1.86 core2 Mini as a HTPC

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by sidefx, Jul 10, 2013.

  1. sidefx macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2010
    #1
    I'm looking to ditch my atv3 and get a HTPC to get more content on my TV after cutting cable. Someone local on craigslist has a older mini 1.86 ghz for $100. Would this be a good PC for watcing some HD content considering its the same price as some media boxes?
     
  2. jdryyz macrumors regular

    jdryyz

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2007
    #2
    The specs on this machine would be barely suitable for HTPC purposes in my opinion. You can do 720p and below video content fine but anything above that would cause stuttering.

    For audio playback it will be fine also. If at all possible, I would consider a mini from 2009 or later instead.
     
  3. Omnius macrumors 6502a

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    Jul 23, 2012
    #3
    I would really avoid using anything older than a 2009 mini. From my experience with a 2.0ghz 2007 mini, you'll encounter stuttering that worsens as a video comes back, genuine overheating issues if you are driving a large hi-res screen, the machine may overheat if you're trying to encode video as well.

    If it goes to sleep during a video because you take a break, expect massive jittering issues with video afterwards.
     
  4. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    #4
    This simply is not true. The ability to play HD content is more a function of the bit rate of the video, what the audio codec is, and which software you're using. I just retired this very same model of the Mini that played lots of Blu-ray rips that had been transcoded to 1080p h.254 video and AC3 Dolby Digital using Handbrake without any hiccups using Plex. The issue will be if you want to use Plex Media Server to send the video to other devices, in which case the C2D can have transcoding issues, particularly if the 1080p content has HD audio that needs extracted and sent to those devices as AAC.
     
  5. KingHTPC3 macrumors newbie

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    Jul 10, 2013
    #5
    Sidefx - what all are you wanting to do with your HTPC?
     
  6. JAT macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2001
    Location:
    Mpls, MN
    #6
    Absolutely. The C2D can handle playing decent files very well. Use to play 1080i TV video over my network with the 1.86 model.

    Transcoding on the fly might be too much.
     
  7. sidefx thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2010
    #7
    stream tv shows off hulu, dish anywhere, watch some encodes, and play DVD's.

    I currently use my macbook pro which is a 2.26 core2 and havent had any issues.
     
  8. Omnius, Jul 11, 2013
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2013

    Omnius macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2012
    #8
    That model is actually a macbook isn't it? If I had to guess the problem with the mini would be the Intel GMA950 whereas that macbook uses the much better NVIDIA GeForce 9400M

    Your MacBook is the better machine.
     
  9. jdryyz macrumors regular

    jdryyz

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2007
    #9
    Well now you're getting into how you define HD. Anything above 720p is what it is. I would argue that there is a minimum bitrate that should be met as well. Sure, you can probably probably play low-bit rate content but that would look like garbage. The user says he wants something suitable for a HTPC...HOME THEATER implies he will be using a large display device, not a desktop computer monitor where the reduced quality will not be noticed.

     
  10. KingHTPC3 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2013
    #10
    Sidefx - There's obviously Slingbox and Roku if you want to get into something general. I personally like Slingbox for streaming 1080p... I know there was another media server that did all of that and more, try googling Assassin HTPC. I've read some of their blogs and they seem to know what they're doing there and could help you out with something custom...
     
  11. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    #11
    What is the minimum bit rate, in your opinion? The Core 2 Duo Mini can easily handle 10 Mb/s 1080p h.264 video decodes with Plex or XBMC (both of which use ffmpeg for decoding), but ask it to extract AC3 or DTS cores from HD audio and it will choke.

    Does a 1080p projector and 10 foot screen and Dolby Digital/DTS audio qualify as HOME THEATER? ;)

    I'm also curious, have you ever owned a 1.86 gHz Core 2 Duo Mac Mini?
     
  12. knux11 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2008
    #12
    um, so if u end up not getting that mac mini, or getting it and not wanting it.........


    just saying that's a good price. they're more expensive in my neck of the woods. even for that old of a mini.
     
  13. throAU macrumors 601

    throAU

    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2012
    Location:
    Perth, Western Australia
    #13
    I tried it with mine.

    The big issue?

    No HDMI output. Which means whatever you are using to play audio needs to have a (single) line-in.


    If you're outputting to a hifi setup this may not be a problem, but you're only going to get 2 channel sound.

    Maybe the port does TOSLINK (?) to get around this, but i have never seen anyone using it and this assumes your receiver does also.

    Also, when working hard, it makes noise and its a bit borderline for playing high def content. It's also about 6 years old now and may not be reliable.

    What I would do (and what I do) is keep the AppleTV as a player, and use the mini or other machine as an itunes library (or file store if you jailbreak the ATV2) that you can access from the ATV2.

    I second the notion for a later model Mini - you want one with HDMI really (which will also have an i5 or better in it).
     
  14. Omnius macrumors 6502a

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    Jul 23, 2012
    #14
    You don't need an i5 mini. Anything from 2009 or better is likely to be fine. The gma950 is the primary reason to avoid anything earlier.
     
  15. throAU macrumors 601

    throAU

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    Feb 13, 2012
    Location:
    Perth, Western Australia
    #15
    Not saying you need an i5, i just thought all machines since 2009 would come with one.

    but agreed, the main reason I'd want newer is for HDMI and/or better video.
     
  16. comatory macrumors 6502a

    comatory

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2012
    #16
    i5 cpus appeared in 2011 on minis. I have c2d 2009 model and it is fine but its borderline. I wouldnt get anything older than that. Simply too much hassle and workarounds.
     
  17. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    #17
    You can get Dolby Digital and DTS up to 5.1 from the audio port of the C2D Mini with an optical cable. Virtually all HDTVs and receivers that have 5.1 or better have such an input.
     
  18. pacmania1982 macrumors 6502a

    pacmania1982

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2006
    Location:
    Birmingham, UK
    #18
    I agree with this. I have a 1.86GHz Core 2 Duo Mac mini running 10.6.8 with 2GB RAM and it can easily handle 720p iTunes content and 720p MKVs

    pac
     
  19. JAT macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2001
    Location:
    Mpls, MN
    #19
    LOL. Maybe you should have actually tried using your computer and learning about it. Although I'm sure Apple and its shareholders appreciates your extra purchases.

    That said, I have relegated my 1.86 model to third computer in the house, with a 2.4 C2D and an i5 at the TVs, now. But that was more for Flash and gaming reasons for the kids. Simple video and AC3 it can handle, if that is the only intent. The biggest problem to me was the single video output, not what type. The dual output models are much more useful in a HT situation.

    And my screen is only 8'.
     
  20. blanka macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2012
    #20
    Try to find a 9400M Mini. That handles all. It can decode Blu Ray flawlessly, it can play all H264 high bitrate content. Mostly because the 9400M plays an important role in all the decoding, and keeps the fans running slow.
     
  21. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    #21
    It only uses the 9400m (and other compliant gpus) for decoding if the software uses VDAdecoder framework (such as Plex).
     
  22. DrakkenWar macrumors 6502

    DrakkenWar

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2010
    Location:
    San Antonio,Texas
    #22
    I would agree here

    I own a 1.83ghz mini running 10.6 and while it does alright over wifi on the 22" monitor in my bedroom, it will choke with anything more. I am all about getting the most out of your gear. But on this one? You are kinda sol.
     
  23. spliffmon macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2013
    #23
    Still pretty useful

    Until a few months ago I was using a 1.83 GHz CoreDuo Mini as my HTPC. I used a DVI-VGA cable to connect to my TV, and a mini TOSLINK cable to connect to my receiver. Even on this old machine the audio out is a combined headphone/optical port.

    It ran the latest version of Plex, and could play 720p videos with 5.1 audio with no complaints. I upgraded to a Late 2012 Mini earlier this year so I could play 1080p. If your budget prevents you from getting a new Mac Mini, then this Core2Duo for $100 seems like a decent deal.

    As for the cons, it could only run Snow Leopard (if yours is Core2Duo then I think it can run Lion), and it was painfully slow for anything other than watching movies.
     
  24. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    #24
    What do you mean by this? The OP is talking about using it as an HTPC, which the 1.86 C2D can do just fine.

    The 1.83 C2D will also play 1080p video with 5.1 DTS or Dolby Digital, provided one uses the right software (e.g., ffmpeg-based).
     
  25. scbond macrumors 6502

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    Oct 16, 2010
    Location:
    Nottingham, UK
    #25
    It will work just fine. Obviously newer models have the benefit of HDMI and more performance but at a greater cost. The 2009 model with a display adapter will do just fine.
     

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