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Which Mini Config for HTPC?

 
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lcrooks
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 25, 2011 10:19 am    Post subject: Which Mini Config for HTPC? Reply with quote

I wanted to use the mac mini as an HTPC to play 1080p and blu ray MKV rips on a large TV, based on this which mini config would be better?

Mac Mini
2.7GHz dual-Core
Intel Core i7
750GB (7200 rpm)
AMD Radeon HD 6630M with 256MB GDDR5

Mac Mini Server
2.0GHz quad-core
Intel Core i7
2X500GB (7200 rpm)
Intel HD Graphics 3000

It seems this is a GPU vs. CPU situation. Isn't it important to have a dedicated GPU to unload the process during movie playback (especially with MKV blu ray rips)?

I will be doing no gaming.

Thanks
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T'hain Esh kelch
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 25, 2011 10:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

GPU's have a dedicated chip for hardware decoding movies, and the Intel HD3000 has one that is also supported by Mac OS X, and thus just as good as the Radeon card. Other than the hardware decoding support, the GPU doesn't matter at all (Well, as long as it has more than 4 MB VRAM Razz).

But if you *have* to choose between those two, and only for a HTPC, I would definitely go for the i7, as it is more future proof due to the 33% higher clock. Quad-core is meaningless for a HTPC.
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Smithcraft
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 25, 2011 3:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would say that any of the current minis should be able to play BD rips without any issues.

If you have a Apple store nearby, I would suggest ripping a BD and use mkvtoolnix to make a test file, along with the killa sample on a usb stick. Maybe include VLC on the stick, since a stock mini might not play the files with QuickTime.

SC
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[Desktop] Intel mini - 2.16Ghz 2GB 60GB HDD - Newer miniStack v2 500GB - 10.5.8

[Media System] Intel i5 mini - 2.33Ghz 8GB 500GB HDD - 4 x Hitachi 2TB HDD in a qBOX-SF - 10.7.5 (Thanks Phil!)

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lcrooks
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 25, 2011 7:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

T'hain Esh kelch wrote:
GPU's have a dedicated chip for hardware decoding movies, and the Intel HD3000 has one that is also supported by Mac OS X, and thus just as good as the Radeon card. Other than the hardware decoding support, the GPU doesn't matter at all (Well, as long as it has more than 4 MB VRAM Razz).

But if you *have* to choose between those two, and only for a HTPC, I would definitely go for the i7, as it is more future proof due to the 33% higher clock. Quad-core is meaningless for a HTPC.


Thanks so much for the responses!

Why would the i7 with dedicated GPU be more future proof than the Quad Core i7?

Does rendering 3D movies factor into this at all?

Thanks again
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Smithcraft
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 26, 2011 4:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would say that rendering 3D movies doesn't factor in at all currently.

As far as I know, no 3rd party library app(Squire, Plex, XBMC) supports 3D. So how knows what will be supported in the future.

SC
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[Desktop] Intel mini - 2.16Ghz 2GB 60GB HDD - Newer miniStack v2 500GB - 10.5.8

[Media System] Intel i5 mini - 2.33Ghz 8GB 500GB HDD - 4 x Hitachi 2TB HDD in a qBOX-SF - 10.7.5 (Thanks Phil!)

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lcrooks
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 27, 2011 11:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Smithcraft wrote:
I would say that rendering 3D movies doesn't factor in at all currently.

As far as I know, no 3rd party library app(Squire, Plex, XBMC) supports 3D. So how knows what will be supported in the future.

SC


Would the dedicated graphics card provide better image quality of HD or blu ray movies (mkv) on my HD TV?

thanks
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Smithcraft
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 28, 2011 3:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It might, but I doubt it.

I get great results with my GMA 950 graphics, for HD playback on my CPU upgraded mini.

However, one thing that you have to be aware of, is the black level on a computer is full range (0-255), whereas a teevee expects to see a slightly lower range (16-255). So, sometimes blacks tend to be a bit more than they would be from a dedicated playback device.

SC
_________________
Grumpy old man of computing.

[Desktop] Intel mini - 2.16Ghz 2GB 60GB HDD - Newer miniStack v2 500GB - 10.5.8

[Media System] Intel i5 mini - 2.33Ghz 8GB 500GB HDD - 4 x Hitachi 2TB HDD in a qBOX-SF - 10.7.5 (Thanks Phil!)

Make sure it has pins!
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lcrooks
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 28, 2011 11:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Smithcraft wrote:
It might, but I doubt it.

I get great results with my GMA 950 graphics, for HD playback on my CPU upgraded mini.

However, one thing that you have to be aware of, is the black level on a computer is full range (0-255), whereas a teevee expects to see a slightly lower range (16-255). So, sometimes blacks tend to be a bit more than they would be from a dedicated playback device.

SC


i'm going to take an mkv on a usb and play it on the i5 graphics and i7 server minis in the store and see if there are any differences on the apple cinema display and what CPU usage is like - I'll let you guys know
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