NAS and Plex server build help

Marcus Karozis

New Member
Jan 31, 2020
16
0
1
Sydney, Australia
Hey Guys first time posting on the forum,

I've recently decided to build a dedicated Plex Server and NAS instead of piggy backing off my gaming rig so I wanted some advice. The last time I built a computer was about 5 years ago so all my knowledge about what is best to buy is very out of date.

I've settled on a nice case, Rosewill RSV-L4412, and I'm probably going to pick up 4x 2tb wd Blue Hard drives to start with. But other than that i have pretty much no clue what to get.

my last build was an intel cpu but I know Ryzen is a very competitive option. I have also never looked into commercial gear like xeon CPUs before so it might be a good idea to go down that route.

My budget is absolute max around $2000 AUD but if it is better to go for a cheaper option I'd be happy to consider it. I would like to be able to transcode 1080p minimum but ideally 4k with about 3-5 concurrent users, meanwhile also running my NAS.

I will be running it on FreeNAS

Bottom line is I have no clue what to get and would be very grateful for any pointers in the right direction
Thanks.
 

IamSpartacus

Well-Known Member
Mar 14, 2016
2,348
572
113
Hey Guys first time posting on the forum,

I've recently decided to build a dedicated Plex Server and NAS instead of piggy backing off my gaming rig so I wanted some advice. The last time I built a computer was about 5 years ago so all my knowledge about what is best to buy is very out of date.

I've settled on a nice case, Rosewill RSV-L4412, and I'm probably going to pick up 4x 2tb wd Blue Hard drives to start with. But other than that i have pretty much no clue what to get.

my last build was an intel cpu but I know Ryzen is a very competitive option. I have also never looked into commercial gear like xeon CPUs before so it might be a good idea to go down that route.

My budget is absolute max around $2000 AUD but if it is better to go for a cheaper option I'd be happy to consider it. I would like to be able to transcode 1080p minimum but ideally 4k with about 3-5 concurrent users, meanwhile also running my NAS.

I will be running it on FreeNAS

Bottom line is I have no clue what to get and would be very grateful for any pointers in the right direction
Thanks.
Couple comments.

  1. Don't Transcode 4K right now. There is no HDR tone mapping in Plex yet and who knows when that will happen. Right now any 4K HDR content will look extremely washed out. Furthermore it takes about 4-5 times as much processing power/RAM to transcode 4k than 1080p so it really boosts up your HW requirements. If you have Plex Pass (and I recommend anyone running a Plex server does), you can use a HW accelerated Transcoding thus making your CPU needs based on non-transcoding workloads. If you don't need high core count on this server (ie. youre not doing VM's or anything like that), then I'd recommend you go with a recent Intel CPU that has an iGPU on it. They can handle a lot of transcodes. Even my i3-7100 (backup server) can handle 15+ 1080p transcodes. If you need higher core count than 8 cores /16 threads then you'll need to use an Nvidia GPU for the HW transcoding. There are a lot of options there. I personally use a GTX 1660 and it can support 20 1080p Transcoes or 5 4K trancodes (though I do not permit 4K transcoding).
  2. I would recommend better quality drives than WD Blue's for a NAS. Those are meant for desktop computers. Something like WD Reds or shucked WD white label drives are good options.
 

Marcus Karozis

New Member
Jan 31, 2020
16
0
1
Sydney, Australia
Couple comments.

  1. Don't Transcode 4K right now. There is no HDR tone mapping in Plex yet and who knows when that will happen. Right now any 4K HDR content will look extremely washed out. Furthermore it takes about 4-5 times as much processing power/RAM to transcode 4k than 1080p so it really boosts up your HW requirements. If you have Plex Pass (and I recommend anyone running a Plex server does), you can use a HW accelerated Transcoding thus making your CPU needs based on non-transcoding workloads. If you don't need high core count on this server (ie. youre not doing VM's or anything like that), then I'd recommend you go with a recent Intel CPU that has an iGPU on it. They can handle a lot of transcodes. Even my i3-7100 (backup server) can handle 15+ 1080p transcodes. If you need higher core count than 8 cores /16 threads then you'll need to use an Nvidia GPU for the HW transcoding. There are a lot of options there. I personally use a GTX 1660 and it can support 20 1080p Transcoes or 5 4K trancodes (though I do not permit 4K transcoding).
  2. I would recommend better quality drives than WD Blue's for a NAS. Those are meant for desktop computers. Something like WD Reds or shucked WD white label drives are good options.
I have the Plex pass and intended to hardware transcoded to free up a few cores for VM experiments occasionally ideally
 

IamSpartacus

Well-Known Member
Mar 14, 2016
2,348
572
113
I have the Plex pass and intended to hardware transcoded to free up a few cores for VM experiments occasionally ideally
I would ask on the FreeNAS forums about this. I've never run Plex on FreeNAS so I can't comment if it supports passing an iGPU or nVidia GPU through to a Freenail jail. I run Plex in a docker container on Unraid and it's fully supported.
 

nikalai

Member
Oct 26, 2018
34
6
8
Freenas doesn't suport hardware transcoding for the moment. It's working only on Windows and Linux (with modded Nvidia drivers ofcourse). Other users are using Intel CPU's (in separate machines) with Quick Sync support for transcodes.
It is better to use Direct Play if you have capable devices.
 
Last edited:

IamSpartacus

Well-Known Member
Mar 14, 2016
2,348
572
113
Freenas doesn't suport hardware transcoding for the moment. It's working only on Windows and Linux (with modded Nvidia drivers ofcourse). Other users are using Intel CPU's with Quick Sync support for transcodes.
It is better to use Direct Play if you have capable devices.
I'll just add you only have to mod the nvidia drivers if using a non-quadro card to get more than 2 streams. And even using the modded driver method (as I am), it's a simple 5 second script that runs automatically at array startup. It's set it and forget it.
 
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BoredSysadmin

Active Member
Mar 2, 2019
668
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IamSpartacus and nikalai comments are 100% on point.
My strong advice - don't mix Freenas and plugings/jails/VM. If you have to, run FreeNAS in a VM with pass-thru of the storage controller. I am running my plex server on a dedicated very cheap and low power Appolo Lake cpu NUC box and with hardware transcoding, it has no issues handing it.
This below link for quick syncvideo format support get Intel CPU gen:
Intel Quick Sync Video - Wikipedia
 
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IamSpartacus

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Mar 14, 2016
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Is it worth using some of my budget for an unraid licence, given that FreeNAS seems that limited?

Any specific motherboard CPU GPU combo recommendations?
I myself, and many others I know have gotten tremendous value from unraid and I very much think the license is worth it. It's a really flexible solution.

As for CPU/GPU combos, what is your overall use case for this server other than Plex?
 
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Marcus Karozis

New Member
Jan 31, 2020
16
0
1
Sydney, Australia
I myself, and many others I know have gotten tremendous value from unraid and I very much think the license is worth it. It's a really flexible solution.

As for CPU/GPU combos, what is your overall use case for this server other than Plex?
Other than Plex it will just be an actively used NAS and some small VM experimentation
 

IamSpartacus

Well-Known Member
Mar 14, 2016
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Probably some cheap sata cards just to get the 12 data ports I need, I might in the future grab sone raid controllers and an extra GPU for VMs, but not to start with
Ok so doesn't seem like you need a lot of cores or PCIe lanes. So in that case, you can probably get away with a 6-8 core Intel CPU that has an iGPU. So something like a Core i9 or Xeon E-2x00 would be a nice option for you.
 

Marcus Karozis

New Member
Jan 31, 2020
16
0
1
Sydney, Australia
Ok so doesn't seem like you need a lot of cores or PCIe lanes. So in that case, you can probably get away with a 6-8 core Intel CPU that has an iGPU. So something like a Core i9 or Xeon E-2x00 would be a nice option for you.
so the igpu and the cpu should be able to handle the around 5-10 concurrent 1080p transcodes?

also if i go the xeon route this would be my first time going with enterprise gear, is there anything specifically different about enterprise motherboards that i should look out for?
Thanks so much for the help :)
 

IamSpartacus

Well-Known Member
Mar 14, 2016
2,348
572
113
so the igpu and the cpu should be able to handle the around 5-10 concurrent 1080p transcodes?

also if i go the xeon route this would be my first time going with enterprise gear, is there anything specifically different about enterprise motherboards that i should look out for?
Thanks so much for the help :)

Yea, a newer CPU with iGPU can handle a lot of transcodes. As I said my i3-7100 can handle at least 15 (the most I've tried).

As for enterprise, main thing to look for IMO is a motherboard with an BMC/IPMI for remote control support. It's a life saver. You may also be able to find a motherboard that has onboard storage to support all the disks you want to connect.
 

Marcus Karozis

New Member
Jan 31, 2020
16
0
1
Sydney, Australia
Yea, a newer CPU with iGPU can handle a lot of transcodes. As I said my i3-7100 can handle at least 15 (the most I've tried).

As for enterprise, main thing to look for IMO is a motherboard with an BMC/IPMI for remote control support. It's a life saver. You may also be able to find a motherboard that has onboard storage to support all the disks you want to connect.
Thanks for the advice.
Did a quick search on amazon and ebay, there a lot of different Xeon E-2xxx CPUs are there any in particular that u recommend?

Also any specific ram i need?