Converting Mac Mini into an HTPC

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by haravikk, Jan 18, 2016.

  1. haravikk macrumors 65816

    May 1, 2005
    So I have an old mid 2010 Mac Mini, the unibody model that still had a superdrive, and I'm thinking of enlisting it as a media centre device so I can reliably watch stuff from my computer in my living room, as well as replacing my DVD player with it (I'm also hoping to swap the superdrive for a Blu-Ray drive in future).

    Anyway, I'm wondering mainly what OSes people prefer for this?

    I have Media Central for OS X from some bundle or other, but personally I find OS X pretty slow on this machine, specifically when it comes to the start-up time. While my intention is to keep the machine asleep rather than shutting it down, I'm thinking something more lightweight may be better, as I don't plan to install a new hard-drive anytime soon.

    I'm also curious about recommendations for remotes; I didn't get one with the Mac Mini at the time, and I don't think there's an IR port on this model, so I expect any Bluetooth remote should do? At present I have none, unless a smart phone with an appropriate app can be used as a stand-in? But I'm interested in recommendations all the same, so others can use the machine as well :)
  2. laudern macrumors 6502a

    Jan 5, 2011
    If you have a TV capable, I'd turn it into a plex server. Download plex for your TV. Then you can simply use your TV remote on your TV and use plex.
  3. Osamede macrumors 6502a

    Oct 28, 2009
    I have two of these 2010s: a server edition and a regular one with DVD drive, and I can tell you do need to plan to have a new hard drive in it, specifically an SSD. That solves your startup time problem, but makes the machine so much quicker overall, not only bootup but also opening programs, waking from sleep and operations in generall. At this point you basically need an SSD in this thing. But frankly that's true of most things these days. If you get used to SSD on your OS disk, it's hard to go back.

    Plex on a proper computer is snappier and better than plex on a TV or media player. I'd put the Plex server plus Plex Home Theater as the player and send that direct to your TV via the HDMI out of the Mac Mini.

    If you are using Plex I think the basic Apple remote works, although I havent tried it. But you are probably better off using apps like "Rowmote".

    I find VLC is excellent and if you library is not too big then VLC can do it all for you: both folder/file navigation as well as playing your DVDs and CDs.
  4. Midgetinabikini macrumors regular

    Aug 1, 2006
  5. MagicBoy macrumors 68040


    May 28, 2006
    Manchester, UK
    Plex or Kodi.

    I prefer Kodi, and run that on my 2009.
  6. zaph47 macrumors newbie

    Nov 6, 2014
    I've used a 2011 Mac Mini perfectly with Plex Media Server + Plex Home Theater on the same machine plugged right into the HDTV.

    Decided to upgrade to 5.1 sound with a DENON receiver in-between the Mac and the HDTV...bad idea.

    The 2011 Mac Mini's HDMI's specs are outdated and the receiver wouldn't pass the video properly to the TV. The display kept blinking likely due to the receiver's HDCP (DRM for video).

    Going to upgrade to the 2016 Mac Mini (whenever it comes out) even though current Mini's do 4K and 2011 doesn't.
  7. Bunyak macrumors member

    Aug 15, 2011
    I'm using a 2010 as an HTPC. I thought about installing a BD drive but I realized that I would rarely use it so bought an external Asus BD drive that was quite cheap after the manufacturer's rebate.

    I used the Logitech diNovo Mini keyboard for a number of years but switched to an Apple keyboard and trackpad on a tray. I find that it is easier to do everything with the full-sized keyboard. I rarely needed the backlit keys while watching stuff in the dark.
  8. EnesM macrumors 6502


    May 7, 2015
    Same here. The thing about 4K and 24p...while it's perfectly fine for video, mouse movement and overall feel of normal use is far from smooth, hence my wait for 4K 60p (4-4-4)

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