Can You Use Any Monitor With The Mac Mini?
As long as the monitor has a USB-C/Thunderbolt port (indicated by the lightening bolts) or HDMI port (which almost all displays have at least one of nowadays) it will work with any Mac Mini including the Intel and M1, M2 and M2 Pro Mac Mini.
Thunderbolt and USB-C use the same cables to connect to a Mac Mini and are generally preferable to HDMI for stability, ease of connection and image transfer speeds.
Thunderbolt and USB-C also support 5K displays with a Mac .
If you want to use the monitor with a MacBook Pro too, Thunderbolt and USB-C connections will also charge MacBooks while you use the monitor.
However, the upgraded HDMI 2.1 port in the latest M2 Mac Minis is considerably more powerful than in the previous M1 Mac Mini.
The HDMI 2.0 port in the M1 Mac Mini could only support a maximum of one 4K display at 60Hz but the upgraded HDMI 2.1 port in the M2 and M2 Pro Mac Mini supports one display at up to 8K at 60Hz or one display of 4K at up to 240Hz.
The HDMI port also means that you can easily connect a TV to a Mac Mini and use it as a display too. If the Mac Mini is connected to an Apple TV, you can also connect to a TV to a Mac Mini wirelessly via AirPlay.
Mac Minis also have an Ethernet port which allows you to connect over a network which is supported by some monitors such as the Dell UltraSharp U2723QE.
You May Also Like:
- Best Monitors For The Mac Mini
- Best 5K Monitors For Mac
- How To Use A TV As A Monitor With A Mac
- How To Connect Multiple Monitors To M1 & M2 Macs
How Many Displays Can I Connect To A Mac Mini?
The number of external monitors a Mac Mini can support depends on which model you have.
Here is a breakdown of how many external displays the different models of Mac Mini can support:
- Up to two displays: One display up to 6K at 60Hz via a Thunderbolt 4 (USB-C) port and one display up to 4K using the HDMI 2.0 port.
- Up to two displays: One display up to 6K at 60Hz via a Thunderbolt 4 (USB-C) port one display with up to 5K resolution at 60Hz over Thunderbolt or 4K resolution at 60Hz over HDMI
The M2 Pro Mac Mini supports the following combination of external displays and specifications:
- Up to three displays: Two displays with up to 6K resolution at 60Hz over Thunderbolt and one display with up to 4K resolution at 60Hz over HDMI.
- Up to two displays: One display with up to 6K resolution at 60Hz over Thunderbolt and one display with up to 4K resolution at 144Hz over HDMI
- One display: Up to 8K resolution at 60Hz or 4K resolution at 240Hz over HDMI
If the display you want to connect to your Mac Mini only has a DVI or VGA ouput, you can also connect them to an M1/M2 Mac Mini using an adapter:
- A Thunderbolt 2 display requires a Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt adapter
- A VGA display or projector requires a USB-C VGA Multiport adapter
- A DisplayPort or Mini DisplayPort display requires a USB-C to DisplayPort or Mini DisplayPort adapter
- A DVI display or projector requires a USB-C to DVI adapter
The M2 Pro Mac Mini clearly has the best support for external monitors.
There are ways of making the basic M1/M2 chip Macs support more external monitors but it depends on the resolution you need and you’ll require a Thunderbolt Hub, Docking Station or third party device.
The Intel Mac Mini supports the following combination of displays:
- Up to three displays:
Two displays with 4096-by-2304 (4K) resolution at 60Hz connected via Thunderbolt 3 plus one display with 4096-by-2160 resolution (4K) at 60Hz connected via HDMI
- Up to two displays:
One display with 5120-by-2880 (5K) resolution at 60Hz connected via Thunderbolt 3 plus one display with 4096-by-2160 (4K) resolution at 60Hz connected via HDMI
Like with the Apple Silicon Mac Minis, if the display you want to connect to only has a DVI or VGA ouput, you can also connect them to an Intel Mac Mini using an adapter.
Note that as of 17th January 2023, Apple only stocks M2 Mac Minis from new. The M1 Mac Mini and Intel Mac Mini are only available as older refurbished models from Apple or from third party vendors such as Amazon.
How To Connect A Monitor To A Mac Mini
With this in mind, follow these instructions to connect an external monitor to a Mac Mini.
- If you’re unsure whether you have an Intel Mac Mini or M1/M2 Mac Mini, then first you need to identify which model you have. To do this, click on the Apple logo in the top left of your screen and select About This Mac. You’ll be able to see whether your Mac Mini has an Intel or Apple Silicon M1 chip in the dialog box that appears. Alternatively, you can also Double-click on the serial number then copy and paste it into the Apple Tech Specs search page to find out exactly model you have.
- If you scroll down to the Connections and Expansion section you’ll see the exact ports your Mac Mini has plus its maximum external display capabilities.
- Once you’ve chosen a monitor for your Mac Mini, you then need to connect it to one of the ports available. Plug in the power to your monitor and connect it to your Mac Mini.
- Once you’ve successfully connected the display and your Mac Mini has recognized it, you then need to set it up correctly. If you go to System Preferences > Display you’ll see the Display settings. Here you can change the resolution of your external display. We recommend setting this to “Default for Display” for the optimum settings.
“Scaled” will match the maximum resolution supported by your Mac Mini but if you’re finding that a scaled resolution is making everything look extremely small or blurry on the external display, try some of these solutions.
If you’re using more than one display with your Mac Mini you can configure how they are arranged.
- Go to System Preferences > Displays and then the Arrangement tab and you’ll see the external displays that you’ve connected to your Mac Mini. If you’re using more than one display, you’ll now see options to set how the displays are arranged such as left to right or right to left, screen mirroring, contrast, resolution and more.
The principle or main display is indicated by the one that has a white bar above it. You can also mirror the displays by checking the Show Mirroring options.
If The Monitor Is Not Working With The Mac Mini
If your Mac fails to recognize the external display connected to your Mac Mini or you can only see a black screen, try the following:
- Try connecting the display to your Mac Mini while it is turned off then switch-on the Mac Mini
- Double-check that all cables are securely connected
- Check you have updated to the latest version of macOS which is currently Ventura
- Update the firmware on your monitor
If you’re still having problems getting your external display to work with a Mac Mini, try some of these solutions.
Can You Use An iMac As A Monitor For The Mac Mini?
If you’ve for an old iMac lying around you can use an iMac as an external display for the Mac Mini – but it’s not as straightforward as it should be.
The latest iMacs support up to 5K resolution which is the same as the Apple Studio Display so in theory, it would make perfect sense to use an old iMac with the Apple Studio.
However, Apple dropped what’s known as Target Display Mode for retina Macs like the iMac back in 2014 which previously allowed you to use an iMac as an external monitor with another Mac.
There are still ways to use an iMac as a monitor but there is no method that supports 5K resolution reliably and our advice is you’re much better off getting a dedicated external monitor.
Does The Mac Mini Support HDMI 2.1?
The latest M2 Mac Mini supports HDMI 2.1. One of the big upgrades in the new M2 Mac Mini was the addition of the HDMI 2.1 port.
Previously both the Intel Mac Mini and M1 Mac Mini only supported HDMI 2.0.
HDMI 2.0 supports up to 240 Hz when using 1080p resolution, 144 Hz at up to 1440p resolution, and 60 Hz at up to 4K resolution.
HDMI 2.1 supports 120 Hz at up to 4K resolution and 60 Hz at up to 8K resolution. If you use a lower resolution than 4K, HDMI 2.1 can even handle up to 240 Hz.
Which Is The Best Monitor For A Mac Mini?
Pretty much any display will work with a Mac Mini but the best external monitors for the Mac Mini will have at least a USB-C or Thunderbolt connection.
An M1 and M2 Mac Mini is powerful enough to handle a 5K monitor at 60Hz such as Apple’s top of the range Apple Studio Display.
The M2 Pro Mac Mini can even handle up to 8K via the new HDMI 2.1 port.
Both the M1 and M2 Mac Mini can also handle Ultrawide monitors including 34-inch, 38-inch and the biggest 49-inch displays.
You can check our guide to the best monitors for the Mac Mini for more.