Will this PC stream to Apple TV

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by flyinmac, Jun 15, 2015.

  1. flyinmac macrumors 68030

    flyinmac

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2006
    Location:
    United States
    #1
    Ok, so I have a PC that I'm pulling out of the mix (semi retiring)...

    It's lived a long productive life, and it's only being retired due to one website it has trouble with (flash based)...

    Otherwise, while certainly not my daily machine, it has remained fairly useful for the purpose it had.

    To this point, my Mac Pro has doubled as my primary machine, and my iTunes sharing machine for my Apple TV's.

    I have 3 Apple TV 3rd generation units running 3 TV's in the house.

    I have never liked the Mac Pro being used for this purpose, because that machine ideally needs sandboxed and entirely of the internet and any networks. Not getting into the reason.... Essentially it is of critical security.

    The Mac Pro holds data that cannot be risked, either by compromise or by loss.

    So, as such, the iTunes library needs offloaded to another machine, and the Mac Pro needs off of all networks.

    Since I am retiring this other PC from its prior purpose, it seems logical to consider it as a dedicated purpose media streaming device.

    The computer has an AMD Athlon XP 3200+ running at 2.2 Ghz with 2 GB of RAM. It is configured to dual boot Windows XP Home and Windows Vista Ultimate.

    It will be configured to be using either it's built-in crappy integrated video controller, or perhaps I'll put in an ATI AGP card I have.

    My thought is that this computer will not be used to play any videos directly. I only intend to load iTunes on it, copy my library of music and movies over to it, and share the library with my Apple TV's like I currently do.

    The videos will be a mix of MP4's created from DVD's using Handbrake, in high profile mode. And also some standard and high definition movies purchased through the iTunes Store.

    Before I waste the time to do all the work, I thought I'd see what other people's experience has been in this area with similar spec machines.

    Again, I am certain that I do not need to play any videos directly on this PC. It would only be used to feed the Apple TV's (3 of them) all 3rd generation. Typically only 1 TV is in use at a time. Extremely rarely, perhaps 2 of them.

    The sharing would occur over the same hard wired network I'm using now without problem.

    Thoughts on whether the video will play fine on the Apple TV's with this 2.2 GHz Athlon XP 3200+ Supplying the stream?

    Any technical, performance, decoding, etc. issues foreseen?

    Experiences?

    Appreciate your thought....
     
  2. SpinalTap macrumors regular

    SpinalTap

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2003
    Location:
    Bournville, UK
    #2
  3. Uofmtiger macrumors 68000

    Uofmtiger

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2010
    Location:
    Memphis
    #3
    As mentioned above, I would just install iTunes, a movie, and a couple songs and test it out. Personally, I believe it will work. I was using Airtunes (predating Airplay) for audio with a PC, iTunes and an Airport Express quite a while back and it worked fine.
     
  4. flyinmac thread starter macrumors 68030

    flyinmac

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2006
    Location:
    United States
    #4
    Thank you for your thoughts. I figured if someone had done this with a similar machine and had significant issues, then I'd know not to waste my time.

    When I get a pause in my schedule I'll work on moving things over to the PC and see how it goes.
     
  5. westrock2000 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2013
    #5
    This sounds close to my garage computer. It's Windows Vista with a dual core Pentium (which was 2 Pentium 4's stuck together in the same computer chip). It has 2GB of memory as well.

    I have iTunes 12 installed on it and it runs as a client ok, mostly to listen to music while in the garage. What did help to make the computer more bearable was to put the operating system and programs on a small solid state drive. A 64GB will be plenty if you are only using it for streaming purposes. Then store the movies on a separate platter hard drive. The fastness of the SSD helps cancel out the ridiculousness of these old processors.

    My computer does get close with the memory and I often think about upgrading to 4GB, but it's never critical to do so. The solid state drive does help with the virtual memory.
     
  6. Boyd01 macrumors 68040

    Boyd01

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2012
    Location:
    New Jersey Pine Barrens
    #6
    I was faced with this kind of decision a year ago. I had a 2007 Windows Vista PC (core2 duo/6GB) that should have been adequate as an iTunes server. I also had a 2008 15" MacBook Pro (core2 duo/4gb) that could have done the job.

    Without getting into all the details, both machines had some issues and I would have needed to do upgrades/repairs. Both of them had led long hard lives already, and I had the feeling that things would continue to fail on them.

    In the end, I just didn't want to deal with those kinds of issues. I wanted something reliable that didn't need constant maintenance and had power to spare. So I got a base model 2012 Mac Mini and have been really happy. No problems whatsoever, it just silently does its job tucked away in a cabinet and I'm sure it will continue to meet my needs for many years to come.
     
  7. flyinmac thread starter macrumors 68030

    flyinmac

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2006
    Location:
    United States
    #7
    All good suggestions. I am hoping this machine will stream to the Apple TV without trouble.

    At this moment my budget is too tight to buy another machine. That's why I'm trying to repurpose this machine that just got replaced.

    I'm trying to get all the iTunes stuff in a separate machine so that the AppleTV stuff isn't pulling from critical computers.
     
  8. AFEPPL macrumors 68020

    AFEPPL

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2014
    Location:
    England
    #8
    I have recently moved off my iTunes library from a 2014 MBP to an old windows PC (i7 with 16GB) and I'm running 5 ATVs all over ethernet. It actually seems to run better than it did under the Mac, i'm getting less stuttering and disconnects between the iTunes server and the NAS device (i actually get no disconnects under windows).

    Works very well and Im pretty happy with the results.
    The only (CPU) power you need is that to provide the data over a network.
     
  9. westrock2000 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2013
    #9
    The only problem I saw with the Mini is that when you start getting to big libraries of movies you have to plan out how you are going to deal with drive capacity. The 2 internal 2.5" will get you started. And USB3 is a good start for moderate collections. But get into the 5+TB range and suddenly things start getting complicated.

    That's why I went with the Mac Pro for server duties. I have 13 hard drives currently attached to it....all running SATA or eSATA. And I only payed $300 shipped for my 2006 2 years ago.
     
  10. Boyd01 macrumors 68040

    Boyd01

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2012
    Location:
    New Jersey Pine Barrens
    #10
    That is true, and I felt the Mini was a nice fit for me. A year ago my iTunes library was 500GB, today it's 1TB (about 600 movies, 500 TV shows and 3000 songs). But I have nearly finished ripping my large DVD collection, so I expect it to grow at a slower pace now. I didn't bother with internal drives for the mini, it just has the stock 500GB drive with the standard apple software installed. My library is on a 3TB USB 3.0 drive, and I have two additional identical drives that I rotate for backups.

    I am really pretty content with standard handbrake SD quality, which works out to about 1 to 1.5 GB for a typical movie. So I think I'm all set for a few years, unless I decide to get more HD video (I already have a moderate sized blu-ray disk collection, but have not ripped any of it :) )
     
  11. sulliweb macrumors regular

    sulliweb

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2011
    #11
    That PC should run iTunes just fine. I've got iTunes (a decent size library, about 120 days worth of content, though not the biggest on here by any stretch) running on a old Atom 1.6 Ghz processor (so I might envy the processor just a bit). It streamed fine with 2GBs of RAM for about three years. I was a little nervous about the Seagate hard drive inside my machine, so I swapped it out for an SSD. When I did, I bumped the RAM to 4GBs, but honestly, I haven't seen a major difference from when it was running 2GBs.
     
  12. flyinmac thread starter macrumors 68030

    flyinmac

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2006
    Location:
    United States
    #12
    I got it all set up today. The PC I detailed above is working fine as a streaming server. As expected, it cannot play any of the videos / movies directly on it's own screen, even with an nVidia 6200 AGP graphics card.

    But, the video is streaming very well to the Apple TV's from the PC. I might actually be seeing better video quality on the Apple TV's than I was with the Mac Pro as the streaming source. The video actually seems to be streaming faster / caching faster to the Apple TV's. If I push the up arrow on the Apple TV remotes to see the progress bar, the loading / caching is occurring much faster than my 2006 Mac Pro was delivering. Which is kind of interesting.

    Rather than mess around with piecing it back together, I just duplicated my external terabyte firewire drive to a similar terabyte USB 2.0 hard drive for the Windows Machine. Naturally, I made sure that the drive for the PC was formatted to NTFS before I copied my Mac's drive to it (just did a content copy / exact duplicate - aside from partition format).

    I then just renamed the iTunes Library file to have an ITL extension, and pointed Windows's iTunes to the library.

    The only catch I found, is that iTunes 12.1.x would not install on the PC using either Vista or XP. So, I had to step back to iTunes 12.0.1.26 to get it to work. I just unchecked the auto-update to prevent me from getting accidentally updated into a nonfunctional iTunes. Despite my PC exceeding the minimum requirements, 12.1.x claimed my machine didn't meet the minimum requirements. I found in other websites that this has been a common occurrence with 12.1.x.

    Considering that I was still using iTunes 11.x on my Mac, this should be fine for a while.

    I ended up choosing to use my XP installation instead of Vista just because I grew impatient with Vista's delay in doing everything. A half hour to open a file is ridiculous. XP was doing it instantly.

    My XP partition is updated as current as possible, with a current firewall and Antivirus protecting it. Though as a dedicated video streamer, I'm less concerned about it.

    I've verified that my movie collection is intact and the streaming of HD video is going smooth and looks great on the Apple TV's.
     
  13. rhett7660 macrumors G4

    rhett7660

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2008
    Location:
    Sunny, Southern California
    #13
    I know there was mention of Windows XP. I am currently using a 10 year old Dell computer as my head unit that is located in my media closet. I have that box connected to a NAS device that has all my media on it. I have had zero issues streaming HD (Blu-ray rips 8-15 gig size) files to my AppleTV 3. The computer is so old, I don't even remember what is is in it other than it has eight gigs of ram. None of the media is stored on the XP box though.

    I should also point out the XP box, is running Plex, Sonos, and StreamToMe while also running iTunes.
     

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