Buy Plex Server BEST
Choosing the Plex server hardware can pose a challenge, especially at the beginning. Here we make it a little bit easier for you with a list of a few great NAS, DIY, and pre-built options for a media server with Plex support.
buy plex server
Our move to Plex was a bit bumpy but these Kodi to Plex migration tips helped. The biggest hurdle was finding a media server for Plex that could support the growing streaming needs: multiple streams, multiple transcodes, 4k support, etc. Based on research and the last four years of personal experiences, here are some awesome options for media server with Plex support.
Plex media server allows streaming your locally owned digital media content to various devices inside or outside your home. Simply put, it is a DIY Netflix. Plex allows streaming media content to devices on your network. The Plex media server software runs in the background on a computer with qualified hardware components.
Plex media server itself is free for use with the web app for viewing. Buying or building a media server for Plex incurs costs. Viewing media content on Plex TV client apps requires an in-app purchase of $5 per device. A lifetime Plex Pass is highly recommended. One device license includes:
You will also need content stored or accessible locally for Plex to catalog. There are several different ways to store local media for streaming from a media server with Plex (or Emby, Kodi, and Jellyfin).
If you are using high-end Plex TV client devices, you need a server or NAS that matches the capability of the client device. When multiple devices are connected, you need better hardware to serve more clients. High-end clients, however, can make better use of even a low-end server device such as a Raspberry Pi.
Most devices can run a media server with Plex. However, simultaneous streams and transcoding may be limited by the CPU and GPU of the media server with Plex. Here is a rough guideline for CPU requirements for Plex:
The QNAP Turbo NAS TS-453Be Mini Tower NAS Server makes a robust Plex server hardware sporting many great features running on quality hardware. With an Intel Celeron J3455 Quad-Core 1.5GHz 2MB and up to 2.3GHz Turbo it runs smoothly. It comes with 8GB DDR3L Memory and a fast 16TB 3.5-inch HDD capable of 6Gb/s SATA data transfer speeds.
QNAP also offers a few "high-end" models (TVS models). The Quad-core Intel Core i5-8400T 1.7 GHz processor of the QNAP TVS-672X ships with 8GB DDR4 RAM, upgradable to 64GB. This makes QNAP TVS-672X one of the best 4K Plex server build, capable of high-quality 4K media playback, real-time transcoding and displaying multimedia content through HDMI 2.0 (4K @60Hz) output.
TerraMaster provides a few models with variations of quad-core vs dual-core CPUs, 2 GB or more RAM, 2xGbE or better network, and more. Here are some models that can be great media servers with Plex hardware transcoding support. I recommend at least 4 GB of RAM and therefore only the 4GB or better models are listed below.
Having said that, Shield TV has limitations and is not an ideal media server for Plex. It can probably do 2 concurrent transcoded 1080p streams. Any higher resolution or number of streams can cause streaming problems and slow down.
If you have videos encoded in one of the Plex direct play supported formats and a Plex client capable of directly playing, the Nvidia Shield TV can be a good Plex server; especially if you already have a Shield TV device.
The Raspberry Pi 4B makes a decent Plex server for some playback, but audio streaming is the only practical use IMO. You can use a good client and play any stream you want, but you might have issues with overheating.
Plex media server on the Pi runs very well for one client that requires very little work to support, unless you were to use it for streaming music. It makes a great audio server and TV tuners support FM radio reception. All Plex-supported TV tuners are capable of receiving FM.
Raspberry Pi 4 can direct play 3-4 concurrent streams. However, transcoding is limited to about one 720p stream. With a decent Plex client that supports 4K direct play and a good cooling system for the Raspberry Pi, you should be able to get good use out of the Pi as a low-cost Plex server.
The Intel Skull Canyon NUC 6 is a Windows 10 Professional 64-bit mini-PC in a cool case. The Skull Canyon NUC is ideal for students, home, professionals, small businesses, school education, and a Windows media server with Plex.
With integrated Iris Pro graphics 580, they support 4K at 60Hz, DirectX 12, and up to 3 displays. The NUC 6 also sports several ports (e.g. USB 3 and Type-C 3.1) to extend its storage as needed. This makes the NUC a perfect mini-PC for a media server with Plex.
You will have to pick and choose the right parts that are compatible with each other to build your server. This requires knowledge and/or extensive research. Often times you might find compatible individual components for sale as a combo package, which can simplify your search for Plex server build.
OK, granted the servers listed above are not the highest end. But I was able to find a Ryzen 5 system with 32 GB RAM, 480 GB SSD, and 3 TB HDD for $64 per month. If this too much, there are cheaper options (e.g. seedboxes) that support Plex and do much more.
As you can see there are quite a few routes you can take to set up a media server for Plex. In the previous version of this post, we listed 7 options. In this iteration, we have increased it to 10 options + plus a bonus. This was mainly driven by the plethora of options available today. Plus, one size may not fit eveyone's need.
If you are a tinkerer and need flexibility for expansion/upgrade and want your Plex server to do more than just serving content, then definitely consider building your own system. This way, you also get to brag about what you built (do not discount this :p).
If you are just looking for a cheap way to setup a media server for Plex, have good Plex clients, and all your media is in Plex-friendly format then go with the Raspberry Pi 4 option. Alternatively, you could use one of your old laptops or even grab a used laptop/desktop from Craigslist or Ebay at a similar price point.
The choice comes down to cost, time, ease of set up, streaming demand, etc. that suits your needs. As mentioned before, I use a Raspberry Pi 4 as music server and a recording station, while, Anand uses a dedicated server in the cloud. Be sure to let us know your thoughts or which option you went with, in the comments section.
The Nvidia Shield TV Pro doubles as a Plex server and client. Its hardware handles around two or three simultaneous transcodes. You can mount USB drives and microSD cards as removable storage, and mount network shares. Several antenna options connect with the Shield TV for DVR and live TV in Plex. If you're using your Shield TV as a Plex server, I suggest opting for the 500GB Pro variant. Even that hard drive is likely to fill up quickly though.
As configured, it supports four hard drives, but you can add up to six for a range of storage options. The T30 plays well with Linux too making it the ideal dedicated Plex server. Its 280W PSU means you can run the T30 as an always-on server without huge energy costs.
Although it's certainly not the most powerful device available, the CanaKit Raspberry Pi 4 4GB Starter Kit is a great entry-level option. You can easily turn the Raspberry Pi into an inexpensive Plex server. It's best for users planning on streaming in-home only, or for a travel Plex server. Try installing Kodi as well for a home theater PC (HTPC) combined with Plex media server functionality.
While the best Plex server devices come in pre-built and DIY packages, you might consider a Plex NAS set up instead. Network Attached Storage (NAS) differs from a server in that it's intended as a centralized location for data storage on a network.
The PowerEdge T30 is a solid choice with an excellent CPU. As a Plex client and server, the Nvidia Shield TV offers unrivaled value. Now that you've picked out a Plex server, it's time to choose the best Plex client device for streaming your media.
Of all the possible media servers out there, Plex is the easiest way to house all of your shows, movies, podcasts, and music in a single, easy-to-access place. Depending on how you set up your Plex server, you can even stream your content from your home no matter where you are.
A Plex server relies more on CPU than anything else. It requires a lot of processing power to transcode the video as it is streamed, and even more power if you add subtitles and other additions to the video.
The Nvidia Shield TV Pro is one of the most powerful Plex server hardware devices out there. The hardware is strong enough to handle transcoding several different things at once, and additional onboard storage can be added via USB drives and microSD cards.