Retired Mac Pro as HTPC

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by Shaggymax, Jun 21, 2013.

  1. Shaggymax macrumors member

    Shaggymax

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    Lancaster, PA
    #1
    Hey guys, I need one bit of info. I have search near and far without a definitive answer.

    I have a Mac Pro 1,1 w/ ATI 5870 video card...Is there any way via OS X or Windows 7 to pass audio through the Mini Display Port?

    Any firmware / EFI hacks, tips, or tricks.

    No hypotheticals, I need real-world testimonials. Thanks guys!
     
  2. Shaggymax thread starter macrumors member

    Shaggymax

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    #2
    There has to be a "guru" in the house that knows the answer to this riddle...
     
  3. comatory macrumors 6502a

    comatory

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    Apr 10, 2012
    #3
    I remember on Macbooks and Mac minis if you want to use DP-HDMI adapter with sound you need 2010 Mac mini or 2009 15" Macbook Pro and newer. It is tied to chipset that was introduced in 2009. But who knows how it would work with Mac Pro.
     
  4. jonnymo5 macrumors 6502

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    Texas
    #4
    If your goal is just to provide media to your TV I would suggest you pick up an AppleTV. I have an old iMac running iTunes and it works great. Plus it allows me to access shared content from any computer in the house.
     
  5. FluJunkie macrumors 6502a

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    #5
    This. Apple TV sitting my the screen, Mac Pro playing headless server in a closet somewhere.
     
  6. Shaggymax thread starter macrumors member

    Shaggymax

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    #6
    Okay, good input. Thanks. I just got in a MP 3.33 6-Core and I was looking to get some more use out of the "retired" box. Not worth ditching the MP 1,1 for $500 on eBay. File / media server was what I had in mind.

    Are you poeple running your ATV stock or Jailbroken?
     
  7. initialsBB, Jun 22, 2013
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2013

    initialsBB macrumors 6502a

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    #7
    I got audio out of a MacPro5,1 and ATI 5770 via MDP-HDMI adapter under Windows 7 using the AMD Catalyst drivers, it even supported multichannel output if I recall correctly. I don't know if the MacPro1,1 will allow this.

    I also use AppleTV 3 (so non jailbroken) and Plex from a Mac Mini. I then use AirPlay from Macs/iPads/iPhones to get the Plex media on the TV; I find it offers a great experience. The problem I have with iTunes media sharing is that everything must be in iTunes compatible formats and it doesn't have great support for external SRT files.

    If I were in your shoes I'd sell the Mac Pro for a base Mini: smaller footprint, lower energy costs, very low noise. You can even skip the AppleTV if you stick your mini under the TV.
     
  8. ElderBrE macrumors regular

    ElderBrE

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    Apr 14, 2004
    #8
    Stock here, plus AirParrot, which is great for displaying screen stuff or even non-compatible audio.

    Then, add Airfoil and Reemote server and you've got a media station that you can control from your iPhone/iPad, send music to all the devices on the network you decide to from any sources, etc.
     
  9. chrfr macrumors 603

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    Jul 11, 2009
    #9
    Sell the Pro and buy a Mini. You can't put the Pro in a closet as it will overheat unless you add cooling to the space.
     
  10. Slow Programmer, Jun 22, 2013
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2013

    Slow Programmer macrumors regular

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    Jun 25, 2011
    #10
    Not sure it would be what you want, but I have and older iMac I wanted to use to play movies on my TV. I got an adapter from OWC that plugs into a USB Port (power), the audio port and the mini-display port. The audio and video are combined in the adaptor and it goes to a standard HDMI plug. In my case it works great.

    Edited: There is a new usb cable available now that is much simpler.

    http://www.kanexlive.com/mlinq
     
  11. JoeG4 macrumors 68030

    JoeG4

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    #11
    You should sell it dude, that machine is still worth a lot on craigslist/ebay, and you could get something designed for the task.
     
  12. Shaggymax thread starter macrumors member

    Shaggymax

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    #12
    Thanks again guys! I am most likely going to sell the ole MP 1,1 and look into ATV and try to get a work flow >> going. Cheers :)
     
  13. jonnymo5 macrumors 6502

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    #13
    Stock. I haven't seen anything I wanted bad enough it was worth taking on the extra chore of taking care of a jailbroken device.
     
  14. Omnius macrumors 6502a

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    Jul 23, 2012
    #14
    I considered using my old pro 1,1 for a HTPC. Frankly, it wasn't worth the hassle. I found a 2011 mini selling for $350 on craigslist and went with that.

    What you may want to consider is ripping your movie collection stored on optical media and storing it all on a HD or 2. That way when you switch to the mini, you can also go put your old optical media in storage somewhere and no worry about it.
     
  15. spoonie1972 macrumors 6502a

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    Location:
    Toronto
    #15
    leaving a pro running 24-7 isn't exactly a great way to save money. My power bills this year, vs last, since I actually sleep my machine now, are significantly lower.
     
  16. Omnius macrumors 6502a

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  17. applegeek897 macrumors regular

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    Aug 23, 2011
    #17
    I think a Apple TV would be a good option and just run the Mac Pro always on.
     
  18. phrehdd macrumors 68040

    phrehdd

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    Oct 25, 2008
    #18
    There are ways to use your Mac Pro as an HTPC but it comes with a bit of work and you didn't quite mention what type of media you would like to exploit.

    The biggest challenge is if you want to use software to play out HD movies that have HD audio. OSX does not support HD Audio as is (DTS-MASTER ect.). If you only care about Dolby and DTS then you are in very good shape.

    The good of a Pro is the storage of several drives and thus can hold a large library. The bad is that your MP uses a lot of power and HTCP doesn't really require that much power.

    Mac Mini is a great option as drives don't have to be super fast and even a 5400 rpm 3.5" drive is fast enough going through firewire800 or USB3 (for high end media files).

    I admit that in your shoes, all things being equal, I would sell the MP and get a Mac Mini or an alternative such as a Dune Media player. I have used MP, Mac Mini and Dune for playing both local and via network many types of media files associated with HTPC type playback. This is my on top of the head opinion for each -

    Mac Pro - least favourite to use as it required special connectors which can be flaky and at times the machine's fans were obvious during high bitrate movies. The luxury of having multiple large drives was the only convenience. I used Plex and XBMC as front end software players.

    Mac Mini - Elegant solution with Plex or XBMC when HDMI was used. Drawback just like Mac Pro, no pass through of HD audio. Remedy for both Mac Pro and Mac Mini - used other OS (Win7) and was able to get HD audio.


    Dune - Multiple models and used the base model for a few years which I installed a 2 tb 5400 drive. Menu system is a bit sparse and primitive but effective. 3rd party add ons make it look similar to Plex and XBMC. Able to play back all media files with HD audio. Some models come with blu ray player included, space for internal drive as well as "smart" add on external drive boxes. The units work particularly well and updates to firmware are available. Output matches and at times superior to either Macs listed above for high bitrate movie playback.

    In your shoes, I would look at the Mac Mini and go to XBMC and Plex forums to do some research. As well, consider installing either Win7 or Linux OS instead on a Mini to get HD audio (see those forums again).

    These days, I use both my AVR or Blu Ray player to do music playback and my Blu Ray player also can serve up media files from my NAS and does an impressive job at that. I believe the Dune comes in second on MKV, M2TS, VOB and other media files but not by much.

    Hope that 'just another guy's experience" gives you some food for thought and you find what is best for your needs.
     
  19. Tesselator, Jul 4, 2013
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2013

    Tesselator macrumors 601

    Tesselator

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    Japan
    #19
    Wait, you're setting up a Home Theater and not supplying optical DTS to a surround processor amplifier?

    For example I'm using this little 5+1 Pioneer XV-DV 303 unit I got in the used shop for $50

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    My neighbors hate me but it sure makes watching movies and playing games lots of fun! :D My MP1,1 makes an awesome HTPC with that added in. I currently have 4,505 movies on HDD and many of those are 1080p with DTS embedded. As a HTPC the MPP1,1 is super quiet and very responsive - including for ripping and reformatting. I can't think of anything that would be much better - and certainly not for the low entry price associated with the MP1,1.
     
  20. Macsonic macrumors 65816

    Macsonic

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    #20
    I am also using my 2008 3.1 Mac Pro as HTPC. The Mac Pro is connected to a Marantz Home Theater receiver. Then the receiver is hooked to Monitor Audio floor speakers and Polk Audio floor speakers and subwoofer. Sound quality and character is warm to neutral with nice details for movies and music. I think the Mac Pro makes an adequate Home Theater.
     
  21. Tesselator, Jul 4, 2013
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2013

    Tesselator macrumors 601

    Tesselator

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    #21
    Yeah, I dunno about high-end HiFi comparisons as I have nothing to compare with. The Pioneer I'm using has 6-band equalization and several kinds of effects - so that should allow one to make the sound brighter or warmer, deeper or gated, etc. etc. as desired. I'm pretty sure the Digital Optical output from the Mac is just whatever is contained in the file and isn't "colored" by the Mac hardware in any humanly detectable way.

    I think the only thing missing from a MacPro HTPC is a remote that will do pause, FF, RW, chapter menu, next chapter, and all that. I guess any wireless HID would work fine for that tho. Maybe one of these:

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Or something like that. I had my Android phone controlling my MacPro but didn't try it with Videos or DVDs - I just opened TextEdit and typed a word and then never revisited it.
     
  22. throAU macrumors 601

    throAU

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    Perth, Western Australia
    #22
    Sell Mac Pro and use the funds plus power bill saving to fund a mac mini or other small form factor, quiet, low power consumption box (maybe even an ATV or WD live box) to do the job.
     
  23. Tesselator macrumors 601

    Tesselator

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    #23
    Remove one of the CPUs from the MP1,1 and wattage will be same or lower than MacMini. ;)

    I think it's CPU-A that needs to be occupied.
     
  24. Mr. Zarniwoop macrumors demi-god

    Mr. Zarniwoop

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    #24
  25. throAU macrumors 601

    throAU

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    Perth, Western Australia
    #25
    Doubt it.

    The Mini idles in a few watts or less and has a max TDP of something like 45 watts. The video card in the Pro will consume more than that. Plus if its semi recent it should support mavericks which will further reduce power consumption, will look less cluttered, etc.


    But to be honest I wouldn't/don't even use a Mini. AppleTV (or equivalent fanless machine), stream from some other machine over WIFI and leave the devices with fans, noise and heat generation in another room away from your home theatre.

    I've done the "old retired machine as a HTPC" thing a few times before and it just means you have to house a power hungry noisy hot machine that takes up a lot of space, looks unsightly and doesn't have a remote.

    *shrug*
     

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