Mac mini storage considerations

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by gigatoaster, Nov 3, 2018.

  1. gigatoaster macrumors 6502

    gigatoaster

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2018
    Location:
    Singapore
    #1
    Hello there

    I’m planning to buy a new Mac mini. I’m considering the following storage options:

    1. Internal SSD at 512 GB BTO
    2. External SSD via USB type-c
    3. External SSD via TB3
    4. NAS

    I will connect both my DAC & a HDD via USB type A for the music.

    My Mac mini will be used as a media center for music via Roon but also to watch downloaded TV shows & a few 4K HDR movies.

    I just realized that 4K movies are huge: from 50 GB per films but I don’t have a compulsive hoarding. I usually delete movies after watching but sometimes when I have friends over, it’s nice to have a bit of choice.

    My main requirements are noiseless if possible and fast enough to handle 4K movies on OLED TV with no lags.

    Which option would you recommend and what would be your selection criteria?

    Thanks in advance for your help!

    Would you recommend the Mac mini for a 4K media center?
     
  2. StellarVixen macrumors 68000

    StellarVixen

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2018
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    Earth
    #2
    If you are going to move those 50GB files around a lot, go with the TB3. It can get you to near built in storage speeds, the downside is that TB3 external drives are pricey. Most probable reason for this is that there is still no reasonable demand for them. Same as with eGPU enclosures, they have became slightly more popular in recent years, but they need to be popular more for the price to go down.
     
  3. Dr. Stealth, Nov 3, 2018
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2018

    Dr. Stealth macrumors 6502a

    Dr. Stealth

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2004
    Location:
    SoCal-Surf City USA
    #3
    I run a Synology NAS and love it. Not only will it hold all your media, movies, music and photos but configured in a RAID it will keep everything backed-up and safe.

    It will also run a iTunes Server, Plex Server, Roon Server, PhotoStation and many other great apps. This would take a huge load off your mini and you may not need as much CPU, RAM or storage on your new mini.

    It will store your media
    It will back-up your media
    It will serve your media

    All in one nice box...

    Plus it has a very nice Mac-like OS accessed from any browser.

    Screen Shot 2018-11-03 at 10.42.19 AM.png

    I have over 200 BluRay rips. Straight rips .M2TS, not re-encoded, plus many other movies. I can watch them over WiFi without any issues.

    Screen Shot 2018-11-03 at 10.54.22 AM.png
     
  4. F-Train macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2015
    Location:
    NYC & Newfoundland
    #4
    What would be the practical advantages, if any, to connecting a Mac mini to a setup like yours with 10 Gigabit Ethernet. Would the difference in speed be noticeable/useful?
     
  5. killawat macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2014
    #5
    Your network backend would need to be provisioned for 10 Gigabit networking and of course your storage backend would need to be able to achieve speeds that outpace a 1Gb connection (generally 100 MB\s). Its not difficult depending on your tech skills but it can be expensive if using off the shelf solutions.
     
  6. F-Train macrumors 65816

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    Apr 22, 2015
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    NYC & Newfoundland
    #6
    Yes, I understand what’s involved in doing this. My question is whether you think this would result in a significant difference in performance for how you are using your NAS. In other words, would you do it yourself, or would the improvement be marginal?
     
  7. Sko, Nov 3, 2018
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2018

    Sko macrumors 6502

    Sko

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2009
    Location:
    Germany
    #7
    Just to clarify, a NAS is NOT a backup. It has some fail-safe, if configured correctly, but a backup is a different thing.

    Edit: I run a Synology (Xpenology) NAS in RAID 6 and one hot spare, and I'm loving it, too. But I would never consider this to be a backup. I do an rsync to a LaCie 5Big NAS Pro in RAID 5 with one hot spare in a different building every morning. Also, every Mac in the network has a local disk for Time Machine.
     
  8. Dr. Stealth, Nov 3, 2018
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2018

    Dr. Stealth macrumors 6502a

    Dr. Stealth

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2004
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    #8
    I agree , technically a NAS is not a backup. But it's pretty fail safe.

    So a NAS should never be considered a backup but you backing up your NAS to a NAS correct?

    I guess everyone has their own comfort level concerning backups. I know people who keep a third (or 4th) backup in a Bank Vault.
     
  9. tedson macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2002
    #9
    And the MPAA police will be coming after you in FOUR, THREE, TWO, ONE. ... knock knock
     
  10. Dr. Stealth, Nov 3, 2018
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2018

    Dr. Stealth macrumors 6502a

    Dr. Stealth

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    #10

    It's 10x faster than 1000BASE-T. But I would have to upgrade my NAS to get 10Gb Ethernet. And I have no problems now running with 1000BASE-T. At this point it's governed by the Law of Dimishing Return.
    --- Post Merged, Nov 3, 2018 ---

    I will invite them in and have a cocktail with them....

    Then, we will all watch BootLeg movies and eat popcorn together....

    :D
     
  11. gigatoaster thread starter macrumors 6502

    gigatoaster

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2018
    Location:
    Singapore
    #11
    Thanks for your messages.

    What is the reference of your NAS and do you have 4k UHD HDR movies, too? No issues playing them?
    If I go with external SSD via TB3, any recommandations regarding a reference?
     
  12. archer75 macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2005
    Location:
    Oregon
    #12
    No need for 10gb ethernet or a SSD for streaming 4k movies. I use a drobo as a DAS. I've used it on USB2 and USB3. I use 5400rpm NAS drives. Either 4k movies in MKV at various sizes or the full disc backup. Over 1000 movies and several hundred additional movies in 4k and being doing it for many years. No problem.
    I also simultaneously stream to other computers in the house as well as to family and friends outside the home.

    I have used other servers i've built over the years but I found a drobo plugged into my PC just makes my life easier.
     
  13. gigatoaster thread starter macrumors 6502

    gigatoaster

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2018
    Location:
    Singapore
    #13
    Hello there

    I'll get my mini on Friday, hopefully. So I am still considering 2 options for storage: A Samsung X5 or T5 or a Synology 718+

    The Samsung are extremely expensive and I wonder what would be the speed of the NAS on my network, connected via Ethernet

    At home, I don't have the possibility to test my ethernet speed, I don't have a dongle.

    However on Wifi I get around 400 Mbps, am I correct to assume I do have Gigabit Ethernet?
     
  14. michaelb5000 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2015
    #14
    I am still pondering my storage options as well, but you should add

    external M. 2 NVMe SSD in an enclosure that supports NVMe.

    There aren't many options yet for enclosures and the SSDs cost a bit more than SATA, but the speeds are close to TB3.
     
  15. gigatoaster thread starter macrumors 6502

    gigatoaster

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    Jul 22, 2018
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    #15
    Thanks, I haven't thought about this option. I'll check the price difference and the pain/gain of building this option vs a SSD already built.
     
  16. gigatoaster thread starter macrumors 6502

    gigatoaster

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    Jul 22, 2018
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    #16
    So far I am leading towards Synology NAS DS718+ but I have difficulty to understand transfer speed. I am not familiar with transfer speeds comparison, for instance between the NAS mentioned and the Samsung T5. I believe the X5 in 1 TB or 2 TB is too expensive for me, unfortunately.

    If anyone has experience on this, that would be great to share.
     
  17. nampramos, Nov 13, 2018
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2018

    nampramos macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2010
    #17
    Great, I'm not the only one researching and unsure which way to go.

    I too am most likely getting the new mini later this month, to replace an aging base 2014 13" rMBP.

    After too many hours of online reading to the point of eye pain, I'm still undecided.

    The new M.2 PCI drives offer ridiculous speed when attached directly to a motherboard or via TB3 but these speeds are greatly decrease when doing many random disk read/write of smaller files.

    So you should be careful at analyzing what particular use you'll be giving them.

    For me, I want something where I can edit 50MB RAW files for my photography work before I move those files to a more permanent storage.

    Before going on a one year "vacation" I was using a Synology 2-bay NAS connected directly to a fast Asus router and in return the MBP was also connected directly to the router via Ethernet cable. I must say, the speeds were not at all impressive but I had little choice since the MBP only has 120GB and most of the days I'd get back home with nearly that in RAW files. It worked, but wasn't ideal. The NAS is now sold but I still have the drives.

    Having the 10Gbo Ethernet option, I wonder how much better it would be editing from the NAS. If anyone has real life numbers to share, please do so. Synthetic benchmarks are normally far away from real world results and I tend to not give them much credit. Realistically though, setting up a 10Gbo network at home and a capable NAS with an M.2 cache/buffer drive is more expensive than the external M.2 route, the only advantage being that it's more flexible, being able to increase the size of your drives and having multiple devices/users accessing it.

    If those that are on the same boat as me but only want a media server or a place where to keep a backup of their data, I would not even bother with any SSD (either SATA3 or M.2) since any traditional USB3 external drive or NAS will be fast enough and in such situations you want vast amounts of GB, something that will be extremely expensive when using SSD or flash memory. But if you have $4000 to spend, OWC offers a great 4-bay M.2 portable mini tower that's about the size of two 3.5" on top of each other and 4*2TB NVMe to go with it.

    If you do end up going with M.2 (I know, even if it makes no sense it's hard to resist those insane numbers on paper), you can get the 500GB 960 EVO for a little over $120 and the 1TB equivalent for $230. Those prices decrease a bit if you opt for the SATA3 versions. On top of that you'll have to consider an external enclosure for it which can be anywhere from $30 for the SATA3 and closer to $100 for the TB3 speeds.

    Did this help make your decision earlier? Probably not :D
     
  18. gigatoaster thread starter macrumors 6502

    gigatoaster

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2018
    Location:
    Singapore
    #18
    Thanks for your message.

    Actually, it is very helpful because instead of looking for storage, I should first look at my usage. So I used 3 neurons and figure out what I have today. Mainly, I have 200 Gb of photos, 2 TB of music in FLAC or DSD format and 0 Gb of movies. I'm planning to download 4K UHD HDR rips which can be sized up to 60 Gb. So let's say 500 GB.

    In total, the space I would need is 4 to 6 Tb if I look in the future.

    So for that size, I can eliminate all SSD solutions and only focus on "mass storage" such as NAS, due to the cost. I need now to check if it is possible for instance to access a 40/60 Gb via ethernet on a NAs on my network without lags.
     
  19. tubedogg, Nov 13, 2018
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2018

    tubedogg macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2003
    #19
    I have a 2012 mini with two Mediasonic Probox HF2-SU3S2 attached via eSATA -> USB3 adapters, populated with eight 5400 RPM Seagate IronWolf NAS hard drives, ranging in size from 6 TB up to 10 TB. I have no problems streaming 1080p high-bit-rate movies from them, even multiple streams simultaneously. Have not tried 4K yet as we do not have a 4K TV to test with.

    Edit: We use Plex Media Server to organize and transcode content as needed.
     
  20. nampramos macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2010
    #20
    Glad I could help.

    Realistically, you'll be more than fine with a NAS. I was too, I just wanted more snappiness on the editing part. That's obviously due to latency and not the theoretical 100MB/s you can get from a standard Ethernet connection.

    I'm not entirely sure how you plan on streaming those uncompressed 4K files but I doubt it would excess the 100MB/s mark, but I could be wrong.

    Most Synology NAS these days can do real time decoding/encoding and then stream that signal to whatever device you want. You can be watching a movies on the sofa and then decide you want to finish it in bed on your iPad. Easy with a NAS, since it will stream to either devices.

    Another nice thing with a NAS is that you can start with a cheaper 2-bay version and let's say 2*4TB drives and whenever you need more space you either get bigger drivers or a 4-bay NAS and simply add 2 more drives.

    Keep in mind that a NAS isn't a true backup, since if your house catches fire or someone steals your NAS, even if you have an 8-bay and 8 copies of the same thing on all 8 disks, you'll still be without all of them due to fire/theft.

    The only backup it gives is against drive failure, which rarely happens (but so does fire/theft).

    PS: I'm sending you a PM since your music collection got me very interested (and jealous).
     
  21. gigatoaster thread starter macrumors 6502

    gigatoaster

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2018
    Location:
    Singapore
    #21
    Thanks for your answers.

    Specifically, I won't use the transcoding capabilities of a NAS. Today I am hesitating on buying on top of the Mac mini an Apple TV 4K with Infuse Pro if the Mac mini is enable to display HDR. So the NAS would only be use to store the movies and access it via VLC for instance. I just hope this configuration for large files of 60 GB would work flawlessly.
     
  22. nampramos macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2010
    #22
    Then you don't really need a NAS. A simple enclosure will do fine. You just need to decide how many HDD you want to fit inside the enclosure (or have more than one connected via a TB3 hub with several USB3 ports).
     
  23. tubedogg macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2003
    #23
    Just to point out, if you have a Mac mini and need to transcode, an enclosure will likely still serve you better, because a NAS is much more expensive than an enclosure, and your mini already has much more processing power to do transcoding.

    But agreed -- OP's use case definitely does not need a NAS.
     
  24. gigatoaster thread starter macrumors 6502

    gigatoaster

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    #24
    Alright! Any suggestions of products? Let say for 4 to 6 TB disk space?
     
  25. HDFan macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2007
    #25
    If you are going to stream to your TV via Plex (Plex client or infuse using Plex server), for a NAS you might want to consider one that will run Plex standalone. Why keep both the mini and the NAS running all the time for media access when all you really need is a NAS that will run Plex or some other media server? You might want to check the Plex compatibility list, as most will not handle 4K:

    https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet...Ac4oOLPRtCkgUxU0jdj3tmMPc/edit#gid=1274624273

    In my case I keep my photos and any things that I need fast access to on a local RAID drive where I can get around ~700 MB/s read/write rates. That way scrolling through thousands of photos in Lightroom is relatively speedy. Media, which doesn't need that kind of rate, I generally serve via the NAS, in my case a Western Digital PR4100. But since I stream to an Oppo which generally doesn't need transcoding the PR4100 is not stressed at all (<10% cpu). That might be an issue streaming to a TV.

    Yes. I just streamed Bladerunner 2049 and it seemed to peak at 100 Mbps, probably averaging around 70 Mbps, well within the range of 1 GB ethernet.

    As above, if all on the NAS, why keep the mini running?
     

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62 November 3, 2018