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Old Feb 19, 2013, 06:14 AM   #1
buywisdom
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Mac Mini as Plex media server

So I am thinking about building a media server so that I can stream HD videos (1080p) to my iMac, MBP, HDTV and other devices. I have been toying with the idea of getting a Mac mini and swapping the HD for a 3TB drive to put all my movies, TV shows etc (mostly mkv files). I am thinking for the TV I could connect a Roku with a Plex app.

The key for me is if the Mac mini is fast enough to transcode the HD video. If so could it do multiple sources simultaneously? Has anyone tried this? What about an older Mac mini (to save money) how do they fair?

I would love to hear about what others have done. Any ideas about this?
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Old Feb 19, 2013, 06:36 AM   #2
auhagen
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Well I bought a secondhand Mac Mini 2010 last week to work both as a plex server and a plex player. It's amazingly fast, no problems at all.

I do need to bump up the ram in it, since it's only have 2gb.

My setup is following:

Samsung TV w. Mac mini connected
Qnap 212 - 4 TB NAS

I havent tried transcoding to ipad or iphone yet, since the app costs some money, and I dont have the need to do that, but with more ram, I'm sure it will work like a charm.

Future plans for the mini:

4/8 gb ram
2 x 2tb - 2,5" internal drives instead of the 320gb drive, and the optical drive.

Then make the Qnap pure backup.
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Old Feb 19, 2013, 06:41 AM   #3
mdgm
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3TB drives are too big. The Mac Mini takes 2.5" drives not 3.5"

For transcoding I would suggest going with the quad-core.
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Old Feb 19, 2013, 09:14 AM   #4
buywisdom
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Quote:
Originally Posted by auhagen View Post
Well I bought a secondhand Mac Mini 2010 last week to work both as a plex server and a plex player. It's amazingly fast, no problems at all.

I do need to bump up the ram in it, since it's only have 2gb.

My setup is following:

Samsung TV w. Mac mini connected
Qnap 212 - 4 TB NAS

I havent tried transcoding to ipad or iphone yet, since the app costs some money, and I dont have the need to do that, but with more ram, I'm sure it will work like a charm.

Future plans for the mini:

4/8 gb ram
2 x 2tb - 2,5" internal drives instead of the 320gb drive, and the optical drive.

Then make the Qnap pure backup.
Did not realize it was a 2.5" how will you put two ? Y split? Will they both fiscally fit?

Pardon my ignorance but does this mean you have the mini plugged into the tv? If this is the case have you tried as a wireless server?
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Old Feb 19, 2013, 11:05 AM   #5
auhagen
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For the 2010 model, I can do a optibay install. Remove the optical drive and install it there.

Yes it will fit 2 x 2,5" drives.

On the never versions your gonna have to order a dual drive kit from ifixit or ebay.

Yes it's plugged into my tv with a hdmi cable. To my hifi reciever with a toslink cable, and a ethernet cable for my network. When I want to control it with a keyboard and a mouse, I just use screen sharing from my MBP, and do what I have to do that way.

I havent tried wireless, since I want full speed when I'm transferin files to it over network.
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Old Feb 19, 2013, 05:04 PM   #6
i1100
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The key question is determining how many clients at one time would be transcoding and at what resolution/bitrate. In general any C2D processor or above can handle 1 stream. I have a 2011 i5 Mini that can transcode 720p content to up to 3 clients at once without too much issue. Quad-core i7 would obviously be the best place to go if you want the most concurrent streams. However, any 2010+ Mac Mini would be able to handle at least 2 streams at once (providing that bandwidth is not an issue).

As far as storage, internal would be great if you have a small collection. But, if your collection grows, you would want an external solution that could be backed up and also one that utilizes USB 3.0, Thunderbolt, or a NAS box to prevent issues with media retrieval speeds.
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Old Feb 20, 2013, 01:27 AM   #7
kiantech
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The dual core works fine transcoding 1080p. Also when you are only transcoding if it is to a ipad/iphone. Computers with plex will do direct play the file. Just connect an external usb 3.0 and store your media there.

Last edited by kiantech; Feb 20, 2013 at 01:29 AM. Reason: added transcoding stuff
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Old Feb 20, 2013, 09:12 AM   #8
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Put all your media on an external. You can find large capacity USB 3.0 drives for cheap.
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Old Feb 20, 2013, 09:24 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kobyh15 View Post
Put all your media on an external. You can find large capacity USB 3.0 drives for cheap.
Thats how mine rolls - external USB3 3TB drive, Plex server, AirVideo Server, (plus lots of other bits) and serves to two xboxes, a ps3 two ipads, three iphones, two androids. havent tried every device all at once, but have had several on at the same time whilst watching HD from mini to TV and no noise and/or slow downs.
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Old Feb 20, 2013, 09:31 AM   #10
utekineir
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Originally Posted by kobyh15 View Post
Put all your media on an external. You can find large capacity USB 3.0 drives for cheap.

this


actually running an ssd boot drive, and 2 storage volumes off usb 3 atm.

partially because i wanted to see if it would work and be stable, partially because i havent gotten around to ordering the extra internal drive kit.
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Old Feb 20, 2013, 07:54 PM   #11
Macasaurus
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My mini (see signature) is absolutely perfect for this. I bought it specifically to use it for this application.

All my media is fed in externally from a 3TB drive which is USB 3.0 but my mini only maxes at 2.0. Even still, has no problem serving up media both locally and over wifi to my macbook upstairs and my samsung bluray player without issue.

I have tried various files 720p, 1080p. Small, large. It has no issue with anything.

I am thinking of getting an NAS as well as a backup, but right now this works great.
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Old Feb 23, 2013, 02:46 PM   #12
nzreg
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Originally Posted by Macasaurus View Post
My mini (see signature) is absolutely perfect for this. I bought it specifically to use it for this application.

All my media is fed in externally from a 3TB drive which is USB 3.0 but my mini only maxes at 2.0. Even still, has no problem serving up media both locally and over wifi to my macbook upstairs and my samsung bluray player without issue.

I have tried various files 720p, 1080p. Small, large. It has no issue with anything.

I am thinking of getting an NAS as well as a backup, but right now this works great.

Same for me, only difference is that my externals are usb2 still plays everything just fine.
Tried nas once but it was wireless and couldn't keep up, would probably be ok if it was connected directly to the mini.
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Old Feb 24, 2013, 04:31 PM   #13
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I have a 2011 mac mini - I suggest either a NAS or daisy chain FireWire drives to save your USB ports and reduce cable clutter. I buy WD studio FW800 drives cause they are made of aluminium, look very apple-esque and are completely user upgradable! Once 4TB drives are cheap its an easy way to double my storage.

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Old Feb 25, 2013, 08:22 AM   #14
adriang68
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Macasaurus View Post
My mini (see signature) is absolutely perfect for this. I bought it specifically to use it for this application.

All my media is fed in externally from a 3TB drive which is USB 3.0 but my mini only maxes at 2.0. Even still, has no problem serving up media both locally and over wifi to my macbook upstairs and my samsung bluray player without issue.

I have tried various files 720p, 1080p. Small, large. It has no issue with anything.

I am thinking of getting an NAS as well as a backup, but right now this works great.
Are you running the plex client on the Samsung player?

Is it any good?

What's the navigation like with the remote, that kind of thing?

Wondering if this would be a 'wife proof' solution!
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Old Feb 25, 2013, 08:47 AM   #15
urkel
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What is everyone using to control Plex? Standard Apple remote? Keyboard and Mouse? IPhone?

I finally got a Mac Mini dedicated to the TV but my lack of a simple (spouse-proof) remote solution is what's keeping me on the AppleTV. Ive tried everything from the standard remote to iOS apps to PS3 remote to Apple Keyboard/Magic Mouse to PS3 keyboard/trackpad to remote screen sharing and they all are too cumbersome and don't feel right which is why were back to just using the AppleTV. So what is out there that would make a Mini Plex machine feel more like it belongs in the living room?

BTW. Why is there no AppleTV.app? It just seems odd that FrontRow was killed (hidden) rather than allowing it to evolve into an app that would give the Mini more purpose.
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Old Feb 25, 2013, 09:04 AM   #16
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I have a 2012 Mini, installed Plex Media Server, also have a LG 2011 Tv with Plex client but many of the movies I have it won't play, what format should they be in, is DVD in a folder supported, what about transcoding, can't see any settings for this.
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Old Feb 25, 2013, 10:20 AM   #17
auhagen
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Quote:
Originally Posted by urkel View Post
What is everyone using to control Plex? Standard Apple remote? Keyboard and Mouse? IPhone?

I finally got a Mac Mini dedicated to the TV but my lack of a simple (spouse-proof) remote solution is what's keeping me on the AppleTV. Ive tried everything from the standard remote to iOS apps to PS3 remote to Apple Keyboard/Magic Mouse to PS3 keyboard/trackpad to remote screen sharing and they all are too cumbersome and don't feel right which is why were back to just using the AppleTV. So what is out there that would make a Mini Plex machine feel more like it belongs in the living room?

BTW. Why is there no AppleTV.app? It just seems odd that FrontRow was killed (hidden) rather than allowing it to evolve into an app that would give the Mini more purpose.
When I want to set anything up on my mini, I use screen sharing from my MBP or iMac.

As remote I use the aluminum remote from apple, and plex on my ipad.
I could do the same from my iphone as I do on my ipad, but I kind of like the bigger screen for browsing movies.

As far as the setup on the mini, I think it's simple.

I start it when I need it, and shut it down when I dont need it. At login the mini connects to my nas, launches plex server and plex. So all I really have to do is just turn my telly on, and voila its all there. Setup the powerbutton to do a system shutdown when pressed, and voila. Simple and all can use it
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Old Feb 25, 2013, 10:54 PM   #18
nzreg
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I use the Logitech Harmony One programmable control.
Logitech have a profile for Plex, makes setting up real easy.
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Old Feb 26, 2013, 02:04 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by urkel View Post
What is everyone using to control Plex? Standard Apple remote? Keyboard and Mouse? IPhone?

I finally got a Mac Mini dedicated to the TV but my lack of a simple (spouse-proof) remote solution is what's keeping me on the AppleTV. Ive tried everything from the standard remote to iOS apps to PS3 remote to Apple Keyboard/Magic Mouse to PS3 keyboard/trackpad to remote screen sharing and they all are too cumbersome and don't feel right which is why were back to just using the AppleTV. So what is out there that would make a Mini Plex machine feel more like it belongs in the living room?

BTW. Why is there no AppleTV.app? It just seems odd that FrontRow was killed (hidden) rather than allowing it to evolve into an app that would give the Mini more purpose.
I use the Logitech Harmony One remote - it has native Plex button mapping and a touch screen display - So one can have "wife proof" commands like "watch tv", "watch plex" and "play ps3".
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Old Feb 26, 2013, 09:08 AM   #20
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So one can have "wife proof" commands
<Ahem> !
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Old Feb 26, 2013, 06:27 PM   #21
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I use the Logitech Harmony One programmable control.
Logitech have a profile for Plex, makes setting up real easy.
I have this setup and it works...nearly. The remote sometimes controls iTunes and so it can start playing tracks and turning the volume up and down as I navigate using the plex menus. There are some forums out there with potential solutions but none of them work for me. I'd like to get it sorted but I've got other ways of controlling it if I want to. None of them particularly wife friendly, however.
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Old Feb 27, 2013, 12:45 AM   #22
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I have this setup and it works...nearly. The remote sometimes controls iTunes and so it can start playing tracks and turning the volume up and down as I navigate using the plex menus. There are some forums out there with potential solutions but none of them work for me. I'd like to get it sorted but I've got other ways of controlling it if I want to. None of them particularly wife friendly, however.
I had this issue - and i fixed it permanently. It happens after your mac mini has woken from sleep mode. In order to stop it permanently you need to disable sleep mode all together
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Old Feb 27, 2013, 04:47 AM   #23
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I had this issue - and i fixed it permanently. It happens after your mac mini has woken from sleep mode. In order to stop it permanently you need to disable sleep mode all together
This is not a fix...
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Old Feb 27, 2013, 04:39 PM   #24
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This is not a fix...
Agreed. I prefer to control via keyboard for the relatively few times I use plex. I can go a couple of days without using the mini so I think it's better to let it sleep.
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Old Feb 27, 2013, 05:54 PM   #25
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Had the same problem with iTunes.
As my mini is a dedicated Plex machine I simply removed iTunes.
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