Another HTPC question :)

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by famous600, Jan 21, 2013.

  1. famous600 macrumors 6502a

    famous600

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2010
    #1
    Question for you guru's out there in the mac mini htpc world. Im torn between a 2011 model with 2.5 dual core i5 with AMD 6630M or a 2012 model 2.6 i7 quad core with HD4000 for an HTPC set up. It will be running XBMC constantly and I d not want ANY lag or slow down whatsoever. It will also be used to stream content to several iDevices. Wont really be doing any encoding with handbrake or anything like that. Possibly use it for downloading media etc. Any thoughts? Either one will be bumped up to 16gb of ram so that shouldnt matter in either case. Just want to make the best decision for my needs and you guys are the pros! Thanks
     
  2. blueroom macrumors 603

    blueroom

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2009
    Location:
    Toronto, Canada
    #2
    A good GigE router, simultaneous dual band WiFi. AEBS comes to mind.
    Wired GigE to the file server and to all stationary devices.
    The more devices NOT on your WiFi the better.

    Either Mini would be fine, your concern is moving data around the network. If it we me I'd get the cheaper one and offload all storage to a Synology NAS running PLEX.

    Note:
    My HTPC is WMC7 and I use XBox360's as OTA (~10Gb per hour) extenders. You simply cannot reliably stream via WiFi, but wired is perfect (even though the XBox360 is only 100mb).
     
  3. scottw324 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2012
    #3
    I have my Mac Mini 2.6 GHz quad core w/fusion drive and 16GB of RAM setup upstairs and connected via ethernet Cat 5e wire to a Rocketfish powerline adapter. The Apple AirPort Extreme is downstairs in my living room (roughly the center of the house.

    I have 2 Apple TV3s hooked up to TVs in the house through wifi and one via ethernet. 2 iPads as well and all stream HD content to with no problem. I can stream content to two iPads and one ATV at the same time with zero buffering issues or skipping. My last dual core 5 yr old laptop had a hard time with streaming to two devices. so far not a single issue with the mini keeping up with streaming wifi.
     
  4. paulrbeers macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2009
    #4
    The only advantage the 2012 Mac Mini would have over the 2011 in this scenario is the USB 3.0 would be nice if you want to expand external storage. Technically the USB 2.0 should be fast enough for accessing video, but if you were to share to a lot of idevices and access video from the external drive you may (doubt it, but MAY) run into bandwidth limitations. Otherwise, they are both should be fine for what you want to do. Although if I were you and going to be buying a 2012 for what you want to do, I'd probably go with the base 2012 over the upgraded mini-mid since you aren't going to be doing any encoding. GPU wise the Base and Mid Mini's should be virtually identical and serving files requires very little processing power. Just my .02 worth.
     
  5. famous600 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    famous600

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2010
    #5
    Gotcha and I have no problem getting the entry mini. Just need to make sure that dual core doesnt really inhibit andything I need it to do. without the fans screaming when Im pulling 1080 content from an external for example and it being silent when accessing xbmc and just runs smooth!
     
  6. paulrbeers macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2009
    #6
    I can't speak to the 2012's, but my 2011 base mini (that I recently sold and need to update my signature) had no problems with day to day tasks. It handled everything I could throw at it and a lot of those things were much more difficult than drawing the xbmc gui and playing back videos. I can only imagine how much better the HD4000 would be over the HD3000 in the 2011 (since the HD4000 is almost 2x as good as the HD3000). Someone else will have to speak specifically on the 2012, but I can't imagine it wouldn't be able to do with it without lag especially since most of the stuff (like playing back video) has almost nothing to do with the CPU and almost all to do with the GPU.....
     
  7. famous600 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    famous600

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2010
    #7
    cause I know on my 2008 macbook which I am using now to put my library together can run xbmc slow if downloads are going on in the background. or if i play a movie and exit back to the main menu of xbmc with the movie playing in the background the video gets choppy and the menu get sluggish. granted yes its a 2008 macbook lol just want to get the best bang for my buck
     
  8. paulrbeers macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2009
    #8
    2008 macbook = GMA X3100 GPU which was no good. I'm not even sure it had h.264 decoding in the GPU which means the CPU had to do all the heavy lifting when doing video playback (I know the GMA950 didn't)
    2012 Mac Mini = HD4000 which isn't amazing is probably about 10x better (I probably could find benchmarks if I realllllyy wanted to).

    2008 Macbook Geekbench Score = 3500
    2011 Mid Mini score = 7100
    2012 Base Mac Mini Score = 7200

    Just saying, big difference in 4 years newer hardware....

    Edit: The X3100 GPU did not have h.264 decoding which means the CPU had to do all the decoding in order to playback video. Thus if you do anything with a 2008 Macbook while playing back a video from itunes, your computer would slow to a crawl.
     
  9. famous600 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    famous600

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2010
    #9
    I agree 100%
     
  10. hipnetic macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2010
    #10
    I just got a good deal on an open box 2012 base model from Best Buy yesterday, but haven't got it all set up, so my personal experience with this (or any) Mac Mini is limited, but I can comment based on specs alone. So a few comments/questions...

    1) I don't see why either the 2011 or 2012 should have any trouble playing local video. If you're playing full-bitrate Blu-ray rips, you might run into some difficulty with the 4000 graphics in terms of doing 24Hz/fps under Mac OS. Last I heard, the 2011's 3000 graphics did not support that on the Mac OS side, and I can tell you that my HP tower with an i7 CPU (3000 graphics) gives me video anomalies with XBMC or Plex under Windows 7, suggesting that there may still be outstanding issues with that chipset. Is the 4000 chipset a non-issue in this regard? And, if so, is it a non-issue under Windows but perhaps still an issue under Mac OS? I don't know, but will probably find out soon with my 2012 Mac Mini. So, from that perspective, the 2011 model you've mentioned (with the separate GPU) might be more problem-free there. But can someone confirm that even that chipset can do 24Hz/fps under Mac OS?

    2) The 2012 model will give you USB 3.0 which might be valuable to you if you're stringing up some external 3.0 hard drives. You won't need 3.0 to play your videos or stream them to other devices, but it would be nice if you're ripping your own Blu-rays with this Mini (requiring an external Blu-ray drive, of course) to the local drive, and then you want to transfer the file to an external USB 3.0 drive.

    3) For streaming to other devices, what kind of content will you be streaming? If we're talking full-bitrate Blu-ray rips, and using something like Plex Media Server or AirVideo server to do on-the-fly transcoding, the faster the CPU the better, but the i5 *ought* to be plenty capable. That's one of the other concerns I have and will find out soon (again, my HP tower has an i7 CPU and my new 2012 Mini is an i5). Note that on-the-fly transcoding does not utilize the GPU, just the CPU, so the 2011's separate GPU won't offer any advantage there. If all you're streaming to your iOS devices are mp4 files that are already ready-to-play, then it's just acting as a dumb server and not doing any on-the-fly transcoding, and you don't need anything special CPU-wise.
     
  11. famous600 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    famous600

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2010
    #11
    sounds like we are in the same boat. thats why the AMD GPU and dual core i5 are tempting. but if it would be the same or even not as good as dual or quad 2012 model with hd4000 onboard then I would go that direction. confusing!
     
  12. hipnetic macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2010
    #12
    FWIW, I fired up my new base 2012 Mini and installed the latest version of the Plex client app. Prior to that I set the display properties for the Mac OS to be 1920x1080 @ 24Hz. Then, within Plex, I set it to use the native sync rate when playing video files (I forget exactly how it's worded within Plex). I played a 24fps movie and it played smoothly, so I'm not seeing any 24Hz/fps issues, but to be honest, I couldn't locate my go-to test file for testing panning scenes (where these sorts of issues become really noticeable), so I'd like to track that down to say for sure. But my projector reported that it was getting a 24Hz signal, so I don't expect any surprises there.
     
  13. tmanto02 macrumors 65816

    tmanto02

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2011
    Location:
    Australia
    #13
    Honestly either will do the trick - I have the 2011 2.5GHz i5 with AMD graphics running Plex Media Server and connected to the main tv in the living room. I have two apple tvs in the bedrooms and have never had any trouble playing 3 movies simultaneously.

    Not having USB 3 doesn't bother me as I just daisy chain FW800 hard drives for my media storage. Yes if I was starting from scratch now I would invest in a NAS however the daisychain method is so easy and affordable. I especially love only using one port in the back rather than multiple USB drives - makes for a much neater home theatre. And once Thunderbolt drives come down in price I can daisychain them too!
     
  14. famous600 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    famous600

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2010
    #14
    I get the concept of NAS storage. However how is that different then having an external plugged into the mini and accessing it over the network? Maybe Im not grasping the major differences over NAS and have an external drive that you can access over your network. For right now I was looking at getting a 4tb laCie external and hooking it to the mini via Thunderbolt. Now to daisy chain via thunderbolt I would need an external with two TB ports correct and connect them that way? And when you daisy chain does it create one LARGE drive or two seperate HDs? Thanks
     
  15. paulrbeers macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2009
    #15
    NAS's are especially nice for centralized data storage and data redundancy. You can accomplish much the same though, by using file sharing in MacOS with an external drive attached (just not as pretty). And yes, if you wanted to daisy chain Thunderbolt, you have to have a drive with two thunder bolt ports so that one is used as an In-port (from the PC) and one is used as an Out-port (to the next TB Device).
     
  16. famous600 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    famous600

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2010
    #16
    Gotcha. I see a lot of people on here talking about synology NAS drives. So I took a look at the synology ds212j and looks like it has two bays and can support up to 8tb. That might be the way to go.
     

Share This Page