Mac mini or MacBook Air for HTPC use

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by alphaod, Feb 19, 2014.

  1. alphaod macrumors Core

    alphaod

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2008
    Location:
    NYC
    #1
    I've been indecisive on this matter for ages.

    I have an 11" MacBook Air that doesn't really get much use. I have been considering selling it for a few weeks now. It's great and all, but for me the screen is too small to useful in a lot of the stuff I do.

    I have also been considering an HTPC. I have evaluated different computers, building my own boxes, and the like. I have concluded I would still like a Mac.

    I already have an Apple TV, so I can push content to the TV from my Macs or iOS devices; it doesn't really work the same though. I want a native interface without the hassle of dealing with my wireless network.

    Since I already own the MacBook Air, there would technically be no additional costs. Being the i7 2013 model it's quite a performer, but my concern is if I watch anything that's CPU intensive (even Flash), it will be quite loud. Plus it seems like a waste of what is otherwise a perfectly good portable computer.

    I have used a Mac mini in the past and it never gets loud, so I know it's a good choice. Not exactly cheap, but it's priced within my acceptable means. I would upgrade it to an SSD I have lying around and I think the dual core i5 should be more than sufficient. Of course the issue is I still have spend money on a new computer. No, there aren't really any good refurbished or open box options here, not that I would trust either of them.


    So what would you do?
     
  2. ActionableMango macrumors 604

    ActionableMango

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2010
    #2
    The MBA will run hot and loud if you use it with the lid closed. If you use it with the lid open, the physical "footprint" it takes up in a home theater will be awkward, and the screen will be a distraction.

    The Mini is a much better choice. It runs cool and quiet. It also has an array of USB3 ports, so it's simple and inexpensive to add capacity.

    Save your money and don't get an SSD. It's not like you'll be opening and closing a bunch of apps on this. If you keep your media player open and rely on sleep mode, then things like bootup time and application launching time (where the SSD shines) are irrelevant. In an HTPC, larger capacity trumps insanely quick access times.

    Lastly, Apple does sell refurbs, and unlike most companies, Apple's refurbs are "like new" instead of garbage they are trying to toss off. Apple Store refrubs are clean and sold with all normal packaging and accessories just like a new one. Apple Store refurbs carry a full year warranty just like a new one, and are also eligible for AppleCare. Minis sell out quickly in the refurb store, so you either have to be patient or use one of the notifier tools that lets you know when refurbs come back in stock.

    http://store.apple.com/us/browse/home/specialdeals/mac
     
  3. alphaod thread starter macrumors Core

    alphaod

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2008
    Location:
    NYC
    #3
    For upgrades, I have a Samsung 840 lying around (actually I bought four for a Pegasus J4, but decided to only use two of them; used one to upgrade my work computer), so that's not buying any more. I already have 8GB of RAM from a computer I upgraded for a friend to 16GB.

    Anyways I did end up buying the Mac mini and it's as quiet as I remember. I went for the base model and upgraded with spare parts I had as above. Works great. Added AirServer for AirPlay duties.

    I bought a Logitech KT820 and it's terrific. The only issue is sometimes I get interference if I connect an external drive to adjacent USB port.

    Finally for the actual purchasing, I can't order online here [from Apple] in China as I lack a credit card. I bought it from the Apple Store. I'll probably purchase AppleCare when I fly back to the US to renew my visa.
     
  4. noodle654 macrumors 68020

    noodle654

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2005
    Location:
    Never Ender
    #4
    I highly recommend shielding the Bluetooth/Wifi card with copper shielding to reduce the USB interference. It was terrible on my Mini, internet would stop and Bluetooth devices would lag and disconnect. Adding the shielding helped quite a bit. Congrats on your purchase, I miss my Mini.
     
  5. alphaod thread starter macrumors Core

    alphaod

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2008
    Location:
    NYC
    #5
    Actually my Logitech keyboard/trackpad combo uses their Unified adapter which runs off USB.

    It's not suppose to do this and it only happens if I plug an external SSD into an adjacent port to the USB receiver.
     

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