Need advice on Mac mini for music production and server

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by thetruth1985, Mar 31, 2014.

  1. thetruth1985 macrumors 6502

    Sep 17, 2010
    I recently acquired a Late 2009 Mac Mini with these specs:

    4Gb Ram
    Nvidia 9400m
    320GB HDD
    2.53 Core 2 Duo

    Now my main purposes for the machine will be as follows:

    Converting Blu Rays to Mp4 itunes format
    Playing back Tv recorded from a Windows Machine
    Plex Server
    Home Sharing to 5 Apple Tvs
    Music Production in Logic Pro

    My question is whether or not this system would be suitable for these use. I know that converting blu rays will probably be slow since it's a much older processor. I don't know how well Logic Pro will cope with this machine when recording guitar and keyboard from an audio interface. I could always try to upgrade the ram and HDD but I don't know how much that will benefit me. Another option I am considering is selling it on eBay (it appears that this model goes for $300-$350 on eBay) and just paying the difference for a new updated mini. Any advice is welcome and thanks in advance!
  2. Ubele macrumors 6502a

    Mar 20, 2008
    If you can get $300 - $350 for it on eBay, I'd sell it and get a refurbished 2012 mini. The base model (i5 with 500 GB HDD) is only $500, and you'd be getting a better computer. I can't say how much, better, but for $150 - $200, more I think it would be well worth it. I got the 2.3 GHz i7 with 1 TB HDD for $680, because I do amateur photo and video editing as well as music, and most people recommended the i7. I'd planned to add an SSD and create my own Fusion drive, but so far, I haven't felt the need. You'll need to check the Refurbished Store frequently, because minis sell quickly.
  3. thetruth1985 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Sep 17, 2010
    Thanks. I've been leaning towards selling it and just getting a new one but I wasn't sure if this one would handle the same tasks. Looking at the newer Mini, I'll be gaining a lot more with USB 3, a faster processor, faster ram, and a better video card. I may just go that route.

    Is there any benefit to using a fusion drive versus just using a SSD as my main drive and having all my files on a USB 3 external?
  4. Ubele macrumors 6502a

    Mar 20, 2008
    I don't think there would be any benefit to a Fusion drive for your purposes. You can either get a Mac mini with an internal SSD, or take the cheaper option of using an external SSD as your boot drive, and a large external USB drive for your other files. People might post and tell you that you should put your music files on a dedicated fast external drive, and put your program files (Logic is what I use) on your boot drive. That's true, if your music is complex, but mine is simple enough that having everything on one drive has been fine for me so far. In any case, the 2012 mini is a great computer, and arguably Apple's best bang for the buck.
  5. barkmonster, Mar 31, 2014
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2014

    barkmonster macrumors 68020


    Dec 3, 2001
    You sound like you're only tracking a few audio inputs. I have the same model upgraded to 8Gb with an SSD system drive and a 7200rpm external firewire for recording and it might be pinned with large sessions but I can run 3 DAWs at once with dozens of audio tracks with multiple plugins and software synths playing back in real time via rewire and the only real problem is once a session gets so big it's more than 1 x 1080p screen of faders wide in the mixer window, I have to increase the buffers to allow for CPU spikes.

    You could track a few guitar takes and a keyboard with a G4, let alone a core 2 duo. Everyone telling you to sell it and buy a 2012 is overestimating your usage. Play around with garage band or reaper to see what the limits are for what you intend recording with it. For big multi track sessions a fast, dedicated 7200rpm drive is must. You could have a dozen CPU cores and 8 x the RAM in some Xeon beast of a system but if you were recording to a 5400rpm drive you were also booting from, you'd appear to have a slow system because it wouldn't be fit for purpose till it had a dedicated recording drive. I actually ran a few small sessions off the 5400rpm drive while booting from an SSD I fitted where the CD/DVD was and apart from having to increase the buffers to maximum to compensate for access time, I could at least play back some old sessions off a G4 that had it's own dedicated 7200rpm recording drive.

    Like I said at first, it's usage. A few audio tracks with few effects won't tax either your CPU or recording to the system drive. Any more than that and you need a dedicated drive.
  6. blanka macrumors 68000

    Jul 30, 2012
    Are you watching Blu-Rays on all those Apple TV's?

    It is blasphemy to convert blu ray to MP4 and let an Apple TV handle it.

    My 2cts:
    Hook up the mini to your best TV (that one deserves way better than a ATV), and rip Blu-Rays with MakeMKV to an MKV (that is not processor intensive), put a large fast HD in it (7200rpm Scorpio Black for example), and leave the RAM, that is plenty.

    Then replace the Apple-TV's with a Raspberry Pi on the places where movies are your biggest asset. You can sell the ATV, get the Pi for half the money from selling, and you can enjoy BR as intended: with nice embedded subs, DTS, 24p framerate, all impossible with the ATV, and it can be controlled as easy with your iphone.
  7. thetruth1985 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Sep 17, 2010
    Thanks for the input about the HDD. I had no idea that a 5400 drive would hold me back so that's one upgrade I'm going to have to make. The only thing I was worried about was the intel Core 2 Duo in Logic X. My projects will start relatively simple but I'm sure they will grow more complex over time. Either way, I hooked up the mini last night to my 29 inch monitor and it seems to be pretty speedy. I haven't loaded Logic on there yet but I will probably test it out tonight and see if it works out.


    I currently rip my blu rays and convert them to a more manageable size (5-8gb). I then have an old imac in the bedroom send those files to the various ATVs around the house. I invested in the ATV years ago because my wife liked the simplicity of the interface. I've heard a lot about the Rasberry Pi but I've never seen one in action. Is it pretty simple to navigate and are there any issues with it? The last Blu Ray streaming box I bought was the Boxee Box and that didn't turn out so well.
  8. Ubele macrumors 6502a

    Mar 20, 2008
    What barkmonster does musically is far more complex than what I do, so I'd take his advice here, since he has the same model Mac mini that you acquired. If you find it underpowered for other tasks later on, you can always sell it then and get a new mini.
  9. thetruth1985 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Sep 17, 2010
    Thanks for all the input guys. I had every intention in testing these applications on the older Mac. However, I found a good deal on craigslist for the newest model complete with magic keyboard and mouse for $450. I jumped on that one so I will get rid of the core 2 duo. Thanks again for the input.

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