buying a Mac mini for media center

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by nunopinto, May 17, 2011.

  1. nunopinto macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    May 17, 2011
    #1
    Hi all,

    I'm considering buying a mac mini to be used as a media center at home. Do you think this is a good idea?

    Another doubt I have has to do with the CPU inside the mini. I see there are two options: Core 2 Duo @ 2.4GHz or @ 2.66Ghz. On Intel's site I saw that the launch dates of these processors was Q3'06 and Q3'08, respectively. If this is correct, the CPU's shipped with the mini are quite old! Is there any rumor of a new model of Mac mini, with new, faster processor, going to be released soon?

    Core 2 Duo @ 2.66Ghz (Intel info)
    Core 2 Duo @ 2.44Ghz (Intel info)

    Many thanks to all.

    Eduardo
     
  2. cocacolakid macrumors 65816

    cocacolakid

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2010
    Location:
    Chicago
    #2
    Hi Eduardo,

    The Mini makes a great media center.

    The Core 2 Duo chips are a little old, and new Mini models are expected sometime this summer, although nobody has a specific date.

    However, I have a current version Mini and it plays everything without problems.
     
  3. fungus macrumors regular

    fungus

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    Sep 30, 2008
    Location:
    @unclefungus
    #3
    It's a great idea :D

    To echo cocacolakid, I have the previous generation (2.53 GHz) and it also plays everything without problems.

    Almost forgot: You'll want to bump up the RAM to at least 4GB, 8 of you can afford it.
     
  4. reebzor macrumors 6502a

    reebzor

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2008
    Location:
    Philadelphia, PA
    #4
    Just wanted to share my thoughts.

    The mini makes a great media pc/HTPC. I wouldn't worry too much about the specs (although you are paying a lot for a little power). As far as the performance, depending on what you do any mini will be fine.

    I have an early 09 2.0Ghz C2D with 4 gb of RAM and honestly, I think it is too much of a machine for an HTPC. I use my mini solely for Plex, barely ever doing anything else with it and it's been great. If you are just going to use this as a media pc, try to find a slightly used model. You'll save some money and still get a great little machine.
     
  5. bt22 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2009
    Location:
    Alabama
    #5
    I don't know if this will help you decide, but I had an old windows computer sitting around that has a 2.8 ghz Pentium D processor in it and I am using it as my iTunes Media Server. It streams to my Apple TV and I can also watch movies thru the shared library on my iPad and it works great on either of those. I would think the current Mac Mini would handle this very well. I've only been doing this a couple of weeks, but really enjoy my iTunes Library being available at all times. Best of luck
     
  6. nunopinto thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    May 17, 2011
    #6
    Thank you so much for your replies!

    After reading them carefully I'm weighing two options:

    1. buy a second-hand Mac Mini with the current specs.

    2. wait for a new Mac Mini to be in the market. If later I decide to run some games or VMware with it, I could do with a bit more processing power...

    I'll start digging in the Spanish second-hand market for a cheap Mac Mini. If I can't find any I'll just wait for a new Mac Mini.

    Again, thank you all!
     
  7. ViviUO macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2009
    #7
    The current mac mini would be overpriced even if it were $300 less.

    Wait.
     
  8. Westyfield2, May 18, 2011
    Last edited: May 18, 2011

    Westyfield2 macrumors 6502a

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    Jun 9, 2009
    Location:
    Bath, UK.
    #8
    I'm personally waiting for a new Sandy Bridge one.

    The current Mac Mini is powerful enough, no question about it. But I can't bring myself to spend that much on a Core2Duo. If it was a first generation Core i (Nehalem) I wouldn't mind, but the fact that it's two generations old is what annoys me.

    IIRC Core2Duo was 2006/2007/2008, Nehalem Core i was 2009/2010, and Sandy Bridge Core i is 2011.


    If they were to stick the internals of the current 13" MacBook Pro into the Mac Mini I'd be happy. 2.3GHz Dual-core Intel Core i5 as the low model, and 2.7GHz dual-core Intel Core i7 as the high model. Both with Intel HD Graphics 3000.

    Just looking through some Geekbench scores:
    MacBook Pro (13-inch Early 2011) - Intel Core i7-2620M 2.7 GHz (2 cores): 6823
    MacBook Pro (13-inch Early 2011) - Intel Core i5-2415M 2.3 GHz (2 cores): 5945
    Mac mini (Early 2010) - Intel Core 2 Duo P8800 2.66 GHz (2 cores): 3634
    Mac mini (Early 2010) - Intel Core 2 Duo P8600 2.4 GHz (2 cores): 3309

    Ouch!
     
  9. T'hain Esh Kelch macrumors 601

    T'hain Esh Kelch

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Denmark
    #9
    I'm also waiting for the update, for a Mac mini Bluray HTPC.

    I expect an update every tuesday now, so I would definitely hold back.
     
  10. cocacolakid macrumors 65816

    cocacolakid

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    Location:
    Chicago
    #10
    It's extremely unlikely BluRay makes into into a Mac, ever. It's more likely the optical drive is taken out before Apple would put a BluRay in.
     
  11. B.A.T macrumors 6502a

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    Idaho
    #11
  12. T'hain Esh Kelch macrumors 601

    T'hain Esh Kelch

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    Location:
    Denmark
    #12
    I plan to add it myself.. :)
     
  13. Seydlitz macrumors member

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2009
    #13
    Neither Plex nor XBMC need more than 2GB.

    If you want to use it as a mediacenter, keep the cash for ram in your wallet.
     
  14. josephebacon macrumors member

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2011
    #14
    That's what I've done with my older Mac Mini!

    I have it hooked up to my Sony Bravia. Been using it to stream Netflix and play DVDs. Just wish that Apple would allow full Blu Ray capability.
     
  15. cocacolakid macrumors 65816

    cocacolakid

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    Dec 18, 2010
    Location:
    Chicago
    #15
    Well that's different :)
     
  16. Tilpots macrumors 601

    Tilpots

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2006
    Location:
    Carolina Beach, NC
    #16
    Gotta disagree here. Plex may not directly benefit from more than 2GB of RAM, but EyeTV and the system as a whole sure does. IMO, 4GB minimum, but I spent under a $100 for 8GB and feel it was money well spent. App switching vastly improved, I keep the EyeTV buffer on my RAM now reducing HD strain, and my reboots aren't really necessary anymore to clear the pageouts. I used to have to reboot very couple of weeks because the system gets wonky after so much RAM use with pageouts. Don't skimp on the RAM, OP. Save yourself a few headaches down the road.
     
  17. JohnRocks macrumors member

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2010
    #17
    New Mac minis have faster processors and better video performance, which is something to consider if you want to use your M³C as a gaming device too.
     
  18. Seydlitz macrumors member

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2009
    #18
    I find this rather expensive advice considering it's dead easy to upgrade ram when you actually need it.

    If you only use it for Mediacentre stuff you won't use it as a desktop, so even the perceivable app switching is rare. And mind that I certainly doubt that you will indeed perceive it. I think it's between the ears.

    The reason I say this is because my Macbook ran on 2GB for a year running all kinds of work apps. I was multitasking all the time. I got 4GB from my employer and sure it makes a difference, but 2GB was doable.

    Considering he will be much and much less multitasking I sincerely doubt 4Gb will be noticable. As ram prices will fall (and inflation) it's not very economical to max out ram if you don't need it.
     
  19. Westyfield2 macrumors 6502a

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    Jun 9, 2009
    Location:
    Bath, UK.
    #19
    Quoted for truth.

    Main thing to remember when buying laptops or the Mac Mini, whatever Processor and GPU you get you're stuck with it for the machines life, whereas the RAM or HDD you can upgrade at a later date.
     
  20. Vassius, May 21, 2011
    Last edited: May 21, 2011

    Vassius macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2011
    Location:
    Sweden
    #20
    I don't argue that the Core2 Duo is quite old. But to be fair, you got the specs wrong. The correct ones are P8600 and P8800, launched in Q3'08 and Q2'09 respectively.

    http://ark.intel.com/Product.aspx?id=35568
    http://ark.intel.com/Product.aspx?id=40380
     
  21. Tilpots macrumors 601

    Tilpots

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2006
    Location:
    Carolina Beach, NC
    #21
    I'm offering real world testimony from my use of my late 2009 2.26Ghz Mini. I upgraded the RAM myself and would highly recommend anyone using EyeTV as part of their HTPC set up do the same. The difference is substantial.
     
  22. KennyW macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2007
    #22
    While running a Mac Mini 2010 as a media server, I am pleased with its performance in playing all sorts of video files. However, it falls short as a TV replacement when coupled with a USB TV Tuner (AverMedia) since the CPU load often hovers around 80 to 90 something percents with frequent noticeable stutter. Whether other brands work better is unknown to me but few support the DMB-TH format in my region.
     
  23. term1nal, May 28, 2011
    Last edited: May 28, 2011

    term1nal macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2010
    #23
    Whackingtosh

    I use mine as my main setup powering an Apple 20' monitor in my office n then connected via HDMI to my AV receiver and an Elgato sat card,a Nas file server and a Bluray usb burner. Does it for me.....

    But BUT Ive had more time on my hands recently n have to say for the non technical minded its an expensive solution. U can get the same results building your own box n running Linux or Hackingtosh solution.. Personally if Id got my money to spend allover again Id do things differently:

    Unraid/ Freenas file server..... Currently running a Unraid 4TB flawless (easily upgrade to 12TB)
    Linux/ Hackingtosh Box ..... More Performance with upgrade path n built in Bluray
    Multi Tuner cards ..... Cant fault Elgato but they are well overpriced

    Might not be much cheaper but gives u more bangs for ur buck ... n who doesnt like a bang?

    Also depending on the set up of ur home re cabling and waiting for the new thunderbolt cables to come out an iMac looks better value than a mini. Id certainly wait for the refresh .....
    Hackingtoshable:
    http://www.scan.co.uk/products/asro...express-4gb-ddr3-sata-3gb-s-wifi-500gb-bd-rom
    Wish Id got the fun paper to buy it n find out
     
  24. Seydlitz macrumors member

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2009
    #24
    That's all nice and all, but a QUIET solution is a different story. The Mac mini is very competitive price wise if you look at silent+performance HTPC solutions.

    So actually, it's not an expensive solution. Selfbuilt with similar acoustic characteristics is almost always more expensive.
     
  25. ryanpfw macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2011
    #25
    I treated myself to a mac mini media center about 18 months ago and it was a fabulous investment. I certainly recommend at least 4 gigs of RAM, and the more the better.

    I use Elgato's EyeTV HD as a DVR in conjunction with external hard drives and archived my entire video library through iTunes, which will save huge on DVD costs in the future. Between Remote Buddy, Plex, Boxee, and iTunes, the media center will do everything and anything you need. If you have a mac laptop, screensharing is actually more convenient than using a wireless keyboard as well.

    Best of luck on your purchase!
     

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