Mac Mini core solo owners need some info

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by MacDonaldsd, Mar 4, 2006.

  1. MacDonaldsd macrumors 65816

    MacDonaldsd

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2005
    Location:
    London , UK
    #1
    Basically I want to use a mac mini as a PVR so il get Eye TV etc

    So basically I want to know how it handles video, front row etc
    The mac mini core solo works out at the right price for me,and if I was to get it il up the ram to 1gb.

    Don't care about games and processor intensive apps because I wont be using them on my mac mini
     
  2. MRU macrumors demi-god

    MRU

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2005
    Location:
    Ireland
    #2
    Get a firewire EYE TV solution as you will need hardware encoding.

    The USB solutions use software encoding, recording quality will be poor. Current software requires a dual G5 to record on best.

    There is no integration between eyeTV and Frontrow which is a real shame. Hopefully this will be sorted one day.
     
  3. MacDonaldsd thread starter macrumors 65816

    MacDonaldsd

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2005
    Location:
    London , UK
    #3
    Thanks

    My main worry though is that the core solo wont be able to cope with high quality video playback
     
  4. MRU macrumors demi-god

    MRU

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2005
    Location:
    Ireland
    #4
    Playback of SD - no problem my ibook can do that.. (assuming were not talking HDTV)

    Recording ????
     
  5. MacDonaldsd thread starter macrumors 65816

    MacDonaldsd

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2005
    Location:
    London , UK
    #5
    What Eye TV do you recommend ?

    I live in the UK and would want to recieve the free digital channels

    Dont have sky or cable etc

    This will be for my main tv so quality is a issue (tv not to big 20 something inches if makes a difference)
     
  6. asencif macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2005
    #6
    Is your TV an HDTV? The core solo can't play 1080i without stuttering, but the core duo can as it's still a processor intensive task. For SD TV in the US, the Eye TV 200 is great. Not sure in the UK, but you can check EL Gato's site.
     
  7. robbieduncan Moderator emeritus

    robbieduncan

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2002
    Location:
    London
    #7
    Freeview isn't HD or anything like it! If you want to receive Freeview then you don't need to worry about going with Firewire for hardware encoding: it's already MPEG2. Personally I'd just go with the £100 EyeTv for DTT. I've got one and it works very well as long as you have a decent aerial. You cannot use the rubbish little one in the box. You either need a good feed from a roof aerial or a boosted internal one, although that is basically true for all freeview boxes.
     
  8. MRU macrumors demi-god

    MRU

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2005
    Location:
    Ireland
    #8
    i'm in Ireland mate.

    These shoud do the job

    Miglia USB £88 again software EyeTV2 recording though

    EyeTV for DTT £98 got good reviews on site, same recording as i metioned though

    Hardware based EyeTV 410 £199. will give best performance, but cost's twice as much.
     
  9. MacDonaldsd thread starter macrumors 65816

    MacDonaldsd

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2005
    Location:
    London , UK
    #9
    Just a normal TV, and to be honest even if it broke in next couple of years more than likely id stick with a normal TV just because of the cost.

    Is the EyeTV 410 worth it compared to the DDT like you said half the price

    Like robbieduncan said I would be using a roof top ariel
     
  10. MRU macrumors demi-god

    MRU

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2005
    Location:
    Ireland
    #10
    If true that stream does not need re-encoding and can be recorded at full quality, then the difference is price is not worth it - sfterall its the same EyeTV2 software.

    I'm using a USB wonder 2 which like I say requires dual G5 to record at a decent picture...

    i'd double check that before you purchase.
     
  11. robbieduncan Moderator emeritus

    robbieduncan

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2002
    Location:
    London
    #11
    I have both (yes really). The difference is really not that noticable. With these devices there is no hardware/software encoding going on. All freeview signals are MPEG2. All the box does is tune to a single stream/multiplex combination and feed the MPEG2 to the computer.

    The 410 does seem to give fractionally better image quality, especially on fast moving images as well has having a CI slot if you went top-up-TV but it's not worth the extra money in my opinion. I only bought mine as the DTT did not exist at the time.

    In terms of the amount of CPU these things use it's not worth worrying about. I use mine with PPC Mac Minis to run TVs. One of the Minis is a 1.25Ghz G4 the other is a 1.42. Both only have 512Mb of RAM. Neither struggle at all. On the 1.42 (which uses the EyeTV for DTT) watching TV full screen is using around about 30% CPU.
     
  12. MacDonaldsd thread starter macrumors 65816

    MacDonaldsd

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2005
    Location:
    London , UK
    #12
    Miglia TVmini with EyeTV 2.0 – DTT

    I saw that in the apple store 3 weeks ago for £69
    It was a refreshed one (returned un open)

    I didnt think it was a good one mainly because I didnt go there to get one so I didnt do any research :(
     
  13. MRU macrumors demi-god

    MRU

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2005
    Location:
    Ireland
    #13
    Cool. Save yourself 100 and put it to a bigger external HD to store all those programs :)
     
  14. tobio macrumors regular

    tobio

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2004
    Location:
    London
    #14
    If your going to be getting the intel mac mini (as I have) then eyeTV works on that fine, although it isn't yet universal.

    The CPU usage is higher than expected, but my duo core mini can handle DVB-T in progressive mode (the highest quality playback setting in eyetv preferences) at around 50% cpu

    When its all universal, i expect the cpu usage to be probably half that.


    As for other media content. 720p quicktime HD movies play back perfectly at about 40-50% cpu, 1080p quicktime HD movies play back almost perfectly at about 80-90% cpu, only dropping a few frames with fast moving scenes.

    If there was a way to allocate more of the system ram to the video buffer (I think it uses 80Mb) then that would probably improve the playback performance, and I'm sure newer versions of quicktime and system updates should have performance tweaks to help as well

    oh yes, and in case you weren't already aware the audio outputs are stereo/optical combined. you can hook it up to your 5.1 system with the right lead and play DVDs in surround sound.
     
  15. mdavey macrumors 6502a

    mdavey

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2005
    #15
    There have been plenty of benchmark reports, so I thought some subjective observations might be useful. I am fortunate to currently have access to a 1.25GHz and 1.42GHz PPC Mac mini and also both a Core Solo and Duo Mac mini.

    The core solo seems to be approximately equivilent to a 1.33GHz PPC (it subjectively seems to be slightly better than 1.25 and slightly worse than 1.42 PPC at most jobs).

    On a quiet system (only one or two apps running) CPU intensive tasks seem significantly faster than the 1.42GHz PPC, but gets sluggish much quicker than a PPC mini when multiple applications are running (this is carefully choosing native applications that don't appear to do much graphics manipulation). This could simply be an optimisation thing that will be improved in a future software update.

    Again, on a quiet system, Expose and FrontRow are much more fluid on Core Solo than 1.42GHz PPC (Expose will tile 20 windows without problems), but just having a few Safari tabs open causes FrontRow or Expose to lag and judder.

    On video playback (via FrontRow), the Solo seems to be about on par with a 1.33GHz PPC and Duo is perhaps a little better than a 1.5GHz PPC.

    The Solo will play back a DVD just fine but misses a few frames on cached FrontRow trailers (not enough to notice unless you are looking for it). The Solo can't keep up with 720p HD on fast action (>0.1s lags and judders- noticable). 1080p is unwatchable.

    I'd say that 1080p HD playback on the Duo is not good. It drops frames even on 'easy' scenes and is enough to spoil your enjoyment.

    Overall, the Intel Mac mini performs well in its role of replacing (but not superceding) the PPC Mac. Unfortunately, it isn't fit for the HD living room (perhaps unless you are willing to pay over the odds to fit 2GB memory and a 2.16GHz Core Duo?).

    Edit: Both PPC machines were 1GB models, both Intels had a 256MB stick (Apple) and a 1GB stick (3rd party).
     
  16. FireArse macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2004
    #16
    The player's mdavey is using...

    Hey - can you specify which player's you're using? I presume you're using QuickTime - can you try with VLC? Is the H.264 playback on that quicker? i.e. can you get nice HD1080p viewing?

    Do yuo have access to 1080p MPEG2 video? or maybe MPEG4? i.e. can you play 1080p with a codec that uses less CPU?

    Cheers,

    F
     
  17. matticus008 macrumors 68040

    matticus008

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2005
    Location:
    Bay Area, CA
    #17
    This might be true for Elgato products, but it certainly isn't universally true. The Plextor TV402U is a USB tuner with full hardware decoding and encoding. It also works with both PCs and Macs, unlike Elgato products. Plextor sells a special Mac version with EyeTV software bundled already, which is the way to go because there's free software for Windows, but none for the Mac--saving you the expense of buying EyeTV later on.
     
  18. tobio macrumors regular

    tobio

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2004
    Location:
    London
    #18
    DVB-T products, wether from elgato or otherwise do not do any cpu intensive tasks when recording. They simply dump the relevant PIDs from the signal into an mpeg2 file that you can play back. The cpu intensive part is actually playing the mpeg2 file.

    When you are recording a program from DVB, and not actually showing the video window the CPU sits at about 5% if that.

    The eyeTV software has an option to re-encode the video after its recorded into mpeg4, that would take a lot of CPU time, but that is only an option and won't happen by default.

    EyeTV seems to use more CPU power on my new intel mac mini than it does on my 1.5Ghz powerbook, but both of them are capable of perfect operation, and the performance difference is certainly because of the unoptimised eyeTV program. about 50% CPU usage on intel and about 35% on powerpc.

    Any mac mini will be easliy powerful enough to do PVR work on standard definition TV. When HDTV becomes the norm the powerpcs wont cut it, but the faster intels should be able to get by.

    The HD clips I tested with were all H264 trailers and clips from the apple quicktime HD gallery. I would have thought that mpeg2 HD would be easier on the CPU than H264, but I haven't tested any. Ignoring benchmarks I can say that 1080p quicktime is watchable on my intel mac duo (with only eyetv running in the background). While it does occaisionally drop frames I am happy with the performance of it. Even 720p quicktime is unwatchable on my powerbook.
     
  19. tobio macrumors regular

    tobio

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2004
    Location:
    London
    #19
    That there could be your performance issue mdavey, the mini ships with 512Mb as two 256 chips, the other build to order options are 1Gb (two 512 chips) or 2Gb (two 1Gb chips).

    While looking on dabs.com I noticed that this type of memory gets sold in pairs quite a lot, suggesting to me that these intels really like having matched pairs of RAM.

    It sounds like from our subjective comparisons that mine is slightly outperforming yours on HD playback, either because the memory isn't happy... or you are just more fussy than me.

    The HD clips i tested were all of the ones from the HD gallery pageQuicktime HD gallery downloaded to the hard drive and played full screen in front row, and played in a window in quicktime with activity monitor showing the current CPU graph in the corner.
     

Share This Page