Advice please - What's my best option?

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by Skibba, Oct 20, 2014.

  1. Skibba macrumors member

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    Oct 20, 2014
    #1
    Long time reader, first time poster.

    Seen the same question popping up all over, but none of the posters requirements meet my own, so I thought I'd create another 'Which one is best for me?' post, so apologies in advance.

    I've been waiting for ~1 year for the Mac Mini to be refreshed ready to pull the trigger the second it came out, and now I'm not so sure which I'm best going for.

    The Mini will be based in my living room, connected to the TV, on 24/7, running Plex Home Theatre so it'll be the HTPC but it's also going to be running the Plex Media Server software too and transcoding to iPad/Nexus 5/Roku. It'll also be connected up to some form of DAS/External drive which will contain all my films and music (undecided on which device yet. Was leaning towards Drobo but the proprietary raid and possibility of losing data concerns me.... open to suggestions on this one) and I also want to stream music around the house to Sonus devices (this is an afterthought and it's primarily a HTPC/Plex Server)

    The fact it's going to be transcoding makes me think that the mid level 2012 mini is a no brainer, but I'm reluctant to pull the trigger on 2 year old tech so need some opinions.

    This'll be my first Mac purchase, and other than my iPad I got through work, my first Apple purchase too. My house isn't fully 'Appled Up' so I'm open to alternative devices, but the problems I see are:-

    Gigabyte Brix = Too loud
    Intel NUC = Dual core
    Zotac Z = Don't know much about these

    Noise is a concern about any device. The wife won't be happy if it's loud. She used to find the original PS3 which I used for DLNA streaming very offputting.

    Any advice on 2012 v 2014 for my purposes and/or any alternatives that I should consider would be appreciated.

    ----------

    Also, just to add, upgrading it myself is something I'm comfortable doing, which is another reason I'm leaning towards the 2012 model.... my only concern is that if I go for the 2012 and opt for external TB storage, I'll be missing out on the TB2 port available on the 2014 model.
     
  2. Crosscreek macrumors 68030

    Crosscreek

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    #2
    Even though the 2012 Mini is 2 years old it is easily serviceable and upgradeable.

    I would advise the 2012 4core over the new one for transcoding. The new one will do it but it will be much slower and you won't be able to do anything else while transcoding is taking place.

    Buy a referee from Apple and save a lot of money with the same 1 year warranty.
     
  3. Skibba thread starter macrumors member

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    Oct 20, 2014
    #3
    Thanks. That's what I'm leaning towards. Would throw 16GB RAM and an SSD in as soon as I got it and then RDP to it from work or my desktop PC to schedule downloads and rename for Plex (Will get into Coachpotato/Sickbeard at some point but still not convinced by Usenet)

    Just found 2012 mid range quad 2.3 for £569 with interest free payments on it from an online retailer. Very tempted to pull the trigger. Waiting for someone with 2012 vs 2014 benchmarks though.... atm it's all educated guesswork.
     
  4. Skibba thread starter macrumors member

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    Oct 20, 2014
    #4
    Anyone know what sort of % discount you get on refurb items? My wife and sister are both teachers, so getting the education discount should be no problem. Apple are selling the 2012 2.3 quad for £569 so total would be £512.10 with education discount (only 10% on Mac Mini as opposed to 15% on larger/more expensive desktops)

    I'm wondering if it's worth just going in today and getting that or waiting for refurb items to pop up.
     
  5. deeddawg macrumors 604

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    Jun 14, 2010
    Location:
    US
    #5
    Check refurb pricing (and get notifications of availability) via https://www.refurb.me/uk

    (I'm assuming you're in the UK since you mention £; if not, then sub for the appropriate country).
     
  6. Skibba thread starter macrumors member

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    Oct 20, 2014
    #6
    Thanks. Signed up there already but didn't realise it showed historic prices.

    The i7 quad 2.3 was 29% discount for refurbished prior to the 2014 mini launch. With the current prices for 2012 models in Apple stores at £569 this means that it'll be roughly £400 for the 2012 I7 2.3 if any show up in the refurb store, provided the same % is knocked off, although I imagine it won't be quite as much. I assume they'll appear for £450ish, which is still a great price.

    Now to play the waiting game I guess.
     
  7. Skibba thread starter macrumors member

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    Oct 20, 2014
    #7
    Going to grab one of the 2012 I7's as soon as they become available, but as this is my first Mac purchase I just wanted to be sure that it'll do what I need.

    Opting for the quad due to streaming/transcoding to multiple clients so it's going to be a file server for 4 media devices, but I will simultaneously want this to be a client device in the main living room too, as the Mini will be connected to the TV. I'm assume that the CPU/HD4000 combo will be fine with this job whilst maintaining the role of server/transcoder? Also, what's the best picture quality I'll get out of this? 1080p @ 60Hz? Not fussed about 4k atm.
     
  8. COrocket macrumors 6502

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    Dec 9, 2012
    #8
    HDMI out does up to 1920x1200 and the mini displayport does 2560x1440 both at 60Hz. HD4000 works fine for watching media at 1080p.
     
  9. Skibba thread starter macrumors member

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    Oct 20, 2014
    #9
    Is that the TB port you're referring to? If so, am I better off running TB > HDMI for connecting to the TV, or just HDMI > HDMI
     
  10. Crosscreek macrumors 68030

    Crosscreek

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    #10
    On the 2012s HDMI to HDMI will allow you to stream Netflix from the HTML5 player.

    If your connecting to a tv that's the best way to go. For monitors your better off with display port.
     
  11. majkom macrumors 65816

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    May 3, 2011
    #11
    hi, and if I am connecting 2014 mini to Tv, but Tv is going to serve as monitor (mini wont be media center but used as regular mac - surfing, word processing...) should I use hdmi to hdmi or TB to hdmi? thx.
     
  12. Crosscreek macrumors 68030

    Crosscreek

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    #12
    Use HDMI.
     
  13. majkom macrumors 65816

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  14. Crosscreek macrumors 68030

    Crosscreek

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    #14
    It's a TV and you gain nothing by using a thunderbolt adapter.
     
  15. majkom macrumors 65816

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    #15
    i actually own TB(mini DP) to HDMI cabel, thats why I do ask...
     
  16. Crosscreek macrumors 68030

    Crosscreek

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    #16
    That will work fine also since you already have one. You will get the same performance off of either one.
     
  17. ElectronGuru macrumors 65816

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    #18
    I've been running a 2010 mini on a TV since well, 2010. My biggest concern moving forward is I will eventually get a 4k screen and these minis aren't ready. If I were buying today then, I would minimize cost so that transition is easier (save the cash until then).

    I run video to my pads and never transcode. Just run nPlayer on the pad and it reads mkv etc, natively. If the same is true for nexus etc, you can get by with a dual core anything until minis with HDMI-whatever are ready.
     
  18. gugy macrumors 68030

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    #19
    Well, besides the transcoding power would the base model i5 be enough power to use it as media center/file server/Time Machine back up?
    The thing is my hunch is that for these tasks the base model is enough and should last long time doing it. So the transcoding won't be am issue because all my library is iTunes friendly.
    I just don't want to put too much money on the i7 if I don't really need to.

    Another point someone pointed out on another thread is that the new Minis are way more energy efficient so going to the new models might make sense in the long run due electricity saving since for the tasks I described these computers are always on.
     
  19. Skibba thread starter macrumors member

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    Oct 20, 2014
    #20
    My home media is all handled through Plex. Plex Media Server will run on the Mini, Plex Home Theatre will run on the Mini too, and Plex clients are installed on iPad, iPhones, Nexus and the Samsung BluRay/Amplifier.

    I assume that nPlayer looks at an iTunes library or uses DLNA? Plex is polished and is aesthetically want I want to achieve with my home media so can't see myself switching.
     
  20. Crosscreek macrumors 68030

    Crosscreek

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    #21
    The 2012 I5 would be fine or even the new $499 one. You might have better resale value with the 2012 but thats a personal decision. Make sure you buy the Apple Care before your 1 year warranty is up if you get the new one.

    You have 14 days to see if the new one works for you so give it a try. :)
     
  21. ElectronGuru macrumors 65816

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    #22

    nPlayer is independent of media servers. It plays files (mkv, mov, avi, MP4) from most file servers: FTP, SMB, etc. If you want to stay with Plex, it's not the way to go.
     

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