A few mac mini questions...

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by strawberrynatto, Feb 16, 2014.

  1. strawberrynatto macrumors newbie

    Feb 16, 2014
    Interested in purchasing a new Mac Mini to use as a headless server in my hi-fi audio system. This Mac Mini will serve no other purpose other than storing my music files and playing them via Amarra.

    1) Based on the current non-server options - 2.5 i5 / 2.3 i7 / 2.6 i7 - which would be best bang for the buck? It's easy to just say 2.6 i7, but if there really is no real world difference, I don't see the point.

    2) Same as above, but in terms of memory - 4gb / 8gb / 16gb - which would be best bang for the buck?

    Once I order the Mac Mini, I'm going to install 2 Samsung 840 EVO SSDs (120gb main / 500gb media).

    I need the kit available for installing 2 hdd/ssd in the Mac Mini - which are available thru OWC and ifixit - but it seems OWC actually suggests opening up the Mac Mini first to see if the original drive is seated in the upper or lower position, thus requiring 1 of 2 different kits. But ifixit doesn't suggest such a thing.

    3) Has anyone had any issues one way or the other?

    Lastly, I've read in a few posts that after making a USB install of Mac OS X Mav, and removing the original hdd, if you are adding 2 drives, you should install 1 of the new drives first, and install the OS, and then go back and install the second one.

    4) Is this necessary or can I install both new drives at the same time and then after reassembly, install the OS to the smaller of the two drives?
  2. blanka macrumors 68000

    Jul 30, 2012
    For your purpose, a Mini is nothing than ridiculous overkill, and with 2 EVO's, even more.
    Get a 35 Raspberry Pi and use that as music server. Big plus: no fans, so no noise!
  3. strawberrynatto thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 16, 2014
    So I guess your vote would be for the lowest-end version of the Mac Mini, since I'm already set on getting the MM for my system.

    The R-pi wouldn't be ideal as for me.
  4. NewbieCanada, Feb 16, 2014
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2014

    NewbieCanada macrumors 68030

    Oct 9, 2007
    Get the lowest and see what you can find in the refurb store or buy a used one. And if you're playing and storing audio files you have no need for SS storage
  5. scottsjack macrumors 68000

    Aug 25, 2010
    Raspberry Pi? Right.

    I mainly use my mini for media like EyeTV recording and editing as well as playback. It seemed that the biggest bang for the buck was a 2.3GHz standard issue.

    B&H had them for $740 in January when I bought mine. To that I added 16GB of Crucial RAM for $140 and a Crucial M500 960GB SSD for a little under $500.

    I put the OEM 1TB HDD in the upper bay and record onto it. Recording and playing from a 5400 rpm drive doesn't seem to be causing any problems. If so I'll get another SSD.

    I've ended up with a very fast, responsive mini. I was going to put a pair of unused WD Scorpio Black 750GB 7200 rpm drives in it. They probably would have been pretty good, especially in a Raid 0. I'm glad though that I splurged on the big SSD.
  6. mmulin macrumors 6502

    Jun 22, 2006
    Suggest the lowest configuration. Perhaps up the RAM if your media server software will need it. On large libraries this is usually beneficial with most media servers as they can keep their meta cache accessible in RAM.

    As for the HDD configuration, I agree with above. Get the small SSD for your OS and for your media it might serve better to buy a cheaper and larger HDD.. save some money on the way.

    As for installation, you should be fine to install from USB stick onto the already installed empty disks. You can create the boot USB stick media before you convert your Mac. There are how-tos out there on how to obtain the installer ISO from the OS package and extract it to the USB. During installation you will be able to choose the target drive.

    Note, on older OSX, Apple would check if the SSD matches Apple sold profiles. If not it would not be recognised as supported SSD and, i.e., TRIM would be disabled. You might need to fix that with your SSD. I am not sure how it is done now under Maverick.
  7. strawberrynatto thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 16, 2014
    Thanks, mmullin.

    As I mentioned in original post, of course it's easy to say just get the maxed out processor, maxed out memory, maxed out SSDs, etc - but when a $1500-$2000 mini is being used as a headless media server and no other purpose, if I'm not actually going to notice something out of that investment in real world experience when compared to the lowest end processor, memory that meets Amarra's requirements, an ssd that quickly starts the system, another that has enough size to hold my library (and future growth) - then I see no reason just to burn money for the sake of it.

    The only real flip of the coin for me is ssd vs hdd for the storage drive, and if the ifixit adapter requires me to know if the original hdd is seated in an upper/lower location (as does OWC).
  8. mmulin macrumors 6502

    Jun 22, 2006
    As said. You should be fine with the lowest config. I just mentioned the RAM issue as it "could" make a difference on large library response times. In any case, you can do so at a later point (and aftermarket as it is cheaper anyway) if you experience slow downs with the basic setup.

    You might also consider an older model which doesn't have the HDD positioning issue and will work fine. I use a mid 2011 and replaced/ added two drives with the OWC kit.
  9. ElectronGuru macrumors 65816

    Sep 5, 2013
    Oregon, USA
    The advantage to i7 is threads. If your software is not thread savy, i7 is wasted.

    Larger SSD have more speed, lower cost per GB, and depending on model, more reliability features. I would get a single larger unit and partition it. Leave the stock drive for built in time machine use or special projects. Then if you outgrow the first SSD, you can get a 2nd even larger even faster second unit (in the future when prices are lower).

    Most minis ship with one drive in the same place. This is the config ifixit is betting on. OWC isnt taking chances and prepares you for that ~5% chance.

    However you slice it, this machine will have access capacity. Once you get it setup for your needs, check out options for what else you can do. Mines up to 4 main roles, with several secondary roles.
  10. Gav2k macrumors G3


    Jul 24, 2009
    Lowest spec and upgrade the memory yourself. Add an external hdd for your music.
  11. mentaluproar macrumors 68000


    May 25, 2010
    Ohio, USA
    The i5 is not to be underestimated. It really is more than enough for 90% of users.

    You do not need to create a usb install of mavericks, but that is faster. It is easier to just let your mac do an internet restore.

    2 840 evos? Are you nuts? Just get a good SSD, any good SSD, and pair it with the factory drive. Hell, even the SSHD's improve things on the mini a LOT. While I am sure there is someone who needs 2 SSDs in their mini, based on your post, you are not among them.

    I agree that the refurbs are where you should really be looking. The previous two generations have been quite good once their hard drives have been swapped out.
  12. jbarley macrumors 68040


    Jul 1, 2006
    Vancouver Island
    No need to open the mini to determine the location of the original HDD, both system info or Disk Utility will correctly report this info.
  13. opinio macrumors 65816

    Mar 23, 2013
    I get personal satisfaction from ridiculous overkill :)

    I say get the 2.6GHz 16GB RAM and two EVOs. It will eat Pi for dinner :)
  14. blanka macrumors 68000

    Jul 30, 2012
    Then don't settle for a SUCKING lame fusion SSD like the EVO (3GB fast SSD with 247GB of crap slow SSD), and get the right stuff: 2x Samsung 840 Pro 512GB in RAID 0.
  15. T'hain Esh Kelch macrumors 601

    T'hain Esh Kelch

    Aug 5, 2001
    I have the 2011 low end model (2,3Ghz i5 with 4GB RAM and it handles multible HD streams via Plex and iTunes playing music simoultaneously, so the current low end model should be far more than you need for your situation.

    The Evo is faster than the Pro in several benchmarks, and for the OPs purpose paying extra for the Pro makes absolutely zero sense.
  16. Jambalaya macrumors 6502a

    Jun 21, 2013
    The base Mini is absolutely fine, it has 4gb ram and 500gb HDD, my 2009 Mini could handle your requirements and the new ones are clearly better.

    There was a poster yesterday who had an offer of $100 on the base mini, that would be perfect for you.

    You could add more storage externally if you wanted, internal is possible too of course but you don't need SSD's. FYI my WD Black 750hdd runs at 7200 very nicely. More ram can be added later but it's a luxury and you don't need it.
  17. shaunp macrumors 68000

    Nov 5, 2010
    Even the base mini with 4GB ram will be able to do this. There is no need for SSD for a machine that is going to sit there doing very little. As one poster has suggested maybe a raspberry pi will do the job for you and at a much lower cost.
  18. phrehdd, Feb 17, 2014
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2014

    phrehdd macrumors 68040


    Oct 25, 2008
    From what you are saying, and others have commented on - you seem to want a system that is far more powerful than you need.

    Here are some things to consider (not in any particular order)

    Samsung EVO drives - the 500+ drives are faster than the 120.
    Music files don't need any particularly fast drive to move across a network so that even a 5200 or 5400 typical drive is plenty fast.

    If a Mac Mini is in your future, get it with 4 gigs of RAM. It is far cheaper to use 3rd party RAM for an upgrade. I wouldn't get anything smaller than an 8gig "stick" of RAM and that means if you only change out one, you will have 8 gigs. (Originally typed in 12 gigs but alas, an error on my part)

    A single 7200 rpm drive in the Mini should be extremely efficient for what you want to do and in that, you can get a large drive.

    I have put in an SSD in a Mini 2.6 and didn't use any backup. The system allowed me to connect via network and download the OS. The catch is it can take far more time than doing a backup first.

    If you are insistent on SSD. Get a larger single drive and you can avoid having to totally take apart your Mini. About 3 major parts have to be removed if you only swap out the single drive. Putting in 2 drives requires far more work and little advantage along with more risk of things going wrong. - Consider 1 large internal drive and possibly a simple regular back up via network or addition of an external drive. OWC carries an external case that stacks up with the Mini (Stacker case) if you worry about aesthetics or consider an external TB enclosure.

    Just more peanuts from the gallery

    Mac Mini 2.6 w/16 gigs RAM, 512g Samsung 840pro internal
    Mac Mini 2.0 w/16 gigs RAM, 240g OWC SSD (Linux + XBMC)
    NEC 24" PA24W monitor
    QNAP NAS 559pro 20TB
    QNAP NAS 469L 12TB
    External blu ray R/W
    various single drive external enclosures (including Firmtek USB3 2.5 drive which is the fastest of the bunch)
  19. lugolo macrumors newbie


    Feb 11, 2014
    No. 10 GB: 2 GB (one slot) + 8 GB.
  20. phrehdd macrumors 68040


    Oct 25, 2008
    Oops and you are right. I stand corrected. (sorry I don't do emoticons but if I did it would be a smile)
  21. Gav2k macrumors G3


    Jul 24, 2009
    Honestly guys why are we all suggesting cracking a mini open when it clearly isn't needed.

    3rd party ram is a simple spin fit and spin job.

    Storage should be kept simple with an external usb3 caddy with a 7200 rpm 3.5" drive.


    Warranty intact and no posts about broken cables.


  22. Oujmik macrumors member

    Oct 23, 2012
    I'd definitely go i5 as you don't need the i7. Also if the server will be in the same room as you do your music listening (or anything else) the i7 fans can get noisy (although only when running flat out, which is unlikely unless you also handle encoding tasks or similar on the server) whereas I understand the i5 is near silent in all situations.
  23. Cape Dave macrumors 68000

    Nov 16, 2012
    I am sure all here know that the 500GB drive the base mini comes with is a slow pig. An embarrassment really. I find it unuseable.

    Now everyone knows!
  24. Meister Suspended


    Oct 10, 2013
    I use one in my mini. I could change it for an ssd but i don't because for casual use the hdd is fine.
    Even light photo and video editing is pretty smooth. And all that with 4gigs of ram.
    For the OP any mini is insane overkill. he just needs some much more basic solution.
  25. talmy macrumors 601


    Oct 26, 2009
    I've got two 4 year old base model minis that I use as entertainment centers -- video and audio. One I replaced the HDD with a SSD when the HDD failed -- it makes no difference to performance other than booting, and since I sleep the systems when not in use, it makes no difference at all. And these had 2GB RAM until I upped them to 4 a year ago. That didn't matter either.

    So you would be fine with any base mini, new or used, of at least the past 4 years!

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