Mac Mini Video Upgrade
Posted by kernelbob on January 12, 2010
I recently upgraded our Mac Mini media center with a new video decoder board. Surprisingly, it worked.
We already had a Mac Mini under our TV. And we were already using XBMC. And we’ve got some high bitrate HD video that the Mini couldn’t decode in real time.
I opened up the Mini and confirmed that it really did have a mini PCIe slot. It does. (This must be the age of the minicomputer.) The slot was occupied by the Wi-Fi card. So I could have either high bitrate HD or Wi-Fi. The house is wired with Cat-5 and the Mini was already plugged in to a gigabit switch, so Wi-Fi isn’t needed.
So I ordered the video decoder. A Broadcom BCM970012 on a mini PCIe card from Logic Supply, as mentioned by Anandtech.
The video card arrived. I took the Mini apart. Slipped the new card in. Put it back together. Found out the audio board had come unplugged. Took it apart again. Plugged in the audio board. Put it back together again. Launched XBMC. Played some video. It works.
The whole thing was so easy it was quite anticlimactic.
I don’t have any idea how XBMC is talking to the video card. It’s not visible in Mac OS’ System Profile. It’s kind of weird to install hardware like this and not know how the operating system interfaces to it. Normal people cope with this kind of ambiguity, so I guess I can too.