Minimum specs to run a media server?

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by Astroboy907, Jul 30, 2013.

  1. Astroboy907 macrumors 65816

    Astroboy907

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    #1
    I am thinking about buying a mac mini to act as a media server/internet viewer for our wifi connected TV. However I don't know what model/speed to get. I don't have the cash to buy a brand new one, so I was looking used. Anyone know of a good system that can play decent video?

    Preferably I would like to run HD through the system. And I know that most of our iTunes videos need to be reconverted on the fly to send through DLNA, so transcoding speed is good too.

    Any help appreciated!
     
  2. philipma1957, Jul 30, 2013
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2013

    philipma1957 macrumors 603

    philipma1957

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    #2
    look for a 2011 with the discrete gpu


    not this ;

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/2011-Mac-Mi...0147661?pt=Apple_Desktops&hash=item1c351c8c4d

    but
    this model below:

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/Mac-Mini-Mi...1017026?pt=Apple_Desktops&hash=item27d5d1bd42



    if you get lucky you may find a better deal then 500

    here are a few look at the auctions to get a feel for price.

    http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_trk...16&_nkw=mac+mini+mc816ll/a&_sacat=0&_from=R40


    this machine has the best graphics ever made in a mac mini as of today.


    this one would be nice if it went for 400 and some change

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/Apple-Mac-M...3724914?pt=Apple_Desktops&hash=item2580bdfdf2

    this one has extra ram so even 450 -500 is okay

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/Apple-Mac-M...4183869?pt=Apple_Desktops&hash=item3cd3f67bbd
     
  3. Astroboy907 thread starter macrumors 65816

    Astroboy907

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    #3
    Woah... still a bit high end I think? Not sure, but I think most of those actually have more processing and graphics power than my current macbook (2.66ghz C2D). And mine seems to handle HD video fine (not sure about transcoding or not but serving it up works great!).
     
  4. philipma1957 macrumors 603

    philipma1957

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    #4
    they transcode at twice the speed of your macbook.
    if you don't care about transcoding . the base 2011 mac minis may be okay. but you will find it is not that cheap. runs very close in price to the ones I picked.


    if you get a 2010 mac mini the graphics are meh they are less then your machine. and the c2d is a 2.4 so it will transcode slowly. also they are hard to find under 400

    http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_sacat=0&_from=R40&_nkw=mac mini 2010&LH_BIN=1&_udlo=200&_udhi=500


    the 2010 runs snow leopard and it commands a high price because of that. I rather have the 2011 mid I picked just compare listings on ebay.
     
  5. pastrychef macrumors 601

    pastrychef

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    #5
    I use an old Intel Atom/Nvidia Ion based nettop running XBMC as my media center. I think those nettops can be found for about $200 nowadays.
     
  6. Astroboy907 thread starter macrumors 65816

    Astroboy907

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    #6
    Hmm, maybe I should take a look at low power windows systems. Though I so much like the OS X feel...

    What if I didn't transcode at all, but rather just played the file natively on the system? If I hook it up to the TV it should work fine. So just HD playback would be fine...
     
  7. phrehdd macrumors 68040

    phrehdd

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    #7
    Indirectly, you bring up a point about what software will reside on the given computer to serve up media.

    Perhaps the question should be about what software and what computer supports the software and types of files in that order. I am a big fan of XBMC and most of the last 3 years of Mini can serve up quite nicely XBMC. I would caution that using WiFi limits the quality of video type files. High bitrate files could suffer. I prefer to use from best to worse -

    Ethernet
    Powerline 500 (depends on home and wiring)
    WiFi N

    I have not played with bridged WiFi draft AC but it looks like it might be a winner. I have also found that using a couple of Wifi N routers bridged and connecting the TV via Ethernet to one of the routers tends to be more consistent than using WiFi from the TV itself or similar. - This is just my experience and your's might be better.

    Just one thing to remember, if you have files that have HD audio such as DTS-Master, OSX will not handle it and at best only the core is passed through (DTS respectively). Minis CAN pass HD Audio but not with OSX - have to use MS OS or Linux. If Dolby and DTS are okay then the Mini is a brilliant option with XBMC or Plex. Alternatively, you can put in a DLNA software and let the TV grab from your Mini the files but you take the risk of incompatible files.
     
  8. pastrychef macrumors 601

    pastrychef

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    #8
    I personally use XBMCbuntu and my nettop is connected via ethernet. All my media resides on a NAS. The Nvidia Ion handles high bit rate 1080p content fine. A great feature of the current version of XBMC handles AirPlay and I can stream stuff from my iDevices to the XBMC and watch them on my 55" TV.
     
  9. Astroboy907 thread starter macrumors 65816

    Astroboy907

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    #9
    Actually now that I think about it I can have the mini mounted behind the TV, we have room (as well as an extra HDMI or VGA port). The only reason I was going to have it on wifi is to have external HDD access, but I am sure I could manage that (have an external connected to the mini and have the mini accessible via wifi). If this is the case maybe I don't even need a mini, but rather just a computer. Any ideas as to being able to remotely control it? I'd generally have a separate computer (my macbook) nearby. TBH I just don't want to have my computer (notebook) as the server because its a hassle to get set up. I just need something with a lot of storage simple enough for my family to use (non techy)...
     
  10. phrehdd macrumors 68040

    phrehdd

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    #10
    There are network storage devices that start with a single drive up to RAID units. If you can find a simple network attached storage that does "DLNA" then you have a situation where your TV, computers and such should be able to see it and use media files from the hard drive. I think the Mini is a good option for video playback. You never did describe what you would be playing.

    The Mini also can have external drives that work well. There is a very nice item at OWC that is called a Mini-stack and has the same dimensions as the Mini so it can be stacked (I would use spacers for heat dissipation but I digress). For media files, you don't need more than Firewire 400 or USB2 but always better with FW800 or USB3.
     
  11. Astroboy907 thread starter macrumors 65816

    Astroboy907

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    #11
    I will search around for DLNA ready storage devices. I will mostly be playing back iTunes videos/ripped DVDs from my personal collection, as well as some online streaming content (not likely HD though due to my paltry 320kbps downlink, but if I can get HD content I would try streaming [netflix, etc]). Standard 480p DVD content, as well as a few newer Blu-Ray rips.

    On a side note, will HD content be playable from a standard HDD or will the bitrate be too much for a non SSD?

    Actually we have an older model of a "mini-stack" like device, bought it years ago as an external HDD and it has been sitting in a cupboard unused for a few years. It's only 500gb but that would be enough storage for me/upgradable if I need more.
     
  12. pastrychef macrumors 601

    pastrychef

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    #12
    Your miniStack should be fine for storage of content. A standard hard drive is way more than fast enough to feed videos.
     
  13. phrehdd macrumors 68040

    phrehdd

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    #13
    Ditto
     
  14. talmy macrumors 601

    talmy

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    #14
    Our 2009 base model minis (2GB RAM, Core 2 Duo processors) do just fine, so anything newer will do as well. We stream (wirelessly) from a third mini that has external drives. Really, the demands of doing this are low!
     
  15. Astroboy907 thread starter macrumors 65816

    Astroboy907

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    #15
    Sweet, Ill take a look at some older minis and see if I can get a deal :D
     
  16. Delmar macrumors 6502

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    #16
    What model 2009 are you using?
     
  17. talmy macrumors 601

    talmy

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    #17
    The base model, 2.26GHz C2D with 2GB RAM and 160GB HD for the two entertainment servers. The Mac mini Server is the server model, 2.53GHz C2D, 4GB RAM, and two 500GB HD. All late 2009 models, the last white ones.
     
  18. scbond macrumors 6502

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    #18
    If you just want to watch HD TV and browse the internet occasionally then realistically any mini can do it. If hooking up directly to your TV though I'd suggest a 2010 mini as you'll get the HDMI (just makes connection easier) and you'd have a DVD drive to use if you still want to do that.
     
  19. talmy macrumors 601

    talmy

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    #19
    Good point. I connect my 2009s via VGA, and handle sound separately. I tried to get an adapter to HDMI that would carry both video and sound but never found one that worked.
     
  20. Delmar macrumors 6502

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    #20
    That's what I have been researching while hunting down a used 2009 or 2010 Mini for my HTPC. What I have found is none of the 2009 Mini's will carry audio out of the mini display port.
     
  21. talmy macrumors 601

    talmy

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    #21
    There were adapters that would take mini-displayport + audio out and convert to HDMI. However I could never get them to work. Of course since I bought in early 2010, the 2010 aluminum minis were not an option.
     
  22. Delmar macrumors 6502

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    #22
    Good to know, thank you. I have read about those adapters but never found anyone that used one successfully.
     
  23. MultiFinder17 macrumors 68000

    MultiFinder17

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    #23
    I got my old original Apple TV running Leopard and use that as my central media and file server for my home; it doesn't take a supercomputer to serve up your stuff ;)

    1GHz Celeron, 256MB of RAM, and a 64MB Nvidia GeForce Go 7300 doesn't make for a fast machine at all, but it gets the job done. It's a great small, low-power, quiet little server :)
     
  24. Delmar macrumors 6502

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    #24
    How did you load Leopard onto your ATV1? I have a ATV1, maybe an option for me if it's not too difficult.
     
  25. MultiFinder17, Nov 7, 2013
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2013

    MultiFinder17 macrumors 68000

    MultiFinder17

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    #25
    Here is a link to the instructions. The images are getting difficult to find these days, but assuming you can find them, Leopard runs like a (slow) champ on these little things!

    I have my media in iTunes on it, serving it all up to my new Apple TV so I don't have to keep my computers on. It also does well as a central file server for my household. Neither of these are terribly demanding jobs, and the little old Apple TV does them absolutely fine.
     

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