Need suggestions for Mac Mini replacement

Discussion in 'Alternatives to Mac Hardware' started by ActionableMango, Mar 19, 2018.

  1. ActionableMango macrumors G3


    Sep 21, 2010
    I am considering a PC to replace my 2012 Mac Mini, which is a file server (media and backups), and video encoder. My goal is to greatly improve on the video encoding times without drastically increasing the size or noise.

    What I need (requirements):
    • Small
    • Fast CPU (video encoding is extremely friendly to multi-threading, so lots of cores really helps)
    • 8GB RAM
    • Four USB 3.0 ports
    • Internal storage of some kind for boot drive (M.2, 2.5", or 3.5")
    • Gigabit Ethernet
    • 1 video out port (HDMI, DP, or mDP)
    What I like (nice-to-haves, but not required):
    • Two internal 2.5" bays like the 2012 Mini so that my two drives don't have to go external
    • Built-in SD slot
    • A $700 budget would be nice (there is wiggle room if something is much better)
    • Quiet
    What I don't need:
    • Powerful GPU (in fact this computer will be headless most of the time)
    • A fast boot drive (I don't care how "peppy" the computer is loading the OS or apps)
    • WiFi
    • Bluetooth
    • Storage (I will use existing drives)
    • An OS (I will use existing Win 10 license)
    Right now I'm leaning toward Intel Skull Canyon because of its Quad Core i7. B&H has it for $520, leaving some budget left over for RAM and a small M.2 boot drive.

    But I am not too familiar with the PC world, so I'm looking for any suggestions that might better for my stated purpose and budget, or alternatively, simple validation that I've made the right choice.
  2. twalk macrumors regular

    Apr 22, 2009
    If you can do a minimal "build your own", the Asrock Deskmini for the most part fits what you want
  3. sevoneone macrumors 6502

    May 16, 2010
    I’d go with the Intel Nuc. The Skull Canyon model is probably the most power you are going to find in a micro to small form factor PC.
  4. ActionableMango thread starter macrumors G3


    Sep 21, 2010
    That's really interesting, thanks for sharing that option.

    Now I'm torn between the smaller and nicer looking Skull Canyon, and that Asrock which has room for 2x 2.5" drives and an M.2 drive. Since this computer is also a media server, those drive bays are very useful.

    I'm also wondering if there will be a Skull Canyon price drop after Hades Canyon comes out.
  5. Mr. Heckles macrumors 6502

    Mr. Heckles

    Mar 20, 2018
    That does look cool, just not sure I can go back to Windows.
  6. twalk macrumors regular

    Apr 22, 2009
    Besides the Deskmini, there's other mini-STX based kits available. Some of them have much better looking cases. However I lean towards the Deskmini because it can handle full 65w S-series processors (but not 90+ watt K overclockable). Most of the others are limited to 35w T-series desktop processors (which isn't a bad choice anyway, since that would run cooler/quieter and you don't lose much speed)

    Since you're talking about video encoding, the NUC is going to run really loud and hot, because it's a really, really small case
  7. krause734 macrumors 6502a


    Jul 30, 2010

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