Mac Mini Recommendation(s)

Gizmo22

macrumors regular
Original poster
Oct 22, 2009
148
1
Midwest USA
Looking for a way to effectively get a HTPC-esque system up and running. I have several Blu Ray and DVD ISO backups. I prefer to keep ISO for ease, and due to my Windows days when I ran everything through set top Dune/Popcorn Hour boxes. At the moment I have rid myself of that hardware and am looking for a suitable way to set things up within the Apple platform.

Current thought is a 2010 Mac Mini, and replace the Super Drive with a Blu Ray drive. My questions are:

I could share a 2010 Mac Mini's internal optical drive with a 2012 rMBP and 2011 MBA that are on the same network, correct?
Could I attached a DAS to the Mac Mini and use that DAS for Time Machine backups?


If no to question two, would I lose much speed by having the Mac Mini attached via ethernet to an AEBS with the DAS also connected via ethernet [effectively making it a NAS box]?


I would like to use the Mac Mini as a media player via various DVDFab software to play ISO files on the main television. The optical drive would allow me to save ISO files on any computer attached to the network or the DAS/NAS. Finally I would want to ensure that there would be no issue with ISO packaged Blu Ray files [ideally even if played over wifi].
 

FreakinEurekan

macrumors 68040
Sep 8, 2011
3,395
332
Eureka Springs, Arkansas
Current thought is a 2010 Mac Mini, and replace the Super Drive with a Blu Ray drive. My questions are:

I could share a 2010 Mac Mini's internal optical drive with a 2012 rMBP and 2011 MBA that are on the same network, correct?
Could I attached a DAS to the Mac Mini and use that DAS for Time Machine backups?
Yes to the first. The second is yes, if you install ML Server ($19.99 from the Mac App Store).
 

blanka

macrumors 68000
Jul 30, 2012
1,549
3
You can go for an internal BR drive, but the externals are almost too cheap to go internal.
Internal = 100$= slot loading = less reliable
External = 20$ = USB powered = Pretty good deal.
No problems with running ISO's over the network. BR bitrate is still way below gigabit.

Make sure you attach all NAS/DAS/Mini stuff to a gigabit switch like the D-Link DGS-108 or so. You probably already have a nice Wifi router with some 100 mbit ports, you can keep that and just extend it with the switch. The DGS-108 can handle 2gbit between 2 machines on full duplex, and do that on 4 sets op computers simultaneously making the effective transfer up to 8gbit. Pretty decent for a 35$ switch. It also does gigabit on cat 5 cables.
 

drsox

macrumors 65816
Apr 29, 2011
1,474
36
Xhystos
A word to the wise - don't use Cat5 cables, use Cat5e, they are usually gigabit certified.
 

SpinalTap

macrumors regular
Sep 25, 2003
205
15
Bournville, UK
The perfect partner for the Mac Mini is the miniStack Max from Newertech.

http://tinyurl.com/6p8aapu

It is the same form factor as the Mac Mini, and can be specified with a Bluray Writer and your choice of hard drive (options include BD Writer, BD Reader, or CD/DVD Read/Write).

Or, you can buy a 'bare-bones' version with no optical drive or hard drive - with you adding your choice of optical drive and hard disk).

In the USA, they are available from OWC - http://tinyurl.com/mlnyb5d

As for BD burning software, I use Pavtube iMedia Converter for Mac - http://tinyurl.com/m4uuzox
 

Gizmo22

macrumors regular
Original poster
Oct 22, 2009
148
1
Midwest USA
The perfect partner for the Mac Mini is the miniStack Max from Newertech.

http://tinyurl.com/6p8aapu

It is the same form factor as the Mac Mini, and can be specified with a Bluray Writer and your choice of hard drive (options include BD Writer, BD Reader, or CD/DVD Read/Write).

Or, you can buy a 'bare-bones' version with no optical drive or hard drive - with you adding your choice of optical drive and hard disk).
Thanks everyone - especially above. I was having difficulty deciding to use a Mac Pro or a Mac Mini, with the Pro certainly being more attractive for the purposes an all in one solution and expandability. I am somewhat concerned the wife will never be able to watch a movie on her own, but a $60 Blu Ray player may solve that issue.

Coupled with Air Play, I think a Mac Mini may be the best bet at this point in time, but I would need to get a non optical drive model to have AirPlay support. Could make the above solution a very enticing one.
 

blanka

macrumors 68000
Jul 30, 2012
1,549
3
A word to the wise - don't use Cat5 cables, use Cat5e, they are usually gigabit certified.
But if they lay around, give them a try. I use a lot of Cat 5's on gigabit. You can always order new ones.
 

phrehdd

macrumors 68040
Oct 25, 2008
3,269
725
I have a Mac Mini and also various other "tools" to display my archive of movies and find that probably the easiest ways would be the following -

Mac Mini with XBMC or Plex (XBMC and maybe Plex has a Menu Lite feature so you can play ISOs though a touch buggy).

An alternative would be something like DUNE player which comes in various models ranging from a streamer only to one that takes a hard drive to a blu ray player or combo. I have used Dune for a few years quite successfully and it has a loyal following. Presently, I find I only archive the movie itself and not all the extras since I usually only watch them once and thus the Mac Mini is fine (save for not doing HD Audio under OSX) and I also use my Oppo Blu Ray player that can not only play Blu Ray discs but does an excellent job of streaming my media files with HD audio goodness.

In your shoes, I would investigate all the options but if you do use a Mac Mini, do make sure to play around with XBMC and Plex as they are free excellent front ends.
 

blanka

macrumors 68000
Jul 30, 2012
1,549
3
44.1 khz PCM is just as good as Dolby HD. Here's why:
http://xiph.org/video/vid2.shtml
So just go for the Mini.
IMO any mediaplayer is a useless machine after 3 years as software updates are either gone, or will be overdemanding for your player.
The Mini will be a good computer for 10 years at least.
 

John Kotches

macrumors 6502
Jan 19, 2010
366
1
Troy, IL (STL Area)
44.1 khz PCM is just as good as Dolby HD.
This depends on a number of factors, including how particular you might be about audio.

First off, to get to 44.1 KHz you have to go through Sampling Rate Conversion, as the source track is 48KHz. Sampling Rate Conversion degrades sound quality. Whether or not that's audible is another discussion entirely.

Raw PCM vs Dolby TrueHD (or DTS HD Master Audio for that matter) on a disc is wasteful, as you have finite storage and bandwidth. With both lossless compression codecs the same bits that went into the encoder come back out of the decoder. Typical compression rates are ~2:1 for stereo and 2.5-3:1 for surround mixes.

Unless you're making some other argument that isn't entirely clear I disagree with you.
 

Gizmo22

macrumors regular
Original poster
Oct 22, 2009
148
1
Midwest USA
An alternative would be something like DUNE player which comes in various models ranging from a streamer only to one that takes a hard drive to a blu ray player or combo. I have used Dune for a few years quite successfully and it has a loyal following. Presently, I find I only archive the movie itself and not all the extras since I usually only watch them once and thus the Mac Mini is fine (save for not doing HD Audio under OSX) and I also use my Oppo Blu Ray player that can not only play Blu Ray discs but does an excellent job of streaming my media files with HD audio goodness.

In your shoes, I would investigate all the options but if you do use a Mac Mini, do make sure to play around with XBMC and Plex as they are free excellent front ends.
Have used Dune before with Windows - are/were you able to use the Blu Ray drive to rip discs onto a Mac attached drive?

XBMC and Plex gave me issues with Blu Ray isos.
 

John Kotches

macrumors 6502
Jan 19, 2010
366
1
Troy, IL (STL Area)
Have used Dune before with Windows - are/were you able to use the Blu Ray drive to rip discs onto a Mac attached drive?

XBMC and Plex gave me issues with Blu Ray isos.
I don't use the OWC item yet, but I can tell you that I use makemkv to RIP with a Samsung external Bluray to .mkv with no troubles at all.

Regards,
 

phrehdd

macrumors 68040
Oct 25, 2008
3,269
725
Have used Dune before with Windows - are/were you able to use the Blu Ray drive to rip discs onto a Mac attached drive?

XBMC and Plex gave me issues with Blu Ray isos.
I am unsure of your question (what you mean).

In my case, I use an external Blu Ray unit attached to my Mac to handle the burning/ripping exercise.

Dune is used strictly for playback. The Dune is hooked up to the TV and gets the files from your storage (or shared Mac) via Ethernet. I don't recommend wifi for BD quality movies but works great for DVD quality. Dune comes in a few version from just streaming (no internal storage) to add a hard drive and one with a Blu Ray player included (all do the streaming) and then their flagship with both Blu Ray player and hard drive.

I use XBMC for playing files on my Mac and sometimes TV and now use my Blu Ray player to play back media files via my network as it does the same job with good results just not the great screen menus that XBMC or Plex has.

Dune on the other hand has a rather unorthodox 3rd party way of making great screens and it resembles other good front ends.
 

Gizmo22

macrumors regular
Original poster
Oct 22, 2009
148
1
Midwest USA
I am unsure of your question (what you mean).
I was questioning the ability to share an internal optical drive installed in the Dune across the network - since posing the question I have found a few documents saying it is not quite capable.
 

phrehdd

macrumors 68040
Oct 25, 2008
3,269
725
I was questioning the ability to share an internal optical drive installed in the Dune across the network - since posing the question I have found a few documents saying it is not quite capable.
That is correct - it is a "player" only. The Dune is entirely a playback unit with advanced capabilities of playback.

To get your movies/music over to drive is another exercise.