Hey there Mr. Intel inside

miniOver a year ago we first started drooling over the Mac mini and its possibilities as a dedicated HTPC. Well guess what, today Apple announced “The new Mac mini”. Some notable additions to the new mini are: 1.5GHz or 1.66GHz Intel Core Duo processor, Apple Remote with Front Row, Up to 2GB of memory, Intel GMA950 graphics processor, up to a 120GB hard drive and at long last a digital optical out!

This update to our little friend pushes us even closer to the holy grail (according to Apple) of “1.83 GHz Intel Core Duo or faster for 720p HD playback” but unfortunately the new mini does fall a little short, coming in at 1.66GHz for the faster model. I suppose its possible that Quicktime 7 could be further tweaked to make up for this seemingly small difference of .17ghz, but Apple clearly states 1.83ghz or faster for QT7 HD playback. Who knows though maybe 1.66 is enough, if only I had a review unit!

B.Greenway




8 Responses to “Hey there Mr. Intel inside”

  1. Ruben Says:

    Please do remember that the new Intel mini sports merely an Intel VGA chip with 64 *shared* RAM… I really doubt it’ll be able to pull off anything remotely close to QT7 HD playback :-/

  2. T Says:

    I don’t understand why Apple is dragging its feet on the mini as an HTPC! This is driving me nuts! It should be a no brainer. There are already pc HTPCs that interface and control multiple DVD players. Front Row with a little scripting and an adaquate engine would be awsome. What’s the hold up?

  3. Craig Says:

    Why not take a look at Intel’s datasheet for the 950 chip in the new Mini before judging. It actually looks like a great chip for a HTPC. (Not for games, I’ll admit, but for video playback…)

    I see Intel lists an expansion Card for PVR functionality if Apple ever wants to take advantage of it…

    Who will be the first to test 720p playback on this little gem? Yes, I know Apple recomemnds a faster CPU in general, but this has a matched Intel chipset designed for playback. Maybe?

  4. Craig Says:

    Oops. Here’s the link:
    http://www.intel.com/products/chipsets/gma950/

  5. Grover Says:

    I generally trust the guys at Ars, and their quote was this

    “The chipset includes support for regular and HD playback, with the ability to up/down scale video content, as necessary. And it isn’t limited to a single stream of HD as it can simultaneously decode and display two streams. It can also handle pretty much any standard HD resolution in both interlaced and progressive scan mode (including 1080p) and it also natively supports both 16:9 and 16:10 aspect ratio displays.”

    No one knows for sure if the Mini takes advantage of all these features, but then again, why in the world wouldn’t they?

    So don’t panic yet.

  6. Jon Runheim Says:

    The 1080 HD-support was quite important for me to purchase the Mini, so I called Apple store in Sweden to verify the Quicktime page requirements.
    They told me that that page is outdated and that the Intel Mini (duo) has the HW-support required to play 1080 movies just fine.
    I trusted them, so.. One Mini’s coming my way within 2 weeks =)

    Regards,
    Jon

  7. Max Says:

    I’ve got a 1.66 core duo mini. I was playing a 1080i trailer (scaled down since i’m only running 1024×768, but should be just a computationally intensive). I tried bouncing expose on and off, resizing the window.

    guess what – quicktime didn’t drop a frame.

  8. Noah Says:

    Yeah, I do believe the graphics chipset that’s in the mini now — the Intel GMA950 — is optimized for video output (including HD) and supports Core Image, meaning the CPU is doing less of the heavy lifting in terms of preparing the video for output.

    According to the spec sheet (http://www.intel.com/products/chipsets/gma950/) the chip does the following natively:

    * High Definition Hardware Motion Compensation to support high definition hi-bitrate MPEG2 media playback
    * Up and Down Scaling of Video Content
    * High Definition Content Decode – up to two stream support
    * 5×3 Overlay Filtering

    So it shouldn’t even matter much if you get the Core Solo mini — they both share the same graphics hardware. Theorectically, anyway.

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