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I have finally installed a satellite antenna and an EyeTV 310, so I now have a BBC HD available (was previously using Freeview, our UK 'free to air' DTT system). The quality is a revelation, even on our small coffee table screen.

But on our Mac Mini core duo 1.66 GHz the pictures produced are often acceptable but not always (some stuttering) and the cpu utilisation is 175-200%. The mini has already been upgraded with a new Western Digital 'Green' 250 GB drive (a huge improvement in speed and running temperature) and 2GB of RAM.


My dilemma is, to improve the rendering of live MPEG-4 HD TV, should I go the final step and upgrade to a 2.16 or 2.33 core 2 duo cpu for around $150 or should I get a new Mac Mini and try to recoup some of the cost by reselling the old one (maybe spending $400).

The key unknown in my deliberations is how much difference will the better graphics chip on the new Mini make to to video rendering in EyeTV once Snow Leopard is out?


I'm not looking for all-out video performance such as for video gaming, just good enough to render BBC HD while not doing much else.


If anyone has experience with:

- BBC HD rendering on an old Mac Mini with a 2.16 GHz cpu

- The benefits of the extra graphics performance in the new Mac mini


I'd be very grateful for your comments.


Georgio
 

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Although I don't have first-hand experience with the updated mini, based on specs alone, I'd go for the upgrade if you can. The new mini's Nvidia 9400M runs circles around the old's Intel GMA 9500...at least on paper. Plus, with the newer mini, I believe you can upgrade the RAM further (up to 4GB IIRC).
 

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Doing the Merom upgrade takes some stones, but a 2.33 Merom is probably what you'd want (since the GMA9500 is pretty dang bad). Unfortunately, you generally aren't gonna get a 2.33 Merom for less than 200 bucks, and god forbid you make a little mistake on the installation. A 2.16 Merom might work ok, and that might be a more reasonable alternative. I have a 1.66 as well, and have been considering a CPU upgrade as well, but I ended up getting a couple of the new Mini's anyway, and couldn't be happier.


Frankly, chefkic is gonna be your best resident resource for making a CPU upgrade choice on old Mini's w/ OTA HD capability. You might want to pm him.


I'd just get a new Mini, and put your old Mini up for sale or just use it for something w/ less graphics heavy lifting.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Phantom Gremlin /forum/post/16977313


Why not wait 1 month for Apple to release Snow Leopard? That will give you a better idea of what Apple will soon support "officially" in terms of video.

Fully agree. At this time, neither the 2008 Mac Mini (even upgraded) nor the new one are capable of fluid MPEG4 HD TV.

Only with Snow leopard SHOULD the 2009 Mac Mini be up to the challenge...

...but better wait for confirmation first
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by geeji /forum/post/16979547


Fully agree. At this time, neither the 2008 Mac Mini (even upgraded) nor the new one are capable of fluid MPEG4 HD TV.

Only with Snow leopard SHOULD the 2009 Mac Mini be up to the challenge...

...but better wait for confirmation first

Huh??


I have a 2009 2.26GHz Mini that can handle 30+GB native BR files with aplomb. Granted, this is on Plex rather than eyetv, but still -- I have trouble believing it wouldn't be up to the task.


There is little chance that an OTA 1080i mpeg-4 file could choke it.


I'll check tomorrow w/ my Miglia Mini HD on that Mini, but I would be absolutely shocked if it can't handle it.
 

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Quote:
on our Mac Mini core duo 1.66 GHz the pictures produced are often acceptable but not always (some stuttering) and the cpu utilisation is 175-200%.

Here in the US, that 1.66 mini couldn't cut it with EyeTV and high def when it was released, let alone now, and neither could the 1.83-2.0 minis even after a CPU upgrade. This is why some of us started putting C2D Macbooks in the home theater a few years ago--Macbooks were getting upgraded fairly regularly, you could go to 4GB RAM and step up to something just slightly better than the GMA 950. With EyeTV playback, both seemed to help.

Quote:
The mini has already been upgraded with a new Western Digital 'Green' 250 GB drive (a huge improvement in speed and running temperature) and 2GB of RAM.

I don't have any experience with "green" WD laptop drives, but are they considered fast? I have a few desktop 1TB WD green drives, and they are not fast at all--quite the contrary--they're quiet, cool and best for media storage. So, you 1) already maxxed the RAM to 2GB, and while you 2) might extract a little better performance if you put a fast 7200 drive in that mini (I can recommend the WD 320GB Scorpio "Black") I think even with a CPU upgrade, with respect to EyeTV you'll still be held back by the GMA 950. So with that in mind, it's almost certainly a waste of time and money to consider swapping the CPU. 18-24 months ago--maybe it was worthwhile--now that there's a $599 mini with a 9400M, no.

Quote:
The key unknown in my deliberations is how much difference will the better graphics chip on the new Mini make to to video rendering in EyeTV once Snow Leopard is out?

Right, and I'm not sure how we can "know" this yet...

Quote:
Frankly, chefkic is gonna be your best resident resource for making a CPU upgrade choice on old Mini's w/ OTA HD capability.

But "OTA HD" in the UK and US are different, different tuners and technical specs, I'm not sure our experiences correlate.

Quote:
Why not wait 1 month for Apple to release Snow Leopard? That will give you a better idea of what Apple will soon support "officially" in terms of video.
Quote:
Fully agree. At this time, neither the 2008 Mac Mini (even upgraded) nor the new one are capable of fluid MPEG4 HD TV. Only with Snow leopard SHOULD the 2009 Mac Mini be up to the challenge...but better wait for confirmation first

I agree with this. To me, one of the surprising things about 2009 in our Mac home theater niche is how few owners of the new 9400M Macbooks and Minis are reporting significantly improved video playback, and certainly not with respect to EyeTV. Rather than buying now and hoping for some improvement, I definitely think the smart move is to wait another month.

Quote:
Granted, this is on Plex rather than eyetv, but still -- I have trouble believing it wouldn't be up to the task

This is a key distinction--those of us who have been on the high def and EyeTV bandwagon still tend to use EyeTV for playback--and unfortunately, playing back high quality 1080i ATSC and QAM MPEG2 without dropped frames still isn't guaranteed, especially at its best deinterlace setting. My 2.0 C2D Macbook w/ 4GB RAM, the X3100 and a fast 320GB Scorpio Black can barely...barely...handle it at the "progressive" setting, and "motion adaptive" is definitely a step down visually, especially with sports and fast motion. (I worked my way up to that machine after stretching GMA 950 Macs to their limits, a 1.83 core duo and a 2.0 C2D, neither of which could ever play back 1080i ATSC decently with EyeTV.) There are a lot of Plex converts, and maybe Plex helps...I'm not in a position to judge, so far I've kept my distance mainly because its lead developer openly stated he couldn't care less about EyeTV or those of us Luddites still bothering to record television legally rather than pirating everything.

Quote:
I'm not looking for all-out video performance such as for video gaming, just good enough to render BBC HD while not doing much else

We'll know soon enough how well Snow Leopard and the 9400M Macs will handle your MPEG-4 H.264/AVC. If I were in your shoes, Georgio, I'd hate to buy a 9400M model now, just to find out later that you needed just a little more CPU. Prepare to sell the 1.66, and wait.
 

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I upgraded my 1.66 mini to 2.33 Merom and a WD 320GB, and it's a lot faster. It cost about $500 total. During the install, I accidentally pulled a (really fine) wire from the plug that powers the LED. As I'd read (somewhere) that the mini won't work without the LED functioning, I managed to jam the wire back into the plug and it works, but I'm not too happy about that damage. Doing the upgrades was fun (and it turns out opening a mini is really easy), but not worth the expense (or the damage
). If the new mini had been available, I'd have just ebayed the 1.66 and put a new one on the shelf.


BDs via Plex are beautiful on the mini -> 52" LCD.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Georgio /forum/post/16973586


The key unknown in my deliberations is how much difference will the better graphics chip on the new Mini make to to video rendering in EyeTV once Snow Leopard is out?

This will require an update to the EyeTV software to leverage OpenCL decoding. The 9400m has hardware decoding of h.264 and VC-1 (commonly used by BBC), but it is unclear if Apple will have APIs for VC-1. Do you know the video codec used by BBC for its broadcasts? Their Blu-ray and HD-DVDs use an unusual VC-1 scheme that can cause problems on computers. Most famous of these is the "bird scene" from the Pole to Pole episode of Planet Earth. Even my quad-core hackintosh has problems with it in its native Blu-ray. If I transcode to h.264 at the same bit rate, even my 2 gHz Core 2 Duo Mini can play it.

Quote:
If anyone has experience with:

- BBC HD rendering on an old Mac Mini with a 2.16 GHz cpu

- The benefits of the extra graphics performance in the new Mac mini

Right now, the only benefit of the new Mini is its faster bus and more vRAM taken from the system RAM (and the 2.26 gHz model). Until we know the codec used by BBC, if Apple plans APIs for VC-1 in SL, and if Elgato updates its EyeTV software to efficiently handle VC-1, it's difficult to say how the new Minis will perform.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cave_Man /forum/post/17011784


Right now, the only benefit of the new Mini is its faster bus and more vRAM taken from the system RAM (and the 2.26 gHz model). Until we know the codec used by BBC, if Apple plans APIs for VC-1 in SL, and if Elgato updates its EyeTV software to efficiently handle VC-1, it's difficult to say how the new Minis will perform.

Is there any consensus right now about how the new Minis handle EyeTV playback for US OTA and ClearQAM? I've been sitting on the sidelines for a couple years with my old school 1.6 gHz Mini, waiting patiently for the Mini CPU/GPU upgrades and then Snow Leopard. Now that they are all out (and there's no iPod Touch w/video camera to sink my cash into), I want to know if it is worth upgrading.


I've been following all the HTPC Mac threads here and I still can't tell if there's a definitive answer to this question. I'm only interested in upgrading if I can watch football in Progressive Scan mode without dropping frames. Can the 2.0 gHz Mini handle this? (If the answer is yes, the $500 refurbs seem like the perfect choice.) What about the 2.26? Does the amount of RAM matter?
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by mdr25 /forum/post/17148398


I've been following all the HTPC Mac threads here and I still can't tell if there's a definitive answer to this question. I'm only interested in upgrading if I can watch football in Progressive Scan mode without dropping frames. Can the 2.0 gHz Mini handle this? (If the answer is yes, the $500 refurbs seem like the perfect choice.) What about the 2.26? Does the amount of RAM matter?


I've been curious about that too. is the extra $100 really worth the faster processor?
 
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