How many of us have decades of media in our homes? Somewhere between hard drives and USB that are full of cinematic enjoyment, collections of boxsets, music cluttering up CDs and hundreds of DVDs all over the place has led to most users sitting on hundreds or thousands of their favourite bits of media. Nevertheless, the convenience of services like Netflix and Amazon Prime video has led many users to abandon this hardware media in favour of watching the same multimedia streamed online. However subscription-based streaming services are far from perfect, with available media rotating and the availability of TV shows changing from month to month, results in a multimedia experience that can be at best diverse and at worst rigidly controlled. This is one of the main reasons that many users have made the switch from paying monthly for the likes of Netflix and switching over to their own Plex media server on a NAS. Aside from the ability to enjoy the media that they already own and grow that collection organically, Plex media server also provides the slick and attractive graphical user interface (GUI) found on those streaming services. Rather than traditional file folder access, a Plex media server NAS will scrape online databases for information such as thumbnails, cast information, trailers, reviews from reputable websites, extra behind the scenes footage and does this using the media that you own! The one barrier that stands between you and your perfect Plex media server is the amount you are prepared to pay for the hardware that the server utilizes and, in short, the scale of the NAS drive you purchase. NAS Drives have fast become one of the most popular ways in which people create their own ‘set-up and forget’ Plex media server and previously we have discussed the best Plex Nas for £500-1000. However in order to truly have a uncompromising Plex media server that will comfortably stream 1080p and 4K media to multiple client devices at once (at a variety of scalable quality levels) requires a noticeably larger investment and today I want to discuss my top 3 NAS drives for £2000 THAT will provide the very best Plex media server for you, your family and friends in 2021. Let’s take a look.
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.
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 Price vs Performance – QNAP TVS-672X NAS
QNAP TVS-672X, Intel i3 8100T, 8-64GB DDR4, 1x 10GbE, 2x 1GbE, USB 3.2 Gen 2, NVMe Slots, PCIe Gen 3×4, EXT4/ZFS, 2yr Warranty = $1700+
What Said in the TVS-872X Review on 05/2021 – The TVS-672X is a revamp of the older TVS-672XT, which was amongst our top 10 NAS of the last few years. If this was the first time I was seeing the hardware featured on the QNAP TVS-872X, with its Intel Core CPU, 64GB of potential memory, 10Gbe on-board, NVMe equipped slots and USB 10G throughout – I would have been reasonably impressed. Likewise, the scalability in PCIe, storage expansions and network connectivity down the line is also a very valid and positive aspect of this system. But for me, it will always live slighting in the shadow of its Thunderbolt 3 equipped older big brother in the TV-872XT. The software on either ZFS or EXT4 file system is still doing what it does well, finding the line between 1st party apps, 3rd party support, customization and (mostly) getting it right – if occasionally trying to be too big for its boots. The QNAP TVS-872X is undeniably still a great example of the wide-ranging features available to prosumers who want a storage system heavily geared towards high-performance transmission via high-performance media with higher tier hardware at their disposal. It would be misleading to think of this NAS as any kind of significant upgrades over the XT, and the price tag that the TVS-872X currently arrives at (£1700+ / $2400) is perhaps a tad closer to that of the thunderbolt version than can be justified, but with an increasing over-reliance by brands on Xeon based systems, the TVS-872X is one of the most graphically well-equipped systems in the market today. If you are looking for a NAS for video editing, Plex media server, AI-assisted surveillance or virtualisation in a more compact form, the TVS-872X and its hardware has a heck of a lot to offer you.
Best Plex Media Server NAS for Expandability and Scalability – Synology DS1621xs+ NAS
Synology DS1621xs+, Intel Xeon D-1527, 8-32GB DDR4 ECC, 1x 10GbE, 2x 1GbE, USB 3.2 Gen 1, NVMe Slots for Cache, PCIe Gen 3×8, EXT4/BTRFS, 5yr Warranty = $1600+
It is fair to say that the Synology DS1621xs+ NAS makes a bold statement in what it is bringing to the table. Synology has been a brand that up until a few years ago traded significantly more on its software than it does on its hardware. Devices like the DS1621xs+ go a long way to dispel this myth in 2020/2021 and what we find here is an exceptionally well-equipped desktop NAS system. Obviously, at this price tag, you would expect it to deliver a lot and as a combined hardware and software package, the DS1621xs+ certainly achieved this. What issues you can make with the hardware are of the DS1621xs+ are more a question of the brands own decisions on what users want in storage right now. Small factors such as the NVMe bays not being accessible for RAW storage, the lack of Synology hybrid RAID and the use of CPU seen in 2017 and 2018 release hardware might put some potential buyers on the fence. But ultimately if you’ve committed to a desktop Synology solution because of DSM, the brand’s high reputation and that spec sheet – you will genuinely struggle to find a more powerful and equipped desktop NAS from this company right now.
Best Plex Media Server NAS for EVERYTHING 4K and 1080p – QNAP TVS-h1288X NAS
QNAP TVS-h1288X, Intel Xeon W Series 6-Core, 16-128GB DDR4, 1x10GbE, 2x 10GbE, 4x 2.5GbE, USB 3.2 Gen 2, SATA HDD+SATA SSD+NVMe SSD, 3x PCIe Gen 3×4 Slots, EXT4/ZFS, 3yr Warranty = £2500+
What we Said in our TVS-h1288X Review on 11/2020 – This is, hands down, the most impressive desktop NAS drive I have ever handled – and I do not say that lightly! QNAP has been working overtime these last 2 years to not only introduce their ZFS series to the SMB and Enterprise marketing, with gradual but compelling results – but it is only now in the TVS-h1288X system that they have successfully merged it into another core area of their business – content creators. Whether you are on board with the ‘optional thunderbolt card’ nature behind this device, you cannot fault the sheer weight of hardware on offer here and how it is perfectly tuned and appropriate for the storage, performance and safety benefits of ZFS in QuTS Hero included with this device. Yes, it is a hungry beast of a device in terms of power, but right now THIS is the NAS system to beat in the market right now in desktop form. There are still the odd hurdle for surveillance users to jump and the fact this range starts at 8/12-Bay is an odd choice – but with a 6-core Xeon processor that features high grade embedded graphics, upto 128GB of DR4 ECC memory, 3 storage tiers of scaling speeds, a combined external bandwidth of 30 Gigabits per second (so 3,000MB/s) and that is without even the inclusion of a Thunderbolt update that can allow upto 4 more Thunderbolt users to enjoy simultaneous access for photo/video editing – You simply cannot fault the ambition behind the TVS-h1288X and it leaves most of its 8-Bay competitors in its dust – just maybe raid the piggy bank before you buy it though
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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