Which Mini for Home Theater?

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by zdobson, Jul 7, 2010.

  1. zdobson macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2007
    Location:
    Indiana
    #1
    I'm looking to get a Mac Mini for a home theater setup. Do I need the latest model, or can I buy an older one? I know I need at least an Intel Mini.

    There's a guy in my area selling a Mini for $300.
    1.83 core 2 duo
    1GB ram
    80GB hard drive

    Will that be good enough? I could always upgrade it to 2GB ram and a bigger, 7200RPM drive if needed.

    Also, my TV is 720P, so I think s-vid would be enough. Not sure that I need HDMI.

    Thoughts?
     
  2. Hellhammer Moderator

    Hellhammer

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    #2
    You're not giving enough details. What kind of uses do you have? What about video quality? That Mini should serve fine for DVDs and HD videos but good quality Blu-Ray rips won't play that nice.
     
  3. i7QuadCoreMania macrumors 6502

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    Nov 10, 2009
    #3
    lol this thing will choke on Bluray rips or any HD content for the matter, lol.

    I wouldn't get it if I were you and it doesn't have HDMI, get a new one!
     
  4. Ballis macrumors 6502a

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    Oslo, Norway
    #4
    It will play 720 fine and possibly also low bitrate 1080.
     
  5. i7QuadCoreMania macrumors 6502

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    #5
    who wants to worry about running low bit rate HD movies? why would someone pay 300 bones for a old a$$ slow machine:rolleyes:
     
  6. Hellhammer Moderator

    Hellhammer

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    #6
    Not everyone has access for HD movies, let alone high bitrate 1080p... That Mini does the job fine unless you're looking at 1080p BR rips
     
  7. i7QuadCoreMania macrumors 6502

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    Nov 10, 2009
    #7
    I have tried playing HD movies, 720P and 1080P not high bitrates, mkv encoded on an older 1.8ghz dual core and can tell you it sucks, jitters or screen artifacts. especially with 1gb of ram.:rolleyes:

    if you got $300 burning a hole then by all means, personally I would not buy, but hey its not my money, just voicing my experience.
     
  8. a2applegirl macrumors regular

    a2applegirl

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    Jun 16, 2010
    #8
    I totally agree with you i7QuadCoreMania. That mini will have horrible jitters on playback of any 1080p or even 720p content.

    Those minis were selling awhile back on the online apple store's refurb section for $399, and they had a one year full warranty. I think the OP is being overcharged and that the machine will not be able to handle serving video to a HD tv.
     
  9. i7QuadCoreMania macrumors 6502

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    #9

    Thank you! finally a sensible person!:D
     
  10. Hellhammer Moderator

    Hellhammer

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    #10
    My friend has G4 PowerMac that can play 720p .avi files just fine. .mkv could be the issue, have you tried another format? We still don't know what is OP's usage, it might be just DVDs. Although I recommend putting 100$ more and getting NVidia Mini off the refurb store. Plays 1080p fine (not highest bitrate) and has full warranty jadajada
     
  11. iWright macrumors member

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    Aug 15, 2009
    #11
    I'd go for the new one. HDMI would be fairly useful, even if you don't need it now you may do in the future.
     
  12. ValSalva macrumors 68040

    ValSalva

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    Jun 26, 2009
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    Burpelson AFB
    #12
    Is the server Mac Mini loud, hot, and too prone to vibration?

    Would the server version of the Mac Mini work as a HT box? Just wondering if the 7200 RPM drives are too loud and/or hot.

    I had a Seagate 500GB 7200 RPM drive in my MBP but it ran so hot and with so much vibration that I had to swap it out for a SSD.
     
  13. Hellhammer Moderator

    Hellhammer

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    #13
    Mini is not a laptop thus vibration isn't really an issue. I doubt Apple would ever do something that is meant to be loud, server Mini should be jut fine
     
  14. ValSalva macrumors 68040

    ValSalva

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    #14
    Thanks. I'm still deciding between a Mac Mini server vs. a 'regular' Mac Mini. The server is a good deal IMHO. I don't need the ODD and so my only concern is the 7200 RPM HDD 'side effects.' I wish Apple wouldn't use Seagates. I think Seagates vary widely in how hot they get and how much they vibrate. I'm a Western Digital guy I guess.
     
  15. Hellhammer Moderator

    Hellhammer

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    #15
    Are the 500GB 7200rpm drives Seagate? They could be Hitachi as well. Anyway, you could go in to a store and compare their noise level (assuming the store isn't full of iPhone lads). You have 14 days to return it so in case it is noisier than you want it to be, just return it
     
  16. a2applegirl macrumors regular

    a2applegirl

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    Jun 16, 2010
    #16
    I have the server mini and the hard drives and fan are very quiet. The mini is sitting in my living room next to my 40' plasma tv and the only time I hear it is when I hear the fan because I manually adjust the fan to way above the normal rate when I encode.

    The mini is not getting that hot either unless I am encoding for long periods of time, even then it is getting less hot than my old mbp (circa 2008) used to get.
     
  17. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    #17
    It will work just fine, provided you transcode your Blu-ray videos to 1080p at no more than 12 Mb/s h.264 mkv containers (perfectly fine for most videos), add another 1 gig stick, get yourself an external FW400 hard drive with lots of capacity, use Plex or XBMC for playback, and don't do anything else with it while playing those videos.
     
  18. codymac macrumors 6502

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    Jun 12, 2009
    #18
    My mini lives in my TV stand (no doors or anything on it) and I've had a 7200RPM Seagate 500gb in my mini since I brought it home. No issues with it at all.

    Honestly, the external drive I have attached to it is louder than the mini.
     
  19. i7QuadCoreMania macrumors 6502

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    Nov 10, 2009
    #19
    It is a good, deal I have the new one with Client 10.6.4 loaded and the hard disks are Hitachi not seagate, though my stock drive on my i7 iMac was seagate, they do use some WDs.
     
  20. BEEFc58 macrumors member

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    Sep 6, 2007
    #20
    I agree with Caveman (he really is the expert though). I have a 1.83ghz with 4gb of ram hooked up to my TV with a external Drobo attached. It play everything from DVD rips to 1080p BluRay rips (MKV files converted to m4v by handbreak) with out a problem. Just make sure not to have the computer running anything esle besides that HD movie or else you will get shuttering.
     
  21. i7QuadCoreMania macrumors 6502

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    Nov 10, 2009
    #21
    No trying to pick fights here, but, the OP posted he was going to run 720P with S-Video cable? (obviously he is not very technically inclined, no offense) and now caveman, mentioned encoding videos with lower bitrates?

    I would recommend against spending $300 on a machine which you may have jitters/shuttering problems:rolleyes: now if you already got one, then that's another story, make the best with what you got, lol.
     
  22. zdobson thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Indiana
    #22
    Thanks for all the good feedback. Someone was asking about usage. I'm pretty much an amateur next to most of you guys. I won't be ripping any blu-ray or really running any movies off the hard drive. Well, I'm not planning on it anyways. I think it will mostly be a combination of Hulu and Netflix. Thinking about getting EyeTV to DVR shows off basic cable.

    I've thought about getting the server, which I could also use for my small business that I run from home, but I'm not sure I want to spend the extra $500 or so over a used model. Plus, couldn't you use a regular Mini for basic server functions like sharing files, ical, address book?

    Saving money by cutting the cable bill is a big factor in all this, too. If I drop my bill by $60/mo, that's $720 I'll save in the next year. Spending a grand on a setup to replace cable would defeat the purpose of cutting it. Sure, I'd make it up after 18 months, but within another year or two I'm sure things will be different and I'll want to buy something else anyways. So, I'm trying to keep the setup to $500 or less if possible. Although, the Apple Store is selling a refurb server for $750, which is tempting.
     
  23. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    #23
    It doesn't matter if the swimming pool is 10 feet deep or 100 feet deep. You can drown just as well in either one.

    I routinely transcode my Blu-ray rips to 1080p mkvs with h.264 codec (14 Mb/s) with AAC and DTS or AC3 audio tracks because it saves a substantial amount of hard drive space and because there is no perceptible drop in video quality. These play just as well on my 2 gHz Core 2 Duo Mini as they do on my 3.2 gHz quad-core hackintosh. In my exhaustive testing, 12 Mb/s works for nearly all of my Blu-rays in terms of video quality. The only exceptions are the Borne series, which use hand-held cameras for many of the scenes that create shake and are thus a problem for video encoding, and Iron Man, which is one of the highest bit rate movies with spikes over 40 Mb/s. I have those movies encoded at 16 Mb/s and do not have that problem on my Mini using Plex. All other Blu-rays play just fine at 14 Mb/s h.264, even the infamous bird scene from Planet Earth: Pole to Pole with its crappy VC-1 video codec. A 1.83 gHz Core 2 Duo Mini with 2 gb of RAM will play 12 Mb/s h.264 video without any trouble and without perceptible loss of video quality for the great majority of scenes. I suspect even a 1.66 gHz Core Duo Mini would play them, too.
     
  24. i7QuadCoreMania macrumors 6502

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    Nov 10, 2009
    #24
    That's a lot of good info, in my opinion, I usually play whatever I can get my hands on. I hate having to transcode anything even stuff for my iphone.

    I have a few bluray rips that I ripped myself, full 1080P in m2ts format, I used to own a C2D 2.66 with 4gb ram played it with no issues, to transcode that to mkv and h.264 the process would take I am guessing around 4-6 hours on a decent machine, it's faster for me to download it already transcoded.:D

    I think it's too much hassle for most people to have to re-encode stuff to get it to work on their hardware, especially if it's something they just bought.

    Having said that, I stand by my statement, I don't feel that 300 is a good buy for a used 1.83 c2d mac mini with 1gb of ram.;)
     
  25. Hellhammer Moderator

    Hellhammer

    Staff Member

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    Finland
    #25
    As far as I know, you can encode the DVD/BR straight away, no need to rip it first (works with DVDs in HandBrake at least, not sure about BRs as OS X doesn't really support them). That should save some time and 50GB Blu-Ray rip is ridiculous, 20 of those and 1TB is filled :D This isn't related to OP though as he clearly said he won't be doing anything related to Blu-Ray.
     

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