Got 4K TV, so abandoning Mini. What to use instead?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by SnarkyBear, Oct 10, 2017.

  1. SnarkyBear macrumors regular


    Apr 24, 2014
    We have a 2011 Mac Mini we've been using as a home theater/entertainment system. All our music stored on the Mini, and a external hard drive filled with movies.

    We are being gifted with a nice 4K TV, and the current batch of Minis don't support 4K. Not realistically, anyway. We are considering replacing it with, say, a refurbished MacBook Pro or MacBook Air.

    My question: What would be most affordable yet still work? The main requirement are USB ports so we can plug in external hard drives.

    Thank you for any input!
  2. Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009
    You might look at a refurbished 2015 MacBook Pro 13"...
  3. netdog macrumors 603


    Feb 6, 2006
    Why not continue to use the Mini as the storage for music and movies, and simply use the ATV4K to retrieve and play from the Mini. The Mini will not house a large movie collection, but it can be linked to a computer that does.
  4. UnclePaulie macrumors regular

    Apr 6, 2004
    LA, CA
    I second this idea. Use Plex and make the mini the server and use the a 4K Apple TV as the client.
  5. velocityg4 macrumors 601


    Dec 19, 2004
    If you do go with Plex and an AppleTV. The mini may not cut it. While you can use external hard drives to load it with files. I'm thinking about the CPU demand you incur transcoding files. I'd hate to think what demands a high bitrate 4K video would make.

    Perhaps consider building a Ryzen 5 1600 to handle demanding transcoding then pairing it with the AppleTV or just use Plex directly and skip the ATV (what I do). You can also put it in a nice HTPC case to match other components. Then take all the HDDs out of their cases and stick them inside.

    If all you are doing is using the Plex interface. It doesn't really matter if it is a Mac, ATV or Windows PC. The only reason for the ATV is if you want the other apps and iCloud.

    If you do want the ATV. There is no harm in seeing if the Mini can handle the demand. If not than build the PC.
  6. Tech198 macrumors G5

    Mar 21, 2011
    Australia, Perth

    Mac mini is only supplied only go up to 2TB. Not good for a large movie collection if u have more than this... I use my NAs for pulling all my movies/music as that has 4TB and since they use regular desktop drives, you can go larger as u need.
  7. SnarkyBear thread starter macrumors regular


    Apr 24, 2014
    The Mini can't handle 4K TV directly, BUT having it process a movie, send it wirelessly to AppleTV, and then having Plex run it will accomplish this task? That seems like a convoluted process and I can't imagine the process would work without losing quality.
  8. MartyBeez, Oct 11, 2017
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2017

    MartyBeez macrumors member

    Jul 30, 2013
    The Hague, NL
    Any recent TV comes with a decent media player built in. You could consider plugging the external HD via USB into the TV? You could run Plex server on the mini for the music, again using the TV as client.
  9. fischersd macrumors 601


    Oct 23, 2014
    Vancouver, BC, Canada
    Me, I don't know why you would bother with Plex (unless you prefer the interface) - you could just have the movies in the iTunes library on the mini, use the same Apple ID on the ATV4k and access the movies via home sharing.

    ...and if the movies are .mkv's that don't work with iTunes, well, Subler's your friend. :)
  10. agenda893 macrumors regular

    Jul 17, 2004
    I have a 2012 mac mini plugged directly into a 65" Samsung KS8000 and it upscales the 1080P just fine. It looks good enough that I haven't been able to justify losing the mini's quad core i7 to a new model with only two cores.
  11. 2010mini macrumors 601

    Jun 19, 2013
    get a router that has a USB port. Attached your USB storage device to it and use one of the apps that support network attached drives to retrieve your content on the ATV 4k
  12. FNH15 macrumors 6502

    Apr 19, 2011
    How about an older Mac Pro purchased from eBay? Surely an upgraded graphics card on one of those would be able to serve up 4K content...
  13. LDec macrumors newbie


    Mar 16, 2011
    my 5cents ...
    Do you have 4K content? If not, you can still use your MacMini as you were using it before.

    If you are planing to have 4K content I would recommend to look for NAS that can handle 4K without transcoding. You will have fast/large storage plus player without transcoding in one box.

    Using PLEX as server on MacMini is a good idea if your TV supports PLEX app to be installed on it ... you are all set up.
    But don't expect 4K to be played smooth on MacMini having PLEX server ... it will be frying by trying to transcode your content.
    Tested on MacMini 2012 quad core server running only PLEX with 2x SSD in RAID, maxed up RAM and 1Gbps connection between server and TV. All maxed up to be sure that there was no bottle neck anywhere. It dropped frames ... was pausing to keep quality ... was saying that it will lower quality of video stream for server to be able to play content smoothly.

    Some info from PLEX website
    NAS compatibility link with PLEX, but please notice that there is no 4K mentioned.
  14. krause734 macrumors 6502a


    Jul 30, 2010
    If you can handle Windows, I've heard good things about the 7th Gen Kaby Lake Intel NUCs.

    NUC $283
    8GB RAM $74
    250 GB SSD $107
    Windows 10 USB $110
    Total $574
  15. brett_x macrumors member


    Apr 25, 2005
    I was in the same boat about a year ago. What I ended up doing was updating my 2011 Mini with a refurb 2014 Mini. The difference in picture quality was huge because it wasn't displaying 1080 on a 4k set (there is no upscaling on the HDMI port on my TV). I just had to set the resolution scaling to "larger text".
    Now, I just got a 4K Apple TV, so I may even do away with the Mini all together.. we'll see how much use the Mini gets after a month or so.
    But keep in mind that I went with the 2014 Mini because the 4k ATV wasn't available yet. You have little to lose by buying a 4K Apple TV and trying it out.. even with your current mac mini as a server. If it doesn't work as well as you expect, you can always return it in the return window (30 days?).
    Come to think of it, I actually did that with last year's ATV.. then bought the 2014 Mini because the non-4k ATV was disappointing.
  16. UnclePaulie macrumors regular

    Apr 6, 2004
    LA, CA
    Yes - you have two options. If your movies are 720p/1080p then your mini will output that signal to your TV and the TV should upscale it properly.
    If you have 4K content and want to display it on the TV, then the mini can “host” your files regardless of resolution and act as a server to stream them to a new Apple TV 4K (or Amazon fire or Roku). Should work smoothly as long as you have enough bandwidth at home, ideally both devices on Ethernet and if not then 802.11ac.

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15 October 10, 2017