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Specs for 2010 Mac Mini for home theater?
Posted by: laarree
Date: October 02, 2010 02:33AM
I'm thinking about getting the latest generation aluminum Mac Mini (with HDMI out) as a home theater/ iTunes computer. I have a new 40" Samsung LCD-TV which I'd connect thru HDMI to the Mini, and would use this TV as the computer display for the Mini and for using media server software like Plex or Boxee, streaming Netflix, iTunes, etc. (will have this hooked up to a stereo receiver, etc.) I'm ripping my collection of DVDs to a large hard drive with RipIt, have long since digitized all my audio CDs, and estimate that I'd have to have at at least a couple of terabytes of external storage connected thru Firewire 800 to have all this media available for use.

What I'm wondering is about the specs for the Mini to get the most bang for the buck. To save money, I thought about getting: 1) a refurb, because it's got the same warranty as a new one; 2) the 2.4GHz instead of the 2.66 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo (speed difference not significant); 3) 320GB hard drive internal instead of 500 GB because I will need mostly external storage; 4) 2GB RAM from Apple, which I will replace with either one or two 4GB OWC chips because the memory upgrades from Apple are too expensive and this Mini can have RAM installed easily in it. How much RAM is really necessary for these purposes? WIll 4 or 5GB of RAM be sufficient for all this? Should I just install 8GB and be done with it?

Any advice? Thanks very much for any wisdom. :-)




.................................................................................................
*We are just a quarantined people under an evil sun.*
--- Richard S. Shaver
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Re: Specs for 2010 Mac Mini for home theater?
Posted by: Mr645
Date: October 02, 2010 07:12AM
They work great, provided you have no need to play Blu-Ray
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Re: Specs for 2010 Mac Mini for home theater?
Posted by: Stavs
Date: October 02, 2010 09:29AM
I have the same mini in my ht setup. I left the ram at 2gb as its sufficient to run plex and unison, which is all I do on this machine. I may ugrade the RAM if prices come down, but for now its fine. If you are doing other things, you may want to go ahead and ugrade.

As for the refurb, I would do it. Save the cash, and dont get the larger drive either. I use a NAS with 4 1.5tb drives in it. I'm really pleased with the setup.
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Re: Specs for 2010 Mac Mini for home theater?
Posted by: JEBB
Date: October 02, 2010 09:54AM
Do you use your Mac Mini with broadcast or cable tv or satellite tv? Or is Internet tv sufficient? I currently have a setup consisting of a 1.66 GHz DuoCore Mini with 2GB RAM, EyeTV 200, 500GB ext HD, an analog TV and Directv. At some point I expect to upgrade the whole setup but I've been thinking I'd wait for some revolutionary change like going to Internet tv. Is it time to make that move? To this point my focus has been more on program content than on how pretty the picture is.
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Re: Specs for 2010 Mac Mini for home theater?
Posted by: Article Accelerator
Date: October 02, 2010 11:56AM
Far be it from me to discourage extra revenue going to Apple, but are the benefits you expect by using a general purpose computer worth 4 or 5 times the price of Apple TV?

(Apple TV also supports AirPlay and the ability to use a graphical remote.)
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Re: Specs for 2010 Mac Mini for home theater?
Posted by: Stavs
Date: October 02, 2010 12:51PM
My setup consists of the following:

Panny 50" Plasma
DirecTV
Mac Mini running Plex
Denon Receiver
LG Blu-Ray
Synology DS409+ NAS

Everything is hooked up via HDMI to the Denon, which feeds to the the Panny. I haven't given up on DirecTV yet, but would like to. My only issue is that I am a HDTV snob, so unless I can get everything in HD off the internet (without downloading it), DTV stays put. I have some of the plugins installed in Plex for grabbing certain shows like South Park, and some other stuff. The quality isnt bad on South Park, so thats working well. I also like to randonly switch channels, so I cant give up regular tv yet. I like to surf.

As for the question about benefits, well, ATV doesnt do 1080p, and I dont think it can stream a 1080p mkv from my NAS. The mini also runs some background tasks for me overnight which the ATV can't do (ie downloading shows, etc.). I also use the mini as a server to feed the two laptops and the PC that are in the house, as well as stream music to various indoor and outdoor locations.
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Re: Specs for 2010 Mac Mini for home theater?
Posted by: laarree
Date: October 02, 2010 01:15PM
JEBB, I have HD cable here. Article Accelerator, sInce I already have a large ripped library of DVDs, CDs, homemade iMovie projects, etc., and my Mac Pro with many internal drives is in another room from where I watch TV, I'd rather have a low-power-using computer dedicated to this home media serving purpose instead of having all that stuff spinning in the next room, For all I know, in a few months I might also have Blu-Ray rips added into the collection. Besides, with a Mac Mini, I would have full-fledged web access displayed on my TV instead of what AppleTV could do.




.................................................................................................
*We are just a quarantined people under an evil sun.*
--- Richard S. Shaver
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Re: Specs for 2010 Mac Mini for home theater?
Posted by: davester
Date: October 02, 2010 01:24PM
I went the refurb route for our TV-connected mac mini. I have the 2.26 nVidia model with 2gb RAM. I was planning on upping the ram but it doesn't seem necessary. I use it with eyeTV and Plex. It'd be nice to just stick with those two apps, but oftentimes stuff I want to see has to be found through the web instead. For some shows that aren't readily available for free (i.e. Mad Men), I just do a bit of surfing using Safari and usually turn up something. I also like the web interface to TED talks much better than the Plex interface. I have virtually zero interest in regular network TV so there is no reason to subscribe to high end cable (the only use would be for the single show Mad Men).



"In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion." (1987) -- Carl Sagan



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/02/2010 01:27PM by davester.
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Re: Specs for 2010 Mac Mini for home theater?
Posted by: sekker
Date: October 02, 2010 08:25PM
If you have your video library connected to essentially ANY mac in the house, the Apple TV can then stream the movies to your TV via home sharing.

If you are going to set up the mac mini as your home server, then I'm sure 4 GB RAM is fine - 2 GB might be enough.

As for the AppleTV 'only' showing 720p and not 1080p. Looks great on my 50" Panasonic Plasma.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/02/2010 08:28PM by sekker.
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Re: Specs for 2010 Mac Mini for home theater?
Posted by: Article Accelerator
Date: October 03, 2010 01:23AM
Quote
sekker
As for the AppleTV 'only' showing 720p and not 1080p. Looks great on my 50" Panasonic Plasma.

Yep, same here.

Apple TV isn't 1080p and you shouldn't care
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Re: Specs for 2010 Mac Mini for home theater?
Posted by: laarree
Date: October 03, 2010 01:43AM
What about Blu-Ray players that can stream Netflix, etc.? I'm interested in getting a Blu-Ray player anyway which would connect to another HDMI input--it would be nice to have one device instead of two for these purposes. I'm trying to sort thru all these combinations of devices and, as you might expect, maximize flexibility and quality and minimize cost, and I don't know a soul who used the previous generation Apple TV or has bought the new one.

I really appreciate all the comments so far. :-)




.................................................................................................
*We are just a quarantined people under an evil sun.*
--- Richard S. Shaver
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Re: Specs for 2010 Mac Mini for home theater?
Posted by: Article Accelerator
Date: October 03, 2010 11:50AM
All the reviews of the new Apple TV I've seen have noted the device's superior interface to Netflix.

(BTW, I've owned the original Apple TV since shortly after it was released. There are many lively threads here discussing the device.)
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Re: Specs for 2010 Mac Mini for home theater?
Posted by: colonel panic
Date: October 03, 2010 02:05PM
I have refurbed 2010 Mini server that I use for my HTPC. I bought the server version for the dual 7200 RPM hard drives (I'm running them Raid 0) and the extra RAM. The 4 GB of RAM is more than adequate to run Plex or Front Row. The HDMI output into my 46" Samsung LED looks great. Definitely go for the Mini and don't waste your money on the Apple TV.



"They don't call me Colonel because I'm some dumb a$$ army guy" Colonel Homer J. Simpson
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