Which minis can handle h.265 and smooth 1080p Blu-ray playback?

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by AVR2, Sep 2, 2016.

  1. AVR2 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2006
    #1
    My early 2009 mini, used as an HTPC, can play 1080p smoothly from downloads, but it stutters on playback of some (not all) Blu-rays, even if I rip them to the internal SSD. It simply can't handle h.265 at all, the video is mostly glitches with occasional glimpses of proper frames. It's maxed out for memory so it can't be upgraded any further.

    It's time to replace it, so what is the minimum mini spec I should be looking at for guaranteed smooth playback of all Blu-rays and h.265? I'd rather go for an official refurbished than a brand-new.
     
  2. jpietrzak8 macrumors 65816

    jpietrzak8

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2010
    Location:
    Dayton, Ohio
    #2
    For guaranteed smooth playback of any encoded video, what you really want is a GPU that can provide hardware support for decoding the video.

    Unfortunately, h.265 is a fairly recent codec; Intel only fully supports it in hardware in their 6th gen Core chips (Skylake). As there are no Minis with Skylake hardware (and no way to install a more powerful graphics card into a Mini), there are no Minis that have hardware support for h.265. So your best bet is probably to max out the CPU for whatever year of Mini you're looking at, and cross your fingers. :) Or, you could use transcoding to convert the h.265 video to use a codec that is fully supported on older machines.

    Blu-ray discs should not be a problem, as they should all use the h.264 codec, and have ample hardware support on most recent Minis. (I would have hoped even the 2009 could handle blu-ray, but I guess the 9400M is showing its age here...)
     
  3. dvdchance macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2012
    #3
    Where are you going to be playing back these rips at?

    I have a 2011 base model with 8GB RAM, and I'm able to play back 1080p and H.265 transcodes just fine to Roku's and a Vizio TV. I can have 2 streams going at once using Plex server and it is fine. Only if I start both at the same time do I get any freezing or stuttering and that will smooth out in a minute or so. And I'm also using the machine for web surfing and other light duties as well, same time.
     
  4. Osamede macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2009
    #4
    You can't "guarantee" anything without knowing the exact encoding parameters, but I can tell you that it works okay using VLC on on a 2010 Mac Mini Server Edition.
     
  5. AVR2 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2006
    #5
    I play back direct to my TV from the mini (direct cable HDMI cable connection), using either Plex or VLC.

    Thanks, everybody, for the input. I suspect that if I just go to a 2012 model, it'll probably be fine. FWIW, it also can't handle 50/60p HD video from YouTube - it will keep up for a few seconds and then start to stutter.
     

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