Looking to purchase Mac Mini, questions regarding Handbrake usage

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by giocav89, Jan 29, 2013.

  1. giocav89, Jan 29, 2013
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2013

    giocav89 macrumors newbie

    Sep 29, 2007
    Hey everyone. I have recently been having trouble using my Late 2008 Macbook. I made a thread to see if the computer really is just old and not up for the task at hand. I have been recently ripping my Blu-Ray collection using MakeMKV and than proceeding to compress the file using Handbrake. Here's the thread for more info on my current laptop and the problem:


    Basically, the Handbrake process is taking over 10 hours and sometimes does not even finish, as was the case yesterday. So I realized that a new computer is necessary.

    Handbrake is the most technical or demanding thing I use my current computer for, the rest being browsing and Microsoft Office. I just want the compression to take significantly less time compared to right now.

    My question for you all is, would the base Mac Mini 2.5GHz dual-core Intel Core i5, meet my needs for Handbrake or is the upgraded 2.3GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 really necessary, considering it's a $200 price increase. I don't mind getting the base Mini and upgrading the RAM myself if that is all it needs.

    Thanks for your all you advice in advance!


    So I ended up going with a 13" Retina MacBook Bro 2.5 i5, 8GB Ram, 256GB SSD. As far as the screen, I was pretty much disappointed immediately. After just a few minutes of browsing online on Safari and going to my desktop (gray background) I immediately saw heavy signs of image retention. The toolbar was visible, ads as black boxes etc etc. It was painfully obvious. I performed a "checkerboard" test if you will and left the image open for 15 minutes. After 20 minutes of the removing the image, there is still faint IR.

    The encoding, however, has been great! An 18GB file encoded using Handbrake "High Profile" preset (I use this one because I assume it gives the best quality while still producing smaller files) took 4 hours compared to ~10 hours it was previously taking. Average FPS was 9.73.

    Basically, the laptop suits my needs but I have become greedy. I realized I can make the jump to the 15", have the benefits of the quad-core, and just use my iPad for school instead of carrying it around all day.

    I am annoyed that I will have to return and reorder and resetup everything but I think and HOPE I am making the right choice. Just wanted to give everyone an update and share some information that may benefit others.
  2. niteflyr macrumors 6502a

    Nov 29, 2011
    Southern Cal
    If you are a heavy user of handbrake, you need processor power. Get the i7 and upgrade the RAM yourself.
  3. bt22 macrumors 6502

    Feb 15, 2009
    i have a 2011 base model mac mini. when using handbrake to encode a standard def DVD handbrake will run at about 60 - 80 fps on my mac mini. I found MakeMKV and started using my custom built pc to rip movies. The pc has a quad core i7 cpu which has 4 threads giving me a total of 8 cores and it would encode a standard def movie in handbrake at about 180 fps, so huge difference there. When I started ripping my blu rays I can only get about 20 fps in handbrake using the same quad core cpu. I've never tried using my dual core mac mini, but I would imagine it would be painful to rip blu rays on it. Hope this helps. I do use Meta X on my mac mini to mux my rips and the blu rays take a while to even mux. I ripped Safe House blu ray last night and I ended up with a 16 GB file after handbrake. So these are really big files you will be dealing with.
  4. LucasLand macrumors 6502a


    Mar 6, 2002
    New England
    i say the hell with ripping movies. look hard enough you might find it somewhere to download in the format you like.
  5. MatthewAMEL macrumors 6502


    Oct 23, 2007
    Orlando, FL
    Handbrake is CPU bound.

    I have a 2.6 i7 Mini with SSD and 8GB RAM. It runs ~22fps on the AppleTV 3 preset using a MakeMKV file.

    As I have mentioned in another thread, my Mini gets the same FPS as my Late2009 i7 iMac (16GB RAM). On the same encode, they finish within 30 seconds of each other. Considering the Geekbench scores, I was expecting more from the Ivy Bridge.
  6. ActionableMango macrumors G3


    Sep 21, 2010
    Forget about RAM. More RAM will not help even slightly.

    The base Mac Mini will be much faster than your Core 2 Duo MacBook.

    As for the quad core Mini, most applications do not benefit from having many more cores. On the other hand, Handbrake is an exception and it makes very good use of all the cores you can throw at it. It would unquestionably be much faster on the quad-core than the base Mini. Whether that is worth another $200 to you or not is a personal opinion that nobody can answer for you.
  7. giocav89 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 29, 2007
    Thanks everyone for the help. I guess the question I really had that is hard to answer due to all sorts of variables is HOW much quicker would the quad core be compared to the dual. If the dual would drop the time from 10-15 hours to just a couple 1-2, than I would be very pleased with that.
  8. COrocket macrumors 6502

    Dec 9, 2012
    According to Passmark CPU benchmarks, the quad core is nearly twice as fast the dual core. This is the main reason I upgraded mine to the 2.3 Quad. Twice the performance for a lot less than twice the cost.
  9. philipma1957 macrumors 603


    Apr 13, 2010
    Howell, New Jersey
    why not buy the dual test it if it is not fast enough return it and buy the quad. apple allows a 2 week return window.

    if you go this route just make sure you have some ram on hand. as 4gb ram is a bit lite to work well.

    this is good



    they would work in either mini. some feel 16 gb is needed but your use seems like 8gb is good.

    if you use these in the dual and it is fast enough you are done. .

    if not return the dual then put these in the quad that will be fast.
  10. giocav89 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 29, 2007
    Great response. I did not think of this at all. I will be going with the base hoping it meets my needs and if not making the switch. Quick question, would you recommend the above mentioned RAM over OWCs comparable RAM? Just want curious if they are on par with each other or if one is superior to the other since they are the same price. Thanks!
  11. philipma1957 macrumors 603


    Apr 13, 2010
    Howell, New Jersey
    I know the kingston works as I have it.

    OWC is a good company. So if you like them you could try theirs. I just do not have any of their ram at this time.

    Since I know the kingston is good I pick it.
  12. jtara, Jan 29, 2013
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2013

    jtara macrumors 68000

    Mar 23, 2009
    It's easy to get confused about this.

    Quad-core means 4 CPUs in a single package - either on separate dies or the same die. (Nowadays generally one one die.)

    Intel processors today support Hyperthreading. They had this a while back, then dropped it in many models, then brought it back.

    Hyperthreading allows a single CPU to run two threads simultaneous in a limited way. Basically, they allow a second thread to make use of CPU resources that are not being used by a first thread, or while a first thread is waiting for something (like memory access). It's a neat trick.

    Two painters are painting a room, and all that is left is to paint one corner. One painter is painting the walls, and the other the ceiling. There isn't enough room in the corner for both of them. But the the wall painter has to climb down and refill his tray. (We're talking non-professional painters here - obviously! A pro would use a 5-gal bucket, and wouldn't find himself in this predicament, but I digress...) So, while the wall painter is filling his tray, the ceiling painter jumps in the do a bit of the ceiling, but climbs down when he sees the wall painter return, to avoid getting him angry.

    That's Hyperthreading.

    Threads, on the other hand, really have not much to do with this. Threads relate to software, not hardware. A single CPU can run hundreds or thousands of threads. Just one-at-a-time. (Unless it's a Hyperthreading CPU, in which case it can maybe run 1 1/2 or 1 1/4 threads. Probabilisticly-speaking.

    This is a fallacy. This hasn't been true for at least 10 years.

    I'm a software developer, and have done both embedded and desktop work. Lots of Windows C++ development (though currently doing mobile development). Everything I've touched for the last 10-15 years has been heavily multi-threaded. And that really is the case for most popular desktop software. True, many of those threads may not do much, and just sit around waiting to handle some specific task or callback. But even your web browser is going to use multiple threads. Any developer would be crazy not to use threads for any task that is CPU-intensive and can be broken-up into parallel units, because then it will scale on today's multi-core chips.

    We hit the wall on clock speed several years ago. Clock rate just isn't going to go up much at this point. In fact, Intel pulled-back. The mHz war is long over. Multiple cores are the way forward.

    (There are apps that use multiple threads but cannot use multiple cores. But they are less and less common. Basically, these are applications that haven't paid attention to locking requirements.)

    And whether or not a particiular application can use mutliple cores is pretty irrelevant. Want to look something up on the web while you're running Handbrake? Good luck on a single-core machine! From a consumer standpoint, the best thing about multiple cores (and the more the merrier) is UI responsiveness even under heavy load. With more cores, you have more granular access to a CPU.

    I just got a new Mini 2.6 i7. I ran the GeekBench stress test for 8 hours (passed with flying colors, ran hot but not over limit) and was amazed at how responsive the UI was while running 4 cores flat-out.
  13. martinm0 macrumors 6502a

    Feb 27, 2010
    I don't have direct experience with the latest batch of Minis, but I do a ton of encoding in general. I'm running a 2012 3.4 i7 iMac and can convert a full BD rip to the ATV3 preset in 2-3hrs. I'd expect a 2.6 i7 Mini to come in around 3+ hrs on average (keep in mind different movie lengths and details will increase or decrease the time).

    I would think you will see a huge improvement in encoding times if you go to a i7 Mac Mini (don't even bother with the dual core). Refurb 2.3 i7's have been popping up in the Apple store for $679.
  14. Acorn macrumors 68020


    Jan 2, 2009
    if you get the quad core please report back the encoding times I would be interested in knowing the improvement from core2duo.
  15. JohnnyComeLatly macrumors member

    Nov 12, 2010
    I upgraded my Mini with OWC's memory and SSD drive. It's smoking fast and no stability issues going on about 8 months in my Mini, and 3 years in my MBP.
  16. lali macrumors regular

    Oct 14, 2007
    converting blu-ray? there is a very real and tangible benefit to going to a quad core processor
  17. MatthewAMEL, Jan 30, 2013
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2013

    MatthewAMEL macrumors 6502


    Oct 23, 2007
    Orlando, FL
    Using the same source MakeMKV file with AppleTV 3 pre-set:

    On my 2.6 i7 Mini
    avg 22.41fps, 2hrs 2min to encode

    On my 2011 13" MBP (2.7 i7)
    avg 9.27fps, 4hrs 17min to encode
  18. giocav89 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 29, 2007
    This is the response I was really looking for. I think I might just consider the 13" MBP or the "13 MBA if it is capable of being in the 4hrs range. Like I said anything right now is better than +15hrs.
  19. MatthewAMEL, Jan 31, 2013
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2013

    MatthewAMEL macrumors 6502


    Oct 23, 2007
    Orlando, FL
    Just keep in mind, the i7 in the 13" MBP and MBA is only a dual-core. The Mini, iMac and rMBP i7's are quad-core. Handbrake performance is dramatically better.

    I never use my MBP for encoding. Everything goes through the Mini.

    FYI- can't say enough good things about this
  20. martinm0 macrumors 6502a

    Feb 27, 2010
    Take a look at these threads for some real world encode times:



    I find these really helpful and found that the difference in geekbench scores and encode times sort of line up.
  21. Mr. Retrofire macrumors 603

    Mr. Retrofire

    Mar 2, 2010
    These 8 “cores” are 4 real cores and 4 virtual cores. Only the real cores can use the RAM with the maximum speed, which is still lower than the speed of a single processor core. More active cores means that each core gets less data from the RAM, because the memory bus has a limited bandwidth.

    And btw, your 180 fps are meaningless without the following info:
    - frames per second (29.97, 24 or 25 for example) in your movie
    - exact frame size (1280x720, for example) of your movie
    - the exact settings of your encoder (motion estimation algorithm, bit rate, 2pass, et cetera in x264, for example)
  22. martinm0 macrumors 6502a

    Feb 27, 2010
    Being that the fastest i7 is a 3.5 (and the 3.1 and 3.4 all turbo up to 3.9) I don't think he's getting anything faster than my 2012 iMac 3.4 i7 with these encodes. Gotta think a BD rip still takes 2-3hrs...
  23. agenda893 macrumors regular

    Jul 17, 2004
    I have a 2012 i7 Mac Mini and it's awesome for transcoding. Previously I was using a 2011 i5 Macbook Pro and it was half the speed using handbrake. As to the RAM - don't pay apple for it. I always buy whatever I can get a good price on through amazon and then run Memtest on it in terminal. Out of about 50 computers I've upgraded at work and at home I've only had to send defective RAM back twice. On both computers that got the faulty modules they'd run OK for a bit but then would act glitchy. It was after the first machine gave me unexplained problems that I found Memtest and sure enough, bad memory.
  24. giocav89 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 29, 2007
    Yeah a lot of this is starting to go way over my head. After realizing the Retinas are up on the apple store, I've made my FINAL decision and decided to go with this 13":


    I was really getting a Mac Mini to hold me over with my current computer until a possible retina air came out. However, the waiting game is getting old and this meets most of my needs above and beyond. That and I can't justify dropping $800 on a mini and most likely $1500 on a laptop within the next 6 months. At that point I might as well get a maxed out 15" retina which is out of my budget. The encode times might not be super fast compared to Quad-Core as mentioned by some of you, but at 3-4 hours, as some of you have posted, I can live with that.

    Thanks for the help guys!
  25. lali macrumors regular

    Oct 14, 2007
    If ever your encoding needs do increase, you have another alternative, but you would need a windows partition on your new computer

    Some software uses the integrated intel hd graphics 4000 for encoding.

    This is called intel quick sync encoding. I used such a software (Media Espresso) once on a windows pc once and it was 2.5 times faster than with the processor and handbrake. Please note some people find gpu encoding software to be of lesser quality than handbrake. Enjoy your new computer

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