Can anyone help me with my setup? (Apple TV 2 vs 3, Plex vs iTunes, NAS vs ExternalHD

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by troy14, Apr 17, 2013.

  1. troy14 macrumors 6502a

    Mar 25, 2008
    Las Vegas (Summerlin), NV
    Hi everyone,

    I hope this doesn't become too long but I have a few things I want to accomplish and I have some equipment but want to know the best way to do everything.

    I have a NAS unit with 2 2TB HD in Raid 1. Apple TV 2 jailbroken with Plex (although I am considering selling this in order to buy 2 Apple TV 3). 2011 Mac Mini with 2.5ghz i5, 16GB ram, and 500gb HD. Also have an Airport Extreme, and a 2007 iMac.

    What I currently have going on is storing all my video ripped/downloaded on my NAS, and then pointing Plex to this. It works okay, but sometimes stutters on certain file types. If I play / transcode these files from my Mini, most of the time it is fine.

    What I want is to sell my Apple TV 2, and buy 2 Apple TV 3s. I have a 1080p t.v in my living room I would like to be able to watch my movies on, especially my parents. Ideally I would like to just use Apple everything as it is the most simple and usually works the best.

    What I am planning to do is erase my NAS and use it just for file storage / backup. I am a university student so having multiple copies of my files is important. Also, I will back up all my Macs (3) to the NAS with Time Machine. The 2TB space should be plenty for this purpose.

    Now, I need a place to put my Media. Should I buy a bigger internal hard drive for the Mini (I can install myself, no problem)? Should I buy an external hard drive? Since my Mini does not have USB 3.0, if I store all my media on an external and point iTunes to this, will the connection be fast enough?

    I plan on ripping/downloading all of my files to MP4 format so they can play natively.

    Will I encounter any problems or does anyone have any suggestions? I want to get away from the jailbreaking/plex scene to something "that just works" so my parents/nephew can watch TV shows or movies effortlessly (they are VERY tech non-savy).
  2. eschw95458 macrumors member

    Oct 30, 2007
    Having personal experience with time machine on nas, you should definitely make sure time machine will work in your setup. What nas box do you have? I have an older nas that I had to do a little "magic" to get it to work (you can find that on the web) and everything works in 10.6 and 10.7 ( works perfect, but again required more "magic" LOL ) but even though I have it working in 10.8, the disk will not auto mount like it does in 10.6 & 10.7
  3. waw74 macrumors 68030

    May 27, 2008
    USB2 is more than fast enough, it tops out at 20-30 MB/s, straight blu-ray rips are about 4-7 MB/s (you'll probably cut that down to 1-2MB/s if you re-encode)

    also take a look at roku, it has a native plex client, also has apps that you would have to use an iOS device to airplay from if you wanted to use them on the aTV (like Pandora, Amazon video, and HBO go to name a few)
  4. hafr macrumors 68030

    Sep 21, 2011
    I can run two heavy 1080p rips on two ATVs at home at the same time from a USB2 external hard drive (via iTunes) without any problems. One of them is even running on wifi :)
  5. Cinephi1e macrumors regular

    Jul 19, 2012
    Northwest Ohio
    What you are proposing to do is the best solution. A NAS is best suited for general purpose storage, such as Time Machine backups and file sharing. For media you are much better off having a dedicated external hard drive directly attached to the computer running the iTunes server, using a Thunderbolt, Firewire 800 or USB3 connection. I used to have a NAS based solution, but everything improved significantly when I purchased a Mac Mini and attached media storage to it directly with Firewire 800.
  6. shalliday, Apr 18, 2013
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2013

    shalliday macrumors member


    Dec 27, 2011
    I am using a 2011 MacMini as my media server along with Apple TV's, and store my iTunes media (approx 7TB) on a Synology 1511+ NAS drive. This combination works perfectly for me without issue. The Synolgy also has a Plex server but I have not yet used this feature.

    If you rip downloaded media files to MP4 format and store within iTunes then a NAS solution should work for you as well since you will be streaming and no longer transcoding your media on the fly.

    Using your NAS for just file storage/backup, and storing your media on a different drive would work too. If you go that route I would go internal since your MacMini, like mine, lacks USB 3 connectivity. Yes you could go with a USB 2.0 external drive and while that should work as well, it would be much slower than an internal drive and no cheaper to implement. For external drives, Thunderbolt or Firewire will deliver far better performance over USB 2.0.

    Hope this is of some help.

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