GPU Cards and QNAP NAS

Help with Graphics Cards and QNAP NAS Support

I have been diligently researching NAS boxes, and am in despair. I want to stream and transcode videos, and some of the Qnap boxes will do this, but seem to have HDMI1.4 on them rather than the latest HDMI2. So the best thing might be to get a box which will take a video card. The Qnap site says an MSI card 1050 is required for compatibility. But I would also like to run Virtual Machines, for fun and for old games and work programs. But when I looked up video cards in this context it says “GPU pass-through is only available for the TVS-EC-x80U, TVS-x82, TS-1685, TES-x85U, TDS-16489U and TS-x77 series” and requires a Radeon card. So the usage in the media transcoding context, and that in the VM context appear scrambled. It is also difficult to find which Nas boxes take a video card, because you have to check right through each model to get to that item on the compatibility list. And to add to the confusion, PLEX will only hardware transcode on certain Intel chips with inbuilt graphics, which rules out a Radeon solution. I would buy a NAS tomorrow if I could find out which one fits using hardware decode with HDMI2 and uses the same video card for VM.

Stephen – UK

4K HDMI 2.0 NAS, Intel Chips and Hardware Decoding

Thank you for your question. First and foremost, this is a common occurrence for QNAP NAS owners to encounter. It is caused by a few human factors more than anything else and chiefly the need for them to stay on top of their old and new product information with equal importance. There are several NAS drives that arrive with HDMI 2.0 and HDMI 2.0a, such as the HS-453DX, TVS-x82 Series and the TVS-x72XT Series – all of which use an Intel Based CPU (ranging from a modest Celeron to a 7th Gen i3/5/7 to a remarkably impressive 8th Gen i3/i5 in 6 Cores. However, this still doesn’t answer your question of GPU card support.


QNAP TVS-1282-i7-450W

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Alternatively, you can check out this article from last year regarding HDMI 2.0 enabled NAS servers. It is a little dated, so some NAS are missing (really need to make a new one, but time is always low!):

QNAP NAS GPU Card Support

The support for GPU Cards on the QNAP NAS platform is far greater than the compatibility lists show and this is largely just because they either haven’t tested the cards in question or revisions in the QTS/Virtualization Station platform are not reflected are not being updated on products often enough. Often it just comes down to finding a QNAP NAS that includes the PSU value in its name (such as the TVS-1282-i7-300W, etc) to ensure more powered and performance noticeable cards are supported. In your setup. I know it probably doesn’t sound great, but the best thing to do in message QNAP directly and ask, as they have an extensive list of supported cards on other NAS devices than by a process of elimination can confirm compatibility on older/alternative units. Additionally, I have seen evidence of GPU cards being used by the NAS outside of the Virtual Machine software on top end NAS servers and either this is a very recently introduced feature or one that is coming in QTS 4.4.1 (check in advance!).
Otherwise, here is an answer I gave on a similar subject a while back:

What is the Difference Between NAS Encoding, Decoding and Transcoding

I am sure you are aware, but just in case (and to help others who find this page to help them with their search) here is the definition of these terms in NAS. I know that seems like an odd specification, but all too often IT terms can have different definitions to that outside of the field (my favourite example being the time I have to explain the concept of ‘handbrake’):

What is Encoding

This is when you start with raw, uncompressed video and you create a more universally usable container that is compressed, e.g you capture raw video from a camera and it then creates an mp4 file on your memory card

What is Encoding

You start with an encoded video in one format and you create a video in another coded format, typically to make it easier to playback on another device (due to reasons of compatibility, size or speed), e.g you start with .flv online and you create mp4 to play on your PC. Or a .MOV on a NAS and convert to an AVI for playback on Plex Media Server.

What is Transcoding

Typically means in a NAS to decode and encode a file for playback, it can even be the same format, but different resolution, bit rate, etc. E.g from HD video to SD video, or a RAW file from your archive into a sharable common file type like .WMV

How to Enable Hardware Transcoding in Plex Media Server on a NAS

Alot of users do not realise that you need to manually enable hardware transcoding on a NAS Drive. This will allow PLEX to search for hardware to perform the transcoding but does not necessarily mean it will use them. For a start, you need a plex pass in order to use this option. Next, you need a supported GPU card or an Intel Based CPU with an embedded graphical component (I highly recommend an i3/5/7 at least – not a Xeon as this has been proven not to be of use). Below is how to enable hardware transcoding on a supported NAS.

How to Enable Hardware Accelerated Transcoding

To get the best performance and use out of your NAS, hardware transcoding is preferable over software transcoding in most cases. To enable hardware transcoding with Plex, first you’ll need to get Plex Pass. Once you have it, sign in to Plex with your account and you will be able to enable it.  Below are a few pictures to help you configure hardware transcoding.

1. Go to [Settings], and switch to [Server] settings

2. Select [Transcoder] and then click [Show Advanced]

3. Simply check [Use hardware acceleration when available] and click [Save Changes]

I did a quick test on my 3-year old TVS-471 (Intel Core i3-4150 Dual-Core 3.5GHz with an embedded Intel® HD Graphics 4400), comparing the CPU usage while transcoding a 1080P MKV movie to its original quality in real time with hardware acceleration enabled vs. hardware acceleration unenabled.  As you can see in the two screenshots, the avg. CPU usage with hardware acceleration enabled is under 10% most of time, and it’s obviously a bit higher without hardware acceleration. The difference will be more significant if there are multiple concurrent transcodes.

Transcoding with hardware acceleration (hardware transcoding)

Transcoding without hardware acceleration (software transcoding)

Thank you for visiting NASCompares and helping me explore this subject.


QNAP TVS-1282-i7-450W

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