Help me streamline my home media server

Discussion in 'HTPC' started by Odourless, May 12, 2019.

  1. Odourless

    Odourless Member

    Feb 3, 2009
    Far North Sunny Melbourne
    Hi Team!

    I'm by no means an expert when it comes to networking/IT in general and have bluffed my way to my current setup which seems to work OK but is starting to struggle with higher quality stuff. Basically I currently have this PC:

    AMD Phenom II X3 720
    8GB Ram
    AMD Radeon 7800 series
    A few random HDD's totaling 8TB

    A while back I set this PC up to auto-download everything I need via usenet (sabNZBD, Sonarr & Radarr) along with a Plex media server. This PC lives in my garage connected to my modem and I connect to it via TeamViewer when required.

    I use the Plex client on whatever I can to watch the media (Xbox One, iPhone & Laptop via Chromecast).

    I struggle to stream maybe 50% of stuff in a better than HD quality which is a pain as I often have to re-download media to be able to watch it.

    I'm ready to completely replace the media server with a modern PC but am looking for advice on the best path to take as well as clients to watch the media. Will a SFF HTPC be able to handle the media server and playback at the same time?
  2. Bradzac

    Bradzac Member

    Aug 17, 2003
    My htpc runs on an old i5 4690 with 16gb ram. I've got 5 or 6 NVIDIA shields around the house and they stream 4k content fine. The only issue I have had was caused by having subtitles on. All clients run Plex, I also have a hdhomerun streaming free to air through Plex.

    All my shields are hard wired on gigabit lan, though.
  3. OhFoRkMe

    OhFoRkMe Member

    Apr 27, 2005
    Joyner 4500
    Sounds like the issue may not be server related but the speed of your network. If you connect your media players via Wi-Fi, I would be checking this first before spending anything on a new server. Would be a shame to spend money on a new server or upgrade only to find out it has the same issues as you currently experience.

    If possible, I would be running a cable to one of the media players and checking if it fixes the issue.

    The other possibility is that your PMS is transcoding media and thats whats causing the buffering. You can check this on PMS once you start a stream. If it is transcoding, try and use direct play and look at how to force this.

    After all that, if your media player cannot play the media without transcoding or you want an excuse to upgrade, I recommend the Unraid route with Docker. Just did this myself and have been loving it. I personally went with a Node 804 case and filled it with 8x 2TB drives that I had spare and used a spare SSD for a cache drive. All my applications are running in Docker and it has been working a treat.

    I use a mix of Nvidia Shields and Xiaomi Mi Box clients.
  4. power

    power Member

    Apr 20, 2002
    i'd bet it's forcing transcoding, i've recently setup plex and i found that a PC with a solid AC connection streamed without buffering fine but a PS4 with a very solid connection had to transcode so i whacked a network cable in it. also the PS4 does kind of suck compared to the PC. might get something more capable in future if I can.
    Last edited: May 13, 2019
    rogo likes this.
  5. im late

    im late Member

    Jan 5, 2012
    Canning Vale WA 6155
    A beefier CPU will assist with transcoding, thus a platform upgrade.

    Also, lower your transcoding settings in your PMS to "prefer faster". Just to see if that helps, only for the purpose of troubleshooting.

    Above advice on trying with a lan cable is also a good trouble shooting tip (obviously impossible on a device they has no lan connection).

    You want to pinpoint the exact cause before you go down the path of a new platform.

    Another option (although not popular but still worth noting) is to subscribe to plex pass (or buy lifetime licence one off) and install a descrite gpu in your current system (something modern like a GT1030).

    Then you can enable "hardware transcoding" which uses the gpu to do the transcoding instead of the CPU. The free version can only use the CPU for transcoding. Food for thought.

    Lots in info about that on the plex forums.
    Last edited: May 17, 2019
  6. Dilbery

    Dilbery Member

    Nov 19, 2005
    Sydney, NSW
    Phenom II lacks AVX, There's a massive hit to transcoding because of it.

    If the clients are doing anything but direct play, the Phenom II is going to have a bad time.
  7. Copie

    Copie Member

    Jul 24, 2009
    Pretty much this. It wasn’t a great Cpu even when new but transcoding is hard work even on a modern cpu

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