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Mac Mini - minimum requirements?


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Hi,

 

I've been learning a lot from this site, and I'm thinking about getting a mac mini, perhaps a used one. Are there any minimum requirements (Intel or PowerPC, processor speed, single or dual core, ram, optical drive, etc) that would be necessary for a mac mini that will be used only as a music server?

 

I was looking at the new ones and most of the improvements seem to be related to video output, so I'm not sure if it's worth the money to invest in a new one. I'm thinking it would be better to get an older one, and put the extra money into a better DAC.

 

Thanks,

 

Andrew

 

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Hi Andrew - I think it's a very wise approach to pick up a used Mini and allocate more money toward a nice DAC. Any Mini made in the last few years will work great. The one advantage of the new models is 802..1n wireless which you may or may not need. I recommend an Intel chip set over the old PowerPC Macs.

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

UPDATED: My Audio Systems -> https://audiophile.style/system

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I'm running iTunes on a 1.5GHz PPC Mini with 1GB RAM and a 250GB internal hard disc. I bought it as an Apple refurbished unit shortly after the Intel Mini was introduced: I upgraded the hard disc last year (easy enough, but a pizza wheel works better than a putty knife) and upgraded to Leopard. This is more than adequate. Apart from disc space (especially if you are using ALAC or AIFF) all Mini's ever made are fine as music servers. My server (named 'minim') runs headless - I control it using VNC, and/or a Keyspan remote - so I don't really care about graphics performance.

 

Max

 

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"I control it using VNC, and/or a Keyspan remote"

 

Thanks for the quick replies. I was thinking I could control the mini from my macbook pro using Screen Sharing, which is built into Leopard. Are there better ways? What is VNC and Keyspan remote?

 

Cheers,

 

Andrew

 

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Andrew,

 

I should have been a bit more specific. VNC (Virtual Network Computing) is a remote operation protocol for screen, mouse, and keyboard operation over a network, developed by the AT&T lab in Cambridge. It comes in two parts: a server program, which runs on the computer you are trying to control, and a client program, which runs on the computer in front of you. Tiger came with a built-in server, but no client (except, confusingly, for Tiger server). Leopard (I understand) has both. Apple Screen Sharing uses VNC for this part of its job (and has extensions for things like remote file copying & pasteboard sharing). I'm controlling the Mini, running Leopard, from a Powerbook, running Tiger. On Tiger I'm using 'Chicken of the VNC' as the client (no, really). All I had to do was enable Screen Sharing on the mini, and connect. Chris has posted a video showing how to do this.

The Keyspan Tuneview is a remote control device for iTunes that was introduced a couple of years ago. I believe they are still available, but I would not recommend buying one except second hand: its functions are very limited compared to the Apple remote app on an iPod Touch, or one of the web-based interfaces.

Incidentally, the remote control protocol used by iTunes remote has been reverse engineered and at least one client (for Android) has appeared. Expect more to arrive soon!

 

Cheers

 

Max

 

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From a few posts here, it sounds as if the PowerPC mini lacks optical on the headphone output. This may or may not be an issue depending on the type of DAC you're planning on using. Regards hard disk - not really an issue because it is dead easy to find an external one in a matching mini enclosure (Iomega make them, for one) and the two together look rather neat. And much easier than upgrading the internal drive.

 

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Correct: there is no optical out on the PPC Mini. I use an M-audio Transit USB solely to generate optical output, which then goes to my Quad CDP-2 for D-A conversion. This has the advantage I can use a cat 5 USB extender to allow the Mini to live in a cupboard upstairs (I put cat 5 cable in everywhere when I built the house extension a few years ago). So there is no possibility of fan or disc noise from the Mini!

 

Max

 

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