How old of a Mini is OK?

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by Billy Boo Bob, May 26, 2010.

  1. macrumors 6502

    Billy Boo Bob

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2005
    Location:
    Dark Side Of The Moon
    #1
    I've been using an ATV for some time, but I'm thinking of looking for a Mini on E-Bay. I haven't really kept up with the specs and abilities of the Mini through the years / updates. I'm wondering just how far back (what model/ID) is sufficient for:

    Just looking for 720p viewing.
    Would like to view raw MKV TV/movies without stuttering, while waiting to convert (got a long queue in HB).
    Nothing special for sound.
    Will probably use it for 24/7 Torrents and HB processing, also, so that needs to be considered for video demands along side it.

    I don't have a fancy A/V room set up. Just a small 720 with a simple sub/surround box on it.
     
  2. Moderator emeritus

    Hellhammer

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2008
    Location:
    Finland
    #2
    Core Duo should be able to handle 720p fine, even PPC Minis could but I would look at Core 2 Duos so it's more "future-proof" and will handle 1080p fine in case you start watching in 1080p at some point
     
  3. macrumors 68030

    MrCheeto

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2008
    #3
    1. ALL Intel Mac Minis have digital-audio out via the audio jack that is compatible with mini-Toslink cables to output full surround channels. I put out 5.1 on my MacBook Pro.

    2. ANY Mac Mini with an Nvidia 9400m will be able to do all these things. I'm not sure of the model numbers, but to begin, ANY Mac Mini with a CPU faster than 2.0ghz will have one.
     
  4. thread starter macrumors 6502

    Billy Boo Bob

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2005
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    Dark Side Of The Moon
    #4
    Cool I guess I should have asked about minimum video card, as well as model. Most have in the basic listing what processor it has, but that's a good thing to watch for.
     
  5. Moderator emeritus

    Hellhammer

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2008
    Location:
    Finland
    #5
    No need for 9400M, video playback is mainly done by CPU thus any C2D is fine, even with GMA950. 9400M would mean a 2009 Mini which isn't exactly the cheapest option.
     
  6. macrumors 68030

    MrCheeto

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2008
    #6
    He's wanting to output to a TV. In my experience, the GMA's are hardly fit for the 800 res display they're built-in with in MacBooks.
     
  7. macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    #7
    An Intel Mini/GMA950 is perfectly fine for 1080p playback on TVs.
     
  8. Moderator emeritus

    Hellhammer

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2008
    Location:
    Finland
    #8
    That's not true. GMA950 wasn't made for MacBook only, it was used in Mini and in various PC computers, all capable of outputting 1080p fine.

    +1920x1200 isn't possible due Mini-DVI but there aren't TVs with greater resolution
     
  9. macrumors 68030

    MrCheeto

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2008
  10. VoR
    macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2008
    Location:
    UK
    #10
    I'd stick with a mini that has a 9400 in it (assuming you have to buy a mini) to guarantee decent judder+frame skip free playback on any media you might come across. 5% cpu usage is better than 200% when playing bluray rips :)
     
  11. macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    #11
    That will require the Blu-rays are (1) in h.264 (and not VC-1) of the right profile and (2) they do not have HD audio. Otherwise, you're no better off.
     
  12. macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2002
    Location:
    San Diego, CA
    #12
    I have a 1.5GHz PPC Mac mini (the fastest PPC Mac mini ever produced) and it definitely can NOT do 720p video playback with Apple's codecs or with iTunes Store content (not even close). Well, it can try to play 720p movies, but it will do so in a stuttering, stop-start manner. I've also tried 720p MKVs and they won't play smoothly either when using VLC. Of course, the video out from my PPC mini can drive up to a 1080p TV, but it can't handle the iTunes Store HD video. However, a PPC mini can be used as an iTunes host for an Apple TV, it can easily handle the iTunes sharing, video/audio streaming to an Apple TV.

    In any case, I'd recommend any 9400M-based Mac mini since they support GPU-assisted decoding on H.264 video.
     
  13. VoR
    macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2008
    Location:
    UK
    #13
    That covers 99% of downloadable rips, and 100% of ones you do yourself?! :)

    And anyway, it's great that apple finally exposed some gpu video acceleration, but vdpau supports vc1, pretty much any profile/resolution/etc, and you could do some pretty intensive audio decoding with 200% spare cpu as opposed to 5%.

    If you're 100% dependant on itunes integration I still think you're (insane) best off buying a gpu that can actually potentially do something in the future (or currently if you switch OS/have 'standard' encodes) and hounding apple to open up their itunes api.
     
  14. macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    #14
    I don't do those.

    About half of my Blu-rays are in VC-1. Of those that are in h.264 they are not recognized by Plex to pass to the 9400m on my MacBook Air. No Mini can play those Blu-ray discs if they still have the DTS-MA or True-HD audio because the Minis cannot extract the DTS or AC3 cores and decode the video at the same time. Of course, if you transcode those m2ts containers to mkv or m4v with h.264 and DTS or AC3 cores, then any dual core Mini can play them just fine with Plex. No hardware decoding is necessary.
     
  15. VoR
    macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2008
    Location:
    UK
    #15
    I've got more h264 encodes on my discs, but anyway that's my point - I'm using xbmc on linux and vdpau handles pretty much everything that's thrown at it.
    I'd rather have a machine that currently supports gpu decoding a little on osx, most on win/linux and only has the potential to get better (while we wait for more HD audio decoding options!), it's especially worth the small premium on the mini.
    Like I said, if you're not dependant on the itunes lock-in, while I think the mini is a great form factor, I think there's better hardware (cheaper, smaller, lower power, better i/o) and software (enabling hardware acceleration) options.
     

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