Mac Mini Media Server Questions

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by UncleSchnitty, May 22, 2014.

  1. UncleSchnitty macrumors 6502a


    Oct 26, 2007
    Im hoping to get some opinions here. I am trying to decide on a mac mini to purchase that I can run as a headless server for all my media files. I have never owned a MacMini so I don't really know their limitations. I don't need a new Mini because this will not be my primary or secondary computer. I was thinking a 2011 i5 Mini but if anyone has other suggestions I would be very happy to hear them. The reason I like the i5 is I have a feeling when a new OSX comes out core 2 duo will not be supported(just a gut feeling with nothing to back that up) Also should I run OSX server on it since it will be headless or is that a bit overkill since it wont be managing another computers(quite the opposite it will be run by others

    My current media set up is a 3tb media drive inside my 2008 MacPro running Playback(kinda like Plex but more stripped down and I like that) The problem with this set up is the Pro has to always be on and not sleeping and that uses a lot of power and also heats my room.

    As always any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.
  2. iBarça-Boy macrumors newbie

    May 14, 2014

    Mac Mini Should be a perfect choice for a Media Server.
    I have the old 2009 version with a 2GHZ CPU and 8GB Ram and i works perfect. So with a 2011 mini i5 cpu you would be safe!

    I also use Plex for the theater experience, it's great...
    No Need for a osx server os... Just osx will do the trick with Plex/VLC/...

    Also the power usage will be good, so you can use the mini as a 24/7 server.
  3. MacsRgr8 macrumors 604


    Sep 8, 2002
    The Netherlands
    I use a Mac mini Server "Late 2009", as my "media Server".
    I use it to host my iTunes library (Music and .MP4 movies) and Plex Media Server (for HD movies).

    The 2.53 GHz Core 2 Duo with 8 GB of RAM is easily sufficient.

    I use two external USB hard drives for the storage for all that media.

    I have OS X Server installed to play around with: Profile Manager, DeployStudio etc., but it is not necessary for the hosting of media.
  4. drsox macrumors 65816


    Apr 29, 2011
    If it's running headless then you should use a video dongle to trick the GPU as sometimes the Mini puts out a black screen. There are DIY versions and manufactured versions by e.g. fitPC. e.g. I bought one of these on Amazon. Well worth it IMO.

    Look on the MacRumors forums also for
  5. kappaknight macrumors 68000


    Mar 5, 2009
    I ran the 2009 mini for the longest time, but recently they've became too slow for my needs. Right now I'm running one of the newer i7's for my HTPC, which I have connected to my main TV at home. My media files are placed on an external drive, a NAS really, and I'm using Plex to manage it all.

    No, you certainly don't need OSX Server to do this; that is definitely overkill.

    The reason I like Plex is because I can stream or sync the content to my various iOS devices as well (via the Plex app). I also love the interface.

    When needed, I can also share my library with other family members, which is why I'm using a higher end mini to run this setup. Once you get yours setup the way you want, you may want to upgrade. With the price of the mini these days, you can probably start with an i7, which will last you for a long while, and it'll allow you to stream more concurrent streams if needed.
  6. UncleSchnitty thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Oct 26, 2007
    This seems like a really good idea so I don't run into weird resolution problems when I control it with my other systems.

    I would love to do an i7 but even used people are still asking for around $700. I would say for this project to be worth it I would have to snag an i5 for between $400-500.

    A lot of people use Plex and maybe I didn't give it a fair shot but I did not like it at all. When I tried it all the software did was pull up a WebApp. It took a looooong time indexing, and it sorted things funny. All of my videos on my media drive are in very organized files and Plex sort of negated all that and threw them into All movies or alphabetical. I did only give it like 2 days before falling back to Playback so really it may have been my fault for not giving it a go but Playback for me just shows all my files how I have them arranged on the drive. Its not fancy its just file folders but its fast and reliable but I cant access outside of my network.
  7. blanka macrumors 68000

    Jul 30, 2012
    Never use a Mini headless. Always try to hook it to your main TV. It will increase your experience on that device a lot (e.g. 24p, DTS, MKV support, BR playback). If you use if for playback itself, grab a 2009 mini or later (9400M video card or better), those do HD decoding on the GPU without much fan noise and have gigabit to pump around the house those movies at top speed.
  8. famous600 macrumors 6502a


    Apr 8, 2010
    Plex is the way to go for a media server. Once it indexes just go through and fix any mistakes. Xbmc and plex both mess mine up. Xbmc skips some videos randomly and doesn't pull any info. Just go in and manually adjust it.
  9. mmomega macrumors 68030


    Dec 30, 2009
    DFW, TX
    So when you say media server, what will be playing the videos, musics, pics, etc ?
    AppleTV, other Macs, Xbox, etc.

    I have been using a Mini as a media server since '09 and I primarily used it as a Plex server.
    Now that I have AppleTV's on each TV I have since converted all of my files to mp4/m4a and iTunes handles all of my movies, tv shows and music.
    I can easily have multiple TV's streaming at the same time without hiccups, I also have all of my aTV's hardwired CAT6.

    My mini's starting in '10 have been headless and I will also suggest picking up an HDMI dongle if you get a unibody Mini. This makes the mini think a monitor is connected and if the GPU is supposed to do any graphics crunching it now works like it should.
    Headless mini's, when remoting in, sometimes through up black screens or black spots and it took me a few years to figure out what was causing this, I'm not sure of the intricate details behind it but I know I enjoy a headless mini much more with a video dongle connected to it. The price of the dongle more than makes up for the irritation factor of not having one and I've had that same issue with a 2010, 2011 and 2012 min.

    I know I mentioned hardwiring earlier and I am a believer in, just go run some ethernet to anything that will remain in one spot and needs internet. Most people wish they did instead of relying on WiFi. I have 2 802.11AC Airports bridged in my house and gigabit is still quicker. Nothing worse than having a lot of company over and you Que a movie up and for some reason at that particular moment you are all staring at a buffer/loading wheel for 3 minutes. It won't happen until there are people there :p

    I so have OS X server installed but it is more of a want than a need. OS X is more than capable of providing content without the server app, just like Windows 7 can be a media server without having Windows Server 2012 R2 w/ update.
    OS X Server does have some extra neat functionality it can add but that's pretty much it for most home users, if someone needs server they already know they need server.

    But, like I said, I like all of my iDevices and what not to all get along so I use iTunes. Don't ask why but I am still a PlexPass "lifelong" member with it installed on my mini, I guess just in case I want to check out a new function it is already there.

    Since I do use strictly iTunes I also researched and I picked up some good media converting apps and apps to add metadata to my videos.
    iDentify is usually my goto for adding the "cover art" and basically all of the other info to a video file so that it appears as if you bought and downloaded that video from iTunes.... basically makes your video library look pretty.
    iFlicks is another good app that does the same + does video conversion.
    MKV2M4V is my goto super simple app that does what its name implies, it takes an mkv file and changes it to an MP4/M4V and quick.

    Also install Perian on your machine which includes pretty much every video codec imaginable so that Quicktime can play any video file, you don't need multiple pieces of software to play a certain filetype. AVI, Divx, Xvid, etc.

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