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I just got a new, used Mac Mini as a replacement for my 2011 iMac. My plan was to connect my 2 27-inchers via mDP and use the iMac in Target Display mode using HDMI --> Thunderbolt 2. Upon plugging it all in (and subsequent Googling), I think I learned the following:

  1. The output needs to be Thunderbolt in order for Target Display mode to work, so trying to go from the HDMI port on the MacMini is no good.
  2. Even connecting via TB, I still can't get audio or use the camera with the iMac in Target Display mode

Does that sound accurate?

With that said, I'm now looking into buying a 3rd 2550x1440 (minimum) 27-incher... one with speakers (which neither of my others have). I've been reading up on the latest mDP, HDMI and TB specs and quickly got in over my head. With a limited budget (around $300), I'm probably going to have to settle for less than the latest of each/any of these... most I've been seeing are HDMI 1.4 and DP 1.2.

I do web dev work... design and front-end development with some (very infrequent) video and/or 3D tinkering.

What advantages, if any, might I see if I were to bump my budget up and find something with newer HDMI and/or DisplayPort versions? What issues might I run into sticking with the lower versions?

I can say I have no complaints about my current 27-inchers (both with HDMI 1.4 and DP 1.2), but I feel like since I'm making a bit of an investment, it shouldn't be a dinosaur.

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  • @Tetsujin - Thanks!! So yes #1 and #2 are accurate. Still wondering how performance/quality will be affected for the kind of work I do by older or newer HDMI and DP versions.
    – Daveh0
    Mar 9 at 16:26
  • tbh, I have no idea whether you will get 3 monitors and TDM working at the same time [spec says 3 monitors, it doesn't mention TDM too]. If you do, I'm pretty sure it will run like a lame donkey & sound like a helicopter taking off ;) Do you really need all that screen area? i'd be looking hard at best use of Spaces. I manage perfectly well with 2 x 27" 2k screens & 7 'pairs' of Spaces.
    – Tetsujin
    Mar 9 at 16:43
  • lol. I've heard it will do all 3 with one being TDM no problem. i guess it's to be taken with a grain of salt. I'm kind of past the idea of TDM now anyway since the speakers will not be available. I probably could get by with just the 2 27s but I've got a pretty good flow going with all 3 at the moment. By 7 pairs of spaces are you referring to 7 separate desktops? That eats up a ton of RAM, yeah? Wasn't planning to upgrade until my software load started pushing it... which it does not right now.
    – Daveh0
    Mar 9 at 17:00
  • I've not noticed Spaces themselves eating RAM - I do keep a lot of things open all the time & flip between, so my RAM usage is always 'huge' but not any issue, I have 64GB & it tends to sit happily in the 'green' at 40 or 50. If I'd only 16 I might worry, but macOS seems to be good at memory handling so I don't let it bother me. I have my Spaces in 'pairs' ie "Displays have separate Spaces" is OFF, my left & right screens move as a unit not individually. If you want a look at my Spaces workflow, see superuser.com/a/1187552/347380 and apple.stackexchange.com/a/179403/85275
    – Tetsujin
    Mar 9 at 17:16
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Target Display Mode has been deprecated for years. It has major limitations and many bugs and will only get worse with time because it’s unsupported. Don’t base your plans around it.

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