Dual vs Quad-core, home media and server

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by jshbckr, Oct 23, 2012.

  1. jshbckr macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2007
    Location:
    Minneapolis, MN
    #1
    I want to get a Mac mini, primarily to use Plex or XBMC to host media (streaming to jailbroken AppleTVs/Roku around the house).

    I also like having a "hub" at home (recently sold my Mac Pro... only laptops in the house now!) to both host files and to give me a computer to remotely log into (to queue downloads from afar, render things, etc).

    Since I've never had a home media center computer before, how important is dual-core vs quad-core? I know the "server" version is quad-core, does this make a difference if my wife tries to stream a video on an AppleTV while I try to watch something from the Mini? (Or is this something that either processor would struggle with?)

    I guess I'm wondering if I can get away with the base model for my use or if the quad-core would be better for it.
     
  2. scottrichardson macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2007
    Location:
    Ulladulla, NSW Australia
    #2
    I honestly think the base low-end dual core model is a better fit - given it's nor really going to be doing all that much processing, right?

    That's what I'm getting. The i5 dual core base model with stock everything. Im going to whack in a 60GB SSD as the boot drive, and have all the media hanging off several Lacie Thunderbolt 2Big Disks.
     
  3. jshbckr thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2007
    Location:
    Minneapolis, MN
    #3
    In a perfect world, I'd like to play some games on it (connected to my HDTV) but I've also got an Xbox, Wii, PS3... So I wouldn't lose any sleep over not being able to do that.

    I have a 90GB SSD laying around, but I'm either going to throw that in or swap out the current drive and put in two 1TB 7200rpm drives. Personally I don't want to connect any drives to it. Keep it clean! But yeah, I'm leaning towards dual-core i5 base model unless someone convinces me that quad-core is better for streaming and such.
     
  4. scottrichardson macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2007
    Location:
    Ulladulla, NSW Australia
    #4
    Ahh yep I see.

    My mini will be a headless one - simply there to serve files to various outlets around the house, and also to back up to etc.

    That way, all my other devices can just access the shared library in iTunes. We have a mac mini already in our home theatre room, so that can simply connect up and stream files from the mini server.
     
  5. tillsbury macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2007
    #5
    I don't think it will struggle at all. I have a pretty grotty Windows PC doing the same job, probably five generations old, Windows Vista 64-bit, 2Gb RAM, 2.4GHz Core 2 Duo, Radion X1550 display card, old-fashioned spinny disks...

    It runs XBMC, Calibre, has a couple of Tb of shared data (old stuff, photos, videos etc), and runs other bits and pieces (Filezilla for backing up my website every now and then, Teamviewer so I can control it from anywhere, Minecraft server, and so on). And of course running Chrome for surfing on the TV.

    It's sort of at the edge of its abilities, when other things are going you can notice XBMC getting very slightly clunky.

    I should think a new base Mac mini would be absolutely fine at doing this sort of thing. In fact, I might well upgrade to one myself...
     
  6. jshbckr thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2007
    Location:
    Minneapolis, MN
    #6
    Thanks for the info. That makes me feel a little better about the capabilities of the dual-core. I've seen a lot of people talk about replacing their old Core 2 Duo minis that have been HTPCs, I'm sure I'd get several years of good use out of the dual-core. Even if the quad-core could a few years longer, I bet some new feature will pop up before then that will make me want to upgrade...
     
  7. southbark macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Dec 15, 2006
    #7
    This from a site that gives a pretty good breakdown of the differences:

    http://mintywhite.com/more/hardware-more/i3-i5-i7-quad-core-dual-core/



    Do I need an i3, i5, or i7?
    The reason you’re reading this guide is to find out which type of processor you need. I want to give a simple answer and, if you have more to add, please let us know in the comments. As with all computer hardware, the type of processor you need depends on your needs, for how long you want your computer to stay current, and your budget.

    Here’s a very simple breakdown of what you should look to buy depending on your computing needs. All suggestions assume you are buying a pre-built PC (so you don’t have to worry about motherboard and RAM specs and so you don’t have to worry about upgrade compatibility.)

    If you:

    Browse the internet, check email, and play the occasional flash game (like Farmville): Get a single core netbook or desktop (and don’t spend more than $300 USD — Updated 12/01/21.)
    Do word processing, spreadsheets etc., listen to music often, and watch movies, get an i3 processor (or any dual core processor i.e. core 2 duo)
    Play the occasional game and are happy with lower resolution and lower quality graphics (my suggestion assumes the graphics processor on the pre-built PC will be well-matched for the processor suggestions), watch HD movies etc., get an i5.
    If you do graphic publishing, music creation, programming (and compiling), watch HD movies, or like to play visually appealing games, get a quad core i5, or i7.
    If you like to have the very best hardware and play the most graphically intense games, get a quad core or hexa corei7 Extreme.
     
  8. jshbckr thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2007
    Location:
    Minneapolis, MN
    #8
    Yeah, that article is a little on the vague side. Sounds like it's written for people who don't really know much about computers. I'm familiar enough with what I need for my personal/professional needs (video editing and animation). I've had several Macs... dual-core, quad-core, eight-core. But I've never set up a home server or a home media center for streaming to several AppleTVs. I'm pretty unfamiliar with how taxing those tasks are on a Mac mini. Information like that is going to be a little harder to find in a simple blog post.
     
  9. reidspice macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2002
    #9
    Drive options

    Isn't the bigger issue the drives you have the option to configure?

    I was thinking about the dual core as well but, with a large iTunes library + plex, I also wanted the speed of SSD or at least fusion drive. The problem is, you can only configure the RAM with the low end model. You're not given the option to customize the drive...

    Bummer.
     
  10. tillsbury macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2007
    #10
    It would be a whole heap cheaper to run an external drive with USB3, which will be more than fast enough to serve loads of video simultaneously. This will be $10-20 for the chassis and not a lot more for a 3Tb drive or so. If you're mad on speed then buy one of the hybrid drives. You will get plenty of throughput for video serving on a USB3 drive. Remember you only need about 5-8Mbit/s for DVD quality (more like 2-3 for reasonably compressed ones), up to a maximum of 40Mbit/s for raw Blu-ray. USB3 can serve a theoretical 5Gbit/s, and an ordinary spinning hard disk perhaps 80-100Mbit/s continuous. Either way you have room for several videos to be served simultenously without worrying about SSD, hybrid drives, or other expensive exotica...
     

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