Mac Mini as Plex media server

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by buywisdom, Feb 19, 2013.

  1. macrumors member

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2005
    #1
    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?
     
  2. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    May 30, 2010
    Location:
    Denmark
    #2
    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.
     
  3. macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2010
    #3
    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.
     
  4. thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2005
    #4
    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?
     
  5. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    May 30, 2010
    Location:
    Denmark
    #5
    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.
     
  6. macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2012
    #6
    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.
     
  7. kiantech, Feb 19, 2013
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2013

    macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2007
    #7
    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.
     
  8. macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2011
    #8
    Put all your media on an external. You can find large capacity USB 3.0 drives for cheap.
     
  9. macrumors demi-goddess

    costabunny

    Joined:
    May 15, 2008
    Location:
    ~/
    #9
    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.
     
  10. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2008
    #10

    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.
     
  11. macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2012
    #11
    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.
     
  12. macrumors member

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2009
    #12

    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.
     
  13. macrumors 6502a

    tmanto02

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2011
    Location:
    Earth
    #13
    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.

    [​IMG]
     
  14. macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2012
    #14
    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!
     
  15. macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2008
    #15
    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.
     
  16. macrumors 603

    justperry

    #16
    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.
     
  17. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    May 30, 2010
    Location:
    Denmark
    #17
    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 :)
     
  18. macrumors member

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2009
    #18
    I use the Logitech Harmony One programmable control.
    Logitech have a profile for Plex, makes setting up real easy.
     
  19. macrumors 6502a

    tmanto02

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2011
    Location:
    Earth
    #19
    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".
     
  20. macrumors demi-goddess

    costabunny

    Joined:
    May 15, 2008
    Location:
    ~/
    #20
    <Ahem> !
     
  21. macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2009
    #21
    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.
     
  22. macrumors 6502a

    tmanto02

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2011
    Location:
    Earth
    #22
    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
     
  23. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2004
    Location:
    Manchester, UK
    #23
    This is not a fix...
     
  24. macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2009
    #24
    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.
     
  25. macrumors member

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2009
    #25
    Had the same problem with iTunes.
    As my mini is a dedicated Plex machine I simply removed iTunes.
     

Share This Page