Slow skipping with ATV4, Mac Mini. WiFi or Ext HDD to blame?

When watching a recording (DVR is a Mac Mini late 2012, Quad i7 with an external USB HDD) skipping forward or backwards involves a pause of 3-6 seconds each time.
I've got a TP-Link Deco mesh wifi system which uses powerline as a backhaul link. The speedtest to the AppleTV4 from the Mac Mini says:
Download: 98.5 Mbit/s, Latency: 24.5ms, Jitter 18.7ms
Is the weak link my WiFi, or would I be better off replacing the USB HDD with an internal SSD?
If it's the network to blame, what's the fastest Mesh WiFi that everyone's found?
Thanks in advance.

My guess would be the powerline. Do you have coax? MOCA2 is way better.

No, sadly.
Would a 'conventional' Mesh WiFi, like Eero, be better? Do those WiFi speeds look like the problem?

Slow network is usually what causes slow seeks. 100mbps Ethernet on the original Apple TV 4 also causes a similar problem. Are you using the 4 or 4K model?

If you can temporarily hard wire that will be the quickest way to rule out the Wi-Fi and powerline related network issues.

Personally I use two Amplifi HDs with moca2 backhaul, and see speeds like this on my Apple TV 4K:

Download 477.68 Mbit/s
Latency 3.27 ms
Jitter 1.15 ms

They're version 4 Apple TVs, not the 4K. If the Ethernet port is 100mbps, might the WiFi be quicker? Just realised that the ATV I tested is connected to the nearest WiFi transmitter by ethernet - that might be the limiting factor... I'll try unplugging it and re-testing.

Yes Wi-Fi is faster on those models

OK. weirdly, I unplugged the ethernet cable and on WiFi (bearing in mind that it's literally <1m from the hub) I got 35Mbit/s !!
I think I need a new wifi system!
Any recommendations of systems that Channels users have had success with recently?

Is powerline between the Mac mini and ATV?

I'm using Orbi RBK50 ... 1 base and 2 satellites to cover our house. Channels DVR is running on a Late 2012 i5 Mac Mini (cheapest one when I bought it, but upgraded RAM to 10GB). I don't have any of the playback problems you mentioned.

Strangely, I had an Orbi system, and found it dropped connection often (“tuner not available” errors etc), so I replaced it with a TP Link system. Perhaps I should dig out the old Orbi kit & try again.
What are your speeds with the Orbi kit?

Weighing in here because I had a Late 2012 Mac Mini as my DVR server for about a year... Everything relating to Channels is connected to my LAN via wired gigabit Ethernet except for my playback device, an Amazon Fire Stick 4K (measuring ~300Mbits/s to the server). Even so, I felt the seek times could be a little faster, so I swapped out the external USB3.0 HDD for a USB3.0 SSD. That got it down to being pretty damn fast, but there would still be the occasional, inexplicable, long pause. So I swapped out the Mac Mini for a NUC and installed the SSD internally over SATA. Now skipping around videos is nearly instantaneous.

Just thought I'd mention this as a cautionary tale. :slight_smile:

I've got a 10TB USB3 drive, so not cost effective to replace that with SSD. I also didn't think that SSD was well suited for DVR, nor were those speeds needed. I get 300mbps+ over wifi with the Orbi. I do know that Orbis are sensitive to how they are setup... you need to make sure the satellites are positioned to get a strong connection to the base.

Just weighing in here as well. I am running a Mac Mini 2012 as my DVR with an external HD for recordings. I started experiencing slowness problems, not only with the DVR but all around with the Mini. I diagnosed the problem as a failing HD in the Mini, even though I wasn't having any standard failure symptoms, it just kept getting slower and slower. Replaced the internal drive with a 256GB SSD and now everything is blazing fast again. Still using the same external drive for recordings. Nothing else has been changed.

Is WiFi generally faster on the 4K as well?

No, the 4K has gigabit Ethernet

I too have a 2012 mini as the base, and skipping was "slow"er than I'd like while using a USB 3.0 external WD drive. Now, the mini is an i7 16GB configuration with a 1TB 850SSD internally, and the external for exclusive DVR use is a 2TB 860 SSD in a USB 3.0 housing. I have tweaked a few other settings within OSX as I'm running a few things on this mini, but this configuration offers me very close if not the same response as any direct dedicated DVR I've ever owned.

My only complaint(s) are related to the fact that not all remote skip ahead/back commands are interpreted as I'd prefer, and sometimes the skips are the minimum skips instead of the configured skips of 30 and 15 s. I'm willing to bet that updating my remote's 2 year old configuration will help resolve that.

Edit: forgot to mention - wifi on the mini is turned off, all TV connections are Gb hardwired throughout the house with all TV connections being 2 hops from the mini and are on ATV 4Ks. Wireless playback on iPads or phones has not proven to be an issue, although I should note that with the focus on hardwired connections, I only have a handful of devices competing for service on my wifi network.

I'll have to do some timing of things because I don't recall any issue with skipping being slow and I've got the slowest 2012 i5 Mac Mini, USB3 10TB HDD, and running over WiFi on an Orbi. Certainly nothing like the OP described.

Can you share what tweaking you did on your Mac Mini to make it faster?

At this point, there's no point - replace the spinning internal rust with a fast SSD. Use the internal drive or a fast SSD for the DVR filespace (if external, connect directly to a dedicated USB 3.0 port, no hubs and if it's a bad internal hub, try not to share it either. Disable drive sleep functions.

With this configuration, I have channels configured for 30s of cache. Using an SSD as the DVR space has the additional benefit of removing all noticeable impact of commercial detection on recording completion.

I should note that if you're wanting to store large amounts of DVR'd content, you can always move completed shows to a spinning drive for later viewing. The main thing you don't want to do with a spinning drive is read and write at the same time. The cheaper ones have enough trouble just reading sequential data at adequate rates.