I've always understood that my Mac Mini is limited to one QHD (2560 x 1440/1600) monitor via DisplayPort and one HD monitor (1900x1200) via HDMI... from Wikipedia:

Like the 2009 version, a Mini DisplayPort (which allows for a VGA connection, via a non-included cable) is included. A HDMI port, which Apple describes as being HDMI 1.4 compliant, replaces the Mini-DVI port on the prior models as one of the main video connection methods. The HDMI port supports up to 1080p on HDMI connections and 8 channel 24-bit audio at 192 kHz, Dolby Surround 5.1 and stereo output. With the included HDMI to DVI adapter, for those currently using a DVI interface, the HDMI port will work with resolutions up to 1920 × 1200 pixels, while the Mini DisplayPort can concurrently support a resolution up to 2560 × 1600 pixels

However this link suggests I can run two QHD monitors via the thunderbolt port and a splitter:

Thunderbolt digital video output

  • Native Mini DisplayPort output
  • DVI output using Mini DisplayPort to DVI Adapter (sold separately)
  • VGA output using Mini DisplayPort to VGA Adapter (sold separately)
  • Dual-link DVI output using Mini DisplayPort to Dual-Link DVI Adapter (sold separately)

HDMI video output

  • Support for 1080p resolution at up to 60Hz
  • DVI output using HDMI to DVI Adapter (sold separately)

There is a lot of talk of DVI here, but my monitor only supports [Mini]DisplayPort and HDMI.

Am I right to read this that my Mac will support two QHD monitors but only by splitting from the DP/thunderbolt port leaving HDMI-out unused? In which case can I get a Thunderbolt->dual DP or DP->Dual DP adapter or do I have to get a DVI splitter and two DVI->DP adapters?!

  • @Allan typo for QHD (fixed)
    – Mr. Boy
    Feb 16, 2018 at 16:19

3 Answers 3


Am I right to read this that my Mac will support two QHD monitors but only by splitting from the DP/thunderbolt port leaving HDMI-out unused? In which case can I get a Thunderbolt->dual DP or DP->Dual DP adapter or do I have to get a DVI splitter and two DVI->DP adapters?!

There's no such thing as a Thunderbolt "splitter."

You are confusing the term dual-link DVI with dual DVI. Dual-link DVI refers to the number of data channels (double) that is available for more bandwidth meaning higher resolution. It's not a "second connection" and you cannot "split" the signals. Dual DVI is two DVI ports for multiple monitors. The Mac mini does not nor support dual DVI

Multiple Monitors on a Mac mini

The Mac mini will natively support two monitors:

  • Thunderbolt/DisplayPort - Quad HD (2560x1600)
  • HDMI Port - Full HD (1080p)

To get another display or dual QHD displays, you need an additional adapter and for the Mac mini, that means USB:

This will give you another USB adapter, but be aware that you are now offloading all of the graphics processing onto the USB bus and ultimately on the CPU. In other words, this is not something for performance, but rather convenience. The Mac mini wasn't designed for this type of setup.

  • I think I follow all that; for the avoidance of doubt does it therefore follow that a)only one monitor can plug into the Thunderbolt digital output b)I cannot do better than one HD monitor (1900x1200) and one QHD (2560x1600) with this model of Mac?
    – Mr. Boy
    Feb 16, 2018 at 16:22
  • You've provided a workaround but you haven't actually answered my questions... can you incorporate that with your adapter idea into your asnwer?
    – Mr. Boy
    Feb 16, 2018 at 16:44
  • @Mr.Boy: Allan's answer is incomplete. It most definitely is technically feasible for a 2012 Mac mini to drive two displays, each at a resolution of 2560x1440 (1440p/QHD) or 2560x1600 (WQXGA), without any use of USB-to-video solutions.
    – jdmc
    Dec 10, 2018 at 17:28
  • In a nutshell, the Thunderbolt 1 bus carries two independent 10-Gbps channels, each of which has sufficient bandwidth to carry a DisplayPort High Bit Rate (HBR) datastream, which can accommodate 2560x1600 resolution at 24 bits per pixel and 75 Hz refresh rate. Actually setting this up is unfortunately not as easy or straightforward as it should be, but it can be done. I'm working on a more detailed answer which I intend to post here soon.
    – jdmc
    Dec 10, 2018 at 17:28

This is something that's very badly described in all of Apple's literature. Some of the earlier answers are correct in that the HDMI port is useless unless you are happy to stick to 1080p for television-type resolution.

However, as jdmc points out Thunderbolt has enough bandwidth to carry two 4K signals (though, the 2012 Mac Mini maxes out at QHD). In order to achieve that, you need a device like this.

That should then give you two functional Quad HD displayport outputs that can be used independently or in a mirrored configuration.

The USB adapters mentioned do mean that the handling of graphics processing is shunted over to the USB bus, which is in turn managed by the processor... but anyone who knows a 2012 Mac Mini will know it doesn't have a dedicated graphics processor anyway. So the processor is already handling all this, so I personally doubt there would be an appreciable difference for the casual 'non-gaming' user. That said, I went with the option above as USB ports are scarce on the Mac mini.

  • How is this different from the first answer to this question?
    – Allan
    Apr 10 at 19:50

There is a lot of misinformation on all of these threads, compounded by a general misunderstanding of what 'Thunderbolt 2' is (which probably stems from the fact that it looks just like a Mini Displayport).

Thunderbolt 2 is the fastest port on the back of the 2012 macMini, and should not be viewed as just some place to bung a monitor and be done with it. It's a 20GB/Second high-speed data connection, capable of connection to a myriad of devices (including a single display).

If you want to take full advantage of Apple's advised maximum graphics capability of two QHD displays, you need to plug a multiplex device into that Thunderbolt 2 socket. This will use the 20GB/second data transfer and share that between a whole host of other possible ports and uses, from gigabit ethernet to 4K HDMI to additional Thunderbolt ports to extra USB 3.0 and more. To this end, you should think of the Thunderbolt's connectivity potential in the same way that you might a USB socket, with a USB hub plugged in.

One such device that's available relatively cheaply secondhand, and is in relatively plentiful supply in places is the Belkin Thunderbolt 2 Expressdock.

This goes into the single port on the back of the Mac Mini and provides connectivity for up to eight devices from the single connection on the back of the computer.

Their specs say:

  • Connect 8 separate devices through a single Thunderbolt cable
  • 4x faster than USB 3.0
  • 25x faster than FireWire 800
  • Thunderbolt and Thunderbolt 2 technology-ready
  • Supports dual displays and 4K cinema resolution
  • Connect up to 8 devices directly to the dock, and daisy chain up to 4 additional Thunderbolt devices (5 total)
  • Mac and PC compatible Brushed aluminum finish Includes 1M Thunderbolt cable

It's compatible with:

  • iMac
  • Mac Pro
  • Mac mini
  • MacBook Air
  • MacBook Pro
  • MacBook Pro with Retina Display
  • PC Laptops/Ultrabooks with Thunderbolt/Thunderbolt 2 port

Most of the cheap Displayport 'splitter' type devices (including the one linked in another answer) don't work properly on macOS and will only duplicate rather than extend the displays.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .