New Mac Mini as Plex server and client

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by mfacey, Aug 31, 2012.

  1. mfacey macrumors 65816

    mfacey

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2004
    Location:
    Netherlands
    #1
    I'm considering getting a mac mini to replace my ageing AC Ryan media player connected to my TV.
    I currently have a Synology DS212+ NAS housing some 3TBs worth of HD movies and TV shows. Everything is wired with gigabit ethernet (including where the Mac Mini would sit). I have been experimenting somewhat with Plex running on my iMac recently and its a great piece of software.
    I want to get the Plex experience on my TV through a Mac Mini. The Mini will need to run both the Plex server - fetching the content off my NAS - as well as the client. Unfortunately my Synology cannot run Plex server due to the non-Intel architecture.

    Anyway, my question is: what model Mac Mini would suit my needs?
    The mini would be pretty much dedicated to Plex, with the occasional Safari and iPhoto usage. It would need to be able to handle Full HD mkv files of around 12GB each.
    I'm guessing the base 2.3 GHz model should be able to handle this? Correct?
    I would plan on upgrading the stock RAM to 8GBs through Crucial (cheaper than Apple) and perhaps add an SSD or replace the stock HDD with an SSD. Not sure this would help my cause though as all the files are stored remotely.
    Can the Intel Graphics chip on the base model handle 1080p video well enough?
    Anything else I need to consider?
    Thanks!
     
  2. T'hain Esh Kelch, Aug 31, 2012
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2012

    T'hain Esh Kelch macrumors 601

    T'hain Esh Kelch

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2001
    Location:
    Denmark
    #2
    Base model but with 4GB ram. That is what I have running, and it can handle 3 synchronous 720p movies at the same time, being served through Plex. VERY happy with it, me and my girlfriend loves having everything instantly served no matter where we are (Her at work, me currently in Norway). No trouble handling 10GB 1080p files either. Haven't tried running more than one of those.

    Only have two annoying things;
    • From Lion and on, the remote can't wake the screen. Really annoying.
    • Mountain Lion introduced another bug that means that it cant wake on network activity. Doesn't matter for Plex, weirdly enough, it can still stream, but you need to manually wake the Mini in order to access files over LAN or web.
     
  3. jmcgeejr macrumors 6502

    jmcgeejr

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2010
    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    #3
    I have a 2011 i5 model, works great, I have the mini running plex and then my media is on an external nas, never had any issues with the setup. Multiple streams to roku and atv at once no issues.
     
  4. neilmacd macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2010
    Location:
    UK
    #4
    I so wanted my mini to work as a plex/xbmc client, replacing my ATV2 which struggles with the most basic themes :(

    Problem is I can't get it to work flawlessly, constant wake/sleep issues and occasional pop ups appearing put me off the whole thing.

    It's a shame as when it does work, the performance is excellent :(
     
  5. T'hain Esh Kelch macrumors 601

    T'hain Esh Kelch

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2001
    Location:
    Denmark
    #5
    ?
     
  6. mfacey thread starter macrumors 65816

    mfacey

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2004
    Location:
    Netherlands
    #6
    Ok great!
    I just ordered a base model Mac Mini from a local electronics giant, as the price was more than 20% lower than the Apple store price (500 vs 600 euros!). Couldn't let that one slip by. I will be adding 4-8GB of Ram as well in the coming days.

    One more question: how do you typically control the Mac Mini. I have Logitech Harmony One remote which should be fine for the Plex activities, but I'm wondering what's best for the occasional web browsing etc?
    I was thinking about the Apple Magic Trackpad and the bluetooth keyboard. They're a bit pricing though....
     
  7. T'hain Esh Kelch macrumors 601

    T'hain Esh Kelch

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2001
    Location:
    Denmark
    #7
    Magic trackpad and BT keyboard works fine for me, although it can be a bit hard to make out what is on the screen. 1080p on 50" isn't really that clear, so you have to zoom in quite a bit in order to read things properly (At least for me, with 4 meters to the TV).

    We mainly use it for Plex, and in that case we use the Apple remote (After waking up the screen with the keyboard, so annoying... Looking at you OSX10.6+!)
     
  8. neilmacd macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2010
    Location:
    UK
    #8
    I set XMBC to launch at startup, occasionally I get asked to allow/deny incoming connections, software updates etc. Small things like this really frustrate me, along with having to use a spare keyboard to wake a device :mad:

    I see you have an iPad, both Plex and XBMC have dedicated apps and browsing etc can be controlled by Rowmote.

    I don't have experience of the Plex remote, but the XBMC remote IMO is excellent, full remote control of XBMC or you can browse your library from your iPad and instantly play without having to browse to the song/video on the mini.

    Also has power options to sleep/wake but as mentioned they never seem to work properly for me, either sleeping then waking instantly or sleeping but won't fully wake.

    Rowmote is a universal remote app for OSX, can control various OS elements such as the Safari, dock, finder and it has predefined controls to certain apps. Though with it being universal it doesn't offer the same in depth features of XBMC.

    Like I say, if I could get it working like intended, it would be a perfect HTPC for me.
     
  9. T'hain Esh Kelch macrumors 601

    T'hain Esh Kelch

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2001
    Location:
    Denmark
    #9
    Same thing for the Plex remote. It is quite handy.
     

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