Help Me Build a Plex Server

So looking to build a plex server cheap as possible (I am on oz bargain)

Haven't built a desktop in 15 years.

Do have some old MATX cases floating around so maybe can reuse the case and power supply (was running a old Q6600 quad core)

I will be doing hardware transcoding limited to 1080p

From what i can tell any of the latest intel's quite capable of doing it via quick sync on the igpu

Need some suggestions on build components

Looking at
CPU (possibly cheapest current model Celeron)
cheap mother board to suit
8gb of ram (more if i really need it)
I already have a few SSD and hard drives floating around so i am good with that

Machine will only be used as a plex server, so i am not worried about graphics cards or anything else..
already have a qnap 4 bay nas - unfortunately it has an arm cpu

Mainly want the transcoding for remote sharing

Any suggestions would be appreciated


  • +3 votes

    I don't think the requirements for hardware transcoding can be that onerous seeing as my Synology kills it and it has a Celeron J3455 which is a 5-year old low wattage CPU.


    1. Cheap Celeron + Mobo and DIY
    2. Cheap SFF used machine from deals that often gets posted here.
    3. Nvidia Shield (supports Plex server)
    4. Synology or equivalent NAS
    5. Intel NUC

    Personally I'd go 3 or 4

    • +1 vote

      I'd go 4 and make sure it has an intel cpu.

      I did this with a terramaster (installed an 8gb stick of ram), installed trueNAS and it's been going well.

      I think adding sonarr and radarr is an option but I try to avoid torrenting.


      I don't think the requirements for hardware transcoding can be that onerous… has a Celeron J3455…

      The Celeron J3455 supports Intel Quick Sync, which would explain the performance.

      Quick Sync is almost a must-have for a Plex server IMO.

  • +1 vote

    Too much power draw.

    As above requirement are low, I use the original NUC with a crappy Celeron, able to stream 4K video over WIFI, 5w power draw.


      wont handle the transcoding, needs to do at least 5 concurrent transcodes

    • +1 vote

      Yeah I've been considering setting up a Pi as a Plex Server, and do have mine running one at present, but I don't think it'll handle too much load, especially transcoding.

      As much as I love the Pi, being ARM is holding it back in media streaming performance IMO.


    For the 5 transcodes, is that using 1080p h264 as the source, or is your goal to transcode to 1080p from other sources?
    Just about any quick sync capable Intel CPU will be fine, depending on which generation it is will determine whether it can do hardware decode of h265 or not (should you be using it).
    A further minor complication is that to get hardware transcode of h265 with HDR to h264 SDR with tone mapping requires running on Linux, as in Windows with Plex server the tone mapping is very inefficient, and you'll likely be only to do a single stream (based on testing on Intel 10210U and Intel 8550U)
    Agree with previous comment about SFF, Intel NUC(or NUC copy) will be fine - depending on if you're able to connect all of the drives that you require.


    Consider for simplicity serving files via SMB to your playing device and letting it play directly - no transcoding required.

    e.g Apple TV running mrmc playing files served from a remote large disk(s) plugged into a Raspberry Pi running an SMB server.


      Will be shared with family via the cloud.

      Different end points phones, chromecasts, xbox, ps4 etc etc

      already running a qnap ts431 with about 12tb of media.

      Just moving to a more family friendly was of sharing the collection


        Your QNAP NAS is probably already serving the media then. I have a TS-412, it serves via SMB by default. I don't have all the platforms you mention but I am very sure they all support a universal standard like SMB.

        However, given you are looking for a family friendly solution where you can say to someone not technically knowledgable to just download the Plex app and login with this userid then something like Plex is probably easier (and unfortunately vastly more expensive as it requires transcoding setups and licensing!!!)


          I should mention i want to serve remotely, family will be at their own homes. This means smb shares will not be viable


    I hadn't built one for @ 15 years either. pcpartpicker is a great site to check compatibilities of parts etc.


    Given your use case, would be worth keeping an eye on thin clients. A few pentium J5005 units on ebay for cheap which would do the job.