Very Confused: Transcoding 1080p on the DS415play vs DS415+ vs. other?



So I have a read number of threads here, and have just ended up a bit more confused than I'd like to be.  First, let me outline what I want:


What I want:


A 24/7 media server NAS that can transcode full 1080p videos to all of my household's many devices without buffering during playback, on one logical volume, while permitting me to perform limited I/O on a different logical volume for ordinary productivity stuff, while, say, the kids are watching movies. Preferably, my solution would involve as minimal active monitoring by me as possible.


What I know: 


My choices thus far have been choosing between the following two new products: The DS415 play, and the DS415+.  I understand the former (the Play Model) has a weaker, Intel x86 processor (the "Evansport") vs. the Plus Model's x86 ("Avoton"), as well as possessing less RAM than the former (1 GB vs. 2GB of the Plus.) However, the description wiki here informs me that one possible advantage of the Play is that its chip contains a hardware encoder/decoder, which is I know is usually much less CPU intensive than software decoding, though also reading these forums I'm told the Plus's on board CPU *might* be able to brute-force 1080p transcode anyway.  Yet another thread though, flips things around, by adding that is unlikely (or not??) that Plex Media Server will ever add support for the Play's weaker CPU instruction set to enable the 1080p its hardware decoding it's capable of. Thus, the choice is obvious: Go for the DS415+. At the same time, I understand the DS415+ is not quite supported by Plex just yet, though that can be easily solved by editing the install package .spk file to add the new architecture to a line in the info text file.  That is slightly uncomfortable, though I'm savvy enough to do it; again, I'd like my solution to require as little active maintenance as possible.


My confusion: Do I have all this correct? A crucial aspect of my confusion are Synology's and Plex's roadmaps for both products; is Plex resigned that the difficulty of adding software support for the DS415Play's hardware encoder is too difficult? Is Synology committed to compatibility for either or both of its products with Plex Media Server? If both are likely to be eventually supported, how far out are we talking about between updates? Finally, am I making a false choice, is there another NAS Synology offers that is a full media server solution capable of transcoding full 1080p to a multiplicity of devices?


plex does not make use of the hardware decoder thingy on the evansport


A clear 'qualification and quantification' is required in your above requirements.    An 'Atom' class processor, is still just that.   It's not an i5 or i7 class machine.   As such, it can't handle a lot.  

Synology builds NAS systems, not video or multi-media systems.  They put the chip in to satisfy the video encoding need (video security camera image capture).  

How many concurrent streams do you want?

Do you require the ability to transcode all streams concurrently or may some streams be direct-play?  If so, how many please?

What resolutions?  1080p?  2160p?

What bit rates?   5 Mbps?  10 ? 15? 20?


The regular use case would be one stream, though it'd be very useful to have two streams at the same time, as the kids watch something and the wife and I watch something else. Top line bitrates I'd like to see are 15 Mb/s, and best material I have is 2160p, though I'm only expecting up to 1080p to be supported.


Judging on your stated needs, I would recommend that you use a Mac Mini or Intel NUC or similar mini PC to host PMS & PHT and then any suitably sized NAS to simply store your media. None of the current NAS models will support your needs at present and certainly none could handle 2160p transcoding.

Assuming you have your heart set on a NAS though, the best choice would be the DS415+ since Plex do not fully support the DS415Play, as the DS415+ is capable of 1080p transcoding with most files.

However, if you re-encode your files, then most of the Intel x86 powered NAS will suit your needs with the exception of 2160p of course.

To re-encode try Video To Video (PC) and Handbrake (Mac), both are free to download and use.



Several of the forum members have tested DS415+ and it works well with transcoding.

That's why I was convinced to purchase the DS415+ because it has a higher Quad Core CPU (2.4) and memory (2GB) than the DS415Play.

As BigWheel mentioned, the HW transcoder of the DS415Play is not being used by Plex. So it's useless if you want to only use Plex. I think it works for Synology Video Station, etc.

trumpy81 is correct by suggesting the Mac Mini or Intel NUC for your needs. I wanted to buy an Intel NUC before so that the transcoding is dedicated to the front-end. But I wanted only 1 device to manage so I patiently waited for something like DS415+. I was also looking at QNAP but that's another story. :)

If you want transcoding with only 1 server to manage, DS415+ works well. But if you want to do more, then a Mac Mini/NUC + NAS would be the way to go.

Regarding your concern about the spk file, it really is as simple as adding "avoton" to the arch line in the INFO file, putting it back to the spk file, install the package, and that's it. Unless you plan to upgrade to every beta update, then you have minimal maintenance.

Just a last note, I have tested several simultaneous streaming from three different locations/internet speeds:

EU (30mbps)

- iPad Mini Plex App (mp4)

- Roku Streaming Stick Plex Channel (Transcoded AVI)

EU (20mbps)

- iPad Mini Browser (Transcoded MKV 5.1ch)

Asia (3mbps)

- iPad 3 Browser (Transcoded AVI)

- PS4 Browser (mp4)

DS415+ works really well in handling 5 remote clients.


If you are considering buying a NAS purely for Plex, you may want to reconsider.  The ones that can do two concurrent 1080p streams are very expensive.  It will be much cheaper to get an inexpensive NAS without bells and whistles for media storage, and a stand-alone HTPC like a Mac Mini (even a 2-year-old model) or Intel NUC with a Core i5.


A point of order / word of caution ?

The word 'transcode' gets tossed around frequently without qualification.

It could mean any or all of the below, all of which need to be checked out before making decisions

1. Direct-stream, container change only
2. Direct-stream, audio conversion
3. Transcode, higher to lower resolution (e.g. 1080p -> 720p)
4. Transcode, high bit rate to lower bit rate.

One solution doing 4 direct-play, high bit rate streams is not the same as transcoding 2 streams (audio and video) concurrently.

This is how NAS/server comparison mistakes happen

Just thought I would throw that back out there.

Sent with Tapatalk

Edit:  typo corrected


What specifically is your need to transcode?

I have a Synology 1512+ and I use Plex on the Roku3 and web browser.  I have come across two cases where I have wanted to transcode.

1) I used to use MythTV to record over the air ATSC MPEG-2, this had to be transcoded in order to play with the Roku3

2) When accessing media files remotely and didn't have needed bandwidth to direct play

For the record, the 1512+ can CPU transcode 720p and lower.


I think the need to transcoding for local play is overrated.  As long as you create/obtain compliant media, which is easy, you shouldn't have a problem with either model.

That said, I would get the 415+ over the 415play and it isn't close.  The 415+ has quad-core and 2G of memory compared to weaker dual-core and 1G.  I wouldn't be surprised if the 415+ could transcode 1080p in the CPU.  If you end up LOVE LOVE LOVING the Synology features like many of us the CPU and RAM of the 415+ will come in handy.


To clarify further, either the 415+ or 415play will support direct play of multiple HD streams.

The value of the Synology NAS is all the other features that come with it (Web Server, Audio Station, Photo Station, Download Station, Surveillance station, features go on and on).  These features are really nice, Synology does a solid job giving you a great interface for your media no matter where you consume it.  Only if none of the features interest you does it make sense to go with a mini PC.  Personally I do both.  I run virtual machines off of a Zotac ID83 (16G Memory) with the (NFS) filesystem mounted to the Synology NAS.


plex does not make use of the hardware decoder thingy on the evansport

Great document!  Now that the Synology DS1815+ and DS1515+ are released, how do we get the owner of the doc add rows for them?


Just came across this thread. Really great info and I'm in the same boat here. I originally had the server running on a mac mini but changed over to the 415+ for a one-unit solutions. Looking to stream 1080p 30gb files as well.

I don't know if this is old info or not but I read that Plex doesn't take advantage of the quad-core in the 415+? Is that still accurate?


As I have stated many times, the file size of video files means zip, nada, non, nothing. At best it indicates the level of compression, but it says nothing about the compression used or the quality contained in the file.

Plex utilises all cores of the CPU, it would not run properly otherwise. Why people believe otherwise is beyond me.

Also, the Plex - NAS compatibility guide has been updated to include the DSxx15+ models.


To make things even more confusing, here are my two cents.

Unless you need external access or wifi stream to low resolution devices, transcoding is useless. It's preferrable to invest on decent media players (NUC / Mac mini / Chromebox) that can play all sorts of media files (and all sorts of subtitles) without transcoding. In such situations the speed of the NAS only matters for large libraries, so that you can browse them fast. During play the speed of the NAS is almost irrelevant when DirectPlay is used. I have an armv5 NAS and I can play 1080p 20Mbps with less than 10% CPU load and less than 10% LAN load, I'm sure that even this (very) weak NAS would be able to support 4-5 streams concurrently.

If you really need transcoding you can tweak the profiles in order to lower the target bitrate (this also implies loss of quality) according to the CPU speed and acceptable quality.


As an owner of a DS415+ for over a year now (3/4 of which I used Plex), I can say that it's far from perfect, but it's pretty damn good and I could recommend it. I use Chrome/Firefox Plex Web, Plex Home Theater on both, Linux (Ubuntu) and Windows (7) as well as my Android Plex App.

Here are some facts I can give you:
* DirectPlay in the local network via LAN cable works tremendously well, even with multiple clients
* DirectPlay in the local network via WiFi can work very well, depending on many other factors like your exact bitrate (8-10Mbps works for me, above that, it gets tough), where your router sits in the house, where your walls are and how thick they happen to be etc.
* transcoding 1080p to 720p @ 2-3Mbps works very well, even if you use two or sometimes up to three clients. If you are connected remotely (not in the same network as your NAS), the bottleneck (for me!) tends to be more the upload speed of both, your NAS and your router rather than the processing power of the NAS itself.

Bottom line: as far as I can tell, I think the DS415+ fits your needs very well. I've been using it for many other things as well & simultaneously (CloudSyncing huge files & photo collections, work/uni stuff, photo sharing etc.) and after one year of usage, I'm still 100% glad I made the decision ;)


Thanks all for the speedy replies. I've been doing a bunch of testing and in the end to have 1080p remote streaming, the answer is the pre-transcoding feature that Plex has now (Optimized Versions). I'm likely to switch over to Apple TV and all my other devices are iOS. Basically, here's what I'm looking at:

  • Local Network: Optimize all versions that have video formats not compatible with iOS to "Original Format"
  • Remote Network: Optimize to 8Mbps iOS (my upload speed is 20Mbps)

Basically on-the-fly transcoding of 1080p/BluRay is not consistently reliable for me.