2018 Mac Mini + videowall - How many monitors can be connected to a single Mac Mini?  

  RSS

WvanDam
(@wvandam)
Active Member
Joined: 2 weeks ago
Posts: 5
December 3, 2018 12:33 pm  

Hello all,

For a hobby project at work I'm doing some research regarding the viability of a videowall made up of Full HD monitors attached to a single 2018 Mac Mini (running macOS).

Normally a Mac Mini can support 3 4K monitors. From the main 2018 Mac Mini topic I learned that it has 2 controllers driving the 4 TB3 outputs. Unfortunately I don't fully know what that means with respect to my query:

Basically I'd like to know the max number of Full HD monitors that could be connected to a single Mac Mini, running macOS. 

Some sub-questions:
* Can I keep using monitors directly attached to the Mac Mini alongside the ones attached to an eGPU? 
* What eGPU would you recommend if I'm interested in max connections and low power usage, not performance?
* Would it actually even make sense to use eGPU compared to one or more docks (e.g. https://www.owcdigital.com/products/thunderbolt-3-dock)?  

Thanks in advance for your help!

Cheers,
Wouter

btw. I realise I could ask an Apple Genius, but I've been given wrong information by them before, so I'd rather ask a community of expert users.

Researching mac mini + eGPU's for videowall - an office hobby project


ReplyQuote
theitsage
(@itsage)
Famed Member Admin
Joined: 2 years ago
Posts: 3232
December 3, 2018 1:54 pm  

I believe the Intel UHD Graphics 630 iGPU can support up to three displays. In the Mac mini, one display output is attached to the HDMI port (4096 x 2160 @60Hz max). The other two outputs are attached to the Thunderbolt 3 ports to dynamically handle up to two 4K (4096 x 2304 @60Hz max) or one 5K (5120 x 2880 @60Hz). Using lower resolution displays does not increase the number of outputs unfortunately.

You can definitely run multiple displays via both iGPU and eGPU concurrently. For a low power multiple monitor setup, I'd highly recommend the Sonnet Breakaway Puck 560. It provides one HDMI and three DisplayPort outputs. Combined with the iGPU you can drive at most seven FHD monitors. Thunderbolt 3 docks with display outputs use the iGPU passthrough. They don't increase the three display max of the UHD Graphics 630.

Theoretically speaking, a single 2018 Mac mini can run four eGPUs in macOS Mojave. If you were to go with four Breakaway Pucks, you'll get 17 monitor outputs (one HDMI from Mac mini + four HDMI and twelve DisplayPort from Breakaway Pucks).

Best ultrabooks for eGPU use

eGPU enclosure buying guide

86 external GPU build guides


ReplyQuote
WvanDam
(@wvandam)
Active Member
Joined: 2 weeks ago
Posts: 5
December 4, 2018 10:09 am  

Thank you for the information! That is great to hear!

Unfortunately I found out that eGPU's have poor availability in our country, leading to high prices. The Sonnet Breakaway Puck 560 would cost around 560 euro plus international shipping to import.

It appears that the Gigabyte RX 580 Gaming Box is actually the only one that is really readily available locally, at 500 euro. Would that be a suitable alternative? I do read that it may have a pitched noise from the fans. And the lights may not be turned off. Both are kind of an issue in an office environment 🙁

In my search I also found out that it's possible to use thunderbolt 1 / 2, which is nice! 🙂

Researching mac mini + eGPU's for videowall - an office hobby project


ReplyQuote
WvanDam
(@wvandam)
Active Member
Joined: 2 weeks ago
Posts: 5
December 5, 2018 2:11 pm  

Another update in my research:

It's possible to get 6 screens on a single eGPU using:
* Sonnet Break Away Box 550
Gigabyte RX VEGA 56 GAMING OC 8GD

That gives a whopping theoretical screen total of 25. Not bad at all!

Through the Sonnet 'Find a Store' function I actually found a store within 500 meters of my home that can deliver both the Puck and the Break Away box at a good price. Pricing wise both eGPU solutions cost about 100 euro / dollar per screen (ex VAT).

For 2 - 7 screens: Sonnet Puck
For 8 - 9 screens: Sonnet Break Away 550 + Gigabyte Vega 56
For 10 - 11 screens: 2x Puck
For 12 - 15 screens: 2x Break Away
For 16 - 17 screens: 4x Puck
For 17 - 20 screens: 3x Break Away
For 21 - 25 screens: 4x Break Away

Researching mac mini + eGPU's for videowall - an office hobby project


theitsage liked
ReplyQuote
theitsage
(@itsage)
Famed Member Admin
Joined: 2 years ago
Posts: 3232
December 5, 2018 2:22 pm  

Nice find! I was not aware there's a non-professional card with 6 outputs. On the spec table, it shows "Digital max resolution 7680x4320". I wonder how this effects the output resolutions through the monitors when you run 6 concurrently.

Best ultrabooks for eGPU use

eGPU enclosure buying guide

86 external GPU build guides


ReplyQuote
joevt
(@joevt3)
Reputable Member
Joined: 1 year ago
Posts: 281
December 5, 2018 6:15 pm  

Has someone tested 4 eGPUs with any Mac before?

Soon I will add my system & eGPU details or a build link to this my signature to give context to my posts


ReplyQuote
theitsage
(@itsage)
Famed Member Admin
Joined: 2 years ago
Posts: 3232
December 5, 2018 7:34 pm  

Yes. I attempted five. Mojave would only recognized four. This was a mix of two natively supported GPUs. The rest were Nvidia and older AMD cards. I actually have "testing 4 eGPUs" on my to-do list.

Best ultrabooks for eGPU use

eGPU enclosure buying guide

86 external GPU build guides


ReplyQuote
 chx
(@chx)
Estimable Member
Joined: 2 years ago
Posts: 132
December 6, 2018 2:20 pm  

Super nice find about that Vega with six outputs. (The never satisfied crowd quitely murmurs something about "only" three DisplayPorts but oh well.)

Lenovo ThinkPad 25 -- GALAX SNPR TB3 1060 -- Lenovo Graphics Dock -- Benq BL2411PT - - two PackedPixels - Dasung not-eReader backer


ReplyQuote
WvanDam
(@wvandam)
Active Member
Joined: 2 weeks ago
Posts: 5
December 6, 2018 11:08 pm  

I'm glad it helped someone 🙂

Unfortunately it turns out our collection of Full HD monitors is older than I thought. It actually mostly pre-dates the Full HD era, and almost all only have a VGA input. There is only 1 Full HD monitor with a HDMI input. 🙁

To be honest I'm not sure whether it's worth the effort at this point. It would be pretty awesome to have a wall filled with semi-borderless screens like the lg-24MP88HV, but that would kind of go way beyond the idea we had of re-purposing our old monitors.

Researching mac mini + eGPU's for videowall - an office hobby project


ReplyQuote
joevt
(@joevt3)
Reputable Member
Joined: 1 year ago
Posts: 281
December 7, 2018 12:13 am  

One person used 3 eGPUs and 14 4K displays:
https://9to5mac.com/2018/08/14/back-to-the-mac-010-dual-egpus/
They didn't have 18 displays to test.

Posted by: WvanDam

I'm glad it helped someone 🙂

Unfortunately it turns out our collection of Full HD monitors is older than I thought. It actually mostly pre-dates the Full HD era, and almost all only have a VGA input. There is only 1 Full HD monitor with a HDMI input. 🙁

To be honest I'm not sure whether it's worth the effort at this point. It would be pretty awesome to have a wall filled with semi-borderless screens like the lg-24MP88HV, but that would kind of go way beyond the idea we had of re-purposing our old monitors.

Isn't the point of a video wall to be large so it doesn't matter how many pixels each display has? HDMI to VGA adapters and DisplayPort to VGA adapters are not expensive.

Soon I will add my system & eGPU details or a build link to this my signature to give context to my posts


ReplyQuote
WvanDam
(@wvandam)
Active Member
Joined: 2 weeks ago
Posts: 5
December 7, 2018 2:56 pm  

They're 1024 x 768 monitors and the borders are huge. I should have taken a closer look before I got started. We might still go for it at a later point, but for now we're going to focus on another office hobby project with 2 recovered 46" iiyama multi-touch monitors.

Again, thanks for the help, and hopefully this will be helpful to someone else in the meantime.

Researching mac mini + eGPU's for videowall - an office hobby project


ReplyQuote