Mac Mini (mid 2011)


I am currently running Channels DVR on a mid-2011 Mac Mini (i5) with an external WD drive (USB powered) for storage. It runs well and have not had any issues.

Question is how much longer can I expect it to be supported and keep running well? It has High Sierra, but will not get anymore OS upgrades. Tis the season for great deals so I have been thinking about building a new box. But if I can get a couple more years out of the 2011 Mac Mini I will hold off.

Any thoughts or comments would be appreciated. Thanks!

While you can continue using the machine for some time still (and probably get even more longevity by putting a Linux install on it), the machine is a bit long in the tooth. It's running a 2nd-gen Core i5 (Sandy Bridge), so hardware-aware assisted transcoding is only minimally supported. And while it can support up to 16GB of RAM, it's not very fast RAM.

Also, you're limited to only USB2 or FireWire as your external options.

If you're already considering an upgrade, then I would say go ahead and see what great deals are cropping up for Cyber Monday. If you're hoping to get some more life out of the machine (and maybe only $100 of upgrades), you can still get some life out of it for a couple more years. But, if you're going to keep it in operation, it should probably be only for lightweight tasks and not as a regular desktop.

2011 Mac Mini also has Thunderbolt, so higher-speed connectivity is possible. But USB 2.0 is probably good enough for DVR use and I'm not sure if spending $75 on adapters makes sense for a machine that's no longer supported by the latest macOS.

Anyway, I'd keep using it as long as it works well. The only potential weakness is transcoding, but I wouldn't be surprised if a 2011 Mac Mini i5 could still pull off 720p software transcoding (which will probably yield much better results than the old hardware transcoder).

Ah, didn't realize it had Thunderbolt, too. (I pulled it up on and the only place Thunderbolt is mentioned for either mid-2011 i5 Mac Mini is only in reference to secondary displays, but not in reference to storage/peripheral expansion.)

Thanks for the clarification.

Thanks all! I think I am going to hold off another year. Like I said it works well and trans-coding out of home has been pretty good.

Thanks again!

I've been running the Channels DVR on an early 2009 Mac Mini without problems. My Channels DVR is using a HDHR Connect Quatro, HDHR Prime, Comcast TVE and Locast.

since signing up with Channels DVR years ago, i've been running mine on a "Late 2012" 2.3GHz i7 with just 6GB RAM and Intel HD 4000 graphics with a 64GB SSD purchased from OWC ( recordings have been going to a 12tb (6tb as raid) USB Western Digital dual drive RAID enclosure. i'm on Comcast with 20mb published upload speeds.

i share all that to say that setup has never had issues streaming to one or more AppleTV head units and any number of iPhones and iPads running both on and off the network.

2012 Mac Minis are still the best choice of Mac Mini because they are the last model which allows both user upgradable RAM and storage. so you can buy a cheap minimally configured one and do the RAM and storage upgrades later.

i think of all the nuts and bolts of my setup. if anyone can think of something else that may help them get theirs built out feel free to ask.

I have a spare 240gb SSD laying around. If I replace the current 500gb spinner with it would it benefit Channels/Plex at all? I know it would speed up the PC in general, but all my media/DVR files are on an external hard drive. Don’t know if it would be worth the hassle.

Probably worth the upgrade if you have it already.

But surely that’s not fast enough for transcoding for remote viewing is it?

Top remote cellular setting of 720p 4Mbps works well. I never use wifi for remote viewing.

Locally everything is wired to the same switch and my upload speed is 41 Mbps.

Ahh. Well. Your upload speed is about 3 times mine!!

And I’ve just realised I meant to reply to the post about the 2009 macmini. Sorry!!