Early 2009 mini for music

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by ccrnnr9, Mar 13, 2017.

  1. ccrnnr9 macrumors newbie

    Nov 12, 2016
    Hey all, a couple months back I posted about upgrading my early 2009 for light to heavy photo editing. After playing around I've determined I'm not going to be able to get this machine to do the lift I need for photo editing.

    Alas, I've decided to resurrect this machine (which I've hardly used the past 5 years) to be a music server and dvd player. I have the mini running into a 24" lcd tv with audio going through my stereo system. I'd like to continue to use the mini as storage for my digital library and as a dvd player. I've cleared out all other files off the hd and don't have it connected to wifi. Here are my questions regarding upgrading for optimal performance and life:

    1. I do need to upgrade RAM -- I'd prefer to do the bare minimum needed. Any opinions on whether a single 4gb card will be enough or should I max out the full 8gb capability. Is there a way to specifically determine what I need before buying?

    2. Storage: I have the original hd with, I believe, 160gb storage. Any reason that simply connecting a 1TB external hd would cause any issues for audio playback? On the one hand, I'd prefer to spend as little as possible as I am saving money for a new photo editing machine but if I'm already opening her up to upgrade RAM I might as well do storage upgrade at the same time.

    3. OS: Is there a preferred OS. If my mind serves me correctly the early 09 can't upgrade pass El Cap, of which I don't prefer to do anyway. I'm not planning to have this connected to wifi ever except to possibly download a new media player. Thoughts?

    I appreciate the help.
  2. now i see it macrumors 68040

    Jan 2, 2002
    Use Snow Leopard. It uses less ram & is very stable. Won't need to then upgrade the ram if you've already got 2GB installed.
    An external mechanical 5400 rpm drive is plenty fast to stream music & videos.
  3. jpietrzak8 macrumors 65816


    Feb 16, 2010
    Dayton, Ohio
    Well, just streaming audio and video media requires very little RAM. If that is all you intend to do with the device, 4GB will be fine!

    No problem at all; when I was using a 2007 Mini as my HTPC, I streamed plenty of video off an external HD connected to a USB2 port. Streaming data doesn't require a whole lot of bandwidth these days. :)

    Hmm. It is fairly easy to upgrade the 2009 Mini's hard drive. However, I think it'd actually be less expensive per GB to get a big 3.5 inch external drive than a 2.5 inch that will fit inside the Mini. Plus, it'll be much easier to move that drive from machine to machine if you need to, which can be extremely convenient when you've got more than one computer. :)

    I'm actually a fan of the more recent OS X versions, so long as you have at least 4 GB of RAM. The memory compression feature really works quite well if you occasionally need to run larger applications on the computer. I'm running El Cap on my 2010 Mini, and am very happy with it.

    But yeah, if you're sticking purely to streaming media, you shouldn't have a problem with any version of OS X.
  4. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    Feb 12, 2007
    Neander Valley, Germany; just outside Duesseldorf
    I agree with the posts above. My suggestion is to get a FireWire enclosure instead of USB but it may not matter. Also if your receiver has digital optical input you should use it. Most modern AV receivers have great sound processing from digital streams such as DTS Neo6.
  5. sorcery macrumors regular


    Mar 27, 2016
    Ring of Fire
    My 2009 still functions well as an iTunes server and HTPC. 2 Gb RAM, Snow Leopard and 2 Tb WD external HDD.
    Am also using the 2011 and 2012 in different locations. Both have increased RAM and SSDs but do not notice any significant difference when only used for these specific tasks.
  6. ccrnnr9 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 12, 2016
    Thanks for all the replies. I'll start off with a new display and see how everything goes. I don't even recall the latest OS I have installed -- it's been that long since I last used it.

    What do you mean by FireWire enclosure?

    I'm using an older analog generation Pioneer receiver. Currently that setup is just pushing a nice turntable with two cabinet speakers. I have a large amount of digital music on the mini that I want to have access to. I'll just be running audio from the headphone jack in the rear > RCA Adapater > Aux input in the receiver. I hope that will be a suitable route to go for sound for the dvd player from the mini as well.
  7. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    Feb 12, 2007
    Neander Valley, Germany; just outside Duesseldorf
    Your mini has a FireWire 800 connector that is 4-6 times faster than the USB2 that it has. Most of these enclosures also have USB. If you go with a 2.5" drive and enclosure you do not need a separate power connection because it will draw from the FW (or USB) bus.

    You'll get good sound from your current receiver and if you only want two speakers there's no need for digital optical. However your DVDs probably have Dolby Digital 5.1 surround. For that you must use optical connection to the receiver ( which yours doesn't have).
  8. MultiFinder17 macrumors 68000


    Jan 8, 2008
    Tampa, Florida
    I'm going to buck the trend a little and suggest a USB 3 external hard drive. They're about the same price as their USB 2 counterparts these days, and you'll get the benefit of the xtra speed if you ever repurpose it on a newer machine down the road.

    Other than that, sounds like you have a solid plan. The 2009 minis are wonderful little boxes for a multitude of uses :)

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7 March 13, 2017