OS for Mini HTPC

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by atad6, Oct 29, 2014.

  1. atad6 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2006
    #1
    Hi, I wasn't sure if I should post this here or in the Mac Mini forum. Just for fun I just bought an ancient core solo mac mini for cheap and am doing the processor upgrade to a core 2 duo, as well as upgrading to 2gb of ram and an ssd I had around.

    I'm wanting to use it as an htpc, most likely xbmc and was wondering what version of OS X to put on it.

    I know it is ram restrained, but it will most likely only be running one thing at once. I'm trying to decide between Snow Leopard or one of the most recent variants, Mavericks or Yosemite.

    I'd like to find the best combination of performance and app/platform availability. For example, do any of the newer versions have better hardware video decoding?

    Any thoughts?
     
  2. orestes1984 macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2005
    Location:
    Australia
    #2
    I'd try to go with a low power core quad CPU if I had a choice like a Core Quad Q9200. I've found that HD content on a Core2 CPU will tax an entire CPU core.

    Really these days with the lack of updates you have to go with Lion or newer to be secure and honestly I'd skip Lion altogether and just install Mavericks.

    Make sure you get at least 4GB of RAM, 8GB of DDR2 is probably going to be fairly expensive these days.

    You can run XBMC or Plex on top of that
     
  3. paulrbeers macrumors 68040

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    Dec 17, 2009
    #3
    You can't put a quad in a core solo mac mini nor can you putt more than 4gb of RAM.....
     
  4. atad6 thread starter macrumors regular

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    Jul 7, 2006
    #4
    It will support up to 3gb of ram with a firmware update so I think that would give it enough headroom to run the os and xbmc at the same time.
     
  5. orestes1984 macrumors 65816

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    Jun 10, 2005
    Location:
    Australia
    #5
    Silly firmware limitations. My bad, I'd still be going with Mavericks, Snow Leopard is just too old now and support is patchy at best.
     
  6. paulrbeers macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2009
    #6
    Just to point out, that Lion was the highest OS that fully supported the Core Solo Mini's (1,1's and 2,1's) out of the box (yes you can hack it to make it run, but I haven't kept up on what that means for the GPU support). Your best bet would be to run Snow Leopard at this point.
     
  7. atad6 thread starter macrumors regular

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    Jul 7, 2006
    #7
    It's mostly for fun, so I'll post updates to see how it goes. Although it does make me sad the lower end macs can't really be upgraded like this anymore. I think that's half the fun!
     
  8. atad6 thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2006
    #8
    Just wanted to update. Everything is installed, 3gb ram, ssd, core2duo processor and snow leopard. I'm amazed at the performance.

    Using XBMC it can play back 20gb blu-ray rips flawlessly (outputting a 1080p source to 1080p TV over dvi->hdmi and optical audio). It's also able to act as an AirPlay receiver with no noticeable lag using AirServer.

    Overall a fun project and glad I have a full intel htpc for under $160. Let me know if anyone has any questions or feedback.
     
  9. Ray2 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2014
    #9
    I'm using a 2009 mini 3,1 running Snow Leopard for Plex. It runs like a dream. Installed Mountain Lion a couple of years ago and it was rather quickly downgraded back to Snow Leopard. Issues were power management and remote management. In SL it just works, in ML and Mavericks it does not. I understand improvements have been made over the years but a new MBA delivered with Mavericks indicates sharing is still not nearly as bullet-proof as SL.

    Performance wise I can't see any difference. HTPC does not put much of a load on resources.

    Consider a cheapo ssd (I did a Crucial MX100 128 gb for $79). It makes for a far more pleasant user experience, with Plex and remote management.
     
  10. atad6 thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2006
    #10
    Yeah I put a 90gb OCZ SSD I had around (weird size I know) and it's really responsive.

    I just think it's cool the slowest? intel mac, 2006 core solo mac mini 1,1 can be upgraded to run video like that

    http://www.everymac.com/systems/apple/mac_mini/specs/mac_mini_cs_1.5.html

    It makes me sad the mini isn't really upgradeable anymore. It'd be nice if they allowed it just for that machine at least.

    Also, I was surprised xbmc plays the video flawlessly but VLC seemed to stutter, despite both having hardware acceleration on.
     
  11. waw74 macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    May 27, 2008
    #11
    have you looked at the broadcom Crystal HD card?

    it's a h.264 hardware decoder, it fits in the mini-pci slot in the older Minis. (where the wireless card is, so you'll loose the builtin wireless)

    It's been a while since i looked at it, may or may not work for you, and be sure to check if your programs support it for playback.
     
  12. atad6 thread starter macrumors regular

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    Jul 7, 2006
    #12
    That's pretty neat, going to give it a try. Looks like it works with XBMC, does it work with everything else natively, like quicktime/vlc or does it depend on the software
     

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