Mac Mini or External HD

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by gumercindo, Jul 16, 2015.

  1. gumercindo macrumors newbie

    Jul 16, 2015
    Hi all!

    I'm a long time PC user finally looking to take the plunge into the Apple eco system. I've tried making my own eco system at work using my W7 PC+PS3 but it's quite kludgy and never works quite right. My PC is about 6 years old now so it's the perfect time to consider the jump. My main goal is to have a seamless eco system in my house.

    What I want:

    While at home (or even away - is this possible?) to be able to stream/access music/photos/etc from a central server-like computer. This "server" will store all of those things. I would also run a TV streaming device from this "server" (Apple TV, Roku, whatever) to stream to any computer/TV in the house. Those are the main use case scenarios.

    My consideration is to buy a refurbished mac mini+MBA or an EHD (network it) plus MBA. The former - mac mini option - would plug into my TV in the living room and would server as either a storage device or even a computer downstairs using my plasma (if I need to).

    Is the first option overkill for what I want? I'm not a gamer and not a video editor - I dabble in photography and do SOME light editing, I surf, email, etc. The usual.

    Questions such as: "can I run itunes off a laptop in the house while accessing songs on an external drive or mac mini", etc, are plenty!

    Thoughts? Many thanks!
  2. nebo1ss macrumors 68030

    Jun 2, 2010
    I am already running something fairly similar to what you are looking for.

    1. Mac Mini run as a media server. Location of mini is in the living room with the HDMI port plugged directly into a Samsung TV. I run the Plex server and client on the Mac mini and this manages all the media including, Movies, TV and Music.

    2. The Mac Mini also runs the Plex client as you need this to connect the TV to the Server portion of Plex.

    3. I can connect other TV's or Ipad or Iphone to the media server. In the case of the other TV's I either use the inbuilt Plex client that runs on Samsungs TV's or the Chromecast to stream from the Plex server. For the Ipad or Iphone I use the plex client from the App store.

    4. I can remotely access all of my media by setting up the server side of Plex for remote access. This is fairly straightforward and requires only a Plex account and some port forwarding on the router.

    5. If you decide to try out Plex be aware you do not need a paid account. You can get the software for both client and server free from their web site. The Ios app has a small charge on the app store. The site might encourage you to get a Plexpass but you do not need it. This gives you a couple of extra benefits but they are unecessary and I do not have such an account.

    6. Any additional computers you want to connect to Plex such as laptops need only the client.

    7. Plex does not care what format your files are in and you can Mix Mp4 with MKV etc and they do the transcoding.

    Hope this helps.
  3. gumercindo thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 16, 2015
    Big help, thanks! Can't you install plex on a networked storage device? I'm wondering if you could have done all that you did w/o a mini.
  4. SpinalTap, Jul 16, 2015
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2015

    SpinalTap macrumors regular


    Sep 25, 2003
    Bournville, UK
    In the past, I've run a Mac Mini as a dedicated HTPC. More recently, I've kept my Mac Mini as my primary computer, and then streamed content from it to my AppleTV that is connected to my television via Devolo homeplugs. I've utilised a Netgear ReadyNAS as my TimeMachine backup for all my files, movies and music.

    However, I've just bought a QNAP TS-251. This isn't so much 'Network Attached Storage' but more like 'Network Attached Server'. Unlike most low-cost NAS' it sports a dual-core 2.41Ghz Intel processor, and you can add up to 8GB RAM. It also has an integral HDMI output. This means that you can connect it directly to your television.

    That means you don't need any computer - Mac or PC to get the most out of it.

    PLEX and Kodi are 'supplied' with the QNAP - as is iTunes Server. The major plus point is that you can also stream movie and music content directly to an AppleTV. Control of the QNAP is facilitated via mobile device or wireless keyboard.

    You can install up to 2 x 6TB hard drives on the TS-251.
  5. nebo1ss macrumors 68030

    Jun 2, 2010
    I have a Synology NAS and have successfully run the Plex Server code on the NAS. However, the NAS Unit does not have the Horsepower of the Mac Mini and things like trancoding will not be efficient. In addition the Macmini has both HDMI and Optical outputs both of which i use for the PLEX client.

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4 July 16, 2015