What Hardware to Purchase

server-windows

#1

Hello all,

Currently my PMS is running on my Windows 10 PC. It is doing a good job but I would like to move it off to its own hardware. Is there a minimum hardware spec I should be looking at for my dedicated PMS device?

Thanks,
Steve


#2

My suggestion is actually quite simple:
1. Stick with Windows as you already understand it. (Unless you are quite good with Linux as well)
2. Get the best computer you can afford. You can buy a complete computer or build one if you have the time and skills. Be sure the processor in the computer has at least a 10000 Passmark even if it also fills point #3.
3. Whatever computer system you choose be sure it supports hardware acceleration.
4. Be sure all sleep and hibernate functions can be turned off as servers should never sleep.
5. I strongly suggest you do NOT use a laptop even though some people have good luck with them.
6. Do not plan to give your server any other tasks.

Since are getting a new, Plex specific, computer take your time and find one that fits everything you need.

BTW: I have had excellent results with refurbs off Amazon.

Lastly I have a server running on a Shield and it works very well and supports hardware acceleration but it has some limitations so you might want to look into that. While several people have PMS working well on a standard Shield I do NOT recommend that. A Shield Pro is the only choice of the Shield line I recommend.


#3

What is your current setup?

What is your spend budget and how do you plan to use it? Do you need to buy tuners or will you reuse what you have? Can any part of your current system be reused/repurposed (e.g. disks, case, PS).

Are you wanting to buy or build? What is your skill level?


#4

Get something Intel with Kaby Lake or newer or discrete GPU that can hardwarde decode HEVC with HDR to future proof. HEVC is coming fast and decoding using software is basically impossible unless you have a massively powerful CPU, like Passmark 20K+


#5

Thanks for all the tips everyone!

At present my thought is to buy an Intel NUC. I use an i7 NUC as my home PC/PMS right now but want to separate the PMS piece onto its own hardware. My thought would be a current gen i3, with 8 gig of RAM and 128 gig of SSD, should be enough to handle any transcoding duties. My media is in the cloud and I use NetDrive3 to mount that cloud drive as a logical local drive, without pulling the media down to the local drive. The only thing I do not know yet is whether the i3 and Intel GPU in it support HDR10, Dolby Atmos, Dolby Vision, and H265. I need to research that piece a bit, unless this fine group can chime in and tell me.

I transcoded my first 4K movie last night. 60+ gig of space....yikes!


#6

Why not use Plex cloud and remove your PC from the equation? Or is that not an option anymore?

Personally I have had a 2nd gen i3 for ?6? Years and it has treated me well. It handles all the day to day Plex (and other Plex related tools) perfectly fine, but when transcoding kicks on, even work Hardware acceleration, it falls apart. Granted it is old and lived a good life, but I would recommend at least an i5 (I feel i7s are to much $ unless you want a gaming rig, but I can easily be talked out of this). I do try to get freinds to direct stream and much as possible since I have the bandwidth.

Also, I watched an interesting video from somebody on YouTube. He said his SSD died after to many writes and put together a RAMDisk (use RAM as a storage target). It logically makes sense and I plan to do this on my next setup. If you want to go down this road though, you will need a lot of extra memory if your are going to transcode 4k video...


#7

@DustSt0rm said:
Why not use Plex cloud and remove your PC from the equation? Or is that not an option anymore?
...

Plex cloud is no longer available to new users. It is either a temporary condition or a permanent one which is anyone's guess and Plex is not saying. In my experience it was never a reliable option from my experience anyway.

Personally I would never place my valuable media at the dubious mercy of a cloud storage provider.


#8

@DustSt0rm said:
Why not use Plex cloud and remove your PC from the equation? Or is that not an option anymore?

Personally I have had a 2nd gen i3 for ?6? Years and it has treated me well. It handles all the day to day Plex (and other Plex related tools) perfectly fine, but when transcoding kicks on, even work Hardware acceleration, it falls apart. Granted it is old and lived a good life, but I would recommend at least an i5 (I feel i7s are to much $ unless you want a gaming rig, but I can easily be talked out of this). I do try to get freinds to direct stream and much as possible since I have the bandwidth.

Also, I watched an interesting video from somebody on YouTube. He said his SSD died after to many writes and put together a RAMDisk (use RAM as a storage target). It logically makes sense and I plan to do this on my next setup. If you want to go down this road though, you will need a lot of extra memory if your are going to transcode 4k video...

I went down the path of a ramdisk, as I have 16 gig in my current i7 NUC but it never was very successful. Worked great when it was mounted but if you rebooted and forgot to mount it up it was not there. My NVMe drive was fine for the transcoding, as I moved the temp directory there.

As for Plex Cloud I was using this up until I fired the PMS back up on my NUC. Plex Cloud is garbage right now(sorry Plex). Lots of disconnects, delays in firing up. It just became impractical to keep using it. The idea is great, and I could have gone down the VPS path, but there is a cost to do that. For now my NUC can be the PMS but ultimately I want to move it to its own hardware.


#9

Back to the PMS having its own hardware has anyone looked at the new Intel Hades Canyon NUC? They talk about it being a real gaming machine but I am considering it as PMS/all things video machine. It has discrete Radeon GPU, which could be handy in transcodes, as well as a current gen i7 quad core proc. It costs $999 without storage and memory.

What does building your own PMS cost? I am rapidly expanding into the 4K space, so I need something that can handle this type of data.


#10

I built an i7 Kaby Lake PC ... all-in about 1.000,- €.
Then I used the same setup with an i3 Kaby Lake and a NVIDIA Quadro P400 as a player to connect to my TV (4k should be possible. But if you want to upscale SD content to 4k I'd rather use a P600).

And finally all the movies are on a synology NAS. Costs depend on your storage needs.
(DS1517 ... 600,- €, DX517 ... 500,- €, 10 10TB disks ... 3.000,- €. That gives you about 76TB RAID-5)

That setup is more than enough for a small family. Actually it's oversized.


#11

Oh and: Plex is not memory-bound. You won't need big mem-sizes. What you need is a good CPU with supported hardware acceleration, good network (I prefer Intel NICs) and fast internal storage.


#12

Then I really like the new Hades Canyon NUC. A real winner based on what I am reading: https://ark.intel.com/products/126143/Intel-NUC-Kit-NUC8i7HVK


#13

Dude, this is the best for PLEX. The Best

j/k. I'd say if you have a good workstation then just get a few cheap NAS boxes.


#14

Already have a 2 drive Synology and a pair of 3TB drives. Just need the ship to drive it all home. Glad my quarterly bonus is showing up in a few weeks...going to spend at least 1400, when you add the NUC, new memory, and fast storage.

I have the 4K player...just need to get my content in order and start driving the content with a new PMS!


#15

Well in that case ... go with the NUC.
There's absolutely nothing wrong about it.


#16

@SteveFP
Did you pull the trigger yet? Very close to getting one myself and want to know how it's performing!


#17

@"OnDemand2.0"

I went in a different direction. I ended up putting my PMS on my Synology NAS, after speaking with someone in the NAS forum here. It is working brilliantly and the load on the CPU/Memory is minimal when transcoding. This does not mean I will not review it again in a year, but for now I did not have to put out the spend.

I highly recommend a Synology NAS that has transcoding capabilities built into the design. This is the only way having the PMS on it will work!


#18

@SteveFP
Aw bummer. Kidding. :) Thanks!


#19

@SteveFP
What model Synology do you currently have? How many transcodes are you able to handle at a time?


#20

Hey guys, I've been using Plex for 5+ years now, I think. It's the primary way I consume most of my content. I really like where the live tv dvr has been going with Plex. It's been getting better and better over time. Anyways, I've been running windows server on (I7 920 with 20GB RAM) the last couple of years. I also have a QNAP TS-451+. It's all been working great, I allow friends and family to stream and usually never notice if everybody is streaming.

I'm thinking of building a new server, and am thinking that if money wasn't a concern (within reason), what would be the best hardware to go with? Specifically, I'm thinking about transcoding, and how my CPU will consistently stay above 90% utilization. I'm also wondering about hardware acceleration? Are we talking about building something with a good GPU? I want to be able to play 4K without missing a beat. Or rather, I want to be able to watch live tv while transcoding content for other users. I built a new gaming system for myself about 1 to 2 years ago and used M.2 2280 SSD and witnessed astonishing performance. So if I'm building a new Plex server, then maybe my thoughts should be around cpu, gpu, and local storage? Appreciate feedback or links to good resources on this topic.