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  1. #1

    Default HTPC - Mac Mini G4 vs 1,1 Core2Duo ?

    G'day,

    For the past few years or so I've been using a 1.5GHz G4 Mac Mini with 512MB of RAM as my HTPC. It's running data off my MyCloud via Ethernet Over Power, as WiFi just wasn't cutting it.

    Whilst the Mini plays "standard definition" quality videos quite well, overall it is pretty laggy to use, especially when I use it as a web browser. And whilst I don't have a full HD TV at the moment, I would like to be able to make use of what pixels the tv does have, ie I'm sure a 1920 x 1080 image displayed on a 1366 x 768 screen will look better than a 720x404 image on a 1366 x 768 screen...

    Problem is, the Mini just doesn't hack it. It's not bandwidth, it's processor/graphics card.

    So, I was looking at upgrading... But as always, my budget is sub$100. Which basically means snagging a REALLY good deal on eBay...

    Thus my question...

    How much of an improvement is the first Intel Mac Mini over the 1.5GHz G4 Mac Mini? I see on Geekbench that the Intel score is around 3x better than the G4... but also note that the Intel version has integrated graphics... thus I wasn't entirely sure what benefits I would see in the "small" jump from the last G4 to the first Intel...?

    Any advice/experience?

    Thanks

    cosmic
    MacTalk - the bianca's of geekdom
    thecosmichobo - as seen on YouTube - "How Doomsday Should Have Ended!" "Bigger on the Inside?" "The Doctor Falls - With Hartnell!" and lots more!

  2. #2

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    Default

    I have a 2010 Mini server (2.66GHz) Core 2 Duo.
    It handles 1080i content recorded by eyetv fine.

    1080p from iTunes pegs both cores at 100%. It seems to drop frames with this type of content to keep up. 720p versions of the same thing from iTunes and it's fine.

    My brother in law had a 1,1 Intel mini 1.66 Core Duo. He upgraded because it was struggling with 1080i from Eyetv.

    From this experience I would say that NO a 1,1 won't handle it.

    I'm not up to date on HD decoders, but doesn't the crystal HD card that they drop in the first gen Apple TV work in a 1,1 Mac Mini?

    The other thing you can try is to re encode everything to be iTunes ready and get a refurb ATV3 for $79 and use it to play your context.
    Something about Jimby.

  3. #3

    Default

    G'day leon!

    Mmm, was worried that might be the case. I know my 1.8GHz dual PowerMac G5 couldn't handle full HD either... so not real surprising I guess that a Mini can't...

    Hadn't thought of the Crystal card... Didn't know it worked in Macs as well as the AppleTV. I'd look at getting one to test in my Gen1 AppleTV, but I'm about to loan it to my brother to see if he can handle using it instead of destroying DVDs that he uses as coasters... (He has Downs Syndrome... recently diagnosed with dementia... Hoping he'll be able to cope with a fairly simple list of menus with pictures to choose what he wants to watch)

    I'm not real keen on re-encoding everything for iTunes... Most the content I own is not iTunes savvy, so it's a big undertaking. I guess a dint in my plan though, is the fact that most of that existing archive IS only standard def... and re-encoding them as HD wont really achieve much anyway, so it'll only be "new" things that I'll then be able to procure in HD that will benefit from an upgrade...

    Think I'll go research the Crystal option though... Sounds interesting.

    Thanks!

    cosmic

    ---

    Well, firstly, the Crystal Card is a no-go for my G4 Mini, which was the first thing I wondered about... Possibly might fit via the wireless card slot, but not compatible. So upgrading my existing rig isn't going to cut it.

    Second - just reading this article on everymac, it appears the 1.83 Core2Duo (ie top end Mac Mini 1,1) should be fine with 720p "HD" (1280*720)... though not 1920*1080. This might thus be a good medium point, given that my TV is only 1368x768...
    Last edited by cosmichobo; 1st March 2015 at 07:03 PM.
    MacTalk - the bianca's of geekdom
    thecosmichobo - as seen on YouTube - "How Doomsday Should Have Ended!" "Bigger on the Inside?" "The Doctor Falls - With Hartnell!" and lots more!

  4. #4

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    Benefit of the early intel mac minis is that the cPU can be replaced with something gruntier.

    iFixit: https://www.ifixit.com/Guide/Mac+min...placement/1178
    xlr8yourmac: 2006-08 Mac Mini CPU Upgrades, Firmware and OS X Lion Updates

    buy/acquire now, upgrade RAM, get cheap cpu, maybe SSD later. Not much you can do about the graphics.

  5. #5

    Default

    Mmm... Tough decision...

    If I can score the 1.83 Core2Duo for under $100, it'll doubtless at least be an improvement on my current model, and open the doors to 720p video, which would be a nice upgrade...

    The CPU/etc upgrades would likely not be of much importance if they aren't going to improve the graphics side of things... Though I admit, being limited to 10.6 did concern me a little. (Of course, I'm stuck with 10.5.8 now on the G4!)

    Think I better hook the MacBookPro up to the TV and view some 720p footage to make a proper decision.
    MacTalk - the bianca's of geekdom
    thecosmichobo - as seen on YouTube - "How Doomsday Should Have Ended!" "Bigger on the Inside?" "The Doctor Falls - With Hartnell!" and lots more!

  6. #6

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    Default

    How much is a PPC mini worth these days? Flog that first and put the money towards a newer Intel model.

  7. #7

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    Try getting a 2008-2010 ish Macbook (not one with GMA graphics) with a broken screen and no battery or something. I got a 2008 unibody Macbook for well under $100 and with a cheap SSD it would do you well I'd think.
    Plus, IIci, IIsi, LC, LCII, LC III, CC, LC475, LC630, Centris650, 6100, 8100, 5260, 7220, 7600. PB: 100, 150, 160, 165, 540, 190, 5300, 1400. Lombard, iMacG3, iBookG3, iBookG4, PBG4, eMac, iMac G4, PMG4, MiniG4, iMacG5

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chundermuffin View Post
    How much is a PPC mini worth these days? Flog that first and put the money towards a newer Intel model.
    Target the sale of that final revision 1.5Ghz Mac Mini to Amiga enthusiasts on eBay to run MorphOS - you'll get at least $100 for it. Then buy a Core2Duo Mini for $50 more. I'm using a second revision 2.0Ghz C2D Mini for Plex, it does everything I want it to, fast and I've never even thought about upgrading.

  9. #9

    Default

    Just picked up one of the 2007 Core2Duo 2GHz Mini's off eBay... 2GB RAM, 120GB hdd... $66.

    Hopefully will be a suitable replacement for old "Marge"... (She can go live on the shelf with "Homer" til I find a use/ebay auction for them both.)

    Maybe I should start a new thread on Appletalk... :}
    MacTalk - the bianca's of geekdom
    thecosmichobo - as seen on YouTube - "How Doomsday Should Have Ended!" "Bigger on the Inside?" "The Doctor Falls - With Hartnell!" and lots more!

  10. #10

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    Default HTPC - Mac Mini G4 vs 1,1 Core2Duo ?

    Nice score. The 1.5GHz PPC is worth more than that. How prices have dropped.

    Be wary of worn out Combo/SuperDrive. Test it with a disc that isn't valuable to you.
    Something about Jimby.

  11. #11

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    Let us know how it goes.

    Another option you could have maybe considered is a second hand PlayStation 3. They can be okay media players. Plus have some of the benefits of having iView and 7Plus etc available. Should be able to score one of them pretty close to $100.

    Or, dare I suggest it, a cheap old PC. I sold off a PC with a 3ghz Core2Duo and 8gb of RAM for $100 earlier this year. Would easily be able to handle 1080 playback.
    ** iMac 3.4ghz QCi7, 16GB RAM, 4TB SSHD, 500GB SSD, 6970 2GB **
    ** MacBook Pro. C2D 2.2ghz, 4gb RAM, 480gb SSD, 8600M GT 128mb **
    ** G5 Dual 2ghz, 4gb RAM, 750gb HD, 6800 Ultra DDL 256mb & XServe RAID 7TB**

  12. #12

    Default

    Thanks for the suggestions/advice, guys

    As my current TV can't actually reach full HD, 720p will suit me fine for now... and with #3 due in about a month, even a $3.5k tax return hasn't tempted me to go look at new TVs...

    Will be interesting to see anyway how it performs, and as it came in "under budget", I might look at spending a bit more on it to boost the RAM etc if needed... Not to mention selling off Homer and Marge for hopefully a few hundred.
    MacTalk - the bianca's of geekdom
    thecosmichobo - as seen on YouTube - "How Doomsday Should Have Ended!" "Bigger on the Inside?" "The Doctor Falls - With Hartnell!" and lots more!

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by cosmichobo View Post
    Thanks for the suggestions/advice, guys

    As my current TV can't actually reach full HD, 720p will suit me fine for now... and with #3 due in about a month, even a $3.5k tax return hasn't tempted me to go look at new TVs...

    Will be interesting to see anyway how it performs, and as it came in "under budget", I might look at spending a bit more on it to boost the RAM etc if needed... Not to mention selling off Homer and Marge for hopefully a few hundred.
    Congrats on #3.
    As an HTPC any more than 2GB RAM is a waste.
    I'm assuming you'll run 10.6 on it and leave it at that?

    I have a 2010 Mac Mini server which I've left at 10.6.8
    It's extremely fast and resource low.
    Something about Jimby.

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by cosmichobo View Post
    Thanks for the suggestions/advice, guys

    As my current TV can't actually reach full HD, 720p will suit me fine for now... and with #3 due in about a month, even a $3.5k tax return hasn't tempted me to go look at new TVs...

    Will be interesting to see anyway how it performs, and as it came in "under budget", I might look at spending a bit more on it to boost the RAM etc if needed... Not to mention selling off Homer and Marge for hopefully a few hundred.
    Congratulations
    Plus, IIci, IIsi, LC, LCII, LC III, CC, LC475, LC630, Centris650, 6100, 8100, 5260, 7220, 7600. PB: 100, 150, 160, 165, 540, 190, 5300, 1400. Lombard, iMacG3, iBookG3, iBookG4, PBG4, eMac, iMac G4, PMG4, MiniG4, iMacG5

  15. #15

    Default

    Thank-you

    Yes, I expect I'll run the OS as low as possible... Only thing that might make me want to go higher is if AirPlay can be made to work between the Mini and iPhone/s etc... but from the 2 secs research I just did, I see that's not really possible, so - yep, 10.6.x.
    MacTalk - the bianca's of geekdom
    thecosmichobo - as seen on YouTube - "How Doomsday Should Have Ended!" "Bigger on the Inside?" "The Doctor Falls - With Hartnell!" and lots more!

  16. #16

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    There are plenty of airplay server apps you can get if you want airplay on the Mac. I've used two different ones but can't remember what they are right now :P

    I still have a 2010 Mini for the kids TV and a 2012ish model for mine. I'm not even sure what version of OSX they are running at the moment (I'm getting better at just leaving things alone that work).

    To be fair they are probably overkill for video playback (since they really don't do anything else) and I'd grab a new AppleTV in a heartbeat if they supported Kodi.
    Many Shiny Toys with Apple Logos | Some Microsoft Toys too
    If it has an engine or a heartbeat it's going to cost you.
    Drive a VW?

  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by The_Hawk View Post
    There are plenty of airplay server apps you can get if you want airplay on the Mac. I've used two different ones but can't remember what they are right now :P
    AirParrot is one of them from memory. A quick google search should give you an idea.
    ** iMac 3.4ghz QCi7, 16GB RAM, 4TB SSHD, 500GB SSD, 6970 2GB **
    ** MacBook Pro. C2D 2.2ghz, 4gb RAM, 480gb SSD, 8600M GT 128mb **
    ** G5 Dual 2ghz, 4gb RAM, 750gb HD, 6800 Ultra DDL 256mb & XServe RAID 7TB**

  18. #18

    Default

    Being a good dad... Saying yes to your son playing Skylanders Trap Team when you've just walked in the door with your first new(old) Mac in 2 years, that needs to be plugged into the TV to play with...

    The guy included his (flat style) Apple keyboard, though noted it was otherwise going in the trash. That's ok, I think to myself - hopefully it's still usable, and better than the one I paid $40 for on eBay, that at first had 1 faulty key, then 2, then 10, then 20... (got a refund eventually, thanks eBay - but back to using the clunky early 00's clear keyboard.)

    But upon inspection, the keyboard is not only very dirty, also French... Mr Clever thinks - no prob, just move some key caps to the QWERTY layout, but - the keys aren't just in different locations - some non-letter keys are also different sizes - like shorter SHIFT keys, and a main return key shaped like on an old fashioned typewriter! Also has a sticky D key and needs-a-slow-press-to-register Spacebar... so, I think my hunt for a new/ish cheap genuine Apple keyboard shall continue...

    The Mini itself looks not too bad. He's given me the user/password so obviously left a system on it. Have acquired 10.6.3 (plus .8 combo update), so will do a clean install anyway. He says it's been upgraded to 2.5GB of RAM, so should be fine there. He did say that he's never used the DVD, so can't guarantee it will work. Offered to back out of the deal if I wasn't happy with that fact, but as it has optical audio out, I think I'll set up my DVD/sound system... and, I've been thinking of ripping all my (and the kids) DVDs now I have lots of cloud space...

    Anyways... think it's time to commit to AppleTalk... Might head over there and start a new thread about my new baby... (the Mini, that is, for now) And see if it feels at all like Cheers...
    MacTalk - the bianca's of geekdom
    thecosmichobo - as seen on YouTube - "How Doomsday Should Have Ended!" "Bigger on the Inside?" "The Doctor Falls - With Hartnell!" and lots more!

  19. #19

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    Cover the keyboard in 100 ethanol. Let is soak for 10-20 seconds then pour it off and tap it upside down.
    All the funk comes out. Takes 1-2 days to fully dry.
    Something about Jimby.

  20. #20

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    I've got an Early 2006 Intel iMac that I use as a HTPC, found it on the side of the road with a smashed LCD, after cleaning it up and sticking a 1.66 Ghz Core 2 Duo, 3GB of RAM and an 802.11n AirPort card in it it makes a fine HTPC, running 10.6.8. With Plex it handles 1080p content streamed from my home server without any issues.
    Good. Fast. Cheap. Pick two...

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