Top 3 NAS for Plex under £500 in 2021

Recommended 3 NAS Drives for Plex Media Server Under £500

The growth in popularity that Plex media server has enjoyed these last few years is genuinely outstanding. Multimedia has gone through several phases as the common household media technology in our homes has evolved, from local media boxes, to popular subscription-based streaming services and now onto the re-emergence of owning your own media server. Privately owned media servers are not exactly new, but the way that this multimedia that you own on a NAS or spare computer system is presented to the end-user is where the real difference lies. Plex media server allows you to turn your decades of multimedia from a rather unappealing array of files and folders and turning into a beautifully presented graphical user interface, that scrapes metadata from numerous online resources for free in order to present you with your very own personal Netflix. With streaming services often costing users £100 a year (not including multi-device licences), lacking the choice of playing content in your own multimedia collection and little or no control over the shows you have available month to month, you can see why a lot of users are taking that money that they would spend on a subscription service and plough it into a NAS drive for Plex media server. That said, a privately owned NAS is going to cost you a few hundred $/£/€ at day one and you want to make sure that you are spending wisely. So today I am going to talk about the top 3 NAS drives for Plex media server that you can buy for less than 500. Each one is guaranteed to playback and transcode 1080p standard media and even some mid to high 4K media too. So what are we waiting for, let’s take a look at my recommended NAS in 2021 for Plex.

Note – it is worth bearing in mind that a NAS drive will still require you to purchase hard drives and although all NAS drive servers for Plex can run with as little as a single hard drive (and then add more later) this still means that you have to factor this into your budget.

 

QUICK CONCLUSION

NASCompares Top 3 Plex NAS for £500

Synology DS220+

Intel J4025 2.0-2.9Ghz CPU
2/6GB Memory

QNAP TS-453D

Intel J4125 2.0-2.7Ghz CPU

4/8GB Memory

 = £500+

Synology DS920+

Intel J4125 2.0-2.7Ghz CPU

4/8GB Memory

= £475

What should I be looking for in a Plex NAS?

Any NAS that is going to be used as a Plex media server needs to have certain hardware and software options as standard, to skip even one of these will severely bottleneck your performance from Day 1. Although most of these are available in more affordable NAS drives, the extent to which they are supported will make all the difference between a good Plex media server and a great Plex media server on a tight budget. (as well as still having money for hard drives). These factors are:
  • An Intel or AMD based CPU that is 64-bit x86 in architecture
  • Support of at least 1080p and 4K regular playback, as well as the support of 1080p transcoding to Plex client devices
  • Embedded graphics or transcoding support (hence that CPU range)
  • At least two Bays of storage (for greater storage and redundancy, AKA – Disk Failure Protection)
  • A frequently updated and stable graphical user interface (such as Synology DSM or QNAP QTS)
  • Support and compatibility for the plex media server application (not all NAS support it, weaker ARM CPU and Unbranded NAS might not)

Rest assured that all three of the NAS drives for Plex that I have recommended below will provide excellent support for these features. It’s no huge secret that any old budget PC, unused Mac  mini or old laptop can run as a Plex media server, but the reason people are purchasing NAS drives from companies like Synology and QNAP for use in Plex is because these devices, even in a budget form, provide the following advantages:
  • Quiet and stable storage
  • RAID functionality for hard drive failure or combined storage
  • 24/7 reliability and efficiency
  • Software and Graphical user interface (GUI) that is easily accessible from a desktop or mobile device
  • Network and Internet access for hundreds of simultaneous users
ALL of these factors are what will ensure your Plex Media Server NAS, (even on a tight budget) will be fantastically capable and stable. So, let’s get on to my top 3 devices for PLEX servers.

Best Plex Media Server NAS for Budget Buyers – Synology DS220+ NAS

Synology DS220+, Intel J4025 2.0-2.9Ghz CPU, 2/6GB Memory, BTRFS, SHR, 2yr Warranty, 2x 1GbE = $330

What we said in our DS220+ Review 06/2020 – The Synology DS220+ affordable NAS does not make overly bold promises, leaving those to more expensive and more powerful devices in the product portfolio (DS920+, DS1621xs, etc). Whether you are a new or old NAS user, Synology has made a clear distinction in the DS220+, showing the difference between buying what you want and buying what you need. That may sound like pointless and annoying rhetoric, but comparing the DS220+ with other diskstation plus series NAS shows you that by removing a lot of the bells and whistles of the bigger and boulder devices (i.e NVMe SSD caching, expandability of storage down the line, longer warranties and higher-end processors) it provides you with a setup that will serve a smaller and less intense user exceptionally well, at a price point that makes the first investment in a Synology NAS considerably easier to make. Ultimately, why buy a Ferrari if you just need something to do the weekly grocery shopping? The Synology DS220+, much like its predecessors in this product line, is still a great and solid NAS purchase in 2020/2021 and something that Synology can continue to be proud of, just don’t expect that Ferrari and you’ll be fine.


 

Best Plex Media Server NAS for Upgrades and Scalability – QNAP TS-453D NAS

QNAP TS-453D, Intel J4125 2.0-2.7Ghz CPU, 4/8GB Memory, EXT4, HDMI, PCIe Upgrades, 2.5GbE, 3yr Warranty = £500+
What we Said in our TS-453D Review on 06/2020 – To put it bluntly – the QNAP TS-453D is a heck of a piece of kit! The hardware available at this price point, along with the software that is bundled with your purchase is possible some of the best ‘price vs return’ I have yet to see in a NAS drive. This combined with a very open-door policy on upgrades and future-proofing, as well as maintaining a very good first/third-party software support ratio, make the QNAP TS-453D one of the best units the company has produced in the history of the brand and an excellent unit to begin a new decade. Is it perfect? No. With a few of the shiny slick branding touches of their biggest rival Synology, as well as a design that is not for everyone, the QNAP TS-453D is a NAS that gives you alot of tools, alot of ways to use them – then lets you choose to how and where you want to interact with it, rather than ask you to do it ‘it’s way’ for the most part. As is often the case, whereas the Synology platform and the closest rival to the TS-453D (the DS920+) will provide a very ‘Apple’ design, fluidity and ease of design to a % of the market, the QNAP TS-453D caters to many more users and although sometimes that versatility can lead to early confusion (a teeny pinch of tech knowledge will help) it is an enormous jump forward for this big brand in NAS storage.


 

Best Plex Media Server NAS for Beginners – Synology DS920+ NAS

Synology DS920+, Intel J4125 2.0-2.7Ghz CPU, 4/8GB Memory, BTRFS, SHR, 3yr Warranty, SSD Caching Option = £475
What we Said in our DS920+ Review on 05/2020 – The DS920+ NAS is something that Synology should be proud of. It is a great entry into their already impressive range of Diskstation NAS devices. If you are looking for a brand new NAS to consolidate your home media, to support your relative as the ‘IT whizz’ of the family, or move your business away from Google Drives and DropBox’ onto something safer, more scalable and dependable – then the DS920+ has alot to offer you. It gives you a great base to start using the DSM platform, as well as a good means to upgrade your storage internally at a later date (expansions in memory, expansions in storage, expansion in NVMe). If you are an existing DS918+ or DS916+ owner, this might not seem like the jump you were waiting for. There are always areas of improvement, the USB ports, the 1Gbe, that 1 memory slot – but these are things that Synology no doubt feel should be pushed into a higher price/hardware bracket – Allowing the DS920+ Price to be as close to its predecessors it can be. Whether you agree or disagree, I think that we can agree that this NAS is still giving you alot of bang for your buck in 2020/2021


It is worth highlighting that regardless of which NAS drive you buy, all three of these devices can do so much more than that, providing you with the following additional software and support options to you, your family and colleagues:
– Multi-tiered backup options for Windows, Mac, Android and Linux devices.
– Synchronisation and migration options for NAS to NAS, cloud to NAS, USB to NAS and Apple time machine.
– DLNA media support for enjoying all your media across all your devices
– Multiple user support that allows simultaneous file access and control over the network and internet.
– Privilege, time limit, password and remote share options for sending files to those that need them
– A wide range of third-party apps support from dedicated app centres via the NAS GUI
– Multiple mobile apps available from iOS and Android, that are free and tailored to different file requirements
– Dedicated surveillance software that allows you to connect access and control multiple pan tilt zoom IP cameras in your network environment and record footage, Taylor alerts and set recording rules
– all arrived with two to three years of manufacturer’s warranty worldwide.
So there you go, those are the best NAS drives for use as a Plex media server for you right now. Still unsure? Not quite ready to spend the money? Never fear, you can always contact me directly for free advice using the form below. This is a free service and only manned by myself and Eddie, so our reply might take an extra day or two, but my advice will be impartial and with your best interests at heart! If you want to support, you can always donate (on the right) or you can click an ad banner and that goes straight to supporting the site!

Use the FREE ADVICE Button to contact me directly for a recommendation on the Best Plex NAS for your Setup/Budget. Please bear in mind that this is a one-man operation, so my reply might take a little bit of time, but it will be impartial, honest and have your best interests at heart.

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    53 thoughts on “Top 3 NAS for Plex under £500 in 2021

    1. I have never quite understood the need for Plex. I retain the original high bit rate files and use ffmpeg to convert them ONCE to 1280x / h.264 / CRF 18-20 or similar with NVENC hardware encoding. I keep both them on my NAS and watch whatever runs best.
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    2. Video Station keeps transcoding movies into 720p even on devices that should be able to handle the original 1080p for those files, and I don’t know why.
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    3. I’ve got plex and it’s truly brilliant. It’s got stuff i keep finding which makes it even better like go to movies choose country and go to say Korea and the films are truly A1 !!! Try series there’s everything!!!! My plex is great and I’ve got it on my firestick!!
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    4. Every PC I have owned in the last 45 years has run 24/7/365 so sorry this does not make sense. A properly constructed PC will run without issue 24/7/365. Nas and File Hosts have always been ripped off with this logic. Most companies Intel, AMD, Nvidia all make the biggest profit from selling components to File Hosts. I can understand arguing that the components Like Xeon and its competitors from AMD and Nvidia with their error correcting have commercial value, but it can’t be proved that their MTBF rate justifies the price differential or use case. Components in small business and home user are a rip-off, plain and simple. Sadly because most people don’t want the hassle of building their own or don’t have the knowledge. So this could be argued that the service provided meets a need, but it does so at a completely unreasonable value. You could easily build a NAS for a quarter of the price any of these companies provide one, and they have the saving of scale purchasing. I like your website, though I am sorry I disagree with the logic that people spout that components used in commercial NAS’s are justifiable based on reliability they are not they are basic cheap lowest spec parts. IF you start with a low spec CPU, you are going to carry this low spec part selection right through the build, as nothing else would make sense. Having a top end CPU with a low- end graphics card would illustrate this, it would be point less. If the CPU in these Nas’s is so pathetic, then all the other components will be too. In one of your other videos, you correctly point out that these low end CPU’s cant properly take advantage of PCI 4.0 now 5.0 and lose all the benefits of technology available now. Cost is important but TBH anyone serious about NAS should consider their own build all these pre-built NAS’s are appalling
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    5. I don’t think transcoding is as important as it used to be. Many devices these days can handle the files and don’t need a transcode. I’m not gonna ask my NAS to play an H265 file natively, I’ll run it through a device and connect via SMB.
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    6. I was an early adopter of NAS and had the pos Buffalo 4bay Nas. I swear every time I called costumer service a kid was stoned, had no idea of what raid was, or cache, port forwarding, etc ????. Anyways my question is streaming from somewhere afar like a hotel or friends house any good? The buffalo was on and off and most times glitchy or didn’t work.
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    7. Good video, thinking of buying a new nas to handle my plex as i am running out of space for my movie library. What do you think of this one QNAP TVS-h1688X-W1250-32G? Will I need to add a video card to do the transcoding although not really thinking of streaming to smaller devices. What’s important to me is that it can stream 4K files without effort, I use a couple of nividia sheilds to play on my 4k TVs and have a pretty good network.
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    8. About a 1GB network, (Does that mean the ethernet connections between router, nas, and clients?) That the speed of Nas drive function wont matter as much with higher speed drives if the ethernet is maxed out at 1GB (Router?)? I heard a 6e cat might be over kill. Not sure if that is true . . .And does that mean a better router would avoid a bottleneck?
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    9. I’ve tried PLEX server a few times and always found it hard to set up and maintain. I much prefer Emby and even though it’s not a direct install on QNAP, it’s easy enough to install as a third party. Then I use Kodi on the TV with the Emby plugin to access the server directly. Yes I could use the Emby app (and it does work), but I find shows look better in Kodi’s media player.

      The only downside is if/when you update your QTS version – mostly I have to reinstall Emby and set the server up again. After using Emby for years, I basically split everything out on the server directories into watched/unwatched. That way it’s easy to set up again as even with the .nfo files in the directory (which store the status of the played file), Emby doesn’t always look at it when re-installing.

      And BTW – It does hardware trans-coding for free.
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    10. If you open a 2160p file on a 1080p laptop for example it just works. If you locate a network 2160p file and play from source on the same laptop, it just works. So why when you get plex involved does it crap the bed? THIS is what im trying to work out before buying a nas over just having a second pc.
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    11. Can someone with a bit of knowledge help me please I was looking at getting a Synology DS418 for a Plex server. 1) would this be a good Nas to run Plex and 2) how many users could I have connect to the server. Many thanks
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    12. A couple of questions:

      Regarding expandability — what’s involved with adding extra drives to a NAS? Would I have to back up existing data, reformat the whole NAS, then reload existing data? Or can the system just see extra drives and somehow just use them?

      I notice that my Roku device can not only access a Plex server but also a Roku server. What are the relative advantages to each?
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    13. My plan is to add a NAS onto my current server PC running plex. I can do that right? Just using the NAS as storage and continue running the server portion on the PC? Map the drives in the nas to the server and add it to my collection?
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    14. With you on Rise of Skywalker, bro. The whole sequel trilogy, actually. Kathleen Kennedy really mucked up the handling of those movies. So glad to see her out of the picture and Dave Filoni taking over.
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    15. Alas just missed the April release of the Apple TV 4K 2021 which has a decent remote again. I agree that touch surface was a neat idea, but in reality did not work well.
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    16. Hi, I need some help, Im looking at buying a NAS and I would like to buy a Synology because of SHR Raid. I want to have all my photos and movies both the once I shoot and a Plex library. I was thinking of a DS1621+ and add one or two NVME.2 and run six seagate Exos 6TB I have a Samsung tv 4k so want to stream 4k to the tv, but I do not really understand if that would work or do I need to buy something else because it does not have a GPU. I have it on standard home network. Also is a NVME.2 memory good upgrade for my use? With one should I buy and do I need to buy 2 or is one enough and what sizes?
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    17. DS920+ it can read 2 or 3 videos same times ?
      I want to creat a PLEX server for my KIDS at home on differents devices.
      TV with a Google Chromecast 3rd Gen and on iPad / iPhone for replace Netflix.
      It’s very difficult to understand all your video (transcode H264 / H265)
      I just want find the best NAS possible with a good price (if possible), and not want to buy the wrong NAS with bad experience when my kids launch there film.
      Thank you
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    18. I think the thing with plex pass and transcoding is just for hardware transcoding, mainly an external or pci GPU if the cpu has imbedded graphics it should still encode the same with or without plex pass.
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    19. on my 20gb ram ds920+, I’m able to play 4k uncompressed, completely just copy and pasted from the uhd disk to the hard drive. so about 60-70Mb/s playing back on my nvidia shield. no skips, no buffers. nothing. plays flawlessly
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    20. Good night, I’m from Mexico, you know I would like a NAS for Plex but for my whole family who live very close, it would be like 50 users or a little more, I was looking at the nas Asustor AS504T and the Synology DS1821 +, I don’t know which one is more convenient. And the truth is already complicated for me, the other is that the 14 tb lost hard drives are better for me, quality, price, and another is which would be easier to configure to open the port and that it can be visible from the outside in another network From the internet, I thank you very much but in my country I do not know many people who can help me, and if you could tell me where I can buy it at a good price, thanks I am waiting for one more follower on your social networks, you can answer me at redmonkeylv @ gmail.com or what 5611442036 thank you

    21. I run my Plex on my old mac pro 2010 5’1 Intel Xeon X5690 6-Core 3.46GHz 12 core 64 gigs of RAM it has 60 TB of space has been running for the last five years rock solid I have family that lives in Japan they use my Plex the rest of my family all of them got rid of all Subscriptions to all of the streaming services and just watch my Plex don’t care about electricity that’s not a concern of mine I just needed it to be rock solid as it is I put western digital red pro drives in it i use OWC SOFTRAID PRO in it with plenty of room to add a swappable 14 bay or more attachment storage right to the computer if needed and the beauty of it the computer was just laying in my closet all of my music pictures movies videos and even my music in iTunes all streams right through Plex to all of the mobile devices iPads Apple TV fire stick Roku it really gets a work out and it is rock solid I love it and wouldn’t change a thing about it and i run it right on top of the operating system and we’re not gonna talk about the extra benefit of being able to access files outside of media
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    22. 10:00 had me laughing haha, checked memory chrome was eating it up and when you told be to be ashamed of how many tabs i had open, had like 20 open xD
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