Best Mac Mini for the $$ - Media Center Setup

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by BEEFc58, Nov 28, 2007.

  1. BEEFc58 macrumors member

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2007
    #1
    I have debated over the aTV and Mac Mini for my media center for a while now... and feel that the Mac Mini suites what I am looking for best. Now here is my question to you - What is the best Mac Mini for the $$$ where the mini is being set up as a media center.

    This would be an easy answer if I was going to purchase one new... but I think that you get more value purchasing one of Ebay... so that is my plan. I am just wondering what I need to get in the device, and what I don't need.

    Examples of what I am talking about.
    - having and airport card in the device is nice, but not necessary as I will be hooking it up to an airport extreme.
    - Blue Tooth is key, but is it better to get the cheaper verson and get a usb Blue Tooth plug in, as the extra $$ to upgrade to a newer model is not worth it.
    - I will be plugging the Mini into an external hard drive, so HD size is not a issue.
    - Is a G3 processor fast enough to run DVDs, play music, and play other video, or is it worth getting a faster processor


    Those are the types of questions that I have come up with, and after thinking about them, I am leaning towards the cheapest Mini I can find. I don't feel that there is added value to send more. AM I MISSING SOMETHING??? Have the quality of video out put changed over the span of the machine? Questions such as that one are things that I do not know.

    Please chim in with your suggestions. And I know that people will have differences of opinion, but maybe this will help others decide, which system is the best bang for their buck (I know others have different set up requirements, Mini requirements will differ).

    Also - here the detailed progression of the Mac Mini and its hardware for reference:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mac_mini

    Thanks,

    BEEF
     
  2. cazlar macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2003
    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    #2
    I'm not sure how much mini's go for on ebay, but you may also want to consider a refurb from Apple. The one that is ususally always listed is a bit of a rip-off (>$600), but if you keep an eye out, they also have older 1.83Ghz CD (not C2D) models for $429 (combo) or $479 (superdrive). You usually have to catch these very early in the morning as they disappear quick. These come with a leopard upgrade disk in the box, and if you are lucky you may even get upgraded RAM/HDD/iLife too. Plus you have a warranty etc, and can get applecare if you want to (I've heard you can get it cheap on ebay?).

    I bought one of these (SD version) recently as my new media centre and love it so far. The leopard Front Row is pretty good, I've been ripping my TV show DVDs to add them to iTunes. I wasn't so lucky on the RAM (2x256) but I decided to get 2GB for $55-60. The 512MB was OK for leopard and playing videos etc, but I was getting beachballs occasionally, and the extra RAM has made it feel more "snappy" for my general use stuff.
     
  3. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    #3
    There are no G3 Mac Minis.

    You need to get a Core Duo as a minimum for HT applications. Otherwise, you'll have real problems with some high-def videos. See my web page for one such example.
     
  4. gkarris macrumors 604

    gkarris

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2004
    Location:
    "No escape from Reality..."
    #4
    Great job on the budget home theater. I have one too, except instead of the Mini, I use a nice DVD player, and also, an XB360 with the HD-DVD unit...

    check this post for Mini HD stuff...

    http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=393790
     
  5. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    #5
    I've started using Handbrake to encode some of my intense Dolby Digital 5.1 DVDs (Revenge of the Sith, King Kong, Chronicles of Riddick, The Fifth Element, etc.) into MKV files on my hard drive to retain the AC-3 file. VLP will pass through the AC-3 through my optical port on the Mini and my Onkyo receiver decodes the DD signal into 5.1. The files are very large, though. The Abyss Director's Cut is 3 hours long and about 3.2 gb in size. The AC-3 audio substantially contributes to file size; in fact, it's about 40% of the total file, and the video is encoded in H.264 at a 2500 bit-rate with two passes. The dimensions are 720x 360 widescreen. I really don't see how Apple will be able to deliver high-def movie rentals with 5.1 surround. Those files must be 8 or 10 gigs in size and would take forever to download. Well, maybe not forever, but probably all night.

    Yes, I saw that. In fact, I posted before you did. :cool:
     

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