Knowledge Base/Boxee PC Software/Installation

I'm thinking of buying a Mac for Boxee. What should I get? An AppleTV or a Mac Mini?

boxee tv
posted this on Jun-29 2009 08:42 am

Boxee is a piece of software designed to fit wonderfully into your living-room media experience, and as such, is recommended to be installed on whatever device you have connected to your TV, be it a Windows, Linux or Mac machine.

So, you've decided to get yourself one of them shiny Apple devices, and that's just great. Apple have a couple of devices that suit the needs of a living room, being good looking and rather small - AppleTV and the Mac Mini.

AppleTV's are great Boxee carriers, mostly due to their price. However, if you're willing to throw in those extra bucks, then a Mac Mini will provide you with the ability to watch HD videos (which the AppleTV is a bit to weak to support), play audio and video CD's and DVD's, and run some Boxee applications, which aren't currently available for the AppleTV version of Boxee (such as Netflix for example). Plus you get the benefit of having a fully featured computer.

Since there are relatively new mac minis out there, you can get the older models (which manage to run Boxee just fine) for a significantly cheaper price (just make sure it's an Intel-based machine, and not a PowerPC one).


Comments latest first

Daniel Moore

Saw this thread right after I bought 2 refurb AppleTVs :( luckily one was DOA so I'll return it and get a Mac... BUT is there another device that would give more for the buck like a Dell or something????  Luv the boxee. :)

Mar-05 2010 09:41 am.
Michael S
I had an Apple TV for 1.5 years. Boxee and every other hack mostly worked, but slow!! I now have a MacMini and it's GREAT!!! SOOOOO so much better. Smoother, quicker, more responsive. All around better. An AppleTV works, but it will only give you a glimpse of what watching internet TV should be all about. Three months later and I'm still thrilled at how great the MacMini works. With a hacked Front Row to launch Boxee, I can get by with just the Apple remote (needed a hack to get it to work as well). It's amazing what one simple remote can do.
Feb-10 2010 10:41 pm.
Gerald Kelly

I've got 4 GB in my new Mac Mini.  My MacBook only had 2 GB

Feb-07 2010 01:49 am.
Liberty For ALL!

To Gerald Kelly, how much RAM do you want?  The 2009 Mac Mini with the latest firmware update supports 8 GB RAM:



Get Mactracker here:  

Feb-06 2010 09:23 pm.
Pancenello Bezo

What resolution people get on Mac's using Boxee? My best one is 720p.

The same Netflix movie on Safari shows 1080p, however.

Feb-06 2010 07:59 pm.
Gerald Kelly

Just got a new Mac Mini with Snow Leopard Server yesterday.  I created a RAID 0 array from the 2 500 GB drives.   I had been using Boxee on my MacBook, running the video out via a DVI-to-HDMI adapter  and the sound as digital through a Toslink cable both into my receiver and from there to my 46-inch TV and speakers; that worked fine, but I wanted something with more RAM, faster processor and more drive space.   The Mac Mini is nice so far.  One thing I did notice: Boxee doesn't seem to run from the root account's desktop, but OK from a user account.  That's probably OK.

Hulu by comparison seems to be jerky no matter what kind of computer I run it on, Mac or PC.   

Feb-06 2010 07:47 pm.
Pancenello Bezo

I am using 4 years old Mac book with Boxee/Netflix... For whatever reason Boxee gives me only 720p on a Netflix movie, however when I switched back to ordinary Safari, the same movie was played back in 1080p... I am trying to use Apple remote with Netflix, and I have not yet found the way to use it with Safari. Boxee works with the remote just fine, but I would stick to Safari because of the resolution.

Feb-03 2010 11:06 pm.
jeremy wells

mac mini for sure. ive done both and it just makes so much more sense to go with a mini.

Jan-19 2010 11:32 pm.
edward anastas

Same here! I have been using a Mac Mini after someone in my office got one or Digital Video Recording DVR using EyeTV and there are so many other options such as Boxee, Hulu, etc. that make going to a compact computer like the Mac Mini the ideal option. 

Jan-12 2010 03:37 pm.
Steve Ward

Mac-Mini hands down. I've been running it for over a year in my living room. Combine BOXEE with TED and you have a perfect replacement for TV Shows. I have a 1080P television and a last generation mini and experience no lag from the video card as some other users have stated.

I would stay away from AppleTV

Jan-12 2010 03:19 pm.
Liberty For ALL!

#1, you need to at least double your RAM and update to 10.6, which OS version are you using now?

There are a few possibilities for improvements:

1.  Eliminate Flash

2.  If Flash 10.1 gets full graphics card acceleration, you might see some good improvements.  If 10.1 goes 64-bit, adds OpenCL and Grand Central support, you will potentially see some good improvements.

3.  Eliminate Silverlight, Microsoft is even less likely than Adobe to optimize their apps, IMHO.  

4.  If Boxee went all H.264 HTTP Streaming (along with content providers) you'd get much better performance.  

Jan-09 2010 12:10 pm.
brett paden

I own an older mac mini (      Model Name: Mac mini

      Model Identifier: Macmini1,1

      Processor Name: Intel Core Solo

      Processor Speed: 1.5 GHz

      Number Of Processors: 1

      Total Number Of Cores: 1

      L2 Cache: 2 MB

      Memory: 1 GB

      Bus Speed: 667 MHz

      Boot ROM Version: MM11.0055.B08



My experience with video content on boxee (or any other video related application for that matter) is horrendous.  While boxee's interface is snappy and audio content is great, the machine simply can't handle video streaming from anything other than a dvd or quicktime.  Siverlight (netflix) and flash (hulu) are jittery at best and unwatchable at worst.   Hulu videos don't play at all via boxee.  If you want a decent experience and want a mac mini you should spring for the extra 100-200 and buy the latest and greatest.  Boxee and realted video content work fine on my one year old macbook, but not without stressing the processor to its limits.
Jan-09 2010 11:28 am.
Liberty For ALL!

ATV is too limited and underpowered, get the current model Mac Mini, and Boxee will run MUCH better!  Here are the (WHIMPY) AppleTV specs:


Apple TV

Codename: "iTV"

Introduced: January 2007 (Shipped March 2007)

Discontinued: September 2009 (40 GB)

Model Number: A1218

Order Number: MA711LL/A

Initial Price: $299 (40 GB) $399 (160 GB) USD

Support Status: Supported

Processor: Intel Pentium M

Processor Speed: 1.0 GHz

System Bus: --

Capacity: 40 or 160 GB

Memory: 256 MB 400 MHz DDR2 SDRAM

Graphics Card: NVIDIA GeForce Go 7300

Graphics Memory: 64 MB

TV compatibility: Enhanced-definition or high-definition widescreen TVs capable of 1080p/1080i 60/50Hz, 720p 60/50Hz, 576p 50Hz (PAL format), or 480p 60Hz

Weight and Dimensions (US): 2.4 lbs., 1.1 H x 7.7 W x 7.7 D inches

Weight and Dimensions (Metric): 1.09 kg., 28 H x 197 W x 197 D mm

iTunes Version: iTunes 7.1 or later

Audio Formats: AAC (16 to 320 Kbps); protected AAC (from iTunes Store); MP3 (16 to 320 Kbps); MP3 VBR; Apple Lossless; AIFF; WAV

Photo Formats: JPEG, BMP, GIF, TIFF, PNG

Video Formats: H.264 and protected H.264 (from iTunes Store): 640 by 480, 30 fps, LC version of Baseline Profile; 320 by 240, 30 fps, Baseline profile up to Level 1.3; 1280 by 720, 24 fps, Progressive Main Profile. MPEG-4: 640 by 480, 30 fps, Simple Profile

Audio/video: HDMI, Component video, Optical audio, and Analog RCA stereo audio

Ethernet: 1 - 10/100BASE-T

Infrared: 1 - For Apple Remote only

Power: 48-watt universal power supply

Wireless: draft 802.11n

USB: 1 - 480 MBit/s (service and diagnostic use)

History: Announced in September 2006 under the codename iTV, the Apple TV was apple's official first foray into the set-top market (Prototypes of a never-released PPC 603-based set top box from the late 1990s surface from time to time). Running a closed, custom build of Mac OS X (based on v10.4.7), the Apple TV allowed streaming of audio and video from any iTunes-equipped computer on the local network, acting as a single FrontRow-style interface for all computers in a household. In addition to on-network audio and video, the Apple TV could also play select YouTube videos (re-encoded in h.264) and movie trailers from Apple's website. The Apple TV could be connected to any widescreen TV with either HDMI or component video, supported both analog and digital audio via RCA and optical S/PDIF outputs and supported resolutions from 480p to 720p. The 40 GB model sold for $299 U.S., and a 160 GB was available BTO for $399 U.S.

History Source:

History Source Address:

History License: --

Created by Mactracker, copyright 2001 - 2009 Ian Page 

Dec-19 2009 08:34 pm.
Kevin McHugh

Just got ATV. Did not know what ATV stood for, or "ssh" ing or anything else. Struggled to get it working with boxee 3.0 because I did not know about Terminal, etc.  Now I have Boxee running fine, know ATV stands for AppleTV and how to enter ssh command using Terminal application, I had a Commadore VIC20 and then learned MS-DOS about 100 years ago. It is an addiction to figure it all out so I can, well - figure it out.  Bottom line though - If I want to watch a good Blu-Ray movie and crank up the sound, Boxee is not going to do it. In fact, now that I have it, I cannot find what the excitement is about. I used Hulu and found all kinds of stuff to watch - but it is choppy and slow. Need someone to tell me why I want Boxee at its current level of performance for media center use.

Dec-19 2009 06:37 pm.
Wical Family

I should clarify on my above response.  I have been able to play netflix stuff without issues.  When I go to something like hulu though, it just cant hang.  Also when streaming music, like Pandora, or from my local file server, the visual feedback really bogs down the system.  (1st gen intel, 2gb memory)

Dec-19 2009 11:47 am.
Wical Family

Update on our mac mini adventures.  In short, the mac mini (1st generation intel) will not handle the needs of boxee in its current state.  The video just cant keep up.  Perhaps the new mac mini with its dedicated video memory etc would do ok.

Dec-19 2009 11:34 am.
tDot Toronto

Interesting and insightful thread. I have been running ATV for approx 18 months now, and can see how closed it is for a lot of things. One of the biggest advantages of running Mac Mini would be ability to connect an External USB HD? I know you can do this on ATV after certain hacks, but why hack when you can just do it simply?

Dec-19 2009 11:23 am.
Liberty For ALL!
If you have a PowerPC Mac Mini, try XBMC which DOES run on PPC:
Dec-16 2009 03:16 pm.
Wical Family

@Trevor O'Driscoll: I totally forgot to mention that fact that we have the mac mini hooked up to a 46 inch Sony Bravia LCD with a DVI-to-HDMI cable.  This tv could easily be used as a monitor.  It's the best output I've seen from a tv hooked up to a computer.

Dec-14 2009 11:26 pm.
Wical Family

@Trevor O'Driscoll: I just disconnected our cable box today and hooked up the mac mini (1st generation intel) running boxee, and it's been working fine.  We streamed Dora and Spongebob for a bit without issue.  Then hooked up to Netflix and played Bolt without any issue.  Now, the quality was not HD, that is for sure.  But there are several factors that may be contributing to this.  One is the wireless connection.  I believe Netflix will push a higher resolution version once the network connection is a bit faster.  Also, that shared memory issue.

In any case, this is a test run for us.  We are going to give it a week or so and see how it goes, but it's starting look like we'll be dropping the cable tv suckscription pretty soon.  We'll pick up an HD over-the-air antenna for local programming and sports.

I would be interested in feedback from those that have seen the video streamed via boxee on a 1st gen intel mac mini and one of the newer mac minis that have more power.  Is it worth getting a newer one?  We have a second TV to setup as well and I'm leaning toward buying a cheaper 1st gen intel one at the moment.

Dec-14 2009 11:22 pm.
Trevor O'Driscoll

After reading this I'm thinking of a year old Mac Mini as a dedicated media center.  Will I be able to support HD on a 42" tv with the Intel GMA 950 graphics processor with 64MB of DDR2 SDRAM shared with main memory?

Dec-09 2009 12:19 pm.
Gerald Martinez

Anyone looking at the Dell Inspiron Zino HD for this application?

Nov-17 2009 04:08 pm.
buster keaton

The new Mac Mini doesn't have HDMI out.  Be great if it did, lots of people want that.

Oct-31 2009 03:30 pm.
Jerry Hellman

I would say it depends on the TV you are going to hook up.  ATV has HDMI and Component + AC3 Audio, new Mac Mini has HDMI.  So if your TV supports the latest and greatest HDMI then the Mac Mini would be my recommendation.  Unfortunately my TV only supports Component, S-Video and Composite video I have a 2 yr. old ATV; however when my 65" TV retires I'll get a Mac Mini or whatever APPLE technology is available that will be a full Media Center, like Mac Mini does today.

Oct-31 2009 02:04 pm.
chip mantrom

When are going to support ATV 3.0???

Oct-30 2009 08:36 pm.
Richard Maly

Get a MAC Mini!!!!!!!!!!  I just bought an ATV and it is a pain.  Boxee works perfectly on intel macs. The only issue you may have is conectivity with you tv. That is why they make adapters.

Oct-30 2009 11:09 am.
Rishab Rana

you can install playon on pc and stream netflix from playon onto appleTV. I watch it everyday. UI sucks since it's upnp UI but it works.

Sep-19 2009 02:05 am.
Christoph Wesselburg
You are absolutely right! The question is mac mini vs apple-tv. I use an apple-tv and I am very pleased with it. The only thing I am missing is netflix support, wich is, as far as I heard and read, due to hardware restrictions on the apple-tv. Would I go for the apple-tv again? I think i would rather spend a little more and go for the mac-mini. Personally I think that the future options on a mini are more opened and you can use it for much more stuff in your living room than apple-tv without having to try and make everything work 'like' on an apple. Be aware that if you decide to go for the mini, that it has to be an intel based one and that connecting to an old non-HDTV is only possible with some extra equipment. Apple-tv comes with both color compound and HDMI connectin, so you can easily connect it to the 'OLD' world as well as to an HDTV'. Btw:thanks to the guys of boxee for that awesome work! Cheers
Sep-16 2009 07:17 am.
boxee tv

Hi all,

This topic is aimed towards those interested in buying a Mac, wanting to know what they should get, and the pro's and con's of getting an ATV vs. a Mini. There was no intention to imply that this is where we want another PC vs. Mac arena.


Sep-15 2009 10:41 am.
Chris Moates

After a year of using a Macbook Pro 17 every day, I can say I was so glad to get back to Windows and Linux. So there are some folks who are glad to go back, and if I never own another Mac I'll die in peace. ;)

Sep-11 2009 02:06 pm.
Christoph Wesselburg
Windows 7 might work for a while, but after having switched to mac I really understand the difference between a pc and a mac. Once you go for a mac, you never-ever go back!!!
Sep-10 2009 07:10 am.
Raul Henriquez

Umm Windows 7 Works amazing!

Aug-24 2009 06:16 am.
Tim Miller

Having gone through this decision last December, I can say that I decided on the AppleTV, but wish that I had instead purchased a Mac Mini.  There are two reasons for this.  1)  The AppleTV can not play Netflix movies where the version of Boxee on the Mac Mini can.  2) Boxee just doesn't seem to work quite as well on the AppleTV as it does on a regular mac.  For example, streaming media tends to get choppy if it is encoded at to high of a rate because the 1gig processor and 256 meg of RAM just can't keep up.   Apple seems to be able to do the 720p because they can use the graphics processor to take some of the decoding load, however Boxee doesn't have that ability since the AppleTV is a closed platform.

Granted there are some advantages to the AppleTV, such as not needing anything but the AppleTV remote, however there are also ways to make that happen on the Mac Mini as well.

Hopefully this helps in your decision a little.

Jul-28 2009 12:19 am.
Normen Beck

"Since there are relatively new mac minis out there, you can get the older models (which manage to run Boxee just fine) for a significantly cheaper price [...]"

If you want to view full hd content (1080p), you will need a new mac mini because the older one with an integrated Intel GMA 950 graphics chip cannot handle 1080p without stuttering. 720p works fine.

Jul-26 2009 03:31 am.