Reality check needed on HTPC setup

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by arhtmac, Nov 19, 2014.

  1. arhtmac macrumors newbie

    Jul 18, 2011
    Hi everyone,

    I wanted to ask for people's input on my idea for a HTPC setup as I'm getting a little lost in all of the options available and could do with some guidance! I've come into a little money recently so I'd also like to dive into the OS X computing life (currently only an iOS user and PC for desktop computing).

    As I have sizeable Steam gaming and iTunes media libraries my idea is to repurpose my desktop PC to a HTPC. My graphics card, storage array and everything would live in this box under the TV along with a new satellite tuner card for FreeSat (based in UK) and I would get a mac mini to have set up in the office for the occasions I need to hack away at a larger work document/spreadsheet. This would allow me to make use of some of the apps and services I love about my iPad and iPhone along with some of the new Yosemite options like handover but still be able to game and watch films in the living room with the more powerful PC. I think this would work better than using something like Steam's in-home streaming as there'll be no network lag added in.

    I guess what I want to know is if there's a different way of doing this? From what I make of it I don't think I need a NAS but would this be a better option? Is XBMC an easy program to set up?

    Any input gratefully received!
  2. orestes1984 macrumors 65816

    Jun 10, 2005
    If you're runnin a HTPC you don't need a NAS, a NAS is by its name network attached storage. You can build that right into your existing PC, what you need to work out is what front end you want, or whether you want a streaming media player.

    Investigate Plex and XBMC, see how you go, if you want something more user friendly then look at a streaming media player, Chrome Cast, Roku, Fire TV, Apple TV, etc to make it TV friendly.
  3. Lord Hamsa macrumors 6502a

    Jul 16, 2013
    If your media library is already in iTunes, I see little reason to use Plex or XMBC, unless you're looking for specific features iTunes doesn't have. Doubly so if you have any iTunes Store DRM-protected content.

    I'd say the biggest mistake I made with my HTPC Mac Mini was using the NAS I already had in the house as primary library storage. I should have gotten more local storage on the Mini (attached external HD) and just used the NAS for Time Machine backups. I may need to migrate to that when I have the funds.
  4. phrehdd macrumors 68040


    Oct 25, 2008
    Everyone has a different spin on what hardware and software makes for a good entertainment set up.

    If you use a Mac Mini - you can have BOTH XBMC/PLEX and iTunes.

    I think that playing with XBMC first might be a good choice. It has a strange learning curve in that once you start to get it, it goes very quickly. XBMC plays a much larger amount of file types than iTunes/ATV natively. It also creates various front end screens that are fitting of an entertainment center.

    Where iTunes is a good fit is for iTunes movie rental/purchase and any other DRM type of items from the iTunes store.

    Storage - either directly attached or NAS will work. It really depends on what you are trying to do. If only the Mini is going to use the stored files, then directly attached is a cheaper way to go (direct as in external drives via USB, Firewire, Thunderbolt).

    I use a couple of Mac Mini for both regular use and HTPC. I'll say the only caveat to using OSX for an HTPC is that it cannot play HD audio lossless streams such as MASTER DTS etc. It can however play DTS and Dolby+. Unless you have a mid to high end audio system, chances are you wont miss HD audio ability.

    In summary - Use both XBMC/PLEX and iTunes. Consider directly attached storage as an option for storage (often far cheaper than NAS).

    Last - XBMC and Plex can take advantage of various universal remotes and technically can also use Apple little wimp remote.
  5. rgarjr macrumors 603


    Apr 2, 2009
    Southern California
    XBMC (Kodi is actually the new name) is a great program to watch movies off a NAS or computer. The new players that run are Amazon Fire TV or the new Google Nexus Player.
  6. arhtmac thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 18, 2011
    Thanks for the input everyone. I will have a play around with Plex/XBMC but looks like I can make do with iTunes alone. Will need to use my PC as the HTPC so I can use the satellite card but good to know I can stick with local storage and not worry about NAS setup!

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