Top 9 Best NAS for Plex: Ultimate Home Media Servers Reviewed [2023]

Top 9 Best NAS for Plex: Ultimate Home Media Servers Reviewed [2024]

Looking to supercharge your home media experience? A Network Attached Storage (NAS) device paired with Plex could be just what you need. Imagine effortlessly streaming your favorite movies, music, and TV shows to any device in your home, all from a centralized location. With the right NAS, you can do just that, ensuring smooth performance and ample storage for your entire media library.

But with so many options available, how do you choose the best NAS for Plex? We’ve done the research and compiled a list of the top 9 NAS devices that offer the perfect blend of performance, storage capacity, and ease of use. Whether you’re a casual viewer or a media enthusiast, our guide will help you find the ideal NAS to meet your Plex needs.

Choosing the Right NAS for Plex

Selecting the ideal NAS for Plex involves weighing several factors to ensure optimal media streaming. Let’s explore the key elements you should consider.

Considerations for Performance

Prioritize the CPU and RAM. A powerful CPU, preferably quad-core or better, and at least 2 GB of RAM allow smooth transcoding and simultaneous streaming to multiple devices. Check support for hardware transcoding since it drastically reduces CPU load, improving performance.

Storage Needs

Evaluate your media library size. Choose a NAS with enough drive bays to accommodate future growth. If you have a large media collection, go for a NAS that supports high-capacity drives and RAID configurations. Ensure the device supports easy drive expansion, saving you from future hassles.

Budget Considerations

Balance features with cost. You don’t need to break the bank to get a good NAS for Plex, but ensure it meets your performance and storage needs. Mid-range models often provide the best value, offering a harmonious blend of powerful hardware and capacity. Check for additional costs like drives and potential upgrades.

Top 9 NAS for Plex in 2023

Choosing the right NAS for Plex can drastically improve your home entertainment experience. Here’s a curated list of the best options to streamline your decision.

One Highly Recommended Model

Synology DS920+
Synology DS920+ tops the list with its powerful Intel Celeron J4125 CPU and 4GB DDR4 memory, expandable up to 8GB. This model supports real-time 4K and 1080p transcoding, making it ideal for Plex. With four drive bays and a maximum capacity of 64TB (with 16TB drives), the DS920+ easily handles large media libraries. Plus, it comes with dual NVMe SSD slots for caching, which enhances performance rapidly.

Another Great Model

QNAP TS-453D
The QNAP TS-453D is another excellent choice, featuring a quad-core Intel Celeron J4125 processor and 4GB of RAM, upgradable to 8GB. It offers two 2.5GbE ports for fast connectivity and smooth 4K media streaming. This model includes four drive bays, supporting up to 64TB of storage. Its built-in GPU acceleration and hardware transcoding features make it a seamless option for Plex users.

A Budget-Friendly Option

TerraMaster F2-221
If you’re looking to save money without compromising performance, the TerraMaster F2-221 is a solid option. Equipped with an Intel Celeron J3355 dual-core processor and 2GB of RAM, upgradable to 4GB, this model handles 4K video streaming effectively. With two drive bays, it supports up to 32TB of storage. Its affordability and efficient performance make it a great entry-level NAS for Plex enthusiasts.

These models offer a range of features and price points to suit any Plex setup, ensuring smooth and optimal media streaming.

Key Features to Look for in NAS Devices for Plex

When choosing a NAS device for Plex, certain features are essential to ensure smooth media streaming and efficient performance. Here’s what to consider:

CPU Power

Look for powerful CPUs. A multi-core processor, preferably Intel or AMD, enhances your NAS’s ability to transcode HD or 4K content. Higher clock speeds ensure faster data processing. For example, a NAS with an Intel Celeron Quad-Core processor better handles simultaneous streams.

RAM Specifications

Opt for NAS devices with ample RAM. Minimum 2GB is recommended, but for heavy-duty streaming, consider 4GB or more. This ensures smooth multi-tasking and faster data access. Upgradeable RAM is a plus, allowing future enhancements as your needs grow.

Storage Capabilities

Choose flexible storage options. Go for NAS devices that support multiple bays, ideally at least four, for expanded storage capacity. Ensure compatibility with various HDD and SSD types. Look for hot-swappable drives and RAID configurations to enhance data redundancy and protection.

Installation and Setup Tips for NAS on Plex

Getting your NAS ready to work seamlessly with Plex involves a few critical steps. Follow these tips to ensure smooth installation and setup.

Initial Setup Steps

Unpack and Connect: Connect your NAS to your router via an Ethernet cable. Plug it into a power source and turn it on.

Initialize the NAS: Use the manufacturer’s software or web-based interface to initialize the NAS. This typically involves setting up the device name, administrator credentials, and basic settings.

Install Drives: Install hard drives into the NAS bays according to the provided instructions. Some models require screwing the drives in, while others have tool-less drive bays.

Network Configuration

Static IP Address: Assign a static IP address to your NAS to ensure it always has the same network address. This helps in finding your NAS easily on the network.

Port Forwarding: Set up port forwarding on your router for better remote access to Plex. Forward ports 32400 for Plex.

Gigabit Network: Ensure your home network uses gigabit Ethernet for the best streaming performance. This reduces buffering and improves data transfer rates.

Plex Media Server Installation

Download Plex: Visit the Plex website to download the Plex Media Server software. Make sure to select the correct package for your NAS.

Install Plex: Follow the instructions to install Plex on your NAS. This often involves logging into your NAS’s web interface and uploading the Plex package.

Configure Libraries: Open the Plex app, go to “Settings,” and add your media libraries. Organize your media into different directories for easier navigation and better metadata management.

By following these steps, you’ll be setting your NAS up for successful integration with Plex, enhancing your home media experience.

Best Practices for Using NAS with Plex

Ensure your NAS runs smoothly with Plex by following these best practices. Implement these strategies to get the most out of your media streaming experience.

Regular Maintenance Tips

Performing regular maintenance on your NAS can prevent potential issues. Update the NAS firmware and Plex Media Server software to the latest versions to ensure optimal performance and security. Clean dust from the NAS fans and vents to avoid overheating. Monitor disk health using the built-in tools provided by your NAS manufacturer, and replace any failing drives promptly.

Optimal Settings for Streaming

Adjusting your NAS settings can enhance streaming quality. Enable hardware acceleration on Plex to reduce the CPU load during transcoding. Set the streaming quality to match your network’s capacity, avoiding unnecessary buffering. Allocate enough bandwidth for streaming by prioritizing Plex traffic on your network using Quality of Service (QoS) settings. Also, ensure your NAS is connected via Ethernet for the best network stability.

Backup Strategies

Creating a robust backup strategy is essential to protect your data. Use RAID configurations to safeguard against drive failures, but don’t rely solely on RAID. Schedule regular backups to an external drive or another NAS to ensure you have copies of your media files. Consider using cloud backup services for an additional layer of protection. Regularly test your backups to verify they are complete and accessible in case of data loss.

Future Trends in Storage Solutions for Media Servers

Advances in NAS Technology

Streamlined with the latest hardware, NAS technology is advancing rapidly. Manufacturers are integrating more powerful processors and significantly increasing RAM to handle complex tasks and multi-streaming efficiently. Expect to see advancements in NVMe SSD cache, which speeds up data access and improves overall NAS performance. Another key trend is the adoption of AI and machine learning algorithms to optimize storage management, predict storage needs, and enhance data security. Enhanced user interfaces and setup wizards are making NAS devices more user-friendly, allowing smoother experiences even for non-tech-savvy individuals.

The Growing Importance of Cloud Integration

Cloud integration is becoming increasingly crucial for modern NAS solutions. This trend benefits you by offering hybrid storage options that combine local and cloud storage, enhancing data accessibility and redundancy. Future NAS devices are likely to have seamless cloud integration capabilities, allowing automatic backups to cloud services like Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, and Amazon S3. Features such as multi-cloud support and intelligent tiering will enable more efficient data management, automatically moving less frequently accessed files to cheaper cloud storage, reducing costs while keeping critical data quickly accessible.

Conclusion

Choosing the best NAS for Plex can transform your home media experience. By considering factors like CPU power RAM storage capacity and budget you can find a NAS that meets your needs. The recommended models for 2024 offer excellent performance for 4K streaming and storage flexibility. As NAS technology advances with more powerful hardware and integration of AI and cloud solutions the future looks promising for even more efficient and secure media management. Invest in the right NAS and enjoy seamless streaming and reliable storage for years to come.

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