Which Mini for HTPC?

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by Spor 13, Oct 27, 2012.

  1. Spor 13 macrumors newbie

    Jan 25, 2008
    I'm looking at buying a Mini to use as a HTPC. Im planning on using it to play movies and shows (up to 1080p MKVs) as well as web browsing and some light gaming like simcity 4 on my 46" LCD. Currently, I have a Synology diskstation 107e with 1TB storage which I use to store all my music, movies, general backup, and to play movies I use my Xbox. However, the formats that the Xbox can play are quite restricting.

    That said, will the base mini be enough to decode 1080p MKV files smoothly?or will I need the quad i7 for that?
  2. fa8362 macrumors 65816

    Jul 7, 2008
    People decode 1080p smoothly with nearly 4 year old Mac Minis.
  3. Treq macrumors 6502a


    Apr 23, 2009
    Santa Monica, CA
    My early 2009 mini plays 1080p files just fine, so I would guess either of these would be more than enough. If you want to do any transcoding or CPU intensive tasks, the quad core might be for you.
  4. Ifti macrumors 68000

    Dec 14, 2010
    Base mini would be more then capable for your needs.
  5. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    If all you're doing is playback, then any dual-core mini can play most 1080p files with the right software (e.g., XBMC, Plex). The early Core Duo minis will struggle with some very high bitrate Blu-ray rips (e.g., the Bourne series), but any i-series mini will work fine. The problem isn't so much the video as it is the audio - extracting AC3 or DTS from True HD or DTS-MA tracks is rather computationally intensive.

    Now, if you do other things concurrently with your mini, then you will likely experience some troubles with dual-core processors, including the i5. My setup is a quad-core i5 ITX hackintosh (HD3000 with 8 gb RAM) and it can play Blu-ray rips while simultaneously recording/transcoding with Eye TV. However, if I do a third thing, such as stream to an Apple TV, then transmission problems occur over 802.11n. I have also had occasion where Handbrake has caused a kernel panic and I suspect that's from overheating, which hackintoshes sometimes fail to catch. The point of all this is that I also tested a dual core i5 2011 Mac mini and it was even worse than the hackintosh - trying to record an Eye TV stream and also serving up an Apple TV lead to all kinds of stuttering.

    So, my advice is to get a quad core mini if you're planning to do more than just decode movies for playback.
  6. fa8362 macrumors 65816

    Jul 7, 2008
    That's odd. My 2.26 late 2009 Mini has no trouble recording two EyeTV channels and streaming Netflix at the same time.
  7. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    What is the bit rate of Netflix videos and do they have Dolby Digital 5.1 audio? Also, when you say "streaming Netflix" do you mean it's going from your Mini to another device, or that you are receiving the Netflix video to the Mini which is then playing it back?
  8. fa8362 macrumors 65816

    Jul 7, 2008
    The 2009 Mini plays Netflix streaming content in stereo, while recording 2 EyeTV channels.

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