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Old Dec 3, 2012, 08:10 PM   #1
CatsTide
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Mac Mini for home theater?

Is it overkill to get a mac mini solely for the purpose of running iTunes for your Atv? Right now I'm running it off my MacBook Air but it would be nice to have iTunes available all the time for my Atv without having to pull up iTunes on the Air.
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Old Dec 3, 2012, 09:53 PM   #2
Ferromet
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That's exactly what I did... a mini runs my itunes server
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Old Dec 4, 2012, 01:46 AM   #3
Omne666
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Losts do, and as many I expect use it instead of an ATV connecting it straight to their TV. Theres gotta be a iTunes running somewhere so a mac mini is as good as any other option.
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Old Dec 4, 2012, 01:54 AM   #4
ekko20six
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I also do exactly that! I like to be have everything just there.

Only I got my Mac mini when they still had an optical drive. So I ditched the dvd player at the same time.

So its handy if the odd time I have a DVD I want to watch, I pop it in and watch from the Mac mini on the TV.

Everything else I access through the AppleTV and use home sharing for it to see all the content in iTunes on the Mac mini.

If it wasn't for the optical drive, I would stuff the mini and attached HDDs in a cupboard and watch it all through the Apple TV.

So not overkill. My friends comment on how easy it all is to use as well.

Definitely the way to go. Mebbe even consider a refurb with an optical drive. Depends on how many DVDs you might watch?
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Old Dec 4, 2012, 06:05 AM   #5
here2rock
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I know some of the routers have built in iTunes servers like RTN66U. I do not know how they work but something worth exploring.
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Old Dec 4, 2012, 06:37 AM   #6
Pyromonkey83
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Originally Posted by here2rock View Post
I know some of the routers have built in iTunes servers like RTN66U. I do not know how they work but something worth exploring.
These iTunes servers do not work with the ATV 2/3. They cannot and do not use Home Sharing. Instead, they use the old outdated way of broadcasting iTunes libraries over the network. This works fine for Macs and PCs but will not work with your iOS devices, Apple TV, or other Home Sharing accessories (receivers, sound docks, etc).
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Old Dec 4, 2012, 08:10 AM   #7
androiphone
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I think if you are just using it for iTunes then it is overkill, any cheap netbook can do that and because a netbook has a screen, keyboard and mouse built in they are much more practical to stash away with a couple of external drives and just have it run.
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Old Dec 4, 2012, 08:33 AM   #8
Penn Jennings
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I use a mini the same way and it runs VMs. Before that I used to log into my daughters iMac remotely and we used that as the media server without impacting her...much
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Old Dec 4, 2012, 09:35 AM   #9
mmomega
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I have a Mac Mini running ML Server to keep iTunes up all of the time.
It serves tv shows and movies up to 5 aTV's w/o a problem.

I also use it as a small home website, central file server and time machine for every mac in the house.
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Old Dec 4, 2012, 09:39 AM   #10
mslide
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A mini just for iTunes and literally nothing else? That's an expensive option. I'd build a cheap windows PC or buy a really cheap used one if that's all I wanted it for.

edit: on second thought, I would also consider looking around at Walmart/Microcenter/Newegg/etc and look for sales on really cheap prebuilt PCs. You can probably get one for less than half the cost of a base mini. You probably couldn't build one much cheaper than that once you consider the cost of Windows.

Last edited by mslide; Dec 4, 2012 at 09:47 AM.
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Old Dec 4, 2012, 12:31 PM   #11
js81
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I would LOVE to have a mini as my HTPC but I just can't justify it. Maybe when I replace my '09 server... Anywho, I currently use an OLD Dell GX620 with a Pentium D and it BLOWS. HARD. (No really, the fan sounds like a hair dryer when this thing gets going, lol).

I use XBMC with streaming online video (Hulu and TV networks; I don't care for the XBMCFlicks app compared to my PS3/Sony streamer); any chance that a G4 mini could handle this? It is FLASH, after all, and Flash and PPC don't tend to get along. If it could, though, it might be an idea for the OP, too...
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Old Dec 4, 2012, 01:50 PM   #12
sulliweb
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Originally Posted by mslide View Post
A mini just for iTunes and literally nothing else? That's an expensive option. I'd build a cheap windows PC or buy a really cheap used one if that's all I wanted it for.

edit: on second thought, I would also consider looking around at Walmart/Microcenter/Newegg/etc and look for sales on really cheap prebuilt PCs. You can probably get one for less than half the cost of a base mini. You probably couldn't build one much cheaper than that once you consider the cost of Windows.
Ditto this. I got an Acer Revo nettop (don't remember the exact model off the top of my head). It has an Atom processor, and I wouldn't want to do much more than run iTunes on it at this point, but it's rock solid for that. It cost a total of $330. Wireless keyboard and mouse included. That was from Amazon.com . I don't know if it's still around, but that would be my recommendation. It's small, quiet, and produces no noticable heat. My Drobo leaves more of a footprint than it does.

I looked at a Mini, but I couldn't justify the price. I could get a better processor and more RAM, but I don't need them just to run iTunes. Plus, adding a wireless keyboard and mouse to the base model puts you $400 more than what I paid.

If you're planning on doing something beyond iTunes, sure... I can see that, but if you're whole purpose is to just run iTunes, buy a cheap PC. You'll come out better in the long run.
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Old Dec 5, 2012, 12:32 AM   #13
here2rock
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Originally Posted by Pyromonkey83 View Post
These iTunes servers do not work with the ATV 2/3. They cannot and do not use Home Sharing. Instead, they use the old outdated way of broadcasting iTunes libraries over the network. This works fine for Macs and PCs but will not work with your iOS devices, Apple TV, or other Home Sharing accessories (receivers, sound docks, etc).
OK. I do not see the benefit of it using such a server, you might as well connect your drive holding the media direct to you PC or Mac.
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Old Dec 5, 2012, 04:14 AM   #14
barkmonster
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I would LOVE to have a mini as my HTPC but I just can't justify it. Maybe when I replace my '09 server... Anywho, I currently use an OLD Dell GX620 with a Pentium D and it BLOWS. HARD. (No really, the fan sounds like a hair dryer when this thing gets going, lol).

I use XBMC with streaming online video (Hulu and TV networks; I don't care for the XBMCFlicks app compared to my PS3/Sony streamer); any chance that a G4 mini could handle this? It is FLASH, after all, and Flash and PPC don't tend to get along. If it could, though, it might be an idea for the OP, too...
I'd get at least a Core 2 Duo Mac Mini, not a G4. XBMC runs perfectly smoothly, even with HD content on my 2.53Ghz Mac Mini, on my G4, it had choppy frame rates at times with even 640 x 360 video, let alone 1920 x 1080.
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Old Dec 5, 2012, 06:50 AM   #15
CatsTide
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Great advice guys. I'm leaning towards the mini a bit right now. I guess when I said the sole purpose of the mini would be running iTunes was a bit off. I guess what I actually need is a server. I have multiple HD's that I would like to connect to it and be able to access them from multiple ATV's and multiple computers. On the mini,I don't want to have to buy an extra display. Can I use my MacBook Air for a display for the mini? I suppose the only time I would need a display is when I'm setting it up and turning on iTunes. Mini still sounding like the best option?
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Old Dec 5, 2012, 07:13 AM   #16
mcnallym
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Run the mini headless and then screenshare from the air to the mini. For the initial setup just connect the mini to the tv, then afterwards screenshare in and don't look back.

I use my mini 09 as an iTunes / Elgato TV Server and is fine. Can stream itunes to my ATV and also Elgato to my ipad at the same time.
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Old Dec 5, 2012, 09:59 AM   #17
mslide
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Originally Posted by CatsTide View Post
Mini still sounding like the best option?
I'd still go the Windows PC (or Linux/FreeBSD with Windows running in a VM for iTunes) route as it would be cheaper and would let me use a case that has lots of room for internal HDs. Whether or not a mini is the best option depends on you. I'm not saying using a mini for a server is a bad choice. It's just usually going to be the more expensive option. However, you have to consider the cost of your time. If you're going to save yourself lots of time by using a mini, then that might be the best choice.

Yes, you can use your MBA to control the server, no matter what OS it's running. If the server is a mini, you can use OSX's screen sharing. If the server's running Windows, you can use Microsoft's Remote Desktop. For both you can use VNC as well if you setup a VNC server to run on it. You'd just need to hook it up to a monitor/tv for the initial setup and if something really goes wrong.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CatsTide View Post
and turning on iTunes.
You'd want to set it up so that iTunes is automatically started on boot.
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Old Dec 5, 2012, 10:07 AM   #18
phr0ze
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linux and windows are so much more of a maintenance pain.

I'm totally sucked into the 'It just works' thing after being a windows professional for 17 years and being an Ubuntu die-hard community member and user for 5 years.

Right now I'm Apple > Linux > Windows
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Old Dec 5, 2012, 11:52 AM   #19
Ma1Garv
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Mac-Mini

Hello everyone,

New member…

I am a very long time user of Mac/Apple computers; I have a “Woz” in the attic. I’m also a regular reader of MacRumors and find the information on this site invaluable.

Anyway regardless of my lengthy use of Mac/Apple products I am a basic user
With little understanding of the inner workings of the machines and can barely keep up with all the changes and up-dates.

I teach and develop copious amounts of PowerPoint and Keynote presentations and I also review and edit other presentations on-line.

Will a current generation Mini allow me to go on-line and display web sites on my 50-inch television?

I have no interest in watching movies or music with it.

Take care,

Garv
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Old Dec 5, 2012, 01:08 PM   #20
Penn Jennings
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Originally Posted by Ma1Garv View Post
Hello everyone,

New member…

I am a very long time user of Mac/Apple computers; I have a “Woz” in the attic. I’m also a regular reader of MacRumors and find the information on this site invaluable.

Anyway regardless of my lengthy use of Mac/Apple products I am a basic user
With little understanding of the inner workings of the machines and can barely keep up with all the changes and up-dates.

I teach and develop copious amounts of PowerPoint and Keynote presentations and I also review and edit other presentations on-line.

Will a current generation Mini allow me to go on-line and display web sites on my 50-inch television?

I have no interest in watching movies or music with it.

Take care,

Garv
That will not be a problem. No matter how big your TV is, it's still only 1920x1080. A mac mini could do that "with it's eyes closed" :-)
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Old Dec 5, 2012, 06:36 PM   #21
Ma1Garv
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Mini

Thank you Penn...

I'm happy to be part of the community.

Garv
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Old Dec 7, 2012, 01:39 AM   #22
Mak47
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Originally Posted by CatsTide View Post
Great advice guys. I'm leaning towards the mini a bit right now. I guess when I said the sole purpose of the mini would be running iTunes was a bit off. I guess what I actually need is a server. I have multiple HD's that I would like to connect to it and be able to access them from multiple ATV's and multiple computers. On the mini,I don't want to have to buy an extra display. Can I use my MacBook Air for a display for the mini? I suppose the only time I would need a display is when I'm setting it up and turning on iTunes. Mini still sounding like the best option?
This is exactly where I started with my first mini. I just wanted it to be an iTunes server for ATV to my living room and bedroom. I tried a million different ways to not let it be a full on desktop computer, thinking it was a lightweight machine to begin with.

My advice is this:

If it's going to be used mainly as an iTunes server, get the base model, maybe even look on Amazon or Apple's refurb page for last years model. You don't need a ton of storage on board if your HD's are all external and USB 2.0 provides fast enough speed for content delivery--even for very large 1080P content.

Find a place to put it that's comfortable, get a display (you can find half-decent displays for $100 or less online) a keyboard and trackpad/mouse and go ahead and set it up as a desktop. Trust me, you're going to do this anyway eventually. You'll be spending lots of time organizing your iTunes library, you'll want to do that comfortably and trying to remote in from your Air will work, but will be more trouble than it's worth if you run headless.

The machine just needs to be connected to the same network as your ATV's, it doesn't need to be in the same room. You can put it anywhere in the house.

For seamless iTunes/Apple TV/iOS integration you couldn't ask for a better machine, but the reality is that running it headless is way more trouble than it's worth.
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Old Dec 10, 2012, 02:12 AM   #23
MeValonicAcid
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I bought a 'second-hand' Mac Mini, installed PLEX and runs now as home theater. Nice and smoothly
(in parallel, iTunes is always active and can be used/accessed/started by ipad,...)
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Old Dec 10, 2012, 11:44 AM   #24
thoosero
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I bought a 'second-hand' Mac Mini, installed PLEX and runs now as home theater. Nice and smoothly
(in parallel, iTunes is always active and can be used/accessed/started by ipad,...)
MVa
Am also thinking of the same setup as you, running plex media server on the mini. Which model of Mac mini did you get? Do you know what the minimum spec is to run plex media server? I am also interested to hear how you have arranged your storage - do you have drives attached directly to the mini or are you using a NAS? From what I have read I understand that it is probably best to keep itunes media files off the NAS (so I would look to store those files either on the mac mini or on a hard drive attached to the mini) with any other media on the NAS. Any thoughts/comments?
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Old Dec 11, 2012, 01:44 AM   #25
MeValonicAcid
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Originally Posted by thoosero View Post
Am also thinking of the same setup as you, running plex media server on the mini. Which model of Mac mini did you get? Do you know what the minimum spec is to run plex media server? I am also interested to hear how you have arranged your storage - do you have drives attached directly to the mini or are you using a NAS? From what I have read I understand that it is probably best to keep itunes media files off the NAS (so I would look to store those files either on the mac mini or on a hard drive attached to the mini) with any other media on the NAS. Any thoughts/comments?
Hi,
my setup is as follows:
- 2.26GHz Intel Core 2 Duo/2 GB DDR3 SDRAM (PC3-8500)/160 GB HD/SuperDrive/GeForce 9400M/AirPort & Bluetooth Built-in
(The Minimum system requirements for Plex are:
For HD Content (720p and 1080p) or SD content with upscaling:
A Macintosh Computer with an Intel Core Duo processor 1.6 Ghz or better
At least 1GB of RAM, Mac OS X Leopard 10.5 => go for better is my recommendation )

- 1.5TB 2.5" directly attached to the mini (no separate power supply required for this storage)
- NAS on network (always on)
- iTunes on HD Mac Mini (limited iTunes library), homesharing with other Mac's iTunes Library (Main Library) on the same network. Works fine, but I would like to transfer all the files to the Mac Mini since other macs can be in sleep mode )
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