Mac Mini as HTPC

a little ludwig goes a long way: mac mini as htpc. Ludwig loves his for HTPC use. I kind of agree it is the right form factor etc.
Only small point is that he does say, and for once the mac is the price leader — compare with windows-based systems that people are “building:
That’s true in the sense that it cost $150 (!!!) for Windows Media Edition, but I’m not sure I completely agree it is a price leader. You can get a comparable system including a monitor for $500 from Wal*Mart right now if you don’t buy Microsoft software.
Let’s compare machines at $1500 vs. $500. That being said, performance really isn’t the issue, convenience is.
| “Apple”: | “Hanselman’s”: | Comments |
| $499 | $1,500 | Enuf said |
| 1.25MHz G4 | 3.2GHz Prescott | “Benchmarks”: hard but probably 5-10x slower |
| 256MB PC2700 | 1GB PC4200 DDR2 | Probably 4x the bandwidth |
| 9200 32MB | X600 256MB | 8x memory and “<<30.4": vs. "82": | | 40GB | 250GB 7200RPM | 6x storage and "2.5x": faster | | DVD-ROM | 16x DL RW | Not only R/W but 16x dual layer | | None | 2xTuners, Remotes | Both HDTV and regular card | And of course there are all the USB, Firewire and 1GB Ethernet that comes standard on the high end machine. This is not to say the Mac Mini isn't great, it is just that a $1,500 machine is a screamer. A comparable machine BTW is probably more like the Epics that people are building for a little less. For instance the "Hush Mini ITX": is a 1GB VIA system that is probably performance comparable. I've been thinking about getting one. It is about $1,000 list price, so more expensive but is build to order which is nice. It is a niche European manufacturer, so you can of course build your own: | Apple | "Hush": | Comparison | | $499 | $1100 | Apple wins by 2x | | 1.2GHz G4 | 1GHz VIA | About the same speed | | DVD-ROM | DVD-ROM | Comparable | | 9200 32MB | VGA | Both are slow. can tuners | | 40GB | 80GB 7200 rpm | probably faster | | 256MB | 256MB | Both PC2700 | So Apple definitely has the leg up when it comes to a niche player just based on volume. Finally, I was curious to see just how cheap a PC can be regardless of cuteness factor. I'm actually quite amazed, here's the cheapest Wal*Mart PC that you can buy and it ain't bad spec-wise. They have a really cheap "$200": machine, but the comparable is: | Apple | "Wal*Mart": | Comparison | | 1.2GHz G4 | 2GHz Sempron | 3GHz equivalent so 5x faster | | 256MB PC2700 | 128MB PC2700 | half the price | | 40GB | 40GB 5400 | same probably | | DVD-ROM | CD-ROM | Add another $30 to get DVD-ROM | | 256MB | 256MB PC2700 | Same | | DVD-ROM | DVD-ROM | Same | | Ethernet/Modem | Ethernet/Modem | Same | | None | Card reader | 9-in-1 is included | | None | Mouse, Keyboard, Speakers | A complete system | | None | 17" CRT | that too! | So Wal*Mart is essentially selling a complete system that is essentially about 4-5x faster in terms of CPU plus it is a complete system. I thought this was an outlier until I realized the "Dell Dimension 3000": is essentially the same machine at $439 for CD or $459 for DVD-ROM with a Pentium 4 2.8GHz processor so its a name brand system as well. It also includes a CRT with it and is a complete system. So net, net they are beating Wal*Mart by about $50. Wow, amazing a complete and very nice system for $450 or so. That is PC economics all right. A probably a new recommendation for me at the low end.

2 responses to “Mac Mini as HTPC”

  1. Rich Avatar

    Yeah I agree, it is interesting to see how the style is so important though, I’m amazed at how prices have fallen so much that you can actually buy a $50 CRT. Wow. This whole market is fascinating to me and it seems to me that style leaders are going to cause lots of segmentation. I think Apple is coming back fast on desktops and notebooks based on this. So my prediction is that Apple share will double this year on Macs.

  2. John Ludwig Avatar

    the tuners/vidcap card is just bloated extra cost hardware — you should get all your video feeds over the ip connection via bittorrent. and really perf is not the issue in the consumer market — it is all about price and simplicity and style.

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