Mac Mini Transcoding Performance Tips

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Mac Mini Transcoding Performance Tips


Deleted member 673

Responses to recent threads indicate that several forum members are using Mac Mini for transcoding (and other tasks). So I'm posting a few tips; and welcome others to share here, as well. FYI, my comments apply to a Mini with 3.2GHz 6‑core Core i7 CPU, 16GB memory, and 10GB Ethernet.

Hardware Performance:
Based on reading elsewhere, I was concerned that Mini performance might be constrained by internal temperatures. So I installed "Macs Fan Control"; which verified that all CPU cores were bumping up against the Mini's 100-degree C thermal limit.

So first, I removed the plastic disc from the bottom of the Mini; which resulted in a very modest improvement due to improved air flow.

Second, I placed an inexpensive USB-powered pancake fan under the Mini; which was enough to bring the CPU temperature down to the high 90s.

Finally, I sprung for a purpose-built stand/fan by Speed Designs; which brought the CPU temperature down to the low 90s. I don't have an accurate performance comparison yet; but would estimate that the mini is now running 10-20% faster with the Speed Designs fan.

It would be easy enough to build something along the lines of the Speed Designs product; but I will say that it is undoubtedly the highest quality and best looking Mac add-on product I've ever used. And the order from this Canadian company was filled promptly; and shipped to my U.S. location.

Screen Sharing:
The Mini is managed via Mac Screen Sharing to a MacBook Air. Without a monitor physically attached, there is no ability to control display size/resolution. So I added an inexpensive NewerTech HDMI Headless Virtual Accelerator; which, among other benefits, offers the ability to select from a range of display sizes/resolutions. Note that this device also keeps the Mini's GPU active, even without a monitor attached. This could provide a huge benefit to Mac applications that can make use of the GPU.

Software Optimization:
I am just starting to investigate configuration options and other techniques such as deleting unused applications. So pointers in this area would be especially welcome.

I've used custom fan rules in iStat Menus before, especially on the old iMac which continually ran hot. Basically a set of levels that have increasing fan speeds and then an equivalent set of automated rules that match fan speed to CPU Die temperature: if 90degC then run fan 90%.

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