Suitable Mac Mini model for Plex streaming?

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by alexjholland, Apr 23, 2015.

  1. alexjholland macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    May 3, 2011
    #1
    Hi, I currently use my iMac i7 as my main computer in my apartment, which has a 4tb hard drive full of films that I stream to my devices via Plex.

    I also have a Macbook, iPad and iPhones, so it's a full Apple house.

    Having to turn my on iMac to stream movies is a pain for me and my housemate.. and I am starting to spend more time away - I could be away in Australia for a year, next year, so would like my apartment to be more 'independent'.

    I'm thinking about getting a Mac Mini running OSX server set up in hallway cupboard, with my media drives attached, but no monitor or keyboard.

    I would want it to stream films over my network (hardwired and super-fast broadband) and potentially to me, in another country and to others in my apartment.

    It would also be good to have it running as backup for me, wherever I am and as a place to store and access files whilst I'm travelling with my Macbook.

    Essentially, it would be the 'heart' of my apartment, covering all data storage. Although I can't see it would need much processing power to do this?

    Is there any reason I couldn't use a Mac Mini like this?

    I'd update to the latest OSX server and stick more RAM in.

    I know it has a weak graphics card, but surely it just supplies a data stream over the network that the graphics card of my Macbook or XBox (running Plex) decodes?

    I can't see the Mac Mini would have much processing of its own to do, it would just be pushing files around, yeah?

    If not, what's the minimum spec required?

    Thanks
     
  2. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere

    GGJstudios

    Joined:
    May 16, 2008
    #2
    I would opt for a newer model. That model doesn't support OS X versions newer than 10.6.8 (Snow Leopard). Also, you might want a SSD internal drive, for faster response. If you get a pre-unibody (2010 or earlier), you would also have an internal optical drive, for use when you need one.
     
  3. alexjholland thread starter macrumors 6502

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    May 3, 2011
    #3
    Ok, I'm not sure I'll need an optical drive ever (don't think I've used one in a couple of years), but certainly would like the latest version of OSX.

    An SSD would be good, although I could add that in a few months, via my local Mac upgrade company?

    Otherwise, if I got a fairly old model that could run Yosemite, am I right in thinking a slow processor and weak graphics card wouldn't really factor for that use I want?

    Sharing a high-definition film over a network via Plex would indeed be a datastream and thusly low impact on the Mac Mini?

    Thanks!

    ----------

    Here we go.. It's 2009, so runs Yosemite and I can max out the RAM myself, then convert it to SSD later.

    How would this do?
     
  4. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere

    GGJstudios

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    May 16, 2008
    #4
    Yes, of course.
    No, because if you're only using the mini as the Plex Server, it won't be displaying anything. The device running the Plex Home Theater will be the one displaying on whatever screen you choose. The server only delivers the file to be played.
    Yes. I use a 2010 non-unibody mini as my Plex server. It also is used simultaneously for other work, including Microsoft Office, iTunes, TeamViewer, etc. It handles all of that with ease.
     
  5. alexjholland thread starter macrumors 6502

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    May 3, 2011
    #5
    Cool. So once it's setup I can wall-mount and leave it on 24/7, whilst I'm away for a year?

    Would I occasionally have to email my housemate to ask them to restart?
     
  6. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere

    GGJstudios

    Joined:
    May 16, 2008
    #6
    You could put TeamViewer on it, set it to never sleep and remotely manage it. The one drawback is if you ever had to reboot it, you could initiate the reboot from TeamViewer, but you would need a local computer with Screen Sharing to log back in. On Windows, TeamViewer can be available before logging in. On OS X, log-in is done before TeamViewer is available for a connection.
     
  7. alexjholland thread starter macrumors 6502

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    May 3, 2011
    #7
    Balls. So anytime there's a reboot (say powercut or software update) someone has to either use a keyboard/mouse or a computer plugged in on the same network, to log in?
     
  8. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere

    GGJstudios

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    #8
    Yes. And I'd keep a wired USB keyboard and mouse handy, just in case there are times you may have trouble powering up a headless Mac.
     
  9. alexjholland thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #9
    Hmm.. I'm wondering if I can do something clever involving the Apple TV connected to the TV in my living room?..
     
  10. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere

    GGJstudios

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    #10
    In what way? You can set up Apple TV to run the Plex player without needing another device to stream to it, but it can't run the Plex server.
     
  11. alexjholland thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #11
    In terms of using the TV as a monitor for logging in on the Apple TV, when required?

    Could this be done via AirPlay, or a third party app?
     
  12. paulrbeers macrumors 68040

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    Dec 17, 2009
    #12
    I haven't tried this with Yosemite yet, but my Maverick's server is set to automatically log in upon reboot.....

    https://support.apple.com/kb/PH13784?locale=en_US

    Here's how to do it in Yosemite....

    http://www.howtogeek.com/202411/how-to-login-to-os-x-yosemite-automatically-without-a-password/
     
  13. wlossw macrumors 6502a

    wlossw

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    May 9, 2012
    Location:
    Montreal, Quebec, Canada
    #13
    You can plug your mini into a UPS, eliminating power cuts, and you can also set it to auto login when it boots...

    The only issue is if you are running whole disk encryption, but even so there is an option to reboot from the terminal and bypass the disk encryption password...
     
  14. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere

    GGJstudios

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    May 16, 2008
    #14
    Well, the TV is used as a monitor of sorts for the Apple TV, so you can access the Apple TV's settings and menu. However, that doesn't do anything for the Plex Server running on the Mac mini, which you would still need to manage from time to time.
     
  15. alexjholland thread starter macrumors 6502

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    May 3, 2011
    #15
    *Sorry, I meant as a monitor for the Mac Mini!

    Do I definitely need an LCD connected to the Mac Mini for certain management tasks, or could I somehow feed it through the TV?
     
  16. GGJstudios, Apr 23, 2015
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2015

    GGJstudios macrumors Westmere

    GGJstudios

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    May 16, 2008
    #16
    You know, I hadn't thought of that. I've always had multiple accounts on computers, and never used auto-login. That should work, as far as having TeamViewer relaunch after a restart
    You could use a TV as the only display for the Mac mini, so someone in the room could see what's going on. You may still want a wired keyboard and mouse available, in case something doesn't work properly, such as error messages on the screen or TeamViewer failing to launch, etc.
     
  17. paulrbeers macrumors 68040

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    Dec 17, 2009
    #17
    No need for this. your original plan is fine.

    You can auto-login

    Have it load plex automatically and whatever your remote access program of your choice if for some reason something goes awry.

    I simply use the built in Screen Sharing, but then I don't do any administration from outside my house....
     
  18. alexjholland thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #18
    Yeah I'd ideally like the Mac Mini wall-mounted in a cupboard, whereas the TV is in the living room.

    Sounds like that should be OK?

    I may lock the cupboard completely and have it as the one 'out-of-bounds' place for my lodger' or just screw it to the wall.

    (It's likely to be a long-term, carefully vetted lodger.)
     
  19. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere

    GGJstudios

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    #19
    If I understand your plan correctly, you plan to use the Mac mini only as the Plex Server, and have the Plex player on the Apple TV via PlexConnect. The Apple TV would be plugged into your TV via HDMI. If that is the case, you'll want to make sure there is still a strong Wi-Fi connection with the Mac mini inside the cupboard.
     
  20. monty77 macrumors 6502a

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    Mar 4, 2005
    Location:
    UK, South Coast
    #20
    I built a Windows box instead of the Mac Mini route in the end for similar function, hardware was way more flexible and it's been extremely stable. By the time I'd bought a Mac Mini that could handle a couple of transcode streams and some external redundant storage the budget got way out of hand.

    My spec is:
    Windows 7 Pro 64bit
    Intel Core i5 4440 (Haswell) 3.1GHz CPU
    Gigabyte H87M-HD3 Motherboard
    8Gb RAM (Patriot 1600MHz DDR3)
    120Gb SSD (Boot / Plex transcode)
    DrivePool
    4 x 3Tb WD Red (all files duplicated so ~6Tb storage)
     
  21. alexjholland thread starter macrumors 6502

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    May 3, 2011
    #21
    Pretty much. PlexConnect hasn't been working recently, but I can still use it on my XBox and PS3 (I'll try and fix it on my AppleTV).

    My whole house is connected via 500mb homeplugs, which do a good job.
     
  22. Toltepeceno Suspended

    Toltepeceno

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    SMT, Edo MX, MX
    #22
    It's really easy to do yourself, i just did mine.

     
  23. nkawal macrumors regular

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    Jan 12, 2011
    Location:
    NYC
    #23
    So getting back to the OP's original Question, can he use the older Mac Mini (2008/2009) as a Plex Server Only? Asking because i want to do the same, just picked one up for $100.00.
     
  24. alexjholland thread starter macrumors 6502

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    May 3, 2011
    #24
    Reckon I'm going mid-2010, just so I can get the latest OSX.

    Still though, OK on an old CPU?
     
  25. WilliamG macrumors 604

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2008
    Location:
    Seattle
    #25
    You should be "OK" with a mid-2010, but it REALLY depends. If you're transcoding any material to iPads etc - especially modern stuff - it might be a tad slower.

    But it depends on what you're playing. What's your usage style?
     

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