Best NAS for Plex in 2019

Best Plex Media Server NAS to Buy in 2019

If you are looking to upgrade your multimedia setup in 2019, chances are that you have already heard of the great multimedia application, Plex Media Server (PMS), that allows you to access all your movies and boxsets anywhere in the world, on almost any device! Plex is supported by everything from Smart TVs and Consoles, through to iOS and Android Phones – this incredibly accessible and intuitive media application provides all your owned media to you, as well as dressing it with titles, descriptions, background studio information, cast lists and recommendations for other shows! It is the perfect multimedia tool for those that want the colourful and information user interface similar to Netflix and Amazon Instant, but want to enjoy their own media, rather than stream/rent media from an online source! If you are looking to build your perfect Plex Media Server, it is highly recommended that you use a Network Attached Storage (NAS) drive. This affordable server solution for plex means you have a discreet solution that is easy to setup, easy to forget and will just run in the corner of a room/cupboard as your multimedia centre and let you access all your films, box sets and home movies ANYWHERE in the world. However, choosing the right NAS for a plex media server can be difficult. Big brands such as Synology, QNAP, Asustor, WD and Netgear all have a range of NAS drives available that all promise to support the Plex Media Server application (which is FREE), but each performs better or worse than another. So today, I want to discuss the Top Plex Media Server NAS from each brand, at £500, £1000 and £2000+.

Important Considerations When Using Plex Media Server on a NAS

Although the Plex Media Server application is available for NAS drives, mobile phones, tablets, PCs, TVs, consoles and more, the way you plan on using it will certainly change the kind of NAS you will need for your perfect plex media server NAS. There are so, so many options that are open to you and though you can just select the default/base setup for ease, if you want a more tailored PLEX NAS, you will need to factor the following considerations before choosing the right NAS drive.

720p, 1080p and 4K on a Plex Media Server NAS

The resolution and format of the media you want to watch should be taken into consideration. For a start, although a massive 4K version of Avengers will look spectacular on a modern Smart TV, it will be huge overkill in file size and resolution for a mobile phone and in most cases for smooth playback, low mobile data use and just ease of access, a NAS will resize/change the file to a format to a version that is better for the device you are watching on. If your video library contains a big mix of high-resolution media and/or you are going to be watching on a range of different devices, then you should spend a little more for a NAS with a much more capable CPU inside.

Number of Simultaneous Users on a Plex Media Server NAS

A NAS drive gives you and many users the ability to access the media storage inside at exactly the same time, each with their own bespoke login details and account. This access is extended to Plex Media Server too and you can create connections for multiple devices in the home and over the internet for friends and family easily. However, the more users accessing data at the same time can result in the NAS having to work harder to maintain good access for all. If you are looking at providing Plex Media Server access to the NAS from multiple points in the home, as well as one or two outside the home over the internet (on the commute, when on holiday, or to family members at college perhaps), then you will need to look at much more powerful CPU enabled NAS, as well as 8GB of 1GB of memory as a starting point (2GB minimum to start with, 4GB Recommended).

Local, Network and Internet Access to your Plex Media Server NAS

The Plex Media Server Application takes advantage of the NAS drives ability to be accessed via your home network (so, in laymen’s terms, all devices in the home using the same internet connection) as well as the ability to access it outside the home safely and securely via an easy DDNS setup. Most NAS will provide this functionality to a greater or lesser degree. However, some NAS arrives with HDMI and remote control support too and Plex Media Server can take advantage of this too and allow you to watch your plex media server media via HDMI like any TV box device, which full control. This will remove any transcoding issues and free up hardware power for other users who are accessing the media via the network or internet. Most NAS that Support HDMI will arrive with an infrared (IR) remote control or a free app for iOS or Android.

Maximum Storage Space in your Plex Media Server NAS

When it comes to planning the storage space for your media, you should take into consideration three factors:

i) Make sure you buy enough hard drive capacity/space for ALL your media

ii) Make sure you buy enough capacity/space to store your future media. Most people will go by ‘CURRENT STORAGE’ + 20% for each year you will use the NAS realistically (5 years generally)

iii) Factor hard drive failure protection, such as RAID (redundant array of independent discs) that spreads data and blueprints of data across multiple drives. This way if a drive suffers mechanical failure, your data is still safe and not lost. RAID will almost always reduce your overall available storage capacity (to create that safety net), so do bear that in mind.

Why is Choosing the Right NAS brand for a Plex Media Server NAS Important?

So, those are the most important factors when choosing the right PLEX NAS setup, but if it is only about hardware – why are there SO many different NAS brands? Well, each NAS drive arrives with a dedicated operating system and user-finterface. This UI is accessible via a web browser like Chrome or Firefox, as well as multiple mobile apps and PC clients. Each brand has a very different software build quality/priority and it is recommended you choose a brand that is best suited to your environment for ease of access (e.g Synology is very similar to Mac OSX and QNAP NAS is very similar to Android). Additionally, you will most likely be using the NAS drive for more than Plex, in an effort to make the most of your purchase, as different NAS brands provide differing levels of support for backups, DLNA media, Surveillance, VMs and more. Below I have broken down the top 3 Plex NAS drives for each brand depending on your budget, as well as details on each NAS brand (inc Pros and Cons).

Remember that you will need to buy at least 1 Hard Drive or SSD in order to store your media.

Best Synology Plex Media Server NAS for 2019

Probably the most user-friendly NAS brand, Synology has been featuring popular app support in programs like Plex Media Server, VMs, Surveillance and more for years now. What makes them appealing to many is their DSM Software has completely changed what people think network storage is about and made devices incredibly accessible and versatile. They have the biggest range of first-party applications for managing your data in some fantastic ways that rival that of third-party cloud providers like Google Drive and DropBox. As well as software tools that rival well-established names e.g Synology Chat is an alternative to Skype, Synology Office is an alternative to Google Docs, Synology Drive is a 1-Point access software alternative to Google Drive. This combined with a large range of mobile apps. They generally have lower hardware vs price compared with their biggest rival, QNAP, but in terms of software, they are the best in the world for NAS drives right now in 2019.

PROs  –  Excellent Software, VERY user-friendly, fantastic Surveillance application, Multiple PC, NAS and Free Server Backup tool in Active Backup Suite that would cost you £100-1000 from current business 3rd party apps

CONs – Generally lower hardware spec in the PLUS series than most, no HDMI or direct access options, weaker 3rd party app support

 

Plex NAS Tier

 

 

 

 

 

 

NAS Model
720p, 1080p, 4K or ALL? 720p and 1080p 1080p and Some 4K ALL
Number of Users Accessing 1-5 5-10 (without transcoding) 10+
Max Storage in Terabytes 28TB RAW (2 Bays) 64TB RAW (4 Bays) 100TB+
CPU Power/Efficiency
Best Price

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Best QNAP Plex Media Server NAS for 2019

The other big, big name in NAS drives is QNAP. If you are looking for the best Price Vs Hardware NAS drive out there, as well as really innovative hard design, then QNAP is very much the brand you should be looking for as a plex media server in 2019. Their software user interface is called QTS and is much more sytled in favour of Android or Windows. It gives you alot of the control and configuration options that Synology tend to hide away for the sake of simplicity. Alongside this some QNAP have some truly one-of-a-kind hardware options available, such as Thunderbolt connectivity, multiple HDMI ports, Direct USB access, Power over ethernet LAN support and stereo speakers. Also, although their first party apps are not as good as synology’s, they are really close and even more diverse. This is also helped with a much better third party app support and a host of applciations that are supported by HDMI output.

PROs  – The best CPU you can get, such as Ryzen 7, Intel i7, 8th Gen Pentium and more. 4K HDMI, Much more customizable than most, Silent NAS options, variety of chassis choices, Great applications, Twodifferent Surveillance Apps, Plex via HDMI, Lower Hardware cost

CONs – 2 Year Warranty on most of their range, Confusing range at times, not quite as user-friendly as Synology

 

Plex NAS Tier

 

 

 

NAS Model
720p, 1080p, 4K or ALL? 720p and 1080p 1080p and Some 4K ALL
Number of Users Accessing 1-5 5-10 (without transcoding) 10+
Max Storage in Terabytes 28TB RAW (2 Bays) 64TB RAW (4 Bays) 100TB+
CPU Power/Efficiency
Best Price

Alternative NAS Options Here

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Best Asustor Plex Media Server NAS for 2019

One brand that is often overlooked is Asustor NAS. This is largely due to this range of NAS being available to buy easily in less regions than QNAP and Synology. Much like QNAP, they have a good price vs hardware price point, as well as a good range of CPU and chassis options. Much like Synology, their User Interface tried to be as user-friendly as possible, but manages to land somewhere between QNAP and Synology in the difficulty of use, so not too shabby! Asustor NAS also have a better degree of support for 4K HDMI in their NAS than most of their competitors than will support multiple applications to a display device. What makes them appealing for many is that they support an incredible lineup of applications for modders and PC tinkering types. You can run a MAME/SEGA/Ninento emulator on the device, you can run Netflix, KODI and Amazon Instant, you can install an unoffical Mac based virtual machine with VirtualBox and Hackintosh – these are things that almost all other NAS brands either cannot do, or won’t do. Additionally, in 2019 they have upgraded their graphical user interface (GUI), made it appear fresher and faster, as well as now provide file system support BRTFS internally.

PROs  –  Good range of Intel CPUs available, Very Cost Effective 10Gbe Options released in 2018/19, HDMI2.0a NAS options, USB-C Options,Often featured in Amazon Discounts, Good support of homebrew/custom software over network and HDMI

CONs – Little dated Chassi design, Poorer global coverage than QNAP and Synology

Plex NAS Tier

 

 

 

NAS Model
720p, 1080p, 4K or ALL? 720p and 1080p 1080p and Some 4K ALL
Number of Users Accessing 1-5 5-10 (without transcoding) 10+
Max Storage in Terabytes 28TB RAW (2 Bays) 64TB RAW (4 Bays) 100TB+
CPU Power/Efficiency
Best Price

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Best WD Plex Media Server NAS for 2019

Easily one of the most recognizable names in NAS is Western Digital. Their range of NAS storage devices (the My Cloud Series) are seen in many consumer locations, as well as with content creators. WD have already got a huge legacy in data storage with an impressive range of hard drives and SSD, which you have likely used in one device or another in the last 20+ years. The WD NAS range of devices is aimed at creating an affordable, powerful and robust network storage solution that suits both home and business. Their range covers teh WD My Cloud Home, EX2, Pro and Sentinal series that are respectiveily aimed at Home, Students, Prosumers and Business storage. These arrive with a number of key 1st party apps for file management, backups and enjoying media over DLNA, as well as supporting a number of popular 3rd party applciations such as Apple TTime Machine and Plex Media Server. Another advantage for many who choose WD as their first/second NAS drive is that the entire range can be purchased with or without WD Hard Drives pre-installed. The WD My Cloud NAS range arrives with WD Red NAS hard drives included (at a lower cost than buying them seperately) and means that your 3 year warranty covers everything. As affordable and reliableas they are though, it is still worth remembering that they area little less flashyin their user interface and apps when compared with most of the brands on this list and should be considered for those looking for uncomplicated and simple NAS data storage.In terms of Plex Media Server, WD My Cloud NAS Pro is still one of the best performing NAS drives for streaming and transcoding , thanks to that Pentium 4 core CPU and the fact the WD OS lets Plex access the transcoding engine – something few NAS brands have beenable to easily achieve.

PROs  – Very Affordable, One of the Best Plex NAS 2/4 Bays at this price, Hard Drives Included, Dual PSU design options in DesktopNAS, Low noise, very familiar brand

CONs – Feels a little basic compared with Synology/QNAP/Asustor, the OS still feels very lackluster, very few 1st party mobile applications, relieves too much on 3rd party programs

 

Plex NAS Tier

 

 

 

NAS Model
720p, 1080p, 4K or ALL? 720p and 1080p 1080p and Some 4K ALL
Number of Users Accessing 1-5 5-10 (without transcoding) 10+
Max Storage in Terabytes 28TB RAW (2 Bays) 64TB RAW (4 Bays) 100TB+
CPU Power/Efficiency
Best Price

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Best Netgear Plex Media Server NAS for 2019

Much like WD, you will be hard pushed to find a better known brand than Netgear. Netgear have been in the industry of network applicances for a very, very long time. Chances are you have owned several Netgear products and didn’t even realise it (your Internet Service Provider normally rebands Netgear Routers with their own branding before shipping to custoemrs). Netegar have been producing NAS drives for home and business users for a number of years now and although they seem to be primarily aimed at enterprise users (in both design and price), they do have alot to offer home users too. Once again, much like WD NAS, Netgear feature a straight forwarduser interface, a so-so range of first party applications and a great support of third party apps. There is no avoiding that you will needa pinch more network knowledge compared with most of the other NAS brands on this lest, but if you are ok with learning some very basic level network concepts (or know someone who can), then what you have is a remarkably robust NAS that arrives with good warrnty options, good hardware inside and a very reliable brand. Just don’t expect the chewable and friendly GUI that you find from DSM and QTS. Finally, these devices can be purchased empty or pre-populated with HDDs.

PROs  – Nice Chassis, Good Business Hardware and Software Support (VMs, ISCSI, Server Backups, etc), Fast Booting and Quiet Running in desktop models, Long Warranties and fast Advance Replacements, Support for Plex and DLNA Media on Home models (CPU dependant)

CONs – Quite Expensive, VERY few apps that you can install, BIG reliance on 3rd party apps, Generally bigger and noisier than most NAS drives in the market

 

Plex NAS Tier

 

 

 

NAS Model
720p, 1080p, 4K or ALL? 720p and 1080p 1080p and Some 4K ALL
Number of Users Accessing 1-5 5-10 (without transcoding) 10+
Max Storage in Terabytes 28TB RAW (2 Bays) 64TB RAW (4 Bays) 100TB+
CPU Power/Efficiency
Best Price

Alternative NAS Options Here

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Best TerraMaster Plex Media Server NAS for 2019

There are many, many super budget and low cost NAS brands  that easily get overlooked and ignored. In most cases this is because they are poor quality products, unsupportive brands or are companies looking to turn a quick buck. Ofall of these brands considered ‘budget’, one that I have kept a close eye on has been TerraMaster NAS. This brand that is almost exclusively available on Amazon is certainly an impressive example of a NAS maker that started on a tight, tight budget and managed to make incredible progress in a short amount of time – rivalling the evolution of Synology and QNAP. The TerraMaster NAS range is made up with 2 and 4-Bay NAS servers taht include Intel Celeron and Realtek Dual Core and Quad Core Processors. They do feature some of the most dated looked chassis I have ever seen, but even this has been upgradedin 2018/19 and now (although still a little plastic-fantastic) is still very functional and more than sufficient. Aside from that , there is very little more to say about Terramaster in hardware, but in software, they manage to have a surprisingly competant operating system in TOS (TerraMaster Operating System – I know, super imaginative). Arriving with several first party apps, RAID Support, a competant file manager, DLNA support, 3rd party support for Plex Media Server (yes – even with transcoding!) and even a couple of easy to use mobile applications. Considering they lack the deep, deep R&D pocket budget of Synology NAS, they have managed to produce a very impressive device for multimedia and backups. Just remember that you are dealing with a smaller and more thinly spread brand and therefore this is apparent in manufacturer support and overall design. Still, if you are on a tight budget for a plex media server NAS – you will struggle to find a better budget option in 2019.

PROs  –  Low Price, Good CPU Options, Supports Max Sized SATA HDD, Supports Key 3RD Party Apps like Plex and Apple Time Machine, Suprisingly  well developed GUI, Mobile Apps

CONs – Cheap Chassis Design, Slightly ‘lite’ feeling to the UI compared with Big Name Brands, No HDMI, PCIe or External Support beyond USB and LAN

 

Plex NAS Tier

 

 

 

NAS Model
720p, 1080p, 4K or ALL? 720p and 1080p 1080p and Some 4K ALL
Number of Users Accessing 1-5 5-10 (without transcoding) 10+
Max Storage in Terabytes 28TB RAW (2 Bays) 64TB RAW (4 Bays) 100TB+
CPU Power/Efficiency
Best Price

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2 thoughts on “Best NAS for Plex in 2019

  1. Hi and thank you for this review…..but you stated you would say your best 3 Plex NAS for each brand at your budget. Sorry but I can not see your recommendations, just pros and cons for each brand.
    Very good info though as usual.
    Cheers.
    Clive.

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