Best Nas Server for Plex

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Plex is an incredibly popular media server software option. While it’s not the only server application available, Plex is one of the most user-friendly media server programs. Although Plex has rounded out its feature set with free, legal streaming content, podcasts, and live over-the-air television, its server functionality remains at the forefront. As such, you’ll not only want a great Plex client, but you’ll need a network-attached storage (NAS) device. Check out the Best Nas Server for Plex, from servers to NAS boxes!

Best Nas Server for Plex

What is Plex?

You can think of Plex like a DIY Netflix or Spotify. Whereas streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, and Vudu host the content, with a media server you provide the movies, TV shows, and music files. Then, Plex organizes your library with metadata and box art, and you can access your films, shows, and albums on any number of devices from virtually anywhere.

However, Plex added a slew of cord-cutting features such as ad-supported free, legal streaming movies and shows, the ability to use an OTA antenna for live TV and DVR functionality, plus web shows and podcasts. As such, it’s one of the best apps for cord-cutting. Getting started with Plex requires a library of films, shows, and music albums which you can acquire through DVD, Blu-ray, or CD rips, a Plex server, and a Plex client.

What Defines A NAS Server?

A network attached storage (NAS) device is a cloud storage device. Data on a NAS are available both inside and outside of the network. It’s similar to a server but more self-contained. A NAS box, for example, is often a pre-built system that includes a CPU, RAM, and external hard disk bays. Network attached storage devices often have non-upgradable CPUs and restricted RAM. Memory can sometimes be upgraded.

Many NAS systems like QNAP and Synology have a unique operating system, but a DIY server may have a Linux distribution (distro) installed. Most NAS devices emphasize a simple setup. A server performs the same function as NAS enclosures, although servers often come in more conventional desktop formats or rack-mounted server footprints.

A NAS unit will often have higher computing power, memory, and upgradeability. However, servers are frequently less user-friendly and more expensive.

Plex CPU and Passmark Requirements

What CPU is at the heart of your Plex NAS is absolutely essential and dictates the entire streaming experience. For mostly in-home streaming with files encoded such that they don’t require transcoding which is more CPU-intensive, a weaker CPU is fine. But for transcoding and high-resolution streaming, you’ll want a pretty strong central processing unit. And as you add more clients or devices that you are streaming to, the workload on your CPU increases.

Plex has some general guidelines in its help documents. As per the Plex support guide, an Intel Atom 1.2GHz processor should be able to handle zero transcoding. For a single 720p transcode, you’ll need at least an Intel Core i3 3.0GHz CPU. An Intel Core i5 3.0GHz CPU or higher is best for a single 1080p transcode. And for 4K transcode, you’ll need an Intel Core i7 3.2GHz CPU or better. Again, these are extremely rough estimates:

  • No transcoding – Intel Atom 1.2GHz CPU
  • 1x 720p transcode: Intel Core i3 3.0 GHz
  • 1 x1080p transcode: Intel Core i5 3.0GHz
  • 1 x 4K transcode: Intel Core i7 3.2GHz

A far more accurate measurement of a CPU’s processing power is its PassMark score. Plex outlines the requirements for streaming various files. If you’re streaming a 4K HDR Blu-ray rim at 50Mbps and 10-bit HEVC being transcoded to a 10Mbps 1080p transcode, you’ll need a 17000 PassMark CPU.

To transcode a 4K SDR 40 Mbps 8-bit HEVC file to a 10Mbps 1080p stream, you’ll need around a 12000 PassMark. Transcoding a 1080p 10Mbps H.264 file should be fine with a 2000 PassMark, and a 720P 4Mbps H.264 file will need about a 1500 PassMark to transcode.

  • 4K HDR 50Mbps, 10-bit HEVC file transcoded to 10Mbps 1080p – 17000 PassMark score
  • 4K SDR 40Mbps, 8-bit HEVC file transcoded to 10Mbps 1080p – 12000 PassMark score
  • 1080p 10Mbps, H.264 file transcode – 2000 PassMark score
  • 720p 4Mbps, H.264 file transcode – 1500 PassMark score
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The Best NAS for Plex

1.     Synology Diskstation DS920+

The Synology DS920+ is the finest NAS server for Plex. Because it has four hard drive bays and two built-in M.2 2280 NVMe SSD slots, it enables you to fill up a substantial amount of storage while also providing a significant amount of cache acceleration through the solid-state drives.

It utilizes AES-NI hardware encryption and is powered by an Intel quad-core CPU. There is 4GB of DDR4 RAM already installed in the system, which can be increased to a maximum of 8GB. Even though it only has a fourbay NAS, the Synologys diskstation DS920+ can be expanded to accommodate a staggering nine discs if you purchase the extra Synology DX517.

The Synology DS920+ performs quite well when using its hardware transcoding capabilities. The Synology DS920+ is an excellent choice for a 4K NAS with Plex because of its powerful Intel quad-core CPU. Unfortunately, there is a problem with hardware transcoding, and a simple remedy that involves uninstalling a driver is required to fix it.

Pros

  • 4K NAS
  • 4GB DDR4 RAM

Cons

  • No 10 Gigabit Ethernet ports
  • Quite expensive

2. Nvidia Shield TV Pro 2019


The Nvidia Shield TV is the best Plex media server for most users. It’s not necessarily the most powerful, but it’s certainly the easiest to set up and the most versatile. Whereas most Plex network-attached storage devices are traditional servers or NAS boxes, the Shield TV Pro 2019 is a streaming device. Running Android TV, it’s a fantastic for streaming from apps such as Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+, alongside a slew of free streaming apps. Moreover, the Shield TV Pro is an incredible gaming machine for emulation as well as native Android games.

Although the Shield TV is a stellar Plex client device, its ability to double as a Plex server means you can watch your media locally on the Shield using Plex or Kodi, plus access it from any other Plex streaming devices.

Setting up Plex on the Shield TV Pro 2019 is a breeze. Just plug in a high-capacity hard drive loaded up with media, point your Plex app to your media folders, and you’re ready to stream. When compared to most NAS and server devices on the market, the NVIDIA Shield TV is a versatile option that can stream content, play games, and provide Plex server functionality. While my main Plex server is a Lenovo TS140 ThinkServer, I have an 18TB external hard drive hooked up to my NVIDIA Shield TV 2019 for local file playback in Kodi and for a secondary Plex server.

Disappointingly, Nvidia dropped internal storage options on the 2019 Shield TV Pro. While the Shield Pro previously came with a 500GB harddrive, now the Shield only offers 16GB of onboard storage. But with its USB ports, you can expand its storage capacity with ease. And limited to a pair of USB ports, connecting a hard drive to the Shield TV Pro 2019 leaves you with only one free USB host. Although, a USB hub works just fine, either powered if you have devices like HDDs that require a larger power draw, or un-powered for more efficient peripherals such as gamepads and keyboards. Sadly, 4K transcoding is out of the picture. Nevertheless, the Nvidia Shield TV is the most versatile and user-friendly Plex server option on the planet.

Pros:

  • Streaming box – doubles as a Plex server and client/HTPC
  • Excellent for video games (native Android gaming, retro gaming emulation)
  • Versatile
  • Affordable
  • 4K HDR (HDR10, Dolby Vision) output
  • Dolby Atmos output

Cons:

  • Limited built-in storage
  • Can’t handle transcoding

3.     ProMAX Platform

A video editing team isn’t complete without shared storage, but it isn’t the only way to collaborate. Platform is designed as an all-in-one solution for media asset management, archive, and safe media backup was built for creative teams of any size or scope.

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ProMAX Platform’s high-performance video storage solutions provide everything you need today. In order to keep up with the ever-expanding demands of your company, your Platform evolves with it. Users can edit and collaborate from home just as they would in the office with this desktop-sized server, which is available in storage capacities of 0TB, 2TB, 4TB, and 8TB. Platform users may combine their distant users with their current storage easily and seamlessly.

Data encryption has also been included in ProMAX’s data storage servers. In terms of drive bays, ProMAX offers 16- and 24-bay storage servers with speeds of up to 5500 MB/s (on SSDs) and a long-term commitment to video performance. The Intel Xeon (dual-core) 2nd generation, 24 core, 32 GB of RAM, and a graphics card, are housed inside the chassis of the 16-bay.

Pros

  • 16-24 drive bays
  • High-speed SSDs

Cons

  • No Ethernet ports
  • Quite expensive

4. QNAP TVS-872XT

When it comes to 4K transcoding in Plex, you’ll need a lot of CPU power. While many budget and mid-range NAS devices can handle multiple concurrent 1080p transcodes and even a single or simultaneous 4K transcode, 4K transcodes are better on more powerful hardware. The QNAP TVS-872XT is the best NAS for Plex 4K transcoding. At its heart, you’ll find an Intel Core i5-8400T 1.7GHz hexa-core CPU and 16GB of RAM, expandable to 32GB. It’s got four LAN ports with a 10GbE port. Connectivity is incredible with dual Thunderbolt 3 ports and two USB 3.1 Type-A hosts. You’ll find a whopping eight hard drive bays, as well as HDMI 2.0 that can handle 4K 60Hz video output.

PCIe expansion slots can accommodate M.2 SATA SSDs for efficient storage with solid-state drive caching. Deviating from the average dual-core, low-power CPU-powered NAS boxes on the market, the QNAP TVS-872XT is an outstanding Plex NAS that can handle multiple 4K transcodes with ease. Unfortunately, it’s not cheap. But you get a small-business caliber home server, and if you need a lot of storage space as well as top-tier transcoding performance, the QNAP TVS-872XT is a beefy home lab. You may also consider the cheaper Intel Core i3-powered QNAP TVS-672X which still delivers fantastic transcoding performance. If you want an excellent 4K streaming experience, the TVS-872XT is the best QNAP NAS for Plex.

Pros:

  • Intel Core i5-8400T 6-core 1.7GHz CPU
  • Up to 32GB RAM (16GB included)
  • 2 x PCIe expansion slots, M.2 SATA for SSD caching
  • 2 x Thunderbolt 3 ports
  • 1x 10GbE
  • 8-bay NAS
  • Excellent 4K transcoding performance in Plex
  • HDMI 2.0 output

Cons:

  • Extremely expensive

5.     TerraMaster F5-422

TerraMaster is a premium brand of NAS and associated accessories that provide a large selection of high-end solutions that provide exceptional performance, such as its NAS for Plex.

The TerraMaster F5422 NAS for Plex is the finest solution in this listicle for heavy-duty use. Starting with storage, it has a total of 5 drive bays and support for a solitary caching SSD drive. The nicest thing about this Plex NAS is that, depending on your RAID setup, you may achieve transfer rates of up to 670 MB/s. Regarding RAID setup, this Plex NAS supports most of the usual ones, including RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, etc.

Regarding the processor, this NAS depends on the Intel Celeron J355, a quad-core CPU with a 1.5 GHz base and 2.3 GHz peak speeds. Unfortunately, although you receive 4 gigabytes of RAM that can be expanded to 8 gigs, it is DDR3 rather than DDR4. Thus, performance is significantly reduced.

Pros

  • 3 GHz peak speed
  • RAID setup

Cons

  • DDR3 RAM
  • Slow processing

6. Dell PowerEdge T40

With its Intel quad-core Xeon E-2224G CPU and 8GB of RAM, the Dell PowerEdge T40 makes an excellent Plex server. It’s got an impressive 7490 PassMark. Because video transcoding is incredibly CPU-intensive, Plex recommends a 1500 PassMark for transcoding a single 720p 4Mbps H.264 file, and a 2000 PassMark for a 1080p 10Mbps H.264 transcode. As such, the PowerEdge T40 should be able to handle about four simultaneous 1080p transcodes. It’s energy-efficient and can hold four 3.5″ drives. Because it’s a more traditional desktop-style server, the T40 is pretty upgradeable. You can add a lot of RAM and up to four hard-drives. Additionally, if you want more horsepower for 4K transcoding in Plex, you could add in a GPU for GPU-accelerated transcoding.

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For physical media, there’s a DVD drive so you could even rip DVDs straight to your harddrive. The only potential downside is that the PowerEdge T40 comes in a desktop case form factor. As such, it’s not as compact as a pre-built NAS device. For my Plex streaming server, I use my faithful Lenovo TS140 with a similar footprint to the T40, and it’s not too obtrusive tucked away in a corner with my modem and router. Moreover, the T40 is a completely do-it-yourself set-up, so while there’s more flexibility than with a NAS from the likes of QNAP or Synology, beginners may want something more streamlined. But its processing capabilities and low-power consumption make the PowerEdge T30 a top Plex media server solution.

Pros:

  • Excellent hardware
  • Great expandability
  • Includes DVD drive
  • Low power consumption
  • Flexible environment
  • HDMI output

Cons:

  • Completely DIY set up
  • Large footprint

7.     Synology DS220+

The Synology DS220+ media server is a reliable Plex server and the finest Synology NAS for Plex. A dual-core CPU with AES-NI encryption is included. It can handle two simultaneous H.265 or H.264 4K to 1080p transcodes on the streaming front.

This Synology NAS features 2GB of RAM that can be expanded to 6GB. Depending on the amount of RAID, the two HDD bays may hold up to 32TB when running twin 16TB drives. The DS220+ is an economical alternative for a Plex NAS.

The Intel Celeron J4025 Dual-core CPU is capable of numerous 1080p transcodes and even 4K transcoding. However, its 2GB of RAM may disappoint heavy users. Similarly, sophisticated features like SSD caching and an eSATA connector are not accessible. A 1GbE LAN port and three USB 3.0 connections, on the other hand, provide good expandability.

Pros

  • Three USB ports
  • eSATA connector

Cons

  • No HDMI port
  • Not the most powerful CPU

8. Synology DiskStation DS220+


The DS220+ Synology media server is a solid Plex server device and the best Synology NAS for Plex. You’ll find a dual-core processor with AES-NI encryption. On the streaming side, it’s capable of handling two concurrent H.265 or H.264 4K videos to 1080p transcodes. While the Synology DS220+ comes with 2GB of RAM, it’s expandable to 6GB. Its two harddrive bays can house up to 32TB when running dual 16TB drives depending on your level of RAID. As a NAS for Plex, the DS220+ is an affordable option.

The Intel Celeron J4025 Dual-core CPU has can handle multiple 1080p transcodes and is even capable of 4K transcoding. Yet, its 2GB of RAM might leave power users wanting. Likewise, advanced features such as SSD caching and an eSATA port aren’t available. However, a 1GbE LAN port and trio of USB 3.0 ports make for excellent expandability. What’s more, the user experience is superb. Synology’s software simplifies the process of setting up Plex and other media or file server software. User-friendly, cheap, and with great Plex support, the Synology DiskStation DS220+ is a budget-priced media streaming server that doesn’t cut corners.

Pros:

  • Affordable
  • Can handle two simultaneous H.265/H.264 4K to 1080p transcodes
  • Great connectivity (1GbE LAN port, 3 x USB 3.0 hosts)
  • Up to 24TB of HDD space
  • 2GB of RAM, expandable to 6GB
  • Great app compatibility

Cons:

  • Intel Celeron J3355 Dual-core 2.0 GHz CPU isn’t the most powerful
  • No HDMI output

Conclusion

Plex is better than both Hulu and YouTube for watching movies. Plex is faster to watch videos, has more features, and is cheaper than both Hulu and YouTube.

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