Media Server, How old of a Mac Mini should I use?

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by Pedro2NR, May 28, 2013.

  1. Pedro2NR macrumors newbie

    Apr 28, 2009
    Hi guys, I didn't want to hijack anyone's thread but I wanted some advice on a Mac Mini purchase. I am looking to use a Mac Mini as a media server that will be running 24/7 and hook up some external HD and run Plex on it.

    I want to purchase a used Mac Mini but know know how old I should go before loosing quality/performance of my media server goals.

    Anyone have recommendations on what specs I should go?
  2. FreakinEurekan macrumors 68040


    Sep 8, 2011
    Eureka Springs, Arkansas
    Certainly a Core 2 Duo at a minimum, but I'd suggest nothing older than a 2010 unibody model to give you the ability to upgrade the RAM easily.
  3. Pedro2NR thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 28, 2009
    Thanks for that information. From what I read, 8GB of RAM seems to be a good amount to upgrade to.
  4. mwhities macrumors 6502a

    Jul 13, 2011
    I had a 2009 Mac mini with 8Gs of ram, 64G SSD, and a 750G 7200RPM HDD running 24/7 serving out iTunes (home shared) and Plex.

    Never had a hiccup with it.
  5. Hirakata macrumors 6502


    Mar 17, 2011
    Burbank, CA
    Sounds more like you'll be using it as a HTPC running Plex, no? If truly a media server, you can use a computer pretty much as old as you can find. I have a PowerMac 7300 (from 1997) I use as a server. As an HTPC, I use a 2009 (2 Ghz Core 2 Duo) Mini with 8GB of RAM. It's been running just fine. (I don't use Plex.)
  6. jmcgeejr macrumors 6502


    Oct 7, 2010
    Seattle, WA
    It really depends, if you are using plex on it and plan on streaming to other devices in the house (rokus,android,iOS) then you want it to be a bit more beefier as the transcoding can be a bit brutal depending on what the original source is and to where it's going to. If you are just going to run plex server and the client on the box and have it play locally, one of the unibody mac minis and even the generation before that would work.
  7. Pedro2NR thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 28, 2009
    I want to stream it to my 3 Apple Tvs in House.
    Yes I would like to ability to stream my kid's iPad or my Android device.
    I would assume I am looking at a 2012 model?
  8. geeji macrumors newbie

    Jul 24, 2012
    I have a 2.66GHz Late 2009 Core 2 Duo Mac Mini : it is borderline on HDTV decoding (CPU usage above 2x80%) and will definitely NOT support parallel activities such as streaming.
    A Mid 2011 Mac Mini has much better CPU headroom and a better graphic card.
  9. blanka macrumors 68000

    Jul 30, 2012
    I have a 2009 2.26 and it never drops a frame. I don't do streaming downloads, but high-bit MKV's and real BR discs play flawless. And the fan does not kick in.
  10. FreakinEurekan macrumors 68040


    Sep 8, 2011
    Eureka Springs, Arkansas
    If your budget allows, a base 2012 model will work great & give you some extra horsepower for tasks that need it (e.g. converting videos to .M4V). However if you can find a good deal on a mid-2010 or 2011 model they will certainly do the job. As @geeji said a Core2Duo is even enough, just a lot harder to upgrade the RAM. If you can find a 2009 already upgraded for a good price and your budget is tight, that would work fine.
  11. comatory macrumors 6502a


    Apr 10, 2012
    i have 2009 C2D mini with 2GB of RAM, running Snow Leopard.

    it works as a Plex server - it can serve two simultaneous streams via wi-fi with no problem.

    it handles full HD files just fine, it can transcode as well though you have to wait a bit. the only thing I'd get is more RAM but that is just minor complaint.

    If I were looking for a new HTPC i would probably look at base 2011 model (dual core), if it was too expensive, I would consider 2010 as well.
  12. Santabean2000 macrumors 68000


    Nov 20, 2007
    I have the 2011 mini with the AMD HD 6330M. This handles everything I throw at it, including multiple streams. I would recommend this model (not the Intel graphics) or a base 2012. Running the latest OS is important to me, so these two models will last a few years yet.

    Check the refurb store for a bargain price, but be quick when you foot kne - they go fast.
  13. talmy macrumors 601


    Oct 26, 2009
    I've got two 2009 base model (2GB RAM) minis used as entertainment servers running primarily Plex, but occasionally Safari or iTunes. I've also got a 2009 Mac mini with Snow Leopard server (4GB RAM) which runs Plex Server, iTunes (as a server), Quicken in a Windows virtual machine, TimeMachine server, and a bunch of other services. No performance issues with any of them.

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