The best Mac Mini for home theatre....

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by Cbdboz, Oct 16, 2014.

  1. Cbdboz macrumors regular

    Cbdboz

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    Oct 31, 2013
    #1
    Early days with the new Mac mini only launched today...but would be keen to get views on which Mac mini would be the best choice for Home Theatre (main use... And kids computer access)


    Would you go for one of the new models released today...or an older version.... If so which one, what configuration and why??

    Straight off the bat, there appears to be no server version...will this have a big impact for home theatre use ( and possibly sharing content outside of home)??

    Have been waiting along with many other for the new Mac mini, and other than a thunderbolt2 ( which I don't think I would need) and possibly soldered ram ( yet to be determined...but if so adds cost and reduced flexibility)... Not sure what the real advantages of the new model would be..and certainly for home theatre....
     
  2. orestes1984 macrumors 65816

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    #2
    The base model 1.4ghz is fine, the HD5000 GPU is more than enough for 1080p content and then some. The fact that its a low power chip will save you money in the long run and it boosts right up to 2.6ghz when needed. Just get 8GB of RAM.

    If you need more storage space just attach an external storage array via USB3, USB3 is faster than any spinning hard drive and the enclosures are cheap.
     
  3. Toubro macrumors newbie

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    #3
    I have the smallest model from 2011 and it has always done the job fine, although I added a SSD as the primary drive and a 1TB HDD for storage.
    I believe you can buy and install OSX Server from the app store.
     
  4. Boyd01 macrumors 68040

    Boyd01

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    #4
    I have a base model 2012 mini with a 3TB USB external drive. It has more than enough power for home theater. You could probably get by with an even older model, many people on this forum are still using Core2 Duo machines for this.
     
  5. orestes1984 macrumors 65816

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    #5
    You would be kinda pushing it for a Core 2 machine to be doing 4K if that was your intention.
     
  6. Boyd01 macrumors 68040

    Boyd01

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    #6
    I don't think the OP indicated he needed 4k capability… :)
     
  7. Cbdboz thread starter macrumors regular

    Cbdboz

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    Oct 31, 2013
    #7
    Thanks for the feedback guys....

    WRT 4k.... Would certainly be good to make sure which ever mini I bought is as future prof as possible. It would be hooked into my home theatre amp (which handles 4k...for example) and would then use for media distribution...music and tv/ movies. ... Plus streaming from various content providers etc.

    May also use as a computer as well

    Was hoping also to use as a server for the rest of the house ( tho thought I would need the 'server version' with OX Server) as well as being accessed over the internet.....

    Cheers
     
  8. T'hain Esh Kelch macrumors 601

    T'hain Esh Kelch

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    #8
    I would take a 2012 model and save the money. The speed of a 2012 model with an ssd is better than the 2014 model (See benchmarks available), and the upgradeability of RAM and HD is everything for a media center IMO.

    That is, unless the Intel HD5000 supports hardware h265 decoding, does it?
     
  9. Boyd01 macrumors 68040

    Boyd01

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    #9
    You can purchase the server software from the app store for $20 and install it on pretty much any current Mac: https://www.apple.com/osx/server/

    When people talk about the Mini "server" being discontinued, they are talking about the high end (expensive) version of the Mini that included a 2TB drive.
     
  10. orestes1984, Oct 18, 2014
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2014

    orestes1984 macrumors 65816

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    #10
    OS X server is no longer sold separately, you can purchase it from the App Store and run it on top of any OS X computer you buy.

    The Quad Core Core i7 server is undoubtedly faster, but with that comes the added power bill. The latest base model Mac Mini uses a ULV (Ultra Low Voltage) power saving CPU which will lead to reduced power usage for an always on computer.

    The HD5000 also supports improved decoding for 4K.... Combined with the ULV processer it's pretty much the optimum solution you want for a HTPC wrapped up in an Apple box.
     
  11. marzer macrumors 65816

    marzer

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    #11
    For starters, you don't need an actual server class machine to run a home server. Decoding or streaming HD media and sharing files can be done using any basic computer available on the market today. Or any old computer that is of a reasonably modern architecture (probably at least core 2 duo and a 1080p capable video).

    And for your needs, you probably don't even want to touch the OS X Server app available on the App Store. Though it does provide advanced services, it's useless if you don't have a need for its advanced features. In my case, I installed it only for the Time Machine function. It lets me easily use my media server external storage as a network backup location for all my Macs. But since then I've also enabled the software update caching feature which is nice for speedy updates to all my machines.

    As for hardware, it doesn't take a power house computer to make a good home media server. I still use a 2009 C2D Mac mini with FireWire drives. It can send 1080p content to a couple Apple TVs at the same time and not break a sweat. Decodes 1080p content just fine to a direct connected TV. And I use it to run a hand full of network services like handyprint for iOS device printing, Streamtome for external streaming and a few utility services. None of which, by the way, requires the OS X Server app.

    If you want to save money, look for a used/refurb 2011 or newer mini to give you at least Thunderbolt for future expansion to high speed external storage if you decide to go that route. And 2011+ gives you air mirroring if you decided to go wireless to connect to your HTS with an Apple TV. Otherwise, a new base model Mac mini will last you for many years and give you both USB3 and Thunderbolt for Modern expansion options.
     
  12. Cbdboz thread starter macrumors regular

    Cbdboz

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    Oct 31, 2013
    #12
    Thanks for feedback.

    Would the base model suffice for speed....and given the soldered ram situation...what level would I need at outset to be relatively future proof...8gb?

    And does it matter on the internal Hard drive ( size or hd/ sdd), as presumably can just plug in an external drive...and may also be able to add PCI SSD ? at later date..

    This machine will be dedicated to home theatre needs, with possible access for family computing accounts. I will most likely use IMAC for my own heavy duty needs.

    Toying with the idea of 2012 or prior macmini (consensus appears that QCi7 would a good option).... But may be excessive for HT needs.

    ...or the base model as advised above , subject to

    ...ultimately wil then compare the cost and decide based on best vfm for my needs.
    ;)

    Thanks,
     
  13. tbobmccoy macrumors 6502a

    tbobmccoy

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    #13
    I use my Mac Mini in my signature (2011) as an always on HTPC server running Plex and serving media to 2 other TVs and 2 other Macs. The Mac Minis these days are overpowered for the needs of pretty much anything. As long as you get a lot of RAM, any of the CPUs you decide will work just fine. Don't roll with less than 8GB of RAM, though. I'd go higher if you want to future-proof.
     
  14. marzer macrumors 65816

    marzer

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    #14
    The new base Mac mini with i5 is more than enough to give you years of use as a powerful media server. As I stated, I'm still rocking a core 2 duo from 5 years ago without a problem. But I'm on the fence over the soldered ram in the new mini. For myself, I'd look for a 2012 model, any processor config will suffice, for easy expansion of memory and replacing the internal hard drive down the road.
     
  15. Cbdboz thread starter macrumors regular

    Cbdboz

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    Oct 31, 2013
    #15
    Thanks for the feedback.

    One other question....if using the Mac mini...do is still need an ATV...or just go direct from Mac mini to the amp/ screen?


    One of major issues I had with the ATV is that certain content could not be mirrored ( or air played ) from iPad to ATV due to HMDI error message....but when I connected my laptop in to the screen it worked ok....am assuming that a mac mini direct to screen via hdmi should be ok, and be a permanent part of the ht setup. ( note this was for sky go service from uk)
     
  16. orestes1984 macrumors 65816

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    #16
    You can just go straight from the Mac Mini to your TV screen, or receiver via HDMI. You can also go from the Mac Mini via optical cable and get 5.1 with a TOSLINK cable, you will just need the adapter for the small end that goes into the Mac Mini.

    You will be able to use various front ends of your choice depending on which way you go, Plex, XBMC, Windows Media Centre, or whatever combination you choose to make it kid/wife friendly.

    You can still use the Apple Remote to launch it should you go down that path.
     
  17. Cbdboz thread starter macrumors regular

    Cbdboz

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    #17
    Thanks...does the new Mac mini have optical out tho?
     
  18. orestes1984 macrumors 65816

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    #18
    It doesn't state it explicitly on the Apple website, and Apple seem to have moved away from giving detailed tech specs :rolleyes: I know the 2012 Mini has optical out.

    Even the detailed specification page from Apple Support doesn't state it has optical so it may well have been deleted:

    http://support.apple.com/kb/SP710

    That might be a bit of a big issue if you're reliant upon it as I am with an older receiver that still works perfectly fine with 6 and 7 channel audio.
     
  19. Lorenzo F macrumors member

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    #19
    The Apple website does give detailed tech specs. See this link:

    https://www.apple.com/mac-mini/specs/

    Scoll to where it says "Connections and Expansions."

    No optical out unfortunately.
     
  20. Dc2006ster macrumors regular

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    Alberta, Canada
    #20
    I was set to buy a base model 2012 but waited to see what updates were announced. Instead of making a choice easier, Apple has made it more confusing.

    If I connect a Mac Mini directly to a tv, will a base model 2014 mini suffice? I may need to do some transcoding now and then.

    Does the HDMI carry 5.1 and/or 7.1 audio?


    Thanks
     
  21. DaveN macrumors 6502a

    DaveN

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    #21
    My thoughts exactly. In fact, I just picked up a refurbished 2012 quad core today and will be adding in more RAM and an SSD for the boot and scratch drive.
     
  22. auhagen macrumors regular

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    #22
    OSX does only carry 5.1.
    If you install windows on the little thing you'll get the full monty.
     
  23. orestes1984 macrumors 65816

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    #23
    They're not nearly as detailed as they used to be.
     
  24. Lorenzo F macrumors member

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    #24
    Optical out....maybe?

    I just read on another thread that there may be an optical out on the 2014 Mini. Take a look at this thread:

    http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1810496

    From the last post that I read on the optical out issue (posted Oct 29, 2014, 02:23 PM), sounds like there is an optical out if you use the right adapter?

    Take a look for yourself at the thread. I'm not completely clear due to my technical ignorance.
     
  25. Darby67 macrumors 6502

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    #25
    There is still an optical port, doesn't appear that there is any change. A few people have been confused about the adapter necessary and incorrectly stated it isn't available any longer. It is.

    http://store.apple.com/us/buy-mac/mac-mini

    [​IMG]
     

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