Apple Tv 3 vs Mac mini


macrumors member
Original poster
Oct 10, 2011
Hej guys!
I thinking about upgrading my home theater system and i can't decide if i should get an apple TV(of course ill wait for ATV 3) or an mac mini? Which is better?


macrumors 6502
Sep 29, 2011
On the internet!
Hej guys!
I thinking about upgrading my home theater system and i can't decide if i should get an apple TV(of course ill wait for ATV 3) or an mac mini? Which is better?

We don't really know what the atv 3 is going to be like, but we will find out soon enough. hopefully. :)


macrumors 68030
Oct 8, 2008
Albany, NY
The ATV3 is way better. I can't believe the specs and software on it. I remember watching Tim Cook the the announcement tomorrow and I was amazed. :confused:


macrumors 68040
Oct 29, 2007
Atlanta, GA
Hej guys!
I thinking about upgrading my home theater system and i can't decide if i should get an apple TV(of course ill wait for ATV 3) or an mac mini? Which is better?
I'll let you know tomorrow, i can;t compare a non existing product with a mac mini.

and to be honest....If you are "considering" a mac mini, I would build a HTPC with the same money and get 3D Blu-ray playbalck, and a massive storage. but that's me.


macrumors 68040
Oct 19, 2010
Buffalo, NY
Again, Mac Mini and Apple TV are two COMPLETELY DIFFERENT THINGS.

Mac Mini - real computer, without monitor/keyboard/mouse. Runs OS X. Basically this is a good server to keep all your movies, music, videos, photos for your house on. This is not the ideal thing to hook up to your TV.

Apple TV - a streaming box. Should be one attached to every TV in your house. This allows you to stream content from your Mac Mini (or any other laptop/desktop/iPad/iPhone in the house). Also gives you Netflix.

Ideally, you'd have one Mac Mini like in your basement, and an Apple TV attached to each TV. Therefore, you add a movie to your Mac Mini, and all the Apple TVs in the house have it.

If you have only one TV, and your computer is in the same room as the TV, and never use your computer and TV at the same time get just a Mac Mini.

For any other reason, you need a server (could be Mac Mini or something else), and get an Apple TV for each TV.


macrumors 6502
Mar 14, 2004
I've got a Mac Mini running OS X Server (10.6) connected to my TV and I love it. It's a file server and Time Machine server. I use it for transcoding video files and music streaming. I run Plex and XBMC for my TV viewing needs. And Plex can serve up and stream my media to my iOS devices, even when I'm away from home.

However, I'm thinking of adding an Apple TV to the mix for some variety and because I'm curious about it.

There are a few inconveniences with a Mac Mini. You have to use VNC or a remote app like Rowmote on an iPhone to manage it.

Netflix, especially if you're outside the US, is a pain since you can only watch Netflix via a browser. The Netflix plugins for Plex and XBMC just don't work outside the US.

And finally, if you have a partner who is a technological noob, they may not know how to fix things if Plex or XBMC flake out on the Mini. The Apple TV is much more girlfriend-friendly.


macrumors 68000
Nov 20, 2010
We have both the Mini and ATV hooked up to our living room TV. Of course the Mini is much more powerful and will play anything you put at it. But the ATV is more wifeproof, easy to operate with the remote. We use them both every day. They are two totally different gadgets, so it's hard to compare one to the other.

Smug Boy

macrumors member
Apr 9, 2011
The 2 are not comparable. If you are using the Mac Mini you will have access to infinitely more media, such as crackle and ustream. The Apple TVs advantage is that it is smaller and very portable, which makes it much easier to hook up to a TV anywhere in your home. The $99.00 price tag is also to its' benefit.


macrumors member
Mar 7, 2012
This completely depends on personal viewing needs.
I have both the mini (with xbmc) and apple tv.

Apple tv's biggest limitation is codec support and content organization. The former issue is not a biggie since a lot of content today is H.264 encoded. The latter can be a serious limitation if you want to do something as simple as organizing your personal home videos by date. Apple tv has a very flat organization scheme

Mini (with xbmc) lacks a UI that incorporates a movie rental service (iTunes store, Vudu, etc). Even the netflix plugin for xbmc is so-so. Sure, those folks interested in watching new releases can easily purchase a movie thru iTunes. But that UI is not optimized for TVs. Also, its outside xbmc.
I would prefer not having to use a keyboard and trackpad when watching TV. But thats just me

Overall I prefer the convenience of apple tv. With the new software update allowing smooth streaming of high bit rate H.264 encoded 1080p content, I give a slight edge to apple tv for my personal needs (organized in order of decreasing priority) -
o ability to rent new movie releases
o stream music via iTunes match
o control music via an app with TV turned off
o netflix access
o access to home videos (off camcorder)
o photos
o access to movie library

I also like the fact that any movie purchased from the itunes store now sit in the cloud. What I don't like is that the movies are not blu ray quality and that they are DRM protected. The latter can be an issue if one ever disbands the mac ecosystem and goes with some other vendor :(

I have come to realize that no solution out there meets all my needs. Have tried out sony's google tv box, WDTV, roku, boxee box, apple tv, mini with xbmc, apple tv with xbmc. All these solutions are flawed. If one device has good codec support, then it will either have a slow UI or lack a good iphone app for remote access (wdtv and boxee). If one has a good ui and codec support (mini with xbmc) then it will lack good remote access.



macrumors 6502a
Apr 17, 2009
Norfolk, UK
Something to point out; when Mountain Lion comes out this summer, the Apple TV will be way better than the mac mini for internet content since you'd be able to mirror whatever is on your Mac to the TV.


macrumors newbie
Jan 9, 2009
Get the Apple TV, hands down

I have both a Mac Mini and an Apple TV hooked up to my TV in the bedroom, and the Mac Mini ended up just becoming a dumping ground for videos for my Apple TV v2 while Apple was figuring the interface out and adding iCloud support. Once they added iCloud support for TV shows, I stopped using the Mini completely and just stream everything I need (and no need to stress about backing it up to my NAS!). Now they have iCloud for Movies, the Apple TV is way better than any computer because you don't have to store the content. Just stream it.

In fact I think I should probably just sell off my Mini since it has sat around doing nothing for the last 6 months. Anyone want to buy it from me? It is one generation older I think, with upgraded hard disk...


macrumors 6502a
Mar 18, 2010
The thing to remember here is that you can't steam shows from the company websites since your AppleTV doesn't have flash. So if you miss an episode of Hawaii Five-O, you can't just punch up and stream the free episode. You'd either have to buy the episode on iTunes (which you might consider anyway if you didn't have cable tv) or you'd have to consider some other less-than-legal means.

This is probably the biggest thing holding me back from AppleTV right now.

My wife has a Windows laptop that we could use in this case, but the whole reason behind either an AppleTV or Mini is to avoid having to do this.


macrumors newbie
Jan 9, 2009
For me that is a non-issue. I would rather pay the money to watch the shows on Apple TV at $2.99 an episode and not have to watch any ads (and the quality is better than browswe based streaming, especially now with 1080p coming).

My goal is to get rid of my cable TV package. I cannot do it yet, it it is getting closer. Al I need is better HBO and Starz support on Apple TV along with the ability to watch live news like CNN. If that happens, my cable is gone.

Just think, if your cable costs $100 a month if you have premium channels, and you pay $2.99 for each HD episode, you can watch 33 hours of shows from Apple TV for the same price! And no ads to boot. I would may 50% more to just not watch ads.


macrumors regular
Sep 29, 2010
Nottingham, UK
Get both...

I have a mac mini connected to my living room tv, with a drobo and a hefty 8TB storage :D this is my main hub...

I control my mac mini using screen share on my macbook pro, so im not sat in front of the screen on my hands and knees! Or using splashtop on my ipad!

I rip blu rays on my pc and then dump the files on the drobo, or download via itunes or torrents... mainly in MKV's but some M4V's

To play everything, simple PLEX!!! And so simple to use (even my tech retard girlfriend can work it) hit menu on apple remote and boom PLEX is up and running!

I then have x2 apple tv's in my bedrooms, jailbroken (easy to do) that also run PLEX, all my systems are wired and not wireless, so luckily everything plays fantastically without hiccups...

Plus with airplay if any friends come over they play movies to any apple tv or mac (using airserver app, turns mac mini in airplay enabled device)

People might think getting a mac mini is an expensive solution, and it might be, however remember you are also getting an amazing computer out of it aswell!


macrumors 6502a
Mar 18, 2010
Just think, if your cable costs $100 a month if you have premium channels, and you pay $2.99 for each HD episode, you can watch 33 hours of shows from Apple TV for the same price! And no ads to boot. I would may 50% more to just not watch ads.
Perhaps. I would estimate that there's about 8 TV series that we follow here weekly. We have a DVR currently, which costs us an extra $12 per month through the cable company, and I would say for our personal needs we'd still maintain the basic cable package, which costs about $20 per month. It's a difference of roughly $50 compared to the family cable package, but the cable company gets you because they give you/apply a $25 discount to your phone service if you have all 3 services (TV, Net, Phone). Getting rid of the landline isn't an option right now, and my experiences with VOIP providers like Vonage have been less than stellar.