How does the Mac Mini fare as an Apple TV/media server?

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by Star Nuts, Sep 11, 2012.

  1. Star Nuts macrumors member

    Jun 24, 2012
    I have a MBP that I use as my main computer and it'll be nice to be able to free it up of some wires. Overall, how well would you say it performs as a media server being controlled only with a remote, such as a harmony remote? It would be used for accesing itunes movies/shows and Netflix.
  2. comatory macrumors 6502a


    Apr 10, 2012
    From my own experience pretty well.

    I use it as a Plex server:
    • stores all my movies and TV shows, metadata is downloaded automatically
    • it is hooked up to my TV so I use it as home theatre
    • I use it for streaming to other computers and devices, you can install Plex client that accesses the library on server on any machine - Mac OS, Windows, iPad, Android etc...
    • it grabs iTunes library and iPhoto library as well so you can "stream it" too

    It's great, really, I download all my stuff there and works great... and I have an early 2009 model. You can even put it away somewhere in a closet and use some VNC software to work on it (I use LogMeIn) but I prefer it to have it connected to my TV so I can use Apple remote for controlling Plex (and yes they do have Plex Remote app for iPhone/iPad), Harmony remote can be used too.

    Oh you can also jailbreak Apple TV to run Plex client in which case you can truly use Mini as a server and stream it to Apple TV as well.

    EDIT: Plex also contains "channels" which are sort of Apps that can be used for viewing Netflix, Hulu etc.
  3. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere


    May 16, 2008
    I also recommend Plex for the Mac mini. I use a similar setup, but without an Apple TV. I have the mini connected to the HDTV via HDMI. The Plex iPhone app serves as a great remote and the Plex database includes media files spread over several computers and hard drives. It's a great way to organize, manage and deliver movies, TV shows and music videos, streaming them to any computer or iPhone on the network.

    While doing all of this, the mini also serves as a desktop computer with another display, running Skype, Mail, Safari, TeamViewer, MS Office apps and much more... all simultaneously with ease. I also manage the mini remotely through Screen Sharing from my MBP.
  4. KScottMyers macrumors regular

    Jul 17, 2009
    Orlando, FL
    I have a base level 2011 Mac mini dedicated to this purpose alone. Works great and have converted about 600 movies that stream to the Apple TV.

    I highly recommend it.
  5. mwhities macrumors 6502a

    Jul 13, 2011
    I have an early 09 MM. So I see your MBP having no issues. I use it as my media server. I have Plex, iTunes, and Server running on it. I use Plex to stream to all of my devices (iPhone/iPad/Systems), iTunes to wirelessly sync and add/remove apps/songs/books/etc to my iDevices, and Server, I use that for VPN and other services (I'm wanting to get certed with Apple, so I'm "playing" with Server as well.).

    Plex and server (with the optional VPN) I can stream from anywhere with my iPhone. I have business class cable (static IPs) and it works really well. Only bad thing is, my data usage has gone up. :)
  6. marzer macrumors 65816


    Nov 14, 2009
    It fairs very well as a media server.

    My 2009 Mac mini serves 5 ATV's, 2 AE's, 2 iOS devices and 3 Mac's. It provides iTunes, iPhoto and file sharing in addition to some small utility services it makes available on the network.

    I don't control it with a remote, although the Harmony remotes work fine with my ATV's, I'd imagine it'll also work very well with the mini. Mine is headless and in a back storage room, so I control it via screen sharing from an iPad or desktop, Remote App, and of course, the client front ends such as ATV's and desktop iTunes.

    If you have an iOS device, I suggest you check out Remote HD. It turns an iPad (or iPhone) into a virtual KB and trackpad. Works great.

    It free's my house of wires/peripherals, hosting an AIO for scanning and printing, an additional DVD drive for ripping/burning and 5TB of firewire storage for media and file sharing.
  7. stuaz macrumors 6502

    Jun 16, 2012
    My non-intel Mini serves as my media server very well, including being my "wireless" sync for iPhones/ipads.
  8. marzer macrumors 65816


    Nov 14, 2009
    +1. Becaue I run a server 24/7, wireless sync was my most anticipated iTunes feature, ever! Now if they just add wireless sync across the iPod line.
  9. comatory macrumors 6502a


    Apr 10, 2012
    Wow! They still update iTunes for PPC Macs?
  10. mmomega macrumors demi-god


    Dec 30, 2009
    DFW, TX
    Only for Leopard for now.

    My current Mac Mini serves as my media server for 2 AppleTV's, iTunes server and serves a website and file server.
    Serving files aren't that CPU intensive, you mainly need RAM, HDD space and a good internet/LAN connection and you're set.
  11. talmy macrumors 601


    Oct 26, 2009
    I use two minis as media servers, one connected to a TV and controlled with a Harmony One remote and the other connected to a monitor and using the Apple Remote. Both systems run Plex, and having a full computer allows running anything that Plex won't handle. A third mini, running Snow Leopard Server, has all the media (and other) files and runs the Plex server (among other things).
  12. stuaz macrumors 6502

    Jun 16, 2012
    Yep iTunes 10 :)

    To be honest even if they did stop updating it, it still links perfectly to my Apple TV so... :) Yeah she has a few grey hairs and beach balls a lot, but while she still manages to play Bluerays I am not worried!

    Thinking I might update her with the new Mini due out "soon", but with that and an iPhone and iPad mini I am not sure my bank balance will allow it lol.
  13. SuperRob macrumors 6502

    Mar 14, 2011
    I just do things the boring way. Convert any downloaded video with Subler, store it on a Drobo, add it to my iTunes library, watch on Apple TV. Pretty flawless.
  14. comatory macrumors 6502a


    Apr 10, 2012
    Yeah I know couple of folks who are super-tidy with their iTunes libraries, even with movies and TV shows. Personally I'd be annoyed by the conversion process, seems so pointless (and when you're transcoding you're losing quality again...)

    But it does you great compatibility within Apple ecosystem and everything works natively.
  15. imobber macrumors newbie

    Jan 18, 2009
    Apologies if I'm hijacking the thread but I've got some similar/related questions and I'm wondering whether a mac mini will do what I want. I've never owned a mac so some of the questions may be mac related rather than just mac mini. I do own a 2nd gen iPod touch and a 2nd gen iPad. I guess I'm moving up on my apple purchases... Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    Here's what I want to be able to do:

    1. upload photos and videos from my camera (Sony hx9v). This includes movies in the avchd format.
    2. Watch uploaded photos and videos directly on my tv (Samsung le40c750). I don't want to use the tv remote to control what to watch. Could I use the iPad to control things?
    3. Organise photos and videos from the comfort of my sofa. I don't want a separate monitor for whatever device I get, I want my tv to be the monitor.
    4. Play music directly from the device to my soundbar (surprisingly good sound, really - good enough for me, anyway). It's a Samsung HW-D570. This has a variety of inputs, including hdmi. I wouldn't want to have to switch on the tv to work out what tunes to play.
    5. Control what music to play (stored in my iTunes library) from iPad or iPod touch. Can I use the remote app for this?
    6. It needs to be quiet/always on as it would likely live in my lounge if it is plugged directly into the tv/soundbar.
    7. It needs access to an optical drive so I can upload new CDs to iTunes. I know the latest mini doesn't have one (well, the 2011 one, at least. Who knows whether there will be a 2012 one - I guess we find out tomorrow). If I can be bothered I might consider trying to burn a few DVDs so I can have access to a movie collection directly.
    8. Some means of backup so I don't lose all my photos/videos if something bad happens. I've got about 200gb of stuff at the moment but this is rapidly increasing.

    I'm not too worried about playing games on it. Ive got a ps3 so I can use that for most of my gaming needs Maybe a bit of photo editing and the odd bit of video editing would be good but I don't expect this to be used very often.

    So, would a mini support what I want to do? If so, which one would suit my needs best? What other add-ons/supporting apps would be required?

    Or am I after a different device? All advice appreciated.
  16. mmomega macrumors demi-god


    Dec 30, 2009
    DFW, TX
    The current base model mini would suit you fine depending on your storage needs.
    Companies make external hard drives that resemble the mac mini almost exactly which makes them blend in better if they are sitting out in the open but you will pay a little more for the aesthetic aspect.

    I'd suggest a tray that holds the bluetooth keyboard and trackpad so you can do everything from the couch or program a remote such as a logitech Harmony to control a lot of the functions.

    Now the current models don't have optical drives but you can connect any external cd/dvd/bluray drive to rip music/movie or photos discs with.
  17. zombiecakes macrumors regular

    Jul 11, 2012
    Netflix stinks on a computer compared to a dedicated device, it doesnt have surround sound and the sound it does have is very low quality, so unless you need the storage ability youd probably be better off with an apple tv
  18. Pinksteady macrumors 6502a


    Aug 19, 2008
    It is great! I have a 2010 Mac Mini which runs Plex, AirServer, AirFoil and a few other gizmos. I use a Harmony One remote + iOS apps to control it - no physical keyboard/trackpad in sight. I love it.

    I recently detailed my setup on The Verge forums here, or on my blog here.
  19. bearcatrp macrumors 68000

    Sep 24, 2008
    Boon Docks USA
    If you plan on streaming to an ATV, then any PC or mac will work for you. I was using my 2010 mini but hated using an external drive. Currently have iTunes on my Win7 tower streaming to 3 ATV's. If apple would build a mini that would hold a 3TB second internal drive, would go back. No issues using Win7 though. You can find a cheaper computer to stream than a mini. Any dual core will work.
  20. JSalig macrumors 6502

    Oct 30, 2010
    I would have to agree that a cheap PC works better as a media center. I use a Mac mini and find myself having to deal with a lot of workarounds for streaming. It's worth it to me because I also use it as my secondary computer. However, if it's just going to be a media center a PC will give you more tools and programs to work with right out the box without having to jump through hoops getting everything to work properly.
  21. Risco macrumors 68000


    Jul 22, 2010
    United Kingdom
    Question, I am thinking of going this route. Does the Apple TV wake up the mini when it needs to access the iTunes library?
  22. comatory macrumors 6502a


    Apr 10, 2012
    If you have Wake on LAN enabled (and have compatible router) in energy settings it should work.

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