Best Mini for home theater?

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by Delmar, Oct 4, 2013.

  1. Delmar macrumors 6502

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    Texas
    #1
    I'm looking to move my ATV1 to the bedroom & purchase a used or refurbished mini to be used in the living room as our home theater system. 99% of its use will be to play 1080P/720P encoded movies & music.

    Some questions for the mini experts & those of you that use a mini for the same purpose I am wanting to do.

    What specs will be good enough to play back these movies? Will 4g ram be enough? I'm guessing I'll need to upgrade it to at least 8g unless others have used a mini with 4g with no issues.

    What about the Intel HD Graphic cards? Are they enough to play 1080P movies on a LED TV?

    Thanks for your help.
     
  2. opinio macrumors 65816

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    Mar 23, 2013
    #2
    Will you be doing video transcoding with apps such as Handbrake on the mini?
     
  3. Delmar thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #3
    Possibly. I have been doing all my handraking on my MBA with zero issues.
     
  4. COrocket macrumors 6502

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    Dec 9, 2012
    #4
    I would consider anything 2010 and after adequate. If you can find a used 2010 model it might be convenient if you have DVD's you want to play. Playing 1080P movies does not take an incredible amount of computing power (Apple TV's/iPads do it fine) so whatever RAM it comes with should be fine.
     
  5. Delmar, Oct 4, 2013
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2013

    Delmar thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #5
    Thank you for your information & help. What about the graphics card, are they capable to play 1080P or would it need to be upgraded?
     
  6. COrocket macrumors 6502

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    Dec 9, 2012
    #6
    Graphics cards (or at least with the mini's that have them) are not upgradable. Right now, the most powerful graphics option by a small margin is a high end 2011 mini with the Radeon 6630M card. The integrated HD4000 in the 2012 model is comparable. But if all you are doing is watching hi-def stuff, a mini with the integrated Intel HD graphics will suffice. You won't see a difference.
     
  7. Delmar thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #7
    Sounds good to me. Thanks again for your help.

    Looks like I'll be searching for a 2010+ unibody Mac Mini.
     
  8. cyber16, Oct 5, 2013
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2013

    cyber16 macrumors 6502

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    #8
    I have used the older core duo & C2D mini's as htpc for years.
    Even a few headless 2006-2007 macbooks, the older intel 3100-9400 including the old old GMA950 can easily handle 1080p without dropped frames.
    I use two original HD Homerun units that = 4 ota HD tuners using eyetv.
    The older mini's could handle full 1080 ts streams/files in dolby digital without a single dropped frame.
    No reason to overly spend if being used as a DVR/playback device.
    All Intel models also play well with XBMC-Plex-and the old Boxee

    edit
    The newer mini will provide the direct hdmi link to the tv or AVR, whereas the old models you needed to use a dvi to hdmi and carry audio on a separate cable and use optical toslink for multichannel audio.
    Or from mid 2010 and newer, the display port carried audio such as the macbook poly unibody, then one could use the mini display port to hdmi cable
     
  9. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    #9
    OK, so you'll have only 720p in iTunes to serve the Apple TV 1, right? No Crystal HD card in the ATV?

    Will the ATV and Mini be connected by 802.11n or by ethernet cable to your home network?

    Do you expect to watch videos on the Mini and the ATV simultaneously?

    Do you plan to buy a TV tuner, such as those from Elgato (e.g., Eye TV), for recording and transcoding video for other devices, such as iPads, iPhones or iPod Touches?

    These are the questions you have to address before we can give you a suitable answer.
     
  10. northernbaldy macrumors 6502a

    northernbaldy

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    Location:
    the north, UK
    #10
    Personally I would buy a decent nas and another atv
     
  11. cyber16 macrumors 6502

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    Jan 12, 2013
    #11
    What makes you think you need another apple product to perform these functions? There are plenty of other devices that will work as well.
    Or do you have certain osx apps that need to be used?
     
  12. Delmar thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    May 10, 2012
    Location:
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    #12
    1. Yes, currently the ATV1 only has 720P movies on the HDD. I just obtained a Crystal HD card the other day, it will be installed soon.
    2. The ATV & Mini will be connected via my current Airport Extreme 802.11n.
    3. Possibly, 99% of the time I will watch on one or the other. The ATV will be moved into the master bedroom.
    4. No.

    ----------

    I am debating this as well. Picking up a ATV3 for the living room & replacing the 1TB external HDD with a 3TB for the ATV & relocating the ATV to the master bedroom. A friend of mine suggested doing that today.

    ----------

    100% personal preference.
     
  13. blanka macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2012
    #13
    The 2010 is probably the best media-center Mac, the 2009 comes in second.
    2010 has built in PSU
    I would not go pre-2009, as the 9400M is needed for GPU acceleration. It makes the HD playback near silent. Older models might handle it too, but they tend to make the fans speed up.

    I like that both 2009/2010 models have a DVD drive, so you can use it to play your disks too, you can even add a slot loading BR player. I added a 20$ external USB BR player as the internals are close to 100$, and it is still 100% powered by the mac. Ram is irrelevant for media center. 2Gb is fine for XBMC use. I like a speedy internal HD though, I equiped my 2009 mini with a scorpio black 750Gb.

    Off course you can get any of the new ones too, but the older are about half price or less.

    It beats any ATV solution. I'm a purist, I want the best quality for the movies I watch many time (so BR, not download), I want 24p support (ATV does not offer that), I want to be able to play DTS files and I don't want to be busy converting all the time: XBMC just plays anything and I always laugh my ass off reading all those MP4 conversion trouble topics here.
     
  14. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    #14
    OK, so that means your ATV will be connected by ethernet, so the weak point is the Mini to the 802.11n. Will you be installing XBMC on the ATV so that you can get 1080p? If so, then you should be fine with Minis since 2010. The biggest issue is whether XBMC on your Mini will be able to stream to your ATV with transcoding, particularly DTS to AC3, 1080p (e.g., Blu-ray rips) over wifi. That's the tough one to sort out in advance. Personally, I'd go for at least an i5 dual core Mini, if not the current i5 quad core Mini, just to be safe.
     

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