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Thinking of picking up a Mac Mini for an HTPC, browsing these forums and some others, and I was surprised to find the Mini actually has a fan (for some reason I was under the impression that it was fanless).


Is fan noise a problem at all? Does it get worse with age? I would be leaving the machine on 24/7 quite a bit, should I worry about the reliability or about it aging prematurely?


Thanks in advance!!
 

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Is fan noise a problem at all?

No. In a home theater context, a Macbook would be the only thing even more quiet than a mini.

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Does it get worse with age?

Not that I've noticed.

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I would be leaving the machine on 24/7 quite a bit, should I worry about the reliability or about it aging prematurely?

No. The optical drives are poor, though, so plan on a good external if that's a key requirement.
 

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No, what I meant was if you plan to do a lot with cds and dvds, and especially rip and back up your dvd collection, you won't be happy with the Matshita. It's intentionally crippled in several key ways. You'll be MUCH better off with a $29 5.25" Pioneer or NEC in a firewire external enclosure. A little less aesthetically pleasing, perhaps, but those laptop Matshita drives do nothing but confound and depress.
 

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The drive is primarily "crippled" for out of region DVD ripping and playback. This may or may not affect your specific situation.


I enjoy my mini and although it can function as an all in one entertaiment solution, IMO DVD would not be the #1 reason to get one from a cost/performance perspective.
 

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I am (neurotically, obsessively, compulsively) sensitive to noise, and I have to put my Intel-based Mac mini to sleep at night (it's on the dresser, perhaps 7 feet from my head) or else I can hear a very slightbut mind numbing, nonethelesshumming sound, even when the mini is doing nothing at all. In summary, for most people it's perfectly quiet!
 

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Right, sitting next to the mini during the day or across from it on the couch are not the same thing noise-wise as trying to sleep next to it, especially if one is very sensitive. We have an impeccably quiet ceiling fan, but even its slight hum or whir is audible in the dead of night.

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I also had no trouble ripping my complete library of DVDs (~250 titles) with the stock optical drive.

You wouldn't have, as long as your library was all R0 or purchased within your region. It did take you anywhere from 2 to 4 to 8 times longer to rip them with that stock Matshita, though, because of riplock. Riplock in certain drives can clamp a 16x read down to 2x or 4x. With a few hundred dvds, that can add up: whatever hourly rate you want to assign to your time, productivity-wise a fast firewire external would pay for itself in no time.

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How is the stock drive crippled? I suppose this would affect my ability to treat the Mini as a fancy upscaling DVD player.

well, in addition to 'riplock' you'll find out very quickly that there's nothing "fancy" or "upscaling" about the mini as a dvd player--its performance at least in comparison to standalone upscaling dvd players is average. Still, it's quite nice having one hooked up to your HDTV to pull video_ts files from anywhere on the network from an aesthetics and convenience standpoint. We have two Macs in media extender mode and they're about 60% (high def) and 40% (video_ts) playback at the moment.

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The drive is primarily "crippled" for out of region DVD ripping and playback.

As pdubyu said, this is but one way it's crippled--many, if not most other drives, are initially shipped this way as well. What is particularly troubling about most Apple/Matshita drives, though--again, beyond 'riplock'-- is that 1) the region protection is more robust, and 2) optional firmware for them has not been released or hacked.


It may never affect you as long as you buy everything within your assigned region. But let's say you live in the US, and rather than watch 'Children of Men' in the movie theaters right now or wait 6 months for the US R1 dvd release--you'd prefer to buy the excellent just-released R2 dvd from Amazon.co.uk: we'll you'd be out of luck if the optical drive in your mini was all you had.


With other drives, either connected via firewire or firmware flashed, you'd be able to play it back and/or rip it, no problem.


And we haven't even gotten into the substandard burning qualities of those crappy Matshita drives, which can also be very slow and prickly even with the highest quality dvd media.
 

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Originally Posted by chefklc /forum/post/0


And we haven't even gotten into the substandard burning qualities of those crappy Matshita drives, which can also be very slow and prickly even with the highest quality dvd media.

This is the reason why I almost never spec out Macs with Matshita Superdrives, if I can avoid it. I have found that sometimes the same model Matshita, on different Macs, must use different media in order to get a successful burn. I have gone as far as keeping a selection of DVD media (different brands, + or -) on hand, so when I set up a new Mac, I can find the one that will burn, and then tell the user to only buy that brand and kind of media. It really is ridiculous how picky the Matshita (or the firmware, or the OS or whatever it is that contributes to this problem) is for media.
 

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FWIW, my 1.66 Core Duo mini certainly isn't "dead quiet" when decoding 1080i HD from an EyeTV 500. The fan ramps up from almost silent (but still not dead quiet) to what I would describe as "noticable" in a dead quiet room. Under these conditions, the noise from the mini probably couldn't be heard over a movie soundtrack or an average projector. So the noise is not a practical problem I think. Can't tell for sure though because my HT system is apart at the moment.


During HD playback top (unix app) reports 95% to 105% processor utilisation (out of 200 % capacity). Activity monitor reports that the load is well balanced between both processors and that is plenty of free memory (110 Megs inactive, 5 Megs free out of 512 Megs installed).


Brent
 
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