Hey all! Long time no see. Nice to see the place is still fairly active.
Anyways, for a few years I've been using my old 2005 G4 Mac mini as my backup/media server. It works well serving files, but does not play anything modern. No H.264, no nothing. I got the mini when they were announced. But now they've come much further, are faster, but also $200 more than when I got it. (I remember when a mini was $500! Now the lowest end is $700!)
I got my MacBook in 2007. It served me well for 3 years despite falling apart about a year ago...
I guess I should explain. Basically the poor thing would overheat rapidly when doing anything processor intensive. Mostly anything that requires a lot of calculations, i.e. H.264 decoding, encoding, transcoding, playback, whatever. The fan would make horrible grinding noises, and still does. If the machine hit 85ºC, which it would, a lot, it would abruptly shut off. Unexpectedly with no warning.
So I saved up for a year and bought myself a nice shiny 2010 MacBook Pro to replace it. Amazing machine. But now that I have my new machine, I get to do whatever I want with the old one..
So I started experimenting. I removed the hundred screws required to get the damn topcase off (Okay, more like two dozen or so. I haven't counted. But it's a pain in the ass and they're all nicely placed on a shelf waiting for me to put it back together.) and after some testing I discovered that the fan would get stuck sometimes, and still makes loud noises. Except with the topcase off, there was enough air circulation that the machine would not shut off as much. It never shuts off when simply playing a video, and rarely shuts off even when encoding H.264 with Handbrake. Huzzah!
Since my poor Mac mini is so old, its Firewire died years ago, and it's so slow when doing anything, can't play YouTube or internet video well at all, and can't even run Snow Leopard. But it still serves my HD's well and lets CCC backup across the network to it every day. But it's probably time to retire it. Since a new mini is $700, and therefore well out of my budget range, and an AppleTV is so cluttered with crap and the UI has basically become the iTunes Store on your TV, I sold my AppleTV in January. A full computer is much more customizable. And with the upcoming 0.9 version of Plex, I might have a winner if I can use a machine fast enough to play 480p and 720p video.
I'm not planning on making any fancy case for it, I'm thinking of just removing the screen, connecting it to my TV via a Mini DVI to HDMI adapter and acting like it's still the same machine, just faster.
What happens if I disconnect the LCD from a MacBook, but still have something connected to the DVI? Will it cause problems?
I'm also thinking of taking the camera from the LCD case and the IR sensor from the bottom case and running them to the front of the TV so I can still use both of them.
Problem is the MacBook requires the Topcase to power the machine on. And I can't see any way to separate just the power button from the casing. So I don't know any other way of turning it on without having to plug the topcase back in every time.
Above you see my old mini, my new MacBook Pro and the old MacBook with its old topcase. Bonus points if you can name the movie I am watching.
It seems to work fine as long as nothing is keeping the heat in. With the topcase missing it seems to have enough air circulation to be cool enough. But I don't know what the normal running temperature is supposed to be when watching 720p video. (The movie is 720p H.264.) It's currently running at 75ºC.