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Old May 6, 2012, 04:57 PM   #1
Ifti
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Which mini?

I have a Synology Ds1511+ NAS, which is used to store all my media, movies, etc.
I know the NAS has a Plex app, which I have tried, but the CPU in the NAS wasnt really designed for the transcoding that comes with such an app. Hence I am considering purchasing a mac mini to use for Plex, and to use as a general entertainment machine connected to main family room TV.

I have a MacBook Pro that I use for my work etc, which does everything I need perfectly well. Hence the Mini will mainly be used for entertainment only, general web browsing, running Plex and getting the content from my NAS, etc.

I'm currently looking at the higher end MacMini with the 2.5GHz i5, because I wanted the better AMD graphics chip, considering I tend to make a purchase and keep it for a long time rather then upgrading every year or two. HDD size does not bother me, the smaller the better, since all the content will come directly from my NAS. Again, RAM doesn't bother me as its much cheaper to purchase third party RAM and upgrade yourself. Although I think the standard 4GB would do Ok for my uses anyway?

Do you think I should go for the higher end i7 CPU though, considering I want a long lasting system, and the CPU is otherwise not upgradable, or would it be a complete waste of money for my uses?
How much difference does the i7 make over the i5?

Bear in mind that although the system and Plex will mainly be used on the TV it's connected to, I will also be sometimes streaming to my iPhone or iPad also - so more transcoding there. On occasion I could have the kids watching a movie on the Tv, while I watching something else on the iPad.
Hence the reason why I'm thinking the i7 may be better for me? Although I will go for the i5 if it means everything will still work as well and I can save some cash!
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Last edited by Ifti; May 6, 2012 at 05:13 PM.
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Old May 6, 2012, 05:07 PM   #2
Poki
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Thats a easy one: Get the 2.3 GHz base model. The GPU really comes only into play if you want to play video games or use it for prosumer Apps like Final Cut Pro X or Aperture with huge RAW files. Otherwise the HD3000 is a real screamer, more than fast enough for anything you could consume in the next years.

The limiting factor is the display port - it doesn't support more than 2560x1600 per display, which is enough for most TVs (up to the 80 inch QFHD ones), and at this resolution the Intel HD3000 doesn't have any problem when watching a video / Youtube or browsing the web.

Just save the 200 bucks and get a nice weekend. Or new headphones. Or a new watch. Or whatever you want.
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Old May 6, 2012, 05:14 PM   #3
lamboman
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If you're just going to be using it to view content, stick with the base model

You may have heard about the 24p bug with Sandy Bridge processors, however this shouldn't pose a problem.
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Old May 6, 2012, 05:15 PM   #4
Ifti
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Hmmm, you have a point. Guess the saved cash could go towards the Bluetooth keyboard and trackpad

Are you sure the 2.3 will be able to cope with the dual transcoding etc well?
Currently leaning towards the 2.5 i5.......
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Last edited by Ifti; May 6, 2012 at 05:28 PM.
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Old May 6, 2012, 05:36 PM   #5
lamboman
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Hmmm, you have a point. Guess the saved cash could go towards the Bluetooth keyboard and trackpad

Are you sure the 2.3 will be able to cope with the dual transcoding etc well?
What will you be transcoding? And what for? It really is dependent on that.
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Old May 6, 2012, 05:53 PM   #6
Poki
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Hmmm, you have a point. Guess the saved cash could go towards the Bluetooth keyboard and trackpad

Are you sure the 2.3 will be able to cope with the dual transcoding etc well?
Currently leaning towards the 2.5 i5.......
First.. great investment. Best keyboard and trackpad in the market IMHO (and I tried quite a few dozen...).

Second: Yeah, I am sure. The base model doesn't even have a problem driving two monitors, one with 1600p and one with 1080p, so streaming to an iOS-device while watching something on the TV shouldn't be a problem. Also keep in mind it's almost double as fast as the "old" 2,4 GHz Core 2 Duo.

I used to buy too high specced computers for different purposes in the past too. Now I'm just buying one desktop for my serious work and look what exactly I need for everything else. Saves me quite a bit of money, so I advice you to do the same.
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Old May 6, 2012, 06:21 PM   #7
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How much difference does the i7 make over the i5?
Not a whole lot. I have a Mac Mini that's used similarly, with the I7. The CPU typically is running at 20% using XMBC for playback, which I believe doesn't make use of the graphics card for decoding.

Mine is driving two Thunderbolt displays at 2560x1440, and even when encoding video and the CPU goes to 100% the video playback doesn't stutter. (Drive speed and network issues are another matter though!)
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Old May 6, 2012, 07:32 PM   #8
Neodym
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I have the 2011 base 2.3 i5 and use it as TV "box" together with EyeTV and the EyeTV 320 (-> satellite). Machine is fine with SD content (even when streaming in parallel to a mobile iOS device). However - once HD content comes into play, CPU resources run tight and you may have an occasional stutter (normally only happening right after streaming started). Even more so if you prepare recordings in the background for iPhone/iPad access while watching/streaming.

Probably depending on how EyeTV/Plex/Others are actually using the hardware, but as far as i'm concerned i'll switch to the next mini (Ivy) if it comes with SSD factory-installed, hoping to be more future-proof with HD programs and perhaps eventually getting rid of the infamous recurring short video stutter a couple of times per hour when EyeTV writes something big to disk (visible in the activity manager) and simply doesn't manage to do so without stuttering.
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Old May 7, 2012, 04:44 AM   #9
Ifti
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Network speed should be an issue. The NAS is connected directly my my Apple Extreme router via a Cat6 1m cable, both have gigabit ports.
All of my devices have wireless n, although I have a powerline adapter come to the living room, which the Mac Mini will connect to - so it remains hard wired rather then wireless.

My current Samsung TV connects to my network via the powerline adapter, and full HD movies are streamed with no stutter whatsoever, so I'm expecting the same from the mini.

I tend to overspec stuff so it future proofs me for as long as possible, even though I don't need it. But when it comes to Apple, the extra premium for the extra bit is quite substantial in most cases! Although I don't want to regret things later.
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Old May 7, 2012, 05:36 AM   #10
Json81
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I have a similar setup and I choose i5 2.5 with AMD graphics.
I don't think the price difference between this and the lowest modell is so much considering you don't have to replace RAM (2GB is not enough) and you get a graphics card that supports hardware decoding (the support for intel is so-so).
And if you ever want to play some simple games there's at least a decent amount of graphics power.

I haven't tried dual transcoding, but streaming 720p to two apple tv's and at the same watching 720p is no problem.
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Old May 7, 2012, 10:44 AM   #11
talmy
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I've got a 2009 Mac mini server (2.53GHz C2D with 4GB RAM) acting as my home file server, which includes running Plex server. It's totally untaxed by this. I can't imagine any current models having a problem either. I've got two more base minis of the same vintage (2.26GHz C2D with 2GB RAM) acting as entertainment servers (primarily running Plex). Base minis are fine for all of this. SD and 720P HD work smoothly. I have to transfer files first for 1080P because my Wifi connection isn't good enough -- I need to run CAT6 to the remote minis. However I've got little 1080P material and I don't have any displays large enough for it to be important.
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Old May 8, 2012, 12:17 AM   #12
pmcdunnough
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Originally Posted by Ifti View Post

Do you think I should go for the higher end i7 CPU though, considering I want a long lasting system, and the CPU is otherwise not upgradable, or would it be a complete waste of money for my uses?
How much difference does the i7 make over the i5?

Bear in mind that although the system and Plex will mainly be used on the TV it's connected to, I will also be sometimes streaming to my iPhone or iPad also - so more transcoding there. On occasion I could have the kids watching a movie on the Tv, while I watching something else on the iPad.
Hence the reason why I'm thinking the i7 may be better for me? Although I will go for the i5 if it means everything will still work as well and I can save some cash!
I have the 2010 Mac Mini server at 2.66GHz . It has 7200rpm drives which is nice. It gets used for eyeTV HD, Plex server ( files live elsewhere), iTunes server, Plex and XBMC playback. It really has no trouble with any of this. I would probably get the middle Mini with the i5 and AMD graphics with 4GB of RAM. I still might go for the i7 model just because I like having the two 7200rpm drives.

I personally wouldn't use 2GB with Lion and hence would stay away from the i3 model.

Have a look into Remote Buddy and also the Lenovo multimedia keyboard ( the newer one which is backlit)


philip
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Old May 8, 2012, 08:35 AM   #13
talmy
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I personally wouldn't use 2GB with Lion and hence would stay away from the i3 model.
2GB is indeed somewhat risky with Lion, although might be adequate. However it's not a reason to ditch the base model (which does have an i5, BTW). Base is $599 + $23 for 4GB RAM from Crucial.com = $622. A savings of $177 or 22% compared the next higher model.
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Old May 8, 2012, 02:34 PM   #14
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I understand that you can save money by buying RAM, but I personally don't feel like opening the Mini and possibly ruining the warranty. Other than that issue getting 3rd party ram does save you some money. Just doesn't seem to be worth the hassle unless you are on a strict budget in which case the whole video collecting thing and a Mini seems to be a hobby which would be too expensive.

Philip
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Old May 8, 2012, 02:45 PM   #15
Poki
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Originally Posted by pmcdunnough View Post
I understand that you can save money by buying RAM, but I personally don't feel like opening the Mini and possibly ruining the warranty. Other than that issue getting 3rd party ram does save you some money. Just doesn't seem to be worth the hassle unless you are on a strict budget in which case the whole video collecting thing and a Mini seems to be a hobby which would be too expensive.

Philip
You don't void any warranty by changing the RAM. That's why Apple made the bottom door on the Mini. They even have a own guide on how to do this. You just need to twist the bottom plate and click the new RAM in, that's it.
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Old May 8, 2012, 04:40 PM   #16
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You don't void any warranty by changing the RAM. That's why Apple made the bottom door on the Mini. They even have a own guide on how to do this. You just need to twist the bottom plate and click the new RAM in, that's it.
"Ditto"

Apple has even said one can upgrade the memory on the MacMini. Just the memory you put in is not covered, unless you buy it from APPLE .... Read link about not voiding warranty. http://docs.info.apple.com/article.html?artnum=13946

How to install memory http://support.apple.com/kb/ht4432#1

Last edited by SR45; May 8, 2012 at 04:52 PM.
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Old May 8, 2012, 05:27 PM   #17
philipma1957
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I understand that you can save money by buying RAM, but I personally don't feel like opening the Mini and possibly ruining the warranty. Other than that issue getting 3rd party ram does save you some money. Just doesn't seem to be worth the hassle unless you are on a strict budget in which case the whole video collecting thing and a Mini seems to be a hobby which would be too expensive.

Philip
Dude my name is philip same as you.

The 2011 mac mini is the easiest mini to put in after market ram .

The 2011 mac mini has the best record of working with after market ram out of all intel models.

I have sold many many many many minis on ebay with ram upgrades. More then 100 more like 200 to 250 since 2007. The 2011 mini has been flawless when it comes to having working ram upgrades. it is the only mini of the ones that I have sold with that record.




read my feedback it will show more then 100 good mini sales. (phiiipma1957)


to mods I am not trying to sell any minis I am trying to make the point that the 2011 mac mini is really easy to put ram into. I hate to see anyone pay for apple to add ram to a 2011 mac mini.
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Old May 8, 2012, 07:43 PM   #18
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I bought a mini last weekend and purchased 8gb RAM at Fryís for $50 (plus a $15 rebate making it $35).

Iíve had minimal experience with installing things such as this. The only other time I have messed with computer hardware was installing RAM on an iMac.

That said, after reading a little bit on this site on the install for a mini I had no qualms about installing it myself. I even had a little hiccup (didnít seat the RAM properly initially) but felt completely comfortable with the process. Instructions were also included in the manual on upgrading the RAM at home.

I was in the Apple store a few years ago and a girl brought in her laptop and some memory for it and the genius bar installed it for her.... maybe you could try that if you donít feel comfortable? It's not worth the $200 for them to do it.


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Old May 9, 2012, 05:09 PM   #19
pmcdunnough
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You don't void any warranty by changing the RAM. That's why Apple made the bottom door on the Mini. They even have a own guide on how to do this. You just need to twist the bottom plate and click the new RAM in, that's it.
Oh whow, I never knew that all this time! I thought it was the same as with previous Minis. Thank you.

Philip
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Old May 10, 2012, 07:08 PM   #20
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I bought this when I got my mini a couple of months ago and it was the easiest upgrade ever. My mini flies with 8gb of ram. Next upgrade I'm doing is the OWC dual hard drive kit with an OCZ Vertex4.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16820226167
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Old May 10, 2012, 10:19 PM   #21
pmcdunnough
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I bought this when I got my mini a couple of months ago and it was the easiest upgrade ever. My mini flies with 8gb of ram. Next upgrade I'm doing is the OWC dual hard drive kit with an OCZ Vertex4.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16820226167
Which Mac Mini model do you have?

Philip
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Old May 10, 2012, 11:30 PM   #22
lilsoccakid74
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I bought this when I got my mini a couple of months ago and it was the easiest upgrade ever. My mini flies with 8gb of ram. Next upgrade I'm doing is the OWC dual hard drive kit with an OCZ Vertex4.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16820226167
My vertex4 is on the way right now for my 2.5 i5 mini w/ 8gb. Stoked/nervous to put it in!
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Old May 10, 2012, 11:39 PM   #23
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Which Mac Mini model do you have?

Philip
Core i5 with radeon.
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