CHEAP Plex server hardware suggestions?

ShepsCrook

[H]F Junkie
Joined
Feb 16, 2003
Messages
9,209
So the youngest and middle child are moving out and have had the perk of being able to access my plex media anytime. However, from time to time, I would get requests for shows or movies that are not something I would acquire. (Kardashians, Magic Mike, etc). So I was thinking of maybe setting up their new place with a Raspberry Pi 3 + their own plex/download box. Something simple, maybe 4TB or so and capable of maybe 2-3 streams @ 1080P at most.

The spare hardware I have around are along the lines of Dell Optiplex 755 w Core 2 Duo, 4-8GB ram setups. I was thinking maybe toss a Q6600 in one, 8GB of ram and maybe a small SSD for OS and 2x2TB or whatever I can get my hands on. (I'd have to buy CPU, RAM, and HDD).

Think that would work?

If I were suggesting to someone that was building or buying for themselves, I'd probably suggest the Dell PowerEdge deal that's on slickdeals right now for $299 (E3-1225v5, 8GB, 1TB), however I'm trying to not spend that much for them.
 

lilfiend

Supreme [H]ardness
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Nov 28, 2008
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i'd look into an old workstation like an hp z400, you can get some pretty powerful cpu's with a decent amount of ram for cheap. I've built a couple of cheap ass gaming computers with z420's as the base system. You should be able to get a decent quad core with 4-8GB ram for less than $150 on ebay that is at least first gen i7 based xeon.

For storage I've found that those seagate 8tb externals for $150-$160 are the best $/TB even when considering most used hard drives.
 

Riccochet

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Apr 11, 2007
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Should be able to pick up a i5 or i7 Haswell workstation, off lease, for cheap. Capable of pushing multiple 1080 streams at once.
 

criccio

Fully Equipped
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Mar 26, 2008
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My old Plex server was a Q6600 box. It wasn't enough for some of the transcoding. Streaming to two devices while transcoding wasn't possible.
 

ShepsCrook

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Feb 16, 2003
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9,209
Despite not wanting to set up something THAT new for them, it just makes sense to go that route, wouldn't you think?
I can get the following.

Dell PowerEdge T30 = $205.xx (Before taxes and shipping)
Intel Xeon E3-1225 v5 3.3GHz Quad-Core Processor (Intel® HD Graphics P530)
Intel HD Graphics P530 (onboard)
8GB 2400 MT/s DDR4 RAM (ECC)
1TB 7200RPM Hard Drive
DVD+/-RW Internal Drive
290W Power Supply
No Operating System
Ports:
6x USB 3.0 (2x Front, 4x Rear)
6x USB 2.0 (2x Front, 4x Rear)
1x Gigabit Ethernet (10/100/1000)
 

WhoBeDaPlaya

2[H]4U
Joined
Dec 16, 2002
Messages
2,485
i'd look into an old workstation like an hp z400, you can get some pretty powerful cpu's with a decent amount of ram for cheap. I've built a couple of cheap ass gaming computers with z420's as the base system. You should be able to get a decent quad core with 4-8GB ram for less than $150 on ebay that is at least first gen i7 based xeon.

For storage I've found that those seagate 8tb externals for $150-$160 are the best $/TB even when considering most used hard drives.
^ This, except I'd suggest a dual CPU model like the Z600 / Z800 if you can get it cheap.
A pair of higher-end Westmeres are dirt cheap (~$70 - $100), and pack a lot of MT punch.
 

Vengance_01

Supreme [H]ardness
Joined
Dec 23, 2001
Messages
6,194
Despite not wanting to set up something THAT new for them, it just makes sense to go that route, wouldn't you think?
I can get the following.

Dell PowerEdge T30 = $205.xx (Before taxes and shipping)
Intel Xeon E3-1225 v5 3.3GHz Quad-Core Processor (Intel® HD Graphics P530)
Intel HD Graphics P530 (onboard)
8GB 2400 MT/s DDR4 RAM (ECC)
1TB 7200RPM Hard Drive
DVD+/-RW Internal Drive
290W Power Supply
No Operating System
Ports:
6x USB 3.0 (2x Front, 4x Rear)
6x USB 2.0 (2x Front, 4x Rear)
1x Gigabit Ethernet (10/100/1000)
If they have the room then you can do an all in one box for NAS/Plex/downloads. Just toss a few HDDs in for storage and your golden.
 

thenjduke

Limp Gawd
Joined
Jul 24, 2007
Messages
471
Dell PowerEdge T30 = $205.xx (Before taxes and shipping)
Intel Xeon E3-1225 v5 3.3GHz Quad-Core Processor (Intel® HD Graphics P530)
Intel HD Graphics P530 (onboard)
8GB 2400 MT/s DDR4 RAM (ECC)
1TB 7200RPM Hard Drive
DVD+/-RW Internal Drive
290W Power Supply
No Operating System
Ports:
6x USB 3.0 (2x Front, 4x Rear)
6x USB 2.0 (2x Front, 4x Rear)
1x Gigabit Ethernet (10/100/1000)

I like this build. I would go with this for Plex. I love plex it is so great to stream my media when I am on the go. My kids used it on our way up to NJ from TN about a week ago.
 

Lunar

Limp Gawd
Joined
Jul 26, 2007
Messages
400
I use an MSI Cubi with a Celeron 3205U running Ubuntu MATE 16.04 for my HDHomerun Record engine and Plex server with a Synology NAS for storage. The idea behind this was to have as low of a power draw as possible while still being able to handle the loads. Now, you might think this little PC doesn't have the power for transcodes, but taking advantage of QuickSync means that I don't really need a lot of CPU horsepower as the transcodes are offloaded to the iGPU. Makes for a cheap and effective solution that doesn't kill your electric bill or take up a lot of room. In fact, the highest power draw I've measured from the outlet is 15W, and the unit sits on a shelf headless. It is purely remote manged via a combination of SSH and VNC.
 

SticKx911

2[H]4U
Joined
Mar 14, 2004
Messages
2,415
I have an asus fm1 matx board you can have for free. You can find a quad core fm1 cpu on ebay for ~$30. I can include a couple single gig sticks of ddr3....
 

marshac

American Hero
Joined
Mar 25, 2003
Messages
2,389
Consider the price of 24/7/360 electricity as well since sometimes the "cheap" option tuns out to be expensive more expensive than you might otherwise think- it's just that the real cost is disguised. My Synology 918+ draws <20 Watts. Point is that paying a little more upfront can sometimes actually be cheaper after a year.
 

kirbyrj

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Joined
Feb 1, 2005
Messages
26,522
Consider the price of 24/7/360 electricity as well since sometimes the "cheap" option tuns out to be expensive more expensive than you might otherwise think- it's just that the real cost is disguised. My Synology 918+ draws <20 Watts. Point is that paying a little more upfront can sometimes actually be cheaper after a year.
Unless you're transcoding 24/7/365, its negligible. My 7820X draws 12.2W at idle (granted up to 140W+ when loaded). Even if the difference is 20W total at idle between your Synology and a computer, you're never going to make up the cost difference just by electricity savings. You're talking something like $1 a month more in electricity. You'd have to keep it for years to see the difference.
 

marshac

American Hero
Joined
Mar 25, 2003
Messages
2,389
Unless you're transcoding 24/7/365, its negligible. My 7820X draws 12.2W at idle (granted up to 140W+ when loaded). Even if the difference is 20W total at idle between your Synology and a computer, you're never going to make up the cost difference just by electricity savings. You're talking something like $1 a month more in electricity. You'd have to keep it for years to see the difference.
That’s insanely low power use! I measure mine with a kill-a-watt. Is the system actually running, or is it on standby when it’s only drawing 12W?
 

Spaceninja

[H]ard|Gawd
Joined
Sep 15, 2004
Messages
2,034
I'm running a core i5 3450 with 8 gigs of ram running Ubuntu Server. The media is stored on NAS and I have no issues running two 1080p streams at the same time.
 

gobnu1

Weaksauce
Joined
Jan 12, 2003
Messages
94
You only need a good processor to transcode on the fly. I use an A6-9500E AMD and with 6 1080P streams I'm at about 20% CPU usage. What I do is use Handbrake to transcode all my stuff ahead of time (queue it up and let it run) then you don't need anything special server wise. My opinion, the PLEX transcoder sucks.
 

Vengance_01

Supreme [H]ardness
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Dec 23, 2001
Messages
6,194
Remember there is huge difference between streaming and having to transcode on the fly
 

ob1

2[H]4U
Joined
Apr 17, 2000
Messages
2,274
Have any of you tested the CPU stress on transcodes lately? I mean, I posted something a while back about it, where the x.265 transcodes went from 100% CPU in sig to nearly nothing, like less than 10% CPU. With the 2600K in sig, I can game and have plex serving up to six or so streams no problem at all. I think they changed something a few months back with the transcode brain. Honestly, it doesn't take nearly as much in resources as it used to...

edit: most everything in my large library is 1080p x.265 hevc encoded.
 
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