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You are here: MacNN Forums > Hardware - Troubleshooting and Discussion > Mac Desktops > Mac Mini home theatre - 2010 or 2011 model?

Mac Mini home theatre - 2010 or 2011 model?
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ShortcutToMoncton
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Nov 13, 2011, 12:56 PM
 
I've currently got an Apple TV2 I'm using as my main home theatre component (outputs to Samsung flatscreen and Blu-ray player and stereo audio system). My main complaints are that I have to keep my 27" iMac on all the time, I keep losing connection to my iTunes library for some reason (a common problem apparently, and not one that Apple tech was any help with), and of course it's quite limited in terms of what I can play - hacking the ATV2 does solve this somewhat but that's an annoying process as well apparently. As well, the optical audio output of the TV2 is limited to 44KHz/16-bit output only as I understand it - cannot use my hi-res music library, which annoys me.

Switching the ATV2 would solve some of the above problems, and add some more - for example, I wouldnt be able to get the ATV2 GUI, correct? If I rent movies from Apple I'd have to manually go into iTunes like on a computer, and to rent from Netflix I'd have to get on the internet and go through a browser? That all sounds very annoying as opposed to just using a remote.

Finally, from a power perspective - I can use a 2010 Mac Mini with Core 2 Duo processor and 8 gigs RAM for much cheaper than the new i5s or i7s. Would it be worth the extra hundred bucks or so for a current i5 2.5Ghz with AMD Radeon HD 6630M graphics card, versus a cheaper 2.3Ghz i5 with Intel HD Graphics 3000, or the older Core 2 Duo with NVIDIA GeForce 320M with 256MB memory? I'm mostly thinking in terms of playing hi-res movie files down the road here, and other such simple tasks that would be done on a TV - no Photoshop or anything of that nature....

Many thanks.
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Waragainstsleep
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Nov 13, 2011, 01:58 PM
 
I suppose it depends on what you expect in the way of future HD. If you want the system to playback 4500+ movies down the road, you might benefit from the newer model, otherwise I very much doubt it.

I would add Airplay to the last of pros for the ATV, though I guess there are solutions to do the same tricks on the Mini if you need to.
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cgc
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Nov 13, 2011, 03:07 PM
 
I built a home theater PC with a core i3 (the 35W version). At first I was concerned about playing HD content but it plays everything, up to and including 1080P in any container/codec. My CPU has HD2000 and it seems very good but my wife's Intel GMA 4500HD plays 1080P just fine as well.

Don't think any modern integrated GPU will struggle with HD anymore...look for the UI and other features. I use XBMC and it is really good, Plex is the same basically and is also phenomenal.

I went down the same path as you (e.g. dedicated media system like The Popcorn Hour or a flexible HTPC) and picked the HTPC for it's versatility; the HD3000 will be fine.
     
Waragainstsleep
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Nov 13, 2011, 03:50 PM
 
Don't forget you aren't going to be needing the CPU at the same time you watch films since its a theatre system. My 3 year old 2.4GHz Core 2 Duo with GeForce 9600 plays 1080p just fine.
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ShortcutToMoncton  (op)
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Nov 13, 2011, 06:59 PM
 
Okay, so using XBMC/Plex basically allows to access an interface similar to ATV2, but on a computer? Using Netflix and iApps like MLB/NHL and whatnot?
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cgc
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Nov 13, 2011, 07:40 PM
 
Originally Posted by ShortcutToMoncton View Post
Okay, so using XBMC/Plex basically allows to access an interface similar to ATV2, but on a computer? Using Netflix and iApps like MLB/NHL and whatnot?
Yup...make sure Plex/XBMC or FrontRow has whatever channels or video streams you need. I did a quick Bing search of "Plex Netflix" and looks like have Netflix support (since 2009). Not sure about the others but check it out...easy to use and great features. After I got my Windows Remote I couldn't be happier with XBMC (Plex is a fork of XBMC).
     
ShortcutToMoncton  (op)
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Nov 14, 2011, 04:48 PM
 
Well I just noticed how cheap the current Mac Minis are at the Refurb store. I would imagine even the low-end 2.3Ghz would generally be as fast as the old 2.6Ghz C2D, hmmmm? And it's almost $250 cheaper as a refurb - without Lion Server of course, which I don't really care about.

Sweet.
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