Mac Mini Enclosure ?

Discussion in 'Mac OS X Server, Xserve, and Networking' started by mainstay, Sep 6, 2011.

  1. mainstay macrumors 6502

    mainstay

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    BC
    #1
    I bought a mac mini to use as an HTPC.

    Although the 2011 model runs quiet some of the time, I find it creeps up in volume (fan noise) as a movie progresses. These are not BlueRay rips or anything fancy or complicated. Just simple 700 MB avi files that the old Acer HTPC we were using had no difficulties decoding.

    We are using VLC and MPlayerX. This happens on both systems.

    Airflow around the system is clean and dust free. Ambient temperatures are normal room temperature (15°, ~60 F). Fans get up to 3000+ rpm and temperature reported by smcFanControl is 70°C+. If you pause the movie for even 30 seconds, the temperature drops and the fans shut the heck up. But this is distracting and shouldn't be necessary.

    First time it happened I thought our sprinkler had turned on because it sounded like rushing water through the pipes.

    Anyways. Anyone know of an enclosure or some mechanism to keep this thing running QUIET?


    (the exact same sample movies were tested on a 2009 model and we never encountered this noise issue - that was why we went this direction for 2011).
     
  2. aziatiklover macrumors 68030

    aziatiklover

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  3. mainstay thread starter macrumors 6502

    mainstay

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    #3
    It's an i7 2.0 Server running 10.7.1 w/ 8 GB of RAM.
     
  4. aziatiklover macrumors 68030

    aziatiklover

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    #4
    So that's pretty strange! From what I have read on here and reviews the new Macs mini are pretty quiet! You are the first that I know of.
     
  5. chown33 macrumors 604

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    Aug 9, 2009
    #5
    As a test, try standing the mini on its side, and see if it runs cooler. If it does, consider a 1/2"-tall stand the same size as the circular baseplate.
     
  6. mainstay thread starter macrumors 6502

    mainstay

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    #6
    Thank you for the suggestion.

    This didn't make a difference (or if it did, the noise level reached unacceptable levels at 30 minutes as opposed to 20).

    70°C seems to be a magic number.

    Of course I could force air across it but then that is another source of noise.
     
  7. DustinT macrumors 68000

    DustinT

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    Feb 26, 2011
    #7
    I suspect whats happening is that the codec you are using isn't being hardware accelerated. Have you thought about transcoding it to something more modern? Avi is a bit dated now.

    I'd grab the iFlicks demo or Handbrake and use those to re-encode the .avi's to the ATV 2 profile and see how that performs.
     
  8. mainstay thread starter macrumors 6502

    mainstay

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    #8
    Hi Dustin,

    Interesting point - but this is occurring for a large range of different videos including mkv's.

    All which run the system at ~20% CPU (which seems high for an i7).

    AVI is just a container file... the encoding of the audio and video can be a myriad of combinations so the modern-ness factor should be dependent on the respective encoding formats (meaning, an avi running h.263 video should be "modern").

    Regardless, these videos ran 100% quiet and fast on a 6 year old Acer SFF... yet on an i7 mac mini I am apparently launching a rocket ship.

    I'm surprised no-one else is observing this behavior.
     
  9. Waragainstsleep macrumors regular

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    UK
    #9
    My 2008 Core 2 Duo MBP can play back 720p mkvs without much fan noise, 700mb avis are a complete non issue and your quad core i7 should not be struggling at all.

    What kind of CPU usage are you getting in activity monitor?
    Have you tried Perian and Quicktime? Might be worth comparing the CPU overhead of each.
     
  10. mainstay thread starter macrumors 6502

    mainstay

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    #10
    During normal playback I am getting ~20% CPU utilization but the temperature climbs to 70°C and that's where the fans kick in.

    I tried Perian and found it to be a poor substitute to MPlayerX (but I thank you for your recommendation - it was a worthwhile experiment).

    These files I am playing are not 20 GB monster blu ray rips... so I'm not sure where the major malfunction is...
     
  11. mainstay thread starter macrumors 6502

    mainstay

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    #11
    1.5 hours on the phone with Apple level 1 and 2 and no resolution.

    One guy actually said the i7 server isn't really well suited to playing 350 MB video clips and I should consider an iMac or a Pro... what the ****?!

    The next guy had difficulty understanding that the temperature INSIDE the box does not equal the temperature OUTSIDE the box.

    I was relaying what smcfancontrol was showing at the high temperatures (195 F) and he said the mini should never operate at temperatures above 50 F. I told him that 50 F may occur in the initial stages of turning on but the system will always run more like 100 F during normal operations.

    It took me about 20 minutes to realize he was reading the Apple website and was looking at operating temperature specs (meaning the environment they are running in). He had no clue. Sigh.

    The last guy gave a great speech about CPU load and how having FIVE browser windows open AT THE SAME TIME can really stress a computer.

    I'm pretty sure an i7 w/ 8 GB of ram running Lion can handle a little 350 MB video clip and POSSIBLY have a few windows open... but I guess I should lower my expectations.

    His answer. Have you tried unplugging the system? Terrific.

    I mean, where do they recruit these guys? To be fair, this is the first time I've had issues with Apple support. I should have recorded it. It may give me a chuckle in a few years.

    I'm off to buy a mini fridge and a drill bit. Will mount this mini in a fridge and stick it in the crawl space.
     
  12. chown33 macrumors 604

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2009
    #12
    If the fridge has a thermoelectric module, you can probably buy the plain module cheaper. Even amazon.com has them. Search for thermoelectric or peltier. And look up Peltier effect on wikipedia.

    The difficulty with Peltier modules is you still need to cool them. Since the goal is to move any fan out of the theater space, you might be better off with a heat pipe than a Peltier module. I'm not sure where you'd mount it on the mini, though. Your choice of shapes would also be pretty limited (they're inexpensive as CPU or memory coolers), but anything custom is likely to set you back quite a few pennies.
     
  13. DustinT macrumors 68000

    DustinT

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    Feb 26, 2011
    #13
    I really think you should try re-encoding these videos before you buy and install a fridge. iFlicks a few presets, just take a look and see how it performs. The ATV 2 preset would be my starting point and it will be accelerating on your Mini.
     
  14. mainstay thread starter macrumors 6502

    mainstay

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    #14
    Thank you for the feedback... all very much appreciated.

    Just out of curiosity I resurrected a mac mini G4 w/ 512 MB of RAM running 10.5.8 and using VLC 1.11.

    The SAME videos playing on the G4 (1.4 GHz) play beautifully and QUIETLY.

    I simply do not believe others when they say they have maxed out their new i7's and not heard a peep.

    Either Apple has made a bad design, or my fan sensors are ****ed, or to those that say theirs are running quiet then I think you either need to check your fans or your hearing.

    Something is off.

    I'm actually thinking of using a G4 over an i7.

    Wow!
     
  15. timscole macrumors newbie

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    Jul 15, 2008
    #15
    I'd agree with those who said try other video types. In addition, have you checked what else may be running in the background? Perhaps there is another process which is helping heat up the CPU? Anything to do with Adobe Flash is a NIGHTMARE for making my MBP processor cook.

    It could be something faulty hardware wise. What OS are you running?
     
  16. mainstay thread starter macrumors 6502

    mainstay

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    #16
    All videos result in excessive heat generation (at least the sensors show high heat, to the touch the new mini is cool or marginally warm).

    The mini is 1.5 months old, has Lion 10.7.1 and fully updated as of now. There are no competing programs running and task manager only shows VLC OR MPlayerX OR QuickTime (depending on what I'm testing with).

    I am running BackBlaze which is consuming a pittance of CPU. And nothing else. No iTunes, no iPhoto, no HandBrake, no Parallels, no TimeMachine, no iWork, no Office, no web browser, nothing. Although it is a "server" model, there are no other systems drawing or dumping to this computer.

    The temperature was read using smcfan control and Fan Control... they both reported relatively the same values.

    I'm sort of of the opinion that the sensor data is reporting incorrectly. Apple was less than willing to even talk about it.
     
  17. TinHead88 macrumors regular

    TinHead88

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    Oct 30, 2008
    #17
    My 2011 MacMini can barely be heard at all when playing avi or mkv files. Could there be something wrong with your Mini? Perhaps the temp sensors?
     
  18. IMPerat0r macrumors newbie

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    Sep 21, 2011
    #18
    I am experiencing exactly the same issues as mainstay with my 2011 mac mini server 2.0 i7 4GB RAM
     
  19. devinci99 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2008
    #19
    If you have a local Apple Store; I think you should bring it in and show it to them.

    It doesn't sound like a healthy Mac Mini.

    I bought a mac mini with core duo 2 1.6mhz /w 2GB RAM and then another mac mini with core duo 2 2.0 with 6GB ram.

    Both ran surprisingly quiet under most loads. In the latter mini I was doing a lot of disk intensive work which should cause it to run warm; and it still was quiet.

    I know many people used the mini as HTPC and don't have much complaints about it.

    My colleague bought a mac mini server; and used it as his main desktop for video and photoshop as well as steam gaming. Said it was the quietest computer he has.

    So something sounds off. Either the i7 runs hotter than other Core 2 Duo and i5... or you have something defective.

    The main difference i can see is the Intel HD 3000 video versus nvidia 940m ??
     
  20. Consultant macrumors G5

    Consultant

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    #20
    Exactly. Bring both new mini and old mini and show them.
     
  21. CrankyX macrumors newbie

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    May 6, 2006
    #21
    I can't hear my 2011 mini at all while doing anything. Video playback is silent and your mini can handle that playback no problem. There must be some issue with your heat sink possibly being loose, not mounted right or a horrible thermal paste application. Mine shows 46C, 1800rpm and I can't hear a thing from where i'm sitting.
     
  22. rjphoto macrumors 6502a

    rjphoto

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    Mar 7, 2005
    #22
    I have an iMac in the back room that has a bad sensor. The fans kick on about 1 minute after start up. It shuts down after 20-30 minutes.

    It showed up as a bad sensor on Apple Hardware Test. They said it would take a logic board replacement to fix it.
     
  23. mainstay thread starter macrumors 6502

    mainstay

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    #23
    this much vaunted Apple Hardware Test... is the one used in the repair depots available for us to download / use?

    I know there is a basic one provided by Apple but my understanding is there is a more thorough automated software-based one that the depots use...
     
  24. rjphoto macrumors 6502a

    rjphoto

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    Mar 7, 2005
    #24
    I just ran a test on a stock new Mac Mini with 10.7 playing a very HIGH res video file.

    Fan is clocking 1800 RPM, all temps are under 47C.

    Sounds like a server issue.
     
  25. rjphoto macrumors 6502a

    rjphoto

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2005
    #25
    Probably not.

    It's a network boot that test the hardware.

    Guys at a service center ran it.
     

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