How to Build a 100TB Home Media Server
For those of you who are looking to access your media/Plex (free software for your computer that lets you stream your local movie or music files) Whether you're watching from a laptop downstairs or from a smartphone in another city, or outside of your network there are definitely a lot of different options. Most people usually opt for a NAS (network-attached storage) device like a Synology DS1618+:
These devices are good as stand-alone network storage device which make it really easy to setup. This devices are designed to be running 24/7 and can be tucked away out of sight out of mind. This all being said what if you wanted to build your own media center, server or NAS - what would be the benefits? After taking a look at Plex support page it was apparent a lot of these NAS devices are low performing and can buckle if you have several users accessing it at one time especially if any kind of data trans-coding is needed. " Running a Plex Media Server on a NAS device is a popular option as it allows for an all-in-one device that not only runs the server but also stores lots of content. However, most NAS devices have some limitations when it comes to running a Plex Media Server, so it may not be the best choice for everyone. " - Plex support.
Virtually every Plex App will need content to be transcoded at least some of the time. Examples of why content might be transcoded:
The content is not perfectly compatible with the streaming device (file type, resolution, bitrate, codec, etc.) when streaming to a mobile phone, tablet, or other devices. A subtitle needs to be burned into the video for display.
If the content is of higher quality than what the Plex App requests (for instance, remote or shared access)
Transcoding can be a very CPU intensive process in many cases. Many processors used in NAS are not capable of good performance in situations where transcoding is required. This was the main reason I started looking into building my own setup. In this article, I will show you how to start your own home media center starting at $582 USD! View the Plex Nas Compatibility chat click here
Budget suggestion: Gigabyte B450I Aorus Pro Wifi AMD AM4 mini-ITX $120
Notes: most of these boards come with 4 x SATA ports, will need a PCI SATA expansion for the additional 2 drives
Notes: great budget CPU/APU with built-in graphics.
Hard Drive/Boot Drive
budget suggestion: can also use something like WD Black 250GB $63
Notes: don't need to go m.2 but this will greatly increase the speed of the operating system
Notes: can also get away with 8GB if just using for a media center, but it's strongly recommended to go with 16GB if you are using this build for any other purposes.
budget option: Thermaltake 650 Watts ATX 80 Plus Gold Fully Modular $100
Notes: I suggest a minimum of 550w power supply. With going ITX or small form factor motherboards and cases a fully modular power supply can simplify the build only using the cables that you need.80 plus ratings generally relate to power efficiency and warranty, the higher the rating the more efficient and longer the warranty or longevity of the device.
Notes: This was a great little case that had the 6 bays for internal hard drives, there are definitely others on the market.
Total build cost: $869 USD
Budget total cost: $582 USD
Additional cost may include:
Windows Home 64-bit $140 (save $ if you have a 16GB+ USB drive download the windows creation tool and install on a USB device, buy the OEM DVD from a retail outlet for generally around $120 and use the license key from this.)
A lot of these costs can be avoided if you have old parts (e.g RAM, old PC - with windows, keyboard, mouse, monitor etc)
Spec overview both main build + budget:
3.7 GHz Quad-Core
6 bays for HDD (max 6 x 16TB) + USB for externals + 2 m.2 slots (max 2TB x 2)
Max internal HDD space 6 x 16TB = 96TB + 4TB m.2 drives = 100TB
6 bay NAS drive options:
Quad-core, 2.1 GHz CPU
4GB DDR4 memory
Intel Pentium D1508 dual-core 2.2 GHz CPU
8GB DDR4 ECC SO-DIMM RAM
In conclusion, you can build a more powerful setup for generally cheaper (much cheaper if you have old parts or accessories). If you willing to put in the work you will definitely get more value, performance and longevity out of building your own setup. This is also something you can upgrade as you go if you wanted to in the future. Keep in mind the most expensive part of doing any setup NAS or media PC will always be the hard drives. NAS drives are special hard drives that are engineers to be running 24/7, these can be installed across the board PC/NAS device. These are one of the parts I would not recommend substituting cheaper parts for. The two brands I tend to keep an eye out for sales are the Western Digital Red Pro and Seagate Ironwolf Pro. Keep in mind that its ideal to get the same hard drives when building your setup so that you can set up a data raid backup via RAID.
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