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I'm the owner of three Samsung SyncMaster 245BW monitors (resolution: 1920 x 1200). I'm interested in getting a Mac Mini and was wondering if I'll be able to connect the Mac Mini to all three monitors such that I can have a separate desktop on each. Does the Mac Mini come with the hardware / software to do this? Thanks!

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Similar question: apple.stackexchange.com/questions/4777 –  Nathan Greenstein Mar 11 '11 at 2:01
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First thing I noticed was Question id === 9999 –  gotomanners Nov 11 '13 at 15:03

6 Answers 6

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Alot depends on what Mac Mini you have. Early Mac Minis only had a single DVI out, later versions had mini DVI out, still newer versions had a mini DVI and a mini DisplayPort out, and the newest all metal version has a mini DisplayPort and HDMI out and comes with an HDMI to DVI adapter.

Negrino was correct in saying that you could get a USB to DVI adapter but you might only have to get one of them, depending on your Mac Mini's video out ports. If you have an early G4 or Core Solo Mini, you would have to get 2 adapters.

For a little clarification, are you planning on mirroring your desktop 3 times or having 1 desktop extended over 3 monitors? If it is the first option then you could simply get a VGA or DVI Y adapter that would mirror the image coming out of one port to 2 or more monitors.

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monoprice.com/products/… MonoPrice.com USB 2.0 to DVI adapter for $36.40 a piece. –  Strangelikeus Apr 2 '11 at 21:51
    
Sorry, it is $39.20 a piece for 1 and $36.40 for 50 or more. –  Strangelikeus Apr 2 '11 at 22:26

You can use the Mac Mini's built-in Mini DisplayPort port for one monitor, and use a USB to DVI adapter like the $99 unit from IOGEAR for each of the other two. That may not be financially attractive, of course. There are several other units from other manufacturers that also claim to do the job, so shop around.

If the Samsung monitors have HDMI ports, you might be able to use the Mac Mini's HDMI output with them. Or possibly use an HDMI to DVI adapter.

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I have exactly the setup you describe, with a 2010 Mac Mini, with three Samsung 245BWs even. The same setup will work with a 2011 Mini as well. Just don't get anything older.

In my rig, one monitor is connected to the Mini's mini-DisplayPort port (with a mini-Displayport to HDMI cable), one is connected to the Mini's HDMI port (with an HDMI-DVI adapter), and the third is connected using a DisplayLink USB dongle of dubious Chinese manufacture.

All three run at the monitor's default 1920x1200 resolution. The two 'real' connections are fast and great for video and games, but the USB one is noticeably slower for video, so I deliberately use that one for e-mail, web, iTunes, and all those other 'on the side' applications.

The same would work with a 2011 (current) Mini, just sub in "Thunderbolt port" for mini-DisplayPort above.

When choosing a USB/HDMI adaptor, the key word you want is DisplayLink, and you must watch the specs VERY closely to be sure that 1920x1200 is supported. Many only work up to 1080, which is not quite enough. It took me three tries.

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"Mac Mini 2.3 GHz (Mid 2011): Intel HD Graphics 3000 integrated graphics, supports only one one connected Apple Thunderbolt Display

Mac Mini 2.5 GHz (Mid 2011): Mac mini with AMD graphics can support an HDMI compatible device on its HDMI port when using two Thunderbolt displays.

Mac Mini (Late 2012): can use an HDMI-compatible device on it's HDMI port while using one Thunderbolt display, or they can use two Thunderbolt displays."

http://support.apple.com/kb/HT5219?viewlocale=en_US#dispnum

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I have a 2012 i7 Mac Mini with three displays, none of them mirrored.

You can read more in my review of the J5 Create USB adapter. It doesn't have a refresh speed like a native display using the iMac GPU but for web browsing or light productivity work, the lag drawing to the third screen is observable but acceptable.

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This review was edited in such a way my original message is not clear. Neither myself or the OP even mentioned an iMac. What is "obvious meta" and why was my answer butchered? –  colonelclick Feb 14 '13 at 18:22
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I have just recreated this setup using the j5 Create USB 3.0 adapter. I'm noticing that the USBVGAsync process that is installed consistently uses 45% of one core on my CPU. This causes the fan to kick in and is quite irritating. Is this common, or is there some issue with my setup? –  Francis Sep 25 at 2:07

Updated info: if you get the current (2011) Mac Mini with AGP graphics (the higher-end version, not the one with built-in Intel graphics) it can drive three displays right out of the box: two from Thunderbolt and one from the HDMI port.

Note footnote (3) on this page:

http://support.apple.com/kb/HT4885

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What do you mean by AGP graphics and how is it possible to connect Samsung SyncMaster 245BW chained over Thunderbolt? –  iskra Nov 10 '11 at 12:08

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