One Mac Mini to rule them all?

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by bomsom, Jul 19, 2011.

  1. bomsom macrumors member

    Jul 27, 2010

    I want to replace some stuff in my house with a Mac Mini to simplify things and make it a hub to everything but I’m not sure if it’s the best choice.

    My current setup is located in different rooms, a Home Office and Living Room as follows:

    Living Room:
    Synology NAS -> WDTV Live -> Receiver -> TV
    Sonos S5

    Home Office
    Macbook Pro -> Presonus Firebox (Audio recording interface for instruments)

    What I want to do:

    1- Replace a Macbook Pro 15” 2009 not used very much, because I don’t really need the portability anymore since I got an iPad, and my office PC do all the heavy lifting. The Mini would reside in the Home Office, attached to the Presonus Firebox, a big monitor, keyboard, mouse/trackpad. I’m a hobbyist musician and do some home recording. The problem here is I don’t have a monitor/keyboard/mouse, so I’m wondering if the iMac is not a better value overall. The negative side for the iMac is that the computer will stay on 24/7 and the iMac has a higher power requirement, so I really don’t know which one is better in this case.

    2- Replace a WDTV Live in the living room. The WDTV Live is connected to the network and plays MKV movies stored on the NAS. The funcionality is great but the interface is almost unusable. I want to plug a HDMI to LAN extender like this one on the link to connect the HDMI port on the Mini (H. Office) to the HDMI on the Receiver (Living Room):

    I already ran a CAT6 cable, so no problem with this one. I would use Plex in the Mini and control it with iOS app wirelessly from the Living.

    3- Use it as my home computer of course, and an extension to my work files and notes stored in Dropbox, Evernote and a few others.

    4- Maybe this is a bit of a stretch, but I could also replace the whole NAS and use just an external HDD on the Mini to hold all my media files. The benefits I see here is faster access (Firewire or Thunderbolt on the new ones). I don’t know about file/folder sharing though. Is it as easily configurable as a NAS??

    5- Use just one Music library. Right now I have my iTunes library on the MBP to sync with iOS devices and there’s no easy way to auto sync new stuff to the NAS to use with the Sonos. One library in the Mini or External Drive attached to it would solve this.

    Is it achievable?

    Or is it too much for a single Mini and I would be better with more dedicated devices?

    Your inputs are much appreciated!
  2. Panch0 macrumors 6502a

    Feb 23, 2010
    I think the only stretch is trying to connect the HDMI to the TV. Instead, why not get an Apple TV - oh, just remembered - you have a bunch of MKV files.

    Maybe a second Mini as a dedicated HTPC. The HDMI over Cat 6 thing just sounds like it is going to complicate your life to me.

    If you want a high quality 27" monitor, the iMac is very similar in price to the mini + monitor. You can let the monitor sleep, which should lower the power draw on the iMac, but I don't think the difference is really noticeable anyway unless you actually install a meter to compare the power draw.

    There's no reason that you can't do all of this with your current MBP though. I don't think the HDMI extension is a good idea, but if you are set on it, just get a mini DP to HDMI adapter...
  3. Hberg, Jul 19, 2011
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2011

    Hberg macrumors member

    Feb 19, 2009
    Overland Park, KS
    I've done a lot of research along the lines of HDMI over Cat6, and things have progressed to the point where one cable can handle the Video and Audio; however, I would be cautious in buying the least expensive Extender. Gefen is noted for producing products that work, and the cost of their product is significantly more that the item you linked on eBay.
  4. bearcatrp macrumors 68000

    Sep 24, 2008
    Boon Docks USA
    Wait until the mini gets refreshed before deciding. Am hoping for a quad core but will settle for a dual core 4 threaded processor. My 2010 mini does great streaming my music a videos to 2 apple tv's. Not sure but think you can hack a ATV2 to play mkv movies. Rumor has it that the next iOS version is supposed to unlock the Bluetooth capabilities on the ATV2 to possibly use a keyboard.
    I'm also interested in the thunderbolt port on the new mini. Be allot better for external drives compared to using FireWire or USB, which should benefit your files. Should know tomorrow.
  5. bomsom thread starter macrumors member

    Jul 27, 2010
    The HDMI over CAT6 is not an ideal solution, I agree. The Apple TV would be just Perfect if I could at least hack it to install Plex in it. The Mini would stay on working as a server from the ther room. Could be any other media player too, but I think none of them right now has this possibility.

    Yes, if I have to use two separate devices, one in the home office and other in the living room, the iMac has a much better value, It has a monitor built-in, Keyboard, mouse, faster processor, GPU, memory, etc. If the power draw is not that much more than the mini as you say, I should definitely consider it.

    Yes, I think the extender is not a good deal then. They cost the same or more than a Media Player device like Apple TV or the WDTV i already own.

    The new Minis got refreshed today!:) I´ll take a look at the specs and see if it's worth it. What I know is that they don't have a DVD drive anymore. Not a big deal to me.
    If the next iOS or ATV version allow some more tweaking or to install apps, problems solved!! Full computer in the office, ATV in the living room!!
  6. bomsom thread starter macrumors member

    Jul 27, 2010
    Decided to keep the MBP for now, will upgrade it with SSD and install Lion in it.

    Maybe I´ll surrender to a Mini later as a dedicated HTPC and keep the MBP or a future iMac for Office/Studio.

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