Newbie Needs Help with HTPC

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by co80126, Apr 15, 2011.

  1. co80126 macrumors newbie

    Apr 7, 2010
    So im new to the whole HTPC set up. I have about 1.5 TB of movies saved on an external HD, and i just bought a mac mini server to use as a HTPC. I have it hooked up to my samsung 46' LED. I also have a Synology DiskStation 4-Bay Network Attached Storage DS411J with 4 2TB drives that i will be hooking up to the mac mini. What I need help with are two things.

    1. I hooked up the mac mini real quick to watch a movie (running Plex) and the movie looks laggy and is not very good quality (480p). Is this what I can always expect from my HTPC?

    2. Since the Synology Diskstation also comes with server software, am i better off returning the mac mini server, getting the scaled down version, putting in my own memory and then using the Diskstations server?

    Thank you in advance from a novice!!!!
  2. waw74 macrumors 68040

    May 27, 2008
    you don't need the server version, for file sharing, the regular version will do.
    chances are pretty good if you have to ask if you need the server in a forum, you don't need it.
    the OS X server has additional things that you probably will never use (ical, mail, ichat servers and such)
    plus you'll gain a dvd drive for burning, and ripping.

    try playing back the movie in VLC, it's a great standalone player, and will handle most anything thrown at it. it's a good test to see if the problem is with your file or the player.

    the synology unit you mention, is a stand alone NAS, so any computer on your network will access it directly, not through the mini.

    in Plex, go to settings -> videos, and disable hardware decoding, that can solve some problems, it seems to be hit or miss.
    also if your file has HD audio (DTS-HD or TrueHD) it will cause video and audio stuttering, it will handle regular DTS and dolby digital, try selecting a different audio track.

    i have the current base mini, and regularly play full size blu-ray rips in 1080 (~30GB files) with no stuttering or problems.
  3. co80126, Apr 16, 2011
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2011

    co80126 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 7, 2010
    Ya im thinking about returning the server and getting the base mini. I have been ripping my DVDs with RipIt on my MBP, i dont know if that is the reason for them studdering, or if using the external hd with usb 2.0 is it? maybe the transfer rate isnt fast enough? Im new at all of this so thank you very much for the help!!!
  4. waw74 macrumors 68040

    May 27, 2008
    USB should be fast enough to handle a standard DVD rip.

    download VLC, and try playing back on both computers.
    try both from your internal and external drives.
  5. co80126 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 7, 2010
    ya when i play it back on my MBP everything plays fine, the resolution is good and its very good quality and there are no problems, its just when i play it on the mac mini server through plex?
  6. blevins321 macrumors 68030

    Dec 24, 2010
    Winnipeg, MB
    Enable the Media Server service on your Synology unit. And copy a couple movies into the videos folder that it creates. Then, connect to the Synology in Plex as a DLNA server. See if the videos are still stuttering.
  7. rugmuncha macrumors newbie

    Apr 4, 2005
    Seems like there are some smart guys here that might shed some light...

    I'm about to set up an HTPC and I'm trying to come to terms with all the container options and codecs, etc.

    I have many avi's, video ts's, mkv's, mpv's... Do I need a Mac Mini, Apple TV or would the Synology NAS work alone to serve it all up over the network. My guess is the Mac Mini is best.

    I'm toying with Plex, Boxee and XMBC as the front end. I read XMBC is the best option. I want to playback on iPad 2, iPhone 4 and my Fujitsu Plasma. Would this require three different conversions?

    I use MacTheRipper for encoding to Video TS files, Handbrake and iSkySoft iMedia Converter for the rest but I'm not sure what is the optimal end result for viewing. Are their presets best? I do not want to lose any quality in the conversions.

    Any help is much appreciated.
  8. blevins321 macrumors 68030

    Dec 24, 2010
    Winnipeg, MB
    The Synology can handle it all itself assuming you have something hooked up to the TV like an ATV2. Especially if you jailbreak and do XBMC. If you don't want to jailbreak, the Synology can mimic an iTunes share and allow your ATV2 to view it without modification. However, the format will have to already be ATV2 compatible as the unit cannot transcode.

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