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What's the point of the mac mini in 2014?

Discussion in 'Apple Hardware' started by Combat squirrel, 19 Oct 2014.

  1. MacMiniBoy

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    my first mac was the macmini since then I have had a blackbook, macbook unibody 13", imac 21" and a macbook air.
     
  2. crinkleshoes

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    HTPC... that's why I'm buying one.

    Has no-one here actually used one? Are you simply looking at specs and ignoring usage scenarios?

    Even then, 350 starting price with an i5 seems very reasonable to me...

    OSX handles video soooooooo much better than windows, even with XBMC refresh rate matching or reclock.
     
  3. Skyboat

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    Yeah the current base model or an older used model would make no difference for my use really, either as a build server and/or Plex/PMS HTPC. It should be able to cope with either with ease. My NAS struggles with the transcodes but an i5 wouldn't even break a sweat.
     
  4. GeX

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    We use them quite a bit at work as development machines / test platforms.
     
  5. crinkleshoes

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    I won't be going for the base 1.4GHz i5 with hd5000 graphics... I want the mid model with with 2.6ghz i5 & iris graphics.

    The 1.4 still boosts to 2.7, so it's no slouch... but that graphics bump might be nice.

    Have trepidations as to how well the 1.4 will handle 4k video playback.


    2.6 i5 + 16gb + 256gb ssd



    The mini will be silent most of the time, but I'll still be building a silent SFF for music-only playback in another room with valve amp.
     
    Last edited: 21 Oct 2014
  6. DanF

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  7. vila

    Hitman

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    Every computer / tablet / phone is Mac except my HTPC.

    Why pay for apple hardware when Openelec software does so well?
     
  8. AbsenceJam

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    Silly choice for a HTPC. You can get all the hardware you need for a fraction of the price, and OS X is poor for video playback (don't know what he's on about), let alone full HTPC use. There are far better platforms and packages.
     
  9. MagicBoy

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    Works fine for me. Please tell me why it's so poor?
     
  10. xxalxx

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    Location: Perth, Australia

    Looks like the ideal thing for my parents actually :) time to upgrade them from their ancient XP box.
     
  11. AbsenceJam

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    Then I'm happy for you. I never said it didn't "work" whatever that means.

    OS X has poor playback software, renderers and drivers. You'll never get the playback quality that you can using Windows say, I still don't think you can even avoid judder as you can't use 23.976Hz. On top of this you're missing all the added control to make things look better still, or to suit your preference, and the endless tools and options to make your whole HTPC work just as you like.
     
  12. shiver

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    Part of me is actually quite glad i'm not tempted to upgrade my 2012 Mac mini :)
     
  13. shiver

    Wise Guy

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    Not had any issues with 'judder', Mac mini is set up perfectly as a media tv player or HTPC as you like to call it.

    Not really sure what point you're getting at apart from the price.
     
  14. crinkleshoes

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    Thanks for the tip, good to know... I had assumed a larger difference between 5000 and 5100.

    It might be worth trying out the base model then... the only trouble is you can't spec it with an SSD... but I have read that they are still user-replaceable.

    They have a decent returns policy, so perhaps I can try out a base model to see if it plays what I want it to.

    Because it's not good enough for me. Openelec is especially basic... I like having a fully functioning PC sitting there, controlled through VNC. If you're happy with it... good for you... none of the offerings I've seen out there are up to scratch for me, definitely not linux for daily use (yet).

    The only distro good enough for daily use for me is OSX... and that's a little customised ;)

    I've been running a windows based HTPC for 6 years+ and have tried various linux builds... even recently they have struggled to playback certain encodes smoothly.

    Currently running a 4670k and using the onboard graphics for 1080p playback. I've used dedicated graphics in the past... especially when I wanted to bitstream hd audio to a surround amp. Currently only playing stereo and have external DAC.

    Windows has no trouble, but I frequently get tearing... even with refresh rate matching or using software like reclock.

    First noticed OSX's smooth video playback on my late 2012 imac... also hooked up rMPB to TV & get the same experience... straight out of the box without any extra software.

    The playback is more important to me than any front end... although there are a few decent ones for OSX too that work well with the tiny remote.

    Very wrong... just... wrong.

    By default, no tearing... that's a good start.

    Panning performance/rendering is simply better.

    You haven't seen it? Either you need new glasses or you have not seen the two systems running next to each other... I have & multiple versions of each... and I am very clear on my preference.



    Also... kindly build me an i5 unit the size of a mini complete with legitimate operating system for "a fraction of the price"... and no... 19/20 does not count :p

    Even then it won't look as sleek as a mini.

    Cheapest barebones system of comparable size with the base model i5 is 370CHF or about 220-250 pounds... add ram and hard drive and you're over 300... add windows and there's your base-spec mini. Not to mention it's incredibly ugly... not usually quite so bothered about appearance... but it really is that ugly.

    Good for you if you're happy to steal the software.

    Image quality is the best on OSX compared to anything I've used & I've been through many combinations.
     
  15. crinkleshoes

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    Quite the opposite for me... I do and always have had issues with judder and tearing on windows... OSX... just works out of the box.

    Been through many attempted fixes on multiple combinations of hardware with windows and none have resolved... and I'm not a nitwit either when it comes to these things.

    AbsenceJam i think is either talking from internet knowledge or 4+ year-old OSX knowledge.

    4+ years ago, I would not have considered a mac as an HTPC due to the audio output options... even then, the video output was still decent.
     
  16. MagicBoy

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    Inference was it didn't work due to the "poor for video playback" comment.

    No issues whatsoever with judder, quality is perfect. Outputs a 24p signal my TV is happy with. It's small, it's silent comes with a remote and offloads most of the decode work to the GPU. Having compared it to a PC also running XBMC I can't tell any difference. It works well, no need to tweak it and I've yet to find an add on that doesn't work on OS X.

    The only downside I know of as regards OS X is the lack of HD audio support.
     
  17. AbsenceJam

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    I don't think either of you actually understand what it is I'm talking about, because it isn't actually technically possible that you are not experiencing judder, and that was just one thing amongst many. OS X is just technically poor for video playback (as it suffers from anything to do with video hardware and drivers), and you can get much, much more out of Windows - perfect playback and better quality.

    If you're happy with what you have great, as I said before, happy for you. Please keep referring back to this sentence if anything I say upsets you. I define home theatre as getting the best AV experience which OS X can't offer, others think it's watching netflix on a telly.

    Odd way to read it. I'd say that OS X or a mac mini was a silly choice for a gaming machine or w/e, doesn't mean you can't do anything, there are just much better options.
     
    Last edited: 22 Oct 2014
  18. MagicBoy

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    No I do. Technically if it's not hitting a perfect 23.976Hz you'll get a skipped frame perhaps every 40/50 seconds. I can't see any sign of that or tearing or any other artifacts. Perhaps the TV processing is sorting it out, I dunno. I'm happy with it, it works better than XBMC did on a Windows box in my opinion.

    Netflix? I'll watch that on the PS3. Silverlight sucks balls. On any platform.
     
  19. crinkleshoes

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    Same here... I get better video playback on the two mac systems I have had out of the box than I have on 6 or more pc systems (4 configurations of HTPC hardware) and a lot of tinkering with windows or linux.

    Netflix isn't viable in this country and even in the UK the quality was horrible :p

    I have pretty much always had tearing with windows based configurations. I once had a configuration that worked quite well with XBMC and reclock... it worked well about 2/3 of the time, however random crashes and I still don't like using XBMC as an ongoing solution... it's just not complete enough for my tastes - although I have yet to try 14.

    But even with XBMC updating the output frequency and reclock keeping the sync in check, there was (and still is within windows) panning rendering issues that do not exist in OSX. Seen with multiple configurations, multiple screens & others notice this too when I point it out to them. Most don't seem to care, but it really bothers me.

    Running the two devices side by side... the Macs reproduce the image in a much more eye pleasing manner... again, noticed by anyone I have shown this to when having the images right next to each other.

    I have seen the difference for years between using a standalone blu-ray player vs HTPC (windows and linux)... until I saw a mac in action, I was simply accepting that it's just a compromise of running an HTPC instead of a standalone blu-ray player.

    Even with a crappy encode... the OSX playback video quality - is closer to the blu-ray than any windows configuration.

    There is no judder at 24Hz...

    Instead of talking from figures and the opinion of others... take a look at them next to each other, it is clear you do not have direct experience.



    The lack of HD Audio is somewhat annoying, especially with planned home theatre build in new house, but VLC and XBMC have decent workarounds for it with LPCM... silly Apple.

    There is no perfect device yet for HTPC.

    OSX = better video
    Windows = better audio (slightly)

    The difference in the audio now is minimal and so I don't expect to be able to hear it anymore... but I can definitely see the difference in the video.



    Just have to stick with dedicated blu-ray player for when I really want the best output.
     
    Last edited: 22 Oct 2014
  20. b0rn2sk8

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    The answer to the OP's question is basically anyone that is not a power user. Which is 95% of the population, you don't need anything else.