Mini Server - Heat & Plex.....

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by Ifti, May 19, 2012.

  1. Ifti macrumors 68000

    Dec 14, 2010
    I'm considering buying the Mac Mini Server when the new refresh is here later this year.
    Although I will not be using the server software, I am after the higher CPU.
    My main uses will be a HTPC, using Plex, general web browsing etc, and video encoding/exporting using iMovie - hence I will benefit with a better CPU rather then the discrete GPU.

    My Plex clients are my iPhone, iPad, MacBook, and via the MacMini itself.

    I will change one of the HDDs for a SSD at some point. I have no concern over space - the less the better - since I have a NAS, which I use to store all data and movies etc, and will use that to stream to the Mini.

    My main concern is heat and noise.
    As the server model currently comes with 2 7200rpm drives, and a higher end CPU, that equals more heat.
    I expect high rpm and noise when I export or encode via iMovie, or rip a DVD etc, but I'm concerned I'll get noise when using Plex.

    I'm interested to hear your experience when using Plex with the server Mini......
  2. lilsoccakid74 macrumors 6502

    Apr 13, 2010
    Since the new ivy bridge processors use less power, they SHOULD be cooler. After seeing how Apple thinks thermal paste is applied, I wouldn't be shocked to see the same thing with the next generation.
  3. silverjam macrumors regular

    Apr 25, 2012
    I have a current MM Server 2011 with the Server App disabled. I run it primarily as a Media Server like you want to. I have 8GB Ram with an OCZ Agility III SSD 240GB and a 1TB Scorpio Blue Hard Drive. If you are going to get an SSD make sure you get one with SandForce (OCZ or OWC for example) because OSX doesn't support Trim on non-apple SSD's, so the SandForce Chip covers that issue. Or you can get the Apple SSD where Trim is supported.

    Heat is not an issue with my MM Server but the fan does run hard sometimes during some video transcoding with iMedia and Handbrake.

    I have run Plex from the Server to other clients such as another MM and Macbook Airs and the Server just plods along with no major pushing when it is playing video such as AVI, MKV etc.

    If you are running the server as the client as well, which I do as it is sitting next to my 40" Flat Screen, then the fan can run a little hard sometimes but it usually calms down after the initial burst. I do not recall any excessive fan noise or heating while watching movies. I watch DVD TS folders and MKVs and AVIs that are about 8GB in size with no problems. Simple put, Plex or other video apps don't seem to bother the Quad core what so ever for me.

    One point to note, the Server (my model at least - not sure about any upcoming models) does not come with a dedicated graphics unit. It shares the physical RAM so with 4GB Ram the GPU has I think 320 MB of memory dedicated to it but if you have 8GB Ram then the GPU has 512 mb memory dedicated to it. The Non-Server MM i5 that I have has a dedicated AMD Radeon GPU with 256mb memory. So if you go for the Server have 8GB Ram as a minimum. I believe the GPU can't go higher than 512mb even if you get 16GB Ram

    Do I notice a difference between the two units when watching video? None what so every. BUT I do notice the MM Server takes a few seconds longer to display the monitor/screen when you turn the monitor on or you are waking the monitor from sleep. For example if I change the TV HDMI input from the DVD to MM Server it takes a few seconds to show the MM. I think that is because the MM Server takes a second or two to switch the Physical RAM to dedicating some to the graphics card. It is also possible it is my TV, but I never had this happen with my MM i5. It is not really an issue, it is more just something that happens with the Server because it does not have a dedicated stand alone GPU (I believe). I wouldn't worry about it.

    Double check the debate on this subject. It is very much a balanced debate with I think a few more people going for the dedicated GPU (AMD Radeon HD 6630M 256 MB) as opposed to the Server GPU. I can't tell the difference and I run both so I can speak from practice as opposed to theory. My MM Server with the i7 Quad Core is incredible (for its size) when I code video.

    I also run my video from an OWC Mercury Elite Pro Raid enclosure with two Seagate XT Barracuda's (4TB plus 4TB Mirrored) on the MM Server Firewire 800 Port and it runs like a dream. So I would suggest Firewire 800 instead of USB. That said you can fork out Thunderbolt costs if you want. Also the new MM may have USB 3.0 or esata? Who knows. My Mercury Elite Pro has a Quad Interface (Firewire 800/400,esata and USB (Not 3.0 :()) so I have a few options for future anyway.

    So does the fan run hard or does the MM Server run hot? NO... It can run like any Mac or PC if pushed enough but nothing out of the ordinary.

    Mine runs at about 50-55'c while playing video content either in PLEX, VLC or XBMC. Incidentally I prefer XBMC and VLC over Plex.

    Also note I run two internal hard drives and it still doesn't run hot.

    Final tip, run the MM Server on its side in a stand such as the alloy one Newer Technology makes, and upgrade the heat sink paste to a top line one such as Arctic Silver 5 or Tuniq TX-4. See the post where I and another member talk about this. That reduces heat in my MM's by about 10'c on average and in my Toshi laptop, the Arctic Silver reduced the heat significantly.

    That move is up to you though because you will need to remove the logic board to do that.

    ALSO be very very very careful of the fan plug on the logic board. It is prone to break of when you disconnect it. See the above link to the post on this issue. Some argue you can instal a new HD without removing the fan. You can but it is a tight move.
    Having said all of the above... the new MM Server may be a completely different beast!!

  4. Ifti thread starter macrumors 68000

    Dec 14, 2010
    Excellent, thanks very much for your informative response.
    8GB RAM is a must anyway, although I would be purchasing that separate.
    I may try the Artic Silver paste also - I'm pretty careful with opening stuff up, as you can see from my YouTube instructional videos, so would be pretty confident with doing this ;)

    Now just waiting on the upgrade! May get rid of the iMac I hardly use and get a MM instead!

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