Plex Synology NAS Performance List 2018

What is the Best Synology NAS for a Plex Media Server?

Plex has fast become the most popular media server software for home users in 2018. With a slick user interface, smart organization, relevant media images and descriptions sourced from many online sources applied automatically and clever show recommendations and watched records, it is easy to see why Plex challenges many of the online streaming platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Instant and Hulu. Another attractive feature of Plex is that the software is available free (or a more feature-rich paid version), whereas online streaming sources have monthly subscriptions, do not let you play your own content and change/rotate available media content on a monthly basis. With Plex, you play the media that you own and it is organized in an attractive and easy way. However in order to take advantage of Plex, you need a device for your media and the Plex media server to live, and this is where the money part comes. The best means with which to host a plex media server is a Network Attached Storage device (or NAS server). One of the biggest NAS server providers in the world right now is Synology and they have a large range of NAS devices that support Plex in many, many ways (transcoding, smooth running, 4K, etc). However which Synology NAS should you buy for your Plex media server, what is transcoding on an Synology Plex media server like and what is the best Synology NAS for a Plex Media Server (PMS)?

What is Software Transcoding on a Synology Plex Media Server?

When media lives on your Synology NAS, often the device a that you are playing back your plex media (Smart TV, iPhone, Laptop, iPod) onto cannot support the media file type, the resolution or audio codec. In this case, the Plex Media Server on your Synology NAS will try to change the file to a more suitable version, on the fly, to ensure you can enjoy your media in the best way. This is known as transcoding and though the Plex application is actioning this with the software, the actual work is being done by the Synology NAS CPU. Software transcoding takes a heavy toll on the CPU and you will need a relatively powerful processor in order to support this feature. Typically the CPU will need to be:

  • In Intel or AMD Based Based CPU that is 64bit (x86) in Architecture
  • Higher than 1.6Ghz in Frequency
  • More than 2 Cores

It is important to highlight that transcoding for Plex on a Synology NAS only really needs more power in the case of converting/changing video files. Audio and Image files will not require much support from the NAS.

Choosing the Right Synology NAS for a Plex Media Server

When it comes to choosing the right Synology NAS for your Plex Media Server, below I have broken down the entire currently available NAS you can buy. I have broken them down into the following areas:

Model ID – This is the Name of the Synology NAS Device

CPU – This is the central processor of the Synology NAS server and this will be what decides the performance of your Plex Media Server

SD 480p / 576p –Most likely the lowest point at which you will need transcoding of a video media file, 480p was used for many early Plasma televisions, whereas 576p is considered Standard Definition in many countries worldwide

HD 720p – Otherwise known as ‘HD Ready’ or ‘Standard HD’, it is generally considered the lowest starting point for watching HD media and starts at 1280×720

HD 1080p – Widely regarded at ‘Full-HD’, it arrives at 1920×1080. Most media listed at high definition in 2018 will be 1080P

4K SDR 2160p – 4K SDR is the entry point into 4K Media. An SDR 2160p supported TV has around 4,000 lines of resolution (the lines across the screen that form the rows of pixels) but is not capable of completely showing the depth and richness of colours spectrum and contrast of 4K HDR. It is by no means a compromise and still an excellent picture, but rather this is due to the physical differences in the construction of the screen and not just how the images are processed, just like the differences between and SD and HDTV.

4K UHD HDR 2160p – The current top end of 4K Media file formats in popular commercial media. A 4K HDR TV has the same 4000 lines of resolution as those that support 4K SDR 2160p, but is physically capable of rendering an image with increased contrast and richer colours\separation thanks to the physical build superiority.

Be sure to check the kind of media you own (or plan on streaming from your Synology NAS), as well as the devices you will be playing back on for a better idea of what kind of plex media transcoding support you will need from your NAS server from Synology. Be sure to check the supported file types (most common modern files types you find for 1080p and 4K are .MKV .MP4 .MOV and .AVI).Below is the entire current Synology NASrange and how well they perform in the Plex Media Server Application with a single Stream.

     
1st Place 

DS3617xs

 2nd Place

DS3018xs

 3rd Place

DS918+

 

 Brand  Model ID  CPU Software Transcoding
SD 480p / 576p HD 720p HD 1080p 4K SDR 2160p 4K UHD HDR 2160p
Synology DS218+ x64 (Celeron J3355) 2.0-2.5 Ghz Yes Yes Some No No
Synology DS418play x64 (Celeron J3355) 2.0-2.5 Ghz Yes Yes Some No No
Synology DS718+ x64 (Celeron J3455) 1.5-2.3 Ghz Yes Yes Some No No
Synology RS818+ / RS818RP+ x64 (Atom C2538) 2.4 Ghz Yes Some Some No No
Synology DS918+ x64 (Celeron J3455) 1.5-2.3 Ghz Yes Yes Some No No
Synology DS1517+ x64 (Atom C2538) 2.4 Ghz Yes Some Some No No
Synology DS1817+ x64 (Atom C2538) 2.4 Ghz Yes Some Some No No
Synology FS2017 x64 (Xeon D-1541) 2.1-2.7 Ghz Yes Yes Yes Some No
Synology FS3017 x64 (Xeon E5-2620 v3) 2.4 Ghz Yes Yes Yes Some No
Synology DS3617xs x64 (Xeon D-1527) 2.2-2.7 Ghz Yes Yes Yes Some No
Synology RS3617xs x64 (Xeon E3-1230 v2) 3.3 Ghz Yes Yes Yes Some No
Synology RS3617RPxs x64 (Xeon E3-1521) 2.4-2.7 Ghz Yes Yes Yes Some No
Synology RS3617xs+ x64 (Xeon D-1531) 2.2-2.7 Ghz Yes Yes Yes Some No
Synology RS4017xs+ x64 (Xeon D-1541) 2.1-2.7 Ghz Yes Yes Yes Some No
Synology RS18017xs+ x64 (Xeon D-1531) 2.2-2.7 Ghz Yes Yes Yes Some No
Synology DS116 ARMv7 (Armada 385) 1.8GHz No No No No No
Synology DS216 ARMv7 (Armada 385) 1.3GHz No No No No No
Synology DS216+ x64 (Celeron N3050) 1.6GHz Yes Yes Some No No
Synology DS216+II x64 (Celeron N3060) 1.6GHz Yes Yes Some No No
Synology DS216j ARMv7 (Armada 385) 1.0GHz No No No No No
Synology DS216play ARMv7 (STM STiH412) 1.5GHz No No No No No
Synology DS216se ARMv7 (Armada 370) 0.8GHz No No No No No
Synology DS416 ARMv7 (Alpine AL-212) 1.4GHz No No No No No
Synology DS416j ARMv7 (Armada 385) 1.3GHz No No No No No
Synology DS416play x64 (Celeron N3060) 1.6GHz Yes Yes Some No No
Synology DS416slim ARMv7 (Armada 385) 1.0GHz No No No No No
Synology DS716+ x64 (Celeron N3150) 1.6GHz Yes Yes Some No No
Synology DS716+II x64 (Celeron N3160) 1.6GHz Yes Yes Some No No
Synology RS816 ARMv7 (Armada 385) 1.8GHz No No No No No
Synology DS916+ x64 (Pentium N3710) 1.6GHz Yes Yes Some No No
Synology RS18016xs+ x64 (Xeon E3-1230 v2) 3.3Ghz Yes Yes Yes Some No
Synology RS2416+/ RP+ x64 (Atom C2538) 2.4GHz Yes No No No No
Synology DS115j ARMv7 (Armada 370) 0.8GHz No No No No No
Synology DS215+ ARMv7 (Alpine AL-212) 1.4GHz No No No No No
Synology DS215j ARMv7 (Armada 375) 0.8GHz No No No No No
Synology DS415+ x64 (Atom C2538) 2.4GHz Yes Some Some No No
Synology DS415play x86 (Atom CE5335) 1.6GHz Yes Some No No No
Synology DS715 ARMv7 (Alpine AL-314) 1.4GHz No No No No No
Synology DS1515 ARMv7 (Alpine AL-314) 1.4GHz No No No No No
Synology DS1515+ x64 (Atom C2538) 2.4GHz Yes Some Some No No
Synology DS1815+ x64 (Atom C2538) 2.4GHz Yes Some Some No No
Synology DS2015+ ARMv7 (Alpine AL-514) 1.4GHz No No No No No
Synology DS3615xs x64 (Core i3-4130) 3.4GHz Yes Yes Yes No No
Synology DS114 ARMv7 (Armada 370) 1.2GHz No No No No No
Synology DS214 ARMv7 (Armada XP) 1.066GHz No No No No No
Synology RS214 ARMv7 (Armada 370) 1.33GHz No No No No No
Synology DS214+ ARMv7 (Armada XP) 1.33GHz No No No No No
Synology DS214play x86 (Atom CE5335) 1.6GHz Yes Some No No No
Synology DS214se ARMv7 (Armada 370) 0.8GHz No No No No No
Synology DS414 ARMv7 (Armada XP) 1.33GHz No No No No No
Synology DS414slim ARMv7 (Armada 370) 1.2GHz No No No No No
Synology DS2314+ x64 (Atom D2700) 2.13GHz Yes Some No No No
Synology RS2414(RP)+ x64 (Atom D2700) 2.13GHz Yes Some No No No
Synology DS213j ARMv7 (Armada 370) 1.2GHz No No No No No
Synology DS713+ x64 (Atom D2700) 2.13GHz Yes Some No No No
Synology DS1513+ x64 (Atom D2700) 2.13GHz Yes Some No No No
Synology DS1813+ x64 (Atom D2700) 2.13GHz Yes Some No No No
Synology DS2413+ x64 (Atom D2700) 2.13GHz Yes Some No No No
Synology RS10613xs+ x64 (Xeon E3-1220 v2) 3.1GHz Yes Yes Yes No No
Synology DS412+ x64 (Atom D2700) 2.13GHz Yes Some No No No
Synology DS712+ x86 (Atom D425) 1.8GHz No No No No No
Synology RS812 x64 (Atom D2700) 2.13GHz Yes Some No No No
Synology RS812+ x64 (Atom D2700) 2.13GHz Yes Some No No No
Synology DS1512+ x64 (Atom D2700) 2.13GHz Yes Some No No No
Synology DS1812+ x64 (Atom D2700) 2.13GHz Yes Some No No No
Synology RS2212+ x64 (Atom D2700) 2.13GHz Yes Some No No No
Synology RS3412xs x64 (Core i3-2100) 3.1GHz Yes Yes Yes No No
Synology DS3612xs x64 (Core i3-2100) 3.1GHz Yes Yes Yes No No
Synology DS411+ x86 (Atom D510) 1.6GHz No No No No No
Synology DS411+ II x86 (Atom D525) 1.8GHz No No No No No
Synology DS1511+ x86 (Atom D525) 1.8GHz No No No No No
Synology DS2411+ x86 (Atom D525) 1.8GHz No No No No No
Synology RS2211+ x86 (Atom D525) 1.8GHz No No No No No
Synology RS2411xs x64 (Core i3-2100) 3.1GHz Yes Yes Yes No No
Synology DS3611xs x64 (Core i3-2100) 3.1GHz Yes Yes Yes No No
Synology DS710+ x86 (Atom D410) 1.6GHz No No No No No
Synology RS810+ x86 (Atom D510) 1.6GHz No No No No No
Synology DS1010+ x86 (Atom D510) 1.6GHz No No No No No


What is Accelerated Transcoding with Plex on my NAS?

Some Synology NAS arrive with a CPU that has improved rendering or graphical embedding enabled. This means that is Plex can utilize this hardware for transcoding, it will require much, much less of the CPU processing power to transcode a video file. In order to take advantage of Plex hardware transcoding on your Synology NAS, you will need to first check which NAS supports the transcoding to the extent you need by checking below. Next, you will need to upgrade your Plex Membership from the free version to the paid ‘Plex Pass’ subscription, as the option of Accelerated Transcoding with Synology NAS hardware is not included in the plex free subscription.

Below are all the current available Synology NAS and to what extent they support Hardware transcoding with a Plex Pass:

 Brand  Model ID Hardware Transcoding    
SD 480p

/576p

HD

720p

HD

1080p

4K SDR

2160p

4K UHD

HDR 2160p

Synology DS218+ Yes Yes Yes Decode Only No
Synology DS418play Yes Yes Yes Decode Only No
Synology DS718+ Yes Yes Yes Decode Only No
Synology RS818+ / RS818RP+ No No No No No
Synology DS918+ Yes Yes Yes Decode Only No
Synology DS1517+ No No No No No
Synology DS1817+ No No No No No
Synology FS2017 No No No No No
Synology FS3017 No No No No No
Synology DS3617xs No No No No No
Synology RS3617xs No No No No No
Synology RS3617RPxs No No No No No
Synology RS3617xs+ No No No No No
Synology RS4017xs+ No No No No No
Synology RS18017xs+ No No No No No
Synology DS116 No No No No No
Synology DS216 No No No No No
Synology DS216+ Yes Yes Yes No No
Synology DS216+II Yes Yes Yes No No
Synology DS216j No No No No No
Synology DS216play No No No No No
Synology DS216se No No No No No
Synology DS416 No No No No No
Synology DS416j No No No No No
Synology DS416play Yes Yes Yes No No
Synology DS416slim No No No No No
Synology DS716+ Yes Yes Yes No No
Synology DS716+II Yes Yes Yes No No
Synology RS816 No No No No No
Synology DS916+ Yes Yes Yes No No
Synology RS18016xs+ No No No No No
Synology RS2416+/ RP+ No No No No No
Synology DS115j No No No No No
Synology DS215+ No No No No No
Synology DS215j No No No No No
Synology DS415+ No No No No No
Synology DS415play No No No No No
Synology DS715 No No No No No
Synology DS1515 No No No No No
Synology DS1515+ No No No No No
Synology DS1815+ No No No No No
Synology DS2015+ No No No No No
Synology DS3615xs No No No No No
Synology DS114 No No No No No
Synology DS214 No No No No No
Synology RS214 No No No No No
Synology DS214+ No No No No No
Synology DS214play No No No No No
Synology DS214se No No No No No
Synology DS414 No No No No No
Synology DS414slim No No No No No
Synology DS2314+ No No No No No
Synology RS2414(RP)+ No No No No No
Synology DS213j No No No No No
Synology DS713+ No No No No No
Synology DS1513+ No No No No No
Synology DS1813+ No No No No No
Synology DS2413+ No No No No No
Synology RS10613xs+ No No No No No
Synology DS412+ No No No No No
Synology DS712+ No No No No No
Synology RS812 No No No No No
Synology RS812+ No No No No No
Synology DS1512+ No No No No No
Synology DS1812+ No No No No No
Synology RS2212+ No No No No No
Synology RS3412xs No No No No No
Synology DS3612xs No No No No No
Synology DS411+ No No No No No
Synology DS411+ II No No No No No
Synology DS1511+ No No No No No
Synology DS2411+ No No No No No
Synology RS2211+ No No No No No
Synology RS2411xs No No No No No
Synology DS3611xs No No No No No
Synology DS710+ No No No No No
Synology RS810+ No No No No No
Synology DS1010+ No No No No No

How to Enable Hardware Acceleration with Plex Media Server on a Synology NAS

To use Hardware Transcoding on your Synology NAS in a Plex Media Server, you need to enable it using the Plex Web access (head over to your Plex User interface on your browser.

  1. Open the Plex Web app.
  2. Navigate to Settings > Server > Transcoder to access the server settings.
  3. Turn on Show Advanced in the upper-right corner to expose advanced settings.
  4. Turn on Use hardware acceleration when available.
    hwaccel.png
  5. Click Save Changes at the bottom.

The changes should take place straight away and there is no need to reboot your Synology NAS. Be sure to have updated to the latest version of the Plex Media Server application on your NAS and that Hardware Transcoding is listed as supported in the list above.

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