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Mac Mini Owner Reports on Dim Analog Video
Reports last Updated: 8/10/2005



This page has reader feedback from users of Apple's Mac Mini regarding the issue if dim (or low contrast) Analog video. There's a thread at Apple's forums where Mini owners originally reported dim (analog) video w/VGA adapters/displays. I'm not sure if it's a uniform issue (in all Minis) or just certain builds but a reader said according to german Ct magazine (print version) tests, the analog video output level was below 530mV (below VESA standards) See bottom of page for links to other Mac Mini related articles and docs.

Reader Reports on Analog Video: (most recent first.)
If you've used a Mini with a VGA (analog) display, let me know if you've noticed dim video or not. (Include info on your display brand/model as some VGA/Analog displays seem to show this more than others.) Also note if you're using a KVM switch (if so try a direct connect although most noted this didn't help). Thankfully not every owner saw the problem with their specific VGA display. (If you have another Mac or PC system - try comparing the VGA display brightness/contrast to the Mac Mini. Some monitors apparently don't show the problem. Note: Apple has posted a kbase doc on the issue with some general things to check first.)

(added 8/10/2005)
" I've been reading with great interest this thread on the Mini dim video issue. I purchased from the Apple Australia webstore a week ago, a new "revised" Mini: 1.42GHz, 512 ram, Airport, Bluetooth, ComboDrive, and am experiencing the same thing - a dim, washed out picture. I'd specifically waited for this "revised" model, as I'd read reports before about issues with the graphics (specifically DVI artifacts, and also mention of this dimness problem)
(brightness issue w/Analog video, although some analog monitor owners didn't notice it and there were some tips that helped some here. The DVI issue was reported by some owners, usually at higher res. See reports below-Mike)
and had hoped that the second generation Mini would have any bugs ironed out. It seems that's not the case. I noticed the dimness first when switching between the mini and a Windows XP machine using a Belkin KVM, connected to an older 17" CRT ("Digital" brand, model VRT17-H4) monitor. Tried all the adjustments, calibrations, but couldn't get it right - the Windows picture was just brighter and more vivid.
Today I've borrowed a Philips 170B LCD display, and hooked that up with a direct connection (bypassed the KVM) into the analogue VGA connection and there's no difference. Unfortunately I didn't borrow the DVI cable for the monitor, as it does have a DVI input, so I'll try that soon and see if it makes any difference.

I have to say, I'm pretty disappointed, as it's an otherwise fantastic little system. I bought this to do graphics work on, so I'm pretty eager to resolve this issue. Might have to make a call to Apple. I wonder if anyone with this problem has successfully returned a mini because of it, and had a replacement that's better?
-David P."

I don't remember anyone reporting a replacement helped (but I can't remember all the reports). Some did say that contrast, calibration, etc. helped but it was not a universal fix for everyone. A DVI monitor would be a better choice although some have noted display issues at higher res at least.


Another Note on Univ. Access Contrast Settings:

(added 7/27/2005 - updated 8/1/2005)
"I have a Mac Mini (1.42) w/ 512K/Superdrive, hooked up via VGA to a Dell 2005FP (previously a Dell 17"). I also have a PC on DVI on that monitor. As many have noted, I also had the dim video on the Mini, and I tried the Universal access tip, but originally found it to be unsatisfying.

Then, I ran the display calibrator, but on the very first screen, when I turned the brightness and contrast on the screen up, I still couldn't get the image to where it was "supposed" to be (barely seeing the oval). With the calibrator still on screen, I then opened up universal access and began adjusting that...well, wouldn't you know it, but with a tiny bump on the slider I was able to fine tune the image on that very first page using the univ. access slider in addition to the brightness and contrast controls on the monitor itself. Now, I have my brightness and contrast set to ~50%, and the image looks very good.

It's not perfectly color calibrated, as I discovered yesterday...that's something I'll need to work on. The images on screen are a bit brighter than what comes out of my printer. But viewing on-screen images is a joy once again, and compared to the PC, I certainly wouldn't call the video "dim" anymore.
Marc
(I asked if this LCD display had a 1920 x 1200 native res-Mike))
Yes it is correct. I just checked: Apple only says on their website that the mini support 1920x1080 using the VGA output (a fact that might not be noticed fully by some others too).
The 1920x1200 res (my LCD native res) is only supported via DVI which has the flickering/tearing problem in that res of course... "

See below for an older post on Notes on Universal Access Contrast Setting.


(added 7/27/2005)
"Bought a 1.42 GHz Mini and connected a 17" LG Flatron F700P without any problems. I tested the resolutions 1920x..., 1600x1200, 1440x...., 640x480, everything OK.
(I asked if the monitor was Analog/VGA or DVI - as some DVI users of high-res displays reported some display glitches (see report below from 23in HP LCD user for instance) Not every Analog display user had the dim video issue, but more than a few did.-Mike)
VGA connection, and yes, it's 17". I've been looking a lot for something with a better resolution than just a little bit more than my aging iMac G3 but still fitting on my desk ;-). It supports 1920x1440@60Hz, 1600x1200@75Hz and 1400x1050@85Hz.
Willi "


(added 7/26/2005)
"Hi Mike, i just bought a brand new Macmini 1.2GHz 1GB to use it with my 23" HP 2335. And yes there is the dim VGA analog problem and its even worse: I am running the display on the VGA input on 1920x1200x32 (the display's real resolution) since the DVI output has the also known problem of generating many horizontal artifacts like flickering stripes. I thought i go for the VGA analog then since i connect a second linux box to the monitor's DVI input anyway.

But besides the very dim setting which I can not solve using a different input voltage (the monitor doesn't support it), the monitor loses synch once in a while depending on -well i am not sure- what you do on the desktop. Sometimes opening a new website in firefox or starting iSight and bang: the picture is gone. All you see then is a blue screen (yes really a blue screen ;) where the last picture that was in the framebuffer is arbitrary shown every 5-10 seconds. Now all you can do is to reconnect the mini via DVI and back to VGA and the picture is back...

The apple store where i bought it could not help (and didn't hear about these problems). As i found out, there are two shareware progs "DisplayConfigX" and "SwitchResX" (both linked in the FAQ's Displays/Monitors section here) which are known to help with the DVI problem by changing the DVI's refresh rate, but with the VGA it has to be found out (did anyone try? The problem with "DisplayConfigX" is you have to buy it first to enable the high res support). As one writer already said: maybe a VGA enhancer (booster/amplifier) would help...but this is a little annoying since we all bought a product which should run according to its specs...
regards, Marc "

Personally I'd try the Mini and the Display to a local Apple store and demo the problem to them. (And get a refund for the system hopefully.)


(added 7/26/2005)
"I have two Dell M770 17" monitors. Both exhibit dim video when attached to the Mini. Both are very crisp and bright when attached to a BW G3 tower. Sort of disappointing. There are no controls I know of that can enhance the video level.
Denis L. "

A few have said a monitor calibration (in OS X) helped but it's not been a fix for everyone.


(added 7/26/2005)
"Mike, Unfortunately I am experiencing the dimming problem as well. Even though this is my first Mac, I noticed the screen seemed dark and somewhat fuzzy right away. After messing with the display settings, I realized that it must be my monitor. I have an Envision EN-910e CRT. I've tried both a direct connection and a KVM switch, both produce the same result. The difference is very apparent when switching between my PC and the Mini.

I'm planning to purchase a Dell LCD monitor in a few weeks, so I'm hoping to have better luck with that. Since I'd like to use my existing KVM switch, I'm going to try the VGA connection with the adapter (unless I can scrape together extra cash for a DVI KVM switch)...
Regards, Ron "

Personally I'd get a DVI display (although some with high res DVI displays have also noted some glitches) or select one of the monitors that a Mini owner reported here as not having any problems.


Feedback on Input Voltage Setting (0.7v vs 1v) (although some monitors don't have this adjustment and I thought 0.7v was the typical standard setting, this is in reply to a previous post on input voltage settings)

(added 6/30/2005)
"Mike,
just been browsing the Mac Mini dim video thread (this page). I have a 21" Mitsubishi Diamond Pro 91TXM (7 years old). Until 5 mins ago it was a very dim picture!
I'm using a Mac Mini. I had an old G3 attached to the monitor before & the picture was very bright. I didn't even try adjusting it until reading your thread.
I went to the enhanced menu and changed the Video Level from 1.0 to 0.7v, the picture is now great! Thanks for helping us out!
Regards
Nigel H. "

If any other Mini owner that reported dim analog video checks their monitor for this setting (if adjustable), let me know.


Notes on Universal Access Contrast Setting: (this was a tip from the past originally posted on the Alum Cinema Display reports page, but that's a DVI display and higher than normal contrast setting in Univ. Access made the display quality worse readers said. Higher settings helped this reader said with the Mini's lower than VESA spec analog video level (per Ct magazine measurements) and his analog display:

(added 6/30/2005)
"I have a 1.42 GHz Mac Mini connected to a 17" IBM G97 here at work. Before that, I hooked the Mini up to a cheap Chinese monitor that I got new and returned to COMPUSA. I used the adapter on both of them, and both of them were dim. I learned about the Universal Access System Preference from the internet (this thread, probably), used it on the IBM, and the picture looks great.... I solved the problem by moving it up the scale to notch position 2.25 to enhance the contrast.
- Brian "


(added 6/30/2005)
"No problems here - 1.42GHz mini (arrived May 2005) with a Formac 21/700 display at 1600x1200. I've not yet tried connecting it via a KVM as the box is my primary working machine and I tend to want to see the display.

I'm using the Apple supplied DVI-VGA adapter, but have used a couple of no-name ones I had lying around to see if it made any difference which it didn't - the display is the same as it is with anything else connected to it, i.e. very lacking in contrast till the electronics warm up when it's fine. The monitor is 5-6 years old and was continually in use at a design place which went to flat panels all around (don't ask me about colour accuracy and imagesetter settings!)
Keep up the god work
-Donald "


(added 6/30/2005)
"I have been using a NEC MultiSync 97F CRT for a couple years. I see no difference in video clarity/brightness between my Mini, B&W and Sun ULTRA 10 on this monitor.
-csteger "


Tip for ViewSonic P95f+ users:

(added 6/29/2005)
"Hello Mike,
I have very good and interesting news to update the report I sent you yesterday. (see below) all this while I forgot about the 3x and 4x brightness settings on my monitor. its a button they put on some high end CRTs. normal is for text and such then there is 3x for graphics and 4x for video. I only ever used normal and 4x but only 4x when watching video.

anyway.. I set it to 3x and did a calibration and the results were amazing!!! the screen looks exactly as it should now. i'm so very happy. native calibration at 3x was too bright but once I did one in expert mode the end result was awesome. I literally shouted for joy. :)

a great solution to this issue for anyone with this hardware combo. the model again is a ViewSonic P95f+B. the B just stands for black..
-Jeff H. "

Jeff's previous report follows:

(added 6/28/2005 - but see his later update above)
"Mac mini 1.25GHz 512MB connected to Viewsonic P95f+B via ati adapter that came with radeon 7000. (it shouldn't matter if it's a good tight fit/connection, but I assume he also tried the supplied Apple adapter.-Mike) I have the dim video issue quite bad. tried the apple supplied adapter also with same effect. done several calibrations and it only helps a bit. I saw the report done recently that mentioned lowering the voltage or something. I can't find this option in the onscreen controls at all. (that reader report had a typo on the model number - see his corrected post below. he later wrote the P95F has only the standard 0.7v setting (which is the standard setting as far as I know.)-Mike)

monitor is a top of the line 19" trinitron and I have very sad it works so badly. I am wondering if this IOgear signal booster/splitter ($69.9x) could add the extra power needed to make my screen look the way it should.
On my tower with a radeon 7000 32mb this display looks amazing. please can anyone help me find a way to make this monitor sing on my mini.
thanks, Jeff H. "

Since it's also a splitter I wonder if the amp does much as far as increasing levels over what a non-split output level would be but you can also ask the vendor/mfr of the device to see what they say. (I'd explain the mac mini analog video issue you're seeing also) If any Mini owner that has a monitor that shows the dim analog video issue tries that splitter/booster, let me know.


(added 6/28/2005)
"1.42 mini bought at the Apple store with 512MB RAM, Bluetooth, Airport, modem (location still on a landline), and Superdrive
Hitachi/Raster Ops Mc 7515, 19", 10 years old.
This monitor was originally bought to serve with a PowerPC clone and then used with the G4 Dual 500 for 5 years.

I am using the DVI > VGA (adapter) provided by Apple. I have had no problems with my display. The settings I arrived at with the clone needed readjustment for the dual G4. I haven't gone over them for the mini, because I do intend to replace it in a couple of months with the 23" Apple. Then I can get myself out of this corner and hook the CRT up to my old G4 again. I'm sure that the Apple monitor beside this one will be clearer and brighter, but that's the nature of the two monitors. This one is doing quite well for what it is.

The only issue I had was that I attached the monitor to the adapter before attaching the adapter to the mini. While it seemed ok, it actually had to be done the other way around to get a snug fitting and good pic. It's so obvious that I suppose anyone with problems checked that out right away, as I did.
-tullberg "


Input Voltage Settings (0.7v vs 1v) Note:

(added 6/23/2005 - display model no. corrected per his email on 6/24)
"I do NOT have the dim video problem with a ViewSonic E70f+. (The model number I originally gave is WRONG. (he originally wrote P95f+-Mike) In fact, my ViewSonic is the E70f+, which has two input settings: 0.7v and 1.0v. The more current E75F also has both settings. The P95f+ only has one setting, but it is the 0.7v setting that does work with the Mini.)
However, I have noticed something in the monitor hardware settings (not the computer calibration settings). In the ViewSonic's own panel, there is an Input Level setting on the second pane of the monitor parameters. It has two choices: 0.7v and 1.0v. Mine is set at the LOWER value (0.7v). If I set it at the higher (1.0v) level, my screen image becomes MUCH DIMMER. Since this is an INPUT setting, the 0.7v setting is the one used when the incoming video signal is weak and the 1.0v setting is the one to use when the incoming signal is strong.

I do not know if other monitors have a similar setting, but on the ViewSonic, changing it makes a HUGE difference in screen brightness. Anyone with dim analog video should check to see whether the monitor being used has such a setting.
Salutations,
K. Evans"

IIRC, 0.7Vpp is standard.


(added 6/22/2005)
"Interesting to see other reports of video trouble on the MacMini.
I purchased a MacMini with the idea of using a Power Computing (Apple Clone) CRT. It wouldn't even get a signal. (Assuming the adapter was firmly connected, I wonder if the mode was out of range (too high a refresh rate, res. etc.) for the older CRT?-Mike)
The CRT was working fine on a G4 Mac. I ended up buying a Dell flat panel display which works fine with the Mini's DVI port - but the point of buying the Mini was to avoid the coast of another monitor.

Apple tech support was no help. They only wanted me to purchase Applecare - which I already had for the MacMini. I need to call back to see what if anything they plan to do about the trouble.
Thanks for the site and the user feedback. I happened upon this by accident.
(he later wrote)
I even took hooked up the MacMini to a friends monitor and it worked fine. I dialed down the Mini's monitor's setting and hooked it back up to the CRT without luck.

I ended up getting the Dell 20in widescreen, 'cause I knew that worked. That's what my friend had - I called AppleCare again and they're not much help. I wonder when they moved the support offshore? I had a very hard time making the fellow understand my problem. At least he didn't insist I purchase AppleCare like the last time I called. I already had AppleCare and the fellow didn't even want to listen to my problem but kept insisting I get AppleCare - he didn't seem to hear I already had AppleCare.
I tried to contact the Apple Store here locally to ask about what they've been told Mac Mini video issues and I couldn't even get through. No one answered the phone. I called 5 times. Very odd.
Thanks for the site, I've always enjoyed the info you've got and it was really helpful to see others with a MacMini video problem.
-Richard "


(added 6/21/2005)
"I got a Mac mini about a month ago (May '05) and am having no trouble with my VGA monitor. I just plugged in the included VGA adapter and everything worked fine. I recently bought the monitor used so I don't know how old it is, it's a Sony Multiscan 400 PS. I hope that helps someone!
Laurel "

Although if you're happy with it that's all that really matters, I asked if he'd compared brightness levels of the monitor when connected to the Mini vs. any other Mac or PC. (Some monitors show the difference more than others, reportedly due to a lower than VESA spec analog voltage level on the Mac Mini analog video per the original C'T magazine review tests of the Mini.)


(added 6/21/2005)
"I have experienced "washed out" video on my Dell 19" (trinitron) monitor.
Chris "


(added 6/21/2005)
"Mike, Brand new Mac mini (purchased 5/18 from an Apple store). Two different CRT's - IBM P76 (17", Trinitron tube, manufactured 2000) and Dell 1726T-HS (17" Trinitron tube, manufactured 1996). Direct cable connections via Apple's DVI/VGA adapter. (No KVM, no VGA extender cables.) Both are run at 1024x768, 75 Hz.

Both monitors exhibit the "dim video" problem, where whites look like a very pale shade of gray. (Each display gives much brighter whites and more brilliant colors when run off an ATI 7500 in my PC. Text is also much crisper on the PC, but that's another matter. Why Apple insists on blurry on-screen fonts is beyond me.)

I have no other artifacts in motion videos (no green dots or other things reported by other folks). I tried an ATI DVI/VGA adapter but got no video signal at all (I assume a defective adapter, because it also gave me no signal when used with the ATI card it came with in my PC).

I went through the color calibration process (including the "expert" process with its extra settings). I also tried the contrast setting under the Universal Access system preferences panel, but that just tended to wash out the screen and decrease the visibility of small color differences and details.

The display quality is not "bad", it just seems dim (and sort of dingy) when compared to a PC on the same monitor. I probably wouldn't notice if I didn't have the two screens running next to each other, one on the Mac and the other on the PC. But I have to agree with the general consensus, something's not right with the video output of the Mac mini.

One thought has occurred to me - if the problem is the analog output voltages being too low (as suggested by c't Magazine), (level under the VESA spec they said-Mike) I wonder if a good quality VGA video amplifier with variable gain (like one of the units made by Kramer Electronics) could be used to fix the problem. Just a thought.
Jon "

Not sure what they cost but I'd be more tempted to look around for an affordable DVI (digital) LCD display. (Granted that adds more cost for those that don't already have a DVI display.) Some said monitor calibration helped.


(added 6/21/2005)
"Yes, I have the dim monitor issue. I am using a KVM switch, but directly plugging into the mini yields the same results. I am using a Dell 21" trinitron monitor.

My theory is that the dvi>vga adapter is sucking out luminance. I haven't had a chance to read all the information on your site, but it's somewhat reassuring to know I'm not the only one.
regards, Brian P. "

Actually lower than spec analog video voltage levels on the mac mini is believed to be the source. The DVI-VGA adapter is a simple mechanical connector (just connecting the analog video pins in the DVI-I connector to a VGA connector) - so unless it has some connection problems (high resistance connection) it should not be a factor, although some believed it was.
The C't (german) original review of the Mac mini that noted this as the cause of the problem and they recommended using digital (DVI) displays with the Mac mini. (no other review measured the analog video level of the mini - they tested it after seeing the problem apparently)


(added 6/21/2005)
"I have the problem of a dim screen. Tried my monitor on another mini and the same thing, a dim screen. I'm using the DVI to VGA plug and have cheap LCD monitor (LG Flatron L1510S). This monitor was attached to a G4 350mhz and was crystal clear, bright and perfect for what it is, but now on the mini its pathetic, OSX looks like crap on it. Not pleased, and will be telling apple my woes.
All the best, Martyn P. "


(added 6/21/2005)
"I have had a Dim Video problem for nearly a month. I read the 3/18/2005 email, and I can say that unequivocally using a DVI adapter other than Apple's fixes the problem in probably all cases. (Unless the apple adapter had a high resistance/poor connection it should not be the cause. That's not been a fix for everyone unfortunately as the adapter can't increase the analog video level out of the Mini.-Mike) I was able to step up from 1344 x 1008 to all the other resolutions on my 19in Mag 800V where the screen runs just as well and better than a 64 meg GeForce 4200!
-Evan M. "

Some monitors are more prone to show the problem apparently based on reports. Some also noted monitor calibration helped, but that was not a fix for everyone.


(added 6/21/2005)
"Hi Mike, Love the site, I'm running a 1.25 G4 Power Brick umm I mean a Mac mini with 1 gig of PNY 3200. I have to use the (Apple) DVI-VGA adapter and do not have a dim screen or a lack of contrast. I've tested a 15" Mag LCD, 16" Viewsonic A70 ( rather old now but still great), and a 17" Princeton Ultra 72. I have compared the mini to my G4 400 tower and it all looks the same. I used the an IOGear KVM switch without any glitches. If you have any questions feel free to fire back.
Here's my video info if it helps out at all
Type: display
Bus: AGP
Display Type: CRT
VRAM (Total): 32 MB
Vendor: ATI (0x1002)
Device ID: 0x5962
Revision ID: 0x0001
ROM Revision: 113-xxxxx-116
Michael "


(from 4/10/2005)
"Hello. great site, too much information for me!!!
I have a new mini.
I buy also a Samsung LCD Sync Master 930MP he has DVI, VGA, S-video,video, Tuner.
the first day I attach my samsung with DVI cable, looks good, very good. Third day I attach the DVI to video adapter for connect Mini to TV. The adapter is original Apple.:
http://store.apple.com/1-800-MY-APPLE/WebObjects/AppleStore? productLearnMore=M9267G/A
when a reboot my mini I don't see any image on my TV and also my LCD on video input. I disconnect the adapter M9267G/A and back to DVI cable for my LCD. Blank screen. But one thing is strange:
If I disconncet a DVI cable from mini the monitor sas: check cable, no input.
If I reconnect the cable is like a standby, power led blinks like if I went away from mini.
I think there is a signal, but not enough, if I read on your site. Apple send a second mini I'm waiting for.
many people have big trouble with LCD, but I think that the adapter broken the digital side of my radeon, because if a connect the DVI to VGA is all ok on LCD.
Can you suggest me something? I'm worried. I'm afraid when come a new mini from apple and I do to recconect to my LCD. I don't use ever more the DVI to VIDEO adapter for sure.!!!!!
Next week a go to local store for test the bad adapter (DVI to VIDEO).
What do you think?
ciao ciao from Italy
andrea
p.s: for me no big difference between DVI and VGA sorry for very bad english
(he later wrote)
Hello Mike, no problem for late, you are very busy! With a Apple by phone we try all the reset procedure. The DVI port is gone. May be an adapter fault. Apple sent me a second MINI in 2 weeks. I also bought a new adapter and now my MINI works great on TV This is the story (in italian)
http://www.montelaguardia.com/macmini/macmini.htm
ciao ciao, andrea "

I don't know why using the adapter would have affected anything but if it's not a random hardware failure, I'd try resetting the NVRAM perhaps. Boot up with Command + Option + O + F keys held down to get to the OF terminal screen Then enter these commands (enter means press enter key)
reset-nvram (enter)
set-defaults (enter)
reset-all
The last command will restart the mac.


(added 6/21/2005)
"Even though I waited 6 weeks for my mac mini, I did get it and the video is working perfect. I ordered the 1.42Ghz with the superdrive, and have yet to try a DVD or burning yet. As for the display, I have a Compaq 15" LCD, and I think the model is the 1501 series, and it's just fine. I think it's maxes out at 1024 x 768, but it is just as clear as it was on a B&W G3. Thanks.
Randy D.
(Just to verify I asked if the LCD display was a VGA (analog) model. Not all analog monitors show the problem based on reports (some may have higher gain). -Mike)
Yes, it is a VGA model. And so far, everything is working fine. I haven't gone to Tiger yet, but maybe soon. "


(added 6/21/2005)
"I received my Mini a week ago and hooked it up to an ancient, 10 year old 15 inch Magnavox model CM2099DU01 while I'm researching 17" and 19" DVI LCD's to use with the Mini. No brightness problems at all with that old Magnavox.

When I read about the dim video problems I also connected the Mini to a 19" Dell Trinitron, model P991 which I use with my G4 AGP with analog video. Again no problem, the brightness with the Mini is the same as with the G4 - in fact, on the Dell P991 I just completed a display calibration following the steps that Apple suggests and the brightness control ended up right at zero on the monitor. The display is bright, clear with excellent colours.
Regards Knut "


(added 3/23/2005)
"Mike,
Interesting to note that Apple, today, locked the "Mac mini VGA output very dark..." thread on their mini discussion forum, in the Displays area.
http://discussions.info.apple.com/webx?14@185.zHbDapCxTV8.170410@.68a43e3b

About the same time they posted this as a sticky post at the top of the discussions:
http://docs.info.apple.com/article.html?artnum=301055
It covers the obvious things and then suggests that Display Calibrator Assistant will help, as though it can do anything other than fiddle w/ color temp, gamma, etc. The DCA does not have a "increase VGA voltage to VESA levels" option, sadly. At the end of the doc, Apple indicates that the machine can be brought in for evaluation, but we don't see any reason to believe that Apple has fixed this problem in current minis, as they do not acknowledge a dimness problem. Highly disturbing.
-BP "

A few Mini/VGA Monitor users said calibration helped and some mentioned connections not tight, different adapters/Fit, etc. but my feeling is that some monitors are just less sensitive to it. (Higher gain perhaps? - If all Minis have the lower analog video level mentioned by CT Magazine in their Mini review.) See below for reports from some Mini owners with certain VGA displays that said they didn't see the problem (although many have).


(from 3/18/2005 mail)
"Hello, We were reading your article and would like to report that we too are having Mac mini video problems. We cannot achieve any white on our screen what so ever. Everything has a tint of gray added to it. Everything is also blurred. Today we substituted the Apple DVI adapter with one from ATI, and to our amazement all of the blurriness went away! The screen is also much brighter, not perfect, but much brighter none the less. If we find anything else that improves the picture quality we will let you know. Thanks.
-AngelArs Corporation "

I wonder if there was a fit issue with the stock adapter (since it's just connecting/passing the analog video pins in the DVI-I connector to a VGA connector).


Notes on DVI and Underclocking the Graphics Chip:

(from 3/16/2005 mail)
"This is actually a report on the opposite!
Here in Sweden the most debate on Mac mini graphics on forums are concentrated at that it won't work on DVI-displays on resolutions bigger or equal than 1280x1024, without severe artifacts! (Some other Mini owners have noted this also.-Mike) Apples own displays though work well.

I got my Mac mini about a week ago, and notised no differece between VGA or DVI brightness, but the screen flickered so much on DVI and above mentioned resolutions that it was impossible to use.

After I had OC'd to 1.5GHz and then 1.58GHz (shows 750MHz in ASP) I notised that the symptoms somewhat were less, so I could go from 1024x768 up to 1280x1024, with the restrictions, not to move the mouse too quickly or opening/closing windows too much.
Opening the screensaver settings panel with "flurry" in the panels window was still a disaster, giving so much flicker to force a restart! (worst case)

Trying other options as changing cable or settings in XDisplayConfig didn't help at all. Actually a better (but longer 15') cable yielded in a black screen!

But another (tip) from a forum here to use ATIaccellerator II (overclocking utility) and lower the frequency gave a 100% total medicine against all symptoms.
If I lowered both the GPU and graphics memory frequency to about -30%, not only the artifacts and flicker was gone, but the screen got extremely sharper and brighter in its output (both VGA and DVI!) Its such an astonishing clear picture now, that I've never seen anything as good before!

If you use DVI, you still can see some sort of small multicolored glowing spikes on dark portions of a display, as in "flurry", that I think come from that the Mac mini has no frequency buffering L3 cache and the L2 runs at full CPU speed. This maybe lets the spiking that all digital circuitry leaves behind from the short circuits at passages between "1" and "0" levels, into the graphics, directly connected. This may cause the bad VGA dimness, as it blurres the signal up, both in time and amplitude - so maybe the fix above also works on the VGA-problem?
-Richard K. "


(from 3/16/2005)
"Just thought you might like to know, I saw this message on the main thread about this issue at apple support:

    " All, Well, we may finally be getting somewhere on this. apple support just called me back, and they verified that this is a known problem with SVGA or XGA monitors, but not VGA monitors. It seems that SVGA monitors have some kind of extra sensing pin that does not work properly with the DVI to VGA adapter. I'm no engineer, but it seems to me that a different adapter could solve the problem, but apple support does not have a fix as of right now.
    Anyway, sounds like I have the option of returning the mini. I just have to decide to do so now.
    Dan

-Tom C. "

I don't see how that is related to what is said to be the issue (low analog video level) although some monitors seem to have higher gain perhaps.


(from 3/15/2005 mail)
"Mike, When I read the posts on your website about the dim video issues of the Mac mini, I hesitated for one second, but ordered the Mini anyway. I just received it about an hour ago. (Oh my god, it is a thing of pure beauty) I have no video issues at all, it is as bright as my iBook that I used to have hooked up to my screen.
My screen is a Sony Trinitron CPD-E500, which some users have reported problems with. There was already a colorsync profile for my screen in the system, showing the exact same brightness levels as my iBook did before. I usually prefer my screen to be a bit darker so I selected the PC gamma setting. Colors are rich and vivid.
Mac mini 1.42Ghz, 256MB RAM (upgrade that tomorrow to 1GB), Bluetooth, Airport Extreme and Superdrive...
Sony Trinitron CPD-E500 display, 1600x1200 @ 85Hz.
Oh and mine shipped from Foxconn, but maybe they all do. I live in the Netherlands (Europe).
Thanks for the site, Thijs "


(from 3/15/2005 mail)
"According to a German website (which I can't recall) (as mentioned here many times - it was the C't magazine review of the mini that had the test results noting lower than VESA spec analog video voltage level-Mike) which reported some testing on this issue, the VGA signal voltage from the Mac Mini is below standard spec. This seems plausible and fits my own experience. As a result you can expect:

- some monitors will never work well, since without the full inpt signal level they will not be capable of displaying full brightness on screen

- some monitors will be perfect right away. These are monitors which include automatic level detection in their circuitry, and adjust automatically to different VGA signal levels.

- some monitors will work just fine, but only after manual adjustment. It is worth checking details carefully in the instruction manual for the monitor to find out how to fix this.

I suspect that most monitors will, in fact, work fine once set up correctly, though many will be dim 'out of the box'. Simply running throught the calibration routine may be sifficient in many cases (as some have already reported).

In my case, using a Difusion P170 LCD monitor, I needed to adjust the RGB input levels from their default 50% to 60% using the monitor's On Screen Display. This plus calibration fixed the problem completely.

So, my advice is to start by running throught the Mac calibration procedure from Monitors control panel. If that fails, dig out the instructions for your monitor and see if there are settings that will allow you to manually adjust the VGA input sensitivity.
Good luck. -Eric W. "


(added 3/14/2005)
"I have a 19" Envision 985 connected to my 1.25 Mac Mini, via the DVI-to-VGA adapter. I have not noticed any degradation or dimness in picture quality. In fact, the screen performs better on this than it did on my old Sawtooth's DVI-toVGA cable, from the Apple Store. Everything is nice and sharp, no distortion or color shifting like my previous setup.

One thing I notice about the DVI adapter, is you have to really push it in good to be flush with the Mini's backside. I'd wager these folks having brightness problems aren't making good contact. (that was one theory someone had here in the past (and notes on apple's forums) but I also think that some monitors may be more sensitive to the issue (assuming the lower analog video level is common)-Mike)

Specs:
Mac Mini 1.25GHz, 256MB ram, 40GB HD, no airport/bluetooth
-Ted B "


(added 3/14/2005)
"Hello again. Love the t-shirt you sent. It's at the top of my drawer so I wear it about once per week. Feels good flying some Mac colors again. Anyway, you may recall that I submitted all the photos for the iBook ram expansion and my general impressions of owning a Mac (12" iBook) again, but I am now writing to talk about my new 1.4GHz Mini. Yes, that's two new Macs in less than three months :-) . Granted I am an old school Mac user, but Apple got me back on board with some of its latest offerings after a year away from the platform.

Dim video issue:
I have the Mini sharing a Viewsonic P815 21" 4.5 year old CRT and I am using the vga cable from it with the vga/dvi adapter from Apple. It is securely seated with no fiddling done to it at all. The P815 has dual connections, the other being BNC and it connects to a high end Athlon 64 3400 gaming rig with an ATI 9800xt 256MB video card. The Mini did "appear" to be bit subdued at first, but I ran a color profile setup on it and I'd have to say that now it seems about as equal as I can tell compared to the listed PC's output. It may be a bit dimmer, but its near impossible to tell. Nothing to cause me any worry at all. The Mini recognized the Viewsonic out of the box.
I have no means to test beyond what I see. As a side note, I have this set-up sitting next to another PC that is connected to an NEC MultiSync FE991SB (Superbright) Diamondtron 19" CRT that is only about 12 or 18 months old and the Viewsonic is noticeably dimmer even compared to normal bright mode on the NEC. They are side by side monitors. If I kick in Superbright, it's a massive difference. So my Viewsonic is just starting to fade a bit after many years of fantastic service. I have both PCs and the Mini pushing 1280x1024 resolution, highest color settings on both monitors and the Mini thus far handles it just fine...
Zup
Zupworld.com "

He had other comments on the Mini added to the Mac Mini feedback page.


(added 3/11/2005)
"I've plugged a new mac mini 1.42ghz into a 21" Viewsonic with the adapter and the video is substantially (20 or 30%) dimmer than when it was hooked up to a G4 tower. It's not really useable.
Carl H.
Vice President
Creative Displays "


(added 3/11/2005)
"Hi Mike, Last week I reported that my 2 Mac Mini's worked fine with the Philips 107 T51 monitor I have and that the image was as bright as the TFT screen of my Powerbook 15". (I asked if he'd compared it to another desktop system - Mac or PC. It could be that his Monitor just doesn't show the problem (assuming the low analog video voltage noted by C'T magazine is common).-Mike)
Yesterday and today I have done some some 'testing'. I hooked up the display to the Powerbook and calibrated the display 4 times. At the end I had 4 color profiles which were virtually identical. There was only a slight variation of the brightness setting of the monitor (1 time value 28, 2 times value 29, and 1 time value 31 on a scale from 0 to 100). The values itself are not important but they do show that there is plenty of headroom for the brightness setting. With the brightness set to 29, I could clearly distinguish all 24 black levels of a test pattern (going from white to black). White-point was set to 6500K. Also not important on itself but I wanted to rule out that the screen would look 'dimmer' to the eye with either the PB or the Mini only because of different white-point. In my point of view, blueish white looks brighter than yellowish white.

Now it was time to unhook the VGA display from the Powerbook and try the Mac Mini without changing anything. I expected to see a (slightly) darker image, but on first sight this was not the case. Next step was to make a new color profile. While doing so, I covered the of the brightness setting so I could not influence myself. I did this 3 times. The result....2 times a value of 29, 1 time a value of 30, and 1 time a value of 33.

It is too close to call, but I would say the 2 screens are as bright...

Does this mean I am lucky and that my Mini's are not affected by this 'problem' ? Or may I conclude that the VGA output voltage of my PB 15" is 'also' below 'standard' (whatever that is). (It could be, or your monitor may be one that just works well even with the lower signal level.-Mike) Many posts refer to an article in a German magazine. I haven't read the article myself but I know from this magazine that only the best -in technical terms- is good enough. (they're not saying it has to be the best - just that it was below the VESA standard. And clearly more than a few have noted dim displays or lower contrast, etc. with their particular VGA displays.-Mike) It is about the same as with digital camera's. When a new version is introduced, the 'old' one, is suddenly labeled as bad... (I don't think that sort of analogy is at all applicable in this case.-Mike)
My conclusion of this all is that I am still clueless about this reported Mac Mini VGA problem. (see some of the other owner reports here. But if you're happy with your monitor's image quality, that's all that matters.-Mike)

I remember when I bought an eMac about 3 years ago. It also had a display problem and my eMac got 3 new analogue boards (which included the whole display) costing Apple a fortune. Apple kept the whole thing quite and every-time I called Applecare, they told me they were unaware of structural problems while the mechanic told me he was swapping eMac displays whole day....As you probably now, Apple finally found out it was a cheap cable (IVAR cable) that caused all of these problems. Digging in to the problem earlier, would have saved Apple a substantial amount of (wasted) money.

I would be interested in test results of similar tests doe by Mac Mini users who also have another Mac at hand.
Best regards, Armand "

Others have noted comparing the display quality (analog/VGA mode) to other systems (PCs or Macs) and some said they clearly saw a difference. Not everyone did though, which is why I asked for specific monitor brand/model used be noted in reports. Some also reported monitor calibration helped in their posts here.


Note: A reader that works at a dealer said a Mini owner brought in his system and ADC display (which requires a DVI to ADC adapter for use with the Mini's DVI port) which wasn't showing video. He said replacing the Mini's power adapter solved the problem. He thought that the low analog video (dim/low contrast) issue many reported may be due to the Mini's power adapter and suggested those with the problem try swapping an adapter. I said I didn't think that is the root cause since others reported DVI video was fine (unlike the case he mentioned where the system never output video even on the DVI port), but agreed to mention it here.

(added 3/9/2005)
"Hi Mike,
I got my mini a week ago (1.42 GHz), and was concerned since I had read of problems with ViewSonic monitors. I have a ViewSonic E70f. Hooked it up (what a snap!), and... oh, oh... the monitor was indeed very dim, and quite fuzzy. Now I wish I could tell you exactly what I did, but all I know is that I went through the control panel calibration two or three times, and each time improved the situation. Also, I really tightened up the connections on the adopter (using the one supplied by Apple). I am happy to report that now the monitor looks great-- no fuzziness, and plenty bright enough. The contrast control is set on brightest, however, and the brightness at about 3/4 of the way up. Certainly it was much more work to calibrate than I have ever done before-- but it did work.
-Tim K."


(added 3/8/2005)
"Mac mini on Sony CDP 500 has darkish display on both direct and KVM.
thanks, Kevin "


(added 3/8/2005)
"Both of my Minis show the dim screen problem.
MacOS 10.3.7 (as shipped)
1.42 GHz, 512MB RAM
ViewSonic OptiQuest V773 CRT monitor

The problem is the same using Apple's supplied DVI>VGA adapter, the DVI>VGA adaptor that came with an AlBook and the FOXCONN DVI>VGA adaptor some people have reported success with in the Apple Forums
( http://discussions.info.apple.com/webx?14@1008.qgava8HfTER.4@.68a64fff/117).

I don't have a monitor handy with DVI input so I can't comment on whether that would work any better.
Bummer!
DG "

Normally the DVI (digital) video doesn't have this problem. (Lower voltage analog video level mentioned first in the C'T magazine review/tests.)


(added 3/8/2005)
"Let a quick note to let you know my experiences with my new Mac Mini (1.25Ghz).

I've connected the video via the DVI-VGA adaptor to a Sun 17" CRT monitor (model unknown) and a Samsung SyncMaster 172N (current connection) and have been satisfied with the output to both monitors.
Allen "


(added 3/8/2005)
"I am happy to report that I have no video issues with my mini 1.42 GHz connected to my HP Pavilion f1703 17" LCD (VGA) via the included DVI to VGA adapter.

The picture is bright and sharp (as sharp as can be for a VGA monitor).

Just to make sure, I connected my iBook G3 900 to the same monitor and the images between the iBook and the mini are identical.
(name withheld by request)"


(added 3/8/2005)
"Hi, great site. We've just got a Mac Mini, which is plugged into a 7-year-old Mitsubishi Diamond Pro 67TXV via VGA. It is bright and looks very good at 1280x1024 (60Hz).
Using the "calibrate" option in the color window of the displays preferences did brighten it a little (but it was already bright enough).
Regards, David"


(added 3/4/2005)
"Hi, Mike... I have a mini and an NEC 1760NX 17" LCD. The monitor looks great with the Apple DVI-VGA adapter and using the dual-link DVI cable. No KVM. It's a bit sharper with DVI.
Pat "


(added 3/4/2005)
"I have indeed noticed a dimmer, less-sharp view on my Sony Multiscan 17se II with my new Mac Mini 1.25ghz machine. One can still work with it, as it's only about 20% dimmer, but the difference is noticeable.
Dan J. "


(added 3/4/2005)
"I immediately noticed the dark monitor issue when I plugged in my mini immediately after swapping it out with a beige G3.

Mac Mini 1.42 GHz
Sony 19" CPD-E400
1344x1008 resolution
J. Yamada "


(added 3/3/2005)
"Hi Mike, Thanks for the site .....
Mac Mini + Apple DVI adapter and old ADI Microscan 5G 17" monitor , good bright picture - no prob's at all.
regards, Pete "


(added 3/3/2005)
"Hi mike...
Using macmini over here in germany without kvm switch.

Monitor is a quadrographic faqtor 19+ working great. Don't think anyone uses this one, because the new quadrographic company over here has changed the lineup because some reordering/buying/whatnot things, so they don't support the faqtor line anymore and they are only up to high quality displays for now. This one here is a midrange modell bought in 2002.

So - no problem at all with the mini. Works good at all resolution suitable for the monitor (acceptable signal in modes i tested: 1280x960@75,80,90,100hz and 1600x1200@85hz)

Got to say, i am no pro but i didn't notice any dim or diffence in the image quality compared to my old g4 800 with radeon 8500 on the same display. Only flaw i noticed is a real hardware problem. The dvi-vga adapter is, as neat as it looks and feels, a bit of a pain in the ass. I noticed it tends to bend down when you attatch a vga cable to it (you know, these things always bend in one or the other direction, so they pull with some force on the connector, when being screwed to it) and it doesn't seems like the mini is liking the force being pulled into the little screws on the back, so i always end up putting a pencil under the vga vga-dvi adaptor thing to prevent it from being torn appart.
Greeting, michal
and sorry for the bad english. "


(added 3/3/2005)
"I placed my order three weeks ago and haven't yet received my Mini. However after reading all the posts on static/dark screen issues I started to panic. I didn't know whether to cancel my order or take a chance. I took my monitor to the local Mac Store and they graciously connected my monitor to their display Mac-Mini. It worked perfectly using the original Dell VGA cord and the supplied DVI to VGA adapter.
I didn't change any settings from that used on my Dell 8300. My monitor is a DELL E172FP (VGA only) 17'' flat screen.
The settings used are 1024x768 @ 75Hz. No KVM used in this test. The monitor is about 8 months old. The display is bright (just as good as the PC) stable and I detected no problems.
Jim "

It's good to get more reports from those happy with the analog video with their monitors.


(added 3/2/2005)
" I was just reading the apple discussion thread about the dim video problems and one user said that he discovered that his vga adapter wouldn't seat properly in the dvi connector on the mini due to the pins on the dvi side of the adapter not fitting properly. He said he solved this by trimming the pins on the adapter's dvi side resulting in a good connection of the analog vga pins and better video quality.
Perhaps if this is the root of the dark video problem then all that is needed is a slight adjustment to the positioning of the dvi connector on the back of the mini to make it easier to seat the pins on the vga side...
Here is a link to the . apple forum postings.
-Anthony M."

I wish this was the root cause, but I'd be surprised if all the adapters used had this problem (some used apple's and other adapters). However if anyone else notices something similar with their adapter, let me know.


(added 3/1/2005)
" Philips 107T5 17" monitor. is Ok with the Mini. Out of the box as bright as my PB's screen. I have 2 Mac Mini's and no problems.
(I asked to verify the monitor was VGA/Analog (not DVI).-Mike) Yes, you are correct. This monitor has a VGA input. I run it at 1124x768 @ 75 Hz Running it at @ 85 also works, but then the the image start flickering when I activate the 'light-frame' option of this monitor (enhances brightness and/or contrast)

Of course I have calibrated the monitor in OS X and the brightness is now set at 27 (on a scale from 0 to 100).

Are switchers used to calibrating their monitor?
Regards, Armand"

Some mentioned they had (not all noted it helped) but some monitors may be more prone to the problem (assuming the Ct magazine test results on video level is common).


(added 3/1/2005)
"Hi Mike, Just thought I'd let you know that after testing my 1 day old Mac Mini with my 19" LaCie BlueII VGA monitor, the brightness seems fine. I have used this monitor for the past 3 years, so if there had been a problem with the VGA signal from the Mini, I would notice it.
Thanks, Kevin"


(added 3/1/2005)
"1.42GHz/80/256 samsung 172n (vga only) 191T (dvi and vga input) the main difference is a sharper digital direct picture with the dvi same as on my PC with a radeon 9800se (pro upgraded). I am very happy with the results since it replaces a g3 beige tower that was upgraded to g4-500/40/768 with a 120 raid 0. I also hung a lacie 160 external firewire off the back of the mini and xbench summary scores went from 121 to 136 when I booted from the firewire drive....
-scott m."


(added 2/24/2005)
"Hi. I'm glad you guys are passing this information out. I have a HP 23 inch L2335 display that definitely has the low brightness problem with the Mini. My Windows computer is much brighter, sharper in comparison. If I didn't have the Windows computer to compare, I might not have noticed as easily to be honest and just cranked up the brightness control. Once the comparison, there is no doubt. It's like thinking DVD video looks okay until you see HDTV video.

Maybe you guys could start a new topic on the Mini and ask people about the other problem that seems like a bigger deal to me. Why isn't the Mini fully compatible with single link (up to 1920x1200) DVI monitors. My L2335 has DVI and works great with my Powerbook G4 at 1920x1200. With the Mini I get colorful static in black scene space like others here are writing about under may different resolution options. I prefer DVI but I can't use it with the Mini. I brought my Mini to an Apple store and plugged it into one of their 23 inch DVI displays and it worked fine. It sounds like an ATI/Apple software problem to me with the DVI connection.

The Apple website has this specification about the Mini:

    "supports coherent digital displays up to 154MHz; supports non-coherent digital displays up to 135MHz"

That's the first time I've seen this. It it just referring that it doesn't support higher resolution (dual link type) displays like the 30 inch?
Thanks, Dave M. "


(added 2/24/2005)
"I was about to post about this on my blog, but I'm glad you're databasing this apparently widespread issue.

My setup:

  • Mac Mini (1.25 GHz) w/DVI->VGA adapter
  • PC w/ nVidia 6600GT AGP w/DVI->VGA adapter
  • Zonet 3202 KVM switch
  • VGA-input of Benq FP951 19" LCD panel

    I didn't try DVI straight from Mini to the monitor (I asked if he meant w/VGA adapter or if the LCD also has a DVI port-Mike), but I didn't think I had to in order to understand what was going on. The 6600GT is hands down far brighter and higher contrast. And knowing the Mini sports an integrated version of the Radeon 9200, I couldn't say I was too surprised by that; however, my girlfriend's computer which I had built for her over a year ago uses a Radeon 9200 SE that is distinctly more contrasted via an analog VGA cable into a Samsung Syncmaster 198n (purchased while she was visiting family in Korea).

    I'll try out DVI tonight - though it's unfortunate that VGA folks are out of luck. I'll admit that though the Mini outputs far darker and less saturated than the 6600GT, it's not unusable. I've watched several xvid videos on it - though I do usually keep my room pretty dark when I play video.
    Thanks!, -Marco C. "


  • (added 2/23/2005)
    "My 6-year old Mitsubishi DiamondPro 900u CRT with VGA input is very dim when used with my Mac mini and either Apple's DVI -> VGA adaptor or a third-party adapter. Changing cables doesn't help. Recalibrating doesn't help.
    The mini produces a bright, sharp image on a Dell LCD with DVI input. The Mitsubishi monitor produces a bright, sharp image when driven by a VGA signal from a PC with a Radeon 8500 video card.
    Chris C. "


    (added 2/23/2005)
    "I am experiencing the exact same problem as encountered by others.

    Mini > DVI-VGA > Dell 1701FP LCD = Dim
    Mini > DVI > Dell 1701FP LCD = bright
    PC > DVI > Dell 1701FP LCD = bright
    PC > VGA > Dell 1701FP LCD = bright

    The dimness as measured by Gretag Macbeth Eye One Display calibrator is around 78-80 cd/m for the Mini > DVI-VGA (analog) connection, whereas the other connections all measure reliably around 139-140 cd/m. When the Mini was connected via the DVI-VGA dongle and the PC was on the DVI input, switching between the two inputs on the Dell was like night and day.

    Now, the Mini is hooked up to the DVI input on the Dell while the PC is using the VGA input BUT I have run into another problem - random static on dark backgrounds. Problem is worse at 75Hz refresh rate with static occuring frequently; setting the refresh rate to 60Hz improves matters, but static can still be seen when viewing dark pages. If the screen saver kicks in, then the whole display gets really bad with red, green, blue and white dots flashing all over the screen. Will try to take a picture of the static and post later.
    Darren. "

    Apple's LCD displays are all 60Hz IIRC (no real reason that I know of to run it higher with an LCD display - unless perhaps for gaming if a game framerate exceeded 60FPS and Vsync was disabled in the game.)


    (added 2/23/2005)
    "I have a mini connected to Panasonic PanaSync E70 CRT (about 6-7 years old) images are dark and not so crisp as when I connect my PB I have some noise also (like black weaves),diagonal moves across the screen, a strange thing is that this kind of noise change direction and intensity when I set a different frequency rate (from 85 to 75 hz for example)

    both issues are still present when I connect my mini to a Philips Brilliance 19" CRT (two years old)

    thank you for your support and many compliments for your web site! regards,
    borndevil
    admin of www.borndevil.tk "


    (added 2/23/2005)
    "I actually started that thread on the Apple Discussion board. I'm using a 21" Samsung 213T LCD and the difference between DVI and VGA is night and day - DVI is crisp, bright, and clean, and VGA is muddy and gray.
    The Samsung is perfectly fine with other VGA sources, including 3 or 4 PCs, and my old Blue and White G3. It's just the Mac Mini that's so gray. I've tried other displays and DVI-VGA adapters with no joy. I'm more fortunate than many mini owners in that I _have_ a DVI input to use - it's a pain but I can bypass the KVM and switch the source on the monitor, too. Others aren't so fortunate. Bring your own display, keyboard and mouse, indeed - as long as it's DVI!
    -Andrew "


    (added 2/23/2005)
    "Mike - I am having trouble with dim video on a Sony CDP-E400 19 inch CRT. This was a fairly expensive monitor ($500) and is not exactly low end equipment. Running video from the Mini through the DVI-VGA adapter looks awful, regardless of whether it goes through a KVM switch or is hooked up directly to the monitor. Whites look gray, colors are severely washed out. Edges, especially on typographic characters are not sharp. It is especially noticable when switching back and forth between a Windows PC and the Mini. It would be impossible to use this device for anything important like Photoshop or even viewing DVD's.

    I borrowed a Dell 1704 LCD monitor and tried hooking it up both via the DVI connection and via the DVI-VGA adapter. In both cases, the video looks much better than on the glass monitor, but still not as good as the PC output. I also took it into an Apple store and tried it with one of their monitors (LCD), of course it looked good on their $1000 monitor.

    This would have been my first Mac. The mac's are touted as being great for design work and photo manipulation, etc. All the "artistic" stuff. Unfortunately, the Mini is unsuitable for this purpose. I can't believe that during the development and QA process at Apple that they never tested it with any third party monitors. Steve Jobs said this device would work with any industry standard monitor. The Mini was targeted at switchers. What did they expect? I'm going to try to return my Mini tomorrow to an Apple store. Wish me luck.
    Peter. "


    (added 2/23/2005)
    "Mac mini connected to a Sony CPD-200ES CRT through VGA. Have tried both KVM and direct connection, no difference. Very gray, with low contrast.
    Monitor looks fine when connected to my PC.
    -Brian "


    (added 2/23/2005)
    "I also have low contrast dim video from my Mac Mini into a CRT monitor. The monitor is a LaCie electronBlue 19". While I do go through a KVM switch, a direct connect yields no difference. The display is bright and "normal" when connected to my Windows machine.

    When my mini was connected to an Apple LCD (DVI/Digital-Mike) at the dealer, the display was bright and vivid!
    Russ N. "


    (added 2/23/2005)
    "Replying to macmini's used with vga
    I have mine hooked up to a vga LCD set to 1280x1024 and have no problems.

    Mac mini 1.42GHz BTO
    512 MB (factory upgrade)
    80GB HD
    Blue Tooth (turned off for now)
    No Airport card
    Wired Apple keyboard/mouse
    Daewoo F227B LCD 17" using cable that came with the monitor and the vga adapter that apple supplied with the mac mini.
    MacOSX 10.3.7
    Mark
    (I asked Mark if he'd compared the same display brightness when connected to another mac or PC.-Mike)
    I compared it to my G4 MDD Dual 867. Display appeared slightly brighter on the G4 MDD. Both were usable and text was crisp on both. By the way, it did not matter if I used the Mini or the MDD supplied VGA/DVI adapter, the adapters did not seem to change the brightness of the mini. Mark "

    Some monitors may show this more than others apparently. (Thanks to those that include specific model details.)


    (added 2/23/2005)
    "I have the Mac Mini 1.42 hooked to a Samsung 570v VGA-only LCD panel. At first the display was dim and "dull", but after playing around with the refresh rates, I found that 75hz gives me a fairly bright and clear picture (but still not as good as my AMD W2k PC and Nvidia Gforce 5900 however).
    I find the display tolerable now, but in a direct comparison to the AMD box it is still not as bright or clear. I have emailed Apple about my concerns for future expandability, considering that there appear to be many problem reports. My wife has a Sony 100ES that I have not hooked up, but that I have read from others has the dim display problem.
    Danny W. "

    If I were buying a Mac Mini, I think I'd want a DVI display. (But I know many don't have one and that's another expense...) I wonder if new/future builds will boost the analog video level a bit.


    (added 2/23/2005)
    "Hi, just a note that we have 2 Mac minis (the 1.25GHz models) and I am using an old Dell 17" CRT display with the included adapter and the other is using a BenQ 15" LCD with the included VGA adapter and neither one has problems with the video.
    Thanks, Dan
    (I asked if he had compared brightness with those displays connected to another system. But if you're happy with it that's all that matters really.-Mike) The Dell was used on a G4 tower and is not noticeably different, can't speak for the BenQ display though as we bought that just for the mini. "


    (added 2/23/2005)
    "I own a Mac Mini purchased two days after release (MacConnection). I've had it attached to a Hitachi CM721F 19" CRT and its currently running with an older Viewsonic A75f 17" CRT. Neither CRT's have had video problems at all. Animation and OS X effects are smooth, font is crisp, colors are bright and true...
    Thanks, Corey S. "


    (added 2/23/2005)
    "Yes I did notice dim video using a 17" sony crt monitor with no kvm switch. Still usable, but with extra eye strain. The dimness is not drastic but noticeable as soon as it was booted up.

    I can't test further since the Mini was given as a gift and I don't have access to it now.
    Hope this helps.
    Thanks, Tim H. "


    (added 2/23/2005)
    "I just thought I would let your readers know that there is also a problem with the NTSC Composite/S-Video output of the Mac mini when using the DVI to the Video Out adapter. Black lines appear near the bottom of the video image in every other frame. This is the same problem that still exists with the PowerBook's Composite/S-Video output.
    Depending on the overscan of the monitor/projector you are using you may or may not see it but it is there. To see the problem, record analog video from this output to a DV camera and then bring this footage into Final Cut. You can also see it without recording if you have a professional monitor which has an underscan mode.
    I have details on this problem at http://internet.cybermesa.com/~hamilton/PB/ when I FIRST reported this to Apple in April 2001 almost 4 years ago. I guess not enough people have complained to Apple for them to consider fixing it. ATI has software which fixes the problem on their retail Mac Radeon cards but the Mac mini is currently an "Unknown" card. (Mac2TV controls of ATI Display software support retail cards, but not OEM versions)
    I would welcome any suggestions concerning how we might get this issue addressed and FIXED by Apple.
    Bruce H. "


    (added 2/22/2005)
    "No problems with video on my side. I have two Mac mini's...one connected to a 19" Sony CRT and the other to a Samsung 713v VGA only LCD.

    Both look good. Haven't hooked the mini to a 15" Samsung 152T LCD (DVI and VGA capable)
    The mini replaced a G4 tower on the sony CRT ...equal quality
    The 2nd mini replaced a CUBE and again equal quality...
    All's good here...fingers are crossed now...
    Dixon C. "

    Some Mini owners asked for specific display model numbers (from those not reporting any dim/low-contrast analog video) so I asked Dixon for the Sony model number.


    (added 2/22/2005)
    "Mike,
    I have the 1.42 mini connected to an NEC 17" flat panel display using a VGA connection. Looks beautiful. No signs of blurriness or dimness. I havenŐt connected the mini to a CRT, however.
    Steve "

    I asked if he had compared another system using that monitor. (and as a FYI for others - please include display model number. thanks)


    (added 2/22/2005)
    "Mike - Great site. Just got my mac mini. Using it with a 19" IIyama TSA4634JT Monitor at 1280x1024. Looks terrible. Dark, I'd say about 50% darker than the PCs that are using it (through a Corega 4-port KVM switch).
    Disappointed as this is one of the first Macs at my work and I was looking forward to showing it off.
    Eric "


    (added 2/22/2005)
    "Hi, this isn't exactly the same problem, but I imagine it is related ... using the dvi to video connector to my hd ready tv (samsung 32") with the option of s-video or component video for inputs, leaves the desktop unreadable due to bluriness.
    Strangely (at least to me) itunes visualizer, marble blast (played while on hold with apple tech support) & dvds look great ... just fonts, buttons, menus, etc. are horribly unreadable.
    Apple passed me upto second level tech support who could do nothing & a week ago was supposed to get back to me after consulting with an engineer level tech support ...
    if anyone else is experiencing this issue, or if i am just missing something obvious, i would appreciate some feedback ... thanks !
    (the fossil guy) "

    Text (esp. small text) isn't great on any Computer->TV connection in general but the (reportedly) lower voltage analog video wouldn't help matters. If any readers have a TV with DVI input I'd like to hear what you think as far as image quality.


    (added 2/22/2005)
    "Hey there. Just thought I'd mention that I picked up a Mac Mini over the weekend and hooked it up to my 50" HD plasma via the VGA connector. I haven't noticed any brightness or blur issues at all. From what I've seen from reports so far, it appears that many folks are trying to hook into standard monitors rather than to a plasma so that may be a factor.
    Also, I'm using the DVI->VGA converter that came with my powerbook instead of the one in the MacMini box. Again, don't know if this is a factor or not but given that I hadn't seen it mentioned before, I figured it might be at least a small data point.
    Jeremy H. "

    Normally (unless there's some high resistance connection) the adapter wouldn't matter since all it does is connect the analog video pins in the DVI-I connector to a VGA connector on the other end. (If you suspect that's an issue - try swapping it and see if you notice any difference.)


    (added 2/21/2005)
    "hi mike
    i can confirm that the mac mini's vga (analog) signal is much dimmer than using dvi.
    when connected to a samsung 172x lcd display using the vga adapter, the picture is dim and somewhat blurry. if i connect it using dvi, the image is bright and sharp. on my pc connected to the same display, the picture is largely identical between vga and dvi.
    cheers Matt H. "


    (added 2/21/2005)
    "Yep, it's a problem. We did a test this weekend on several different displays:

    Apple 20" cinema display DVI connection, great picture
    Dell 19" LCD w/VGA and DVI inputs, MacMini VGA blurry and dim, MacMini DVI perfect
    ACER 19" LCD VGA only, MacMini Blurry and dim, Dell running XP perfect

    Based on our comparison with the Dell 19" that had both types of inputs, there's something not quite right about the VGA converter on the MacMini.
    -dano "


    (added 2/21/2005)
    "Yes image seem dimmer than IBM vga card output & blurry. On 90hz interference noise can be seen also.
    The MacMini output is not as crisp.
    Monitor Used, 20" Mitsubishi DiamondPro 2040u and 19" Diamond Plus 91.
    So this is definitely true. I'm an EE and have eye for these things. Quality is my main choice.
    Let me know how I can help. I've also added a very simple non intrusive HDD activity light to my mac mini that shines right throught the top transparent white plastic.
    -Silvano "


    (added 2/21/2005)
    "One suggestion would be to try a different DVI to VGA adaptor. Have seen this problem with a powerbook swapped the adaptor and alls fine now.
    Jason R. "

    Some noted trying several adapters (they are simply a hard-wired connector tying the analog pins in the DVI-I connector to a VGA connector. Unless there's some resistance/connection issue the adapter should really affect this.)


    (added 2/21/2005)
    "Hiya. I have a stock 1.25ghz, using the dvi to vga adapter with my mag LCD (It only has analog vga input, its a few years old).

    Video looks great, as good as it ever did with my pc. I think an issue can be the colorsync profile, which seemed to be off on my monitor, and I had to make a few hacks to get things working properly.
    Bill "

    One other owner said recalibrating the monitor in OS X helped.


    (added 2/21/2005)
    "Greetings, I've been following the threads about dim video with the Mac mini. I received mine last week and have been unable to get satisfactory results with any combination of DVI/VGA dongle and CRT monitor.
    I have 3 different dongles from various video cards and 3 different monitors. All work perfectly with any of my 7 PCs and my old beige G3 with on-board video.

    The mini video is dim with a soft focus or lack of contrast. Whites are actually gray and colors are washed out. Same monitor settings result in vivid, razor sharp video and bright colors when used with any of my other machines. My main monitor is a Samsung 997DF 19" CRT, but I've also tried Viewsonic PF790 19" and Viewsonic GS771 17" CRTs with the same result.

    I've read that the mini is fine when used with an LCD display connected through DVI, but I wouldn't have purchased a mini knowing I'd have to buy a new LCD as well. In fact, how does one know if an LCD would actually work better? Is there a list of known compatible displays?

    I've tried various resolutions and refresh rates and find that 1280x1024 at 75Hz is the brightest with my mini. Please let me know what develops!

    I'll be contacting Apple as well to see what info they have to offer.
    -D. "


    (added 2/21/2005)
    "No issues - the 1.42 mini is driving my compaq MV940 display better than windows ever did. At 1600x1200, 60 Hz the display is bright and text looks great.
    Mike
    (I asked to verify it was an Analog monitor-Mike)
    Yes, it's a standard VGA monitor using the adapter that came with the mini. I picked it up the day that it was released. The latest iLife was not installed (had an extra CD), so I suspect it was a fairly early build.
    I tend to keep my monitor brightness at around 40% and did not change it when going from PC to mini.
    -Mike "


    (added 2/21/2005)
    "I've used the Mac Mini with a Sony 15" analog display. No dimming problem. Text and colors were better than my 15" TiBook.
    Paul L. "


    (added 2/21/2005)
    "the C't (magazine) in Germany tested the video-output, and it was below 530 mV.
    They wrote in the article, that the video would be blurry on many (analog) monitors. They wrote, that a digital monitor has to be preffered. It is in the C't 4 / 2005, side 70.
    Carsten "


    (added 2/21/2005)
    "I'm using Mini with 17" CRT VGA display with adapter and no problems at all. Picture quality is OK.
    Before Mini, I used this same monitor in G4/400Mhz PowerMac and I have also used this with PC and picture quality is same, I cant see any difference.
    Kimmo
    Order was made 15.1 (Jan 15th) and shipment notification was send 2.2 (Feb 2nd), and I got the machine 4.2 (Feb 4th). "


    (added 2/21/2005)
    "Clearly I am seeing this behavior.
    LaCie electron22blue monitor. Using 1280x1024x85cycles. With one major caveat: I'm going through a Raritan Paragon KVM. While the kvm might be causing some loss of signal strength it clearly demonstrates that the mini has a much darker image. This is evident when switching back and forth between multiple macs with the identical calibration settings.
    Robert S. "


    (added 2/21/2005)
    "My Mac mini (1.42 GHz attached to a 17" CRT) arrived on Feb., 9th. The video output is really not that crisp as You would usually expect.

    It clearly has less contrast than all my other Macs and those PCs we use at work.

    On the other side, the video quality is no further affected by the KVM switch I use.

    A rather sub-optimal workaround might be to play around with the gamma settings a little, in order to get some more contrast.
    Bye, Guido B. "


    (added 2/21/2005)
    "I have the same problem.... Very dim video... just thought it was because I was using a VGA monitor. Should it be bright as my PC?
    Brad Y. "

    Normally there shouldn't be any big difference. (I tried to reply to Brad's mail about this but got a bounceback.)


    (added 2/21/2005)
    "Mike,
    Our Mac Mini had no such problems when we used a VGA monitor. Now we are using a Sony 19" DVI LCD. (It's beautiful!)
    --Jeff K.
    (I asked if he'd compared the same VGA monitor with another system (that's where some noted the difference). In case there is some change I've asked those that didn't see a problem if their Mini was an early build.-Mike)
    My mini was delivered one or two days earlier than expected from the original first batches (I ordered the day they were anounced).
    I moved the monitor from one mac to this one. This is a 1.42GHz model. I admit that I could have been unobservant, but that is rare for me. I can move it back to a CRT and test it out. "


    (added 2/21/2005)
    "I just spent the last five+ hours setting up a Mac mini (set up, loading software, moving files, virus scan on the ENTIRE drive which took forever, etc.) which is using an old Apple 20" CRT...

    So, DVI from Mac mini > Apple provided DVI>VGA adapter > old Apple VGA>Apple 15pin adapter!
    Running @ max. rez/max. refresh allowed by standard Mac mini hardware/drivers, which is 1280x1024@75Hz. Or was that 85Hz?
    Anyway, no flicker (which happened on the 7500 it was attached to), no dimming, no fuzziness.
    HDD aside, the Mac mini (1.42GHz/512MB/SD) is pretty sweet for what it is!
    Kevin"

    I asked if he had compared the same monitor using another (more modern) Mac or PC.


    (added 2/21/2005)
    "Dear Mike,
    I tried my mini with a Dell 15" flat panel's VGA input and the video was in fact dim. This was probably because I didn't mess with the color profiles on the mini; I had very little dimness once I tweaked it for my aged Viewsonic PS790-2.
    Scott C. "


    (added 2/21/2005)
    "Mine seems fine. I'm using it with a 17in B&W studio display
    Sean C.
    (I asked if he compared the display using another system)
    I've used the display with a TiPowerbook as well as a B&W G3, and a couple PCs, and it's always bee fine. I'll try the mini with another CRT this week and let you know how that goes.
    -Sean "


    (added 2/21/2005)
    "I have used my Mac Mini on a Silicon Graphics badged Sony GDM-4011P 20" Trinitron monitor. The image was bright and crisp. I used a medium duty VGA cable I bought for $19 (not a $8 thin cable, nor a $40 firehose thick cable).
    Mine was indeed an early build, ordered it just after the keynote and it did not arrive with iLife 05 preinstalled (came on an included DVD).
    My monitor was pretty high end for its time. I'll try the Mini on another CRT later this week.
    (he later wrote)

    Update: I tried the Mini on an AppleVision 750 monitor (old beige 17" Trinitron) and the colors do indeed look washed out... it looks as though I was using a long, cheap video cable when in fact I am just using the 6 foot cable attached to the monitor (plus a VGA adapter plus the DVI adapter).

    It looks like the only true solution is to use a real DVI monitor with the Mini. Either that or use a very high quality CRT, like the Silicon Graphics / Sony monitor I had been using earlier.
    (Please withhold my name) "


    (added 2/18/2005 - updated w/more comments)
    "Samsung 712N, Mac Mini, VGA. Blurry text. I've done much fiddling with the Appearance settings, refresh rate 60 or 75 Hz etc. It just doesn't look as good as the output from my Dell 4600 with NVidia Geforce MX 5200. Same cables. No KVM.

    Hope we can get some resolution (no pun) on this matter. I'd sure hate to have to buy a DVI screen or go back to using Windows XP.
    Thanks, R. Falconer
    (I asked if he connected that monitor to another system is there any difference in brightness?-Mike)
    I can't really see much difference in overall brightness. However some of the smaller, grey fonts which are easy to read on the Dell become so dim that they are difficult to read.. "


    (added 2/18/2005)
    "I wouldn't use the word dim. I would say it is lack of contrast. I am able to fix it by using the built in cal function in OS X. (Screen is a pro grade Sony 21" CRT)
    -Thomas
    (I asked if he compared the monitor's brightness when connected to another system-Mike)
    I don't recall any problem with other Macs that had been connected to this monitor (3 years old). (I meant was the display brighter/crisper with other systems vs the Mini's analog video-Mike) I always work in a very dim room. That may be why I don't see its dim. "


    (added 2/18/2005)
    "Hello Mike
    Yes it's true. The german computer magazin CT which is probably one of the most professional PC Magazines out there tested the mac mini's VGA output and noted that it was quite bad. They said you should use DVI instead. Unfortunately their test isn't online; you have to buy the magazine.
    Regards, M. Atmani
    (Zurich, Switzerland) "


    (added 2/18/2005)
    "I see it on the main page. But it says to email if there are problems... (to clarify I wanted reports if you've seen it or not with a *VGA* (analog) display.-Mike) I have had none. I have had it hooked to a 19 inch Princeton LCD (via DVI) and have for a while had it connected to an older (5+ years) 19 inch CTX monitor (VGA only). Absolutely no problems with dim video. Just putting in my 2 cents. Oh....my girlfriend bought the mini the first day it went on sale at Tyson's Apple store.
    (he later wrote)
    I will have to hook up another computer at the same location....no big deal...I will comment after I have done it. But it is safe to say that even if it is dimmer....it is not a deal breaker for me. The display was awesome on the 19 inch LCD. The older 19 inch CRT is dimmer (but I figured that was just it's age). After I hook up another computer I will post my findings.
    -Asmodeus
    "

    If possible - when using VGA (analog) displays - compare the Mini connected to the display to another Mac (or PC) connected to the same display.


    (added 2/18/2005)
    "I noticed this with my Mini into the VGA in on my Samsung HLN 567 television. (Port known to work with other machines.) When I plugged the same mini into the VGA on a multisync monitor I had (old Sun 17", dunno model number) picture was normal.

    Mini is now working fine through the DVI input of the Samsung. I'd believe that the signal is somewhat out of spec and some monitors can't handle it well.
    -Jonathan Y. "


    (added 2/18/2005)
    "Yes, I have had this issue with my mini.
    I was using a Viewsonic P815 and even with the brightness and contrast at max, the image was dim. This monitor was taken from a PC (Radeon 9000) where the controls only had to be set at mid level to get a bright picture. I also noticed that the on-screen menus were very bright, but the background mini video was dim when both were displayed.
    As mentioned on a post at Macminiforums.com, this is only seems to be a problem with the analog output, the DVI connection is OK. I recently bought a Princeton LCD 19D, 19inch LCD with a DVI connection and connected to the mini through DVI port the picture was so bright that I had to set the contrast to 50 and the brightness 15, both out of a max of 100.

    No KVM switch, direct connection in both cases. I even have a high quality VGA to 5 BNC cable that is used with the Viewsonic. Also the Viewsonic needed to be toned down quite a bit when it went back to PC duty. Thanks for the great site!!
    -Frank "


    (added 2/18/2005)
    "Yes I have the same problem
    KVM switch or no KVM switch I use both and YES the screen is very Dim
    what do we do?
    -Elliott "

    Don't know what to suggest for end users other than to try a DVI monitor if possible. (Unless Apple comes up with a rework/fix.)


    (added 2/18/2005)
    "I am using a 19" newish Dell VGA CRT. I have a new IOGEAR 2-way KVM that I am using it on, w/ my work PC. I immediately noticed the dimness - instantly, because when you switch back and forth with the KVM, it's easy to spot. The KVM is one of those all-in-one units with integrated cables. I swapped the cables - connecting them to the other unit and no difference resulted - still dim only on Mac. I hooked the Mac directly to the CRT and it still looks dim. I then hooked the mini and the PC to my Sony 19" CRT's dual inputs and switched between them with the front-mounted switch and the mini is still dim.
    Check this post from the Apple discussion from a few hrs ago:

    "I bought 4 Minis for our small ad business, to drive 4 Sony 200ES CRT monitors that still display beautifully with our old Macs. The video is uniformly dim with all workstations... in fact, the dimness makes our eyes hurt. Cranking up the brightness just washes out the screen, as the contrast is already maxed out. This is the first time I've actually seen OSX display badly, like a generic windows box with $75 monitor you'd buy from one of those traveling expos. What's the consensus? Is Apple going to do anything? Any suggestions?"

    ...something is not right. I definitely think Apple needs to acknowledge this and address the issue. Unfortunately it will almost certainly involve a motherboard swap which will be hard for Apple.

    I am not sure if all units have this issue or not. It seems that using a DVI screen is better - but that there is still dimness there. Most pronounced on VGA CRT's tho, it seems. I sadly don't use my mini for Photoshop work because the colors look so much darker. ...and PS crashes my XP box 1 out of the launches... Seems an unacceptable situation with the mini.
    -BP "



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