Best affordable NAS for Plex (or alternatives)

Pimped

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#1
All,

I am just about to finish up a new networking project at home and am at the point where I need to choose a home media NAS server to run Plex or any other better media server software. Looking at the Plex site, there is a list of different compatible NAS NAS Compatibility List - Plex Support. Unfortunately, the ones that I think are worth looking at, are well over £1000!

My requirements are as follows:
  • Around £500 (less would be better considering the cost of 12TB drives)
  • Minimum two drive enclosure
  • Capable of supporting at least 1080p transcoding
  • Capable of supporting 12TB drives
 

fus10n

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#2
also factor in that you will have to pay for plex premium too

Note: Hardware-accelerated transcoding is a premium feature and requires an active Plex Pass subscription for the Plex Media Server account.
 

fus10n

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#3
All,

I am just about to finish up a new networking project at home and am at the point where I need to choose a home media NAS server to run Plex or any other better media server software. Looking at the Plex site, there is a list of different compatible NAS NAS Compatibility List - Plex Support. Unfortunately, the ones that I think are worth looking at, are well over £1000!

My requirements are as follows:
  • Around £500 (less would be better considering the cost of 12TB drives)
  • Minimum two drive enclosure
  • Capable of supporting at least 1080p transcoding
  • Capable of supporting 12TB drives
http://amzn.eu/6NPcjXb (claims to be able to transcode at 4k) It does say it can take up to 6gb ram, but only 2gb is supplied which might effect transcoding!

http://amzn.eu/e0rOb8W (1080p transcode)

Maybe also consider building your own using freenas too
 

fus10n

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#4
if you let me know what you finally choose.

I've installed freenas on a spare pc I had and having a play. Just for funz
 

MH

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#5
I would go with the Synology, as it just works. They mostly all run Plex, but some are better than others as some can transcode on the fly depending on model and processor.
The other benefit, is that it has a built in CCTV NVR.
 

Captin

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#7
I have Plex running on 3 NAS boxes. A D-Link DNS340L, a Netgear Ready NAS 104, both quite old and both 4 bay with seagate 5tb drives in. Plex runs fine on both. Both were under £200 unpopulated.

The third is a Qnap TS853-A with 8 x 6tb Weston Digital Red Pro's and it runs fine on that, but that was just over £2500. :( has a builtin media centre and HDMI port, with remote control, you can also use it as a computer with a full blown operating system. Just needs a keyboard & mouse.

You don't need to pay for Plex if you only use it on your local network, I have never paid for it.

Plex transcodes video files so the power of the NAS is not as important.

If you want the best quality of playback just use Kodi to play the media files from the NAS, Kodi will play them without any transcoding so no loss of quality.

I also use plex with Alexa to play music.
 

Grimeire

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#8
Better off getting an old server like a Lenovo ts140 or Dell T20. Install freenas and you are ready to go.

It's a far better option than a synology cuz it's upgradable. You can add more ram, upgrade CPU and have more bays for disks.
 

Mick

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#9
I paid for plex lol (lifetime).

But I use it allot for family... and most importantly I use it at the gym, this keeps me from going insane when on the cross trainer.

@Captin, I love those QNAPS - but 2K+ is a serious amount of cash for a plex server, I will try and get one second hand possibly.

Do you use the 4 Lan ports, does your switch allow you to aggregate (I think that is what its called).

Mick
 

fus10n

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#10

Grimeire

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#11
Yeah very good price, Less than £200 new with the Pentium G3220 3 GHz - 4 GB - 500 GB on eBay the last time I looked.

I picked mine up for about £300 with a Xeon processor 16gb ram and 2 SSDs (240GB & 120GB).

Keep an eye on them as when I was looking for mine last year there were new listings of them poping up on the bay every week. They are a good cheap machine for people doing VMware and other such courses so they are always poping up for sale when they finish the course.

Also have a look at the Lenovo TS140 they are pretty much the same machine as the Dell T20. I have one of them too and used it to build a hackintosh.

Just looking on the bay there is a good few of them there. Some.are going for.mad money
 

Pimped

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#12
http://amzn.eu/6NPcjXb (claims to be able to transcode at 4k) It does say it can take up to 6gb ram, but only 2gb is supplied which might effect transcoding!

http://amzn.eu/e0rOb8W (1080p transcode)

Maybe also consider building your own using freenas too
Thanks for the recommendations. Having read the reviews for the Netgear ReadyNAS, I'm going to stay well away from their products! The synology looks good however. Will have to look further into it and think about upping the RAM.

Was considering a Microserver, but I don't fancy the tinkering.

I ran plex from my windows 7 lappy last night and played off a playstation, the quality on screen was poor. Could that be down to my lappy hardware and could I expect sharp, crisp graphics when using a NAS?
 

Pimped

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#13
if you let me know what you finally choose.

I've installed freenas on a spare pc I had and having a play. Just for funz
Considering the Synology at the moment as I just want to plug and go. However, if microservers are the better choice for price, power, and futureproofing, I may be inclined towards them
 

Pimped

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#14
I have Plex running on 3 NAS boxes. A D-Link DNS340L, a Netgear Ready NAS 104, both quite old and both 4 bay with seagate 5tb drives in. Plex runs fine on both. Both were under £200 unpopulated.

The third is a Qnap TS853-A with 8 x 6tb Weston Digital Red Pro's and it runs fine on that, but that was just over £2500. :( has a builtin media centre and HDMI port, with remote control, you can also use it as a computer with a full blown operating system. Just needs a keyboard & mouse.

You don't need to pay for Plex if you only use it on your local network, I have never paid for it.

Plex transcodes video files so the power of the NAS is not as important.

If you want the best quality of playback just use Kodi to play the media files from the NAS, Kodi will play them without any transcoding so no loss of quality.

I also use plex with Alexa to play music.
More than just a hobbyist I see! Your comment about kodi has peaked my interest. Would I just install the Kodi app on the NAS and then kodi on any devices on my network? I ran plex from my windows 7 lappy last night and played off a playstation, the quality on screen was poor. Could that be down to my lappy hardware and could I expect sharp, crisp graphics when using a NAS?
 

Pimped

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#15
I paid for plex lol (lifetime).

But I use it allot for family... and most importantly I use it at the gym, this keeps me from going insane when on the cross trainer.

@Captin, I love those QNAPS - but 2K+ is a serious amount of cash for a plex server, I will try and get one second hand possibly.

Do you use the 4 Lan ports, does your switch allow you to aggregate (I think that is what its called).

Mick
Do you use it for more than just syncing movies to your phone to view offline?
 

Pimped

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#16
Better off getting an old server like a Lenovo ts140 or Dell T20. Install freenas and you are ready to go.

It's a far better option than a synology cuz it's upgradable. You can add more ram, upgrade CPU and have more bays for disks.
Would be as easy to get going and forget about as the synology? Would need to be able to mount the drives on my windows machines and be able to access them from my iDevices. Is that possible with one of these running FreeNAS? How would they fair with the demand when transcoding across the network? I suppose that I would have to get one with an Intel CPU to get the best results (as per what I've been reading elsewhere and the plex guide What kind of CPU do I need for my Server? - Plex Support)
 

Grimeire

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#18
Would be as easy to get going and forget about as the synology? Would need to be able to mount the drives on my windows machines and be able to access them from my iDevices. Is that possible with one of these running FreeNAS? How would they fair with the demand when transcoding across the network? I suppose that I would have to get one with an Intel CPU to get the best results (as per what I've been reading elsewhere and the plex guide What kind of CPU do I need for my Server? - Plex Support)
Freenas is an enterprise NAS solution and can do everything a qnap or other NAS's can do but as it has an actual Linux OS you can do a lot lot more with it. They support pretty much every network share protocol. I am able to access mine from windows, mac, Linux and engima2 devices. they have software raid with the ZFS filesystem, which is far superior than hardware raid.

I won't lie there is a bit of a learning curve with it if you are not use to Linux. But it is the best option I think. I have multiple VMs running on mine as it has a build in hypervisor.

It's probably the best thing I bought in the last few years. In work we use qnaps, I'm not sure what models as we have a few. I wouldn't recommend them for anything other than just using them as NAS. They seem to be releasing patch's for them on a weekly basis for big security vulnerabilities, which means I constantly have to update the firmwares. The ones I'm using at work have a terrible UI can be very sluggish at times with there intel caleron processor. I have been at my boss for a while to get rid of them.
 

Pimped

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#19
Freenas is an enterprise NAS solution and can do everything a qnap or other NAS's can do but as it has an actual Linux OS you can do a lot lot more with it. They support pretty much every network share protocol. I am able to access mine from windows, mac, Linux and engima2 devices. they have software raid with the ZFS filesystem, which is far superior than hardware raid.

I won't lie there is a bit of a learning curve with it if you are not use to Linux. But it is the best option I think. I have multiple VMs running on mine as it has a build in hypervisor.

It's probably the best thing I bought in the last few years. In work we use qnaps, I'm not sure what models as we have a few. I wouldn't recommend them for anything other than just using them as NAS. They seem to be releasing patch's for them on a weekly basis for big security vulnerabilities, which means I constantly have to update the firmwares. The ones I'm using at work have a terrible UI can be very sluggish at times with there intel caleron processor. I have been at my boss for a while to get rid of them.
If I go down this route, I will be constantly asking myself "what if I went with a NAS like synology". This does sound like the better path to go down. I would only know which is the better one if I had one of each I guess.

Assuming that you use yours for media streaming:

  1. are you able to stream 1080p on at least 2 devices simultaneously with high quality res on the target devices?
  2. How do you find the data migration from NTFS usb drives to the internal ZFS formatted drives?
  3. Do you need to add security layers (such as symantec internet security) over the machine to protect the machine from the dangers on the net? It would need to be internet connected to download the right metadata for all imported media files.
  4. Are stored files in danger if you use the machine for torrenting or usenet or will the RAID take care of any corruption or malicious activity?

Looking at this site, it looks like a pretty bad-ass setup: FreeNAS + Downloader, Plex, and Torrent - Is This The Best Approach?
 

Grimeire

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#20
1. I'm not 100% sure but as far as I know from reading on the freenas site when looking into buying the server, it is capable of 8 transcodes simultaneously. Not sure what definition this is in regards to as it was a while ago. My Plex is only shared with friends and family so there is never really any more than 4 streams running at once and rarely they are transcoded as I convert most of my stuff to MP4 so it can run on anything plus I don't have much content in 1080p.

2. You can mount the NTFS drive on the freenas and copy over the files or you can connect the drive to a pc and transfer them over your network but that be a lot slower.

3. No need for extra security. Freenas is an enterprise NAS solution so is already security hardened. You have to turn on pretty much every protocol manually.

4. No the ZFS takes care of this plus you will be running transmission or your NZB in a jail(like a VM) so it's safe from a security point of view that way too.

In regards to the poor quality on the PlayStation you said earlier, what PlayStation was it and what format was the original file in that's was being played.

Best piece of advice I will give you is if you don't need it then don't buy it. also don't forget to think about these when considering a server as most only think about the initial cost:
1. The price to power it. Some servers can cost over £200 a year to power.
2. The noise, make sure it's either relatively quiet or running some where, that it can't be heard. ( My firend never took this into account and now he has to run his server in the attic)

My server is only so highly speced as I need to run VM's. If it wasn't for the VM's I would probably just use a bog standard Nas otherwise.
 
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