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Budget Plex Server Under $500 Suggestions 2020

Hello LTT Community!

I was wondering if anyone had any Ideas or suggestions for a Budget Plex Server Build or Parts List Under $500 in 2020.  I have found many guides online, but never the right price and or the right time.  I found 1 guide from  4yrs ago and then 1 for more money, etc... Just nothing paring up with perfect hardware for the price.  I'll take any help or suggestions.  FYI I am rocking some older hardware at present AMD Phenom II X4 830 / ASUS M5A78L-M/USB3 (AM3R2) / 2047MB NVIDIA Quadro K620 / 32.0GB Dual-Channel DDR3 @ 799MHz .  I am pretty sure the Ram and the Quadro are the only reasons my Plex does ok at present.   Thanks for the Suggestions and Help!

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I have a lenovo thinkstation s20 with a xeon w3690 in it that i picked up for 60 bucks a while back, put a couple HDDs in it. I don't think plex uses a GPU for transcoding at all. I may be mistaken though. I put a gtx 970 in it for a while and didn't notice any difference after messing with plex encode/decode settings, so i took it back out. 

That system can handle 2 1080p streams just fine, though I haven't tried to push it any harder.

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Just now, Takumidesh said:

I have a lenovo thinkstation s20 with a xeon w3690 in it that i picked up for 60 bucks a while back, put a couple HDDs in it. I don't think plex uses a GPU for transcoding at all. I may be mistaken though. I put a gtx 970 in it for a while and didn't notice any difference after messing with plex encode/decode settings, so i took it back out. 

That system can handle 2 1080p streams just fine, though I haven't tried to push it any harder.

Correct, Plex doens't need a GPU. 

 

In my sig is my cheap Plex server, for reference.  I can run 4+ 1080p streams in home and 2+ for friends that watch, during a stress test.  Resource usage is incredibly light.

Emma : i9 9900K 5.1Ghz - Gigabyte AORUS 1080Ti - Gigabyte AORUS Z370 Gaming 5 - G. Skill Ripjaws V 32GB 3200Mhz - 750 EVO 512GB + 2x 860 EVO 1TB (RAID 0) - EVGA SuperNova 650 P2 - Thermaltake Water 3.0 Ultimate 360mm - Fractal Design Define R6 - AOC AGON 35" 3440x1440 100Hz - Mackie CR5BT - Corsair Virtuoso SE - Logitech G910, G502 - Cooler Master Universal Graphics Card Holder

 

Plex : Ryzen 5 1600 - Gigabyte B450M-DS3H - G. Skill Ripjaws V 16GB 2400Mhz - MSI 1050Ti 4GB - 840 EVO 256GB + Toshiba P300 3TB - TP-Link AC1900 PCIe Wifi - Cooler Master MasterWatt Lite 500 - Antec Nine Hundred - Samsung 27" + Dell 24" 

 

Raven:  Intel i3 10100F - ASRock H410M-HDV - G. Skill Ripjaws V 16GB 2666Mhz - MSI 1050Ti 4GB - Inland 256GB SSD + Toshiba 2TB HDD - TP-Link AC600 USB Wifi - Gigabyte GP-P450B PSU -  Cooler Master MasterBox Q300L -  Spectre 24" 

 

Other Tech:

- Ubiquiti Amplifi HD mesh wifi

- 2021 Volvo S60 Recharge T8 Polestar Engineered - 415hp/495tq 2.0L 4cyl. turbocharged, supercharged and electrified.

Lenovo 720S Touch 15.6" - i7 7700HQ, 16GB RAM, 512GB NVMe SSD, 1050Ti, 4K touchscreen

MSI GF62 - i7 7700HQ, 16GB 2400 MHz RAM, 256GB NVMe SSD + 1TB 7200rpm HDD, 1050Ti

 

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When I get home tonight I will do a stress test and see how many streams I can get going on that system and report back. It could be a decent entry point.

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-Moved to Servers and NAS-

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25 minutes ago, Takumidesh said:

I don't think plex uses a GPU for transcoding at all. I may be mistaken though. I put a gtx 970 in it for a while and didn't notice any difference after messing with plex encode/decode settings, so i took it back out.

 

23 minutes ago, jstudrawa said:

Correct, Plex doens't need a GPU

Plex doesn't need a GPU, but it actually can use one for transcoding. You need to have Plex Pass - subscription in order to use hardware-accelerated transcoding, Plex doesn't allow you to use it without Plex Pass.

Hand, n. A singular instrument worn at the end of the human arm and commonly thrust into somebody’s pocket.

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I failed to Mention I do have a Plex Pass, I apologize for leaving that out of the initial information.   Also I appreciate the help.

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Just now, Blackbird2193 said:

I failed to Mention I do have a Plex Pass, I apologize for leaving that out of the initial information.   Also I appreciate the help.

I guess the real key here is, how many streams and what quality are you trying to get out of it.

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3 minutes ago, Blackbird2193 said:

I failed to Mention I do have a Plex Pass, I apologize for leaving that out of the initial information.   Also I appreciate the help.

Also note that most 4K tv's upscale from 720p and 1080p very well.  That's what I acquire for my movies anyway, and they look great on my TV.  I wouldn't invest in 4K.

Emma : i9 9900K 5.1Ghz - Gigabyte AORUS 1080Ti - Gigabyte AORUS Z370 Gaming 5 - G. Skill Ripjaws V 32GB 3200Mhz - 750 EVO 512GB + 2x 860 EVO 1TB (RAID 0) - EVGA SuperNova 650 P2 - Thermaltake Water 3.0 Ultimate 360mm - Fractal Design Define R6 - AOC AGON 35" 3440x1440 100Hz - Mackie CR5BT - Corsair Virtuoso SE - Logitech G910, G502 - Cooler Master Universal Graphics Card Holder

 

Plex : Ryzen 5 1600 - Gigabyte B450M-DS3H - G. Skill Ripjaws V 16GB 2400Mhz - MSI 1050Ti 4GB - 840 EVO 256GB + Toshiba P300 3TB - TP-Link AC1900 PCIe Wifi - Cooler Master MasterWatt Lite 500 - Antec Nine Hundred - Samsung 27" + Dell 24" 

 

Raven:  Intel i3 10100F - ASRock H410M-HDV - G. Skill Ripjaws V 16GB 2666Mhz - MSI 1050Ti 4GB - Inland 256GB SSD + Toshiba 2TB HDD - TP-Link AC600 USB Wifi - Gigabyte GP-P450B PSU -  Cooler Master MasterBox Q300L -  Spectre 24" 

 

Other Tech:

- Ubiquiti Amplifi HD mesh wifi

- 2021 Volvo S60 Recharge T8 Polestar Engineered - 415hp/495tq 2.0L 4cyl. turbocharged, supercharged and electrified.

Lenovo 720S Touch 15.6" - i7 7700HQ, 16GB RAM, 512GB NVMe SSD, 1050Ti, 4K touchscreen

MSI GF62 - i7 7700HQ, 16GB 2400 MHz RAM, 256GB NVMe SSD + 1TB 7200rpm HDD, 1050Ti

 

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Just now, Takumidesh said:

I guess the real key here is, how many streams and what quality are you trying to get out of it.

I have 3 kids using Rasberry pi 2 b+ with rasplex and then they all use there phones and Tablets, I use Plex on 2 Devices in the house and then my phone and my Girlfriends house. So that's about 14 Total Devices, I know some can Direct Play, but some will need transcoding.  I am just not sure what "good affordable , ie under $500 Specs "are today in processors and Graphics cards.  I understand all the expensive stuff is Generally good, just not what the affordable stuff will do, or which is best for this application.

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so 14 devices, but the theoretical max is about 5 streams? 

I would look at @jstudrawa's build, you can probably build something similar for pretty cheap. 

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One thing to add to that is:

- you probably don't need GPU. I would research if it would bring any tangible benefit to your setup

- initial capex investment is important but so is power consumption. 24/7 operations cost a lot.

 

In would probably look for some lowest price ryzen 3 CPU with cheapest mass produced b450 mobo, single 8gb stick, 8TB iron wolf and a usb flash drive as a boot drive. 

 

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  • 3 months later...
On 5/4/2020 at 3:44 PM, Blackbird2193 said:

Hello LTT Community!

I was wondering if anyone had any Ideas or suggestions for a Budget Plex Server Build or Parts List Under $500 in 2020.  I have found many guides online, but never the right price and or the right time.  I found 1 guide from  4yrs ago and then 1 for more money, etc... Just nothing paring up with perfect hardware for the price.  I'll take any help or suggestions.  FYI I am rocking some older hardware at present AMD Phenom II X4 830 / ASUS M5A78L-M/USB3 (AM3R2) / 2047MB NVIDIA Quadro K620 / 32.0GB Dual-Channel DDR3 @ 799MHz .  I am pretty sure the Ram and the Quadro are the only reasons my Plex does ok at present.   Thanks for the Suggestions and Help!

What are you trying to accomplish? How many transcodes? What resolutions? How many total streams? Because I use my old Ivybridge gaming machine and it does just fine. With 2 1080i transcodes with a total of 3 streams. On a side note my HD7950 isn't able to handle any of those transcodes because AMD cards up till recently were not supported by Plex for that purpose. Im doing all my transcodes via CPU horsepower alone. 

 

Personally if your current setup works, Id just keep using that. 

I just want to sit back and watch the world burn. 

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Anything that has an Intel CPU that is newer than Haswell will do hardware transcoding on the CPU with PlexPass. I use a 2011 Mac Mini Server as my Plex server and it works wonderfully with little to no CPU load while transcoding.

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Grab yourself an old R720 off of ebay. You can find some great ones sub 500... 

"And I'll be damned if I let myself trip from a lesser man's ledge"

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Not sure why everyone suggests Rackmount servers for the typical person....rack servers are noisy and a pita for most people who don't have other rack gear. 

I'd just look at someone selling a desktop second hand....some things to keep in mind

 

- If you have a Plex Pass and use transcoding, get something with an Intel 7th gen or higher CPU

- Even 8GB of ram is overkill for a Plex Server, dont pay premium for 16GB (even 4GB is plenty)

- If you do mostly direct play you don't need a strong CPU, even an i3 or Ryzen 3 is perfectly adequate. Since you have plex pass an Intel CPU has both Windows & Linux Support for hw transcoding. 

 

If you want to do a new build, since you do have a Plex Pass - a build like this will easily handle well over a dozen 1080p hw transcoded streams simultaneously. Intel Quick Sync is excellent for this job. I included a 6TB disk for a decent amount of storage...you could obviously take that out if you already have the storage or use a smaller disk like a 4TB which will bring it under the $500 target

 

PCPartPicker Part List

CPU: Intel Core i3-9100 3.6 GHz Quad-Core Processor  ($108.99 @ Amazon) 
Motherboard: Gigabyte B365M DS3H Micro ATX LGA1151 Motherboard  ($74.98 @ Amazon) 
Memory: Corsair Vengeance LPX 8 GB (1 x 8 GB) DDR4-2400 CL16 Memory  ($31.99 @ Corsair) 
Storage: Western Digital Green 240 GB M.2-2280 Solid State Drive  ($38.99 @ Amazon) 
Storage: Seagate IronWolf NAS 6 TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive  ($159.99 @ Adorama) 
Case: Corsair 100R ATX Mid Tower Case  ($59.99 @ Newegg) 
Power Supply: EVGA BQ 500 W 80+ Bronze Certified Semi-modular ATX Power Supply  ($59.49 @ Amazon) 
Total: $534.42
Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available
Generated by PCPartPicker 2020-08-20 22:13 EDT-0400

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Server: Fractal Design Define R6 | Ryzen 3950x | ASRock X570 Taichi | EVGA GTX1070 FTW | 64GB (4x16GB) Corsair Vengeance LPX 3000Mhz | Corsair RM850v2 PSU | Fractal S36 Triple AIO | 10 x 8TB HGST Ultrastar He10 (WD Whitelabel) | 500GB Aorus Gen4 NVMe | 2 x 1TB Crucial P1 NVMe | LSI 9211-8i HBA

 

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On 8/20/2020 at 10:17 PM, Jarsky said:

Not sure why everyone suggests Rackmount servers for the typical person....rack servers are noisy and a pita for most people who don't have other rack gear. 

I'd just look at someone selling a desktop second hand....some things to keep in mind

 

Take it from me the above statement is true, I picked a Dell R710 for an unRAID backup server and its noise is tolerable but power hungry when running so I picked up a Dell R410 and man this thing is just to loud for a home application it now serves as my home-lab testing and playing with vm's the cost of a home-built plex server is pretty cheap these days and will perform much better than a purpose built NAS for the money see my signiture for the specs on my unRAID server that was built from a pre-built pc thing is rock solid

My daily driver: The Wrath of Red: OS Windows 10 home edition / CPU Ryzen TR4 1950x 3.85GHz / Cooler Master MasterAir MA621P Twin-Tower RGB CPU Air Cooler / PSU Thermaltake Toughpower 750watt / ASRock x399 Taichi / Gskill Flare X 32GB DDR4 3200Mhz / HP 10GB Single Port Mellanox Connectx-2 PCI-E 10GBe NIC / Samsung 512GB 970 pro M.2 / ASUS GeForce GTX 1080 STRIX 8GB / Acer - H236HLbid 23.0" 1920x1080 60Hz Monitor x3

 

My technology Rig: The wizard: OS Windows 10 home edition / CPU Ryzen R7 1800x 3.95MHz / Corsair H110i / PSU Thermaltake Toughpower 750watt / ASUS CH 6 / Gskill Flare X 32GB DDR4 3200Mhz / HP 10GB Single Port Mellanox Connectx-2 PCI-E 10GBe NIC / 512GB 960 pro M.2 / ASUS GeForce GTX 1080 STRIX 8GB / Acer - H236HLbid 23.0" 1920x1080 60Hz Monitor HP Monitor

 

My I don't use RigOS Windows 10 home edition / CPU Ryzen 1600x 3.85GHz / Cooler Master MasterAir MA620P Twin-Tower RGB CPU Air Cooler / PSU Thermaltake Toughpower 750watt / MSI x370 Gaming Pro Carbon / Gskill Flare X 32GB DDR4 3200Mhz / Samsung PM961 256GB M.2 PCIe Internal SSDEVGA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti SSC GAMING / Acer - H236HLbid 23.0" 1920x1080 60Hz Monitor

 

My NAS: The storage miser: OS unRAID v. 6.9.0-beta25 / CPU Intel i7 6700 / Cooler Master MasterWatt Lite 500 Watt 80 Plus / ASUS Maximus viii Hero / 32GB Gskill RipJaw DDR4 3200Mhz / HP Mellanox ConnectX-2 10 GbE PCI-e G2 Dual SFP+ Ported Ethernet HCA NIC / 9 Drives total 29TB - 1 4TB seagate parity - 7 4TB WD Red data - 1 1TB laptop drive data - and 2 240GB Sandisk SSD's cache / Headless

 

Why did I buy this server: OS unRAID v. 6.9.0-beta25 / Dell R710 enterprise server with dual xeon E5530 / 48GB ecc ddr3 / Dell H310 6Gbps SAS HBA w/ LSI 9211-8i P20 IT / 4 450GB sas drives / headless

 

Just another server: OS Proxmox VE / Dell poweredge R410

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