For weeks now, i’ve been researching upgrading my Home Theater Media Center experience. I’ve been running XBMC on a 2012 Mac Mini for over two years, and the whole set up was starting to feel a little sluggish. Granted, I have over 3000 movies and around 200 TV Series (over 5000 episode collectively) to manage. This takes a toll on a piece of software that has to constantly go online and check content scrapers (websites with movie/tv show metadata) and keep track / maintain information about each file. I have a couple of 4 Terabyte G-RAID media drives that store all my content. The Mac Mini has been a great aggregator for local content. But it’s been a while, and maybe media center technology had evolved over time. So I wanted to see what else was out there.
In months of research, there seemed a common thread of powerful, yet inexpensive Android miniPC’s. Low cost computers with great processors and memory that may not be able to compete with gaming rigs, but were powerful enough to run media centers. I studied a few cool boxes and settled on the Minix X8-H miniPC. I came with custom Android build of XBMC and was powerful enough to run 4K video. I was in love. Not for the 4K video. I’m not there yet. It was the great price of $160. This seemed perfect. I was ready to pull the trigger. I just had one nagging question..
All of my content i housed on Mac-formatted drives (NTFS+). Keeping in mind that these were the largest storage devices I own, and I had no way to back up my movies and tv shows so I could reformat the drives.. I needed to know if the Minix could read/write to Mac-formatted media. I scoured the Android-verse and asked a dozen Android-specific website the question and got little to no responses.
In the end, I found out that it wouldn’t read the format, but there was a software app that I could install on the box to allow this to happen. I’ve dealt with this problem (getting Windows to read Mac drives) with a lot of complications in the middle. So my excitement started to waver.
So I decided to think of alternatives of replacing the Mac Mini. Checking the processor speed and specs of my mini Mac, I realized it’s not really out of date. Just a little underpowered. So I looked online and saw that RAM upgrades for it were relatively cheap. It currently had 2GB’s of RAM. A 8GB upgraded ran around $88 (half the price of the Android price). So… I got the RAM. I got it in couple days. Installation took less than 5 minutes (Apple made the Mac Mini highly accessible). Turned it back on and we were back in business.. no headache of re-setting up XBMC.. no format access issues.. Just a smoother XBMC experience.
I’m still looking at upgrading some time in the near future. But right now the RAM upgrade will keep my collection pretty snappy and I’ll have more time to look at alternative solutions that’ll work inside of my Mac digital ecosystem.
Share the post "Media Center Update! Minix Neo X8-H: Out Mac Mini RAM Upgrade: In"