Cheap NAS Options For Plex

Discussion in 'HTPC' started by Deus_Ex_Machina, Jul 24, 2019.

  1. Deus_Ex_Machina

    Deus_Ex_Machina Member

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    OK So I have settled on getting a basic NAS to have a play around with. I'll look at something higher end in time when TV's in the house are all 4K etc etc but wondering what would be a good cheap option to send maximum 2X 720p-1080P streams simultaneously probably usually less than 3-5mbps bitrate each via Plex (and CAT6).

    PS3/PS4 and Smart TV all have Plex app and none struggle with 1080p playback in general directly off a USB etc so there is plenty of grunt at the playback end I think. Some basic transcoding capability would be nice in case the kids play a file back on an Ipad etc.

    Have 2X 3TB Greens I can re-purpose :)

    Synology DS119J might be a little too light? Maybe DS218J?
     
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2019
  2. JNihilist

    JNihilist Member

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    I've read neither models transcode. Not sure it's a bible but there's a list of capabilities with Plex and NAS here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet...Ac4oOLPRtCkgUxU0jdj3tmMPc/view#gid=1274624273

    For me, it's been better to grab a bunch of second hand parts for a similar price and run it as a regular PC. Power draw doesn't bother me. For instance, I run a simple Win7/i7 3770/16GB RAM/3x 2TB 7200rpms with no GPU. I've only ever run into issues with really high bitrate 4K movies. This is possibly no-GPU related - I should prob fix that. House is all gigabit wired etc.

    Can run a lot of simultaneous streams (remote and local) with a nice old CPU. Transcoding for downloading direct to mobile devices is far speedier too. Food for thought?
     
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2019
  3. OP
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    Deus_Ex_Machina

    Deus_Ex_Machina Member

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    I have since been looking into models and the J models mentioned above are a bit weak I think. I'm not gaming much but the day is going to come where I need to retire my Z68/2600K/16GB DDR3 combo so using my main PC for the moment and building a server later with an X265 capable GPU which will probably be had for $100 in 6 months time is an option. 2600K may be 7 years old but it's still a pretty powerful/useful CPU.

    Possibly also means I don't have to sell off all my Greens for Red's. Can use a small SSD for O/S and store on the Greens. I don't need RAID per se. Options and as you say food for thought.
     
  4. Dilbery

    Dilbery Member

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    I ditch using a server/pc hardware for file storage, I've had a file server running at home for years and moved to a Synology and I'll never look back. Set and forget

    https://www.synology.com/en-au/products/DS218play

    If you want a 2 bay this is probably your best option. As long as you have a plex pass you can do hardware transcoding.
     
  5. JNihilist

    JNihilist Member

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    Yeah, they're a little weak for what you're after unfortunately. Think a PC is the way to go, but each to their own :)

    Dilbery, Plex has earmarked that particular model as incapable of hardware transcoding at any resolution. If you have it and it works, would be good to know not to trust their Google doc.
     
  6. Dilbery

    Dilbery Member

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    Damn, you're right that's what I get for assuming the play models will all support HW transcode :lol:

    Looks like the 218+ is what you'd be after https://www.synology.com/en-global/products/DS218+

    or even the Qnap TS-251+ https://www.qnap.com/en-au/product/ts-251+
     
  7. Sphinx2000

    Sphinx2000 Member

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  8. elvis

    elvis Old school old fool

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    Is the need for realtime transcoding still a thing? I'm hard pressed finding media that's not h264 today, and every device I own plays it back without the need for power-hungry CPUs and GPUs transcoding things at the sender side.

    My media setup is a dumb, slow NAS holding files, and has worked for eons, even for modern 4K/hevc/h265 content that's starting to appear.
     
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  9. Sphinx2000

    Sphinx2000 Member

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    The Netflix style web interface of Plex with details, trailers, cast, graphics, etc where you can also search based on genre, actors, directors, similar, etc from your own library is a nice thing for many.
    Also many Smart-TVs and streaming devices support Plex native now, easy to use with a remote rather than browsing directories.
     
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2019
  10. JNihilist

    JNihilist Member

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    I still find my server transcoding, but I'm playing things on Chromecast, Firestick, phones, iPads, Plex browser + client on PC, Xbox and native TV apps. It's not always, as like you said, it's pretty standard stuff nowadays. But I also do a lot of remote streaming and downloading directly to mobile devices, where transcoding is necessary - downloading to devices obv isn’t real-time. So just depends on all your uses.
     
  11. OP
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    Deus_Ex_Machina

    Deus_Ex_Machina Member

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    So looking at the non J models the main differences are (other than some USB ports variants)
    DS218 Play = Realtek RTD1296 Quad-core 1.4GHz + 1GB RAM $349
    DS218 = Realtek RTD1296 Quad-core 1.4GHz + 2GB RAM $430
    DS218+ = Intel Celeron J3355 Dual-core 2.0GHz + 2GB RAM $480

    So based on that the Play seems the best value option provided 1GB RAM is enough?

    I would like some transcoding capability as we have Smart TV's PS3/PS4 Phones, Ipad, all sorts of stuff
     
  12. Sphinx2000

    Sphinx2000 Member

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    Recommend you spring for the Intel (+) model, slow NAS CPUs are a right pain, especially if you have multiple devices accessing it.
     
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  13. bart5986

    bart5986 Member

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    If you are sharing it outside your household then its very important in my opinion.

    Xbox One, PS4, Chromecast, the list goes on and on of devices that transcode particular files for various reasons.

    Then you have to consider that many people have slow internet connections, if they limit the bitrate to 4mbit in their settings = Transcode

    Then you have to consider that you might only have 40mbit upload, you won't want anyone streaming your 16GB Die Hard movie, so you limit it the max bitrate for WAN in settings = transcode.

    Its also great for mobile devices or when you have poor reception.


    At home I use openpht which seems to be one of the only things that plays literally everything.
     
  14. elvis

    elvis Old school old fool

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    Oh yeah, I'm certainly not knocking Plex's interface. That's fine - nice presentation, all the automagic preview/metadata lookups. I use Kodi myself, but they're equally as nice and feature-rich on the "media library" side of things. Plex is super sexy.

    I'm more questioning the need to realtime transcode from the source on every view. If the media is h264 on disk, then I don't see the point re-encoding on the fly.

    Fair enough I guess. I own a PS4 and Chromecast and don't use either for playing media off my NAS. My main TV runs Kodi naively, and the bedroom TV uses an RPi with minimal power consumption.

    Pre-Plex, I heard the same arguments for uPnP in the earlier console days. And again, I guess, if you absolutely want to use a codec-limited device as a media centre, that's fair enough. I find an RPi a much more power efficient method (NAS doesn't have to transcode to feed it, RPi runs lower power than a console, so I'm saving power at both send and receive ends).

    Outside of TVs, my kids occasionally watch media from their gaming computers. But again, that's trivial from a NAS.

    Yeah, nah, I think it's risky enough just "acquiring" media as it is. Sharing to people outside my household? No thanks.

    In 2019 every single open source project uses ffmpeg as a base for codecs (Plex, Kodi, OpenPHT, VLC, whatever). There's zero argument left for codec compatibility as a choice for one player over another any more. Now it's down to whether or not it does hardware h264/h265 decode (hardware dependent, not software dependent).

    Fair enough then. I didn't even consider mobile devices. I personally hate watching content on small screens, but I know lots of folks are doing that now instead of a TV in the bedroom.

    I think twice ever my wife wanted a bunch of media on her Android tablet while she was travelling, so it made more sense just to dump h264/h265 content on the device directly so she could watch it offline.
     
  15. theSeekerr

    theSeekerr Member

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    One of the nice things Plex handles is transcoding incompatible audio formats - for example, the Chromecast is a very capable video player but it can't decode any surround formats itself and the only formats it will bitstream for decoding by the receiver/TV are AC3/E-AC3. Got media with only a DTS soundtrack? Nope. Converted your rips with lossless TrueHD to FLAC for better compatibility? Nope. You give it old-fashioned Dolby or you get nothing.

    Plex deals with that shit transparently, transcoding only the incompatible part of the stream and remuxing with the other original tracks where possible. It's cool when it all works.
     
  16. OP
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    Deus_Ex_Machina

    Deus_Ex_Machina Member

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    I can see that with the Audio for sure. I still run an old receiver which has optical audio so E-AC3 is no good yet AC3 and DTS are fine. Yes I could upgrade my receiver but it's bulletproof and I don't want to lol
     
  17. Jimboberella

    Jimboberella Member

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    I'm using the TS-251+ with 2G ram and it works fine doing up to 4 1080p streams from plex to ipads, ps4, phones etc. If you want to transcode higher bitrate streams in the future though it might not have the power.
     
  18. OP
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    Deus_Ex_Machina

    Deus_Ex_Machina Member

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    I do like the idea of the NAS but they are expensive plus it means new HDD's. That prob makes it a $600 exercise with 2X new 4TB drives. Suspect I'll stream off the main PC for now then repurpose my 2600K setup along with the 3X 3TB Greens to a server down the track unless I find a really cheap secondhand NAS. $600 is a solid mid range CPU, decent motherboard, 16GB RAM and change.
     
  19. flu!d

    flu!d Never perfect, always genuine

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    You simply run an old box as a server, install Linux and install Plex Server. The software is packaged as a .deb so it's no harder to install than under Windows via the GUI under most Ubuntu based distro's.
     
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  20. Copie

    Copie Member

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    My cloud Plex server still transcodes, mainly for downsampling content so it’s inline with their internet speed. That or they are retarded and don’t set their player to remote stream original quality
     

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