Windows 7 on Mac Mini

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by XvMMvX, Jun 30, 2011.

  1. XvMMvX macrumors newbie

    Jul 21, 2010
    Hello All,

    I am considering using mac minis as media center extenders. How well does windows run on them?

    I would like to be able to wipe it entirely and just boot straight to windows if possible, I do not need OS X on there.

    I will be waiting to see what the refresh brings so i can decide to buy new or a refurb for a lower cost.

    Thanks for the input in advance!
  2. srxtr macrumors 6502a

    Jul 1, 2010
    You're pulling our legs, right?

    You're saying you want to buy mac minis so you can install fresh copies of Windows 7 on there to use as media centers?

    You'll be better off financially if you buy barebone systems and buy all the necessary parts than spend extra on the macs.
  3. XvMMvX thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 21, 2010
    Nope not at me I have searched for an alternative.

    In this instance I am purchasing Apple's design and engineering. You can't find any alternative that is a sleak and powerful as the Mac Mini.

    I own an iPhone, MBP (no bootcamp windows), and a gaming PC. I am not a fanboi, just recongnize were apple excels and willing to pay the tax in this instance.
  4. iPhisch macrumors 6502

    Jun 22, 2010
    why not put all your media in iTunes on the gaming PC and buy an AppleTV?
  5. alust2013 macrumors 601


    Feb 6, 2010
    On the fence
    Powerful is definitely debatable. But if you're just using them as media servers, doing that is an enormous waste of money. Buy low end PCs, or build cheap ones in small cases.
  6. willieva macrumors 6502

    Mar 12, 2010
    There's a small company out of Texas called Dell that makes a $300 computer that has windows 7 installed. You could get 3 of them for the price of a mini with windows 7 on it.
  7. XvMMvX thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 21, 2010
    The dell Zino iwth decent hardware is for $150 more I can get a better looking sleaker machine (depending on the refresh specs).

    I guess this was the wrong forum to ask this.

    You need more power then you think to have a good HTPC that does well with 1080P play back.
  8. iPhisch macrumors 6502

    Jun 22, 2010
    Well, The mini does to this pretty well. One thing that may limit you though is the 5400rpm HDD. I got much more reliable video playback and faster loading after switching the internal drive out for a 500gb 7200rpm WR Scorpio Black. If you are going straight digital media, and are dead set on the mini, maybe try the Server Edition mini? 1tb of internal storage and 7200rpm drives. But, then you are throwing down a grand on a windows pc.
  9. hardax macrumors regular

    Jan 16, 2008
    New Hampshire
    I think what you are planning is perfectly acceptable. At one point a while back benchmarks showed that a Intel Mac running Windows 7 was actually faster that a dedicated Windows machine. You will also have the option to "go Mac" if you ever decide to.

    Being impatient for the Mac Mini refresh I considered a Hackntosh mini but was never able to put together a system as small and elegant as a true Mac Mini for less money.

    I say go for it.
  10. Hirakata macrumors 6502


    Mar 17, 2011
    Burbank, CA
    I have a 2 y.o. Mini that I bought to use exclusively as a Media Center/HTPC and it works like a charm. Netflix, ripped movies via Front Row, iTunes music server, etc. I have multiple external hard drives connected for all the media and backups, but as someone stated above, a large internal might be better for less clutter.
  11. talmy macrumors 601


    Oct 26, 2009
    I've got two mini's I've been using as media centers. They work fine (both run Plex, accessing media stored on a third mini, a server, via Wifi).

    My son is very anti-Apple and bought a small micro PC from NewEgg, ended up paying nearly as much, and is saddled with an Atom processor. He wanted to run Linux but couldn't get it to work reliably (note -- he is an IT professional) so ended up having to buy Windows 7.
  12. MJL macrumors 6502a

    Jun 25, 2011
    Did you take a look at the ASrock Vision 3D? However once build all up likely to be more cost than the Mac Mini but having some nice audio advantages.
  13. Tminusg macrumors member

    Apr 18, 2011
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    Good call to get a mini. Trying to find a windows alternative in the specs of size and power and price is uncomparable.

    A. Asrocks mini pc is more expensive
    B. The dell zino is **** and ur only saving 100$ for an atom
    C. Same thing with the asus version of the mini as b.
    D. Building something aestheticly comparable to a mini is impossible since mini itx cases are all hideous. Just wait for the refresh its coming.
  14. MJL macrumors 6502a

    Jun 25, 2011
    As an ex hardware and software engineer (at one stage 400 staff) I can fully understand your son's viewpoint. It's almost certain he's a lot younger than I am so it is highly likely he won't know the real in-depth history of personal computing. Originally Apple catered for graphics (and later for audio) while the PC was character based. This had certain implications for the operating system and the hardware and even today this is still having an impact.

    Apple was not a good choice in normal business computing (especially 20 - 30 years ago). Apple fits a niche in the business, escpecially for graphics and audio work and imho may for the average person be a better choice especially if we start looking at iTunes etc. It just depends what the machine is used for.

    I used Windows for a long time mainly because of having to deal with it in the work environment. Now that I am retired I am taking a hard look at switching and bought an older Mac Mini PPC to bring my Unix skills back (not used for something like 25+ years). There are some plusses and minuses for both platforms and I like what I sofar have seen. It now just depends on how well a particular program that I have (and that is essential for me) is going to run on the Mac platform. Present Mac mini does barely have enough grunt to do some heavy lifting that I require but I like the form and the low noise factor. The noise is less than the majority of laptops although some real high ends like my Thinkpad T61p is quieter. On this last note, the T61p was the last laptop designed under IBM engineer's supervision and it is the last Thinkpad/Lenovo machine I'll buy. They are no longer up to the standards that IBM had for its PC division. Hence my investigation into other options and the Apple Mini with a bit more grunt (than the persent version) will fit the bill fine.
  15. MJL macrumors 6502a

    Jun 25, 2011
    I have my doubts on the ASrock having a low noise factor, especially if I look at the internal heat production. However the form factor of the Vison 3D is rather similar to the mini so something in the PC world is available which I was trying to point out.

    My personal pick would be the Mac Mini but the BlueRay may be important for the OP and (as far as I understand, I might be wrong) the mini does (not yet?) offer it.
  16. talmy macrumors 601


    Oct 26, 2009
    He is 34. The anti-Apple is because he grew up an a non-Apple household! I only switched five or so years ago. He was two years old when we got a computer (TRS-80) and grew up with computers in the house. Here he was at age 3.

    Attached Files:

  17. Bob Coxner macrumors 6502a

    Mar 24, 2011
    Ah, memories. My first was a Trash-80 Model 1 with cassette recorder to load the OS.

    It's interesting that we paid the same dollar amount in 1978 ($599) for a TRS-80 + monitor that you pay today for a refurb Mac Mini. Of course, converting for inflation, in today's dollars that $599 would be $2100 today.
  18. phrehdd macrumors 68040


    Oct 25, 2008
    Rather a peculiar idea given that for the same price you can get a laptop that is more powerful that is already installed with W7. Size and power would make it function as well as the Mini or better.

    However, the Mac Mini is a nice piece of equipment and depending on the software you use, it can certainly dish up media quite well with either OSX or W7. Best bet is to use OSX to dual boot into W7 and then have it default to booting up in W7.

    Btw, atom based systems are not nearly as powerful as a Mini. The main challenge for a Mini is the shared memory used by video. Again, some laptops would avoid this weakness and cost similar. - Just leave the laptop shut after booting up or leave it open and profile the system to use external monitor/screen.

    - Phrehdd
  19. cocacolakid macrumors 65816


    Dec 18, 2010
    Why doesn't the OP just buy a mini, install Plex for free, and skip Windows 7 entirely? Plex is a better media center than Windows Media Center, by far.

    Or use Boxee, which offers a few things Plex does not (more plug-ins), but Plex is a cleaner, easier to use, and far prettier app.
  20. saulinpa macrumors 6502a

    Jun 15, 2008
    Windows Media Center is the one thing that Microsoft did well. It is way better than anything OSX based. One of the few things that I miss by moving to Apple.
  21. clyde2801 macrumors 601


    Mar 6, 2008
    In the land of no hills and red dirt.
    Seems to me that with the rumors of a refresh imminent, the smart thing to do would be to wait for a couple of weeks.

    If there is a new model, the OP would have the choice of getting the new model or buying the current one at a discount if it fit his needs.

    I've been hearing buzzing that windows 8 is on it's way. Considering Microsoft's propensity for releasing new software that barely-if at all-runs on today's hardware, buying a machine with a CPU that will soon no longer be made may not be the best option if an OS upgrade may be contemplated.
  22. dolphin842 macrumors 65816

    Jul 14, 2004
    Windows runs fine. However, are you just looking to get media center functionality out of them?

    If you are willing to use beta software in the short-term, there is a much, much cheaper route to get what you're looking for: Use your current PC as a Plex Media Server, and buy Roku boxes as your end-devices. Plex has a beta server for Windows, as well as a beta app for the Roku that streams stuff from a server in your house. Instead of $500 per Mini you're looking at <$100 per Roku, along with lower power consumption/footprint/noise/etc.
  23. ess5 macrumors member

    Jun 18, 2011
    That's funny, I was browsing these specs just last night :D

    Current Base Mac Mini: $699.00
    • Core 2 Duo CPU
    • Discrete GPU
    • 320gb HDD (IIRC, 5400rpm, but I could be wrong)
    • 2gb RAM
    • CD/DVD burner
    • 1yr Apple Care warranty

    Fully loaded Zino HD: $719.99
    • Quad core CPU
    • Discrete GPU
    • 1tb 7200rpm HDD
    • 8gb RAM
    • Blu-ray combo drive
    • 3yr upgraded warranty

    So you get a box with 2x the cores, 4x the RAM, 3x the HDD size (potentially faster), a blu-ray drive and 3x the warranty for an extra $20. If the extra $20 is a deal breaker, you could "settle" for only 3x the RAM, and bump the warranty up to 4 years...bringing the box up to a cool $699.99 ;)

    (Dell also tosses in a basic wireless mouse/wireless keyboard combo, as well as a media remote...Apple wireless options are sexier, but they add up to $160 to the total cost of the machine)

    Yes, the Zino is twice as tall as the Mini...which is a terrible, terrible tragedy. That said, the biggest advantage the Mini has (aside from looking sexy as hell) is probably the GPU, which (as much as we hate to admit it) has a good chance of magically becoming integrated in the refresh.

    I'm just sayin'...if you're gonna spend $700 for a Windows-based media extender, you might as well pick up a (relative) monster, capable of encoding, gaming, etc. The cost of a Mini as a media SERVER is a bit an EXTENDER, might as well encrust it with diamonds while you're at it, Mr. Moneybags :p
  24. Osamede macrumors 6502a

    Oct 28, 2009
    The cost of Mini as a server is quite reasonable - you extend capacity with fanless Firewire drives and you still have a server/media player that is quieter and more elegant than any PC box you will find. It's very good value from that standpoint. I have been running an Atom based server and even that was just to noisy and too ugly to be seen.
  25. ess5 macrumors member

    Jun 18, 2011
    That's a very good point, and I'd be nearly impossible to find a quieter, more elegant server/media player.

    That said, I'm not sure I'd use the phrase "very good value", from any standpoint...especially when you're adding the cost of fanless firewire drives (along with a decent media remote or wireless keyboard/mouse setup). Remember, you're starting at $700.

    My description of the cost of a Mini server as "outlandish" could be revised..."excessive", maybe? "Slightly unreasonable"...whatever. It's still absolutely bonkers to use'em as media extenders :p

    Try 2 slim PS3's, each with a logitech bluetooth transmitter for Harmony remotes...or, I dunno...7 jail broken Apple TV2's, running XBMC? Why not...put'em in the bathrooms, maybe one in the litter box. The cat would love you for it.

    I'm not sayin' "A Mac Mini Underneath Every Display" doesn't give me a warm, tingly feeling...I just wouldn't suggest it to anyone not pulling in a mid-to-high 6-figure salary ;)

    p.s. if you want ugly, you should see the 3yr old full-sized tower I've got stuffed into a closet, pretending to be a big-boy server...running like 3 old caviar drives, a sub-$100 GPU, and a very, very slow dual-core processor. Loud, ugly, and a power hog. But, it gets the job done =)

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