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Question Is there a use for an old Mac Mini Server in my AV Setup?

simon1967

Active Member
I’m in the process of updating my 10 year old system and my thoughts have turned to content. I used to have a Mac server that I ripped my dvds but that went to Mac heaven many years ago.

I’m looking to get something similar for streaming and storage so trying to update my knowledge base on things like Kodi boxes, nvidia shield etc and find all very confusing.

Someone suggested using a Mac and setting it up as an Apple TV so I stayed looking at what kit I had lying around. I remembered I had some old Mac mini’s gathering dust somewhere and it appears they are not Mac mini’s but Mac mini servers. I’ve got two of these:
Mac mini "Core i7" 2.0 (Mid-2011/Server) Specs (Mid-2011, MC936LL/A, Macmini5,3, A1347, 2442): EveryMac.com
As you can see, they are quite old but they do have hdmi ports on the back? I would absolutely love to avoid having to use pc stuff as I know nothing about that world whatsoever so if my Mac stuff can be put to good use, that would be great.

So, is there a use for these on my AV setup and what would I be able to do with them. I’ve also got a couple of 2nd gen ATVs as well as loads of external hard discs.

Thx
 

next010

Distinguished Member
I’m in the process of updating my 10 year old system and my thoughts have turned to content. I used to have a Mac server that I ripped my dvds but that went to Mac heaven many years ago.

I’m looking to get something similar for streaming and storage so trying to update my knowledge base on things like Kodi boxes, nvidia shield etc and find all very confusing.

Someone suggested using a Mac and setting it up as an Apple TV so I stayed looking at what kit I had lying around. I remembered I had some old Mac mini’s gathering dust somewhere and it appears they are not Mac mini’s but Mac mini servers. I’ve got two of these:
Mac mini "Core i7" 2.0 (Mid-2011/Server) Specs (Mid-2011, MC936LL/A, Macmini5,3, A1347, 2442): EveryMac.com
As you can see, they are quite old but they do have hdmi ports on the back? I would absolutely love to avoid having to use pc stuff as I know nothing about that world whatsoever so if my Mac stuff can be put to good use, that would be great.

So, is there a use for these on my AV setup and what would I be able to do with them. I’ve also got a couple of 2nd gen ATVs as well as loads of external hard discs.

Thx
Best use case is get USB hub and plug USB HDD drives into it one of the Mac servers. Copy all your media onto those.

Plex and Emby are both media server & client systems, you can install the server on the Mac, add content to it's library and stream that to other clients that have their apps present. They can also transcode media in real time given enough CPU power.

So for example have Plex server running on the Mac now you can install Plex clients of your phone, some TV's have built in clients in their app stores.

Honestly I would replace the old ATV's with the latest model that has app store, instead of using Plex client install InFuse on the new ATV which can connect to the Plex server, this has the added benefit of decoding all media on the ATV instead of making the server CPU transcode the media.

The old ATV's are not much use, you can purchase a jailbreak but it's not worth it as it's too old, sell them and buy ATV gen 4 or gen 5 (4K) for app store.

As for the second Mac mini server you can use that as playback if you want, download a plex client for it if your version of OSX on server is still supported, Kodi can also connect to Plex servers too via it's own plugin.

you can also use Plex app on phone to act as remote for other plex clients, if you want a physical remote flirc is best option to use any type.
 

simon1967

Active Member
Best use case is get USB hub and plug USB HDD drives into it one of the Mac servers. Copy all your media onto those.
Many thanks for your reply. Great news I can potentially stay in the Mac ecosystem as I get cold turkey whenever faced with different Os’s.

So, I simply attach additional hard disks as externals to the Mac mini server? If that’s the case, could I make use of this? It’s a Pegasus R4 RAID, which is sitting here doing very little. I could use thunderbolt to connect the two. I’m not sure how big the internal drives are but I could obviously update these with larger ones if necessary.

Plex and Emby are both media server & client systems, you can install the server on the Mac, add content to it's library and stream that to other clients that have their apps present. They can also transcode media in real time given enough CPU power.

So for example have Plex server running on the Mac now you can install Plex clients of your phone, some TV's have built in clients in their app stores.
Still getting to grips with all the terminologies but I understand that Plex is the interface that you use to navigate through your files ie it’ll be like Apple TV / sky q, where you can select films by album art etc. Is that right?

So once this is software / App is installed on the Mac, where /what do I connect the Mac to? HDMI cable to the Denon amp? then I just select it like I would any other media through my amp?

Honestly I would replace the old ATV's with the latest model that has app store, instead of using Plex client install InFuse on the new ATV which can connect to the Plex server, this has the added benefit of decoding all media on the ATV instead of making the server CPU transcode the media.

The old ATV's are not much use, you can purchase a jailbreak but it's not worth it as it's too old, sell them and buy ATV gen 4 or gen 5 (4K) for app store..
I didn’t expect them to be of any use so they’ll be on eBay this weekend.

As for the second Mac mini server you can use that as playback if you want, download a plex client for it if your version of OSX on server is still supported, Kodi can also connect to Plex servers too via it's own plugin.

you can also use Plex app on phone to act as remote for other plex clients, if you want a physical remote flirc is best option to use any type.
Don’t understand this part as playback. I assumed that the main server with attached storage disks is accessible through my amp so I thought this would be for playback. Unless I’ve misunderstood and one is a server (like a normal server) and then the 2nd mini is used and connected to my amp?

Really sorry for soooo many questions and a million thanks for your help.
 

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next010

Distinguished Member
Many thanks for your reply. Great news I can potentially stay in the Mac ecosystem as I get cold turkey whenever faced with different Os’s.

So, I simply attach additional hard disks as externals to the Mac mini server? If that’s the case, could I make use of this? It’s a Pegasus R4 RAID, which is sitting here doing very little. I could use thunderbolt to connect the two. I’m not sure how big the internal drives are but I could obviously update these with larger ones if necessary.
Yes you can use the USB RAID storage device, it may have various modes built into it.
* Standalone just use each disk separately.
* JBOD just a bunch of disk combines all drives into one large pool with no extras.
* RAID 0 combines all drives into one large pool for extra performance.
* RAID 1 makes a mirror of one drive, so you could with 4 drives made up of 1 drive with 3 mirrors or 2 drives with 1 mirror each.
* RAID 5 combines all the drives into one pool with a single drive acting as fault tolerance, so even if one drive breaks you can repair the pool without loosing all your data.

With the exception of JBOD RAID systems at least basic ones often require the HDD's to be the same size. If considering RAID would go with RAID 1 unless you expect your movie collection to demand all 4 drives, DVD's are tiny averaging only 6GB, Blu-ray's average around 25GB, HDD's are huge and cheap these days unless you have older smaller ones spare. In which case go with RAID 5 if it is supported.

Servers like Plex do not care were the data is stored, you make a Movies library then simply add any folders holding movies to that category, so you can have multiple movie folders across multiple drives but in Plex library they all appear as one single movie category.

Still getting to grips with all the terminologies but I understand that Plex is the interface that you use to navigate through your files ie it’ll be like Apple TV / sky q, where you can select films by album art etc. Is that right?
Correct Plex is both the server and the client (app), once you install the Plex server you make sections for TV, Movies, Photos etc then add any folder you want to those sections, Plex scans them then looks up online for artwork, data etc then adds it.

The Plex client connects to the server then reads that data and can display it playing the media also. Install the Plex app client from the Plex website, login to your Plex account to tie it to the Plex server and thats usually all there is to it.

Plex have a install guide here, it's looks complex but it isn't, there is also a helpful beginners video in plain English explaining everything here.

So once this is software / App is installed on the Mac, where /what do I connect the Mac to? HDMI cable to the Denon amp? then I just select it like I would any other media through my amp?
The HDMI of the Mac should be connected to the TV or your Denon HDMI input, keep in mind you will still need to use a keyboard/mouse or iOS Plex app to control Plex on the Mac.

I'm not sure on the audio output capabilities of OSX or the Mini server, it may be limited to stereo only so plugging the Mac into the Denon may or may not get you 5.1 audio.


I didn’t expect them to be of any use so they’ll be on eBay this weekend.


Don’t understand this part as playback. I assumed that the main server with attached storage disks is accessible through my amp so I thought this would be for playback. Unless I’ve misunderstood and one is a server (like a normal server) and then the 2nd mini is used and connected to my amp?

Really sorry for soooo many questions and a million thanks for your help.
Yes you could use both, one as server and one as playback machine.

You dont really want multiple HDD's making noise in your main TV room.

Install Plex server one Mac to use as server in another room were HDD drives wont be a distraction then use the other machine as the playback one. Plex will stream the content stored over your network.

If your TV is from past 5 years and is Samsung, LG, Roku (TCL) or AndroidTV (Sony,Philips) based it should have a Plex client in its app store, you can use the media player that way too, no need for the second Mac unless you prefer it.
 
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