Mac mini w/PLEX...the perfect HTPC - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 55 Old 08-17-2009, 11:58 AM - Thread Starter
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I have been trying to put together a HTPC for a long time now and get rid of my apple tv

I wanted the perfect combo of:

low noise
small
DVD player
HULU + Netflix + lots of online content
music + pictures playback
network connectivity to shares on my network

Nothing quite fit the bill until I came across PLEX (http://www.plexapp.com/)

I all can say is ...HOLY COW....how come this is not talked about on this forum? Is seems like the perfect option when mated with a new mac mini (nvidia 9400) or a hackintosh.
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post #2 of 55 Old 08-17-2009, 12:05 PM
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Because there is a seperate mac forum.

http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/forumdisplay.php?f=115

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post #3 of 55 Old 08-17-2009, 02:37 PM
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And Media Browser is so much better.
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post #4 of 55 Old 08-17-2009, 03:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by davegod75 View Post

I have been trying to put together a HTPC for a long time now and get rid of my apple tv

I wanted the perfect combo of:

low noise
small
DVD player
HULU + Netflix + lots of online content
music + pictures playback
network connectivity to shares on my network

Nothing quite fit the bill until I came across PLEX (http://www.plexapp.com/)

I all can say is ...HOLY COW....how come this is not talked about on this forum? Is seems like the perfect option when mated with a new mac mini (nvidia 9400) or a hackintosh.


Mac mini has no HDMI or blue ray option, otherwise it would be great.
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post #5 of 55 Old 08-17-2009, 03:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jeffkro View Post

Mac mini has no HDMI or blue ray option, otherwise it would be great.

extactly...if it had those two options (easily done in the next revision (5 years from now at the rate that its getting revised)) and the mini would in my opinion be the ultimate htpc
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post #6 of 55 Old 08-17-2009, 03:26 PM
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They do have mini display port, which can be converted to HDMI with a $10 adapter. I've no idea what kind of audio you can get out of it though.
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post #7 of 55 Old 08-17-2009, 03:28 PM
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No audio.
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post #8 of 55 Old 08-17-2009, 03:38 PM
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Yep, it appears that the mini cannot do audio out of the MDP. You can do digital coax out of the headphone jack, but it's still not HD. Combine that with no blu ray option and ridiculous apple pricing ($600 for a system with 1GB of RAM?!) and the mini is just a poor choice all around.
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post #9 of 55 Old 08-17-2009, 03:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by almostinsane View Post

No audio.

How can ANY media equipment not have audio? U must be signaling some secret am not aware.

Am curious about a Mac-base HTPC. Apple products should, typically have a much friendlier/seamless user interface. Maybe I should mossie myself over the Mac forum see what they are talking...

Solution: FREE. Explanation: I will have to charge$ you.

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post #10 of 55 Old 08-17-2009, 04:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bimmerfreak0 View Post

extactly...if it had those two options (easily done in the next revision (5 years from now at the rate that its getting revised)) and the mini would in my opinion be the ultimate htpc

Knowing Apple, that little revision will likely cost an additional $400.
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post #11 of 55 Old 08-17-2009, 05:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MrBobb View Post

How can ANY media equipment not have audio? U must be signaling some secret am not aware.

No audio out the MDP.
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post #12 of 55 Old 08-17-2009, 05:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by candre23 View Post

Combine that with no blu ray option and ridiculous apple pricing ($600 for a system with 1GB of RAM?!) and the mini is just a poor choice all around.

isn't overpriced a staple of apple?
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post #13 of 55 Old 08-17-2009, 08:40 PM
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the mini display port is proprietary to apple since they made it, they specced it to not include audio (WHY I DON"T KNOW.........WHY?????????????????????????!!!!!!!!!!!!!?????? ??????????)
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post #14 of 55 Old 08-17-2009, 09:07 PM
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HTPC with no HD = Fail
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post #15 of 55 Old 08-17-2009, 09:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bimmerfreak0 View Post

the mini display port is proprietary to apple since they made it, they specced it to not include audio

Wrong on both counts. Display port was designed by VESA as a royalty-free alternative to HDMI. The standard does include provisions for up to 8 channels of audio, but for reasons only big Steve knows, Apple simply declined to enable the functionality in their devices.
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post #16 of 55 Old 08-18-2009, 03:35 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by whiteboy714 View Post

HTPC with no HD = Fail

The mac mini has a HD.
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post #17 of 55 Old 08-18-2009, 03:59 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by davegod75 View Post

The mac mini has a HD.

It has a HDD
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post #18 of 55 Old 08-18-2009, 07:34 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by almostinsane View Post

And Media Browser is so much better.

media browser supports 3rd party plugins like support for: Hulu, netflix, HGTV, CNN, etc?
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post #19 of 55 Old 08-18-2009, 07:52 AM
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The Mac Mini is very over-priced, OSX doesn't have as many media front end options as Windows or Linux, Plex is a decent out of the box solution but in no way compares to a well configured Media Portal setup, there's no BD drive option, no audio over hdmi/display port....

What I'm trying to say is the Mac Mini is actually a pretty poor choice for a HTPC. If you want quick and easy, there are cheaper alternatives. If you want more features/flexibility, there are better options. I use an AOpen MP45 build myself, which does everything the mini does for the same price and then some. But your mileage may vary.
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post #20 of 55 Old 08-18-2009, 08:12 AM
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I'm right there with you Ix except I don't understand how much better media portal is then PLEX. Could you elaberate a bit further? I use PLEX in my hackintosh and it is great. It plays every kind of video file and the plugins are great. There isn't an HD audio option though, but from my reading in this forum the PC side isn't HD audio bullet proof yet and has plenty of bugs in it's own right. Plus not having to install codec packs and a bunch of other software to get things to work is a plus.
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post #21 of 55 Old 08-18-2009, 08:19 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ix View Post

The Mac Mini is very over-priced, OSX doesn't have as many media front end options as Windows or Linux, Plex is a decent out of the box solution but in no way compares to a well configured Media Portal setup, there's no BD drive option, no audio over hdmi/display port....

What I'm trying to say is the Mac Mini is actually a pretty poor choice for a HTPC. If you want quick and easy, there are cheaper alternatives. If you want more features/flexibility, there are better options. I use an AOpen MP45 build myself, which does everything the mini does for the same price and then some. But your mileage may vary.

I would be interested for you to show me how its better priced?

checking online, cheapest I can find that is:

389.99 at buy.com

then add:

HD - 49.99
RAM - 15.00
Processor - 243.79
= 698.77 not including Windows

And thats for the same specs, except with the mac mini you get getting graphics, wireless n, bluetooth and an OS.
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post #22 of 55 Old 08-18-2009, 09:08 AM
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I run a mac mini HTPC running plex and love it.

Cons:

-No BR (not a big deal for me as I rip all BR discs on my workstation and transfer the data to my media server.
-Optical audio only

Pros:

Virtually silent
Great formfactor
Plays HD perfectly
Easy to setup
Plex and Boxee are both great free front ends
Supports HDHomerun
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post #23 of 55 Old 08-18-2009, 09:14 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mackworth View Post

Processor - 243.79

To be fair, retail pricing on socket P chips is intentionally ridiculous. You can get a 2GHz socket P chip on ebay for less than $100.

But that's not really relevant to the the overall argument that the mac mini is overpriced and under performing as an HTPC.

This is.

Much faster processor, 4x the RAM, 4x the HDD capacity, blu-ray, wireless N, proper HDMI with multichannel audio, full featured media remote and a HTPC-friendly wireless keyboard/mouse. All for $150 less than the cheapest mac mini. You could install Ubuntu and XBMC on this box for $0 and have a better, more customizable UI than Plex. The only thing a mini has that this setup doesn't is bluetooth, and that can be remedied with a $15 USB dongle if you need it.

Look, I've got nothing against Macs. Any time one of my computer-illiterate family or friends asks me what kind of PC they should buy, I always tell them to get a Mac. They're great for everything that 90% of users use them for, they're almost completely virus/spyware free, and they're not easily broken by people who don't know what they're doing. I bought my mother a mini a few years back because I was tired of having to drive down and fix her Windows PC every other week.

HTPCs are a different animal. There are specific technical requirements that must be met, and some level of technical savvy is required for building/configuring one regardless of the OS you choose. When compared to building your own machine from parts, purchasing a mac is a vastly inferior option. What reasonable person would pay more money for such severely limited hardware and software?
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post #24 of 55 Old 08-18-2009, 09:20 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by swharper View Post

I run a mac mini HTPC running plex and love it.

Cons:

-No BR (not a big deal for me as I rip all BR discs on my workstation and transfer the data to my media server.
-Optical audio only

Pros:

Virtually silent
Great formfactor
Plays HD perfectly
Easy to setup
Plex and Boxee are both great free front ends
Supports HDHomerun

It will play BD rips? At 24Hz?
It will output multi-channel LPCM?
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post #25 of 55 Old 08-18-2009, 09:35 AM
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It will output multi-channel LPCM?

No

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post #26 of 55 Old 08-18-2009, 09:54 AM
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Playing BD content at 24Hz?

Could be a good little alternative for a less than fully featured guest room system.
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post #27 of 55 Old 08-18-2009, 10:22 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by candre23 View Post

To be fair, retail pricing on socket P chips is intentionally ridiculous. You can get a 2GHz socket P chip on ebay for less than $100.

But that's not really relevant to the the overall argument that the mac mini is overpriced and under performing as an HTPC.

This is.

You are right but that wasn't my argument. I mean I own a macbook and an iphone but I use a win7 box for a media center. Of course you can build a cheaper PC than a mac mini, but just in terms of building something as small and as quiet and as powerful, I would like to see someone try to do it.

Even if you did grab one on ebay for less than 100, you are still talking about roughly the same price for less performance - wireless n - bluetooth - OS since you get an a mac mini for ~580.
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post #28 of 55 Old 08-18-2009, 10:41 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skirmash View Post

Playing BD content at 24Hz?

Could be a good little alternative for a less than fully featured guest room system.

I've got 2 of the new Mac Minis, running Vista x32 (soon to be Win7), in this exact configuration.

One runs standard 1080p to a 32" lcd, the other runs 1080p24 to a 52" lcd, and works great.

The new models run the nVidia MCP79 (9400m video) chipset, same as the P5N7A-VM motherboards do.

And while I can't do LPCM audio, I can run 5.1 DD/DTS which is fine for the small rooms I have them in.
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post #29 of 55 Old 08-18-2009, 10:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mackworth View Post

Of course you can build a cheaper PC than a mac mini, but just in terms of building something as small and as quiet and as powerful, I would like to see someone try to do it.

Dell seems to have figured it out

The fact is that the mini may be tiny, but it' not powerful. It's barely faster than your average nettop, which is smaller still and a heck of a lot cheaper. If you're willing to trade power, functionality and money for a few square inches of shelf space, then go ahead and buy a mini. But for most people, a system like the one I posted is a vastly better option.
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post #30 of 55 Old 08-18-2009, 10:57 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Prelector View Post

I've got 2 of the new Mac Minis, running Vista x32 (soon to be Win7), in this exact configuration.

One runs standard 1080p to a 32" lcd, the other runs 1080p24 to a 52" lcd, and works great.

The new models run the nVidia MCP79 (9400m video) chipset, same as the P5N7A-VM motherboards do.

And while I can't do LPCM audio, I can run 5.1 DD/DTS which is fine for the small rooms I have them in.

You say you can't get LPCM - not even for 2 channel?
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