Using a 2010 cMP as a HTPC

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by kennyman, Aug 25, 2016.

  1. kennyman, Aug 25, 2016
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2016

    kennyman macrumors regular

    Joined:
    May 4, 2011
    #1
    Hello

    I finally pulled the trigger and bought a 40" Samsung 4K LED TV (UN40KU6300). I have hooked up my late 2015 MBA to the screen, I can watch 4K videos. However running 4K content from the MBA does tax both the CPU and Intel iGPU a lot.

    I have tested 4K running from my 2010 dual cpu cMP with a 280X card previously, it works fine. cMP runs 4K without any shuttering or image freezing over Wi-Fi 802.11ac pulling content from my NAS. But the moving of cMP from my room to the living room and back to my room, is hard. It is a real pain in the back.

    I am thinking of purchasing either a 2012 Mac mini (with a 4-core CPU) or a 2010 single-cpu cMP (and upgrade to 6-core CPU), to use it as a dedicated machine for all the media stuffs like music, movie (occasional movie rendering), casual gaming (play old games on windows), streaming and so on.

    A refurbished 2010 cMP with X5680 + 32GB RAM + Wifi AC + 512 PCIe SSD + AMD GPU will cost around $1400

    Refurb cMP - $600
    X5680 - $120
    32GB Mem - $100
    Wifi AC - $50
    PCIe SSD Card + 512 PCIe SSD - $300
    7970/280X - $200

    Mac Mini will have less performance than the cMP, it will cost around the same with some memory sticks and SATA SSD, it will not have a dGPU, which means gaming will not be good. And I also need to purchase a USB-Wifi AC dongle to stream 4K from my NAS. It has an efficient CPU compare to the old X5680, faster memory and I can hide it behind the TV. But overall performance is not good compared to cMP.

    Anyone here using the cMP as a home theatre/living room machine? Care to shed some ideas and tips?


    Thanks
     
  2. h9826790 macrumors 604

    h9826790

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  3. kennyman thread starter macrumors regular

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    May 4, 2011
    #3
    It comes with Smart OS and has all the popular apps such as Youtube, Amazon and Netflix. I have some of my own videos and files, that I cannot stream. Also I cannot install like a mac app or windows app hence I am looking for other options.
     
  4. thornslack macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2013
    #4
    You could use any number of other HTPC options that would consume way less power compared to a dual socket cMP, and which I would have to assume would also be more cost efficient. I love my cMP and it does everything including my HTPC stuff though at 1080p. While it's quite capable, its power consumption is atrocious. I think too aren't the upcoming Intel igpus supposed to have an on-die 4K decoder? Might be worth waiting on a MacBook which would decode perfectly while using less than a third of the power of a single x5680.
     
  5. h9826790 macrumors 604

    h9826790

    Joined:
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    Hong Kong
    #5
    That sounds strange to me. Even my 6 years old Philips Full HD TV has build in media player. My LG 4K TV's media player can play 4K content very well. All I need is just a media server / USB 3.0 HDD. A bit hard to imagine that a 4K TV which consider very up to date has Youtube app, but not a media player.

    Anyway, IMO, cMP is not a good HTPC. It can do the work, but using way too much power. To make a 2010 cMP able to play 4K content, you have to upgrade the CPU and GPU anyway. Then why not build a better silent fanless HTPC?
     
  6. Macsonic macrumors 65816

    Macsonic

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2009
    Location:
    Earth
    #6
    When I am relaxing during my break time, I use my cMac Pro as a home theatre and music media player. I don't use any 4K TV as I am not a hard core enthusiast. I connected the cMac Pro to a Marantz home theatre receiver. I am using floor standing speakers like Monitor Audio Bronze series. I also have used Polk Audio TSI floor standing speakers and a subwoofer. These gadgets bring the audio to a higher level. In playing music, I use the Amarra digital app or sometimes iTunes. Music files are saved as AIFF files. For movies I watch Bluray by converting them using MakeMKV and using VLC to play the movies. I also sometimes use MacGo player http://www.macblurayplayer.com/

    Amarra player: http://www.sonicstudio.com/amarra/index.php

    I've tried out other brands of receivers like Yamaha and Harman Kardon though I like Marantz as it brings out that "warm" and detailed audio. From Hi-Fi hobbyists you would sometimes hear the expression "Warm sound" "bright" or "neutral" sound. There are speakers that bring out a "warmer" sound characteristics and some speakers a "bright" sound. In watching movies, explosions can sometimes shake the room a bit. Also brings out the details in shattering glass scenes. The sound quality the cMac Pro brings out is comparable with a Hi-Fi system.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  7. Ph.D. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2014
    #7
    More power to you, but (echoing the above) aside from the fact that you can fit a lot of storage in a cMP, I can hardly think of a worse computer for media playback. Way to much power consumption, noise and heat for this, in my opinion. Note that the cMP also cannot cast/stream media to other Apple devices via whatever Apple calls that technology these days, so it's not easy to leave it in a remote location as a server either.

    Personally, I'd be looking into a fanless or nearly silent system.
     
  8. AidenShaw macrumors P6

    AidenShaw

    Joined:
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    The Peninsula
    #8
    Can't agree more.

    For the things that my TV can't do on its own, I bought a "weekend special" Gateway quad core mini-tower at Fry's for under $500. Put in a silent (fanless) GTX card, connected the HDMI to my Sony AV receiver, and good to go. House is wired with Cat6, so no bandwidth issues getting BD images to the Gateway.

    I'll do a forklift upgrade when replace my 60" Samsung with a 4K - but at this point there's not enough 4K content to make the jump. (And 4K that's BD upsampled does not count.)
     
  9. buster84 macrumors 6502

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    Oct 7, 2013
    #9
    Avs forum user as well?

    I actually have to replace my stupid 9.1 pioneer receiver that is now going bad after just a few years. I'll have to look into this brand when i fully goes out. Right now its just blinking an error but strangely its still working fine. Im a semi, low biggest audiophile when it comes to speakers. I have 4 JBL Studio 590's (two in front, two used as years) and a 520c as well as two 560p 12in subs and the whole system sounds amazing. Very accurate details, Very accurate sounds/lots of bass and its definitely the best setup I've ever owned. If you have a great setup, a 4k tv will complement your whole setup, but if you dont care about the quality of the image then i wouldn't worry. 1080p looks very good and will be around for a while longer.

    I bought a 4k tv last year and replaced a 55in 1080p plasma and i definitely noticed a difference in quality especially with 1080p content. I've yet to use 4k content on it outside of netflix, but the up-scaling capability is definitely worth it. I mostly bought the 4k tv to get a bigger screen as well as match my projector since i have a 3d projector and i got tired of having to disconnect the cable from my receiver every time since the tv wasn't 3d it would block my projector from being seen as 3d to my bluray player. My plasma is about 9 years old so it was time to upgrade anyways, i've seeing a nice drop on my power-bill from the change.
     
  10. kennyman thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    May 4, 2011
    #10
    Thank you all, appreciate it, very informative.

    I understand a quiet HTPC is better for the living room. I was looking at the current Mac mini, it does not come with a dedicated video card and quad core, I had to look else where.

    So I have decided to build my own mini-itx system for my media and casual gaming needs. I am familiar with computer hardware, I used to build my own gaming rig back in the days. I can run Windows 10 for media streaming and casual gaming and I can try to install OSX later on as there is a lot of info online.
     
  11. thornslack macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2013
    #11
    Cool! Good luck, show us your build when it's done :) I suspect lots of cMP owners might be building PCs in the next couple years.
     
  12. kennyman, Aug 26, 2016
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2016

    kennyman thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    May 4, 2011
    #12
    @thornslack

    Sure thing, I will. So far I have found 2 Haswell system combo deals that are very interesting and affordable. I understand this is a Mac forum, so without going into too much details, below are the 2 options that I am considering.

    Option 1. From my local computer shop for $599, you get:
    - 1 x refurbished MSI Mini ITX Z87 Board
    - 2 x 8GB DDR3 Hyper X RAM
    - 1 x boxed i7 4770K CPU
    - 1 x Samsung SSD 840 Pro 512GB
    - 1 x Antec PSU 650W
    - 1 x Fractal PC Case

    Option 2. From Newegg combo deals for $680, you get:
    - 1 x Asus Z97 ATX Board
    - 1 x 8GB DDR3 Hyper X RAM
    - 1 x Boxed i7 4790K
    - 1 x Kingston SSDNow V300 120GB
    - 1 x Rosewill PSU 500W
    - 1 x DIYPC Case
    - 1 x Seagate HDD 1TB

    Option 1 is the old Haswell CPU, with an old Z87 MSI Mini ITX motherboard. Power Supply and SSD are also old compare to the new offerings from both Antec and Samsung. But I can save a lot, I can drop a Pascal GPU later on and still have couple of bucks left.

    Option 2 is a Haswell refresh platform, I can choose this combo deal and choose a smaller PC case. It is a small upgrade from Option 1, I still have to purchase a pcie-ssd and GPU separately. Overall it is a good deal and should be ok for 4K video and casual gaming.

    I will check Skylake system as well in the coming days. It is the latest Intel platform and it cost a little more, will keep updating you on the build.

    Thanks
     
  13. buster84 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2013
    #13
    You mentioned gaming as an option but didn't include a video card. If you have no plans to hardcore game and want a beast of an encoding/htcp/NAS system grab this 2011v3 chip oem Xeon from eBay

    http://m.ebay.com/itm/Intel-Xeon-E5...patible-X99-i7-5960X-/231986513629?nav=SEARCH

    If it sells out just make sure it's oem when looking that way you know it's a retail unit not those sample chips. With an Xeon you could leave it on 24/7 without worry and it's only 120w tdp, It's a 14 core 2 ghz (3 ghz turbo) processor.

    Then grab a cheap 2011 v3 board, and some ddr4 ram. This might be a little more expensive but it'll be the faster of using programs that use all the cores (encoding) things like that, but if you need to hard core game on it then stick to the I7, but for basic older games you should be good especially with a good pascel video card. Direct x12 is still new but it's now using more cores in games making multicore gaming the future, but that could take 2-3+ years before the new game developers adopt the new multicore strategy and code for it
     
  14. Flint Ironstag macrumors 6502a

    Flint Ironstag

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2013
    Location:
    Houston, TX USA
    #14
    The Mac Pro has always been praised for its nearly silent operation. I would have to concentrate to hear it above normal background sound such as A/C, ceiling fan, etc. In fact I can't! You guys may want to dust out your cases.

    Also, I have not had a problem streaming to any Apple devices (multiple generations of Apple TV). About the only things my cMP was missing (according to my usage) were handoff and Thunderbolt.
     
  15. kennyman, Aug 26, 2016
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2016

    kennyman thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    May 4, 2011
    #15
    @buster84

    Hi, thanks for pointing out the Xeon CPU, however I am not going to do heavy rendering, just some iMovie edits, so Intel Quick Sync or AMD/Nvidia will just fine and the Xeon + the overall X99 platform will consume more power than an i7 system. I will stick with i5/i7 for now. Thanks for your advice.

    @Flint Ironstag
    My cMP is not loud, it is silent and gradually get louder when I tax the CPU/GPU. But it will consume more power than an i7 as was mentioned above. You can enable handoff on you cMP with MVC WiFi AC + Bluetooth Kit
     
  16. kennyman thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    May 4, 2011
    #16
    Update:
    Hello, I have decided to skip Intel Skylake Platform and Pascal GPUs. I would not need DX12 or DDR4 right now, maybe next year. I just want to build a simple system for watching/streaming 4K videos and casual gaming, nothing fancy.

    So I bought the $599 pc parts deal and I have also ordered the following:

    MSI 980 Ti - $390
    Noctua NH-D9L Heat Sink - $55
    Noctua 140mm Fan - $20
    2 Noctua 92mm fans - $35
    Mini PCi-e Wifi AC - $25
    Cable ties and Artic Silver Kit - $30

    Total cost - around $1150

    Now, wait for the delivery...weekend will be fun:D
     
  17. buster84 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2013
    #17
    You should have gotten the gtx 1070 for $10 more! The gigabyte gtx 1070 wind force is $399 (currently sold out on newegg and Amazon) but for $30 more you can get the one with 3 fans that's in stock now if you didn't want to wait.

    Product page but not in stock ignore the high price from those gouging resellers lol, it retails for $399 the Asus is I stick for $409 though.

    This is why it's sold out lol
    http://slickdeals.net/f/8870147-gigabyte-geforce-gtx-1070-windforce-8gb-under-400

    https://www.amazon.com/Gigabyte-GeForce-GDDR5-Windforce-GV-N1070WF2OC-8GD/dp/B01HHCA1IO

    the gtx 1070 is 10% better than the 980ti according to reviews

    http://www.pcgamer.com/geforce-gtx-1070-performance-preview/
     
  18. kennyman, Aug 31, 2016
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2016

    kennyman thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    May 4, 2011
    #18
    @buster64

    Nice find, I wanted to get the GTX 1070 but it was out of stock. The prices should come down after the release of 1080Ti, I guess I will just wait and see some benchmarks and reviews of upcoming cards before replacing my current 980Ti.

    I have received all the parts and have been playing around with Windows 10 to test the hardware, so far so good, everything works well on Windows.

    With Chameleon boot loader, my motherboard would not boot, finally gave up and tried Clover, managed to get El Capitan installed. Reboot, sleep, restart is ok but no time to look into the rest, will probably play around with my iMini-itx tonight after work, will keep updating on how it goes.
     
  19. kennyman, Sep 1, 2016
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2016

    kennyman thread starter macrumors regular

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    May 4, 2011
    #19
     
  20. buster84 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2013
    #20
    Nice!

    Id highly suggest you return that 980ti though. The 1070 has a TDP of 150W, 980Ti reference has 250W which gives it a 100W difference. You mentioned not wanting the Xeon because of the higher TDP, and that video card is actually costing you a lot more in power yearly and its slower. I just looked at the amazon link again and its now order able, but not instock till the 7th, but if you can wait that would be the one id suggest grabbing, or even the $430 one since the cost of running that video card with a higher electricity cost will eventually mean that the 980ti will cost more in the end if its used alot for the next year or two. You'd also need a slightly bigger power supply for the 980ti and with that extra 100w savings you can use that for nas hard drives ect...

    Your current looking at 334watts with just your gpu/cpu combo. That excluding the motherboard watts, ram, cd-roms, fans (plus cpu fan), and accessory's that you might have. Since your power supply is only 650, that 100w will make a difference in the end when you want to add more cooling ect... You'll need even more watts if you start overclocking!

    thats just just something for you to think about.
     
  21. kennyman, Sep 4, 2016
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2016

    kennyman thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    May 4, 2011
    #21
    @buster84

    Thank you for your advice! I have installed the GTX 980Ti, works ok on OS X and Windows, need to disable the built in Nvidia driver same as on a cMP. You are right, I will be better with a GTX 1070. I am going to return the GTX 980Ti and buy Gigabyte GTX 1070, it will fit perfectly inside my small mini itx case, not that a full length card does not fit, I want to put 2 more HDDs inside the case. There is enough space for 6 HDDs and 2 SSDs inside the case, however my motherboard has only 4 SATA. So I am going to put a mini pcie to add 2 additional SATA ports. I currently have 2 x 512 SSDs (Windows on 1 and OS X on another one) and 2 x 2TB Green HDD for data and so on. I have finished my built, I am using link aggregation with dual ethernet port and speed is very good to connect to my NAS. Only thing that I had to exclude from my initial plan, is the pcie ssd, I have only 1 pcie slot, so no way to add pcie-ssd. But I am very happy with the full SATA 3.0 speed from a normal SSD. Some photos of the build:

    IMG_2013.JPG

    IMG_2032.JPG

    IMG_2006.JPG

    IMG_2001.JPG


    Thanks
     
  22. buster84 macrumors 6502

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    Oct 7, 2013
    #22
    Looks good. I just wanted to mention that the pascal model video cards do not have osx drivers yet. Not sure when they will but last i heard they do not. If osx is something you really need then you should keep the current card, or buy the 1070 and use windows for games and the onboard for osx until drivers in osx support the pascal cards.
     

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