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Musings on converting an iMac into an external monitor
Posted by: Todd's keyboard
Date: May 07, 2020 10:13AM
Sorry for the long introduction. Have already started two threads asking for and receiving excellent advice on replacing my failing, mid-2010, 27" iMac with a newer computer. (It looks like the video card is failing. Several times a day the screen goes blank. Letting things cool off lets me re-boot into a functioning computer again—for a while.)

I don't begrudge replacing a 10-year-old iMac. I've written several books with it. Self-published one of them—which utilized Photoshop and InDesign. Do some minor work with video, not a lot. Even now, this machine still feels quite peppy.

Money, while always a concern, is not the main issue. The bigger constraint is availability of the components (and timing) of the new system. Usually, ordering things from the US to be delivered to a Washington state address has not been a problem. These days that is no longer an option; I need to find things in British Columbia.

Most of my current work involves transferring a paper-based school to an online presence. I need lots of windows open and access to viewing multiple files and folders to sort things out. The 27" screen feels a bit too small.

Am leaning towards a new Mac Mini. Once that is home, I can pull out the after-market SSD and 5TB hard drive from the iMac to place in external enclosures. Will need to see if the RAM can be re-purposed in the Man Mini.

The 34" Dell monitor I am looking at is temporarily out of stock here in Canada.

This morning I realized that the MiniDisplay port on the iMac goes both ways. Will this iMac function as an external monitor for a Mac Mini? More specifically, if used as an external monitor, would I bypass any problems of a failing video card in the iMac? This solution would allow me to postpone the need to purchase an external monitor.

As usual, any other questions, recommendations, and/or issues I should think about?

thanks again, Todd's limbo board
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Re: Musings on converting an iMac into an external monitor
Posted by: freeradical
Date: May 07, 2020 10:17AM
I've done it with my 27" 2010 iMac. It works.
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Re: Musings on converting an iMac into an external monitor
Posted by: jonny
Date: May 07, 2020 10:18AM
Does this address it?
[www.lifewire.com]
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Re: Musings on converting an iMac into an external monitor
Posted by: Todd's keyboard
Date: May 07, 2020 10:21AM
Freeradical,

Thanks. How much of the guts of the iMac can I remove and still have it work?

I assume a standard monitor does not have a video card, SSD, and hard drive. Would I be able to remove these items and still have an external monitor that could be used by a Mac Mini?

thanks again, Todd's wondering-what-all-the-fuss-is-about, I'm-still-working keyboard
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Re: Musings on converting an iMac into an external monitor
Posted by: anonymouse1
Date: May 07, 2020 10:35AM
Todd's

Where in BC are you? I get there every year or two....
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Re: Musings on converting an iMac into an external monitor
Posted by: kurtzie
Date: May 07, 2020 11:13AM
I'm not sure how these things work –
Will the iMac still work as an external monitor if the video card is failing?

Steve
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Re: Musings on converting an iMac into an external monitor
Posted by: pinkoos
Date: May 07, 2020 11:53AM
[support.apple.com]

The iMac would still need to be a functioning 'computer' including having MacOS installed, so I don't think you can gut it and expect it to work as an external monitor



My daily record blog: [www.auditorymusings.com]


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Re: Musings on converting an iMac into an external monitor
Posted by: Lew Zealand
Date: May 07, 2020 11:58AM
RAM cannot be repurposed from old iMac to new Mac Mini, different spec. Using iMac as an external monitor does work, even from a TB3 to TB2 though you need to use an adapter cable. One warning, I had to mess with the adapter for a while before I got it working (for a client) and frankly I don't remember how dependable it was long-term.
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Re: Musings on converting an iMac into an external monitor
Posted by: jdc
Date: May 07, 2020 12:01PM
If time is of the essence, basic 27" 2560x1440 monitors are about $250.... and maybe be delivered sooner? Sure, its smaller, buy at least you will have a screen sooner

Ram for a new mini is totally different than a 10 year old iMac =). And adding ram to a mini isnt easy... as a fyi

I understand money isnt a huge issue... minis are great... but start adding options and they can get really expensive, but still no GPU... + that $1000 screen.



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Edited 999 time(s). Last edit at 12:08PM by jdc.
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Re: Musings on converting an iMac into an external monitor
Posted by: Todd's keyboard
Date: May 07, 2020 12:50PM
Yeah, I didn't think the RAM from a 2010 iMac would transfer to a 2020 Mac Mini. I was more thinking it could go into my printer. If not, expect to see an offering for old RAM at some point.

Am living in Vancouver, BC, not far from Stanley Park. Just last month sold a cottage in Point Roberts, Washington. (Much more about that later.) I've been using the Point Bob place as a fairly convenient PO Box, shipping depot, and storage locker for the past ten years. Fortunately, the buyer is my former next-door neighbor. He is very understanding about the current situation, so I don't feel any pressure to move my things out of there.

Again, thanks for all the feedback and suggestions. Let's see if I can be as helpful to my students today.

Todd's on-again, off-again, temperature-dependent keyboard
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Re: Musings on converting an iMac into an external monitor
Posted by: jonny
Date: May 07, 2020 12:54PM
I think Stanley Park is the most beautiful urban park (forest!) I have ever seen. Lucky you!
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Re: Musings on converting an iMac into an external monitor
Posted by: JoeH
Date: May 07, 2020 02:14PM
Is the video card actually failing, or just overheating? The heat transfer pads may have dried out after 10 years of use.

But, for these models you basically have to take everything out to get to the video card for replacement or changing the transfer pads. If the card does need to be replaced, working ones are getting short on supply.
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Re: Musings on converting an iMac into an external monitor
Posted by: Todd's keyboard
Date: May 07, 2020 02:27PM
Good question about the video card.

I opened up this iMac to swap out the DVD drive for a 5TB hard drive. Unlike a previous iMac, I was not able to put it back together. My stubby fingers could not keep multiple, tiny, not-quite-springs in place.

I ended up having to take it to an independent repair shop. If that wizard were still in business, I would be there this afternoon. As it is, I'm ready to pack it in. Ten years is a good, long run.

This morning—as I expected—the time between screen blackouts shortened significantly. I'm now using the MacBook Air hooked up to the Dell 19" monitor with my regular wired (not Welcome Datacomp) keyboard and mouse through the old hub. Things are okay, and the 19" keyboard feels quite cramped, compared to the 27".

Todd's long-in-the-tooth keyboard
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