Which New Mac Mini for HTPC?

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by cwindsor, Jul 26, 2011.

  1. cwindsor macrumors newbie

    Jul 26, 2011
    Let's pretend for a moment that money is no object:

    Does the Mac mini Server add anything for an HTPC setup vs the $599 mini? I plan to add a NAS so I don't really care about the extra 500 GB of hard drive. Also, I'll upgrade the memory to 8GB so that's not an issue.

    They both have the same Intel HD graphics processor, although the Server has 384MB of DDR3 SDRAM vs 288 MB. And from what I understand you can even add Lion Server on top of OS X Lion for $50.

    So that only leaves the processor. Is the quad i7 in the Server noticeably better than the dual i5 for HTPC purposes? Am I missing anything else?

    Any input or observations are very much appreciated.
  2. GimmeSlack12, Jul 26, 2011
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2011

    GimmeSlack12 macrumors 603


    Apr 29, 2005
    San Francisco
    Getting Lion Server is completely unnecessary. Just get a base Mini with an i3 or i5 (whichever is lowest). For a HTPC you'd even be fine with the last generation Mini's, which is what I'd get.

    An HTPC is needed to do what? Play 1080p movies and 7.1 decode sound right? Right, so getting the newest Mini is way overkill. My iMac 2008 does everything I've mentioned above and then some and it's on its way to its 4th Bday.

    If money is no object, then ANY of the new Mini's will be way more than enough.

    EDIT: Oh and 2Gb of RAM is plenty.
  3. Gene S macrumors member

    Sep 24, 2010
  4. cwindsor thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 26, 2011
    Thanks GimmeSlack. I was leaning in that direction anyway and you have helped to confirm my thinking.

    Gene S, I had not seen that thread so thank you. It has led me to other threads about audio issues with minis that has me thinking. This particular issue doesn't concern me too much to be honest as I'm not a Blu-ray collector and really only need DTS and DD5.1 which I don't believe is a problem.
  5. blevins321 macrumors 68030

    Dec 24, 2010
    Winnipeg, MB
    Honestly my 2010 mini works perfectly fine for me. You might be able to find a great deal on a refurb of last year's model.
  6. nebo1ss macrumors 68030

    Jun 2, 2010
    +! and you will get the benefit of an optical drive as well.
  7. cwindsor thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 26, 2011
    I would take that route except I've been waiting for a new mini for one reason - Thunderbolt. I think it's a game changer for NAS. Once there's some selection and the prices drop of course!
  8. ugahairydawgs macrumors 68030


    Jun 10, 2010
    Might as well go ahead and buy a 2010 model then. By the time a Thunderbolt NAS gets in the affordable range it will be time for a new computer anyway.
  9. scott6003 macrumors member

    Feb 14, 2010
    I sold my 2010 mini for a 2011. The better processor is worth it. The base model is benchmarking at 6700 compared to the 2010 3878. I only use Netflix ITunes Hulu and Amazon so I have never used the DVD drive.
  10. Shishu macrumors member

    Jul 29, 2011
    So if I'm getting everything correct base i5 mini 2011 (599$) is enough for htpc (running plex, streaming various content from inet, spotify, odd mame game)?

    Do you see this kind of machine lasting for 3-4 years or would you suggest me to go for 799$ model as I would like my setup to last more than 1-2 years?

    This would be my first mac and I'm feeling a bit inexperienced...
  11. blevins321 macrumors 68030

    Dec 24, 2010
    Winnipeg, MB
    I'd go for 4gb of ram either by upgrading the base or going with the higher.
  12. Shishu macrumors member

    Jul 29, 2011
    Yes, I intend to add more RAM myself. My worry was mainly on integrated graphics vs radeon on better model. I was worried that radeon would be needed in some way to be able to play 1080p or something like that.
  13. slothrob macrumors 6502

    Jun 12, 2007
    I still use my 2004 iBook every day. That's 7 years old and going strong, with a lot more parts that could go bad than a Mini. I can't see why the Mini wouldn't last 4 years or more.
  14. jbouklas macrumors regular

    Mar 2, 2002
    Last year, I spent $800 on the higher-end Mac Mini (before the metal case enclosure model came out). Best money I ever spent.

    It's only a Core2 Duo processor, with 4GB of RAM, but it's an amazing machine. We catch all of our shows on Netflix and Hulu connected to our television (2 televisions, actually) without a hiccup.

    The i5 processor should be more than enough for everything you need. I performed a clean install of Lion last week, and it's fast and polished. If you're going to upgrade the RAM anyway, then the $600 sounds like the way to go instead of the server.

    But, the $800 model might be worth it for the discrete graphics. The NVIDIA graphics in my Mini is on par or slightly better than the integrated Intel graphics in the $600 model, whereas the discrete graphics option in the $800 model is significantly faster. I'd like to be able to play games occasionally on my Mini, and in order to do so, I have to dial the graphics options way down for it to be useable. If I had to order a new one today, I would go with the discrete graphics option for maximum flexibility.
  15. cwindsor thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 26, 2011
    Well, I've taken the plunge. Based on the comments here I've ordered the base Mini as it comes. The only thing that I plan to add initially is 8GB of RAM. Does anyone have a strong opinion on brand - Corsair, Kingston, etc - does it really matter?

    While I have an iPhone and iPad, up until now I've been a PC guy. It will be interesting to see the other side.
  16. AppleDApp macrumors 68020


    Jun 21, 2011
    have a look at this http://www.cultofmac.com/which-mac-...ore-i5-model-with-4gb-of-ram-heres-why/105433

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