Mac Mini as Apple TV

Discussion in 'PowerPC Macs' started by poiihy, Mar 18, 2015.

  1. poiihy, Mar 18, 2015
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2015

    poiihy macrumors 68020

    poiihy

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2014
    #1
    I was thinking about Apple TVs and the first generation one with the Pentinum CPU which you can install OS X on it and use as a desktop, then I was thinking of Mac Minis. Then I had an idea. How bout use a (old) Mac mini as an Apple TV? You'd use Front Row and it would be just like an Apple TV, except you can exit Front Row and use it as a desktop too with remote keyboard and trackpad all-in-one thing. But which Mac Mini would be good? I was thinking a PowerPC Mac Mini because they are cheap and run all you need (all you need for using a Mac Mini as an Apple TV is OS X Tiger because it has Front Row (I think? If not then OS X Leopard)) But the problem with using a PowerPC Mac mini is that they are quite weak so I don't know if it would work well. So here are the questions.

    Is an old G4 Mac Mini powerful enough to play movies, media, etc, in Front Row? Can it play 720p and 1080p, etc? I've heard they can't...

    If not, can an Intel Core (1) Solo/Duo (the first Intel Minis) play HD movies?

    If not, can the first Core 2 Duo Mini play HD movies?

    If not, what's the first Mini that can?!


    Also a few other questions...

    iBooks/PowerBooks/MacBooks/MacBook Pros, without the display, would also be good as a TV box, because they are thin and flat and would fit in places, and they also have a built-in keyboard and trackpad, so you can control the TV. What first iBook/PowerBook/MacBook/MacBook Pro can play 720p or 1080p movies in Front Row?

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    Edit: I just realized another benefit of using a Mac mini as an Apple TV! The Mac mini would have an optical drive so you can play DVDs! Apple TV's don't have optical drives! :D Awesome! Mac mini is the best!
    -----------
    Edit 2: I found out that the G4 minis don't have IR receivers. Though that is quite bad, it's not the end of the world. You can use a USB IR Reciever. But this is just another reason why an Intel would probably be better.
     
  2. poiihy thread starter macrumors 68020

    poiihy

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    Aug 22, 2014
    #2
  3. Dronecatcher macrumors 68000

    Dronecatcher

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    Location:
    Lincolnshire, UK
    #3
    I used to have an Intel Mac Mini (Core Solo 1.5Ghz) as a media hub and it worked fine for music, movies, DVDs etc running with Frontrow from the remote and a wireless keyboard and mouse for when it reverted to occasional desktop duties.
    You can also run XBMC which I find is more comprehensive than Frontrow and better at playing movies.
    My current media hub is a Intel Atom netbook, which having a broken keyboard and trackpad isn't much use otherwise. It runs XBMCBuntu with an external hard drive and wireless keyboard and mouse.
    If your sticking with Apple I'd say go for a Core Solo Mini at minimum.
     
  4. poiihy thread starter macrumors 68020

    poiihy

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    Aug 22, 2014
    #4
    Were you able to play 720p or 1080p movies on the Core Solo Mac Mini?
     
  5. redheeler macrumors 603

    redheeler

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    Oct 17, 2014
    #5
    Definitely go with at least an Intel, PPCs of any kind (with the possible exception of high-end G5s) don't get along with HD video well. Core 2 Duo would also be better than Core Duo.
     
  6. Dronecatcher macrumors 68000

    Dronecatcher

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    #6
    I'm afraid I cant remember for definite - I sold the Mini 2009 - all I know is I never had a movie it couldn't play. I'm guessing because my netbook setup is a 1.6 Intel Atom and that plays HD, the Core Solo would have it covered however, for peace of mind If you went C2D that'd be a certainty. All depends how future proof you want it - video standards are increasing all the time.
     
  7. catzilla macrumors 6502

    catzilla

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    Rhode Island
    #7
    Don't forget this has a socketed processor, I bought a 2006 mini upgraded with a C2D dirt cheap.
     
  8. MagicBoy macrumors 68040

    MagicBoy

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    May 28, 2006
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    Manchester, UK
    #8
    The early Intel dual core might do it, the Core solo won't have enough grunt. I owned a Core Duo MacBook Pro of the same era. That would play 720p fine, 1080p dropped a lot of frames when it got busy. It was noisy though as the CPU was running at a high CPU utilisation. Downside with that machine is the horrible Intel GMA 950 graphics.

    My recommendation is the 2009 Mac mini with at least OS X 10.6. It supports hardware accelerated video decode via the nVidia GPU. It's inaudible to me, and ticks over at 5-10% CPU utilisation playing 1080p via Kodi. That Mac is the best £400 I ever spent.
     
  9. redheeler macrumors 603

    redheeler

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    #9
    Good recommendation. I have the model after it (mid 2010 2.6 C2D) and it works great as a HTPC.
     
  10. Gamer9430 macrumors 68020

    Gamer9430

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    #10
    I'd invest in doing that, however, I would definitely go Intel, not PPC. I think it would be extremely useful, however, front row is very limited in terms of usability compared to modern Apple TVs.
     
  11. 128keaton macrumors 68020

    128keaton

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    Jan 13, 2013
    #11
    Mid 2010 Intel Mac Mini reporting in! Its basically a HTPC for our rumpus room, mainly Netflix and the occasional DVD. Works well, and since we put an SSD in it, its silent.
     
  12. Altemose macrumors G3

    Altemose

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    #12
    With an Apple TV now $69, that maybe the best bet. Granted, running an Intel Mac Mini does open more capabilities, the Apple TV does what it is supposed to do and does it well.
     
  13. 128keaton macrumors 68020

    128keaton

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    #13
    True that. We love our apple TVs, 2nd and 3rd gen. Streaming from iPhones are convenient and the UI is fluid and easy.
     
  14. poiihy, Mar 18, 2015
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2015

    poiihy thread starter macrumors 68020

    poiihy

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    #14
    For some reason I haven't been getting email notifications for this thread. I only got one just now when I was viewing it. :confused:

    ----------

    So a Core 1 Solo/Duo Mac can be upgraded to Core 2 Duo? :eek: :D Cool!

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    Well, the reason why I thought about PowerPC is because they are cheap (sometimes free :D ). So I found out that a PowerPC Mac can only play SD video (480p-).

    What is the quality of a DVD? Is it 480p or 720p? I've played DVDs on a 466MHz G4 with Rage128pro and it ran well so it seems that DVDs are only 480p (or maybe 360p?) so a G4 Mini should handle it fine.

    But for a few bucks more (well... that depends... G4 Minis vary quite a lot) you can get a new Apple TV, though that is more limited, it can play video. But it can't play DVDs or store ripped DVDs or movies or be used as a computer... it can only simply play movies and downloaded movies and YouTube.

    So... The answer appears to be that if you want a media box, get a Core2Duo Mini, not an TV or a G4 Mini. But if you already have a G4 mini then try that. A Core 2 Duo Mini is often cheaper than a new TV and can do much much more.
     
  15. redheeler macrumors 603

    redheeler

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    Oct 17, 2014
    #15
    Yes, DVDs are 480p quality and a G4 mini should be able to handle 480p fine, just not 720p or higher without dropping frames.

    If you do decide to go with a new mini for HD video playback a late 2009 as recommended above would make an excellent choice.
     
  16. MagicBoy macrumors 68040

    MagicBoy

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    May 28, 2006
    Location:
    Manchester, UK
    #16
    480p (NTSC) or 576p (PAL).

    DVD uses MPEG2. The Rage 128 (and upwards) have IDCT assist that offloads the majority of the MPEG2 decoding to the GPU. That said, any G3 would be able to decode it comfortably on the CPU anyway.

    To get the same ability for H.264/Blu-Ray etc you have to effectively jump forward ten years to Intel kit.
     

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