Suggestions for 2011 Mac Mini as iTunes Server

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by MarketingGuy, Jul 15, 2012.

  1. MarketingGuy macrumors member

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2010
    Location:
    Hillsborough, NJ
    #1
    Hey everyone, I need some help picking the right Mac Mini. First, let me tell you a little about my setup and need:

    Current Setup
    I have a 2010 15" MacBook Pro and 2006 Mac Pro. The MBP I carry around the house to work and also when visiting clients. The Mac Pro is my workhorse and iTunes server (2 3TB drives are used in a RAID to create a large 6TB space for iTunes media of which I am using 4TB). Unfortunately, the MacBook Pro has a screen issue and the Mac Pro has a logic board that is failing (not a great year for my wallet).

    Future Setup
    I ordered a MacBook Pro with Retina display to replace the dying 2010 MBP and will be ordering a new 2012 iMac (whenever it comes out) to replace the dying Mac Pro. I have 5 AppleTVs in the house and was thinking about purchasing a refurb 2011 Mac Mini when the 2012's come out (take advantage of even lower prices). The power savings will pay for the Mac Mini in no time and I won't have to worry about knocking people off of iTunes when I boot into Windows for some gaming. I plan on pairing the Mac Mini with an OWC raid enclosure with 4 2TB hard drives to store all of my media.

    So, here is my question. With the Mac Mini being used for iTunes (and other light server applications, such as an AirPrint emulator), which current Mac Mini model would you recommend? I want it to be able to stream 1080p iTunes video content to at least 2 Apple TVs and 1 Mac simultaneously without stuttering. I was originally leaning toward the entry level model, but now I'm worried that the performance might suffer. Note, I will upgrade the RAM and may replace the internal hard drive with a Samsung 830 SSD upon arrival. Also, all Apple TVs are hardwired with Cat6 cable.

    Appreciate any insight that you can provide!
     
  2. Lance-AR macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    May 7, 2012
    Location:
    Little Rock, AR
    #2
    Are you using the mini as a desktop? I'm not seeing the benefit of the SSD.
     
  3. MarketingGuy thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2010
    Location:
    Hillsborough, NJ
    #3
    That's a good point, the Mac Mini would be headless and sit in my server room on a rack. So, I can save a few dollars by skipping the SSD. Thanks!
     
  4. kfury77 macrumors regular

    kfury77

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2007
    Location:
    Osaka, Japan
    #4
    I think the 2012 Mac mini base-model will serve your needs. I'm sure it will have 4GB as standard and a fast Ivy Bridge processor should be fine for your iTunes server.
     
  5. blevins321 macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2010
    Location:
    Winnipeg, MB
    #5
    The base model would be more than plenty. iTunes just streams the content to the ATV and it's decoded there. For just iTunes, even a used 2009 would be more than adequate for that. :)
     
  6. mwhities macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2011
    Location:
    Mississippi
    #6
    That's what I currently use. See sig. (updated to a 64G SSD and 750G sata for music and 1T for video external).
     
  7. MarketingGuy thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2010
    Location:
    Hillsborough, NJ
    #7
    Thank you, everyone! I really appreciate the advice. I'm going to wait until the new Mac Mini's come out and pick up a 2011 entry level from the refurb store.
     
  8. JBunkers macrumors member

    JBunkers

    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2008
    Location:
    In the middle
    #8
    your network

    You mentioned that your Apple TV's are hardwired with CAT6 cabling... but hardwired to what? You didn't state what you're using for a router/switches. Not that it matters much, the Apple TV's only have 10/100BASE-T Ethernet ports anyway, no Gigabit Ethernet.
     
  9. blevins321 macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2010
    Location:
    Winnipeg, MB
    #9
    I'm all wireless now, but for awhile I was running a single Ethernet cord out to my living room, hooked into a Trendnet unmanaged switch, for my AppleTV, TiVo box, and Blueray player. Worked fine. The wireless is pretty seamless now though. I've dropped the other boxes.
     
  10. Ifti macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2010
    Location:
    UK
    #10
    Have you considered a NAS? Many of them have iTunes server built in......
    Although a Mini does suit your needs pretty well also, a NAS will give you more storage space.....
     
  11. d.steve macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2012
    #11
    I'm not aware of any NAS that supports Home Sharing, so if you want Home Sharing, you would then still need to have a Mac running.

    iTunes Server...far more limited than Home Sharing in iTunes.

    [EDIT: ok, so the thread subject is about iTunes Server, so Ifti is right. But to OP, do you actually want Home Sharing, instead?]
     
  12. Ifti macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2010
    Location:
    UK
    #12
    To be honest you are probably right. Although a NAS can do much more the data storage these days, such as the iTunes Server and DLNA server, etc, but I still see its primary use as data storage.
    Personally I'm still looking to buy a MacMini as my main server, which will be linked to my NAS, which is my main storage centre. It seems like the OP may be better suited to a MacMini for now since it'll fit his particular uses better and since the instance of iTunes is already running on it, streaming to AppleTVs will be direct.

    With a NAS, remember an iTunes server is just a way of sharing your media so that an instance of iTunes can actually see it. Hence to stream to an AppleTV you would still need an instance of iTunes running on a computer to stream across to the AppleTV for playback.
     
  13. MarketingGuy thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2010
    Location:
    Hillsborough, NJ
    #13
    Thank you everyone for your replies. To clarify, I want to use Home Sharing for my AppleTVs (and iPad, Macs, etc.).

    I already own a ReadyNAS Ultra 4 Plus with four 3TB discs for data storage, but the iTunes serving capabilities are pretty weak in my opinion. It's not the same as Home Sharing. Plus, I have found issues with using the NAS to store iTunes content. If I buy a movie or TV show from the iTunes store and use the NAS as the iTunes Media folder location, the downloaded video file has issues (no cover artwork, missing tags, etc.). This is a well known issue with using a NAS as the media folder location, since mid last year (documented in the Apple support forums). This is the reason why I am going to use an attached RAID system and Synk Pro or Chronosync to backup the RAID array to the the NAS.

    As for the connection, I have fairly great coverage using a Time Capsule on one side of the house and an Airport Extreme on the other side of the house. This gives me 5GHz 802.11n to about 50% of the house and 2.4GHz 802.11n to 100% of the house. The Airport Extreme is connected via Cat6 to the Time Capsule. I also have two 8-port gigabit switches in the mix. I find that the AppleTVs work best when using ethernet (less load time and more consistent speeds), mostly because I just can't cover my house fully with the 5GHz band unless I deploy another 2 more Airports.
     
  14. Ifti macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2010
    Location:
    UK
    #14
    In that case it looks like the mini is the right thing for you.
    I'm also waiting for the new refresh before I pick my mini server up as well, for similar uses!
     
  15. d.steve macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2012
    #15
    I'll probably be doing the same, too!
     
  16. eyepea macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2012
    #16
    I have your suggested future setup and it works well. But I also use the new Airport Express to give me AirPlay options with iTunes. The new AAE is also the same form factor as Apple TV so they go nicely on top of each other. Black and White.

    IP
     

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