mac pro home theater pc

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by nmeun87007, Oct 31, 2010.

  1. nmeun87007, Oct 31, 2010
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2011

    nmeun87007 macrumors newbie

    Oct 31, 2010

    i have a 2006 Mac Pro that i use for light daily computing (blu-ray rips, internet, web design, etc, nothing really intense) i am thinking about putting together a rack system for my home theater. i was wondering if putting in a second video card (ati 5770) and then running that to my receiver (marantz 8002) would be a good idea.

    here are my current specs

    Model Name: Mac Pro
    Model Identifier: MacPro1,1
    Processor Name: Dual-Core Intel Xeon
    Processor Speed: 2.66 GHz
    Number Of Processors: 2
    Total Number Of Cores: 4
    L2 Cache (per processor): 4 MB
    Memory: 16 GB
    Bus Speed: 1.33 GHz
    Boot ROM Version: MP11.005C.B08
    SMC Version (system): 1.7f10

    NVIDIA GeForce 7300 GT:

    Chipset Model: NVIDIA GeForce 7300 GT
    Type: GPU
    Bus: PCIe
    Slot: Slot-1
    PCIe Lane Width: x16
    VRAM (Total): 256 MB
    Vendor: NVIDIA (0x10de)
    Device ID: 0x0393
    Revision ID: 0x00a1
    ROM Revision: 3011
    Acer AL2416W:
    Resolution: 1920 x 1200 @ 60 Hz
    Pixel Depth: 32-Bit Color (ARGB8888)
    Main Display: Yes
    Mirror: Off
    Online: Yes
    Rotation: Supported
    Acer AL2416W:
    Resolution: 1920 x 1200 @ 60 Hz
    Pixel Depth: 32-Bit Color (ARGB8888)
    Mirror: Off
    Online: Yes
    Rotation: Supported
    Television: Yes

    i think that my macpro has more than enough power to run both 1080p and do my other computing work, i was just wondering if you guys had any suggestions on video cards? i have seen a couple on ebay that are reflashed window versions, but i am unsure if they will do what i need.

    also, would running mini display port to hdmi be better than dvi to hdmi? should i get a different sound card or just output from the toshlink?

    any suggestions would be appreciated

  2. Ryan P macrumors regular

    Aug 6, 2010
    Just curious what you use for playback of blu-ray rips and if you have had any issues there? Even on my 2010 Hexcore + 5870 there are a couple very high bit rate rips (17GB+ range) that still drop frames for me in VLC.

    In OS X, I see VLC with 1 core on those at about 80% and I assume the activity monitor just isn't granular enough to show it hitting 100% and dropping frames. In Win 7 VLC, my CPU usage is somewhere around negligible as it just offloads it all to the GPU...which also doesn't seem the least bit bothered.
  3. nmeun87007 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 31, 2010
    i have been using plex 9. it seems to be working great. i also use a WD TV Live and have not had any issues with that.
  4. Mackilroy macrumors 68040


    Jun 29, 2006
    I'd use Plex like nmeun87007 if I were you.
  5. PhoenixMac macrumors 65816

    Mar 7, 2010
    you should be okay just use a program like plex for playback, i use my mac mini server 2.5ghz 2gb ram and whatever video card came in them the gen before hdmi inputs I can play 20gb blu ray files with no blips through plex but when i play them through vlc i get stutters
  6. nmeun87007 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 31, 2010
    what do you guys think about the "flashed" ati 5770 cards on ebay? is it worth the extra savings or should i just order an "apple official" card?
  7. gugucom macrumors 68020


    May 21, 2009
    Munich, Germany
    I have been using Mac Pros for media centers for a long time. I use a 46 inch series9 Samsung TV for video output for two years now. This TV is set up as a second screen. The other work I do on a 21 inch Dell 4:3 screen. It works out very nicely. I do not use HDMI but use VGA where necessary with adapters. The picture quality is excellent. The VGA is plenty fast enough for the 1920x1080 resolution.

    The video card usually is never a bottle neck and I have used relatively low end cards in 2006 and 2009 machines. The 2006 machine uses a flashed X3870 PC card with a big and low revving two slot Akasa active heat sink. The 2009 machine uses a standard GT120.

    I rip Blu-Rays with Windows (even XP will do this but I actually use Vista) with AnyDVD-HD to rip the blue-ray files minus the protection and the advertising to HDD. Switching between operating systems is a PITA but there is nothing like AnyDVD-HD in OS X according to my experience. They do regular updates almost every second month to stay up to date with current Blu-Ray editions. I get the OS switch times down by running both OS X and Windows from SSDs. When I'm done with ripping I go back to OS X and use VLC to put the bits and pieces into a TS container without actually transcoding the video.

    Most of my recorded stuff I get from a satellite TV link which gives me about 20 HDTV channels. Some of them I get by subscription, some are included in my TV tax. All satellite TV runs through a FireDTV S2 CI receiver made by Digital Everywhere. This unit is connected to my Mac Pro by firewire and works seamlessly with EyeTV with the original remote control.

    If I want to convert native mpeg-2 from DVDs to mpeg-4 level I usually use handbrake. I use the double run option and set the quality to use about half the space that the original mpeg-2 level uses. The picture quality does not visually suffer much, if at all.
  8. Ryan P macrumors regular

    Aug 6, 2010
    I've been playing around with Plex 9. Nice program that I had not seen before! I am finding the lack of mouse control a little off putting though. I can understand why that might not matter for a proper home theater...but still seemed hard to control things....

    My current just a LED Cinema 27" on a Coffee Table that I use for TV via iTunes and Movies largely via downloads. Almost everything here is region blocked and it's only because I have a US credit card and iTunes goes based on that.....that I am able to get US TV shows.

    I'm a little space constrained...but hey I live 100 feet from the Caribbean sea :). That TV never gets turned on as the local cable is crap and so is the set!
    Just need to redo this photo with my new Mac Pro in it!

    Attached Files:

  9. ActionableMango macrumors G3


    Sep 21, 2010
  10. gabicava83 macrumors regular

    Aug 31, 2010
    Reminds me of when I used to live in Cancun, gorgeous.

  11. ekwipt macrumors 6502a

    Jan 14, 2008
    A Macpros I probably too powerful for a media server you may be better off selling it and putting the money towards a dedicated media server based around Linux.

    I have a PS3, I'm looking into putting together an unRaid server with Playstion server loaded on the USB stick.

    Maybe you could buy a Mac mini to run Plex on or Apple Tv if you don't need full 1080.
  12. Ryan P macrumors regular

    Aug 6, 2010
    Oh just wanted to say that I was way too quick in writing off Plex. I played with it more and it really sold me when I realized how it managed to get all the metadata for all my Movies on my hard drive automagically.

    Quite a learning curve to really get proficient with it, but I think I've finally gotten comfortable enough with it that I am ok with zooming around using a keyboard for control. I looked at some of the Windows alternatives, and Plex really blows them away.

    Also if you have not tried it take a look at "MakeMKV" it works on both Windows and OS X. It seems great from making MKV's from Blu-ray. It only takes a couple clicks to insert a Blu-ray, make a MKV, and start watching it in Plex. You don't need Windows at all with this process.

    I'm currently working on doing 3 seasons of Blu-ray Mad Men to MKV this way. You don't get the disc navigation stuff, but that stuff always drives me nuts anyway. You can still get the extra audio tracks with directors commentary and stuff though.

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