Early Mac Mini and Video Streaming

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by littlecody8, Nov 23, 2013.

  1. littlecody8 macrumors member

    May 3, 2012
    So I currently have an Apple TV 3. I'm pleased with it but I find that I mainly use AirPlay to view hulu (free from website, not Plus) or other videos that are stored on my MacBook Pro. Off of the ATV itself I use Netflix and sometimes Vevo. So all of these I can get on a Mac Mini and not have to use my MacBook Pro. My question is, how old of a Mac Mini can I get away with doing this? Looking to stay $200 ($150 if I can) and under. I've seen a few decently priced Core Solo and Core Duo on eBay but just afraid that it won't serve me well.

    Also, if I get the Core Solo or Core Duo and upgrade to Core 2 Duo, would this be a better option?

    I already have 3GB ram (2gb and 1gb) and a hard drive to upgrade the system with. So that's no problem. Just want to get the right CPU for the price.
  2. McGiord macrumors 601


    Oct 5, 2003
    Dark Castle
    I believe that if you can run Mavericks on the Mini plus the streaming Apple TV you will fine to stream anything form your Mac.
  3. littlecody8 thread starter macrumors member

    May 3, 2012
    Sorry, maybe I wasn't clear in all the randomness of my first post.
    I'm looking to buy an early Mac Mini to replace the Apple TV.
    My question is what is the minimum processor I should get to do this? Will a Core solo or core duo work for streaming video via DVI/VGA from Hulu, Netflix, Vevo, or even just video stored in iTunes?

    I know I won't get 1080p or maybe not even 720p HD but I just want a clear picture that is not distorted.
  4. McGiord macrumors 601


    Oct 5, 2003
    Dark Castle
    In that case, check the list and decide what do you want better.

    For streaming video the connection speed will be the key factor in the quality you will get, and obviously the video output.

    If I were you I will aim for at least the latest Core 2 Duo so you can run the also Mavericks.

    From apple.com:
    To install Mavericks, you need one of these Macs:

    iMac (Mid-2007 or later)
    MacBook (13-inch Aluminum, Late 2008), (13-inch, Early 2009 or later)
    MacBook Pro (13-inch, Mid-2009 or later),
    MacBook Pro (15-inch or 17-inch, Mid/Late 2007 or later)
    MacBook Air (Late 2008 or later)
    Mac mini (Early 2009 or later)
    Mac Pro (Early 2008 or later)
    Xserve (Early 2009)
    Your Mac also needs:

    OS X Mountain Lion, Lion, or Snow Leopard v10.6.8 already installed
    2 GB or more of memory
    8 GB or more of available space
  5. littlecody8, Nov 23, 2013
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2013

    littlecody8 thread starter macrumors member

    May 3, 2012
    Thank you but this still does not answer my question. I'm not concerned about running Mavericks. Actually I'll probably just use SL.

    I want to know if anyone has experience with running these online services on a 2006 or 2007 Mac Mini that has a Core Duo and the DDR2 ram.

    I found this thread: http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1078964
    Which is from a couple of years ago and mainly referring to YouTube.
  6. littlecody8 thread starter macrumors member

    May 3, 2012
    So I ended up getting a Core 2 Duo 2007 model. Should arrive today. As I said above I'm basically using it to replace my Apple TV. I've read a couple posts and see one thing called XBMC. It looks pretty good and could work for what I want. Are there any others I should also look into?
  7. Delmar macrumors 6502

    May 10, 2012
    So how is the 2007 Mini working out as your "ATV"?
  8. littlecody8 thread starter macrumors member

    May 3, 2012
    It's actually working really well. No lagging in streaming. Quality isn't 1080p but I didn't expect it to be. I have it hooked up with a DVI to VGA then VGA to my Plasma. All internet sites are saved to desktop as icons. Everything I have is saved on iTunes and can be used with front row and an apple remote. No regrets. Now just have to list the Apple TV 3 and let someone get it for the holidays! If someone on here might be interested then please PM me.
  9. blanka macrumors 68000

    Jul 30, 2012
    The 2009 is the first well suited for FullHD video and BR-playback. That's because the 9400M GPU does hardware playback on MP4/H264
  10. Delmar, Dec 13, 2013
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2013

    Delmar macrumors 6502

    May 10, 2012

    Why is your video quality not 1080P? What media are you playing? Blu-Ray discs, Blu-Ray rips, highly compressed files in iTunes or something else?

    The Mini should have no problems playing great quality 1080P videos.


    Edit: I just re-read you previous posts stating that you're using a 2007 Mini, not a 2009. So what is the 2007 Mini putting out? 720P?
  11. littlecody8 thread starter macrumors member

    May 3, 2012
    Currently it's output resolution is 1024x768. So pretty much 720p. Which is all I need. Come january I'll have some eBay bucks available and will probably order a DVI to HDMI adapter to see if that makes any difference.

    The 1024x768 also might just have to do with my TV. I've never used the PC (VGA) input on it before this. It's an older Samsung 42" Plasma that was purchased in about 2006.

    For sound I have it hooked up to my Bose SoundDock via normal aux cable

    I had read that while I was searching. I was on a budget for this. If some time in the future the 1080p is absolutely necessary then an upgrade will come but for now the 2007 model is too my satisfaction.
  12. littlecody8 thread starter macrumors member

    May 3, 2012
    I went ahead and purchased the DVI to HDMI. It actually gives for the options for 720p and 1080i now. The only thing is there's an "overscan" option. Resolution is better, I think, but it doesn't fit on the TV.
  13. KylePowers macrumors 68000


    Mar 5, 2011
    I replaced my AppleTV 3 with a 2006 Mac Mini. Upgraded it with a Core 2 Duo, 4GB of RAM, and a 30GB SSD (+4TB external). So the hardware is fairly equivalent to a 2009, except without the decent GPU, I suppose.

    It's my Plex server and works surprisingly well! Definitely much more feature-filled than my AppleTV, but of course, fairly different uses and different price points.

    Nevertheless, it can be kinda eh with transcoding, but if you make it remux on the fly, it's usually pretty good.

    I would like to upgrade it someday, but I think it's got another year or two in it.

    I might remux all my media using my soon-to-arrive rMBP, and setup some automated way to remux files before they get added into Plex (as they initially download). That way my Mac Mini won't have to transcode/remux on the fly when I stream to my iOS devices :)

    EDIT: All my media is 720p or 480p, Mac's output is 720p. Definitely some overscanning issues, but not too noticeable.

    EDITx2: I would never do this if I wasn't using Plex. Websites + iTunes seems like a step backwards from AppleTV.
  14. Delmar macrumors 6502

    May 10, 2012

    What program are you using that transcode/remux on the fly as it streams to the ATV?
  15. KylePowers macrumors 68000


    Mar 5, 2011
    I don't stream to my ATV, because I don't own one anymore (just iPhone and iPad). But Plex transcodes/remuxes on the fly, and I think people who actually do use Plex with their ATVs do so using PlexConnect.

    Back in the day before I transitioned to Plex, yeah, I transcoded everything with Handbrake, and added to iTunes, to stream to my ATV. Never found an on-the-fly solution.
  16. littlecody8 thread starter macrumors member

    May 3, 2012
    I've still yet to try Plex. Mainly been in and out of work and school. Finals and semester are done so now just work. Wanted to make sure it would handle streaming with no problems before anything. Which it does well. Next step is Plex.

    Key reasons I didn't keep the ATV 3 were:
    1. Hulu, not Hulu Plus
    2. Watch saved videos without a second device
    3. Storage

    How was the CPU upgrade process?
    Does your's use the full 4GB or just 3.3GB?
    I had thought about going that route but ended up finding a C2D for the same price as the CD were going for. I put in a 320GB HDD and 2GB Ram.

    I like the 720p but dislike that when using the "overscan" option the top menu bar is too far up and off the screen. Great for when playing videos though. I've found that's the best resolution.

    EDIT: One last thing. If you don't mind me asking, after buying the system and all upgrades what did you end up spending on your Mini?
  17. JCsHands2 macrumors member


    May 2, 2013
    I wouldn't recommend anything prior the 2009 model. I used the 2007 or 2008 for a presentation the other day and a 720P MP4 maxed out the CPU and felt a bit jerky, It had the following hardware:

    1.8Ghz Intel Core 2 Duo
    2GB RAM
    Intel GMA 950
  18. KylePowers macrumors 68000


    Mar 5, 2011
    Pretty easy!
    Technically 3.3GB. It's running Snow Leopard, so it's not that big of a deal.
    $118 from eBay for the Mac Mini (fairly flawless aesthetically), which came with a classic USB Apple keyboard + its retail box, Mac's retail box, booklets + CDs, original Apple DVI adapter, and original Apple remote. Then I bought the C2D for $21 (eBay), the RAM for $35 (Amazon), classic Apple USB mouse for $5 (eBay), and the SSD for $25 (MacRumors), I think. So a tad over $200.

    At the time I couldn't find anything (in good cosmetic condition) with a C2D + 4GB of RAM + SSD for anywhere near $200, so I was (and am still) happy.

    EDIT: C2D is a 2.0GHz T7200 if you're curious

    EDITx2: My external 4TB was probably $145 at the time or so; just bought another one on Black Friday for $130. So much media :)
  19. littlecody8 thread starter macrumors member

    May 3, 2012
    That's not bad at all.

    I finally downloaded and played around with Plex a little bit. It's great!
    Only thing is there's no Netflix or any apps like that on there?

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