Okay, so plex servers are a topic that I have been meaning to discuss for a while now.
The reason being I want to focus on helping you guys get into NAS and similar server-based solutions and secondly, you guys won’t stop pestering me with your questions. Lol.
I am just kidding. I enjoy and cherish every single query you throw at me and I feel very fulfilled knowing I have helped you in some way.
So, in this article let me quickly cover some very important topics surrounding plex servers. I will try to make the article as precise and as informative as I can.
Don’t worry if your thirst for knowledge isn’t addressed by the end of the article. You can post any further queries you may have in the comments below and I will address them in the dedicated FAQ section below.
Alright, let’s begin by answering the most important query of all.
Does Plex Server Need GPU?
The answer is it depends. For instance, if your local clients support a wide array of codecs, the videos can be streamed without big transcoding and CPU requirements. For remote transmission, you may need to transcode down to accommodate different devices. This can be achieved by CPU alone at the cost of power consumption but something like transcoding 4K videos will invariably demand GPU acceleration.
While that should answer the core query around plex servers, I understand there may be many beginners who are reading the article.
There are definitely certain aspects about plex that I think I should take this opportunity to address.
So, in the upcoming sections, I will address as many queries as I can regarding the plex server and the general info pieces around it so that most people reading this article will have comprehensive insights into the topic.
Here are some more articles that I think you will cherish reading or bookmarking for a later read,
- How to create a Plex server using Raspberry Pi?
- Top NAS hard drives for your plex media server
- How to convert a monitor into a smart TV?
- Top web browser apps for a smart TV
- How to choose the right CPU for any type of system build?
- 12 seriously creative uses of old routers.
What Is Plex And How Does It Work?
Alright so before we get into the nitty-gritty of plex, let me provide some basic background knowledge about plex.
This is for all those people who are new to servers, plex, and NAS systems in general.
So, what exactly is a plex server?
A plex media server is a media player and an organization tool that allows you to access your favorite media (movies, series, pictures, music, etc.) from one computer to other computers or media devices connected to each other on a network.
A plex media server comes in really handy when you have a big library of media that you are struggling to give space to into your main system.
And creating a plex server isn’t complex at all, you can even create one using raspberry pi. Or you can even use an old not so potent PC to stream media content across all your connected devices.
How exactly can you do that we will discuss it in a second. But for now, just try to ponder how an arrangement like plex can make your life easier.
Okay, so how exactly does a plex work?
You can easily install plex media server software on a Windows PC, Mac, Linux computer, or even a NAS device.
Once you have rightly installed it on one of these devices you will be able to play your favorite media on all devices connected on the plex network using the plex app.
You can browse and watch movies, listen to your favorite music, browse through pictures on a device that is connected to the main plex server.
Here is where things get really cool.
You can even access media files stored on the plex media server remotely with the help of the internet. Anyone who you choose to give access to will be able to access the stored media files.
Pretty awesome, han!
What Devices Support Plex?
Okay now that we have a good idea of what plex is and what you can do with it, let see what all devices can you actually run it on.
So, what are the devices that support plex?
With the things that we have discussed till now, it must be clear to you that for a plex arrangement to work there are two systems involved.
The server system and the client system.
In line with this understanding, with plex, there are two apps that you will need to work with.
One app that will be installed on the main server machine where all your media files will be stored and one on the client device from where the media files will be accessed.
Technically and for the purpose of testing, it is definitely entirely possible to run both server and client software on the same pc.
However, what makes plex so potent is the fact that you can allow your media files to be accessed across multiple devices.
Plex media server is capable of functioning on most major operating systems, but that isn’t the extent of it.
Here are some other devices that can run plex.
- Computers that have Windows, macOS, or Linux.
- NVIDIA Shield.
- Nighthawk X10 routers.
- Supported NAS devices.
So, these are the devices where you can install your plex server. And as I said, there are basically two systems where you will have to have plex to make this work.
Here are the client devices from where you can access media files stored on your main plex server.
- Any device that is capable of running major we browsers like chrome, Firefox, edge, Internet Explorer and Safari.
- Android, iOS, and Windows smartphones.
- Android, iOS and Windows tablets.
- Smart TVs.
- Streaming devices like Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, Apple TV, Chromecast, Roku, Sonos and TiVo.
- Gaming consoles like PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and Xbox One.
Hardware Required for A Plex Server
Okay, now that we have created a comprehensive understanding of plex. Let’s go ahead and see what are the hardware requirements to create a plex server.
Because the plex media server will pretty much run on all major OS, just pick an OS you are most comfortable using.
Thankfully, creating a plex media server isn’t too demanding.
That being said if you have the budget for it and if you are creating a dedicated plex server, having a GPU can help take the load off of your CPU with the help of hardware transcoding.
But for a basic HD media stream feed, a good CPU should do the job.
Here is the hardware you will need.
When creating a plex server the most important hardware unit is going to be the CPU.
Many new users often ask does plex server need GPU or CPU?
Well, a plex server essentially needs a CPU as most servers will use a CPU for transcoding. Bringing a GPU into the mix will help with hardware-accelerated transcoding for heavy tasks like remote transmission of 4K stream to different display sizes.
So how does one select the right CPU for a plex server?
There are a few things that you need to consider.
- First, determine how many media files would you want to transcode at any given time.
- Go to passmark and enter a CPU in the search box. In the search category select ‘benchmark results‘ and hit search again.
- Open your CPU link in a new tab.
- In the page that gets opened you will see the benchmarks of your CPU. You will also see a box labelled ‘Average CPU mark‘. This is the passmark score for your CPU.
- Divide this number by 2000 and you will have an estimate of how many concurrent transcodes will your CPU be able to handle.
If you are creating a dedicated plex machine, you don’t need a lot of RAM.
One RAM stick worth 4 GB should be good enough. You can even try going 2 GB but I wouldn’t recommend it.
Only if you wish to subject your system to activities other than using it as a plex would you want to increase your RAM.
Therefore, the amount of memory or RAM you will be needing will totally depend upon what you want to do with your machine.
This is as you will understand the hardware that will dictate how much media you will be able to put into the plex server.
One thing that I wish to recommend here is that always have a separate hard drive for just your OS and plex installation.
It would be even more wonderful if you could manage to get an SSD for your OS and your plex software. And keep high capacity storage for just your media files.
What storage you need will totally depend on you. To increase the storage and to create a secure storage space you can have RAID setups.
You can also use multiple hard drives, internal drives, and even NAS if you wish to.
As explained in the previous segment of this article, you most likely won’t need a graphics card for basic streaming on local clients.
However, as you increase the resolution of connected devices and also introduce say remote streaming via the internet, you may need hardware transcoding offered by a dedicated GPU.
So, my recommendation is to first figure out the extent of streaming you are going to subject your PC to, and if budget allows it get a cheap GPU for your plex server.
How To Setup A Plex Media Server On Your Computer
Alright, now let me now teach you how to go about setting up a plex media server on your computer.
As I said at the start of the previous segment that there are two instances of plex that you will need to install.
First, install a plex media server on the PC or the NAS system on which you wish to store your media files.
Secondly, you will have to install the plex client app on every pc, console, tablet, smartphone, television, etc. you wish to stream content on.
Here is the step-by-step procedure that you need to follow to be able to do this.
- Go to plex.tv
- Create an account using one of the methods offered.
- Next go to plex.tv/media-server-downloads.
- Choose the relevant OS or platform and click download.
- Once the download completes open the plex media server file and start the installation.
- After the installation is complete launch the plex platform.
In order to be able to successfully stream your favorite media on devices of your choice, you will have to select the appropriate plex media player app from their respective marketplace.
Or you can find the same for most major devices from here.
I hope I was able to provide some insightful information around plex and how you can deploy it to enhance your media consumption experience.
I understand that this is just scratching the surface when it comes to custom server deployment for end-users.
Very soon I will also cover how you can create a plex server using raspberry pi. I know many of you will find that article interesting.
- Update: I created the article that relays how you can create a Plex server using raspberry pi. Check it out here.
Before concluding this article let me quickly answer some very important questions that I think will expand your plex knowledge even further.
Is Plex Free?
Plex has a free plan and a paid plan that goes by the name plex pass. On the free plan, you will be able to host the media server and stream content to any and all non-mobile plex app. To stream on mobile apps you will have to get a plex pass subscription for 5$.
Is Plex Legal?
Using plex is legal to be used as a management and streaming tool for the media you own. However, many users tend to use it to share and stream content they don’t own which of course isn’t legal and I recommend you don’t do it.
Do I Need To Use A VPN With Plex?
If you are just streaming content to your secure local or home network it isn’t needed. However, if you are taking your plex server public, it is always good to make your IP static and create a secure streaming space.
I hope you enjoyed reading the article as much as I enjoyed writing it.
If you have any other comments, query or feedback do let me know in the comments section below.
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Take great care of yourselves and I will see you in the next one!