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Jeroen W. Pluimers on .NET, C#, Delphi, databases, and personal interests

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Running your Mac Mini headless by faking a display for it (HDMI 1080p/4K or Thunderbolt VGA); similar for DVI

Posted by jpluimers on 2017/08/28

CompuLab 4K Display Emulator (fit-Headless 4K)

CompuLab 4K Display Emulator (fit-Headless 4K)

The MacMini is a bit dumb as it won’t enable the GPU when there is no display attached. Which means headless operation is cumbersome as display rendering is very slow.

There are a few tricks of which the off-the-shelve HDMI solutions work best.

You can buy them at Amazon:

CompuLab Display Emulator (fit-Headless)

CompuLab Display Emulator (fit-Headless)


Basically the trick to simulate a monitor with a dummy load works for other display connectors as well (most of them work fine with 75 ohm resistors, usually a bit lower or higher works just as well):

Note that for VGA and DVI analog often you need to use three resistors instead of one: some graphics cards try to be smart and require that.

Heck, you can even make a Chromecast Audio Adapter with this trick and perform all sorts of to/from VGA conversions:

The DIY for a Thunderbolt to VGA adapter looks like this:


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