Which Mini for HTPC?

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by mdgolom, Mar 20, 2013.

  1. mdgolom macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2006
    #1
    I'm looking at getting another Mac Mini to act as a media server. I currently have a late 2012 i7 mini as my main PC. I want to put the new one in the living room with the 4TB raid on my Panasonic Plasma TV. The only software I can think I would install would be Beamer. I don't see a need for Boxee or Plex.

    Is there any reason to spend the extra $200 on the i7 vs just getting the lower end i5?

    I plan to hook my existing mini to the TV this weekend to make sure everything works correctly before ordering the new one.
     
  2. jav6454 macrumors P6

    jav6454

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2007
    Location:
    1 Geostationary Tower Plaza
    #2
    Build a HTPC instead. Cheaper and you'll get better storage options.
     
  3. paulrbeers macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2009
    #3
    Nope. For HTPC purposes the i7 won't help you at all unless you also want to use it for transcoding videos or something in the background (however since you already have an i7, you can use that).
     
  4. Sophia. macrumors member

    Sophia.

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2013
    Location:
    United Kingdom
    #4
    I was bought a Mac Mini server for use as a HTPC. It does a good job but there are cheaper alternatives, the Acer Revo starts at $200 on Amazon. If it has to be a Mac Mini then a core i5 would be plenty.
     
  5. Santabean2000 macrumors 68000

    Santabean2000

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2007
    #5
    Base model is plenty. Uses less power too. Spend the extra $$ on something else, like AppleCare or storage/backup options like a Pegasus J4.
     
  6. Gaidin43 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2012
    #6
    You get way more for you money building a PC HTPC. Go to avs forums and look up assassins HTPC guide for some ideas.
     
  7. Macsonic macrumors 65816

    Macsonic

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2009
    Location:
    Earth
    #7
    My friend has the base Mac Mini i5 as his HTPC. Works fine and adequate for his blu ray movies.
     
  8. Mr. McMac Suspended

    Mr. McMac

    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2009
    Location:
    Far away from liberals
    #8
    I bought a base (2.3gHz i5) 2011 Mini to use as an HTPC back in August. I added 8gb's of ram, and a 2tb external Hard Drive. I'm extremely pleased with it's performance..
     
  9. Donka macrumors 68020

    Donka

    Joined:
    May 3, 2011
    Location:
    Scotland
  10. Radiating macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2011
    #10
    Yeah and a 90%+ failure rate in 1 year. I've purchased 14 custom built computers for my business all from different shops and all but two failed within 6-15 months requiring serious warranty work.

    Since I switched to using customized macs running windows I've had 2 out of 11 major failures with painless warranty fixes with same day turn around.

    You can do storage options with a USB 3.0 external drive. I'm running over 10 TB on my primary media server with a custom blu ray enclosure and pioneer drive.

    No hassle no failures. No BS. No putting $1000 down the drain when your custom built computer fries the POS Asus motherboard 90 days out of warranty and takes an expensive SSD setup with it.

    Seriously get a Mac, the resale value alone means its cheaper in the long run and the fact it's not built like a children's toy like all other computers means it will actually work instead of turning into an expensive paperweight when you're not looking because the parts weren't built by the lowest bidder with the worst quality standards.
     
  11. Gaidin43 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2012
    #11
    I was not talking about buying a prebuilt one. I was talking about building your own from the component shoes. You end up with better quality and overall a better device when you do it this way. Not to mention you save thousands of dollars instead of paying the Apple premium
     
  12. ghellquist macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2011
    Location:
    Stockholm Sweden
    #12
    My guess -- if cost is important you could get a used mac mini. Just about any of the older ones, as long as it has a core 2 duo or newer will work as HTPC. The mid 2010 might be a choice as it still has a DVD reader and has the "new" look with built-in power supply.

    // gunnar
     
  13. mdgolom thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2006
    #13
    I actually had two older Mac Minis running EyeTV until I switched to Verizon FIOS and it no longer worked based on the hardware Verizon provided so I switched to Tivo and sold the Minis. The problem was my Minis couldn't pass sound through the DVI port (pre HDMI), so I had to use adapters.

    The reason I'm looking to the current line of Minis is the HDMI port. I hooked up i7 Mini and everything worked fine although the overscan is a bit annoying, but I'm use to it from the other Minis. I'm going to go out at lunch today and pick up an i5 Mini from Best Buy since they're on sale.

    Another reason for Mac vs. built HTPC is my Raid is already formatted for the Mac.
     
  14. blanka macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2012
    #14
    You can also consider a second hand 2009/2010 as they can be equiped with Blu-Ray player. On the other hand, an USB external BR player is 20$.
     
  15. jav6454 macrumors P6

    jav6454

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2007
    Location:
    1 Geostationary Tower Plaza
    #15

    Build one doesn't mean by a prebuilt one.



    You are not me.
     
  16. paulrbeers macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2009
    #16
    You'll have to help me understand how you can save thousands when we are talking about a $600 computer.

    Frankly, building an HTPC is not that much cheaper than what Apple charges especially when you want roughly the same size.

    First off, probably the easiest way to get the same "size" is go to with a barebones machine like this:

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16856101134 - $199

    Cheapest 1155 pin processor with HD4000 graphics:
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819116774 - $144

    Cheapest 4GB RAM kit:
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820313299 - $31

    Cheapest 500GB SATA 2.5" drive:
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822136567 - $60

    Cheapest Windows 8 license:
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16832416550 - $99

    We are already at $572 and I haven't included any kind of IR receiver and/or remote or factored in any shipping costs. This is also much larger than a Mini and I content not as "pretty" but close.

    Further, any "warranty" work is on you. Hard drive fails during the warranty period you have to pull it and send it in. I can't just walk to an Apple store to get it repaired. I stopped building PC's a long time ago. I got tired of constantly having to figure out what failed "this time"....
     
  17. Gaidin43 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2012
    #17
    I agree there is nothing wrong with using a mini Mac as a HTPC and it works. I agree the warranty is a nice to have as well. My comment about saving thousands was in reference to the comment above about spending thousands on prebuilt HTPCs and how they fail.

    I have worked with macs and pcs all my life and have a combination, but prefer pc's for laptops and desktops and apple for my tablets and phones. This is just a personal preference but my familiarity with the two types leads to my comment that a HTPC you build is higher quality and you get more for you money then buying prebuilt Mac or PC HTPC. This is because you can you can control the components and how exactly you want it setup without having to accept more or less then you want.

    Personally I built a HTPC with bluray with an ssd OS drive and a 2tb HDD for just under $400. It has never failed, runs flawlessly, came with a built in IR remote from the motherboard.

    I am not just against mini macs as HTPCs but also prebuilt pcs such as a dell or hp box. They can work but a lot of times they draw more power and are set up to serve as a desktop, not customized as an HTPC. Not saying they won't work just to inform people there are better options for HTPCs out there for less money with very minimal user skill.
     
  18. Digglez, Mar 21, 2013
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2013

    Digglez macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2010
    #18
    I have been using a late 2012 mid i7 mini as an HTPC for the past couple of months and am pretty happy with it. I upgraded the ram to 16 GB and have 2 external 3 TB USB 3 drives as storage.

    I only have two real issues:

    1: I can't seem to get the contrast right using the avs-709 contrast clip. For some reason the whites start clipping at 228-230 when configuring 16-235. I have tried everything from different adapters, RGB scripts, HDMI cables, OSX calibration and TV calibration. While movies still look good, this kind of bugs me.

    2: I have to use switchresx in order to get close to 23.976 since OSX only supports 24 hz natiively. Even when using SRX, I can only get it as close as 23.977. This is not a huge deal, but still annoys me.

    I use Plex as my media server/client and can honestly say that aside from these 2 issues, everything has worked flawlessly. I was in the same boat when deciding whether to go with the mac mini or build an HTPC. I feel like I made the right decision.
     
  19. pine88 macrumors member

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2013
    #19
    I built a $300 mini-ITX HTPC and promptly sold it a few months later. Replaced it with a WD TV Live - plays 25GB .mkv's with a bitrate over 20MB/s fine, and it has the grunt to play 50GB BD .iso's too, along with everything inbetween. All for $80. All my media is ripped, so I don't need a BD drive.

    Don't forget that all new blu-ray players are mandatory infected with cinavia which could screw with some of your media. Personally, I would never bother with a HTPC anymore. Its like renovating your house with a sledgehammer and crane, when other tools will do a simpler job.
     
  20. Gaidin43 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2012
    #20
    One of the big bonuses to an HTPC is your ability to watch streaming media from websites. You have the full and complete Hulu.com catalog. You have complete access to Amazon prime instant video. You also have a variety of other CBS.com NBC.com Fox.com means to stream your media to your TV and your surround-sound. I am able to play Blu-rays and or DVDs I rented from red box. I am able to stream media that I have already read to digital format, hell I can even rip new media to digital first with it while streaming a show and backing up my computer. I can even browse the Internet on my living room TV.

    So you can do a great deal more with an HTPC then media boxes. I also use mine as a remote nas.

    Media boxes are very close to Completely replacing HTPC. However they are not there yet AppleTV has quite a few limitations as does Ruku and other boxes.
     
  21. jav6454 macrumors P6

    jav6454

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2007
    Location:
    1 Geostationary Tower Plaza
    #21
    Sure that list is accurate! ...Not


    There are better ways to build a HTPC. Obviously you are not good at it since your parts are not even HTPC oriented.
     
  22. paulrbeers macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2009
    #22
    My point was to make a direct comparison to the Mac Mini. Yes I could have gone with an AMD processor and a larger case. But that wasn't even the point. In the end you can't build (without pirating an OS) any cheaper and get anywhere near the size of the Mac Mini. People keep saying you can do it cheaper, but you can't without sacrificing aesthetics.
     
  23. jav6454 macrumors P6

    jav6454

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2007
    Location:
    1 Geostationary Tower Plaza
    #23
    Aesthetics? That is your problem? Wow, really love Apple don't you. You can get a much better HTPC than the Mini building one. There are so many options out there.
     
  24. paulrbeers macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2009
    #24
    If its going into my living room? Yeah it better be somewhat attractive. I don't want a huge ugly black box sitting amongst my AV Gear. Some of us have wives we have to keep happy. Throwing a computer tower in our living room is a quick way to get some complaints. Further you stated you could do better, so prove it please. Show us what you got... Give us a good looking case, small in size and keep it under 600 with OS...
     
  25. jav6454 macrumors P6

    jav6454

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2007
    Location:
    1 Geostationary Tower Plaza
    #25
    All current boxes are aesthetically pleasing. Perhaps not as a ATV, but still, there are not ugly and you can have them nicely displayed.

    Also, there are several form factors, mATX and ITX or mini-ITX. Take your pick.
     

Share This Page