Mac mini and PC setup: Best of both worlds? [Setups]

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Browsing, remote tech support work, gaming, videoconferencing, podcasting -- this setup does it all.
Browsing, remote tech support work, gaming, videoconferencing, podcasting -- this setup does it all.
Photo: LincHayes@Reddit

Web developer LincHayes recently showed off the M1 Mac mini-and-PC-based setup he put together to restart a live tech support business and do some podcasting. It did not fail to impress lots of folks on Reddit.

After all, this is LincHayes’ first time as a Mac owner. And a lot of people relate to running both Macs and PCs in a complex, multifunctional setup with a lot of moving parts.

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Mac mini and PC setup

Redditors seemed excited by Macs and PCs in daily use together, judging by their comments about each machines’ very particular set of skills (just pretend it’s Liam Neeson from Taken going on about it below).

Agreeing that PCs “are very useful from time to time,” one commenter wrote, “I use a Mac for web development work at my job and my iPad for any personal task or web browsing. I have a PC server that’s always running with my Plex server and it’s always accessible via RD Client on my iPad. My iPad is basically a mini PC when I use it. It works seamlessly with the Magic Keyboard and its trackpad.”

LincHayes employs Synergy software to enable the use of one keyboard and mouse with multiple computers.

In addition to his Mac mini M1, he runs a CyberPower Intel i5 gaming PC, an old Microsoft Xbox One and even a Lenovo Tablet 10 as a second PC monitor.

LincHayes admitted the PC isn’t fancy, but it performs well. Upgrades included new fans, 32GB of added RAM, two new SSDs and the ability to dual-boot the Linux-based operating system Ubuntu.

Innovative camera use for videoconferencing

In these days of WFH video calls, it pays to make yourself look good — without spending a fortune.

LincHayes bought a used Sony A5100 digital camera and added a Sigma 16mm focal-length lens with F1.4 brightness to improve video quality on his conference calls.

“I’m not very experienced with it as a camera, my focus was really on making my videoconferencing look better,” LincHayes said. “I knew the lens and lighting were important. It works well. Still learning and fine-tuning things.”

Intrigued by the setup photo, one commenter wondered if LincHayes had mounted a teleprompter on the camera.

“It’s actually a cheap camera monitor. I’m using it as sort of mini monitor to display the people I’m talking to give the illusion that I’m looking at them,” LincHayes replied, referring to the Feelworld 4K camera field monitor perched above the camera. “It’s mounted behind the camera using one of the clamp mount poles that came with the lights.”

All this and podcasting, too

LincHayes also has a quality podcasting rig, though the post didn’t focus on that aspect of the setup. A Rode PodMic Dynamic Podcasting Microphone, a Rode RodeCaster Pro Podcast Production Studio and the Elgato Stream Deck Live Content Creation Controller combine to allow a lot customization when working in audio or video workflows.

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If you would like to see your setup featured on Cult of Mac, send some high-res pictures to info+setups@cultofmac.com. Please provide a detailed list of your equipment. Tell us what you like or dislike about your setup, and fill us in on any special touches or challenges.