NAS vs MacMini for home server

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by digitalfusion, Jul 25, 2015.

  1. digitalfusion macrumors newbie

    Jul 25, 2015
    Hello everyone,
    I need to set up a system, and am looking for a good solution, perhaps you can help select the system for my needs. I've been using a laptop with Apple TV for most movie streaming, but not with the best results.
    Would like to have a device or set up that:

    1. Can play MVK files, and integrate srt subtitles, directly to TV, perhaps with HDMI cable. The apple TV hasn't been perfect and frequently stutters, even with 100% wired.

    2. I'd like to be able to utilize a torrent downloader on the device, and add magnet links from anywhere (say from my iPhone while out of the house).

    3. I'd like to have a permanent "drive" on the desktop that is linked to this Mac mini or NAS that I can use whether at home on wifi or away from home on a trip.

    4. (optional) i'd like to stream mvk from the device to an iPhone while out of the house.

    5. (optional) hold iTunes music library for streaming. (Although I am not sure how I would sync iPhones to the music library unless it was connected to that device? I guess I would have a mirrored copy of music on the two devices?)

    Let me know how you would connect to the device easily from a laptop or iPhone to manage movies, play movies, etc.

    Please let me know the setups you would use for this type of system!
  2. 960design macrumors 68030

    Apr 17, 2012
    Destin, FL
    Plex on MacMini only because NAS solution has limitations. Check here:

  3. udflyer macrumors 6502

    Jan 3, 2011
    I use and highly recommend a Synology NAS.

    I have the DS214+, but they have many models to fit your needs
  4. hiddenmarkov macrumors 6502a

    Mar 12, 2014
    is redundancy a concern?

    NAS is simply a matter of replacing a drive. Mini is a matter of going custom/3rd party to get more drives in and in raid. Also not sure about space to install in mini but looking at size its not looking to take more than 2. Someone free to correct me of course. Given its small size even if it load up drives thermals to me seem an issue. Drives aren't immortal (my NAS planned will run friend recommended WD reds, even they will fail at some point as entropy is gonna entropy)....heat just speeds that up.

    Not the same needs as you but looking at synology. Supports classic raid or their own take on it. Lots of application options as well.
  5. Attonine macrumors 6502a

    Feb 15, 2006
    Kent. UK
    I would say go with a NAS, and another vote for Synology. Plex on a Mac Mini is good, but it depends on your storage requirements, if your media library is large, you may well need a NAS anyway!

    1. A reasonably powerful NAS can transcode on the fly, you would need another device to get the files to play on the TV though, you wouldn't be able to plug a NAS into the TV, and definitely not with HDMI.
    2. NAS
    3. NAS
    4. Probably can be done with a NAS, not sure because of iPhone though.
    5. NAS, how big is your library?
  6. SlCKB0Y macrumors 68040


    Feb 25, 2012
    Sydney, Australia
    Synology with Transmission and Plex would suit your requirements very well.
  7. phrehdd macrumors 68040


    Oct 25, 2008
    I have both a NAS and a couple of Minis. I consider the Minis a front end for the NAS. I don't find that NAS are really all that ready for prime time media play back (though some can with limitations).

    Perhaps in your case the Mini makes sense as you can add external drives quite easily to house your movies. Plex or Kodi (XBMC) are excellent options for playback. Just be aware, Apple does not support HD audio and those software options will play back in non-HD the audio. In short, if you had a movie with say, DTS-MASTER as the audio stream, it would play back as DTS. If you installed Windows or Linux on the Mini and used either of those software options, those operating systems can play back DTS-MASTER in all its glory.

    I use Mac Minis and love them as players and they can do other things as well which makes them an excellent deal - especially a higher end used Mini.

    QNAP NAS 5x4tb drives RAID 5, Mac MIni quad 2.0 and 2.6, Kodi (XBMC) free software OSX and Linux
  8. niewiesznic, Jul 29, 2015
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2015

    niewiesznic macrumors regular

    Oct 25, 2009
    I have used Synology NAS as media storage for media server on Mac Mini (Plex).
    Synology is excellent NAS, however to weak for transcoding files to clients. If you want to use transcoding go anouther route, choose Mac Mini as Plex server and DAS as media bank. I use old Mac Mini 2.1 with C2D 2,16GHz and 4GB RAM, 128 GB SSD and second generation drobo (firewire 800). However I only use one client (Plex Home Theater) on the same mac, and one iPad 4Gen Retina as wireless client. They seem to work very fine. 2012 mac mini i7 with DAS Thunderbolt drobo would be a system for years. You can install transmission app for magnet torrents as it is providing web GUI for remote access.

    Right now I use Synology NAS for work and remote access (also I use DL station), mac mini is my HTPC.

    If you want to put Plex on Synology NAS, you would have to buy strongest machine i3 based (24 HDD bays, as I remember), or at least intel atom based NAS and convert all videos to MP4 h.264 as it does not need transcoding for apple devices.

    When using PLEX media server, all ther machines at your home can have Plex Home Theater (client). You can even install PHT on Raspberry Pi. Haven't tried that yet.
  9. bgd macrumors regular

    Aug 30, 2005
    I started with a Synology NAS (DS213+) but ended up moving to a mini. The NAS is great but wasn't so good as a media server. I think they make models with that in mind so check their website. The mini does everything well. I have connected a Lacie TB drive so have plenty of storage. The NAS is used for back up, both files (from external) and TM.

    I also got round the limitations of the ATV by replacing it with a mini. Bit more expensive but so much more functionality.
  10. AFEPPL macrumors 68030


    Sep 30, 2014
    I'd also go for NAS, i use a Synology DS414 device to store the files and ATV to act as a frontend.
    Works fine for 5ATVs, weak point is iTunes.
  11. LOLobo macrumors member

    Nov 20, 2014
    +1 for Plex on a MacMini

    Currently running with two 3TB external HDDs that mirror each other nightly.
  12. Crazy Badger macrumors 65816

    Crazy Badger

    Apr 1, 2008
    NAS covers such a wide spectrum of devices, it's hard to answer the question with a simple NAS or Mini response.

    Some NAS devices have a single disk and a processor that would struggle to power a light bulb, where some have hundreds of TB of storage and more processing power than you can shake a stick at!

    My NAS is somewhere in between with 7x4TB drives (giving me about 18TB of useable storage and 2 disk redundancy) with a Xeon processor and 32GB RAM powering effortlessly through almost everything I've thrown at it. Much more powerful than a Mini solution, but also somewhat more expensive and more difficult to get up and running.

    I'd go along with all the Plex suggestions though for managing your media across different devices though :D
  13. MacUser09 macrumors regular

    Sep 26, 2009
    Please can you tell me how you do that?
  14. gallico916 macrumors newbie


    Jun 27, 2014
    Austin, TX

    As one that has NAS and a media streamer at home, I would go with the new generations of NAS that have the added capability to transcode files and play them via HDMI port. (Just 2 examples )
    Synology 214Play
    QNAP TS-451

    With the Synology you will need DLNA Certified® media server to run the content.

    Both units have transcoder built in, and they can play MKV files and SRT on top w/o any problem.
    They can run iTunes library, and both using their Apps you can stream your content outside the house.
    You can run torrent Downloader or News Groups Downloader works in the background.

  15. dimme macrumors 65816

    Feb 14, 2007
    SF, CA
    I am doing everything and more from my mac mini server. I started with a nas box, but I glad I move to a mini server 3 years ago.
  16. AFEPPL macrumors 68030


    Sep 30, 2014
    Strange, I'm doing everything from my NAS device and I'm glad i don't have a mini... :)
  17. Santabean2000 macrumors 68000


    Nov 20, 2007
    I think a Synology NAS is the way to go. I use the most basic 115j model for media content, then use my iPad Air as the 'grunt' to push MKV or whatever to my ATV. Super simple; works great.

    Once I moved over to Spotify, iTunes has become largely redundant, therefore so has my mini.

    Synology NAS/apps take care of everything else.
  18. shaunp macrumors 68000

    Nov 5, 2010
    A NAS appliance (Synology/QNap, etc) would always be my first choice. They pretty much work out of the box, are highly configurable, perform well and have disk redundancy through Linux software RAID. Also if you have an issue with the NAS,it's pretty easy to take the disks out and put them into another linux machine and recover the data. I had a PSU go on a Synology NAS and their support was non-existent, but I could put the disks into a PC, boot from an ubuntu DVD and read the data fine. I moved over to QNap since and while there software isn't as slick as Synology I feel they have better support.

    I don't think some proprietary RAID solution installed on a Mac would be so forgiving, but I would definitely try running the setup in a VM first and see what happens when it breaks.

    As for your media requirements, you'll have this covered with a NAS. You may actually have too much choice with regards to the available software.
  19. talmy macrumors 601


    Oct 26, 2009
    I'm sold on a Mac mini server and use Plex. Over five years now and just recently switched to a new (2012 quad core) mini. Of course I'm doing a lot more than just a media server with it. 13TB of disk capacity plus a toaster.
  20. rhett7660 macrumors G4


    Jan 9, 2008
    Sunny, Southern California
    I have a hybrid solution. I have an old XP box as my front end with all my applications running on it, then I have a QNAP NAS box holding all the media.

    Going to be replacing the XP box with a mini eventually. Best of both worlds.

    My XP box has the following:
    iTunes running for my Apple TV's
    Sonos for my Sonos speakers
    Plex for streaming to my portable devices
    StreamToMe another streaming application

    The XP box does fine, but it is an XP box and since it is no longer being updated.

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