Video formats and power questions


Jul 17, 2007
Hi guys,

I'm looking at either building a PC (unlikely) or buying a base 2011 Mac mini (preferred) for use as a file server and basic music server for my hi-fi. While any old system would be good enough for these purposes, the chances are that its uses will be expanded in the future to include full media streaming.

If this were to happen, the Mac mini would be used as an HTPC, and would be serving the iMac upstairs and the MBP; I wouldn't use any server software for this, as it isn't entirely necessary.

However, I have an iPhone 4S, and we also have an iPod touch as well. The plan is to store movies in H.264 High Profile 4.1 at 1080p, as this is both a good level at which to store movies without noticeable quality loss for the TV, as well as the limit of what the 4S supports. The problem is that the 4S will only support audio at up to 160Kbps AAC, meaning that it will need to be transcoded, as the audio stored would be lossless (undecided); this leads to my questions:
  • As audio and video is separate and held in a container, would I be right in thinking that if I were to stream movies to the iPhone, the server would only have to do on-the-fly transcoding of the audio, leaving the video itself alone? And this is completely possible, unless I'm crazy?
  • The iPod touch only supports H.264 Main Profile 3.1 at 720p, along with the same 160Kbps AAC. How fast a system would I need to do two lots of transcoding at the same time (worst case scenario), both from H.264 High Profile 4.1 at 1080p to H2.64 Main Profile 3.1 at 720p, as well as audio from a lossless format to 160Kbps for both? This scenario is unlikely, and I'm sure that the Mac mini (same spec as my MBP, but with 2GB of memory) would be okay doing one transcode for the iPod touch, as well as an audio-only transcode for the iPhone, and play it's own 1080p movie on the TV.

I'd rather go the Mac route, but if the Mac mini won't be powerful enough to deal with this then obviously, it's the route I can't take. Resale value with the Mac mini will be higher than that of the PC, so the end cost will be similar.

Many thanks all!

EDIT: Should also mention, the PC will run Windows 7, I'm not really willing to deal with Linux, I'm lazy!
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