Plex QNAP NAS Guide 2018

What is the Best QNAP NAS for a Plex Media Server?

Plex has fast become the most popular media server software for home users in 2018. With a slick user interface, smart organization, relevant media images and descriptions sourced from many online sources applied automatically and clever show recommendations and watched records, it is easy to see why Plex challenges many of the online streaming platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Instant and Hulu. Another attractive feature of Plex is that the software is available free (or a more feature-rich paid version), whereas online streaming sources have monthly subscriptions, do not let you play your own content and change/rotate available media content on a monthly basis. With Plex, you play the media that you own and it is organized in an attractive and easy way. However in order to take advantage of Plex, you need a device for your media and the Plex media server to live, and this is where the money part comes. The best means with which to host a plex media server is a Network Attached Storage device (or NAS server). One of the biggest NAS server providers in the world right now is QNAP and they have a large range of NAS devices that support Plex in many, many ways (transcoding, smooth running, 4K, etc). However which QNAP NAS should you buy for your Plex media server, what is transcoding on an QNAP Plex media server like and what is the best QNAP NAS for a Plex Media Server (PMS)?

What is Software Transcoding on a QNAP Plex Media Server?

When media lives on your QNAP 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 QNAP 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

It is important to highlight that transcoding for Plex on a QNAP NAS only really needs more power in the case of converting/changing video files. Audio and Image files will not require much support from the NAS.

Choosing the Right QNAP NAS for a Plex Media Server

When it comes to choosing the right QNAP NAS for your Plex Media Server, below I have broken down the entire currently available NAS you can buy. I have broken them down into the following areas:

Model ID – This is the Name of the QNAP NAS Device

CPU – This is the central processor of the QNAP 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 2018 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.

Be sure to check the kind of media you own (or plan on streaming from your QNAP NAS), as well as the devices you will be playing back on for a better idea of what kind of plex media transcoding support you will need from your NAS server from QNAP. Be sure to check the supported file types (most common modern files types you find for 1080p and 4K are .MKV .MP4 .MOV and .AVI).Below is the entire current QNAP NASrange and how well they perform in the Plex Media Server Application with a single Stream.

     
1st Place 

TVS-1282 i7

 2nd Place

TVS-671 i5

 3rd Place

TS-453B

 

 Brand  Model ID  CPU  Software Transcoding
 

SD
480p / 576p

 

HD
720p

 

HD
1080p

 

4K
SDR 2160p

 

4K UHD
HDR 2160p

QNAP HS-251+ x86 (Celeron) 2.0GHz Yes Yes Yes No No
QNAP SS-439 Pro x86 (Atom N270) 1.6GHz No No No No No
QNAP SS-453 Pro x86 (Celeron) 2.0GHz Yes Yes Some No No
QNAP SS-839 Pro x86 (Atom N270) 1.6GHz No No No No No
QNAP SS-853 Pro x86 (Celeron ) 2.0GHz Yes Yes Some No No
QNAP TS-131 ARMv7 (Cortex A9) 1.2GHz No No No No No
QNAP TS-231 ARMv7 (Cortex A9) 1.2GHz No No No No No
QNAP TS-231+ ARMv7 (Alpine AL-212) 1.4GHz No No No No No
QNAP TS-231P2 ARMv7 (Alpine AL-314) 1.7 Ghz No No No No No
QNAP TS-251 x86 (Celeron) 2.0GHz Yes Yes Some No No
QNAP TS-251+ x86 (Celeron) 2.0GHz Yes Yes Some No No
QNAP TS-251A x64 (Celeron N3060) 1.6GHz Yes Yes Some No No
QNAP TS-253 Pro x86 (Celeron) 2.0GHz Yes Yes Some No No
QNAP TS-253A x64 (Celeron N3150) 1.6GHz Yes Yes Some No No
QNAP TS-253B x64 (Celeron) J3455 1.5 GHz Yes Yes Some No No
QNAP TS-259 Pro+ x86 (Atom D525) 1.8GHz No No No No No
QNAP TS-269 Pro x64 (Atom D2700) 2.13GHz Yes Some No No No
QNAP TS-269L x86 (Atom D525) 1.8GHz No No No No No
QNAP TS-431 ARMv7 (Cortex-A9) 1.2GHz No No No No No
QNAP TS-431+ ARMv7 (Alpine AL-212) 1.4GHz No No No No No
QNAP TS-431U ARMv7 (Cortex-A9) 1.2GHz No No No No No
QNAP TS-451 x86 (Celeron) 2.41GHz Yes Yes Some No No
QNAP TS-451+ x86 (Celeron) 2.0GHz Yes Yes Some No No
QNAP TS-451A x64 (Celeron N3060) 1.6GHz Yes Yes Some No No
QNAP TS-451U x86 (Celeron) 2.41GHz Yes Yes Some No No
QNAP TS-453 Pro x86 (Celeron) 2.0GHz Yes Yes Some No No
QNAP TS-453A x64 (Celeron N3150) 1.6GHz Yes Yes Some No No
QNAP TS-453mini x86 (Celeron) 2.0GHz Yes Yes Some No No
QNAP TS-453B x64 (Celeron) J3455 1.5 GHz Yes Yes Some No No
QNAP TS-453U x86 (Celeron) 2.0GHz Yes Yes Some No No
QNAP TS-459 Pro + x86 (Atom D525) 1.8GHz No No No No No
QNAP TS-459 Pro II x86 (Atom D525) 1.8GHz No No No No No
QNAP TS-469 Pro x64 (Atom D2700) 2.13GHz Yes Some No No No
QNAP TS-469L x64 (Atom D2700) 2.13GHz Yes Some No No No
QNAP TS-469U-RP x64 (Atom D2700) 2.13GHz Yes Some No No No
QNAP TS-531P ARMv7 (Alpine AL-314) 1.4GHz No No No No No
QNAP TS-563 x86 (AMD GX-420MC) 2.0GHz Yes Yes Some No No
QNAP TS-569 Pro x64 (Atom D2700) 2.13GHz Yes Some No No No
QNAP TS-569L x64 (Atom D2700) 2.13GHz Yes Some No No No
QNAP TS-651 x86 (Celeron) 2.41GHz Yes Yes Some No No
QNAP TS-653 Pro x86 (Celeron) 2.0GHz Yes Yes Some No No
QNAP TS-653A x64 (Celeron N3150) 1.6GHz Yes Yes Some No No
QNAP TS-669 Pro x64 (Atom D2700) 2.13GHz Yes Some No No No
QNAP TS-669L x64 (Atom D2700) 2.13GHz Yes Some No No No
QNAP TS-831X ARMv7 (Alpine AL-314) 1.4GHz No No No No No
QNAP TS-851 x86 (Celeron) 2.41GHz Yes Yes Some No No
QNAP TS-853 Pro x86 (Celeron) 2.0GHz Yes Yes Some No No
QNAP TS-853A x64 (Celeron N3150) 1.6GHz Yes Yes Some No No
QNAP TS-853U x86 (Celeron) 2.0GHz Yes Yes Some No No
QNAP TS-859 Pro + x86 (Atom D525) 1.8GHz No No No No No
QNAP TS-869 Pro x64 (Atom D2700) 2.13GHz Yes Some No No No
QNAP TS-869L x64 (Atom D2700) 2.13GHz Yes Some No No No
QNAP TS-869U-RP x64 (Atom D2700) 2.13GHz Yes Some No No No
QNAP TS-877 x64 (AMD Ryzen5 1600) Yes Yes Yes Some No
QNAP TS-879 Pro x64 (Core i3-2120) 3.3GHz Yes Yes Yes No No
QNAP TS-879U-RP x64 (Core i3-2120) 3.3GHz Yes Yes Yes No No
QNAP TS-1079 Pro x64 (Core i3-2120) 3.3GHz Yes Yes Yes No No
QNAP TS-1253U x86 (Celeron) 2.0GHz Yes Yes Some No No
QNAP TS-1269U-RP x64 (Atom D2700) 2.13GHz Yes Some No No No
QNAP TS-1279U-RP x64 (Core i3-2120) 3.3GHz Yes Yes Yes No No
QNAP TS-1635 ARMv7 (Alpine AL-514) 1.7GHz No No No No No
QNAP TS-1679U-RP x64 (Core i3-2120) 3.3GHz Yes Yes Yes No No
QNAP TS-EC1080 Pro x64 (Xeon E3-1245v3 3.4GHz Yes Yes Yes Some No
QNAP TS-EC1279U-RP x64 (Xeon E3-1225 3.1GHz Yes Yes Yes Some No
QNAP TS-EC1280U-RP x64 (Xeon E3-1245v3 3.4GHz Yes Yes Yes Some No
QNAP TS-EC1679U-RP x64 (Xeon E3-1225 3.1GHz Yes Yes Yes Some No
QNAP TS-EC1680U-RP x64 (Xeon E3-1245v3 3.4GHz Yes Yes Yes Some No
QNAP TS-EC2480U-RP x64 (Xeon E3-1245v3 3.4GHz Yes Yes Yes Some No
QNAP TS-EC879U-RP x64 (Xeon E3-1225 3.1GHz Yes Yes Yes Some No
QNAP TS-EC880 Pro x64 (Xeon E3-1245 v3) 3.4GHz Yes Yes Yes Some No
QNAP TS-EC880U-RP x64 (Xeon E3-1245 v3) 3.4GHz Yes Yes Yes Some No
QNAP TVS-463 x86 (AMD GX-424CC) 2.4 Ghz Yes Yes Some No No
QNAP TVS-471-i3 x64 (Core i3-4150) 3.5GHz Yes Yes Yes No No
QNAP TVS-471-PT x64 (Pentium G3250) 3.1GHz Yes Yes Yes No No
QNAP TVS-473 x64 AMD RX-421BD 2.1 GHz Yes Yes Yes No No
QNAP TVS-663 x86 (AMD GX-424CC) 2.4 Ghz Yes Yes Some No No
QNAP TVS-671-i3 x64 (Core i3-4150) 3.5GHz Yes Yes Yes No No
QNAP TVS-671-i5 x64 (Core i5-4590S) 3.0GHz Yes Yes Yes No No
QNAP TVS-671-PT x64 (Pentium G3250) 3.1GHz Yes Yes Yes No No
QNAP TVS-682-i3-8G x64 (Core i3-6100) 3.7 GHz Yes Yes Yes Some No
QNAP TVS-682-PT-8G x64 (Pentium G4400) 3.3GHz Yes Yes Yes No No

 


What is Accelerated Transcoding with Plex on my NAS?

Some QNAP NAS arrive with a CPU that has improved rendering or graphical embedding enabled. This means that is Plex can utilize this hardware for transcoding, it will require much, much less of the CPU processing power to transcode a video file. In order to take advantage of Plex hardware transcoding on your QNAP NAS, you will need to first check which NAS supports the transcoding to the extent you need by checking below. Next, you will need to upgrade your Plex Membership from the free version to the paid ‘Plex Pass’ subscription, as the option of Accelerated Transcoding with QNAP NAS hardware is not included in the plex free subscription.

Below are all the current available QNAP NAS and to what extent they support Hardware transcoding with a Plex Pass:

 Brand  Model ID  Hardware Transcoding (Plex Pass Required)
SD
480p / 576p
HD
720p
HD
1080p
4K
SDR 2160p
4K UHD
HDR 2160p
QNAP HS-251+ No No No No No
QNAP SS-439 Pro No No No No No
QNAP SS-453 Pro No No No No No
QNAP SS-839 Pro No No No No No
QNAP SS-853 Pro No No No No No
QNAP TS-131 No No No No No
QNAP TS-231 No No No No No
QNAP TS-231+ No No No No No
QNAP TS-231P2 No No No No No
QNAP TS-251 No No No No No
QNAP TS-251+ No No No No No
QNAP TS-251A Yes Yes Yes No No
QNAP TS-253 Pro No No No No No
QNAP TS-253A Yes Yes Yes No No
QNAP TS-253B Yes Yes Yes No No
QNAP TS-259 Pro+ No No No No No
QNAP TS-269 Pro No No No No No
QNAP TS-269L No No No No No
QNAP TS-431 No No No No No
QNAP TS-431+ No No No No No
QNAP TS-431U No No No No No
QNAP TS-451 No No No No No
QNAP TS-451+ No No No No No
QNAP TS-451A Yes Yes Yes No No
QNAP TS-451U No No No No No
QNAP TS-453 Pro No No No No No
QNAP TS-453A Yes Yes Yes No No
QNAP TS-453mini No No No No No
QNAP TS-453B Yes Yes Yes No No
QNAP TS-453U No No No No No
QNAP TS-459 Pro + No No No No No
QNAP TS-459 Pro II No No No No No
QNAP TS-469 Pro No No No No No
QNAP TS-469L No No No No No
QNAP TS-469U-RP No No No No No
QNAP TS-531P No No No No No
QNAP TS-563 No No No No No
QNAP TS-569 Pro No No No No No
QNAP TS-569L No No No No No
QNAP TS-651 No No No No No
QNAP TS-653 Pro No No No No No
QNAP TS-653A Yes Yes Yes No No
QNAP TS-669 Pro No No No No No
QNAP TS-669L No No No No No
QNAP TS-831X No No No No No
QNAP TS-851 No No No No No
QNAP TS-853 Pro No No No No No
QNAP TS-853A Yes Yes Yes No No
QNAP TS-853U No No No No No
QNAP TS-859 Pro + No No No No No
QNAP TS-869 Pro No No No No No
QNAP TS-869L No No No No No
QNAP TS-869U-RP No No No No No
QNAP TS-877 No No No No No
QNAP TS-879 Pro Some Some Some No No
QNAP TS-879U-RP Some Some Some No No
QNAP TS-1079 Pro Some Some Some No No
QNAP TS-1253U No No No No No
QNAP TS-1269U-RP No No No No No
QNAP TS-1279U-RP Some Some Some No No
QNAP TS-1635 No No No No No
QNAP TS-1679U-RP Some Some Some No No
QNAP TS-EC1080 Pro Yes Yes Yes No No
QNAP TS-EC1279U-RP Yes Yes Yes No No
QNAP TS-EC1280U-RP Yes Yes Yes No No
QNAP TS-EC1679U-RP Yes Yes Yes No No
QNAP TS-EC1680U-RP Yes Yes Yes No No
QNAP TS-EC2480U-RP Yes Yes Yes No No
QNAP TS-EC879U-RP Yes Yes Yes No No
QNAP TS-EC880 Pro Yes Yes Yes No No
QNAP TS-EC880U-RP Yes Yes Yes No No
QNAP TVS-463 No No No No No
QNAP TVS-471-i3 Yes Yes Yes No No
QNAP TVS-471-PT Yes Yes Some No No
QNAP TVS-473 No No No No No
QNAP TVS-663 No No No No No
QNAP TVS-671-i3 Yes Yes Yes No No
QNAP TVS-671-i5 Yes Yes Yes No No
QNAP TVS-671-PT Yes Yes Some No No
QNAP TVS-682-i3-8G Yes Yes Yes Decode Only No
QNAP TVS-682-PT-8G Yes Yes Some No No

How to Enable Hardware Acceleration with Plex Media Server on a QNAP NAS

To use Hardware Transcoding on your QNAP NAS in a Plex Media Server, you need to enable it using the Plex Web access (head over to your Plex User interface on your browser.

  1. Open the Plex Web app.
  2. Navigate to Settings > Server > Transcoder to access the server settings.
  3. Turn on Show Advanced in the upper-right corner to expose advanced settings.
  4. Turn on Use hardware acceleration when available.
    hwaccel.png
  5. Click Save Changes at the bottom.

The changes should take place straight away and there is no need to reboot your QNAP NAS. Be sure to have updated to the latest version of the Plex Media Server application on your NAS and that Hardware Transcoding is listed as supported in the list above.

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