First PC build to use as a dedicated PLEX server

Hi All,

I've been using a mini PC stick from Target , with my media on a WD MyCloud. The PC stick is getting too slow and i'm running out of space on the NAS.

Looking to spend around $600-700 on the build. I will have 2-3 local streams and 1 outside my local network (have mind blanked on the name).

I'm a bit "tech savvy", but have never built a PC before. Does anyone have any recommendations or tips?

Thanks All :)


  • +1

    I got a tip here once for one of the HP Microservers, not sure if there is something better nowadays but I loved it and was my favourite thing for a while.

    Biggest issue is obviously the streaming though, if you have maybe 4 videos going at once, assuming they're all converting on the fly, you need to beefy up that CPU. In terms of Microserver though it was nice it had 4 HD bays at 3tb max per bay and 12tb max all up, not sure how much media you want to store though as you may need bigger (I guess esp if you're raiding).

    But I guess what I'm saying is probably check to make sure you have enough space for multiple harddrives and also CPU is good enough for however much transcoding you need, heaps of info online about the CPU and transcoding though.

    Also probably not an issue anymore but the HP Microserver I had only allowed 2tb max I think since that was the max the OS could be installed on BIOS (I don't quite understand it). But don't think UEFI has the same restriction but keep in mind.

    Also you might want to do multiple drives, like a small SSD for the OS and WDReds or whichever for the drives.

    • +1

    • HP Microservers are indeed fasntastic for this. You can also add an optical tray with 2 or 4 more HDDs (2.5mm). Upgrade the memory to 16GB and stick in a low profile graphics card and even a tv tuner if you wish. Use GPU encoding rather than CPU and you're golden.

      • Definitely great advice, just to add to this, if you do go the HP Microserver route, check your memory, my one needed a special memory corrective version (ECC Memory) that I didn't notice and I ended up buying the wrong one haha.

        • It (was) cheaper to sell that included 2GB ECC memory stick and buy 16GB new memory at the time. Don't really need ECC for a media server so recommend not paying extra for it now. Prices may have fallen since though.

    • This sounds great! I'll look into it :)


  • +1

    Why not save yourself a few dollars and use a Raspberry Pi as the media server instead?

    • +1

      Because transcoding, limited to USB 2.0 and 100mbps ethernet.

  • +1

    Grab a SFF refurbished dell off ebay for ~$300 here.
    Has a beefy cpu for many streams and space to connect your NAS or for more drives if you want.
    Chuck in a low profile 1050ti/60 for ~$100 here
    Will outpace any nuc/microserver and leave you with a few hundred for drives or movies.

    • After I posted this I came across this idea! It seems pretty good price/value. Do you think i'd be able to get away without the graphics card?

    • +1

      Older decommissioned servers/workstations are also another great starting point. Most have plenty of RAM and decent processing power although abit older and noiser.

      I personally use an old SFF HP computer running FreeNAS with the PlexSever from a USB. With 8GB ram and decent processing power it does that job. Running Plex on a Windows operating system just chews up too much resources.

  • Does the 600-700 have to include more storage?

    • Ideally yes…

      However I'm not 100% fussed. I still have 1tb on my NAS which should last me 3-4 months before i'll run out and need storage.

      • +1
        Overkill If all your streams are just direct play (no transcoding) but idk how many of the streams need trans coding which using alot of CPU.
        Buy windows 10 from somewhere cheap like g2play
        To give you an idea of how powerful of a cpu you would need, google passmark with cpu model to find out the passmark score for any CPU.

        If you wanna save storage space you can also switch to x265 media which provides the same quality at lower bitrates meaning you also save storage space.
        Older CPU's dont handle x265 at all so take that into consideration before you buy old tech like the old refurbs someone posted.

        • A good portion of my media is x265 so looks like the refurb won’t be good. Thanks for this info :)

        • Thoughts, feelings and opinions on this build?

        • @tdrive: most Ryzen CPU's and the one you chose don't have a integrated GPU so you would need a graphics card to get any sort of display.

          The only two Ryzen CPU's that have integrated graphics are Ryzen 2200g and Ryzen 2400g

          I was going to suggest a Ryzen 2200g or Ryzen 2400g build but i realized that the cheaper B350 motherboards would need a bios update which would require compatible CPU to do it (cheapest compatible AM4 CPU is $60) but still not worth it really.

          The 1500x also doesn't come with a CPU cooler which means you would have to spend more money on a cooler.

          That WD green SSD is extremely slow even for a SSD, the one i put in the first build is alot faster and it works great, i have one in a laptop of mine.

          Plus the case and motherboard is larger than the one i chose which is very small form factor (i just assumed you wished for it to be really small since it's dedicated machine for plex only.

          If you feel you don't want to buy the i5 you can get an i3 8100 for $100 less.

          If it doesn't have to be very small i could have a look at micro ATX as you have built, which might save $34 dollars.

          best to buy all parts from a single store due to shipping cost's.

        • @Axelstrife: I think what was turning me off on the first build was the parts were out of stock :(

          I put this together, with all parts in stock at PCCG. What do you think?

  • I've been using my main PC to stream and it struggles a fair amount with x265. So whatever you get make sure it can handle your media.

    My system is a bit old though (i7 3770) and using wifi so YMMV.

  • Synology 2 Bay NAS. You can extend the function later on for security cams etc.

  • Use a Dell optiplex that often go on sale

  • I'm using a 6 bay QNAP with PLEX server built in, handles everything i can throw at it, is stable and power efficient.

  • +1


    Purchased this

    Wish me luck building it :P

    Thanks to all for your contribution

    • +1

      Nice enjoy
      Plenty of Youtube build videos to help you out if you need it.

    • Do you already have storage?

      • I have some spare space on my NAS

        • ah right cool, neat build

    • +1

      Nice, I run something extremely similar,

      Same coolermaster case,
      4th Gen i3
      1x 8GB DDR3 stick
      240GB SSD
      2x 4TB Drives
      Some cheap 2GB GPU

      works so flawlessly, runs 24/7, dead silent, really quick to access from any PC or device on the network.
      I run Plex from it, buffers everything INSTANTLY, also run Infuse on my phone and download the files to it from that Media PC.

      Also run SickBeard to rename/organise my TV Shows. (not sure if theres anything better, its clunky but it works).

    • That's a lot of hardware just for Plex, any reason you didn't go for something more simple?

      Or will it be used for other services also?

      • Mainly to make my transcoding run quick and smoothly. I also have a tv tuner connected to it which I often use to watch timeshifted broadcasts that need to transcode.

        I also use it for other random tasks here and there…as I use a mac at home, its great to have a windows PC that has a bit of power to it.

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