Old mac mini as media centre

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by P4ulypops, Aug 13, 2014.

  1. P4ulypops macrumors member

    P4ulypops

    Joined:
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    #1
    Hi All,

    I have a 17" MBP that is dead, but the ram (8gb) and HD (500gb+) is still alive and well. It was gathering up dust, being two laptops old now, when I took it into a repair centre just to confirm it's dead - it is. He offered me £60 for it, and I said i'll think about it 'if I can keep the HD', incase there is some photos on it or something.

    But a thought just occurred to me, I can frankenstine the ram/hd into a Mac Mini and use it as a media centre and possibly a server of some kind.

    I'm not really a Hardware kind of guy, but I'm pretty sure the Mac Mini uses laptop-sized hardware. Should be easish.

    So my main question is, what kind of Mac Mini should I go for? What's the lowest year/processor combination? Ideally I'd like to spend less than £200 for it. Aside the lack of HDMI, are there any disadvantages to using a 2009?

    Many Thanks.
     
  2. flopticalcube macrumors G4

    flopticalcube

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    #2
    Early 2009 had a 2.0Ghz C2D and 9400m nVidia graphics. That combo will play 1080p video with no issues. Be sure the MBP RAM is compatible (DDR3-1066). The mini can take up to 8GB after applying the EFI 1.2 firmware update.
     
  3. paulrbeers macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2009
    #3
    As stated, 2009 or better are your best bets. But I'm curious, by dead, what is wrong with it? The Macbook Pro that is....
     
  4. blanka macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2012
    #4
    Grab the 2009 or newer. The Nvidia 9400M is the first Mini GPU to offer HD decoding and this mini does it without running fans. An older Core2Duo can handle it on the CPU, but that pushes it and it will have the fans run top speed.

    The lack of HDMI is no issue, it has mini-dvi with DVI adapter, which is fully pin-compatible with HDMI. So a 5 bucks DVI-HDMI cable will handle the image.
     
  5. barkmonster, Aug 14, 2014
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2014

    barkmonster macrumors 68020

    barkmonster

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2001
    Location:
    Lancashire
    #5
    You need a full converter like the Neet one that takes a USB port for power, the optical input from the headphone/toslink for audio and the miniDisplayport for video. You'll only get video with no audio with a simple DVI-HDMI cable.
     
  6. P4ulypops thread starter macrumors member

    P4ulypops

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    #6
    Thanks everyone

    Oh cool, that sounds awesome. I don't have a proper sound-system, currently just use the one for the telly. Could you please link me up - I'm not quite sure what to google for on this one.

    Perfect, nice one, there's a few knocking around on eBay. I think that'll be perfect.

    I'm not sure entirely, won't power on. I did use it for about 6 months with a really broken power-adapter (the magsafe connector was fraying) - I now cover my connectors in ducttape, because they're quite expensive to replace.

    Perfect, didn't think of the fans, that would get on my proverbial after a while.

    -=-=-==-=--=-=-==-=--=-=-==-=--=-=-==-=--=-=-==-=--=-=-==-=--=-=-==-=-

    Could I put all my iTunes stuff on this machine, and then via the network, use that on my other devices? Is there any cables/converters or whatever that'll give the 2009 one USB3 capabilities?
     
  7. barkmonster macrumors 68020

    barkmonster

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2001
    Location:
    Lancashire
    #7
    Sorry but it's a UK link.

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0035X2J...lid=11EEGOKOKZ46R&coliid=I39QKZVI0YC555&psc=1

    I plan on using it myself at a later date because I have a 1920x1080 screen via miniDVI to DVI and a VGA screen via miniDisplayport to VGA so I'm going to have check if I can using a miniDisplayport to female DVI adapter with it first. My goal is my main Mac display mirrored through my TV and then eventually ditching the VGA for a 21:9 29" monitor via miniDisplayport but it's a while off yet.
     
  8. P4ulypops thread starter macrumors member

    P4ulypops

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    #8
    UK is good for me - I'm a Londoner =)

    Wow, that's pretty cool, didn't know such a thing existed. I'll put that on my list. Thank you for the help.

    Hah second half is an expensive one for apple products for me, iPhone 6, iPad Mini, iPad Air, iWatch*, Macbook and now this.... bit over-the-top, but i've been saving my pennies for ages.

    * please please please, been waiting for one since I got my pebble on Kickstarter.
     
  9. barkmonster, Aug 14, 2014
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2014

    barkmonster macrumors 68020

    barkmonster

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2001
    Location:
    Lancashire
    #9
    No problem. My Mac Mini was intended as a tie over system so I could upgrade some expensive audio software on a compatible system, then re-purpose it as a media centre when I can afford something more powerful.

    I already have quite a few useful media centre applications on it already. XBMC for movies and seeing as it'll eventually be through a TV, openEMU for emulating old console games (because over-priced 3D-based console games don't interest me). A lot of people swear by Plex but it fills your drive with Gbs of pointless metadata, links files as one in the media browser if it guesses (wrongly) that it's 1 movie split in 2 and basically messes up any organisation of your media you already have and it can't even get the names of movie files correct that are already named correctly to start with. It's a joke.
     
  10. P4ulypops thread starter macrumors member

    P4ulypops

    Joined:
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    #10
    Cool, I'm currently using a WDTV Live, and it's 'alright', does the job efficiently enough, it's just that it feels more like a file-browser rather than a media centre. I want all that snazzy metadata - posters, descriptions, search-by-director/actors/etc. When I used Plex last time, it was a right hassle with the media-server stuff. XBMC looks better, and I like the idea of being able to play a few retro games too... what do you use as a control pad?
     
  11. barkmonster macrumors 68020

    barkmonster

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2001
    Location:
    Lancashire
    #11
    A flaky HID compliance USB one for now. I plan on getting something better once my Mac Mini is through the TV. It's really not very good to be honest but it was just some something I bought cheap from a used game/DVD shop on a whim.
     

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