE INFO*

A thread at 123macmini.com on the same topic, including another user's experiences and MUCH better pictures:

http://www.123macmini.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=19126&postdays=0&postorder=asc& start=0&sid=5a05cb75b90cab5bbc7dfd16b02632c1

NOTES

* The DisplayLink driver is beta. It doesn't support 2D or 3D accelerated graphics. You can't use it to display iPhoto slide shows, for example. However, I need to be able to display a Web page, document, or PDF in the second monitor while I am working in the first. I've found this solution to be quite acceptable for this purpose.

* Several other companies make USB video units that use the same DisplayLink support, so they should work, too. However, they are more expensive -- largely because they're set up to function as port expanders, I believe. The EVGA Plus was the only unit priced under $100 when I did my search.

* USB does not have very much bandwidth, so you might be surprised that to hear that it's possible to use USB to drive a monitor! You'll find that the display isn't as fast as DVI, but for my purposes, I've found it quite acceptable.

* The EVGA Plus comes with a terrible USB to mini USB cable that will cause all sorts of display problems. Replace it with the type of cable that is used to hook up digital cameras to a USB port.

* Once everything is installed, you can use the Displays in System Preferences (or just click the icon on the menu bar) to adjust the second monitor. You can choose display resolutions (depending on your monitor's ability, of course). Rotation works. You can also right-click the second monitor and choose a different background color or graphic.

Don't expect miracles. Don't go this route if you want to run videos or games in the second monitor. And if you get an EVGA Plus, replace that horrible cable!

I hope this information is helpful.

Bryan

MacBook Air, Mac Mini 1.83Ghz Intel, Mac OS X (10.5.3)
  • ~Nobby~ Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Thanks for the post as I am a PC user who is looing to migrate to the MAC world and the only thinking stopping me is the fact that the Mac mini just has not got dual screen ability. Now there is a gizmo that can help then that is great...... Now just need to decide on what config of MAC mini....
  • AndyO Level 6 Level 6 (17,050 points)
    There has been quite a lot of discussion here about driving twin displays with the mini, and more recently about the potential for USB video adapters to facilitate this, particularly in the light of several vendors claiming they have suitable MacOS devices and drivers 'almost ready'.

    The DisplayLink solution seems to be the one most suggested as viable, though it's a pity they have not yet been able to move their drivers from beta - I suspect that puts a few people off. It's therefore good to hear of a real-world experience that should help others decide whether or not to go this route!
  • Richard S Chapel Hill Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    I was in an Apple store yesterday the 30th and wanted to buy the Macmini but was told by the staff that the dual monitors would work but had poor display. I really only plan on using it for documents and internet, very little if any graphics or gaming. Does your display appear to work ok for that level of clarity??
  • Bryan9 Level 1 Level 1 (5 points)
    Richard, as I explained in my post, I was looking for a +de minimus+ solution - something that would display largely static pages as I worked in the other monitor. For this, it's OK. Overall, the quality isn't anything to write home about. Browsing is slower, the mouse is a little jerky, etc. But as was said about the dog that talked, the question was not whether the dog talked well, but whether it talked at all. This solution talks. Enough for me, anyway.

    Best,
    Bryan