The Best 4-Bay NAS for Plex of the Year – The WD My Cloud Pro PR4100
My Cloud Pro
PR4100 Plex NAS
Price – 8/10
Hardware – 8/10
Software – 7/10
Looking for the perfect NAS for your Plex Media Server? You should seriously consider the WD PR4100 NAS. Although WD has a fantastic reputation in storage with their WD HDD and SSD range, they have a bit of a lackluster reputation in the NAS SErver market, largely being grouped with more low powered devices. Their NAS software, though a little basic, still performs very well and covers the typical NAS essentials of DLNA Media Playback, non-transcoding Apple Time Machine and Milestone surveillance The WD PR4100 throws all the modesty out of the window and manages to pretty much destroy all the other 4-Bay NAS here in the field of Plex Transcoding!
Unlike most NAS devices, the WD PR4100 features a transcoding engine that can actually be used by the Plex Media Server Application. All of the units mentioned above (DS918+, TS-453B, etc) feature a transcoding engine on their CPU, but as Plex cannot access it, they have to work 3-4x as hard, with their CPUs going well over 60-70% to get the job done. Whereas the PR4100 barely hits 20-25% doing this big task, leaving it plenty of hardware resources to put towards more streams playing back, 4K, Surveillance, backups and more.
Intel Pentium N3710 1.6 GHz
(Burst speed up to 2.56 GHz)
The Best 4-Bay NAS of the year for Hardware – The QNAP TS-453B
DAS + NAS
Price – 7/10
Hardware – 9/10
Software – 7/10
By far one of the most fully featured 4-Bay NAS I have ever encountered, the QNAP TS-453B is a device that arrives with unimaginable room for growth, upgrades and add-ons. The price may seem a little steep after the previous two devices, but what you are getting is a 4-Bay NAS that is going to server your needs today, tomorrow and years and years down the line. Featuring a staggering select of ports and connections locally, such as:LCD Panel, SD Card Slot, Direct Attached Access port (so USB access, not just network/internet), One-TouchUSB Copy, screwless HDD trays, PCIe expansion slot (add a PCIe Card), Audio in/out, 2x HDMI ports, 2x LAN, 5x USB 3.0, BUilt in speaker and the new and improved Remote control!
No other NAS features ALL of these hardware features and the software is no slouch either. It provides excellent and intuitive applications and the overall feel of the user-interface is very slick indeed. If you can budget this £600 4-bay, it is certainly worthy of your consideration
Intel Celeron J3455 Quad Core
1.5 GHz (up to 2.3 GHz)
Yes, this WD model has better specs than Qnap, but sometimes it is not just about specs but software too. Plex is improving their software every they and now they start utilizing built-in transcoding engines of many processors. By doing that, you can do more with a weaker CPU. The more powerful processor will do a better job, but it will need to work so hard that other services during the process will be affected and users will experience a slowdown. When accessing transcoding engine- you might not notice there is transcoding happening in the background.
About virtualization too. Even though WD has better CPU on this model, Qnap has a better experience and tools regard to virtualization. You might very quickly change your mind about having more powerful NAS just because its software is limited and can not do many tasks.
If you need multipurpose NAS it will be Qnap.
Find regulary updated NAS offers here
Of course I would prefer you choose AMAZON UKAMAZON USA
to buy your perfect solution, however, if you would rather buy locally, please use the links used above to take you to your local Amazon store and help support this free advice service with ad revenue. More ways of supporting the blog are described HERE
What can I connect to a NAS?
Wireless Speaker Sonos
The great thing about Sonos is that you don't need to pay for music subscription service. With the cheapest NAS at home like DS115j or any other, you can have your backups done for all of your devices and still use your network drive as a Sonos music library. Sonos will connect to your NAS via your network and let access your provided music library. If you have little more of IT knowledge, you can even set up your Alexa or Sonos with Alexa built in to play music on your voice commands ("Alexa! Ask DS Audio to Play Music!").
Nowadays it is so cheap to upgrade your old TV and make it smart. All you need is Google Chrome or EZcast alternative plugged into your HDMI port at the back of your TV. Now you have great functionality added to your TV to send a video file directly from your NAS to a TV. No need for wires and chargers and other mess. You can use your phone as a remote to go to your movies or family videos and cast that content on your TV during family or friend gatherings.
Amazon Fire TV
You may not have a smartphone, or you just simply prefer to control your content with a remote in that case Amazon Fire TV will be a great addon to get to your TV. It also plugs into your HDMI port and will play content from your NAS to a TV. No wires no mess.
nVidia Shield TV
It gets even better! If you want some more entertainment and all previously mentioned functions - nVidia TV is a great thing to get. You can use it for playing games and watching movies from your NAS. The greatest thing is - shield TV does video transcoding. So even if you have a cheap NAS with a weak CPU, in a combination of shield TV you can now automatically on the fly change video file size and format for a destination device. It is a great way to reduce network load and let older devices to play video content which normally was not supported on the device.