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How I got 4k (UHD) on my Mac Mini Mid 2011

I have purchased my Mac Mini end of 2011. Was a pretty good deal ~550 Euro for the 2.3 GHz i5 Model .

First thing I did was to upgrade the RAM. Got 8Gb from Amazon and installed the RAM (~2 minutes).

Few years later the default harddisk felt slow and I have added an 250Gb SSD Drive:

This is the best investment I did for this Mac. It was like I got a new Mac :)

Recently I’ve purchased this Samsung UHD Monitor. 

On my Windows PC the UHD resolution worked out-of-the box since the graphic card was pretty performant but on Mac Mini didn’t.

Mac Mini has an old Intel HD3000 graphic adapter that by default shares 288Mb of RAM with the system memory and apparently has a pixel clock limitation.

Tried many combinations and I couldn’t get on Mac Mini more than Full-HD on both monitors…

After reading around I got to the conclusion that the only chance is to start focusing on getting the UHD (4k) resolution on HDMI…

So, I have ended up connecting the HDMI Output from Mac Mini to the Samsung HDMI input and miniDisplay port from Mac Mini for the secondary monitor that was an usual Full-HD monitor.

Please note that I didn’t use the “natural” miniDisplay Port to Display Port cable that would connect the Mac Mini with the Samsung’s Display Port.

On OSX Mavericks I was able to set 2560×1440 resolution w/o problems by just running SwitchResX and creating this resolution as a custom resolution. Here’s a rough list of the settings for 2560×1440:

use simple set: gtf
active: 2560 1440
front porch: 119 1
sync width: 267 3
back porch: 386 21
blanking: 772 25
total: 3332 1465
scan rate: 43,997 30,018
checkboxes: unchecked checked

After updated to Yosemite strangely this resolution didn’t work anymore out of the box. After some reading on internet I found out that I need to remove the 165 MHz pixel clock limitation in a different way that I did for Mavericks… From this list I’ve picked Dark Void’s script.

Eventually I’ve enabled the HiDPI modes and changed the amount of VRAM to 1Gb to be sure that all things are prepared.

After increasing VRAM (by following the instructions) and rebooting I’ve got a miserable 7Mb of VRAM :) but Turbowald hint’s helped to recover and after next reboot got 1Gb VRAM.

This tool actually helps fixing the kext files, so run it any way.

Now was about time to tune up SwitchResX… After first start I was like…
Wow! The resolutions I need are already listed, no need to create custom ones.

Here’s a screenshot with the UHD (4k) resolution on my Mac Mini
4k

Switching between these resolutions worked like charm but there was a problem. Randomly at 10-30 minute intervals the screen went black for one-two seconds. This is the only issue I currently have. I strongly suspect is the poor quality of the HDMI cable but I’m not really sure. I just hope the problem is not there because of the Intel adapter overclock.

UPDATE 27 March 2015:
On Mac Mini Mid 2011 when using 3840×2160 I couldn’t get rid of instability issues:
– on HDMI I get short image interruptions every few minutes
– on DisplayPort I get constant noise on dark background.

If you have a solution for this let me know.

switchresx

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13 Comments

  1. Nice post! I have the same machine (with same mods) and am wondering if it would work with a 4k monitor over DisplayPort. Did you have a chance to try it? Would it require the same graphics adapter overclock since the official specs state 2560×1600 capability over Thunderbolt (=miniDisplayPort)?

  2. I don’t have a working Mini Display port to Display Port (big) cable so I can’t say.

    I bought one miniDisplayPort to DisplayPort from Amazon (Lenovo) but didn’t work at all… At any resolution. So I assume the cable is not meant for Mac Mini.

    When going out from MiniDisplay port (from MacMini) to DVI and then from DVI to HDMI input of my Samsung monitor it works but with subtle noise on dark areas.

    Now I don’t know if the noise is because of a limitation or just because all the converters I use in the chain.

    I think is worth trying. You can do a backup and then revert from backup.

  3. Nice post! Thanks. Do you think this will run on a standard 13″ Macbook Air mid 2011 running Yosemite 10.10.2 (14C109) with only display port 1.1 as an output option?

    Spec:
    MacBook Air (13-inch, Mid 2011)
    1.7 GHz Intel Core i5
    4 GB 1333 MHz DDR3
    Intel HD Graphics 3000 384 MB

    Cheers,

    Paul

  4. That should read “only mini-display port 1.1 an output option”

  5. @Paul: 2560×1440 should work.
    I’m not sure about 3840 × 2160 on your model.
    As recommended, just give it a try. SwitchResX can be used for free for several days.

  6. I’ve been thinking about getting a 4k TV for my 2008 mac pro. My GPU has an hdmi port and does 2560 x 1600 or my 30″ Cinema display. From your post, I gather that if I did so, my GPU’s control panel would probably let me choose 2560 x 1440 for that tv. Is yours a TV or dedicated computer monitor. Does this resolution look good. Have any opinions on how it might look (I’m thinking of getting 60″ TV and sitting about 7 feet from it – productivity from the couch as it were.

  7. Great Post! Followed your instruction and set the P2415q with 1920×1080@30Hz HiDPI (3840x2160p) successfully. Lastly, I dont have your problem in HDMI and I am using the HDMI cable by iBuffalo and keep vram in 512mb only, please try! Million Thanks!

  8. Simply outstanding post!

    This is the first post that I have followed that has worked.. and it worked flawlessly. Thank you for taking the time to post detail on your process and the results. I love have my Mac Mini mid-2011 with 512MB or RAM running Yosemite outputting 4k at 30Hz to my Seiki 4k television via an HDMI adapter.

  9. It works fine.
    BUT, I have at the 2560×1440 a distorted (slightly) edges, typefaces etc. .. My new monitor works best in 3600xOr-something mode it says (Philips 288p)
    Will a newer mac mini (mine is also from mid 2011) from 2016 show better picture, and be able at the 3600xOr-something with a Thunderbolt output?
    I see that I need a Thunderbolt to DisplayPort cable in that case.

    brgds T

  10. Yes 4k is available on a mac mini 2011 through using the thunderbolt/mini displayport to displayport cable. If im correct at least in el capitan now u can hold down the alt? Key to see all the resolutions in the display config settings. Only thw font is on the small side so i dont know if thats gonna make u happy

  11. Awesome work. I got mine working with PIP at the moment. Would you mind sharing the 4k configuration for SwitchX? Thanks!

  12. I recently purchased a late 2014 (latest model) Mac Mini running OS Sierra and a Dell P2415Q 4K display. The display detects the computer when connected with mini-Display Port to Display Port cable. (Sometimes it fails to detect and I have to turn it off and on a few times.) The range of resolution choices in System Preferences: Displays: Display was limited. If I choose “Default for display,” the computer recognizes and names the Dell P2415Q, but the display is in 30 Hz and, although the image is very sharp in most applications, fonts are blurry in Microsoft Office apps, Adobe apps, and others. When I went into System Preferences: Display and held dow the Command key (as recommended by Songbo Chih above), however, I saw a much wider range of resolutions, including 2560×1440. When I select this resolution, System Preferences indicates the refresh rate is 60 Hz. If I choose any of the other resolutions, it changes to 30 Hz. The refresh rate is grayed out so I can’t select it manually. I thought I ought to post it for others who are having the same problem I’ve been struggling with. I need to warn you that I am not sure whether I held down the Command key, or whether I held down the Option or Control key. I am afraid to undo it now that I’ve got it working!

  13. Thanks for the guide, it works well except the 30hz refresh rate, which is more annoying than I imagined .) I’m yet to decide whether I’ll keep this resolution or not. Thanks again!

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