A very well-liked media server software choice is Plex. Plex is one of the easiest-to-use media server tools, albeit it’s not the only one out there. The server functionality of Plex still takes center stage, despite the addition of free, authorized streaming media, podcasts, and live over-the-air television. As a result, you’ll need network-attached storage (NAS) device in addition to a great Plex client. View the top NAS for Plex alternatives, including servers and NAS boxes!
What is Plex?
Plex can be compared to a DIY version of Spotify or Netflix. With a media server, you provide the movies, TV shows, and music files as opposed to streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Vudu hosting the content. You can then view your movies, TV episodes, and songs on a variety of devices from nearly anywhere after Plex organizes your library with metadata and box art.
However, Plex adds a tonne of cord-cutting capabilities like the ability to use an OTA antenna for live TV and DVR capability, as well as web series and podcasts, as well as free, legal, ad-supported streaming of movies and television episodes. It’s one of the greatest applications for cord-cutting as a result. You need a Plex server, a Plex client, and a library of movies, television shows, and music albums to get started with Plex. These media can be obtained via DVD, Blu-ray, or CD rips.
What is a NAS and How Does it Work?
An Internet-connected file storage system is known as a network-attached storage device. In this approach, files on a NAS can be accessed both inside and outside of the local area network. It functions similarly to a server but is more self-contained. A NAS box, for instance, is typically a ready-made system with a CPU (central processing unit), RAM, and hard drive bays.
Network-attached storage units frequently include processors that cannot be upgraded by the user and little RAM. Memory can occasionally be upgraded. A DIY server might have a Linux distribution (distro) installed instead of the proprietary operating system (OS) that many NAS boxes from companies like QNAP and Synology ship with. The majority of NAS devices place a strong emphasis on simple setups.
Although servers often come in either more conventional desktop form factors or rack mount server footprints, they generally achieve the same task as a NAS. A server will often have more processing speed, memory, and upgrade potential. However, servers are frequently more expensive and less user-friendly.
Using Plex to build your own media collection and stream movies and TV shows from it can be a terrific idea. You won’t need to use any services like Netflix or Prime Video after setting up a Plex server. However, in order to set up a Plex server, you’ll need something like the best NAS for Plex listed below, which has been chosen based on these criteria:
Your NAS’s CPU manages all of the file access requests it receives, much like a computer would. Additionally, if this CPU isn’t quick enough, Plex may slow while streaming media from your NAS. Therefore, choosing speedier quad-core CPUs like the Intel Celeron J4125 over dual-core CPUs like the Marvell Armada 7020 is recommended.
The amount of RAM it offers is another thing to consider before purchasing a high-performance NAS for Plex. This is because a NAS with 4 GB DDR4 RAM will perform better than one with 4 GB DDR3 or 2 GB DDR3 RAM since more RAM ensures smooth playback of streaming content.
Checking the total number of drive bays your NAS offers is a wonderful idea if you want to build a Plex server with a lot of storage space because that will determine how many drives you can fit inside. The majority of NAS for Plex typically include 4 or 5 drive bays, which should be adequate for storage capacity and redundancy drives.
While you should definitely take these things in mind when purchasing a NAS for Plex, you can also discover a comprehensive “Buying Guide” that will help you choose the ideal option.
Best NAS for Plex of 2022
Synology DiskStation DS920 NAS
QNAP TS-453D-4G NAS
Asustor AS5304T NAS
WD Diskless EX4100 NAS
QNAP 2 Bay NAS HS-453DX-8G
When looking for high-performance NAS solutions for quickly setting up a Plex server at home, Synology is one of the most well-known brands available.
One of the most potent alternatives on the market, the Synology DiskStation DS920+ NAS for Plex is listed first on this list. It comes with a total of 4 hard drives as standard, and with the addition of an accessory, it can accommodate up to 9 hard drive bays. Additionally, it provides two M.2 SSD slots with these hard drive bays, allowing for up to 225 MB/s of transfer speeds from this NAS for Plex.
The fact that this NAS for Plex supports Synology Hybrid RAID, RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, RAID 6, RAID 10, and many other RAID configurations is a major benefit of having this many drive slots.
Synology uses an Intel Celeron J4125 quad-core CPU with a 2.0 GHz base clock and a 2.7 GHz boost clock to guarantee that the performance this NAS offers is constant at all times. Along with this, there is 4 GB of DDR4 RAM, which can be increased to 8 GB if necessary.
There are only two 1 GbE LAN ports, two USB 3.0 ports, and one eSATA connector on the back of this NAS, giving you a few connectivity options. Due to Synology’s reputation for being a reliable manufacturer, it comes with a 3-year warranty for extended use.
Since QNAP and its products offer a variety of practical features and connectivity options for media viewing, they stand out from the majority of other NAS for Plex that are currently on the market.
As the finest option for media consumption, QNAP’s TS-453D-4G NAS for Plex is ranked second on our list. Prior to that, however, you will discover a total of 4 disc bays and a PCIe slot for adding either a PCIe SSD or a 10 GbE networking card, according to its storage capacity rating.
As a result, you can have a high-speed caching drive and a lot of storage capacity. For your convenience, QNAP has provided support for RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, RAID 6, RAID 10, and a few additional configurations.
The Intel Celeron J4125 is the high-performance CPU offered by this QNAP NAS, which is its finest feature. You may anticipate top-notch performance from it given that it includes a quad-core CPU clocked at 2.0 GHz base and 2.7 GHz boost clocks along with upgradeable 4 GB DDR4 RAM. Two 2.5 GbE LAN connections, two USB 3.2 connectors, three USB 2.0 ports, and even an HDMI 2.0 port are included on the back of this NAS, making it ideal for media viewing.
For your peace of mind, QNAP offers a 3-year warranty with their NAS for Plex, just like Synology does.
Asustor is a subsidiary of Asus, a company well renowned for producing a wide range of high-performance computer components. This is also true of the NAS for Plex that was mentioned above, which contained high-end internal components.
This Asustor AS5304T NAS for Plex is included at number three because it is yet another excellent choice if you’re seeking high-performance NAS choices that are not too expensive. This NAS model has 4 drive bays with a maximum capacity of 72 TB, the same as the Synology and QNAP variants that were discussed earlier.
It also supports a single M.2 SSD caching drive. With this NAS, you also receive support for RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, RAID 6, and RAID 10.
Due to its 1.5 GHz base clock and 2.5 GHz boost clock, this CPU’s Intel Celeron J4015 CPU, while not the fastest, is nonetheless a respectably strong quad-core CPU. In terms of memory, it has 4 GB of DDR4 RAM that can be increased to 8 GB if necessary.
Similar to the QNAP NAS, this one has an HDMI 2.0 port on the back in addition to two 2.5 GbE LAN ports, three USB 3.2 ports, and three USB 3.0 ports for fast networking and direct video output. Since Asustor is an Asus subsidiary brand, it also comes with a customary 3-year warranty.
While WD, or Western Digital, is widely known as a manufacturer of hard drives intended for use in NAS devices, it also produces its own NAS models that are a fantastic choice for your next Plex server.
Another good choice if you want to create a high-capacity NAS for storing all of your media files is Western Digital’s NAS for Plex. Its four drive bays, which are empty out of the box, make this possible. However, this NAS only accepts hard drives and does not allow caching-oriented SSD drives. Fortunately, it still offers respectable performance ratings and supports RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, and RAID 10.
The Marvell Armada 388 CPU, which operates at 1.6 GHz and only has two cores, is another problem with this NAS. Additionally, because this NAS only comes with 2 GB of non-expandable DDR3 RAM, its performance is not the best.
However, the back of the device does come with a respectable number of connectivity options, including 3 USB 3.0 ports and 2 x 1 GbE LAN connectors. In line with previous alternatives, Western Digital also gives a 2-year guarantee with this NAS.
Another QNAP NAS that resembles a cable box, the HS-453DX is ideal for positioning close to the TV rather than tucked away in a cabinet.
This NAS’s outstanding feature is how much powerful hardware QNAP was able to fit within without using a cooling fan because it is passively cooled and hence nearly fanless.
The HS-453DX is a different design that makes use of the Intel Celeron J4105 quad-core processor, which operates at 1.5GHz (with burst speeds up to 2.5GHz). It has either 4GB or 8GB of DDR4 memory. Internal upgrades are possible for the 4GB variants, and with the casing open, the owner can access two M.2 SATA slots to add solid-state drives in addition to the two standard 2.5 or 3.5-inch disc methods the device supports.
Those who want to use the 10GbE LAN port should seriously consider employing the M.2 modules as a cache rather than just as direct storage for the traditional discs.
The HS-453DX’s two HDMI ports, both 2.0 standard models that can output in 4K at 60Hz or in HDR, are the crowning achievement of the device’s Plex embossed design.
The HS-453DX is less appealing because of its high price and complicated HDMI setup procedure. It is therefore only appropriate for those with substantial financial resources and superior levels of technical knowledge.
What makes Plex such a good media server?
A quick summary of Plex is that it is a free media server application that catalogs your media library and makes it accessible for streaming on all of the connected devices in your home.
For a few reasons, it is frequently regarded as the greatest media server available. The first is that it works with almost every ecosystem, including Android, iOS, Windows, macOS, Android TV, all streaming dongles, and the majority of smart TVs. In essence, Plex may be installed on every device you possess.
Plex is also excellent at organizing media. It automatically inserts high-resolution album art, covers, trailers, and metadata while categorizing your movies, TV episodes, and music into the appropriate categories. Additionally, because the content is streamed locally over your home network, your internet bandwidth expenses are not affected.
Buying Guide for the Best NAS for Plex
An excellent option to quickly store a lot of data that can be shared with all of your devices via your home or workplace network is using a NAS, or network storage drive. NAS drives can therefore be utilized for a variety of media applications. This also includes the best NAS for Plex mentioned above, which is an excellent option for streaming movies and TV shows.
All of these different NAS for Plex have their key details, including features and specifications, described above to aid you in choosing the best one. Having said that, be sure to read through my comprehensive buying guide for the best NAS for Plex if you’re interested in learning more about NAS for Plex in general:
You must purchase a NAS with a potent CPU, which is the first and foremost requirement for the performance your NAS offers for Plex. As a result, there won’t be any delays or decreases in transfer speed when it responds to all of your storage access requests. In NAS for Plex, the Intel Celeron J4125, Intel Celeron J4105, Marvell Armada 7020, and a few more CPUs are some of the more popular choices. The number of cores a processor has determines how they differ from one another, as a quad-core CPU performs significantly better than a dual-core one.
The amount of RAM that Plex is supported by your NAS should also be checked, as this may also have an impact on your NAS’s overall performance. NAS for Plex typically comes with either 4 GB DDR4 or 2 GB DDR3 RAM, with the former providing significantly better performance. Some NAS devices also let you increase the RAM capacity using SODIMM or DIMM RAM sticks, the same ones you would use on your laptop or desktop if you believe your NAS does not have enough internal RAM.
After confirming that the NAS for Plex you are purchasing has outstanding performance, you should further look into the amount of disc bays it offers. The majority of NAS for Plex, thankfully, has 4 or 5 drive bays, which should be sufficient to provide a significant amount of storage space, especially when used in conjunction with high-capacity NAS drives.
The maximum storage capacity of your NAS should typically be far larger than what you would use it for, but just to be cautious, you should check it as well. Some NAS models additionally feature SSD slots inside them, which can be either 2.5-inch slots or M.2 slots, in addition to the drive bays for the hard drives. As a result, you can install a fast SSD drive that can serve as a caching drive and give significantly faster speeds for little file transfers than a hard drive.
Even though you may get a general notion of your NAS’s performance for Plex by looking at its CPU, RAM, and drive bays, you should still confirm the precise transfer speeds that it supports. Thankfully, because most NAS drives include high-speed connectivity choices like 2.5 GbE, 5 GbE, and even 10 GbE Ethernet ports, the highest speeds supplied by your NAS for Plex are likely going to be restricted by the NAS drives themselves. As a result, you may easily expect transfer speeds of 150 MB/s to 500 MB/s, where a higher transfer speed is always preferable to have, depending on the NAS drives and RAID configuration that you are using.
A NAS for Plex can house numerous hard drives, unlike an external hard drive, and you can set them up in a RAID configuration. You may also make your NAS server more stable by using redundant drives, which can be useful in the event of a drive failure, depending on the RAID configuration you choose.
RAID types will vary across NAS for Plex, but some of the more popular ones include RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, RAID 6, and RAID 10. Consider purchasing a NAS for Plex that supports all forms of RAID setup for maximum adaptability if you are unclear about the best sort of RAID configuration for your needs.
All of your devices must be linked before you can use your high-performance NAS for Plex to start streaming movies and TV shows. For the same reason, having a NAS for Plex that supports a variety of connecting choices is always a plus. As a result, certain NAS for Plex devices come with connectivity options like 1 GbE to 10 GbE LAN ports, USB 2.0 ports, USB 3.0 ports, and even eSATA ports. Generally speaking, you ought to choose a NAS for Plex that has a number of ports capable of high-speed transfers.
You would want your NAS to endure as long as possible, much as the hard drives that you are planning to install inside of it for Plex. Therefore, choosing NAS for Plex which offers a lengthy warranty is always a wonderful option. The warranty period for NAS for Plex often lasts for two or three years, which is nearly identical to the guarantee covering the hard drives you want to install inside.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is transcoding?
When a server needs to convert a file from one type to another, it performs transcoding. When the receiving device doesn’t support the file type, this is necessary. For instance, your server will need to convert a 4K video you have stored in a format that isn’t supported by your TV when it is streaming.
When compared to merely providing a file over the network, this consumes a lot of CPU. A 4K movie can be transcoded on the majority of Intel Celeron CPUs, but ARM processors are absolutely out of the question. The price and quality of the support for transcoding increase with NAS power.
What makes a good Plex server?
An i3 processor and 2GB of RAM are minimum requirements for a good Plex server. Plex suggests using an Intel Atom 1.2GHz processor for no transcoding, an Intel Core i3 3.0GHz processor for one 720p transcode, an Intel Core i5 3.0GHz processor for one 1080p transcode, or an Intel Core i7 3.2GHz processor for one 4K transcode.
Is Plex media server good?
Yes! With its robust media server capabilities, cord-cutting tools, frequent updates, and excellent device support, the Plex media server is the finest media server software for the majority of users.
Do I need a graphics card for Plex?
No! Although a graphics card can aid in hardware-accelerated transcoding, a GPU is not required for Plex.
How much RAM do I need for a Plex server?
For a Plex server, you’ll need at least 2GB of RAM, while 4GB or more is preferred.
There’s a good chance that you’ve heard of Plex if you enjoy using streaming services to watch movies or TV shows at home. Instead of utilizing other services, it enables you to build your own streaming library at home.
To store all of your movies and TV shows, however, you need first need one of the top NAS for Plex listed above. Along with a thorough buying guide, all of these different NAS for Plex have had their key features and options outlined above.