2010 mac mini vs 2011 mac mini for htpc

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by Meever, Aug 13, 2011.

  1. Meever macrumors 6502a

    Jun 30, 2009
    2010 mac mini for 480 used ORRR.... 2011 mac mini for 580 new and buy a external (maybe bluray drive)

    how do they compare power consumption, and performance wise? What about thunderbolt or wireless performance?

    Thanks for your help guys
  2. mystikjoe macrumors regular

    Jan 29, 2010
    Sold my 2010 c2d for 2011 i5 my 1080p videos no longer studder ever!! I'm very pleased with performance. I use a ocw FireWire enclosure with 8tb of hard drive mini is myhtpc in my theatre!
  3. Executor macrumors member

    Mar 1, 2008
    I am glad to hear the mini is working for you. I am considering purchasing one to use as an HTPC but I am concerned with noise levels. Is the 2011 Mini loud while playing 1080P videos? please let me know. Thanks
  4. adnoh macrumors 6502a


    Nov 14, 2010
  5. volodymyrqa macrumors regular

    Apr 14, 2011
    Kyiv, Ukraine
    no it does not!

    Actually it is even more silent... Preinstalled hdd drive is working more silently ( at least when comparing with mc239 model)
  6. mystikjoe macrumors regular

    Jan 29, 2010
    both mini's were dead silent my last one had an ssd in it which i miss i'm just not really looking forward to opening up the mini to install another one. i'll probably just stay with the stock one for awhile till it's snowing and i'm bored.
  7. Graumail macrumors newbie

    May 26, 2011
    I have the 2.5 2011 mini, set up as an HTPC with two external superdrives (so I can rip two DVDs at once, obviously). Under normal operation or video playback, the mini is silent. During hardcore encoding (handbrake with all threads at maximum) the fan spins up to keep the system cool, and can be heard clearly. I'm ordering some foam rubber feet to combat this, by reducing vibration and tempurature.

    Hope this helps.
  8. blevins321 macrumors 68030

    Dec 24, 2010
    Winnipeg, MB
    My 2010's fans are audible when running Handbrake encodes as well. I found a cheap bar-based monitor stand to put it on that has metal bars instead of a solid shelf. This allows for more air to move around the unit. It also keeps the unit from reverberating on the wood of the TV stand.
  9. dh2005 macrumors 6502a

    Jan 25, 2010
    Really?! God, that's crap...
  10. Graumail macrumors newbie

    May 26, 2011
    well, it's a small computer running at 100% cpu usage for 6 hours straight, the computer has to do something to prevent overheating.
  11. dh2005 macrumors 6502a

    Jan 25, 2010
    My media streamer's a similar size - slightly taller, but less than half as deep - and can run bitrates of between two and three times that of the 2010 Mini without a fan. I don't mean there's no fan noise: I mean, there's no fan. The fact that the 2010 Mini's components generate that kind of heat doing such a modest task is precisely what's 'crap' about it.

    Thank Christ the Core2Duo is a thing of the past.
  12. Graumail macrumors newbie

    May 26, 2011
    Mine's got the i5 in it. It's been wonderful to see most tasks put little to no stress on the CPU. Only time it heats up (and gets noisy) is when it's at maximum CPU for an extended period.

    MY complaint is the POS 5400 RPM drive that's inside the case.
  13. dh2005 macrumors 6502a

    Jan 25, 2010
    Yeah, I'm told it's a Hell of a lot faster. This is a pleasing development for the Mini.
  14. dh2005, Aug 15, 2011
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2011

    dh2005 macrumors 6502a

    Jan 25, 2010

    I'm hoping that a small SSD will soon be available as standard; maybe even in the next incarnation, whenever it appears. Now that I've seen the benefits of an SSD in my MBP, I find even using comparatively snappy 7,200rpm drives a pain in my arse.


    I find it delightfully silly that somebody has downrated my posts in this thread; even my most recent one, which is not remotely controversial...

    ... but, then, a handful of Mini owners on this forum do tend to get agitated when somebody else mentions media streamers. Almost like they know they're missing out on something.

    Bitterness is a terrible thing to live with. Let go, my brother.

    Peace out (xx).

    EDIT: I noticed that you hadn't downrated my penultimate post, so I did that for you. Cheers.

    EDIT-EDIT: How sweet. Now we can be friends again.
  15. Executor macrumors member

    Mar 1, 2008
    You bring up an excellent point. I am on the fence as to the best way to proceed for my Home Theater needs. The Mac Mini is great as an HTPC but for the cost I could just as easily put a streamer in every single room of the house. In the Other hand, the flexibility that the mini affords me in a very sleek package is tempting too. I was ready to jump on the mini today but the Apple store only had the Non AMD version with 5400 RPM HD. So I figured I'll wait for now.
  16. dh2005, Aug 16, 2011
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2011

    dh2005 macrumors 6502a

    Jan 25, 2010
    For sure. The Mini is a full-blown computer, whereas a streamer is purely a media device (which is precisely why they're so good at what they do). Some streamers have internet browsers, but they don't tend to be very good; many of them do have inbuilt torrent clients, though... which is useful, if you're someone who downloads torrents. I'm not.

    In a nutshell: if you want a computer that can run media files, the new Mini seems to be a very solid option. If the graphics card were slightly more grunty, I might even have been tempted myself.

    However, if you just want a media device - and you have no use for internet browsing, productivity, gaming, ripping, transcoding, or anything else of the sort - buying the Mini would be a TERRIBLE decision. You would literally be spending three times as much money on something that isn't as good. It would be dumb. Plain... and... simple.

    If we all put our prejudices aside for a moment, I think we'd agree on this.

    EDIT: Trying to make my response more germane to the thread, and the OP...!!!

    The 2010 Mini has serious shortcomings as a home theatre hub. The 2011, we know, is much more powerful, although I've learned today that Lion and/or AMD driver issues are currently causing teething problems.

    If it were me, I would buy neither at the moment, and wait a short while... and, I reiterate: if you don't need a computer then please consider one of the several excellent media streamers currently on the market. You will save yourself a lot of money and get a device better suited to your needs.
  17. theSeb macrumors 604


    Aug 10, 2010
    Poole, England
    You seem confused. What your media streamer is doing and what encoding is are two very different things.

    During playback the mini is silent and I haven't found a media streamer with a decent front end that does not struggle to play back 1080p streamed content
  18. Bearxor macrumors 6502a

    Jun 7, 2007
    I have a NeoTV-350 that plays back 12-15Mbps MKV's over the network perfectly.

    But granted, the interface sucks.
  19. BlackMangoTree macrumors 6502a

    Sep 30, 2010
    the i5 mini has issues playing back 1080p when using hardware decoding especially with apps like PLEX and XBMC
  20. dh2005 macrumors 6502a

    Jan 25, 2010
    I'm not confused in the slightest. Perhaps the person I was quoting has used the phrase 'running encodes' when they meant 'encoding/transcoding'. The latter, to me, is the creation of .MKVs, .M4Vs etc. The former is playback. Hence, my expression of surprise as to how 'crap' that would be... if he or she is around, perhaps this can be clarified.

    As to your second point, I respectfully direct you to some of the newer players that have been released in the past two years. The Popcorn Hour 200 series is the only one of which I have direct personal experience, but I am told that Dune and Western Digital have also released machines that are entirely capable in the manner you describe.

    UIs for media streamers certainly used to be terrible, but they're much improved these days. Personally, I don't care about that - I choose to run the bare-bones default UI on my A-210, even though superior front-ends are available - whereas for other people, I realise, this issue is more important. Popcorn Hour themselves released a Flash-based GUI about a year ago, there are several that have been programmed by the PCH user community, and an XBMC fork (like Plex) has been rumoured for a while; though no public Beta has emerged, to my knowledge.

    And even if the front-end was crap - which it isn't anymore, but let's say that it is - would you honestly prefer to spend $400US more, to run HD media less well, because the interface is prettier? I would much rather see power prioritised to the buffering, decoding, bitrate-celing and trick-play; which will determine how good your media looks, sounds and handles.

    If, given the above, you still prefer the Mini purely as a media device, we must agree to disagree.


    Wait. You mean the 2011 Mini? I thought that was all sorted out, now?

    Perhaps Lion updates will fix that. I certainly hope so.
  21. Merkyworks macrumors 6502

    Oct 14, 2008
    I was in your exact shoes 2 weeks ago. I needed another comp at the house that I wouldnt mind the girlfriend using and I had been toying with the idea of getting a mini and using it as a HTPC. My girlfriend needed a comp that could run any office app and photoshop. The 2011 mini's was my first choice and while its hardware is clearly better i ended up not likeing it for the following reasons.

    1. It is going to come with Lion pre-installed and after I tested Lion out on my MBP I have decided to stay with SL for now. So being stuck with Lion and not being able to use any other OS version is a HUGE problem in my book.

    2. The ODD being absent isnt the biggest issue but I would rather have a mini with an ODD and remove it for a second HD but if my needs change that I still have the option to put it back in.

    So I got a 2010 mini with a C2D 2.4, it is more than able to output to my 50" TV with ease, it runs all the office software fine and does photoshop just fine as well. So for me the 2010 mini as a light duty comp and a HTPC is just fine and has greater flexibility than a 2011 mini and if for any serious computing (running handbrake) I have my MBP i7 quad 2.0
  22. philipma1957 macrumors 603


    Apr 13, 2010
    Howell, New Jersey
    As a non user of iphone ipad ipod and just about no need for mobile computing Lion is a step backwards for me. I would prefer just snow. I find it a real PITA to have to learn an osx every 2 years or so. Right now I have 5 or 6 programs lion does not run. I have an iMac on snow a mac pro on both a 2009 mac mini on both and a 2011 mac mini stuck with lion. I can't share everything with my nas because it says f u to lion and I have not been able to get it to load the upgrade to handle lion. I don't need this much work everytime apple does a new osx.
  23. gigaguy, Aug 16, 2011
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2011

    gigaguy macrumors 65816

    Apr 19, 2010
    I agree, I don't get Lion. even tho I use an iPad and iPhone, I do not need my computer to look like/act a touch screen device. I feel apple's changes to OS are always about moving to their future plans, not so much about current use improvements. Lion seems like more of a drawback than 'gotta have now' improvements.
    Lion seems more of a point increase than a whole new name OS.
    I admit I don't have it yet, but have read about it and used it at the Apple store.
    is it really an improvement? I would like to see tweaks for us, 10 footers, (people who use OS on big screens.) I do not need full screen stuff, big enough on my 52" HDTV.
  24. theSeb macrumors 604


    Aug 10, 2010
    Poole, England
    As far as I understood, the user was talking (100% CPU + fans) about encoding, which your player clearly does not do. Encoding is a very intensive activity and the fans will spin up so no surprises there. This does not happen during playback / decoding. In fact, in the 2011 MBA the HD3000 does decoding of H.264 in m4v containers on the fly during playback.

    When playing back 1080p compressed content the CPU is around 2-3% busy and the MBA is silent. I would imagine that the 2011 Mini does this even better.

    Unfortunately between myself and a friend, we have tried all of those players and have encountered various issues.

    Yes, I would happily spend even more than $400. Less well? How do you figure this one out? I can understand being happy with your purchase, but how did you come up with the conclusion of "less well". I guess we will just have to disagree on that one, unless you have quantifiable proof.

    Yup, we will have to do that.


    There are issues reported with the 2011 Mini when using hardware decoding in XBMC. This appears to be a Lion drivers issues since people are not experiencing the same problem when running Windows in Bootcamp.
  25. dh2005 macrumors 6502a

    Jan 25, 2010
    Affairs of the HTPC are always highly subjective, so I will give you my subjective opinion of "proof". Yours to accept or refute as you wish.

    I have owned a 2009 Mini myself, and my father until recently owned a 2010. The 2009 could not run anything with a bitrate much into the high 20Mbps without stuttering, which ruled out almost all Blu-ray. The 2010 did better, but even that started getting upset when the bitrate went too far into the 30s: and I'm talking about post-hardware acceleration Plex, here. In testing, I found that it was possible to make a number of my Blu-ray rips run on the 2010 by reducing the HD audio to the core stream - The Hurt Locker, for instance - but there were others that still wouldn't run smoothly - The Men Who Stare At Goats, and Transformers come to mind.

    I, personally, consider it unacceptable that a 2010-era HTPC can't run true Blu-ray bitrates: Blu-ray is more than five years old, now. The first ever Popcorn Hour streamer, the A-100, was able to do that in 2007 for the cost of $170US. This is, therefore, one respect in which I personally find the 2010 Mini to do "less well" than media streamers. Much "less well". The more current A-210 has a ceiling of 110Mbps, which even the 2011 Mini won't be able to compete with.

    Then there is buffering - which took appreciably longer - and trick-play - which was sloppy - both of which are much more slick on a streamer than was my experience with the Mini. When you 'FFW' or 'RWD' with a streamer, it behaves with the responsiveness you'd expect from a DVD or Blu-ray player: the Minis (particularly the 2009) choked and stumbled, the picture pixelating, and it was easy to under- or overshoot where you wanted to be in the movie. Maybe this isn't important to you, but these performance details were also delivered "less well" by the Mini.

    I will not dispute - nor have I ever disputed - that the Mini does a serviceable job as an HTPC for many people. Many people download dirty transcodes of Hollywood movies, where the bitrate doesn't get much above 15Mbps, and claim that they "can't tell the difference" between that and the Blu-ray source that they came from. That's their business, and I have nothing to say to these people. Largely because I don't understand why they can't see and hear differences in quality that I consider to be as plain as a frying pan to the back of the head. No matter: for the more discerning viewer, this amounts to a lesser cinematic experience, and the Mini thus does "less well".

    Certain other users who, like me, rip their own discs are willing to put them through Handbrake and trim the bitrates themselves: if they are happy with this, I refer you to the above... but with the additional rider that transcoding is a profoundly time-consuming extra step that is not needed when you use a streamer. Again, I consider the Mini to be doing "less well" in this department.

    All of the above assumes that you are, of course, using a good streamer. Not some cheap Far-East knock-off piece of [xxxx] from 2005.

    Your move, creep.

    (I don't actually think you're a creep. I just wanted to use a line from Robocop).

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