Do I need a NAS, or a server? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 11 Old 11-13-2012, 01:42 PM - Thread Starter
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I need some recommendations as to whether I need a NAS, or a server. All I really need at this point is 6TB of storage. Currently, I have about 2GB of media, including videos, music, and pictures. My setup is an HTPC in the living room, with all files stored locally on external usb drives. Roku2 XS in the master bedroom, three PS3s throughout the house, and two laptops. What I want is some form of low-wattage, simple-to-maintain method of accessing my media from any of these devices. I know the PS3 has format limitations for playback, but I am not sure about the Roku. I’ve read something about installing Plex on the Roku for streaming media, but can you also install Plex or similar on a NAS? Will a NAS be able to transcode video, or is that something that requires a server?

So, I just need local network access to my files, and also need transcoding abilities. Seems like most of the NAS boxes out there are pretty expensive…$400 or so for a decent one without hard drives. Pretty sure I can build a server for quite a bit less…maybe even use my Zacate E-350 as the server board/cpu and go ahead and upgrade the HTPC to an i3 board and cpu. Not sure if the E-350 can swing it though.

Thoughts?
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post #2 of 11 Old 11-13-2012, 02:03 PM
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You can easily build a nas just depends on what OS you want to run -

Take a look here for some info -

http://www.avsforum.com/t/1302559/assassins-simple-beginner-htpc-buying-guide#post_19735070

I have run freenas/WHS/vortexbox and now I am running unRAID on a HP Microserver n40L. It stores my data/pics/movies and streams to my HTPC, wdtv live plus.

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post #3 of 11 Old 11-13-2012, 02:03 PM
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Transcoding is very CPU intensive, and if you want to do that I would recommend the i3 over the E-350. I run Plex off my WHS2011+Flexraid server and stream all my media to my Roku no problem. I believe you can run Plex on an Unraid server as well, but I don't have any experience with that.

Btw, here' s a list of plug-ins for UnRAID. Assuming they work, that ain't too shabby
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post #4 of 11 Old 11-13-2012, 02:36 PM
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Assassin and others have used just the Celeron Sandy Bridge processors (G530 and G645) to perform plex transcodes, but so far I've not heard of anyone using zacate

Plex media server has a few nas distributions, but only for debian based variants. FreeNAS is not yet capable of running plex media server.

If power consumption is your main driver, I'd suggest adding the storage to your existing HTPC and run Plex media server on there

All NAS devices are sold as "low-power, efficient, storage," but check out there usage. Synology diskless operates over 40W, and you can add 10W per HDD. Doesn't offer sleep numbers, but you will be adding these amounts or similar with any NAS or Server build. If you were to instead put the storage into an already running HTPC, you will save energy by letting it do double duty. Sleep should still get you down to less than 2W whether it be Server, NAS, or HTPC.
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post #5 of 11 Old 11-13-2012, 02:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dark_Slayer View Post

Synology diskless operates over 40W

My point with all of that comes to this, I do not currently know of any server or NAS that is capable of plex transcoding while using very low power. Most will use the same as a separate HTPC would.

Idle power usage is what usually kills the idea of leaving it running 24/7, but I posted an article over in Assassin's Kill a Watt power thread where someone demonstrated that sandy bridge and newer architecture only requires 8W at the most for idle. Unfortunately, we are seeing a idle power draws of 20+ due to low-watt-inefficiencies in PSU and motherboard designs
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post #6 of 11 Old 11-13-2012, 10:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dark_Slayer View Post

My point with all of that comes to this, I do not currently know of any server or NAS that is capable of plex transcoding while using very low power. Most will use the same as a separate HTPC would.
Idle power usage is what usually kills the idea of leaving it running 24/7, but I posted an article over in Assassin's Kill a Watt power thread where someone demonstrated that sandy bridge and newer architecture only requires 8W at the most for idle. Unfortunately, we are seeing a idle power draws of 20+ due to low-watt-inefficiencies in PSU and motherboard designs

Transcoding plex isn't a 24/7 issue though....

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post #7 of 11 Old 12-26-2012, 08:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mfusick View Post

Transcoding plex isn't a 24/7 issue though....

Without starting a new thread, I'm confused by the word transcoding.
I just purchased a new Samusng TV that has the plex app, with PMS running on my c2d 2.0 macbook over wifi, I can watch dark knight rises which is a 12gb mkv file (h264, 8000bits) with no issues, fastfoorward at 2x then pressing play is smooth however 4x & 8x requires some buffering.

Will the Synology DS413j play my rips? (1080p, h264, mkv, dts/ac3 with all subtitles, english & german).
What issues may I come across?
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post #8 of 11 Old 12-26-2012, 08:48 AM
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What exactly are you confused about ? A NAS will only deliver content. It will make available the data on your storage NAS available on your network for playback. Done.

A server can run PLEX and serve it up to the whole home and over the internet. I watched a movie in Hawaii from my server in my home in MA. That's half way around the world. My plex server transcodes the video on the fly from the 1080p bly ray resolution it was in- to a smaller format more appropriate for my iphone and more easily transmitted over the internet.

Totally different things.

You don't need a server to do the first option. You do need a server to to the second.

Plex is two parts. One is an XBMC like application for playback and browsing. The other is the server side that can upload and serve. If you want to use both sides of plex you need a server. Complaining about power usage when transcoding a movie is idiotic. People should be shot for that. The more transcoding your doing the more you will appreciate the extra CPU horsepower IMO. It's like complaining about a race car using too much fuel and making too much power while racing. The race is short enough the fuel consumption is acceptable.

Worry about the constant power draw and draw at idle more. I'll pay the penny so I can transcode quickly and properly. The less power use during a transcode the crappier and lower performance of the CPU. They are directly related.

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post #9 of 11 Old 12-26-2012, 08:55 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thisfknguy View Post

Without starting a new thread, I'm confused by the word transcoding.
I just purchased a new Samusng TV that has the plex app, with PMS running on my c2d 2.0 macbook over wifi, I can watch dark knight rises which is a 12gb mkv file (h264, 8000bits) with no issues, fastfoorward at 2x then pressing play is smooth however 4x & 8x requires some buffering.
Will the Synology DS413j play my rips? (1080p, h264, mkv, dts/ac3 with all subtitles, english & german).
What issues may I come across?

If the player supports all the codecs in the file you're streaming, then transcoding is not necessary. The server will just pass the movie over the network to the player. This doesn't require much CPU usage at all. This is ideal for watching video over your local network, and there's also no loss in video quality.

But say for instance, the Samsung TV or whatever player you're using doesn't support VC-1, then the Plex server will need to transcode files that contain VC-1 (some blu-rays for instance) on the fly, converting it from VC-1 to h.264 (or to whatever codec the player supports). This is what's extremely taxing on the CPU. I'm not sure what codecs the Samsung TV supports, but ideally you want your player to support all of the codecs that your video files contain.

There are other instances where you might want to transcode. Say you're watching something on your iPad in your home, and your wifi can't handle streaming the large video file smoothly. Then, you might want to consider choosing a lower quality on the iPad in order to stream the video smoothly. This will require the video to be transcoded to a lower quality.

Lastly, if you're outside your home and want to stream something to your iPhone or iPad or what have you, then your home's upload speed (and/or your cell phone's download speed) may not have sufficient bandwidth to stream the video at full quality. Again, the video will need to be transcoded to a lower quality.

All of these instances that require transcoding require lots of CPU power. The amount of CPU power though depends on the quality of your original video files. For instance a 40+ mb/s blu-ray rip will require a great deal more power than an 8 mb/s video to transcode.
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post #10 of 11 Old 12-26-2012, 08:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lockdown571 View Post

If the player supports all the codecs in the file you're streaming, then transcoding is not necessary. The server will just pass the movie over the network to the player. This doesn't require much CPU usage at all. This is ideal for watching video over your local network, and there's also no loss in video quality.
But say for instance, the Samsung TV or whatever player you're using doesn't support VC-1, then the Plex server will need to transcode files that contain VC-1 (some blu-rays for instance) on the fly, converting it from VC-1 to h.264 (or to whatever codec the player supports). This is what's extremely taxing on the CPU. I'm not sure what codecs the Samsung TV supports, but ideally you want your player to support all of the codecs that your video files contain.
There are other instances where you might want to transcode. Say you're watching something on your iPad in your home, and your wifi can't handle streaming the large video file smoothly. Then, you might want to consider choosing a lower quality on the iPad in order to stream the video smoothly. This will require the video to be transcoded to a lower quality.
Lastly, if you're outside your home and want to stream something to your iPhone or iPad or what have you, then your home's upload speed (and/or your cell phone's download speed) may not have sufficient bandwidth to stream the video at full quality. Again, the video will need to be transcoded to a lower quality.
All of these instances that require transcoding require lots of CPU power. The amount of CPU power though depends on the quality of your original video files. For instance a 40+ mb/s blu-ray rip will require a great deal more power than an 8 mb/s video to transcode.


Exact answer I was looking for, you champ.
I'm not fussed about the highest quality rips, as long as the image to sharp as I ripped pretty much all my movies into h264 in mkv containers @ 8mb/s with 5.1/6.1 sound and I'm happy with this. I think the DS413j will be sufficient for at least the next 2-3 years. I'm just happy to learn that all I need is a NAS (synology in this case), TV (my Samsung) and another few weeks to get the rest of my disc media onto the drives for a simple setup that will satisfy me without spending unnecessary money on items that are not needed.

Cheers Lockdown
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post #11 of 11 Old 12-26-2012, 09:24 PM
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Retracted
sorry for the hijack

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