Mac mini as media centre

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by birdieey, Sep 23, 2008.

  1. birdieey macrumors newbie

    Aug 30, 2008

    I'm looking at getting a used mac mini to be my media centre because I think it's a little more versatile than the current Apple TV. I've got a line on a couple in my area but my question is, do I need an intel based mini or can I get by with the G4 1.42 Ghz version. Are the differences minimal based on what I want to do with it (surf the web, email, watch videos listen to music)? Or is the G4 version not worth the $100 in savings?

    thanks in advance,

  2. MichaelLogan macrumors newbie

    Aug 21, 2008
    I use my rather pitifully-speced Mini (a 1.5 G4 with 512MB of RAM) as my home-theatre computer, and frequently find myself wishing I had something with a bit more power. Ripped video (DVDs run through HandBrake, for instance) stutters occasionally, just for less than a second, but it gets on my nerves. And the poor thing is totally unable to cope with the new HD TV show downloads from the U.S. iTunes store.

    Get the most powerful Mini you can afford. If that's an old G4, don't bother with HD content, and use the AppleTV settings when ripping DVDs with HandBrake. It won't be perfect, but it will be OK.
  3. Jonnyfive macrumors regular

    Feb 28, 2007
    British Columbia
    I have had both as media centre computers.
    I started with the G4 it worked pretty well, there were some stuttering and ripping dvds was painfully slow. It worked well enough. I only had 512mb of ram, I am sure with a gig or two and it would have been less stuttery.

    I bought the intel mac mini to replace the g4 because I wanted the remote control which is VERY handy in a media center setup. It does not stutter and is much faster in ripping dvds.

    Personally I would spend the extra 100 dollars. For the speed and performance increase you see, it's quite a small investment.
  4. birdieey thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 30, 2008
    Thanks for the advice, I think I will go with Intel, maybe I'll check the refurbished section of the apple store to see if I can get an even Intel Core 2 Duo.
  5. mpshay macrumors 6502

    May 19, 2008
    I think a refurb core 2 duo is way to go. Got 2 of them to use as media center computers and love the way the work
  6. plinden macrumors 68040


    Apr 8, 2004
    I use a refurb 1.6GHz CD Mini and it works well. You should get by with the lower end Mini. It needs at least 2GB RAM though.

    Front Row has one big annoying issue. It occasionally takes upwards of 1.5GB of the RAM if it's running continuously for days, which causes it to freeze and stutter. I fixed this by installing SleepWatcher and a script to kill Front Row when the Mini goes to sleep and restart it when it wakes.
  7. Tilpots macrumors 601


    Apr 19, 2006
    Carolina Beach, NC
    There's some good info in this thread about mini's, software and HT's.
  8. birdieey thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 30, 2008
    Interestingly enough, an hour after my post I found an Intel core 2 duo on craigslist, and literally ran out and bought it. It's perfect, I'm glad I went with the mini instead of apple tv, though I really hate that I can't buy HD movies from itunes. Anyway thanks for everyone's help.
  9. godslabrat macrumors 6502

    Aug 19, 2007
    The Mini is a fantastic media center, setting aside the fact that it can't rent HD movies from iTunes and its gaming capabilities are limited. It does everything else I can throw at it. The mini has been one of my best purchasing decisions for my home theater.

    I agree with the other posters that said spend the extra $100 for the better processor and DVD drive. I'm going to go a step further and say spend another $70 and load it with RAM. The mini doesn't have a lot of upgrade options, so make the most out of what Apple offers you. I love this computer!

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