CHEAP Plex server hardware suggestions?

Discussion in 'Home Theater PCs & Equipment' started by ShepsCrook, Jan 11, 2018.

  1. ShepsCrook

    ShepsCrook [H]ardForum Junkie

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    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.
     
  2. lilfiend

    lilfiend [H]ardness Supreme

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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.
     
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  3. Riccochet

    Riccochet Necrodancer

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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.
     
  4. criccio

    criccio Fully Equipped

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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.
     
  5. ShepsCrook

    ShepsCrook [H]ardForum Junkie

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    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)
     
  6. WhoBeDaPlaya

    WhoBeDaPlaya 2[H]4U

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    ^ 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.
     
  7. Vengance_01

    Vengance_01 [H]ardness Supreme

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    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.
     
  8. thenjduke

    thenjduke Limp Gawd

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    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.
     
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  9. Lunar

    Lunar Limp Gawd

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    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.
     
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  10. SticKx911

    SticKx911 [H]ard|Gawd

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    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....
     
  11. marshac

    marshac [H]ard|Gawd

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    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.
     
  12. kirbyrj

    kirbyrj Why oh why didn't I take the BLUE pill?

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    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.
     
  13. marshac

    marshac [H]ard|Gawd

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    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?
     
  14. Spaceninja

    Spaceninja [H]ard|Gawd

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    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.
     
  15. gobnu1

    gobnu1 [H]Lite

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    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.
     
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  16. Vengance_01

    Vengance_01 [H]ardness Supreme

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    Remember there is huge difference between streaming and having to transcode on the fly
     
  17. ob1

    ob1 2[H]4U

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    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.