Plex is a fantastic system that allows one to store pictures, movies, music and more on a single server, which can then be accessed by other devices. Here's what you need to know when choosing a good NAS.
Plex requires a solid Network Attached Storage (NAS) solution to get the most out of the service. It's possible to build your own, which is the desired method for those with the know-how, but what if you simply wish to purchase a product, plug everything in and get going? There are some solutions available from various companies, but not all are suitable for Plex, which can be fairly resource intensive.
The company recommends a number of NAS devices, including the following brands (find an example product linked with each listing):
One thing worth noting before you part with hard-earned cash is that the lower you go in cost for a NAS the more likely the system will not be able to effectively transcode and stream content to other devices. This depends on the device you wish to enjoy content on. Should a tablet or phone require some assistance from your server for playback and it's not quite up to the task in handling the intensive request, things may not go smoothly.
So how does one guarantee great performance for transcoding with Plex? Take a good look at the CPU deployed by companies in the NAS devices you're considering to purchase. There's a fantastic NAS guide for Plex, which shows just how well each supported NAS system will perform. Does it support 720p or 1080p? You'll be able to easily check with the following link:
Generally speaking, you'll want to go with an Intel-powered NAS for optimal performance, but a high-end ARM processor can do well if you don't have the spare funds to part with for a more expensive solution. For storage and other features, you'll want to make sure the NAS has everything you require and this will differ on a case to case basis.
We'll now highlight a few examples that will be able to handle the transcoding of 1080p content to get you started on the right path.
An expensive option, but well worth the investment for those who are serious about setting up a capable NAS machine that will be able to handle various applications without issue.
1080p: The Intel Core-i3 will make mincemeat of transcoding.
WD My Cloud Pro Series PR2100
Simple, efficient, powerful and expansive, this particular specification also comes with 4TB of storage ready to go. The onboard Intel Pentium quad-core processor makes for one capable NAS device.
1080p: Supports hardware-accelerated transcoding for optimal performance.
Well priced and capable of handling 1080p transcoding, the ASUSTOR AS3202T is a 2-bay NAS unit that comes without a hard drive installed, allowing you to throw in a drive with the capacity you need.
1080p: Is able to transcode but may struggle with higher bitrate content.