Old Mac Mini as a basic media centre?

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  • Old Mac Mini as a basic media centre?
  • konabunny
    Member

    Does anyone know whether an old Mac Mini with the following spec would do as a media centre? It’s for someone that uses a computer at work all day so is tech-competent but doesn’t want to mess about with flashing Linux podcast distros through HTML red buttons. Would be used to sit under a telly and play SD quality video (from hard drive and over home network), stream music/webradio/podcasts and operate a VPN for some of the streaming stuff. In other words, nothing too dramatic – but would this be simply too old?

    Model: 1.42GHz PowerPC G4 Mac Mini
    Memory: 1GB DDR SDRAM
    Hard Drive: 40GB
    Disc Drive: CD-RW
    Graphics: ATI Radeon
    Ports: 2 x USB, 1 x Firewall
    LAN: Fast Ethernet 10/100
    Modem: 56k bps
    OS: OS X 10.3.9 included

    sharkbait
    Member

    I think so but the HD is a bit small and slow so attaching a big fast NAS would probably be required. Other than that it should be OK for SD playback.
    If she could get hold of an Intel model it would be a bit better.

    I spent some time looking at Mac Mini’s but for database server use and ended up buying two one of which was the same spec as above. It now sits there running a database of 4.5 millions records and it’s brilliant.

    konabunny
    Member

    sorry – should have added – will it also be good enough for TV on iPlayer, Youtube etc?

    zokes
    Member

    I have a PC of similar age running XP with EVERYTHING turned off that *just* copes with iPlayer in its current guise. iPlayer has grown into a bit of a hog, so I suspect it won’t much longer, which may be an indicator for your mac’s chances in the medium term.

    batfink
    Member

    Hi…. I had exactly the same setup as you are suggesting (albeit with the first gen intel mini – which I could let you have for a modest amount if you’re interested?).

    It would almost certainly handle what you’re after – mine only wobbled when it came to anything remotely HD. Playing music and web streaming were absolutely fine, as were SD video rips (encoded on handbrake). Although the actual ripping and encoding of these took an age – so maybe use your main PC for that and then send them to the mini.

    I now use an apple tv…. which was a better solution for me, mostly because the interface is far cleaner, and it offers all the functionality that I need.

    Take a look at Plex/xmbc – those get great review for doing wha you describe.

    Premier Icon phiiiiil
    Subscriber

    It’s powerful enough, but as it’s a PowerPC processor you’ll be very limited as to what you can run on it… Apple and everyone else stopped supporting PPC processors ages ago, so anything that needs new versions of stuff probably won’t work. BBC iPlayer needs Air or Flash, for example, and I’d be surprised if there were recent enough versions for the PPC…

    xiphon
    Member

    Do a clean install of OSX Snow Leopard, and it will be a handy little Apple computer. Media centre might be pushing it with the PPC chip!

    sharkbait
    Member

    Batfink let me know how much you want for the Mini. You’re right about the AppleTV, I really like ours but use the iPad to send iPlayer to the TV (via AppleTV).

    Konabunny – just tried iPlayer on my G4 and it was not brilliant and couldn’t keep up. It’s a 1.245Ghz processor with 1gig of RAM, so a little slower than your friends.

    Based on my experience probably not – I had a G4 Mac Mini of the spec you’ve got and had to retire it from being a daily use machine mainly because it struggled even playing You Tube video.
    You might find the fan revving up to hair dryer speed is a little distracting too 🙂

    xiphon
    Member

    If your old XP PC is struggling with iPlayer (h.264), I strongly recommend an ATI Radeon HD 4650 (AGP).

    Hardware h.264 decoding – breaths life into old PCs!

    sharkbait
    Member

    Yep, YouTube didn’t play well either. As a comparision I just tried the same YouTube and iPlayer files on our 1.66 Core Duo Mini and they played fine.
    So I’d say the G4 would be fine for music and SD quality files played off a HD but not for interweb streamed files.

    zokes
    Member

    If your old XP PC is struggling with iPlayer (h.264), I strongly recommend an ATI Radeon HD 4650 (AGP).

    It’s actually a laptop, but thanks for the advice. It rarely gets used these days, but I thought I’d just mention it here as it is the same vintage as the Mac in question, and about the same power.

    batfink
    Member

    Hi Sharkbait

    You were asking about my Mini that I could be looking to sell – let me get the full spec and take a few snaps of it tonight.

    From memory, it’s this one:

    1.5GHz Intel Core Solo/512MB SDRAM/60GB HD/Combo drive/Intel GMA950 GPU/AirPort & Bluetooth built-in/no modem

    but I’ve upgraded the ram to 2gb, and the hard drive to 320GB.

    Comes with snow leopard installed, and the snow leopard disk (which contains a full copy for re-install). I’ve got a full set of peripherals (Wired mac keyboard – the metal one, wireless mac mighty mouse, slightly tatty monitor etc) would you be interested in that too, or just the unit itself?

    konabunny
    Member

    Hmmm…bugger…I’d better think again. AppleTV would be the natural choice but it needs to run a VPN…

    Thanks for advice, all.

    batfink
    Member

    Take a look at running plex on it….. might do 90% of what you’re after, and if you’ve already got the machine gathering dust, you may as well give it a shot

    IA
    Member

    If anyone wants an intel mini cheap, make an offer:

    http://singletrackworld.com/forum/topic/ot-mac-mini-200

    sharkbait
    Member

    IA…. that’s not particularly cheap.

    xiphon
    Member

    I agree, that’s not cheap. But it’s a Mac, so it does have Apple Tax

    batfink
    Member

    yeah, would be looking for 120 ish for mine (posted), depending on the bits and pieces….. let me know

    batfink
    Member

    Apple Tax

    hahaha… which I happily pay for someting that much better* than a pc 😀

    *subjective I know

    IA
    Member

    make an offer:

    If you think it’s too much, as I say, let me know!

    And cheap compared to a cheap PC? No, but it’s a mac, not a pc, prices tend to be higher…*

    *cos of the tax, of course 😉

    Premier Icon brassneck
    Subscriber

    Plex needs an Intel processor in case you are considering that.

    Warrenpfo
    Member

    Interesting i might be interested in your Mac mini for a car pc i have in mind. Drop me a pm

    IA
    Member

    Interesting i might be interested in your Mac mini for a car pc i have in mind. Drop me a pm

    If that’s directed at me, it’s actually my Gf’s I listed for her – best if you email her directly. Or if I remember when I get home I’ll tell her to get in touch.

    CaptJon
    Member

    xiphon – Member
    Do a clean install of OSX Snow Leopard, and it will be a handy little Apple computer. Media centre might be pushing it with the PPC chip!

    Pushing it to run Snow Leopard on a PPC chip as they are unsupported 😉

    xiphon
    Member

    Ah yes, it was ‘Leopard’ which was the last one supported.

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