What Can I Do To Improve Playback Performance of Movies on My Mac Mini

Posted:
in iPod + iTunes + AppleTV edited January 2014
I've got 7 USB hard drives attached to my Airport Extreme which is connected via ethernet to a 1.66 GHz Intel Dual Core Mac Mini with 1 GB of RAM that's hooked up to my TV. When I watch a movie that I've ripped using Handbrake at 2500 kbps, the sound and picture sometimes stutter and skip. I don't have the problem watching the same film over wifi on my 2.4 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo MacBook with 4 GB of RAM. Nor is there an issue if the film is stored on the Mac Mini's hard drive, so it seems to me that the ethernet is the bottleneck, however, shouldn't my wifi connection be an even bigger bottleneck? Short of moving the hard drives and connecting them directly to the Mac Mini (which is not possible for a host of reasons), is there anything I can do to improve the performance when playing back movies?

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 15
    areseearesee Posts: 776member
    The problem may be with the Mini and the way it handles ethernet. But my question is, are you really serving 7 USB drives with your Extreme. I tried 6 drives but had two dropping out intermittently. So I thought I was stuck with 4 drives. Did you do anything special? is this the original Fast Ethernet Extreme of the 1G model?
  • Reply 2 of 15
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by aresee View Post


    The problem may be with the Mini and the way it handles ethernet. But my question is, are you really serving 7 USB drives with your Extreme. I tried 6 drives but had two dropping out intermittently. So I thought I was stuck with 4 drives. Did you do anything special? is this the original Fast Ethernet Extreme of the 1G model?



    I considered that the problem might be that the Mac Mini's processor wasn't fast enough, but locally stored movies play without a hitch.



    I haven't done anything special; just 7 USB drives connected to a 7-port hub connected to my Airport Extreme base station.
  • Reply 3 of 15
    bbwibbwi Posts: 812member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Nobody Special View Post


    I considered that the problem might be that the Mac Mini's processor wasn't fast enough, but locally stored movies play without a hitch.



    I haven't done anything special; just 7 USB drives connected to a 7-port hub connected to my Airport Extreme base station.



    Upgrade the ram to two gig
  • Reply 4 of 15
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,224moderator
    Are you sure you're connecting via ethernet and not wifi on the Mini? Plugging in ethernet doesn't automatically override the wifi. Turn off airport on the Mini if it's on to make sure and access the drive.



    Out of curiosity, what size are these 7 drives? 1TB drives are pretty cheap these days, it might be worthwhile getting some/one to cut down the number of power adaptors. One of those will hold about 700 films at 2500kbps.
  • Reply 5 of 15
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Marvin View Post


    Are you sure you're connecting via ethernet and not wifi on the Mini? Plugging in ethernet doesn't automatically override the wifi. Turn off airport on the Mini if it's on to make sure and access the drive.



    Out of curiosity, what size are these 7 drives? 1TB drives are pretty cheap these days, it might be worthwhile getting some/one to cut down the number of power adaptors. One of those will hold about 700 films at 2500kbps.



    Airport is off, but what's surprising is that the data rate over wifi is plenty fast for my laptop.



    I've got four 500 GB drives and three 750 GB drives. The former holds about 200 movies and (not surprisingly) the later holds about 300.



    1 TB drives are getting pretty cheap, but two 500 GB drives are much cheaper—especially if you buy the drive and enclosure separately.
  • Reply 6 of 15
    areseearesee Posts: 776member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Nobody Special View Post


    I considered that the problem might be that the Mac Mini's processor wasn't fast enough, but locally stored movies play without a hitch.



    I haven't done anything special; just 7 USB drives connected to a 7-port hub connected to my Airport Extreme base station.



    I was thinking of the Mini's network interface not its processor speed.



    Which model is your base station. I am using the original Fast Ethernet base station and that could be my problem. Are you using the original model too?
  • Reply 7 of 15
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,224moderator
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Nobody Special View Post


    Airport is off, but what's surprising is that the data rate over wifi is plenty fast for my laptop.



    What happens when you try playing over wifi on the Mini i.e unplugging the ethernet?



    The data rate over wifi is enough for movies. Your wifi is 54Mbps - real world performance is around half at 20Mbps and your movies are only 2.5 Mbps.



    The only reason ethernet might stutter is if it's a 10Mbps line. The network utility in /Applications/Utilities would tell you what the connection speed was.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Nobody Special View Post


    I've got four 500 GB drives and three 750 GB drives. The former holds about 200 movies and (not surprisingly) the later holds about 300.



    Now I'm surprised that you must have over 1500 movies.



    I suppose it means you can watch whatever you like when you like but I find I don't watch movies more than about 3 times total. Watching 1 movie a night would take you nearly 4 years to get through that many films.
  • Reply 8 of 15
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Marvin View Post


    What happens when you try playing over wifi on the Mini i.e unplugging the ethernet?



    I don't know why I didn't think of that earlier; I guess it seemed too counterintuitive. Anyway, it seems to work just fine now. (Edit: Dammit, after doing a longer test, it still stutters and skips a little.)



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Marvin View Post


    Now I'm surprised that you must have over 1500 movies.



    I don't have that many movies. One drive is used for Time Machine backups, and three others are redundant incase one of the primary drives fail.
  • Reply 9 of 15
    guinnessguinness Posts: 473member
    Try VLC if you're using QT for playback.



    I can't think of any other reason why the movies whould be stuttering, unless you were using wifi and getting a very poor signal. I have 2 wifi routers - one B, the other N, and I can stream movies wireless to my G laptop without a problem, from both routers, and none of the movies even reach anywhere near the B limits.
  • Reply 10 of 15
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by bbwi View Post


    Upgrade the ram to two gig



    That'll make no difference in this case. The Mini can handle the video just fine. Somethings up with the transfer of data from the drive to the Mini ...





    Just out of curiosity... if you plug only ONE HD directly to the Airport (skip the hub and the other drives) do you still get the problem ??
  • Reply 11 of 15
    guinnessguinness Posts: 473member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by guinness View Post


    Try VLC if you're using QT for playback.



    I can't think of any other reason why the movies whould be stuttering, unless you were using wifi and getting a very poor signal. I have 2 wifi routers - one B, the other N, and I can stream movies wireless to my G laptop without a problem, from both routers, and none of the movies even reach anywhere near the B limits.



    And BTW, when I've used my Mini on wireless, it had no problems either, but I use ethernet, as it's faster overall.
  • Reply 12 of 15
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,224moderator
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Nobody Special View Post


    I don't know why I didn't think of that earlier; I guess it seemed too counterintuitive. Anyway, it seems to work just fine now. (Edit: Dammit, after doing a longer test, it still stutters and skips a little.)



    Are you running Leopard? I think Spotlight indexing network drives was a new feature under Leopard. You can check your activity monitor to see if an mds process kicks in at any point. Your activity monitor will also show you your network transfer rates.



    One thing you might be able to try is with the laptop, turn on internet sharing in the sharing system prefs to share the airport connection to computers using ethernet. Plug the Mini into the laptop over ethernet and turn off the wifi on the Mini. Then try and play the movies. This should be Gigabit ethernet speed between the Mini and laptop and it should get the same wifi signal as the laptop.
  • Reply 13 of 15
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Marvin View Post


    One thing you might be able to try is with the laptop, turn on internet sharing in the sharing system prefs to share the airport connection to computers using ethernet. Plug the Mini into the laptop over ethernet and turn off the wifi on the Mini. Then try and play the movies. This should be Gigabit ethernet speed between the Mini and laptop and it should get the same wifi signal as the laptop.



    But then what's the point of even HAVING the Mini?? .... just hook the MacBook up to the TV.

    Need to figure out why it's losing bandwidth over ethernet.



    Is the eNet cable really long?... kinked in one or more places?... pinched somewhere?...
  • Reply 14 of 15
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,224moderator
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by KingOfSomewhereHot View Post


    But then what's the point of even HAVING the Mini?? .... just hook the MacBook up to the TV.

    Need to figure out why it's losing bandwidth over ethernet.



    Is the eNet cable really long?... kinked in one or more places?... pinched somewhere?...



    It's not a workaround, just a test to see if it will play ok. That way it's easier to narrow down if it's network related or Mini related.
  • Reply 15 of 15
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by KingOfSomewhereHot View Post


    Is the eNet cable really long?... kinked in one or more places?... pinched somewhere?...



    The ethernet cable's probably about 40' long, and I can't tell if it's kinked or pinched because it runs in the walls
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