Mac Mini Transcoding Performance Tips

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Mac Mini Transcoding Performance Tips

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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.

Ron
 

fredbert

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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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