A little background: We used an AppleTV for a while in the living room to serve all of our media. Well, long story short, the AppleTV sucked one too many times, so in the closet it went, and out came the Mac Mini to take its place on the home theater rack!
Problem: The Mac Mini is a little on the old side. I had already cracked the case and upgraded it to 2GB of Ram, which made it a little more usable. However the real problem was realized when attempting to watch full screen flash video (Hulu). It came down to raw processing power; the older Mac Mini only had a 1.5GHz Intel Core Solo! Yes, a Core Solo! Shame on you Mac Mini!
Solution: The short story, swap the processor! I wasn’t looking to spend a fortune on a processor for this machine since it really only needed to be “good enough”. I decided to pick up a T2400 Intel Core Duo running at 1.83GHz. You can find them for between $30 and $50 on eBay. The install is pretty simple, crack the case open, remove the optical drive and take out the logic board. The worst part is the stupid plastic pins that hold the CPU heat sink on, they are brittle and break easily. The processor is a simple locking socket, so no big deal there. Apply some new thermal grease, and reapply the heat sink, and you are good to go. Reassemble the machine and start watching full screen flash! One last reminder: ensure you reconnect the fan controller cable or your fan will default to full speed (which is your indication that you forgot).
Final thought: It was an easy install, and only took about 20 min (40 if you include having to take it apart again to plug in the fan controller that came unplugged) and best of all, the machine is much faster now and plays Hulu like it’s nothing! If you have an older Mac Mini, I highly recommend the upgrade.