• New Patreon Tier and Early Access Content available. If you would like to support AVForums, we now have a new Patreon Tier which gives you access to selected news, reviews and articles before they are available to the public. Read more.

Mac Mini or SFF HTPC


Established Member
as title really was thinking of building a MCE 2005 based sff machine probably using the aopen xc-cube mz855 and a pentium m chip.

however after pricing it up case approx 200 chip 150 hd 70 gfx 100 burner 50 mce 75 memory 60 thats coming to 700ish :eek:

a mac mini can come in at 450 with bluetooth and wireless lan built in .

bearing in mind this is for a bedroom setup to hook up to a 26" samsung lcd for dvds and playing HD movies am i wasting my time with a HTPC

is there a similar frontend to mce for macs ?

anyone have any experience of running HD stuff on them i seem to remember reading once that they couldnt play HD but cant find anything to back it up now that im considering one .

any ideas folks ?

jon stallard

If comparing a HTPC and a mac mini then at the moment, the mac mini is second best in most ways. I bought one to see if this sexy little box could compete and it doesn't.

That said, there is a promise of a similar MCE front end and if that does happen sooner rather than later, I'd say the tables could be turned. I've no idea about playback of HD stuff, there is a HD software package that comes with them though.... haven't played with it personally.

You say you want to use it in the bedroom? I've had a HTPC in my bedroom, you can hardly hear it in the living room but in the bedroom, it became noisy. And big. What you get with a mac mini is style on a miniature scale and quietness.

Then there's the software. Like many on this forum, I've used just about every Microsoft operating system, both for intensive cad use at work and lighter home stuff over the years. Power up a mac mini without the slightest knowledge of Apple software and you'll be confronted with logical thinking and stunning presentation. Plus of course, the mac os will not allow anyone to write to it unless you say so. A fairly simple rule you'd have thought but one that clearly escaped the Microsoft mob, hence the plethora of anti virus stuff.

So on the face of it, the mac mini seems to have lost out. Scratch the surface though and you wont be disappointed - so long as apple come up with a MCE alternative - and that is the problem right now as far as a direct comparison is concerned.

Thing is (I'm repeating myself here) you HAVE to use a microsoft machine. With a mac, you WANT to use it. It's a subtle difference but one that those who have not tried a mac may not appreciate, IMHO of course..

I'm moving house soon, I have the opportunity to have an entertainment computer in virtually every room. My mac mini wont be going in the bedroom though, that won't have a PC, just a 27" LCD, component DVD and sony freeview box (all very quiet you see but if there was a decent front end with a remote, that would be different) but the mac mini will be going in the kitchen. I can tuck it away, bring out the bluetooth keyboard and mouse when required (you have to see them to appreciate them) and feed a 19" wall mount Hyundai DVI monitor with browser, email, itunes and TV. In that environment, you don't need a remote. Add a discrete and powered set of speakers and sub, it'll be impressive to say the least. You may ask who likes to spend the evening in their kitchen? Those that drink and smoke will know exactly what I mean:)

I'm not sure I've answered your query, I've rambled on a bit so apologise for that. Buy a mac mini and see for yourself.



Established Member
I was looking at this a while back, but had some bits lying around so it was far cheaper to knock up a Shuttle and use that instead. I also needed something that could handle HD.
The last time i looked, CentreStage (a free mac MCE like frontend) wasnt finished, but looked very promising. It now seems to have moved on a lot since then. http://centerstageproject.com/index.php


Standard Member
No doubt Apple will tackle this market in the future, but for now the Mac Mini simply isn't suitable, which is a shame because it looks great. Secondly the software available for MCE / Windows is considerably more vast.

Go with the HTPC for now, but no doubt Apple wont be far behind with an MCE killer....

The latest video from AVForums

SVS Prime Wireless Pro Powered Speakers - Review Coming Soon
Subscribe to our YouTube channel
Support AVForums with Patreon

Top Bottom