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What's my best route for a decent Plex server??

stevep94stevep94 Posts: 26Members ✭✭

I've happily been using Kodi for my in-home media streaming (main TV and other devices around the house!) but I'd quite like to give Plex another go as I'd like to be able to access my media while I'm away from home!

Hardware-wise I've got the following:

  • Synology DS213 NAS (where I store all of my media but no longer supports Plex by the looks of things!?)
  • Intel NUC (Core i3 Haswell I think!) - currently running OpenElec (which I'd like to keep if possible as I like the UI on the main TV!)
  • Desktop (Core i5 2500K)
  • Laptop (Core i7 something or other!)
  • PS4

I've tried installing "Plex Home Theatre" on both the desktop (connected via homeplugs) and laptop (connected wirelessly) and while both seem to work (ie. I can stream content to my phone/tablet OK) I wouldn't want to leave either on 24/7!!

My question is, is there any way to install the Plex Media Server on my NUC in addition to having Kodi on there (somehow "in the background" so it's always on or am I looking at getting a separate stand-alone piece of hardware to simply run the Plex server software?

I've looked at the Pi 3 but understand it will not handle transcoding (although I'm not sure whether my media will need transcoding - how do I tell??) or something like the Nvidia Shield, which I understand will now accommodate the server as well as the player for Plex following a recent update??

Can I re-task any of my existing kit to implement an always-on server for Plex or do I need new kit??

Sorry I've rambled a bit but I'd really like to understand more of what will/can do what and how the get the best out of my existing kit!! (I have a feeling that my NUC is a bit over the top for just running Kodi!?!?)

Thanks for any help...


  • shopgirl284shopgirl284 Posts: 2,835Members, Plex Pass, Plex Ninja, Forum Moderator Plex Ninja

    First, are you asking which device you should install a Plex player app on or which device you should install Plex Media Server on? Or are you wanting to install both Plex Media Server and your Plex player app on one device?

    Just considering Plex Media Server, I would first choose the device with the best processor. Then choose the device you do not mind running all the time. Since Plex Media Server does not use much RAM but uses a lot of CPU for transcoding, it can run in the background on any system. I actually have PMS running on a laptop that I use for other things everyday.

    Keep in mind that the difference between Plex and Kodi is that Kodi is just a single media player while Plex is a media server that you accessed from a variety of players/devices. Plex works by allowing each device to decide how media is played. If the player/device cannot direct play the media (using the native player software for that device/player) then the media is sent to Plex Media Server to be transcoded.

    Even if you do not think you will need much transcoding power, it is always best to have more CPU power than you need. Also see What kind of CPU do I need for my Server? and NAS Devices and Limitations

    Also, when considering your transcoding needs, remember that online media in channel plugins and Watch Later come in a wide variety of formats. So you will need transcoding power if you plan on using channels and Watch Later/PlexIt. And Plex player software for computers, like Plex Media Player, Plex Web, or even RasPlex for Pi devices may support more of the formats for your local media, but they must transcode the majority of online formats offered through channel plugins and Watch Later/PlexIt.

    Many issues and questions can be resolved by reviewing the Plex Support Documentation
    Providing details about your issue, Plex setup, and including log files are important when when asking for help on the forums.
    See Log Files
    Before posting channel plugin questions or issues, please review the pinned threads at the top of the Channel Plugin forum:
    READ FIRST: Guidelines for Posting Channel Plugin Issues/Questions and Things to Check First
    FAQ for Channel Plugin FAQ

  • trumpy81trumpy81 Posts: 10,901Members, Plex Pass, Plex Ninja Plex Ninja

    Based on your current hardware, I would do the following.

    Install Windows 10 or Linux (EG: uBuntu) on the NUC and then install PMS and Plex Media Player, or OpenPHT and plug it into your TV via HDMI.

    Use a Logitech Harmony One remote to control PMP or OpenPHT or any Windows MCE remote, assuming your NUC has the IR receiver built-in. Windows 10 should have the drivers needed, for Linux you would probably need to search for suitable drivers for the IR Receiver.

    Store your files on the DS213 NAS. Mount the shared folders on the NAS as drives on the NUC so you can access them in Plex.

    If you want to stream the files to another location you will need to create files with a resolution of 720p or less and very low overall bitrates.

    I recommend using HandBrake (free for PC/Mac) or any similar software. The preferred format is MP4 H.264/AAC or AVC/AAC as this is the most compatible format across the most devices.

    If using HandBrake, use the Fast 1080p 30 preset and enable Web Optimise and on the Video tab enable fast decode. Adjust the other settings as needed to achieve a 720p or less file.

    You can place a High Quality file and a Low Quality (fit for streaming) file, in Plex and Plex will group those files together. Plex will display a number indicating the number of files in the group in a blue rectangle on the top left corner of the files poster.

    The files should be named something like:

    Night Of The Living Deb (2014) 1080p.mp4
    Night Of The Living Deb (2014) 720p.mp4

    Plex will automatically select the best file to use based on your client and location.

    If you need any other clients for TV's etc. then take a look at the Raspberry Pi 3 running RasPlex or if you want 4K and HEVC support, run RasPlex/OpenPHT on an Odroid C2 (similar size and shape to an RPi3).

    You can set those up for ~$130.00 AUD (Australian Dollars) each.

    Andy M.

    My Equipment: Synology DS1813+ | Panasonic TH-L42ET60A & TH-55DX600U | Windows 10 Professional 64Bit PC's | Raspberry Pi 2's & Odroid C2 with OpenPHT

    Device Profiles | File Naming in Plex | NAS - Plex Compatibility Guide | What CPU does my NAS have | Synology FAQ's page | Tips & Tricks
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