Mac mini and 1080p videos?

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by Qjuu, Feb 27, 2008.

  1. macrumors member

    Feb 19, 2008

    is a 1.83GHz Mac mini with 2GB ram capable to play 1080p HD movies smoothly?

  2. macrumors 68000


    Feb 20, 2008
  3. macrumors 6502a


    Nov 19, 2006
    Birmingham, UK
    Depends on the codec used for the video and what bitrate the video is encoded at.

    My 1.83GHz Core 2 Duo Mac mini struggles to play back some 1080p video - so I mostly stick with 720p.

    Perhaps give us some more info on the format you're thinking of trying - perhaps we'd be able to provide you with a more informed answer

  4. thread starter macrumors member

    Feb 19, 2008
    Good point but sorry, I don't know much about codecs used in MacOS. I don't have a Mac yet. I'm about to change :eek:

    So let's say the same format like HD movie trailers at (H264 - assuming this is a viable codec)...
  5. macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    The Mini's gpu only has MPEG-2 decoding built in. All others have to go through the cpu. So yes, it can decode H.264, but you're back to the first reply - it depends on bit rate, codec and fps.
  6. thread starter macrumors member

    Feb 19, 2008
    Ok, thanks for this information! But as I said...I don't know much about codecs, bitrate and stuff....and it's also not really impotant for me at this point!

    Like a pure consumer I just want to play HD movies from different sources (HD video podcasts, HD movie trailers, recorded TV shows, ....) - regardless which codec or bitrate is used.

    I assume, with an iMac I can do this. Of course I can do this with a Mac Pro. So whats about Mac mini?

    If a Mac mini only can play HD movies with special attributes (low bitrate, special codecs....) would mean for me: Mac mini is't able to play HD content from different sources - because I don't want to reencode every movie suitable for Mac mini.

    To make it short: I want to go to and "just watch some trailers" :) - without bothering about codecs and stuff.....
  7. macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    Well, my Mini plays all the 1080 trailers from Apple with no problems at all, and it's a 1.66 gHz Core Duo cpu, which does the decoding. The bitrates on those files are pretty low - probably to make them download- and computer-friendly, but at a cost of conspicuous pixelation on occasion. These are all encoded as H.264 MPEG4 videos.

    My Mini also plays over-the-air 1080 TV without any problems as well. But these transmissions are encoded in MPEG-2 (and usually have Dolby Digital 5.1) and the mini's gpu has hardware decoding for these.

    But depending on your source of video a mini could choke on 1080 video encoded with H.264. This is unlikely to occur with the current iMacs because their ATI video cards have built-in H.264 hardware decoding. Presumably, Apple has taken advantage of these abilities (i.e., pass the video file to the video card for decoding and NOT use the computer's cpu).
  8. thread starter macrumors member

    Feb 19, 2008
    Ok, thanks a lot for this information!
    So a Mac mini is worth considering for my purposes.... mhm, decisions decisions....:D
  9. macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    My home theater (see link in sig) is run by a Mac Mini. I don't have HD video other than a couple of TV stations with my Eye TV Hybrid, but it works well for me. It will certainly do 720 and 1080 at lower bit rates, should such content become available.
  10. thread starter macrumors member

    Feb 19, 2008
    Great stuff :)

    I was considering to use Apple TV at my projector when I finally switched to Mac.

    But using a Mac mini instead of Apple TV has indeed some advantages! Most important for me: I need a always-on-Mac for TV recording and my iTunes library. If this central Mac mini could do this job - my "main" Mac would be free and I could reboot to a windows partition for gaming! No need for another gaming PC anymore :)

    I'm still not sure what I'll do, but interesting setup!
  11. macrumors newbie

    May 14, 2010
    A concrete example

    I have a very similar macbook to the OP and it was struggling to play a downloaded HD program from the BBC iPlayer. In particular, it struggled with action sequences.

    I'm supposing that this is down to the use of a low bit rate codec and hence that the processor is the bottleneck. Is that fair?

    Its about time I bought a new piece of hardware anyway: My aim is to be able to play 1080p action movies from a hard drive, downloaded from the LAN or the internet. I'm quite open to options but is a "mac TV" a good option?
  12. macrumors 6502a


    May 13, 2008
    This is the exact reason I bought a Mini a couple of months ago. I have all my Bluray rips on my iMac and I stream them to the Mini over the network. The Mini has yet to have a problem. Regardless of the codec I use.
    Normally I rip them with MakeMKV then convert them to m4v files to save on some space. Works like a champ!
  13. macrumors G4


    Sep 7, 2006
    In the velcro closure of America's Hat
    Note that the thread is quite old and relates to outdated hardware. The newest Macbooks/minis have a 9400m GPU which Plex can use to do hardware H.264 decoding. My mini (2.53GHz) can now do 1080p videos with less than 25% CPU.
  14. macrumors 68000


    Mar 10, 2006
    May I ask how you convert them to m4v? Also, can you hardcode subtitles into them?
  15. macrumors 604

    Cave Man


    That's a bit more challenging. There's some info in the Apple TV and Home Theater Forum, but I can't recall which thread it is.
  16. macrumors 68000


    Mar 10, 2006
    Thanks, I figured it was Handbrake, but it can't handle Surround Sound if I remember correctly :(
  17. macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    Handbrake can put AC3 5.1 into m4v containers and AC3 and DTS into MKV containers. It also does DPLII 5-channel in AAC ("stereo").
  18. macrumors 6502a


    May 13, 2008
    Thanks for replying to his question Cave, I didnt it till now.

    Cave is right on the money. I use MakeMKV to get the MKV then Handbrake for the m4v. I actually followed your thread Cave, you were a TON of help man.
    Jedi also has a guide on here that sets it all up automatically. You put the disc in and it goes. Its really slick when it works. Links below...

    On another note, Cave was also right that the subtitles are more of a challenge and Im not entirely sure how to address that question. i dont normally worry about the subs. But I think if you NEED them, you may need to use something like tsMuxer to get an m2ts file. Someone correct me if Im wrong on that.

    Here are the links I have...
  19. macrumors regular

    Mar 19, 2008
    The Netherlands
    I'm pretty sure what you really mean is: does it playback pirated 1080p movies smoothly?

    The answer is: not consistently. It's about half and half. Some it does, some it doesn't. It does pretty much all 720p perfectly, though.

    For pirates movies GPU acceleration does NOT currently work. Though XBMC and Plex have beta support for it. But it still has issues.

    Also, as far as I know the 1,83ghz Mac Mini has an Intel GPU which means it won't do GPU acceleration at all. GPU acceleration of HD content only works for the Mini's with a 9400M.
  20. macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    It is principally dependent upon the bit rate. I can set the ABR to 14 MB/s with HB and have no perceptible loss of video quality at 1080p and those files play perfectly fine on my 1.67 gHz GMA950 Core 2 Duo Mini with Plex.

    The main issues are the profiles supported by Apple's API for gpu playback. So long as the video is transcoded to meet those h.264 specs, then they'll play perfectly on any 9400M Mini, even at very high bit rates (40 MB/s).
  21. macrumors regular

    Mar 19, 2008
    The Netherlands
    Presenting this thread as evidence:

    The Mini does NOT play 1080p perfectly consistently, that is, most downloaded video's in 1080p won't. CERTAINLY not without GPU acceleration. And there's no way the 1,83ghz one does when the 2.53ghz doesn't. (I have a 1,83ghz one myself, and it doesn't play 1080p properly)

    Either most people on this forum have very bad eyes, or they're trying to justify the Mac Mini HTPC to themselves, but either way, people need to stop saying the Mini plays 1080p fine because it definitely doesn't. It might with GPU acceleration in Plex, I don't know, I haven't tried that, but the 1,83ghz doesn't have GPU acceleration for 1080p movies and it DOESN'T play them perfectly.
  22. macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    I don't download 1080p or any other content. Most of it's pirated and encoded poorly.

    You're having problems with your videos, then. My 1.66 gHz Core Duo GMA 950 plays most parts of most Blu-ray rips just fine with Plex so long as the audio is AC3 or DTS and not True-HD or DTS-HD. My 2 gHz Core 2 Duo GMA950 Mini has played every Blu-ray rip (more than 60 discs) with AC3 and DTS with fewer than a couple of dozen dropped frames as reported by Plex. These are simply remuxed with tsmuxer and not transcoded and some of the hit 40 mbps. If I transcode to 14 mbps ABR they all play perfectly fine on my 1.67 gHz Mini. I can even play Blu-ray rips on my MacBook Air using this strategy.

    Yes, it can. Again, it gets back to bit rate of the video, the audio codec, the encoding scheme and the software you use. I gave up my Mini because it could not record Eye TV and play 1080p at the same time.

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