Would I benefit from a mini on a TV?

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by davidg4781, Oct 6, 2016.

  1. davidg4781 macrumors 68020

    Oct 28, 2006
    Alice, TX
    I've been really wanting to get a laptop, MBP more than likely, and if I do I don't think I'd keep my mini as a desktop. I don't think I can get much for it so I'm thinking HTPC.

    Other than watching movies I've backed up from DVDs, what benefit is there over an Apple TV? Is gaming, like Lego Star Wars, etc doable?

    I don't have many DVDs on it now but I could maybe use it as a server for the other Apple TVs in my house, right?
  2. dporter15 macrumors member


    Feb 5, 2013
    I use mine primarily as a Plex Media Server / Player. But I also occasionally play a few games on it as well. Mostly games like Limbo and Stardew Valley (Wineskin). Both run relatively well. I haven't tried Lego Star Wars yet but I would assume you could at least play the game on low-medium settings. The mac mini is a great device but ever since I've connected a Apple TV 4 up in the bedroom and with how well that works for both casual gaming and apps such as Netflix. I have considered adding one out in the living room as well. If the mini had more of an easier way to watch Netflix and other similar applications. I think it would excel more in being an htpc.
  3. jpietrzak8 macrumors 65816


    Feb 16, 2010
    Dayton, Ohio
    Well, for one thing, there's nothing stopping you from connecting a DVD/BD drive to the Mini, so you can play movies directly (no need to rip and store them). Try that with an Apple TV! :)

    But mainly, the Mini is a full-blown computer. I do use the Mini I've got set up as an HTPC to play movies, but I also use it to browse the web, check my mail, etc. Also, I have it serving files to some of the other computers in my house.

    I think this depends a lot on the game; most desktop-PC games are designed to be played in an environment where the user is right next to the monitor, and has access to a keyboard / mouse. Some games have started to include an alternate interface more suitable to someone sitting six feet away on a couch, holding a controller; but this is still fairly rare.

    You'll probably have to test and see for yourself how playable games are on your setup...

    ;) You may know that your Mini is now an HTPC, and I may know that your Mini is now an HTPC, but your Mini does not know that! It will still be able to do anything you can do with a Mac Mini.
  4. flyinmac macrumors 68040


    Sep 2, 2006
    United States
    I used to use my PPC G4 mini as an Apple TV before it occurred to Apple to make an Apple TV.

    It was nicer than an Apple TV.

    But unfortunately the mini G4 struggled with playing high definition movies on the TV.

    I expect that wouldn't be a problem for modern minis.

    I used to use a retired Windows Mobile phone as a remote to control the mini G4 so I could lay in bed and pick a movie.

    Required a bit of doing back then. But I liked it. Still wish the Apple TV could provide the same interface. But of course, the Apple TV is now easier to implement. So I use it.

    You could always set up your mini as a dedicated iTunes server for your other machines / Apple TVs if you wanted.

    Currently, I'm entertaining the idea of turning my old G4 mini into a dedicated Linux based firewall and virus screening machine. But also weighing the impact of the Ethernet bandwidth. So perhaps I'll do something else with it. Who knows.
  5. JamesPDX Suspended


    Aug 26, 2014
    Mid-2010 Mini w/8GB RAM, internal SSD, external FW800/400 Media Drive. It's a great HTPC.
  6. nutmac macrumors 601

    Mar 30, 2004
    I use my Mac mini as a server and hub for all my family's data (minus files in Documents folder, which are stored in Dropbox).

    It is hooked up to 4 external disks:
    • Runs macOS Server (for caching server and Time Machine back up)
    • iTunes media files (stored on external 4 TB hard disk)
    • Photos (stored on external 2 TB SSD)
    • Time Machine backup of every Macs (stored on 16 TB RAID)
    • Cloud backup to Backblaze
    This Mac is headless and I use Apple TV (4th generation) for TV.
  7. fischersd macrumors 601


    Oct 23, 2014
    Vancouver, BC, Canada
    2012 Mac Mini that has been an HTPC for me since it came out (replacing the Ubuntu Linux Atom-powered HTPC that was there before it).
    I rarely use my MacBook or iPad around the house anymore (really just use the iPad for surfing or reading in bed now).
    I have it connected through my AV receiver with some very good Klipsch speakers. The TV's a 65" plasma.

    I watch all of my TV shows and Movies commercial free on the mini (rips as well as Netflix) as well as enjoy my music library as well as Apple Music (media content is on a local NAS). Also have another pair of external Klipsch speakers outside run from the AV receiver.
    Use my Apple watch as a remote for the music.
    I have MS Office on the Mini - so any of my working from home, it's there. Also have a Logitech 1080p webcam mounted on the top centre of the TV for video conferencing.

    The Siri integration on the Mac hasn't been as good as what I've seen on the ATV4. I was hoping it would be (then I would have moved my movies/tv over from Kodi to iTunes - hopefully it will get there one day). Much prefer using my voice than a remote. :)

    I always envisioned Apple making the ATV4 the "hub" for HomeKit for your home...the central nervous system for your home automation - using something such as the mini gives you a much more robust platform for doing so. Hopefully the app vendors see this and build into it using the watch as your local microphone / controller, following you wherever you go.
  8. madeirabhoy macrumors 6502a

    Oct 26, 2012

    i wouldnt say theres advantages over apple tv, so i dont think youd want or need to have both plugged in, but its at least as capable as apple tv so if youve got a tv in the house that hasnt got an apple tv plug it into that.

    i have a 2009 mini plugged into my tv. being british in portugal, all of our tv comes over the net, so i use the mini in various ways. mainly its a plex server. i keep an external usb drive plugged in and copy any tv and movies onto it from my imac by wifi. i keep all my music on itunes match and can play it through the tv.

    also i find using british tv services like bbc iplayer etc... to be temperamental using a vpn, so sometimes they dont work on the smart tv and i switch to the mini which always works.
  9. Boyd01 macrumors 601


    Feb 21, 2012
    New Jersey Pine Barrens
    I use a mini as an iTunes server. My library is on a fast USB3 external drive and it just runs iTunes with home sharing 24/7 where I access it with two Apple TV 3's and a MacBook Air (also my iPhone sometimes). The mini and drives are hidden in a dining room cabinet and a 24" monitor with wireless keyboard/trackpad sits on top, so I can also watch movies there. It's plugged into my home stereo that has speakers in several rooms.

    Have been using this setup for over two years and am very happy with it. I only use the Apple TV's to access my local library, Verizon DSL is all I can get in my rural location and it's horrible, not usable for streaming. Anyway, using iTunes directly on the Mini gives you more options for how to view your library and shows more data than the Apple TV. But I like the pushbutton simplicity of the Apple TV3 remote as opposed to all the "mousing around" that is needed in iTunes. ;)
  10. DonCarlos macrumors regular


    Dec 14, 2009
    Las Vegas
    --- Post Merged, Oct 7, 2016 ---
    Well I moved my mini upstairs, and my daughter gave me an Apple TV as a gift. The Apple TV is hooked up to the family TV downstairs. So it is a very very simple thing to turn on Airplay on the upstairs mini and actually use the my wireless keyboard/mouse downstairs to watch shows or operate my mac for the family. Very easy indeed. I used to have my older mini hooked to the TV but now that is not necessary. And I can always use the mini upstairs on it's dual monitors.

    The other thing about Apple TV anyone having an iPhone or pad, can simply turn on airplay and display pics or mirror their device. Pretty cool.

    No one in my family has a mac laptop anymore (they really are a very slow and cumbersome device).

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9 October 6, 2016