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Martin R. Bowling

I have been wanting to get a mac mini for this sole purpose and I have been a little worried about some of my 1080p HD content that was around 12 - 15 Mbps; but thanks to you I don't have to worry any longer. Thanks alot for providing what will surely be the final word on can a mac mini be used as a HD HTPC.


Really great post, thank you. I'd like to translate to spanish and post it in my HTPC blog.

John Kozubik

Please feel free to translate this and post it in your HTPC blog.


Thank you very much

Sean Kinahan

Just want to say thanks for an awesome read, and a clear concise explanation of the issues affecting mac owners, HTPC users, and HD content. I actually have a macbook, but from what I can gather, the hardware is pretty similar.


Most of the HD content I watch is 4.5 or 8.5 GB h.264 rips of Blu-Ray or HD DVD discs. These are extremely popular on usenet and on private torrents, I would say they are a benchmark. I have an e6300 CPU overclocked from 1.86 up to 2.8Ghz. I am on XP but maybe I will have to put osx86 on the box to find out for sure. My experience is vlc and mplayer using ffdshow simply cannot play the h.264 mkv files without drastic stuttering and loss of audio sync. Nor can they play the 16GB 1080i .ts files. So I am skeptical that a 1.8 or 2.0 Ghz laptop CPU in an Apple mac (mini/ iMac/ laptop, all use the same CPUs) can handle the 1080p that in my experience is a standard. But if you insist I will install osx86 on this hardware and run a test. My other concern is the prejudice in the open source community against coreAVC. Why do they demonize and fight this codec, is it evil because it costs $8? Are they just jealous because it is 2x as fast as any open source codec, but oh yeah, any day now ffdshow will magically double in performance and any day now there will be a 3Ghz mac mini, I am tired of the lies and rationalizations. Anyway, the linux port of mplayer made some accomodation for compiling in a way to integrate an outboard coreAVC codec. It would also allow older macs to play 1080p. I strongly hope this can be integrated into osxbmc.

John Kozubik

First, please note the appeal in the original post to be more specific about your clips. Don't tell us "it's 1080p" - tell us the bitrate as well.

BD and HD DVD rips are all over the place in terms of bitrate, as can be seen from this chart:


When you do your tests with osx86, please monitor your core usage. Release versions of VLC may still be single-core, which will lead (of course) to very poor performanc
e. OSXBMC is multi core aware, and I suggest you test with the latest version of that.

I have no comments on a CoreAVC conspiracy. If it could be made to work with OSXBMC, I would happily pay $8 for it. I will ask Elan if that is possible.

Let us know how your tests go, with specific bitrates and specific core usage measurements.


Running under the dreaded linux (as I still havent ported DVB-S/T device drivers to fbsd yet), I can playback 1080i MPEG 4 AVC content (from BBC HD, bitrate ~ 20Mbps) with mplayer with a few options:

mplayer -vo xv -ao alsa -a52drc 1 -cache 65536 -lavdopts threads=2 -vf pp=fd

CPU usage is high, but I dont get any dropped frames.

It also plays back those 'scene' 1080p rips (or samples thereof) just fine. This should be quite similar to a mac mini: 2.4 GHz core 2 duo, intel onboard graphics.


All normal if you using Plex http://www.plexapp.com/
or mplayer -sws 0 -lavdopts threads=2:fast=1:skiploopfilter=noref

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I have been a little worried about some of my 1080p HD content that was around 12 - 15 Mbps;Thanks alot for providing what will surely be the final word on can a mac mini be used as a HD HTPC.


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