Plex Media Player HTPC build for 4K?

plex-media-player

#1

So i've just purchased a new house and one of the projects we have queued up is to upgrade from our 720p Samsung to a 4K TV (bout time) I know.

Right now I've got a freenas box running Plex Media Server with a basic Xeon chip and we use a FireStick/Shield/Chromecast for the TV which works for 99% of stuff, but seems to fall flat on it's face when i try to run a 4k movie through the TV, because transcoding.

I've read that Plex and 4k HEVC x265 don't play well together at all, but I had the idea of having a HTPC running PMP with an HDMI straight to the 4k TV so theoretically that should be able to direct play (even if i have to sync stuff to the HTPC first)

Would this be a feasible solution? Would I need a crazy CPU like an Intel i9? Would I still need a GPU of some sort like a GTX 1050? Or could I just run from the motherboard out? Never built an HTPC so I'm not sure what I'm getting into.


#2

You won’t necessarily need a dedicated GPU as Intel’s Kaby Lake CPUs and up have a dedicated media block for 8 & 10bit HEVC/H.265 encoding/decoding. In that same vein, because of this media block you don’t need a powerful CPU, an i3 would likely get the job done. An i9 would be better utilized when considering a server build (more cores=more transcoding power).

I’m currently running a Win10 HTPC with an i3 (i3-7100, 3.9GHz) and 1050ti. I have some content encoded in 12bit x265 so the Nvidia GPU was needed for that, but otherwise I don’t think I’d need dedicated graphics at all. I’ve had 0 playback issues with 4k HEVC content (any content, really). Haven’t tested HDR yet though.

Maybe someone else running a Kaby Lake i3 solo can chime in.


#3

Interesting. And I was so proud when I switched my FreeNAS systems to server grade hardware with the Xeon chips.

So if I built a HTPC with a Kaby Lake CPU to run Plex Media Player, would the server feed the data directly to the HTPC to process the x265 HEVC data, or would my server in the basement still be trying to transcode/encode the data before it sends it to the HTPC?


#4

It would be the former (as long as you have direct play enabled). If the client communicates to the server that it can handle playback of a given audio/video codec pairing, the server should simply sling the content to the client and let it handle all the heavy lifting. It’s when there are client incompatibilities that the server has to process the media and transcode it to a supported format for the client. This is the issue most people have with HEVC now–transcoding a 1080p HEVC stream is very intensive and chokes systems lacking a powerful CPU. 4k exacerbates this issue.

A Kaby Lake (or later) i3 should be able to decode HEVC in hardware up to 10bit using the Main10 encoding profile. Anything beyond Main10 or using 4:2:2 or higher Chroma subsampling will result in software decoding, which an i3 won’t be able to do. It’s just a (particularly) messy time with video technologies right now (4k, various HDR formats, refresh rates, video codecs, new HDMI spec). Unless money poses no issue, I would try to invest the lowest amount you can in a system that meets your current needs. In 2-3 years once the dust settles a bit with this batch of technologies, there’s no knowing what will be supported/outdated. I know that can be said all the time, but I feel there is a lot more fluidity in a lot more aspects of media storage/presentation right now than there has been in the past few years.


#5

PMP can’t handle 10 bit 4k hevc content. I think if you medd with the configuration it will transcode it back to 8 bit but that isn’t really what one wants.

The only way that I see with PLEX to direct play 4k 10 bit is:
-by using Kodi and setting up an external player that is able to play 10 bit content.
-Or get the Shield box. But I don’t know how good that thing handles hdr. You might also run into problems in the future when dolby vision comes around.
-You could try to just access you server via DLNA with your TV and see if it plays 4k content correctly


#6

@Heciruam said:
PMP can’t handle 10 bit 4k hevc content.

Sorry but that’s absolutely not true.


#7

OK I stopped using PMP after the 2.0 update so that might have changed. So ignore everthing I have said^^


#8

@Heciruam said:
OK I stopped using PMP after the 2.0 update so that might have changed. So ignore everthing I have said^^

Ah yeah I had forgotten about you possibly referencing V1 lol.
V2 doesn’t have a lot going for it, but I do have to say it does a pretty amazing job with all these 40-80GB 4K HDR x265 Remuxes that are appearing lately. So I can live with all its other failings and I just tend to fling to it from my phone. :slight_smile:


#9

How did you get HDR to work? I can play 4K HDR movies in PMP, but no HDR-signal is sent to the TV. It works with Kodi’s DSplayer w/madVR.


#10

@HitsVille said:

@Heciruam said:
OK I stopped using PMP after the 2.0 update so that might have changed. So ignore everthing I have said^^

Ah yeah I had forgotten about you possibly referencing V1 lol.
V2 doesn’t have a lot going for it, but I do have to say it does a pretty amazing job with all these 40-80GB 4K HDR x265 Remuxes that are appearing lately. So I can live with all its other failings and I just tend to fling to it from my phone. :slight_smile:

PMP does not pass HDR metadata to the TV. It can decode and play the 10 Bit encoded material, but you will get washed out colour and no HDR.


#11

@ianegerton said:
PMP does not pass HDR metadata to the TV. It can decode and play the 10 Bit encoded material, but you will get washed out colour and no HDR.

This is kind of what I’m talking about in a nutshell–it’s such a hodgepodge of material/standards out there now that it’s hard to get a cohesive player framework that works reliably. To me it results in a lot of consumer dissatisfaction–people spending money on equipment that’s labeled as 4k and HDR compatible only to find it doesn’t integrate properly due to hardware/software bugs. Or the specs are slightly different (i.e. it can do 4k @ 30Hz, but not 60Hz, or supports Main10, but not Dolby Vision).

I don’t know if the arena is simply waiting for a better playback engine that properly parses & processes the various media info (bit depth, color space, video codec, etc) or if studios simply need to start mastering/releasing everything in HDR and then develop/automate the tone-mapping for SDR people. It just seems too sloppy right now.

That’s enough venting for now. Sorry for hijacking the thread @WalnutBread. Let us know how your build turns out!


#12

Just setup a htpc with ryzen 7 and gtx 1050. My 4k collections are playable on my samsung 70 inch tv using pmp but for some reason the gpu load will suddenly drop to 2-5% and make the whole movie plays at 2-4fps… Not sure if it’s pmp problem or gpu problem but I will run more tests to see what’s going on. Thought I share my experience with you. I hope it helps!