Why a Mac Mini instead of a PC HTPC?

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by HE15MAN, Sep 22, 2009.

  1. macrumors 6502a


    Sep 3, 2009
    Florida's Treasure Coast
    People keep asking me "why use a Mac Mini and now a Windows computers as a HTPC." My only reasoning really is the fact I love Apple, and prefer to keep my house all Apple products since I trust them, and taking a little more time to learn how to do things is worth not having to look at a Windows screen. Any better answers?
  2. macrumors member


    Oct 7, 2008
    Cayman Islands
    OK i was a PC user before i switched and my mac mini was the reason why. I asked myself the same question when wanting a HTPC. In the end i decided on the Mini because of the following:

    Small foot print
    Lower Power
    Built in remote
    Built in wireless and bluetooth
    Optical out

    These were tha main factors but ultimatley for me to build a small compact PC (or one of those lovly units taht matches my amp) at the time with all the same components was actually costing me more for a similar spec item.

    Now i would also say because of:

    OS X is great
    Sofa Control works perfect
    Plex is fantastic

    I love my mini HTPC!
  3. macrumors 68030


    Oct 31, 2007
    Austin, TX
    Frankly the only PC in my house is my HTPC. I use BeyondTV software and therefore only have to see Windows very minimally.

    I'd love to have a Mini for my media PC, but there's nothing for Mac that has the functionality BeyondTV does.

    ... unless anyone would care to educate me? :D
  4. macrumors Nehalem


    Feb 19, 2005
    I second the reasons for the mini over the PC but also it is that my entire line is mac so why bother with anything else? Unless you count the nix project I'd like to start soon for a media center in the bedroom to watch porn on.
  5. macrumors newbie

    Jul 31, 2008
    1 month after owning a Mini I literally threw my windows based HTPC out the window. Here are the reasons.

    1. Plex-Best compatibility for a 10 foot interface I have used.
    2. Mac the Ripper-Rips through scratches for when I am putting season sets on the Drobo.
    3. Networking-This is the biggest improvement I saw when switching to Macs. Networking just works. I am constantly finding myself screen sharing 1 computer to transfer disc images and videos to another. I can have music or a video in any computer in my house and can play it without having to actually transfer the files.
    4. Mini DVI/DisplayPort out to receiver
    5. Optical out
    6. Built in IR port.

    Really it seems as though Apple decided to design a computer specifically for HTPC but call it an entry-level Mac

    Once I got old enough to where time=money buying a Mac became the most economical purchase.
  6. macrumors 68000


    Feb 4, 2008
    Chicago, USA
    I think Mini Home Theater is great.. and I too prefer Apple ecosystem.. BUT Windows 7 Media Center leapfrogs anything you can do in MacOS by a few years. Apple is not even in the same league:

    Engadget HD Windows 7 Media Center review
  7. macrumors 603


    Aug 1, 2008
    Vancouver, BC
    A PC in the living room just amplifies why PC's suck... they are bulky, noisy, crude, and require way too much setup, maintenance, monkey work with drivers, codecs, etc. They are the antithesis of what a HTPC should be.

    Now, you can build fairly quiet, compact PC's with Windows 7 media center that will rival a Mini/Plex experience, but you won't save much (anything?), and will still be battling with drivers, codecs, etc.

    I had a Vista HTPC that was no end of trouble. Every NVIDIA driver update would create new problems. :mad:

    A HTPC should just work... and that's a Mini+Plex.

    Also, there are benefits to a complete Mac ecosystem.

    On the other hand, a Windows based HTPC may offer advantages in terms of integration with TV tuners (something that doesn't matter to me).

    The only disadvantage for me, and it's minor, is that the Mini doesn't do video+audio over HDMI and therefore no 7.1 channel sound and there's also two cables instead of one. I'm keen to see what Monoprice can do for us in the dept. with their display port + USB sound to HDMI cable.
  8. macrumors 601


    Aug 19, 2003
    Low power
    Small form factor
    Sleek, attractive styling (there's really nothing like it in the PC world)
    Built-in Bluetooth, 802.11n and IR receiver
    Slot-loading SuperDrive
    9400M Graphics (excellent choice for a set top box, supports OpenCL and hardware QuickTime decoding)
    Dual video outputs

    Pricing ($599/$799)
    Included Memory (1GB on $599 model, 2GB on the $799 model)
    Remote sold separately ($29)
    VGA adapter sold separately ($29)
    No HDMI (and therefore no single audio/video cable)
    No Blu-ray option
    Front Row development is practically dead (hasn't received a major update since 10.5 Leopard shipped)
    No built-in TV tuner/live tv capability (EyeTV software is available for $80 or with the purchase of a hardware tuner, but doesn’t integrate as well as a first-party solution)
    Poor display drivers and tools (no built-in overscan/underscan adjustment, overclocking, custom resolutions, color correction, etc like NVIDIA’s control panel on Windows)
  9. macrumors 6502a


    Dec 26, 2008
    Calgary, AB
    Pics or it didn't happen.
  10. macrumors newbie

    Jul 31, 2008
    In that case it didn't happen. I had had the Mac Mini for a month and was still using the PC for a tuner. It crashed and was unrecoverable literally 30 minutes before the Lost season finale. It was my only HD tuner. It was a heat of the moment sort of thing so I did not get it on video. In the back of my mind I didn't really care because I knew after a month the Mini would suffice. So believe it or not, those who know me personally know that it happened.
  11. macrumors G3


    Jan 9, 2008
    Sunny, Southern California

    That is what I am talking about.
  12. macrumors Core


    Feb 9, 2008
    San Jose (CA)
    For an HTPC I'd look into an Ion-powered machine; some of them are quite inexpensive and are worth looking into. For example the Acer Revo not a very powerful in terms of computing, but it is quite powerful as a media center machine. It can decode 1080p videos with no issues. It can go online, etc.
  13. macrumors 68030


    Oct 15, 2008
    There usually is no rationale behind the decision to buy Apple. There are only few Apple-only software products and one usually gets more bang for the buck with a PC product, thus choosing Apple almost always is a pure emotional choice.
  14. macrumors member

    Aug 21, 2009
    Yea, I am looking into getting a Revo for a torrent server/media player.
    I just want to free up my uMBP17 from torrents, since my ancient AMD torrent server died. A MacMini would be awesome, but I think it is a little overkill for a media server, as it is like $700.00+. Can get a Revo for $400 CAD.

    Going to sell my WDTV and get one of those I think.
  15. Moderator emeritus


    Dec 10, 2008
    Here's a little comparison between PC and Mini as HTPC:

    Mac Mini

    + Small, don't take a lot space
    + Quiet
    + Little power draw
    + Easy sharing between other Macs

    - Only one hard drive
    - Not upgradeable
    - Quite expensive


    + Multiple hard drives
    + Upgradeable
    + More options
    + Blu-Ray
    + Much better performance per $
    + More ports

    - Big
    - Draws A LOT power
    - May be noisy
    - It's not a Mac


    I still can't decide... PC could be used for gaming and other tasks and I'm not stuck with one HD, but I just like Macs and their easiness so...
  16. macrumors 6502a


    Oct 26, 2007
    For me it is an easy decision.
  17. macrumors 6502


    Feb 25, 2007
    Despite being a Mac user I looked at a bunch of small form factor machines. In the end I went with the Mac Mini for one primary reason - Plex - it's just the best media center app by far. I had some concerns about ability to play 1080P but they were totally unfounded.
  18. macrumors 6502

    Jun 12, 2009
    Why reinvent the wheel? There's already a Plex plugin for it.

    I did it because it was dead simple to run Plex and the mini was an attractive piece of all-in-one hardware for the purpose.
  19. macrumors demi-god


    Jul 24, 2009
    Tbh I have a Sony cake and a mini well a couple of minis. The cake and mini are both under my sittingroom tv and I use both. I offen find myself picking up the keyboard for the cake as it's an all in one plus I use mediacentre to record all the shows I miss.
  20. macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    The Mini can do 7.1 over optical. The problem is, there're very few Blu-ray discs with 7.1 tracks or Dolby Digital Plus.

    Yeah, right. :rolleyes: Are there any PCs yet that are 6.5" x 6.5" x 2" with the Mini's features? Or do you think form factor is "emotional"?
  21. macrumors 6502


    Apr 7, 2009
    Um, I like the OS better, a LOT better, than XP/Vista/7/whatever. That's not emotional.
  22. macrumors 6502

    Jul 2, 2008
    I really want a mini for my HTPC, when I buy one. The problem is I can justify it over a PS3.

    $299 gets you streaming from any machine (format maybe a bit of a an issue but that easily solved) and bluray. Not to mention you can play a bunch of games on it.

    Hard to beat that for $299
  23. macrumors 603


    Apr 2, 2009
    Los Angeles Area
    Depends on how you look at it. The mac mini is a computer, a real tiny one I might add.
  24. macrumors 603


    Aug 1, 2008
    Vancouver, BC
    Toslink optical doesn't have enough bandwidth. The 7.1 discrete digital standards require HDMI.

    From wikipedia...

  25. macrumors 603


    Aug 1, 2008
    Vancouver, BC
    It's not much less than a Mac Mini... why would you want to go this route?

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