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PurpleCodes

I am extremely confused on what home server should get and how to set it up.

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Posted · Original PosterOP

For the past 3 days I have been going back and forth between building a server, buying a synology/qnap nas and buying a used server. And i have no idea what I should do.

Here are my uses for the server in order of importance.

1. Learning sysadmin skills, because of this I don't really want to get a synology or qnap nas because i would like to learn how to setup a hyper-v or setup freenas and stuff like that. Please keep in mind that I love to tinker and please dont recommend a route because it's "too hard" to do it that way for a beginner.

2. Nas, plex and automatic backup solution. This is the main reason why I want the server. (would probably get 4 4tb drives in a raid 10 or raid 5) looking for about ~10tb

3. Run different vms and docker containers which would include the following

    Home assistant Docker

    Magic mirror dockers

    Game servers, specifically minecraft (maybe throught pterodactyl but probably not)

    VPN

    DNS level ad blocker

    Steamcache (probably just for windows updates)

    And probably more things in the future

 

Right not a lot of this runs on rasberry pis and external rented servers

 

My first question is what hard ware should I go with

My first thought was to go with a DS920+ or a TS 473 4g but they seem fairly low power for what i need them for and I like the challenge of setting up a server so in my mind they are out unless someone can give me a really good argument for them.

 

My next thought was to build my own and I speced this out on pc part picker

Next idea i had would be to build a server from a mix and used server parts in a consumer chassis. Something similar to this

My last Idea was to buy a used server from server monkey or ebay. But I have a lot of conflicting advice from people who say it's not worth it and it won't be reliable at all and some people who say that its a great idea.

 

So frankly I have not idea what to think when it comes to servers from the hardware pov. So I am looking to for reccomendations.

 

My next question is in regard to software.

Please keep in mind I have never setup a server before however I have a fairly good knowledge of linux and it's commands and a good idea about how computers work in general.

 

My main question is what is the best way to setup the above services

 

Here is what I have thought about so far.

 

Install freenas on the base os and let freenas virtualize all the docker containers but I have seen posts about how freenas isnt the best at virtulizing

 

Next idea was to run a hypervisor, probably esxi and virtualize freenas and pass through the drives however I have heard that this is hard/really easy to screw up. Also another question is do I need a HBA card in order to pass through the drive or could I use a raid card like the one in the pc part picker.

 

Please let me know what you think about either the hardware or software or both.

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2 minutes ago, PurpleCodes said:

My last Idea was to buy a used server from server monkey or ebay. But I have a lot of conflicting advice from people who say it's not worth it and it won't be reliable

I don't see why it'd be any more or less reliable than something you build from consumer-parts. And no, it's not worth buying a used server, unless you can get one for dirt cheap, and even then, the noise of the thing may still make it not a suitable plan. There is nothing wrong with using consumer-parts, the software doesn't care.

 

5 minutes ago, PurpleCodes said:

Install freenas on the base os and let freenas virtualize all the docker containers but I have seen posts about how freenas isnt the best at virtulizing

Unraid is a better choice, if you plan to use virtualization. Or Proxmox. Or just going straight for Ubuntu Server or similar. FreeNAS isn't a good virtualization-platform, that's true.

 

6 minutes ago, PurpleCodes said:

Also another question is do I need a HBA card in order to pass through the drive or could I use a raid card like the one in the pc part picker.

You don't need any extra card, the SATA- and M.2-ports that are on the mobo are fine. You only need an extra-card, if there aren't enough ports on the mobo for your needs.


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Posted · Original PosterOP
44 minutes ago, WereCatf said:

You don't need any extra card, the SATA- and M.2-ports that are on the mobo are fine. You only need an extra-card, if there aren't enough ports on the mobo for your needs.

If I were to use proxmox as a hypervisor you're saying that I can just plug the drives into the sata ports on the mother board and pass those into freenas? how does raid work. It would be software raid right? I have been told that hardware raid is the way to go.

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19 minutes ago, PurpleCodes said:

If I were to use proxmox as a hypervisor you're saying that I can just plug the drives into the sata ports on the mother board and pass those into freenas? how does raid work. It would be software raid right? I have been told that hardware raid is the way to go.

Yes, and yes, it would be software-RAID. Also, no, software-RAID is far more flexible than hardware-RAID, and transfers more easily between different computers, like e.g. if you upgraded your system in a couple of years. With hardware-RAID, if you went with another vendor for the card, the RAID might not work on it.


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Posted · Original PosterOP
1 hour ago, WereCatf said:

Yes, and yes, it would be software-RAID. Also, no, software-RAID is far more flexible than hardware-RAID, and transfers more easily between different computers, like e.g. if you upgraded your system in a couple of years. With hardware-RAID, if you went with another vendor for the card, the RAID might not work on it.

Thanks,

So here is what I'm thinking i am going to do

I will have the 4 hard drives pass through into the freenas vm in proxmox and configure in a raid 10 within freenas and I will have the 2 tb m.2 in a raid 1 for all of of my other vms and such. Would this work? I would also install proxmox on a random 120gb ssd that I have lying around.

 

Also I would pass in the raw drives and let freenas handle the raid right? not make a raid on proxmox then pass that into freenas

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On 7/14/2020 at 7:32 AM, PurpleCodes said:

If I were to use proxmox as a hypervisor you're saying that I can just plug the drives into the sata ports on the mother board and pass those into freenas? how does raid work. It would be software raid right? I have been told that hardware raid is the way to go.

If you're doing this in part because you want to learn about System Administration (SysAdmin), a couple of notes:

 

1. While it does get used, almost no businesses use FreeNAS. It's incredibly niche. UnRAID is probably even more niche in the corporate environment, though the UI is more polished, and it comes with actual official support. Proxmox might get more use, but if you're wanting to learn about Hypervisors specifically, I would use ESXi as your base OS. It's the go-to for corporate hypervisors. And the UI is very polished.

2. You can install FreeNAS as a VM if you want to use it still. You need to give it direct passthrough access to the HDD's for any ZFS pools though - this can be done in a number of ways. In some systems you can select a group of SATA ports to passthrough. The easiest way is to buy a SATA Expansion Card or a used enterprise grade HBA (like one of the numerous LSI models available on eBay).

 

Using an HBA or SATA Expansion card is easier because it's more clear/straight forward about which ports are actually getting passed through.

 

In terms of server, my recommendation would be:

 

1. See if you can find a decently specced out used Server for dirt cheap. Make sure it's a complete kit with CPU + RAM + the appropriate drive bays/backplanes, etc. Try to find one that is newer generation - they will use less power, run cooler, and are generally quieter. I'd recommend LGA 1356 minimum, and even that's getting quite old now.

 

2. If you can't find a good used server, do a custom build. I wouldn't worry too much about specifically getting server grade hardware (outside of RAID Cards/HBAs). Make sure to get a CPU that can handle the amount of load you're planning, and make sure to get ECC RAM. If you can find good prices on actual workstation/server hardware, go for it, but for ease-of-use, consumer hardware, in particular MB and Case/Chassis, are going to be less bulky.

 

I run a Dell T410 + a MD1200 DAS drive expander at home for my server, and it works great. I also have an IBM x3650 M4 but I'm planning on ditching it (mainly because it's louder and it takes 2.5" drives which is a pain in the ass).


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Posted · Original PosterOP
1 hour ago, dalekphalm said:

If you're doing this in part because you want to learn about System Administration (SysAdmin), a couple of notes:

 

1. While it does get used, almost no businesses use FreeNAS. It's incredibly niche. UnRAID is probably even more niche in the corporate environment, though the UI is more polished, and it comes with actual official support. Proxmox might get more use, but if you're wanting to learn about Hypervisors specifically, I would use ESXi as your base OS. It's the go-to for corporate hypervisors. And the UI is very polished.

2. You can install FreeNAS as a VM if you want to use it still. You need to give it direct passthrough access to the HDD's for any ZFS pools though - this can be done in a number of ways. In some systems you can select a group of SATA ports to passthrough. The easiest way is to buy a SATA Expansion Card or a used enterprise grade HBA (like one of the numerous LSI models available on eBay).

 

Using an HBA or SATA Expansion card is easier because it's more clear/straight forward about which ports are actually getting passed through.

 

In terms of server, my recommendation would be:

 

1. See if you can find a decently specced out used Server for dirt cheap. Make sure it's a complete kit with CPU + RAM + the appropriate drive bays/backplanes, etc. Try to find one that is newer generation - they will use less power, run cooler, and are generally quieter. I'd recommend LGA 1356 minimum, and even that's getting quite old now.

 

2. If you can't find a good used server, do a custom build. I wouldn't worry too much about specifically getting server grade hardware (outside of RAID Cards/HBAs). Make sure to get a CPU that can handle the amount of load you're planning, and make sure to get ECC RAM. If you can find good prices on actual workstation/server hardware, go for it, but for ease-of-use, consumer hardware, in particular MB and Case/Chassis, are going to be less bulky.

 

I run a Dell T410 + a MD1200 DAS drive expander at home for my server, and it works great. I also have an IBM x3650 M4 but I'm planning on ditching it (mainly because it's louder and it takes 2.5" drives which is a pain in the ass).

I am still a bit confused about HBA and RAID cards and the differences between them. If I had the budget I would def have 2 seperate servers one for nas and one for hypervisor. But I am still a bit concerned about pass through compatibility and how do I check if hardware is compatible for passthrough. I got the Asus TUF GAMING X570-PLUS are the sata ports on these capable of passthrough or would I need a hba card/raid card. If so could you link me to some cards that would work for this.

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1 hour ago, PurpleCodes said:

I am still a bit confused about HBA and RAID cards and the differences between them.

An HBA is a Host Bus Adapter - it's basically a fancy term for SAS Expansion Card. SAS is the "enterprise" version of SATA. Technically SAS is backwards compatible with SATA (meaning you can use SATA Drives on a SAS system). SAS drives are not compatible with SATA ports though.

 

HBAs cannot create RAID arrays. It just passes the disks directly to the OS. HBAs are preferred for software RAID systems like ZFS, Storage Spaces, etc.

 

A RAID Card has an actual RAID Processor on board - usually with onboard RAM and a little battery. These cards can create RAID arrays at the hardware level, and then the OS just sees the RAID volume.

1 hour ago, PurpleCodes said:

If I had the budget I would def have 2 seperate servers one for nas and one for hypervisor. But I am still a bit concerned about pass through compatibility and how do I check if hardware is compatible for passthrough. I got the Asus TUF GAMING X570-PLUS are the sata ports on these capable of passthrough or would I need a hba card/raid card. If so could you link me to some cards that would work for this.

You can have one server that does both. Your "NAS" can simply be a VM if you want. Typically you would have a RAID Card, and just pass a big chunk to your NAS OS (Windows Server, Linux, etc) to share out network shares.

 

You can also get creative - I run FreeNAS as a VM, and I have an HBA connected to a bunch of drives. The drives are passed directly to FreeNAS so it acts as if I was running a bare FreeNAS box.


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Posted · Original PosterOP
12 minutes ago, dalekphalm said:

An HBA is a Host Bus Adapter - it's basically a fancy term for SAS Expansion Card. SAS is the "enterprise" version of SATA. Technically SAS is backwards compatible with SATA (meaning you can use SATA Drives on a SAS system). SAS drives are not compatible with SATA ports though.

 

HBAs cannot create RAID arrays. It just passes the disks directly to the OS. HBAs are preferred for software RAID systems like ZFS, Storage Spaces, etc.

 

A RAID Card has an actual RAID Processor on board - usually with onboard RAM and a little battery. These cards can create RAID arrays at the hardware level, and then the OS just sees the RAID volume.

You can have one server that does both. Your "NAS" can simply be a VM if you want. Typically you would have a RAID Card, and just pass a big chunk to your NAS OS (Windows Server, Linux, etc) to share out network shares.

 

You can also get creative - I run FreeNAS as a VM, and I have an HBA connected to a bunch of drives. The drives are passed directly to FreeNAS so it acts as if I was running a bare FreeNAS box.

So what I think I am going to do is run proxmox (maybe esxi but I am leaning towards proxmox) and pass an entire hba card into a freenas vm and then use my 2 m.2 1tb drives in a xfs raid 1 for all of my other vms. Not sure your familiarity with proxmox but I think the same would go for esxi I have the 2 tb ssds that Ima put in a raid 1 would I install proxmox on those ssds or should I install it onto another ssd or usb stick?

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14 hours ago, PurpleCodes said:

So what I think I am going to do is run proxmox (maybe esxi but I am leaning towards proxmox) and pass an entire hba card into a freenas vm and then use my 2 m.2 1tb drives in a xfs raid 1 for all of my other vms. Not sure your familiarity with proxmox but I think the same would go for esxi I have the 2 tb ssds that Ima put in a raid 1 would I install proxmox on those ssds or should I install it onto another ssd or usb stick?

Just to clarify:

 

Both Proxmox and FreeNAS support ZFS. I run a FreeNAS VM because ESXi is a Hypervisor first and foremost and doesn’t natively run ZFS. 
 

in terms of drives. 
 

You’ll need a drive for your base OS (in this case, whatever Hypervisor you use - ESXi, proxmox, etc). In a corporate environment this would usually be a hardware RAID1 array. You can use a USB drive if you want. I typically avoid doing that because they are less reliable than a HDD or SSD, but many people do it and have no problems. 
 

Also if you use the FreeNAS VM’s ZFS pool to host more VM’s, it gets a little complicated, since you’ll have to “pass” that storage back to your Hypervisor (proxmox or ESXi). Usually this is done via iSCSI LUNs. 
 

This means your FreeNAS VM has to boot up first before any other VM can start. 
 

If you want to do this to learn FreeNAS that’s fine, but it doesn’t make much sense to do when using Proxmox. The primary reason to use FreeNAS is ZFS and Proxmox already does ZFS. Hosting your VMs on a FreeNAS VM managed ZFS pool makes zero sense if you can just host those VMs on the Proxmox managed ZFS pool. 
 

You CAN use Proxmox for VM storage, and use FreeNAS as your general purpose NAS storage though. 
 

Is there a particular reason you’re so focused on using Proxmox if you’re going to run a FreeNAS VM anyway? Learning ESXi is going to be way more useful as a SysAdmin - though knowing Proxmox too is valuable as less people know it. 


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Posted · Original PosterOP
10 hours ago, dalekphalm said:

Just to clarify:

 

Both Proxmox and FreeNAS support ZFS. I run a FreeNAS VM because ESXi is a Hypervisor first and foremost and doesn’t natively run ZFS. 
 

in terms of drives. 
 

You’ll need a drive for your base OS (in this case, whatever Hypervisor you use - ESXi, proxmox, etc). In a corporate environment this would usually be a hardware RAID1 array. You can use a USB drive if you want. I typically avoid doing that because they are less reliable than a HDD or SSD, but many people do it and have no problems. 
 

Also if you use the FreeNAS VM’s ZFS pool to host more VM’s, it gets a little complicated, since you’ll have to “pass” that storage back to your Hypervisor (proxmox or ESXi). Usually this is done via iSCSI LUNs. 
 

This means your FreeNAS VM has to boot up first before any other VM can start. 
 

If you want to do this to learn FreeNAS that’s fine, but it doesn’t make much sense to do when using Proxmox. The primary reason to use FreeNAS is ZFS and Proxmox already does ZFS. Hosting your VMs on a FreeNAS VM managed ZFS pool makes zero sense if you can just host those VMs on the Proxmox managed ZFS pool. 
 

You CAN use Proxmox for VM storage, and use FreeNAS as your general purpose NAS storage though. 
 

Is there a particular reason you’re so focused on using Proxmox if you’re going to run a FreeNAS VM anyway? Learning ESXi is going to be way more useful as a SysAdmin - though knowing Proxmox too is valuable as less people know it. 

Thanks, What i am thinking of doing is just ditching freenas and running everything within proxmox and figuring out how to setup all of the things I need on their own. The reason why I was attached to freenas because it makes it really easy to add plex and encrypted cloud backups. (basically one click). In a perfect world i would have a hypervisor server and a nas server but I don't have the budget for 2 servers so I wanted to combine them.

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13 minutes ago, PurpleCodes said:

Thanks, What i am thinking of doing is just ditching freenas and running everything within proxmox and figuring out how to setup all of the things I need on their own.

Fair enough - that will simplify the setup overall.

13 minutes ago, PurpleCodes said:

The reason why I was attached to freenas because it makes it really easy to add plex and encrypted cloud backups. (basically one click).

To be fair, it's not really just "one click" - even the plugins (which are really just pre-configured jails or containers) still require some setup.

 

You can easily do Plex on Proxmox - it just won't be a plug-in. The easiest way to do it would be to run a VM or a Container (a container is kind of like a VM but it shares resources and system files with the host).

 

Doing a VM allows you to use whatever OS with Plex that you're most familiar with - Windows, Linux (any distro, Ubuntu, etc), heck, you could even use a FreeNAS VM if you really wanted.

 

As for the cloud backups - you can do that too with containers or VM's - it just depends on which cloud backup service you were wanting to use (eg: BlackBlaze).

 

There are loads of guides for both Plex and cloud backup for Proxmox, as well as for Linux and Windows (as VM's).

 

Personally I run my Plex Server on a Windows VM because it's simply more familiar to me, and it allows easier troubleshooting.

13 minutes ago, PurpleCodes said:

In a perfect world i would have a hypervisor server and a nas server but I don't have the budget for 2 servers so I wanted to combine them.

There's really no need to have them separate. No need at all.

 

For starters, Proxmox can create network shares, and therefore at a basic level is both a Hypervisor and a NAS. On top of that, being a hypervisor allows you to run a VM. The VM itself can be your NAS.

 

One possible setup is creating your RAID pool in Proxmox via ZFS, then creating a VM like Ubuntu or Windows, and giving it a huge chunk of your pool. The VM then just sees that chunk as if it's just a big HDD.

 

That way you can then use the VM as your NAS and it gives you better or more familiar control over it.


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* Crucial M4 128GB SSD (Primary) * Hitachi 500GB HDD (Secondary) *

* Gigabyte HD 7950 WF3 * SATA Blu-Ray Writer * Logitech g710+ * Windows 10 Pro x64 *

 

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Posted · Original PosterOP
4 minutes ago, dalekphalm said:

Fair enough - that will simplify the setup overall.

To be fair, it's not really just "one click" - even the plugins (which are really just pre-configured jails or containers) still require some setup.

 

You can easily do Plex on Proxmox - it just won't be a plug-in. The easiest way to do it would be to run a VM or a Container (a container is kind of like a VM but it shares resources and system files with the host).

 

Doing a VM allows you to use whatever OS with Plex that you're most familiar with - Windows, Linux (any distro, Ubuntu, etc), heck, you could even use a FreeNAS VM if you really wanted.

 

As for the cloud backups - you can do that too with containers or VM's - it just depends on which cloud backup service you were wanting to use (eg: BlackBlaze).

 

There are loads of guides for both Plex and cloud backup for Proxmox, as well as for Linux and Windows (as VM's).

 

Personally I run my Plex Server on a Windows VM because it's simply more familiar to me, and it allows easier troubleshooting.

There's really no need to have them separate. No need at all.

 

For starters, Proxmox can create network shares, and therefore at a basic level is both a Hypervisor and a NAS. On top of that, being a hypervisor allows you to run a VM. The VM itself can be your NAS.

 

One possible setup is creating your RAID pool in Proxmox via ZFS, then creating a VM like Ubuntu or Windows, and giving it a huge chunk of your pool. The VM then just sees that chunk as if it's just a big HDD.

 

That way you can then use the VM as your NAS and it gives you better or more familiar control over it.

Thanks for the info, When you say proxmox can create network shares. How recommended is that. Right not i have 4 x4tb drives in a raid 10 for 8tb of usable storage which I want 100% of that to be dedicated to a nas. And as of right now I want plex and auto cloud backups to it. Which would be a better way to do it. Make a proxmox network share or pass the harddrives into a vm and manage them that way? I assume the vm route means I could have all the samba. plex, and backups in one vm. But from what I have read passing vdisks into vms is not as performant. I don't care about getting 100% performance as I only have a 1gigbit network and I probably wont even max out the drives ever but how much of a performance hit does that stuff take (if any). (I also have 2 1tb ssds which will be used for other vms)

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Posted · Original PosterOP
19 minutes ago, dalekphalm said:

Fair enough - that will simplify the setup overall.

To be fair, it's not really just "one click" - even the plugins (which are really just pre-configured jails or containers) still require some setup.

 

You can easily do Plex on Proxmox - it just won't be a plug-in. The easiest way to do it would be to run a VM or a Container (a container is kind of like a VM but it shares resources and system files with the host).

 

Doing a VM allows you to use whatever OS with Plex that you're most familiar with - Windows, Linux (any distro, Ubuntu, etc), heck, you could even use a FreeNAS VM if you really wanted.

 

As for the cloud backups - you can do that too with containers or VM's - it just depends on which cloud backup service you were wanting to use (eg: BlackBlaze).

 

There are loads of guides for both Plex and cloud backup for Proxmox, as well as for Linux and Windows (as VM's).

 

Personally I run my Plex Server on a Windows VM because it's simply more familiar to me, and it allows easier troubleshooting.

There's really no need to have them separate. No need at all.

 

For starters, Proxmox can create network shares, and therefore at a basic level is both a Hypervisor and a NAS. On top of that, being a hypervisor allows you to run a VM. The VM itself can be your NAS.

 

One possible setup is creating your RAID pool in Proxmox via ZFS, then creating a VM like Ubuntu or Windows, and giving it a huge chunk of your pool. The VM then just sees that chunk as if it's just a big HDD.

 

That way you can then use the VM as your NAS and it gives you better or more familiar control over it.

Also what would be the best auto backup software for windows/ubuntu similar to windows file history. (windows for my parents, ubuntu for me)

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16 hours ago, PurpleCodes said:

Also what would be the best auto backup software for windows/ubuntu similar to windows file history. (windows for my parents, ubuntu for me)

Just quoting so that you see this.

 

I note that you keep picking AMD Ryzen CPUs, but you should look into the way that FreeNAS/Plex work as a media server.  While I know they support QuickSync for hardware acceleration, I don't know whether they do or not for AMD - looking on their site is a ballache, and the only time they mention AMD is in relation to GPUs and that requires a windows machine or qnap.

 

You should also look very carefully at what intel CPUs support what level of encoding, and look at what level of encoding you need.  QuickSync has been around awhile and the earlier the CPU the fewer levels of encoding support it will have.

 

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Posted · Original PosterOP
31 minutes ago, Dravinian said:

Just quoting so that you see this.

 

I note that you keep picking AMD Ryzen CPUs, but you should look into the way that FreeNAS/Plex work as a media server.  While I know they support QuickSync for hardware acceleration, I don't know whether they do or not for AMD - looking on their site is a ballache, and the only time they mention AMD is in relation to GPUs and that requires a windows machine or qnap.

 

You should also look very carefully at what intel CPUs support what level of encoding, and look at what level of encoding you need.  QuickSync has been around awhile and the earlier the CPU the fewer levels of encoding support it will have.

 

I am pretty sure I am forgoing freenas but I also will have a 970 gpu in the system for hardware acceleration. And i don't see the plex server getting hit with more than 2 people. and we only have 1 4k display in the house so I don't see much of a problem with that. And if the 970 isnt enough I have a 1070 i could pull out of a machine. Plus the plex server isnt going to get that much use as it is more build for a nas over a plex media server.

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33 minutes ago, PurpleCodes said:

I am pretty sure I am forgoing freenas but I also will have a 970 gpu in the system for hardware acceleration. And i don't see the plex server getting hit with more than 2 people. and we only have 1 4k display in the house so I don't see much of a problem with that. And if the 970 isnt enough I have a 1070 i could pull out of a machine. Plus the plex server isnt going to get that much use as it is more build for a nas over a plex media server.

Plex and GPU acceleration doesn't work on FreeNAS.

 

Even if that isn't relevant for you anymore, anyone else reading this thread may come across your posts and think that AMD is the right choice for a FreeNAS / Plex server and they should know that they need to dig deeper before making choices.

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Posted · Original PosterOP
1 hour ago, Dravinian said:

Plex and GPU acceleration doesn't work on FreeNAS.

 

Even if that isn't relevant for you anymore, anyone else reading this thread may come across your posts and think that AMD is the right choice for a FreeNAS / Plex server and they should know that they need to dig deeper before making choices.

I am not using freenas anymore and ryzen and my motherboard supports iommu so gpu passthrough is something I can do for my plex vm. AMD is probably not the best choice for a server (unless your going epyc) But ryzen does support a lot of the same virtulization tech that intel does. a better option would be used server parts. But from what i can tell AMD can work and does work for what I am planning to do with it.

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