I’ve been converting my extensive Blu-ray/DVD libray into digital format and experimenting with Plex, which has worked great. Based on the amount of my library digitalized so far, I expect to have between 20-30TB of MKV video, music, photos, etc. I’ve been exploring the best way to set up a Plex server and am having a really hard time determining whether a NAS w/ a more powerful CPU or a simple NAS connected to a separate small computer would work better.
My initial goal would be to stream content off the Plex server to devices on my local network only via the Plex app installed on Rokus/smart TVs etc, but it would be nice to have the option to stream to outside the house. I’m very tech savvie for a person with no explicit computer science training, but have more limited experience w/ Linux ie if I set up a small computer like a NUC. My goal would be to have the option for 30-40TB of available space in a RAID configuration for future expansion.
My budget is flexible to get the right configuration. Any suggestions would be much appreciated as some of the more in-depth explanations online get over my head and ability level
4K, 1080p, Plex and Transcoding on NAS
Thank you for getting in touch. There are a couple of factors to take into consideration before making your decision. The most important is the format of those BL and DVD Rips, Which I assume are MKV 1080p, MP4 1080p and a light smattering of 4K perhaps. Typically, If you did not want to stream this content outside the house, you could get away with a rather modest NAS, as factors such as Transcoding and file size will be largely irrelevant. However, because you want to use PLEX, all of a sudden it isn’t so simple. PLEX is a funny beast and you may have already noticed it telling you some files are not supported/visible? This is because it has a pre-defined set of file formats and codecs than it supports. In order to play these files, your NAS will need the power/transcoding engine to convert these files live to play them (or do it in advance, but this gets really tiresome, real quick). Given that you also want to place content outside of the home, then you will definitely need to factor transcoding somewhere into the mix.
PLEX NAS Transcoding
Sorry if I am telling you things you already know, but just best to cover all bases! When media lives on your NAS, often the device a that you are playing back your plex media (Smart TV, iPhone, Laptop, iPod) onto cannot support the media file type, the resolution or audio codec. In this case, the Plex Media Server on your NAS will try to change the file to a more suitable version, on the fly, to ensure you can enjoy your media in the best way. This is known as transcoding and though the Plex application is actioning this with the software, the actual work is being done by the QNAP NAS CPU. Software transcoding takes a heavy toll on the CPU and you will need a relatively powerful processor in order to support this feature. Typically the CPU will need to be:
In Intel or AMD Based Based CPU that is 64bit (x86) in Architecture
Higher than 1.6Ghz in Frequency
More than 2 Cores
In a perfect world, the Roku/Amazon Firestick/Mobile device would do the transcoding, but this needs to be done by the NAS, as the hardware inside these streaming devices are designed to be efficient/modest in the extreme!
Choosing the Right QNAP NAS for a Plex Media Server
Key deciding factors/points to consider when doing research. I have broken them down into the following areas:
CPU – This is the central processor of the NAS server and this will be what decides the performance of your Plex Media Server
SD 480p / 576p –Most likely the lowest point at which you will need transcoding of a video media file, 480p was used for many early Plasma televisions, whereas 576p is considered Standard Definition in many countries worldwide
HD 720p – Otherwise known as ‘HD Ready’ or ‘Standard HD’, it is generally considered the lowest starting point for watching HD media and starts at 1280×720
HD 1080p – Widely regarded at ‘Full-HD’, it arrives at 1920×1080. Most media listed at high definition in 2019 will be 1080P
4K SDR 2160p – 4K SDR is the entry point into 4K Media. An SDR 2160p supported TV has around 4,000 lines of resolution (the lines across the screen that form the rows of pixels) but is not capable of completely showing the depth and richness of colours spectrum and contrast of 4K HDR. It is by no means a compromise and still an excellent picture, but rather this is due to the physical differences in the construction of the screen and not just how the images are processed, just like the differences between and SD and HDTV.
4K UHD HDR 2160p – The current top end of 4K Media file formats in popular commercial media. A 4K HDR TV has the same 4000 lines of resolution as those that support 4K SDR 2160p, but is physically capable of rendering an image with increased contrast and richer colours\separation thanks to the physical build superiority.
Here is my guide from last year regarding the best of the year (where I have copied and pasted some of the info above from – that totally counts!)- https://nascompares.com/guide/best-plex-media-server-nas-2018/
Also, here is one for QNAP – https://nascompares.com/plex-qnap-nas-guide-2019/
Alternatively, here is a breakdown of the Synology NAS Range and the extent to which they play Plex – https://nascompares.com/plex-synology-nas-guide-2019/
Which all suggestions, I am factoring 30-40TB of data (in a RAID 5 config, so extra drive consideration) into your budget. That is going to be the killer to be honest. To save you a little time, here are the units I recommend below, but I should add that a couple of new units (such as the HS-453DX and TVS-872XT have been releases and perform very well in plex, but are a little too new for me to recommend). This site is supported ONLY by ad revenue, so if you can click any of the links below (even if you buy elsewhere), it will help to keep this site alive and help many others :
Synology PLEX NAS for 2019
1st Place DS3617xs
QNAP PLEX NAS for 2019
1st Place TVS-1282 i7
2nd PlaceTVS-671 i5
I hope this helps you with your 4K Media enjoyment!
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