MBP vs Mac Mini for use with projector

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Chizzel732, Mar 17, 2013.

  1. Chizzel732 macrumors newbie

    Mar 17, 2013
    Hello, I'm a new member and this is my first time posting here (or anywhere for that matter). I'm hoping you can help me solve this problem or at least better understand it.

    I currently have a MB (specs at end of post) hooked up to an Epson projector, but periodically the image turns to "snow" and then goes black for a second before returning. This seems to occur mainly when watching video or loading pages with videos, more often if several pages are open. I'm not claiming to know whats going on, but the best I can tell from what I've read it seems the MB may not be up to the task of powering a large external display, at least in HD. (Maybe the integrated GPU is not powerful enough???...guess this is really the first place I could use input)

    Anyway, I am considering purchasing another Mac to use with the projector (can either keep the macbook or sell it). Here is where I'm hoping you can help me:

    1) Which would give better picture quality when using a large external display (projector)...MBP vs Mac Mini?....and why? (I don't play any games, just streaming video, surfing web, etc...)
    -I'm not sure I truly understand when having an integrated vs dedicated GPU really matters...was under the impression this was mainly when it comes to games.

    2) If I am going to buy one of the two, should I go with the HDD or SSD option and can I add to the internal storage aftermarket to save money or would my only option be to add an external HD or NAS?

    3) If it turns out that the dedicated GPU is important (which I believe leaves me with the MBP)...for the price would I be better off to get a refurbished Mac Pro, since I already have a laptop?
    - When I recalculated the prices for each MBP with the different upgrades (Processors/RAM/Storage) it seems you very quickly get in the price range of a Mac Pro...which has much more potential for future expansion/upgrades, right?

    Thank you in advance for both you help and your patience! I know I'm all over the place with my questions and I'm sorry if my assumptions or terminology are incorrect. I'm trying to learn, just have a long way to go still.

    Current MacBook Specs:
    2008 (Aluminum), 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, 4GB 1067 MHz DDR3, NVIDIA GeForce 9400M 256MB
  2. tdhurst macrumors 601


    Dec 27, 2003
    Phoenix, AZ
  3. Chizzel732 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 17, 2013
    Native Resolution = 1080p (1920 x 1080)
    Epson Powerlite Home Cinema 8350
  4. phrehdd macrumors 68040


    Oct 25, 2008
    1) depends on what you are using as files - the Mac Mini with Plex or XBMC seems to do very well. The only caveat is under Mac OSX, they cannot play HD Audio and will reduce it to core. The MB should be a similar experience.

    2) SSD will make your Mac a bit faster but for playback of movies, it has no value. Even the slower 5400 speed hard drives are fast enough. So you may consider that external drive after all. SSD drives are expensive and have far less room than their elecro-mechanical counterparts. Unless you are fairly savvy at opening computers, the Mac Mini will be daunting. I have 2 SSD in my Mac Mini and be forewarned - the IR connection requires you to remove it very carefully or risk breakage. I also have NAS and external direct added storage.

    3) Playback can take advantage of some GPU chipsets. However, if unavailable a good CPU works just fine. A quad Mac Mini should be more than enough and should last for media playback needs for a long while.

    Don't get the Mac Pro - it is not only over priced but out dated. If you scan various forums they (Mac Pro owners) are waiting for the new model to come out this year. I hope when you say Mac Pro you mean the tower system and not the laptop. The other reason to not bother with the Mac Pro tower is that it is large, can be loud and is truly overkill.

    I suggest you look at Plex and XBMC forums since they are free apps dedicated to watching / listening to media files. If you decide for some reason you must have HD Audio, you can install Windows or Linux on the Mac Mini.

    Not to be a pain but if your only purpose is to run your Epson projector, you might want to move over to a more dedicated media player such as Popcorn Hour or better yet - Dune media players. (Only reason to stick with Apple would be iTunes movie rentals and purchases which are something I avoid.)
  5. Chizzel732 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 17, 2013
    Thanks for the response!
    I like having the computer hooked up to the projector because it allows me the utilize the large screen for everything I do online. I have an Apple TV as well which is also connected to the projector, but I enjoy using projecting the MacBook as I frequently use Amazon to stream movies, as well as YouTube, Hulu, and Slingbox (for cable).
    As I suspected, I very quickly found myself having to look things up just to keep up with your explanation, lol...like I said, I still have a lot to learn. I had to look up both Plex & XBMC. From what I understand, they are Media Players...similar to QuickTime, WMP, or VLC I suppose although maybe capable of additional functions that I'm unaware of. I'm not certain how these could help me though as the problem I'm having occurs when I'm on the web viewing videos on sites like YouTube, or streaming movies from Amazon (both of which if I'm not mistaken host their own players).
    It would be very helpful to me if someone is willing to explain the difference between an integrated vs dedicated GPU and when it makes a difference which one you have. Specifically, the Mac Mini (as well as the MacBook Pro 13") have an Intel HD Graphics 4000, whereas the MacBook Pro 15" comes with a NVIDIa GeForce GT 650M w/ 1GB GDDR5 memory. Keeping in mind that I will be using it with a projector (native resolution 1080p, 1920 x 1080) when would I notice the difference between these two? I do not play any games...just surf the web, stream cable via slingbox HD, stream videos via amazon, and watch Hulu, YouTube, etc...

    Essentially, I would like to know the differences between a MBP and Mac Mini (other than the built in display, keyboard, and optical disc drive). I started by asking about the Graphics capabilities because those will be a big deciding factor as it will be used with a projector and the quality of the image is important to me. However any feedback regarding important differences between these two devices would be greatly appreciated. Thanks again!

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