Mac Mini 2010 vs. 2011 for HTPC

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by dgalvan123, Jul 20, 2011.

  1. dgalvan123, Jul 20, 2011
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2011

    dgalvan123 macrumors 6502a

    Feb 16, 2008
    Let's have some advice:
    Which should I use for my HTPC:
    the 2010 mac mini or the brand new one 2011 version. I'll be using it to output to two LCD TVs in different rooms (using an hdmi splitter and a cable through a wall).

    Main use will be as a DVR (using eyeTV and an HD Homerun tuner, both of which I already own), and for web streaming of cable TV shows (via Plex). I might use it for some ripping, but my MBP on my desk does that well already, so I don't mind not having an internal optical disk drive. (I'd want a blu-ray reader anyway, so I'll consider that for a later optional addition.)

    Cost is an issue, so I want to get the entry-level model ($700 for 2010 version vs. $600 for 2011 version). I plan to upgrade the RAM via Crucial or some other non-Apple company.

    So which one should I get?

    Will the new i5 processor run Plex and EyeTV faster than the last year's Intel Core 2 Duo? I've heard rumors that the Intel GPU on the new one is slower than the nVidia GPU on the 2010 version. But all that matters to me is the end result: Will Plex/EyeTV displayed on my TVs run faster on the 2010 mac mini, or the 2011 mac mini?
  2. Hellhammer Moderator


    Staff Member

    Dec 10, 2008
    It's hard to say anything until people get their 2011 Minis but I doubt you would notice any difference if you only use Plex/EyeTV.
  3. dgalvan123, Jul 20, 2011
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2011

    dgalvan123 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Feb 16, 2008
    Thanks for the reply. I'm hoping that's the case as I'd prefer to future-proof by getting the newer model.

    By the by, where SHOULD we see the difference between the 2011 Intel GPU and the 2010 nVidia GPU? Is it just hi-end games?
  4. Hellhammer Moderator


    Staff Member

    Dec 10, 2008
    The GPU in 2010 model is actually made by nVidia but that's not a big mistake ;) Intel HD 3000 is very powerful at video playback so the difference will mostly be in games.
  5. dgalvan123 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Feb 16, 2008
    Whoops! Will edit my original post. And thanks!
  6. MovieCutter macrumors 68040


    May 3, 2005
    Washington, DC
    Yeah, the real question is does the quad i7 in the server model make up for lack of dedicated GPU in the 2.7Ghz i7 when it comes to playing 1080P bluray rips. I need to replace my 2.4Ghz 2010 mini because it's choking on some of my higher bitrate blu-ray rips...and it's not the storage channel, I've tested that. I'm guessing it's just the C2D processor showing its age. Do I go for the quad core or the dual core with quad streams+GPU?
  7. 3space macrumors newbie

    Mar 1, 2008
    I'm holding off on buying the mini until I answer that very question. Also, the lack of built-in DVD is annoying. Using as a HTPC, installing in my rack, wanted a nice and clean solution (has to be mac). If the external superdrive were blu-ray, I'd be a little happier...
  8. Biff... macrumors 6502a


    Jun 16, 2010
    Sherman Oaks, CA.
    I was thinking of getting one of these external blu ray players with a 2011 MacMini.
  9. Smileyboy macrumors 65816


    Aug 6, 2008
    This is a great thread to follow. Thx for the info!!

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  10. dgalvan123 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Feb 16, 2008
    FYI: People have figured out how to add another HDD to the new mac mini without paying apple (though you pay $50 for an internal cable):

    Apparently you can also install an SDD (for $375):

    That SDD option looks really nice, though it's pretty expensive. I'd think it would be perfect for a HTPC though, as it'll give you that "instant on" experience. Really helps the Wife Acceptance Factor (WAF).
  11. Aussieiphone, Aug 2, 2011
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2011

    Aussieiphone macrumors regular

    Jun 30, 2009
    2010 wins

    2010 Without exception, foremost due to DVD/CD SuperDrive.

    Think re-install disks, install disks, playing DVDs & CDs from Netflix/friends/family/local library, your own collection to rip and place on portable devices.

    No doubt the CPU is better, but my 2010 streams HD perfectly via Netflix, Hulu, etc, etc and I've been cable-TV-free for a year - that's paid for the mini.

    Btw, works fine with the 2gigs of ram, but on eBay there is cheap 2 x 4gig sticks for about $75, so I did this and run it in 64-bit mode. Works great and with the current pricing on the 2010 is like a total cost to you of $25 extra over the new model...only thing is iLife, iMovie, etc is not 64-bit yet (in 64-bit mode runs as standard).
  12. ugahairydawgs macrumors 68030


    Jun 10, 2010
    On the cost can get the 2010 base model from the Apple refurb store (when in stock) for $469.
  13. dgalvan123 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Feb 16, 2008
    Macworld review

    The Macworld review of the 2011 Minis is in. Find it here.

    Here's a relevant few paragraphs that answer the "specific" question I posed in my original post:

    This confirms Hellhammer's prediction in his response early on.

    Note they used the stock 2GB of RAM when testing the low-end 2011 mini, and said this about memory:

    To me, this and the other benchmarks in the review that the 2011 mini is definitely worth it, instead of the 2010. The question then becomes: should I get the $599 or the $799. My main use as a HTPC should mean the $599 mini is sufficient, since it will mostly be handling video rips and streaming HD content. It would be nice to use it as a gaming machine as well. . . but my experience with computer gaming is that my mac does well with the current-day high-end games for about a year or two after I get it, and then it always becomes obsolete (for cutting edge gaming) within a couple of years anyway. Since I don't currently have time for computer games, and since my son is only 15 months old at the moment, I supposed I might just eschew gaming with the mini, in favor of getting whatever Console system is all the rage by the time my son is old enough to enjoy them.

    On the other hand, the future-proofer in me is saying with a nagging voice: "Just get the higher end one. It will run the more intensive programs well, and survive longer, for just an extra $200."

    I'll ruminate, as I'm not in a rush.
  14. dgalvan123 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Feb 16, 2008
    This is what the macworld review had to say about the lack of a superdrive:

    These reasons, and the fact that much of our disc-watching nowadays is rented blu-ray from Netflix (which a superdrive would not read), make me not too worried about the lack of optical drive. Plus my MBP has a superdrive, so I can do remote disc reading/ripping using that, which would be more convenient since it is at a desk, while the mini will be in my media cabinet.

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