New Base Model for a Plex Server

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by Scarpad, Oct 17, 2014.

  1. Scarpad macrumors 68000


    Jan 13, 2005
  2. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere


    May 16, 2008
    I'm using a mid-2010 Mac mini as my Plex server and it handles it extremely well, so yes, any recent Mac can easily fit the bill.
  3. Midgetinabikini macrumors regular

    Aug 1, 2006
    I'm still using my early 2009 MacMini with Plex as a sever, still works great.
    So yes, the new model will also work.
  4. hipnetic, Oct 17, 2014
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2014

    hipnetic macrumors 6502a

    Oct 5, 2010
    Bad answers.

    You did not supply enough information. What type of content will your server be serving up, and what type of clients will you be sending the content *TO*? Also, how many clients might you want to send content to simultaneously? These are the critical questions.

    Example 1) If your source content is already in an iOS-friendly format (MPEG4), at a bitrate similar to what Apple sells as HD content on the iTunes store (perhaps you converted HD movies yourself using Handbrake), and your clients are things like a recent model iPad or iPhone, the base model Mac Mini is plenty capable enough, because Plex Media Server won't need to do any real work. It won't need to transcode the content, it just needs to push it across the network as-is, like a file server. In that scenario, you could even get by with a Mac Mini from 6+ years ago as your Plex Media Server.

    Example 2) If your source content is high-bitrate MPEG2 (e.g., HD television broadcasts), the iPhone/iPad/AppleTV doesn't support that format natively. So, now Plex Media Server has to do on-the-fly transcoding to convert it to MPEG4, but retain it as a high-bitrate (e.g., 10Mbps+) 1080p format. That will require a good amount of CPU power. If you're only serving the content up to a single iPad in your house, the new base Mac Mini should still be capable of doing it.

    Example 3) Similar to the #2 above, but you want to send videos to 3 simultaneous people in the house. The new base model Mac Mini may not cut it.

    Note that I haven't done actual testing of the above scenarios with the new base model Mac Mini, but the principles expressed should be correct. See this page on the Plex website for more info.
  5. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere


    May 16, 2008
    No, they are not bad answers. My mid-2010 Mac mini handles all 3 scenarios with ease, using only 4GB of RAM. Any Mac model in recent years can easily handle that workload. I can easily play content simultaneously on 2 iPhones, an iPad, MacBook Pro, Mac mini and Apple TV, all served by the Plex Server app on the 2.4GHz 2010 Mac mini.
  6. hipnetic macrumors 6502a

    Oct 5, 2010
    I left out an important part of #2 above. I just edited my post. Here's what I added in bold:
    So, are you able to transcode on-the-fly high-bitrate content, maintain it as high-bitrate content, and send it to 3 clients at the same time with your older computer?
  7. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere


    May 16, 2008
    Yes, from varied source file formats, including .mp4, .mov, .avi, .mpg, etc. The mini can also simultaneously be used for other computing tasks, including Safari, Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Mail, Preview, TeamViewer, etc.

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