What Mini Should I buy?

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by boltman519, Dec 28, 2011.

  1. boltman519 macrumors newbie

    Dec 28, 2011
    Hello all,

    I'm about to make the jump to Mac. Having already owned and iPhone and iPad and loved them it's time for me to get ride of my PC and simplify everything.

    My questions is what version Mini should I buy.

    My goal is this:

    Install in my living room as a media center and hook up to my 55in TV. From there I want to be able to watch my downloaded content, play music, web surf, etc. This is pretty straight forward and I'm sure the basic model will suffice. Where my problem comes from is I have a large amount of recorded hockey games from my beer league that I would like to share with all my teammates. What would be the best way to do that? Also since that takes up a considerable amount of storage I'll need to either attach a external hard drive or a external hard drive back up system. Would one need the server version to do this or could I do it on a normal mini? I know just enough to make me dangerous so any thoughts, opinions, suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

  2. blevins321 macrumors 68030

    Dec 24, 2010
    Winnipeg, MB
    Base model would be more than enough. I'd almost say try to find last year's base model refurbished for HTPC use. Definitely upgrade the RAM to at least 4GB...8GB is $40 or less now. Yes, an external drive would be the best route for all the media content..much cheaper and easier to allow for future expandability that way.

    As far as sharing those types of videos with others, take a look at Plex or AirVideo for remote transcoding and streaming.
  3. boltman519 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 28, 2011
    Thanks, I checked out plex and actually downloaded it on my W7 machine at home to try it out. Looks like I have a crappy upload courtesy of my ISP so I may have issues with that.
  4. Seydlitz macrumors member

    Mar 21, 2009
    In truth the ram upgrade is advised by everyone here, but is without any real merits.

    The developers of both Plex and XBMC have stated 4Gb is already overkill.

    Why spend the money when it does absolutely nothing for your use?
  5. blevins321 macrumors 68030

    Dec 24, 2010
    Winnipeg, MB
    ...in case you want to do anything else while the Plex server is running?
  6. philipma1957 macrumors 603


    Apr 13, 2010
    Howell, New Jersey
    yeah you got it. maybe the plex server is showing a movie in the ht room and someone is using the computer in the computer room? more ram helps.

    such as this example i can use vm fusion windows 7 while my wife watches sex in the city in the other room
  7. jmhays macrumors member

    Aug 10, 2011
    When you say "share with all my teammates" do you mean having them all over to watch the games on your TV or do you mean you want to send them the files so they can watch them on their own TVs? These are two different options that "may" require two different solutions.

    If you are looking for a device to store your videos, look to something like the NAS (Network Attached Storage) solution from Synology. I have the DS1511+ and it does an excellent job. You may not need a device that "could" provide 15TB or storage (expandable to 45TB), so they also make smaller units as well. With the Synology, you could create a share so that anyone from your team could access your storage device from their house and copy the files onto their own computer. Of course, burning a copy of your team playing a game might be a simpler solution. But, at least you have options.
  8. Seydlitz macrumors member

    Mar 21, 2009
    I read his very specific goals and reacted on it. This is quite frankly very common, people do not read requirements.

    Look at it this way: if we see his stated goals, why let him pay more for no reason? Or do we conclude that the OP does nopt know what he wants? The applications mentioned by you guys are not from the OP.

    I tend to think that the Op knows what he wants and try to give him fitting advise.
  9. kappaknight macrumors 68000


    Mar 5, 2009
    I totally get what you're saying and you are correct - the specs you provided would be more than enough for Plex. In fact, any mini in the last couple of years could do what he's asking for even w/o an upgrade. However, needs do change. As we work with and learn to love our mini's more, we may ask it to do more things at one time. Maybe rip a DVD or run other things while a video is playing.

    To piggyback off of what others have said, I currently run the last gen mini (the one with the CD drive still in it) for my Plex setup. For my storage, I went with a Synology 1511+ and cat 6 cables cause the speeds have been shown to be faster than using the Drobo. Of course, now that Thunderbolt storage drives are coming out in 2012, you may opt for those solutions. I went with a NAS so I can hide it in the closet of another room as I didn't want to clutter up the TV area.

    To the OP, I HIGHLY recommend Plex as your media server for sharing your videos. They allow you to share with other computers on your network as well as iOS devices. Not only that, the latest iteration (v0.9.5) in combination with myPlex allows you to share your library around the world provided you have enough bandwidth for uploading the videos.

    On a side note, I'm actually working on a personal metadata agent now that will work similarly as TheTVDB.com for organizing your personal/home videos. The goal is to showcase your home videos and make them just as pretty as the TV shows and movies that many people have on their Plex media server. I think this would be perfect for you to organize your hockey videos. We're still in development, but if you're interested in following our progress, check out http://thevideosdb.com.
  10. jimboutilier macrumors 6502a

    Nov 10, 2008
    Lion doesn't run optimally in 2gb even under the lightest of use (you will see a page file created and used). You need at least 4gb for Lion to run optimally (light or no paging). Perhaps you should reread the OP as he stated that he indeed wanted to do several things other than run Plex so he would see benefits going from 2gb to 4gb. We can debate how big the benefits are but not that they don't exist.

    Benefits going beyond 4gb would depend on how many other things the OP wanted to do at once and what they were but you can still get significant paging in 4gb with pretty routine use (surfing, itunes, email, ilife apps).

    Most folks are just playing the probabilities when they recommend a RAM upgrade right off. While it may be wasteful for a few, the majority will likely get their $40 worth over the life of their machine.
  11. Seydlitz, Jan 9, 2012
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2012

    Seydlitz macrumors member

    Mar 21, 2009

    No, with those apps you really do not notice a difference between 4GB or 8GB (it probably gets slower, tough that's immeasurable for a normal human being, due to the extra registers, and yes, posts on this forum stave this).

    I reread the OP's apps and they are indeed rather light.

    Jump up and down all you want, going from 4GB to 8GB is 40$ less for no performance gain at all. Memory won't do a thing for him here. A very shallow case could be made for a faster CPU as it would reduce startup of the OS and apps, but that's rather flippant.

    I'm at a loss for words, the developers, the benchmarks, the OP's requirements, nothing indicates he needs 8GB. You even come with examples of stuff that do not need that amount of ram...

    It's a mantra: YOU NEED MORE RAM. It's not based on any real grasp of how it works. And sure, run a VM and you want more Ram, but nowhere does he mention that is what he wants.

    Buy what you need. Don't justify extra spending simply because "it's a good deal".

    As a NAS user wouldn't you agree that the 40$ is better spent towards a cheapo Synology NAS? In fact I strongly recommend not to upgrade the HDD and just take the Synology (or QNAP) way.

    Now that's extra functionality right in line with his needs which also gives a cheap and flexible HDD upgrade path.

    A basic Mini+ Nas is in my opinion much better as a HTPC than a tricked out Mini without a Nas.
  12. jimboutilier macrumors 6502a

    Nov 10, 2008
    Clearly you have a pet peeve about memory which is fine. But the OP asked about the base model which only has 2gb of RAM which in my opinion is not optimal for even the stated light use. The OP may or may not see a benefit beyond 4gb for the things he'll ultimately do on that machine. Some wouldn't and many would. I wouldn't call a mini with 4gb or ram - the base configuration for almost every other Mac exactly tricked out.
  13. philipma1957 macrumors 603


    Apr 13, 2010
    Howell, New Jersey
    yes and running a 2011 mac mini with 2gb ram is an exercise in self torture. 8gb ram is 30 dollars in the usa. here is the link

    19 per 4gb stick


    that is 38 bucks

    EMCJKKE36 20 percent off brings you to $30.20

    telling the op to buy 4gb ram

    a pair of 2gb sticks cost 22 no discount


    is not helping him the saving is 8 dollars 22 for 4gb and 30 for 8gb. if prices go up and he needs more ram will you send him a check

    not you jim
  14. Seydlitz macrumors member

    Mar 21, 2009
    Okay I'll play ball.

    Is windows Vista a dog? YES
    Is OSX just as good at managing memory? I would expect YES

    With Windows Vista 32bit and 2GB you can run WOW or SWTOR (MMO, which are memory and CPU heavy!), skype/ventrillo, add-ons and an open browser with a few tabs and not run out of memory. Now running games is seen as pretty much one of the most stressing things for a home PC. In fact games demand heavier hardware (hence the rat race). Now we are looking at a base mini, which probably won't be bought to run high end games. And even if it were, it wouldn't need that Ram^^.

    Whereas here a base mini is expected to page out when using basic apps with 4GB.

    So what's it? Are you saying OSX is crippled? It's certainly not my experience.

    Now if we agree that indeed OSX is just as good as at least Vista, isn't it logical that I point out that 4GB is plenty for most users? And that's not just me, that's also the stance of developers.

    Onto the Ram price:

    1. if recession hits prices will fall
    2. if there is a shortage due to the Tsunami, prices will eventually fall again

    DDR3 is still mainstream, DDR4 is still nowhere near to be introduced for the desktop. In 2012 production will ramp up, so expect hitting it mainstream in 2013 (stock will need to be created). It's rather obvious that at least the next two years DDR3 is mainstream. Scare mongering about prices and availability is just nonsense.

    So once again: Why should he spend 40$ for ram he won't use? Why not use that towards a NAS which would be much more in line with his usage?
  15. rodsky77 macrumors newbie

    Nov 1, 2011
    As stated above: 2 GB of RAM is not enough to run Lion
    8 GB RAM is $30
    4 GB RAM is $22

    What if the OP will want to use this Mini as a desktop at some point?
    Perhaps having 4 GB RAM is plenty for an HTPC, but for the additional $8,
    the OP gets a machine capable of being a desktop if required with double the Video RAM for some possible gaming and capability to easily run 2 video outputs - one more to a monitor if so required.

    The $8 is not worth the argument :)

  16. Flares macrumors newbie

    Jan 7, 2012
    More Reviews

    I would also recommend going the refurbished route. Putting in aftermarket memory is not nearly as hard as you may image (depends on how technologically ambitious you are) Here are some more review on the matter....http://amzn.to/x22sze
  17. philipma1957 macrumors 603


    Apr 13, 2010
    Howell, New Jersey
    resale value will be boosted quite a bit if it has 8gb ram rather then 4gb.
  18. eutexian macrumors regular

    Jan 6, 2012
    Mapperley, Nottingham UK
    I put 8gb in my base model mini.. for two reasons, The price differential (8 v 4) was small enough not to matter and its reassuring to know that as the demands on the machine change in months and years to come 'running short of memory' will never be a problem. At the moment all that extra is redundant. I can live with that.

    In reality I suppose its foolish of me to say 'never' as it doesn't seem very long ago that 2mb of ram was more than anyone could need. LOL.

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