If you have a large collection of movies, television and music programs, and therefore you want to access them on all your devices, Plex Media Server is one of the best solutions for you.
So, so that you can put the system into operation, you must designate at least one of your devices as a server. Sounds good, but what are the best devices to use as a Plex media server?
For this reason, we will show you some options that you can consider when you have to make this decision.
What is a Plex Media Server?
First, Plex is divided into two components: the first is the Plex Media Server and the second is Plex media Player.
Similarly, the Plex Media Server is responsible for accessing your videos and sending them to Plex Media Player applications on other devices.
Also, the device on which you are running the Plex Media Server application needs to have access to all your videos. And second, it must be running at all times and all day.
In this sense, Plex Media Server is available for free on Windows, Mac, Linux, NAS and Docker drives. There is also a unique version for Android TV. Plex Media Player is available on all platforms, from Amazon Alexa to Oculus Go.
What is the best device to use Plex Media Server?
In this part, you can choose different types of options. Also, you may be able to run the Plex Media Server application on a laptop, desktop computer, mini pc, Android TV and Raspberry Pi. As well as storage units connected to the network or any device on which you can install Linux.
Here you have a list of devices with their advantages and disadvantages, so you can choose the one that suits your needs.
1.- Plex Media Server on Laptops
One of the things that Plex Media Server needs is CPU power. Therefore, if there is not enough, available, your server will have difficulty transcoding videos and will not be able to handle simultaneous users.
As such, old laptops with low power might not be suitable, however, if you have a second or third generation laptop, it could serve very well and it is worth a try.
Similarly, it is not recommended that you run Plex Media Server on your main laptop. This for the reason that overheating could become a major problem. Therefore, if you are using an old laptop, it is best to buy a refrigeration unit to correct this possible failure.
2.- Desktop computers
One of the biggest advantages that a desktop computer offers is its power. Even if a PC with mid-range specifications can significantly improve everything Plex executes on it.
Similarly, if you expect several people to access your Plex media Server at the same time, surely the desktop PC is the best solution.
However, the same warning applies to the use of the main machine. since you don't want to be working uncomfortably on an important document while your family is using Plex on different screens.
3.- Mini PC
In fact, Mini PCs are almost always overlooked as possible devices for Plex Media Server. But still, they have some benefits that weigh on desktop computers.
These benefits include: lower energy consumption, lower costs if you are buying a new device and often less noise.
Mini PCs also achieve a good combination of size and portability. Of course, we are not talking about fit in your pocket, but they are easy to mount behind a TV or on a TV stand. Similarly, there are dozens of Mini PCs available in a wide range of specifications and prices.
4.- Android TV
Would an Nvidia Shield be as good as a Plex server? It could work if you're literally looking for something that you can basically put in a closet and forget that it exists.
Thus, Plex has not been able to use Android devices as media servers since the disappearance of the Plex Media Center application a few years ago.
However, there seems to be an exception and this is Nvidia Shield. Similarly, Nvidia has established a unique partnership with Plex and the devices can act as media servers.
And because both the normal version of Nvidia Shield and the Pro version have USB ports, you can connect an external hard drive that contains all your movies and TV shows to stream the content. So, you don't need to move your files to Nvidia Shield.
Unfortunately, Nvidia Shield has a considerable problem. And it is that several users have reported that this device is not suitable for very large libraries. Some complain about insufficient space for 4K transmission, while others say that the generation of miniatures devours memory.
5.- Raspberry Pi
Also, Raspberry Pi devices have particular pros and cons when used with Plex Media Server.
The biggest one you could notice is the lack of CPU power. Similarly, the Raspberry Pi 2 has a Cortex-A7 quad-core CPU at 900 MHz along with 1GB of RAM. Likewise, the Raspberry Pi 3 uses an ARM Cortex-A53 1.2GHz CPU and 1GB of RAM.
In addition, they are below the requirements recommended by this media server for that application: at least one Intel Core i3 processor and at least 2GB of RAM.
Despite this, the Raspberry Pi has some formidable in this regard. The most notable of these is its great portability. The web is full of users looking for advice on the cheapest device to use with Plex Media Server in hotels and offices.
And we can tell you that Raspberry Pi is the best solution. What you don't expect from this device is that it transcodes content in 4K.
6.- NAS Units
For people who need to access their multimedia content remotely, a NAS drive is the best option. Too many people have complained about the lack of reliability of the application in question while using it on a laptop or desktop PC; To make it a reliable option.
As a company, Plex strives to boost its NAS disk solutions. Custom versions are available for Synology, Netgear, QNAP, unRAID, Drobo, Asustor, Seagate, Western Digital and TerraMaster NAS drives.
But before you go to a store to buy one, there are some things you should consider. According to the company, your NAS will need an x86 CPU. And if you buy an ARM model, transcoding will not be available. Therefore, you should ensure that your video media is saved in a format that your Plex Media Player can support.
To make the playback more universal, the application recommends an MP4 container, the H.264 video codec, AAC audio and a bit rate of less than 8Mbps.
However, if you want a NAS drive for Plex, we recommend the QNAP TS-453Be 4-Bay Professional NAS, Synology DS218play. We also recommend the TerraMaster F4-220 4-Bay NAS.
What is the best Plex Media Server?
If you are an occasional viewer, you can use this application on your main device without much worry. Regular users should consider a dedicated old computer or a Mini PC. So, any user who travels a lot should buy a Raspberry Pi. And if remote access is important to you, then your best option would be to buy a NAS drive.