Using mac mini as plex server

As much as I wanted to love the new MacBook Air, the power and flexibility didn't hit enough cylinders to trigger my 'Must Buy' button. This led me to go with the Mac I've been hoping would be updated for over 6 years. I don't foresee the need for 10 Gbit networking in my future, so I opted for the default Gigabit ethernet card. The other three options did give me something to think about because not all choices are an easy financial decision.

I needed to find something in the middle.

There are two key points to note here. From Apple's processor selection notes:. The standard 3. The 3. My Mac Mini will not only be my desktop computer, but will also be the media server for our house.

The Mac mini

So I opted for the best processor I could get right now. This was probably the easiest choice to make. Going with a smaller hard drive could have been an option due to the four USB-C ports and how cheap external storage is right now. While the speeds of the built-in PCI drives are impressive, most of my file storage will be on external drives anyway - movie library, photo collection, etc. Heck, you could even set it up on a Raspberry Pi. If you have a large media collection, you may want to use a Mac as a dedicated device to run Plex.

The Mac mini is a perfect candidate for this. If you do have a lot of videos that need transcoding, a NAS might not be a good fit for Plex. You can, of course, use that Mac mini for other things, such as using it as a file server, or for Time Machine backups. The Mac mini is the cheapest Mac you can buy. Its small form factor and quiet operation makes it easy to integrate into a home entertainment system or use as a server stashed away in a corner.

But the entry-level model with a 1.

Rationalizing my choices for the Mac Mini

You might not need to spend that much. The 2. It has a Thunderbolt port, but it does not have USB 3. You can probably find a similar model used for a few hundred dollars. There's no 3D acceleration so window management can be a slideshow at times, but for iOS development or typical server admin tasks, I think it's fine. You'll definitely have a better experience in terms of performance with a Hackintosh, but in terms of the software experience, nothing beats a VM other than a real Mac. I didn't have to do anything special to get iCloud, iMessages or Handoff to work. Like Tsur pointed out, you have to invest in an external array and then populate it with disk.

I used a FireWire-enabled Drobo and it was horrifying awful. Performance was just abysmal on the mini with it. I cannot overstate how much better the NAS was. Plug and play and forget about it.


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It's just so flexible. I realize this is Ars, but I can't see the allure in Hackintosh and the nightmare of sourcing the parts, building, configuring, and praying every update doesn't break the thing.

New mac mini as a Plex server?

Maybe I'm lazy, but aside from 5 minutes of setting up the NAS when you unbox it, you never have to worry about it again. The Mac mini would do the job very well but at this age, I'd worry about it dying on you in the next year I know I'm seeing questionable behavior. With the Lacie, I use it for Time Machine backups. I'm surprised by your experience with Drobo on the Mini. At this point I'm definitely picking up the old Mini at work tomorrow, but I still don't have external storage picked out. So far I've figured that performance of the external disk wouldn't be much of an issue for media library storage and backup, and that an external RAID box would be a waste of money—I'm not editing uncompressed 4k here!

Maybe I should look at something like the DS14 though… with 1 drive to start, it might be in the budget in addition to the Mini that I can still use for iTunes, Handbrake minus the malware? Ditto your comments about the Hackintosh headache. I appreciate that some people have made a good go of it, but I'm at a point in my life where I need as little complexity as possible, not researching every OS update for issues with my hardware.

I'm not. Drobo's are great until they're not. Then they become evil little devils that hold your data hostage. I haven't heard much about the Drobo, but maybe direct-attached storage in general wouldn't hve to suck on a Mini…. Regarding MacMini specifically, I have a quad-core 2. I also have several and Mac Minis doing 'server' type duties, and never have issues.

I say go for the MacMini if you indeed to run macOS specific software They are great, but you may not need the quad-core Ivy i7. Why are we talking about Thunderbolt and expensive arrays for a home server? My mini has its external storage connected by old-school FireWire I'm using the server to handle Time Machine, other file sharing, media streaming, a few random odd-hour tasks that barely require any bandwidth, and Back to my Mac.


  • Am I crazy to consider a 2012 Mini for home server?!
  • Rationalizing my choices for the Mac Mini.
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  • Cheap, daisy-chained FireWire devices are more than good enough. If it were a mini, USB 3 would be even faster, cheaper, and easier. Also, since I diagnosed some bad RAM several years ago and got rid of it by upgrading the machine to 16 GB of new RAM my mini has been totally rock-solid and is showing no signs of aging or reliability issues.

    Another "late-to-the-game" comment Likewise, the hard drive is a bit harder to access and upgrade in the models -- though, not technically impossible. I actually bought a Core i5 Mini at my local Apple Retail Store not long after they introduced them -- and instantly had buyers remorse over the cramped GB hard drive. The Quad-core processor is indeed noticeably faster at pretty much everything, than was the Core i5. That Mini still serves me quite well today, as the core of my home theater, and I'm pretty happy with it.

    Maybe it'll eventually be replaced by a proper xMac. Am I crazy to consider a Mini for home server? Tsur wrote:. Last edited by Mark A. Matey-O wrote:. Double post.

    Why I bought a Mac mini in 2018

    Ars Praefectus et Subscriptor. Chiming in for a NAS. Abulia wrote:. Jump to: Smack-Fu Master, in training Registered: Jul 14, Posts: Wed May 03, 1: Colorado Registered: Jul 26, Posts: Wed May 03, 2: Wed May 03, 3: A hollow voice says "plugh. Apr 19, Posts: Wed May 03, 5: May 22, Posts: Wed May 03, 6: Jan 30, Posts: Wed May 03, 7: Jan 11, Posts: Wed May 03, 8: Tsur Ars Praefectus Registered: Jun 9, Posts: Wed May 03, 9: Maryland Registered: Aug 25, Posts: May 10, Posts: Wed May 03, Feb 19, Posts: Sep 14, Posts: Thu May 04, Thu May 04, 1: Thu May 04, 3: Dec 28, Posts: Thu May 04, 9: