Transcoding 4K Media on the TS-451D2 NAS Plex Media Server
Smooth playback of high-end media on a NAS is always something that you cannot really cheap-out on. if you are investing in a new NAS system and are looking for a solution that will last for a good few years alongside your TV/Sound system, then you need to choose wisely. This also applies to choosing a QNAP NAS that will have the horsepower to convert your big, BIG files into something more suitable with your mobile devices, tablets and more – known as transcoding. Transcoding on a NAS such as the TS-451D2 device is the ability for a multimedia file to be changed from it’s existing format or codec to one that is better suited to the destination device. In this file access, the TS-451D2 NAS is the host device and the device you want to play the file is the client. This is the case of whether you are using Plex or not. Transcoding is typically required when a media file is more recently released than the client device that is accessing it, so the newer compression or playback format is unknown to the device you want to access it with. Alternatively, you want to access the movie or music on your TS-451D2 and do not want to use the original file in its full size. Transcoding can enable you to stream a much smaller version in weight or resolution if needed. In a popular program such as PLEX, smooth playback is essential, and with the plex media server application on the TS-451D2 NAS using a larger percentage of CPU and Memory than most programs, it is very useful to know the plex transcoding abilities of any NAS.
Why should you factor transcoding with a Plex Media Server on a TS-451D2 NAS
When you install a Plex Media Server on your TS-451D2, you should know that plex is not the answer to all of your media prayers. It has some limitations and depending on the NAS you use, these limits can be annoying. You will most likely have media files in a large collection of different formats and there is no guaranteeing that these are going to be compatible with TVs, iPads and Smartphones that you wish to watch them on. Although you will have a version of the Plex app on the viewing device, that app will still be locked to playback the supported media types on that device.
So if your phone does not support .MKV or .MOV, then neither does the plex app you installed on it. However, this is where transcoding comes in again, as the plex media server will use the NAS system resources to change the file to a version/format that it CAN play. What makes transcoding with Plex different to ordinary transcoding is that often, the NAS (in this case, the TS-451D2) will not let the plex use the transcoding engine inside. This is not the end of the world, as it will use raw system power instead. The result is that where a regular transcode outside of plex will use 20-30%, in plex it could go as high as 70-80%. This is why it is important to know how well a plex NAS will transcode, as if it will happen regularly, it could potentially slow down the general use of your TS-451D2 NAS. In the case of Xeon based NAS devices (such as the QNAP TS-451D2), these processors do not feature embedded graphics components (AKA a transcoding engine) and therefore they will require the system to use raw CPU power to get the job done. This is less efficient than a GPU-assisted processor like an Intel Core or AMD Radeon, but it makes up for it with just having more power.
Which Plex supported client devices require transcoding from the TS-451D2 NAS
Destination devices range greatly and are often referred to as the client device. Common client devices that your TS-451D2 device will be accessed by are often:
- iPad or Android Tablet
- iPhone or Android Smartphone
- Smart TV or DLNA supported monitor
- MacBook, Laptop or Netbook device
- Sound systems such as Bose, Sonos and Sony DLNA systems
- Home Theatre Systems
- Network and internet-enabled gaming consoles such as PS4, Xbox One and Nvidia Shield
Transcoding between a TS-451D2 and your media can be of tremendous benefit for those with limited internet bandwidth, download limits or low powered devices whilst using the plex client application.
What are the Specifications of the TS-451D2 NAS?
The specifications for the TS-451D2 NAS are below and like all NAS devices, the CPU and Memory play a big part in how well it performs at transcoding both in and out of plex. The key factors to consider are if the device features an x86 or ARM-based CPU, does the TS-451D2 CPU feature a transcoding engine (sadly not) and how much RAM the device arrives with for multiple transcoding tasks (8GB by default, going up to 32GB). Below are the TS-451D2 specs:
The QNAP TS-451D2 4-Bay NAS – £430+
SPECS – CPU TRANSCODING ENGINE: YES 1080P Support: YES 4K Support: YES Transcoding Support: YES, HARDWARE
If you are thinking of buying a QNAP NAS, please use the links below
What is the difference between H.264 and H.265 4K Media on a NAS
H.264 and H.265 are common codecs of modern digital media. H264 is also referred to as AVC by experts (Advanced Video Coding) and is considered the standard for video file compression. This allows for media originally created for large-scale entertainment to be recording, compressed, and distributed to the home and smaller-scale production of digital video content watched by you, the consumer via Plex. H265 is the newer and more consumer-friendly alternative to H264. It is also known as HEVC (High-Efficiency Video Coding) and was developed in order to resolve issues of enormous 4K media files being just too large for your client device to playback. H.265 has become so popular and data saving that chances are that the YouTube clip, iTunes media or iPlayer content you watched was in .265 and HEVC. One issue of H.265 however does have it’s own drawbacks, with many NAS devices being unable to playback the media by default for licencing reasons, CPU incompatibility or the graphics driver that Plex uses in the system not being suitable. Typically a modern NAS such as the TS-451D2 will playback with JUST H.265 or H.254, or it will Playback both H.264 and H.265. The latter pretty much being exclusive to x86 or AMD based NAS CPU devices.
The TS-451D2 NAS Plex Tests – Idle/Standby
To get a better idea of what is considered ‘normal running’ in plex, we installed plex media server, along with a handful of video files that covered SD, 720p, 1080p and 4K, each at either H.264, H.265 (HEVC), UHD, 10bit or a combination of some/all of them. Here is how the NAS looked when in standby/idle (I have circled the important things to look at:
Test 1 TS-451D2 PLEX TEST 720p 0.7Mbps 23FPS
Test 2 TS-451D2 PLEX TEST Transcode 720p TO 480P 1.5Mbps 23FPS
Test 3 TS-451D2 PLEX TEST Transcode 720p TO 240P 0.3Mbps 23FPS
Test 4 TS-451D2 PLEX TEST Transcode 720p TO 160P 0.2Mbps 23FPS
Test 5 TS-451D2 PLEX TEST 1080p 1.9Mbps 29FPS
Test 6 TS-451D2 PLEX TEST Transcode 1080p TO 480P 1.5Mbps 23FPS
Test 7 TS-451D2 PLEX TEST Transcode 1080p TO 240P 0.3Mbps 23FPS
Test 8 TS-451D2 PLEX TEST Transcode 1080p TO 160P 0.2Mbps 23FPS
Test 9 TS-451D2 PLEX TEST 1080p 3Mbps H.264
Test 10 TS-451D2 PLEX TEST Transcode 1080p TO 480P 1.5Mbps 23FPS
Test 11 TS-451D2 PLEX TEST Transcode 1080p TO 160P 0.2Mbps 23FPS
Test 12 TS-451D2 PLEX TEST 1080p 3Mbps H.265 CONVERSION
Test 13 TS-451D2 PLEX TEST HEVC Transcode 1080p TO 480P 1.5Mbps 23FPS
Test 14 TS-451D2 PLEX TEST 1080p 3Mbps H.265 10-BIT CONVERSION
Test 15 TS-451D2 PLEX TEST HEVC 10bit Transcode 1080p TO 480P 1.5Mbps 23FPS
Test 16 TS-451D2 PLEX TEST Transcode HEVC 10bit 1080p TO 160P 0.2Mbps 23FPS
Test 17 TS-451D2 PLEX TEST 1080p 10Mbps H.264
Test 18 TS-451D2 PLEX TEST 1080p 30Mbps H.264
Test 19 TS-451D2 PLEX TEST Transcode H.264 10MBPS 1080p TO 160P 0.2Mbps 23FPS
Test 20 TS-451D2 PLEX TEST 1080p 10Mbps H.265 CONVERSION
Test 21 TS-451D2 PLEX TEST Transcode HEVC 10Mbps 1080p TO 160P 0.2Mbps 23FPS
Test 22 TS-451D2 PLEX TEST Transcode H.264 30MBPS 1080p TO 160P 0.2Mbps 23FPS
Test 23 TS-451D2 PLEX TEST 1080p 30Mbps H.265
Test 24 TS-451D2 PLEX TEST Transcode H.265 30MBPS 1080p TO 160P 0.2Mbps 23FPS
Test 25 TS-451D2 PLEX TEST 1080p 100Mbps H.264
Test 26 TS-451D2 PLEX TEST Transcode H.264 100MBPS 1080p TO 160P 0.2Mbps 23FPS
Test 27 TS-451D2 PLEX TEST Transcode H.265 100MBPS 1080p TO 160P 0.2Mbps 23FPS
Test 28 TS-451D2 PLEX TEST 4K UHD 120Mbps H.264 CONVERSION
Test 29 TS-451D2 PLEX TEST 4K UHD 120Mbps HEVC 10bit CONVERSION
Test 30 TS-451D2 PLEX TEST 4K UHD 120Mbps HEVC 10bit Transcode to 0.2Mbps 160p
Test 31 TS-451D2 PLEX TEST 4K UHD 200Mbps H.264 Transcode to 1.5Mbps 480p
Test 32 TS-451D2 PLEX TEST 4K UHD 400Mbps H.264 Transcode to 1.5Mbps 480p
I hope these Plex Media Server 4K results were of use to you and this helps you consider which NAS you wish to you buy in 2020, whether it is the TS-451D2 or something more or less suited to your needs.
Read the QNAP TS-451D2 NAS Drive Review Below (click)
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