Mac Pro - can u turn into HTPC?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by cdika17, Oct 16, 2009.

  1. cdika17 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2007
    #1
    I've read through so many threads and posts my head hurts and need help deciding what to do.

    I first looked at Apple TV, seems like a limited, easy to use interface unless you hack it and can get a bit more out of it.

    Then looked at Mac Mini, can do same at ATV plus more. (Not going to get into the details.)

    Question is, I have a Mac Pro that i don't use very much, what can i do to it to make it a superior HTPC, my specs are as follows:
    • Processor 065-6355 2.00 GHz Quad Xeon
    • Memory 065-6358 2GB 667 DDR2 FB DIMM ECC-4x512
    • Graphics Card 065-6363 ATI Radeon X1900 XT 512MB
    • Hard Drive Bay1 065-6409 250GB Serial ATA 3Gb/s drive
    • Hard Drive Bay2 065-6742 None
    • Hard Drive Bay3 065-6743 None
    • Hard Drive Bay4 065-6744 None
    • Optical Drive 065-6251 16x SuperDrive DL
    • Wireless Option 065-6140 None
    • Modem 065-6455 None
    • Fibre Chl Card 065-6285 None
    • Keyboard Language 065-6287 Apple Keyboard & Mighty Mse
    • Mac SVR OS Language 065-5988 None
    • Apple Software Applications 065-6419 None
    • Mac OS Language 065-6245 Mac OS X
    • Country Kit 065-6244 Country Kit


    I have upgraded it to Snow Leopard and added wireless card.
    I got this back in Jan '07, it cost me quite the penny and I hardly use it, I use dell laptops for work and had been just using those for now. But since i just finished my theater room downstairs, i want to have a media center.

    How do I turn this into a DVD/Bluray rippin, media interfacin, crazy arse media tank? Or is it possible?
     
  2. rtrt, Oct 16, 2009
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2011
  3. Dr.Pants macrumors 65816

    Dr.Pants

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2009
    #3
    You *can* turn your MacPro into a media center... SATA blu-ray reader, Windows, optical audio to a receiver, and a DVI->HDMI cable.

    However, it will suck power and will make noise. Since you've used it in the past, I assume you know these things ;) You can set fan RPM lower with SMCFanControl but less heat will be dissipated which may cause some problems. Not to mention it won't do the FB-DIMMs any favors, either.
     
  4. nanofrog macrumors G4

    Joined:
    May 6, 2008
    #4
    Sell it, and build an appropriate system. You'll actually be happier in the end I'd think.
     
  5. cdika17 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2007
    #5
    And if i have no idea on how to build a system, then what? :)
     
  6. rtrt, Oct 16, 2009
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2011
  7. frimple macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2008
    Location:
    Denver, CO
    #7
  8. nanofrog macrumors G4

    Joined:
    May 6, 2008
    #8
    The Engadget article that's linked is a good start, but there's others if you do a quick search. ;) Easy to find, but will take a little while to read throught it all. :D

    It all comes down to the research to make sure that all the parts will work together as you want. The build itself isn't that hard, so long as you can use a screwdriver. :p
     
  9. gugucom macrumors 68020

    gugucom

    Joined:
    May 21, 2009
    Location:
    Munich, Germany
    #9
    Mac Pro as HTPC

    The Mac Pro is an excellent base for an enthusiast HTPC. It easily takes 8 TB of hard drive storage for movies which is really outstanding. It can run one of the best Media software, the mighty EyeTV.

    It can receive a SATA Blu_Ray ROM and play back full high definition movies with Bootcamp Windows. There are software products that enable you to rip your DVDs and BDs to HDD and stream the movies to any Mac or PC in your house at any time.

    The Mac Pro makes an excellent media server for other PCs and Macs in the rest of the house if you set it to share the Terabytes of movies, music and photos you can store on it. It takes a bit more juice than an Apple TV but that can be accomodated by selecting low power components.

    The Mac Pro makes a wonderful base for satellite TV if you add one or two digital high definition TV cards (check out Digital Everywhere's FloppyDTV-S2) and EyeTV will download the digital program (EPG) for you. You can pre program all your favourite programs for two weeks ahead and have them put on hard disk to watch at your leasure. If you subscribe to a service like Sky in Germany you get several hundred movies per year and a good deal of those in 1080p HD. You can store those on HDD to watch whenever you like.

    The flexible graphics of the Mac Pro let you hook up to any high definition viewing screen you might wish. Plasma or LED back lighted LCDs up to 70" or projectors for bigger audiences can all be used. With SPDIF digital audio it connects to any high powered audio system that you may want to hook it up to.

    If you hit a source that comes in a non favoured format or codec you need not worry. The Mac Pro has plenty processing power to transcode any material to your most favoured format in a fraction of the time it would take a lesser Mac or your average PC to do the job. The ability to natively run the Mac Pro in Windows Vista-64 or Seven-64 will make sure you can take advantage of all the 64-bit processing power that cutting edge video apps demand.

    If you are into creating your own movies or music the Mac Pro really starts to shine. It runs all the apps that musicians, photographers and video artists typically use to create content. You can move from a passive consumer to actively generating content of your own creation.

    So for the demanding enthusiast a Mac Pro is the best HTPC machine money can buy.
     
  10. Tesselator macrumors 601

    Tesselator

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2008
    Location:
    Japan
    #10
    I think we need the OP to define what (S)HE means by HTPC. What exactly will (s)he be doing with it?

    Just playing DVDs?
    Playing BRDs?
    Ripping?
    Building an access library?
    Using surround or stereo?
    What size and type of screen?

    What (s)he has now may already be good enough or even over-kill. So much depends on what a HTPC is to him/her.
     
  11. goMac macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2004
    #11
    It'll suck too much power if you ask me, but it's actually not that loud.

    But yeah, you need to tell us what you want it to have, in addition to the kind of tv service you have. Your TV service type will expand or limit your options.
     
  12. cdika17 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2007
    #12
    I am indeed a he, lol.

    And I intend to:
    Play DVD/BluRay
    Rip DVD/BluRay
    Add to my library of Music/Movies, use some sort of interface.
    Surround for movies and stereo for music.
    I run rotel gear and Mitsubishi pj on 110" Carada screen.
    TV Service is thru Bell Canada, HDPVR Satelitte

    All my music.movies now are all in itunes, so downloading/renting movies is also important
     
  13. calderone macrumors 68040

    calderone

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2009
    Location:
    Seattle
    #13
    You can, buy why waste such a powerful machine?

    I personally have a Mini as my HTPC. It gets it files from my Mini running Mac OS X server, which shares files off my Drobo.
     
  14. cdika17 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2007
    #14

    Thats why im trying to use it instead if it sitting in my computer room, and if i can use it for what i need, i won't need to go buy a mini or atv. If this machine will effectvly do what i want it to do, then at least it's getting used.
     
  15. gugucom macrumors 68020

    gugucom

    Joined:
    May 21, 2009
    Location:
    Munich, Germany
    #15
    So go ahead and do it. Or are you having questions on details here?

    Typically wiring and connectivity issues are things you start with and then you need to set requirements and look at the software and potential hardware add ons that let you upgrade the Mac Pro to the functionality you desire.
     
  16. cdika17 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2007
    #16
    Ya i just need to know what i need to add and or upgrade.
    Def gonna need more storage + memory
    BR drive for rippn and playn BR.
     
  17. gugucom macrumors 68020

    gugucom

    Joined:
    May 21, 2009
    Location:
    Munich, Germany
    #17
    Yep, you want to exploit your options for internal HDD. Basically you can have 8 TB. You can use this as one huge drive if you want to go without internal backup. With internal backup you still get 4 TB which isn't so bad either.

    RAM memory isn't an issue unless you start to doing creative work. For playing back stuff from the Net, DVD and Blu-Ray you don't need much RAM.

    Get a service for HD content with high bandwidth and your money will buy you stuff you will like.
     
  18. Tesselator macrumors 601

    Tesselator

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2008
    Location:
    Japan
    #18
    Just 3 things; Procs, memory, and drives.

    1. For procs you can get 4 core CPUs at 3 GHz for about $500 or less if you keep an eye out. 2.66 GHz procs are also "good enough" maybe but not incredibly cheaper - About $400 ~ $500 if you look around.

    2. For RAM you only need about 8 GB to do what you say you're interested in doing. More can be a little better maybe but it's diminishing returns after 8 GB.

    3. For drives you need huge space for movies (especially BRD rips) so I would install either four 2 TB drives in a RAID 0 or four 1.5 TB drives in a RAID 0. I would then run the two unused SATA connectors external to some enclosure of your choosing that housed two more 2TB or 1.5 TB drives as a weekly or daily backup - keeping it turned off when not backing up.

    And that's pretty much all you need. Everything else is up to snuff for what you say you wanna do. Total cost is about $1,600 ~ $1,700 or about $1,000 even if you can sell your old procs for like $300 each - I dunno what they actually go for these days.


    PS: You do NOT need windows or bootcamp.
     
  19. kate-willbury macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2009
    #19
    my $400 htpc can run circles around a macbook in terms of energy efficiency, media playability, storage connectivity, audio/usb/actual hdmi ports etc etc etc. plus it actually has a blu-ray player. your suggestion that a MACBOOK PRO would be the best htpc machine money can buy is the most ludicrous and absurd statement i've read on these forums today.
     
  20. ildondeigiocchi macrumors 6502a

    ildondeigiocchi

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2007
    Location:
    Montreal
    #20
    I still haven't been able to get my Bluray player to play bluray movies in windows XP so I don't know how great a Mac Pro would be for a HTPC.
     
  21. gugucom macrumors 68020

    gugucom

    Joined:
    May 21, 2009
    Location:
    Munich, Germany
    #21
    I would disagree with that. You need Bootcamp Windows to rip Blu-Ray or play it back.
     
  22. gugucom macrumors 68020

    gugucom

    Joined:
    May 21, 2009
    Location:
    Munich, Germany
    #22
    I'm also having problems with my Cyberlink PowerDVD 7.3 play back software on the 2009 model. It has problems to self register software components. I did not have that problem with my 2006 Mac Pro. I'm a bit reluctant to shell out another 80 € for PowerDVD 9.0 which I do not realy need if the other product of that software manufacturer would work properly.

    I can rip BDs though with the Fox software. So that is ok for the moment. If I really need play back I will probably use a product by a competitor to Cyberlink. I hate software that doesn't work reliably and tries to screw you for more money with phony upgrades. My EyeTV software is payed once and gets updated for free. Why should a consumer pay for upgrades that are caused by changes in the DRM and are no improvement to the actual product. Let Hollywood pay for the DRM upgrades.
     
  23. cdika17 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2007
    #23
    I already use bootcamp and windows xp for some gaming so that end is covered.

    Can you guys recommend sites where i can find the procs, mem and drives? Take note that I am from Canada.

    So for media software, people recommend eyetv(i already have hd satelitte so don't know if i need eyetv or if it will work up here), front row for an interface? DVD/BluRay software?

    Would i need a graphic card update? Sound Card?
     
  24. WytRaven macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2009
    Location:
    Orbiting Mercury
    #24
    This post just baffles me...

    This is like asking if a Lamborghini can pull a caravan. Well of course it can (it could probably pull six!) but who the hell would want to defile a Lamborghini with such a menial task? ;)
     
  25. frimple macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2008
    Location:
    Denver, CO
    #25
    Dude, I tote my stratus with my enzo all the time! It's a great towing car, I had U-HAUL install the hitch! ;)
     

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