Advice for a FreeNAS/Plex home server (hardware)

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free-con

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Good morning guys, I'm new in the forum and also in the FreeNAS world. I'm almost ready to buy a dedicated server for home use and this is the reason of this topic. I'm a Linux guy, I have a Windows machine but I'm using linux on daily runs. I have a little Qnap 453 with 9TB of media with backups of all my BD, DVD, Music and digital purchases and for now it's my main NAS and media library. I'm here because I want to build a home server and use the Qnap only for backup tasks for my photos and important documents. Regardless of my OS preference, I think I will put FreeNAS as OS to manage/store all the datas and backups. The main purpose of this server will be manage and take care of media files, maybe running some VM to test linux distros or some experiments. The second thing that I want is a good Plex server running 24/7. So, I'm here because I need some advice on how to get the most out of FreeNAS and Plex.

1) HARDWARE
I have a baseline to start but I need you to understand if is ok or if something is wrong with it. I had build few pc for me and my friend but never a server. So this is what I think I would buy:

CPU: Dual Xeon E5-2665 - I need a good CPU for transcoding and 17k passmark it will be enough, I think
COOLING: hmmm, we need to see
MOTHERBOARD: here I need help. I think one Supermicro but like I said, I had never built a server pc.
RAM: 32GB EEC - any advice on what brand or frequency to choose? I had read that FreeNAS need 1GB of RAM per TB of HDD
HDD: for begin I think WD RED 8TB x 4 (to make a RAID5 for multimedia) + 1 of XXGB for other things like photos
SSD: maybe for caching Plex, we will see
NETWORK: 1 x 10Gb LAN output is necessary for file transfer
SUPPLY: don't know, a good 750 would be enough?

Thank you =)
 
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Dice

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Hi
Welcome to the forum!

CPU: Dual Xeon E5-2665 - I need a good CPU for transcoding and 17k passmark it will be enough, I think
...how many transcodes are you planning to run simultaneously?! (not streams, but transcodes on the fly).
The CPU typically looks extremely overkill for the typical usage pattern.
Plex conservatively states you'll need 2000 passmark score for a 1080 transcode.
FreeNAS users witness you'll have +3 running without problem on even an i3-6100. (passmark 5.5k) Mind you, as soon as you don't need the transcoding part done by FreeNAS, there is only bandwith to be consumed - which does not bog down the CPU to anywhere near the same extent.

SSD: maybe for cacheing Plex, we will see
This may indicate you would need to read up on caching in FreeNAS.

HDD: for begin I think WD RED 8TB x 4 (to make a RAID5 for multimedia) + 1 of XXGB for other things like photos
We don't advice Raidz1 (corresponding to Raid5). Have a google at 'why raid 5 is dead'. Instead, the typical setup is 6 drives to form a Raidz2 vdev.
In this you can have several datasets/quotas/snapshots split the way you want. For your intended use case there is no reason to use more than one pool.

I recon you should read the 'cyberjock newbie guide'. Although dated, it is highly relevant with respect to core concepts of FreeNAS.

https://forums.freenas.org/index.ph...ning-vdev-zpool-zil-and-l2arc-for-noobs.7775/
https://forums.freenas.org/index.php?resources/hardware-recommendations-guide.12/
 

garm

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For that cpu you are looking for something like Supermicro X9DLR series. They don’t come with 10 GbE so you need a separate Intel network card for that. RAM is governed by what is in their tested memory list.

Don’t do riadz1, go for mirrored pairs if you only plan to use 4 drives. I keep plex and other web services on a dedicated SSD mirrored pool, but that is just to save on writes to my main storage pool, not really for performance.

Don’t bother with caching, in ZFS that is a very particular topic that needs to be justified by math.

Don’t split your pools between movies and “other things” unless you plan on different types of drives for them, it will just hurt your performance. I would go with raidz2 if your initial pool is bigger then 4 drives.

Buy a good solid PSU and make sure it’s peak efficiency is more then your accumulated wattage
 
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free-con

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Thank you for the snappy-respond.

CPU: 90% of my media are 1080p so with fullHD tv/monitor it will be streams. But between tablets, 1 4K tv, and my family I can say 3 transcode for sure. In vacation season I can have more than 5 cause smartphones. This is the mhy I had choos a dual xeon. The price is not cheap, 300$ but it's not a steal for a double 8 core.
HDD: really? Double parrity for a media library? This mean that I will "lose" 50% of the total space. So I need to change my plans here, I will need more HDD to gain space. Hmm... And what do you think about ZFS for a media library? By the way, I will start with 4/6 HDD but I will add other devices in future
 
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Inxsible

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Thank you for the snappy-respond.

CPU: 90% of my media are 1080p so with fullHD tv/monitor it will be streams. But between tablets, 1 4K tv, and my family I can say 3 transcode for sure. In vacation season I can have more than 5 cause smartphones. This is the mhy I had choos a dual xeon. The price is not cheap, 300$ but it's not a steal for a double 8 core.
HDD: really? Double parrity for a media library? This mean that I will "lose" 50% of the total space. So I need to change my plans here, I will need more HDD to gain space. Hmm... And what do you think about ZFS for a media library? By the way, I will start with 4/6 HDD but I will add other devices in future

The number of drives you expect to have is an important factor when choosing your power supply. What case are you going for?

And yes, your CPU is overkill for 3 transcodes. You would do well with an i3 or even an older gen Xeon.

Sent from my Nexus 5 using Tapatalk
 

free-con

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The number of drives you expect to have is an important factor when choosing your power supply. What case are you going for?

And yes, your CPU is overkill for 3 transcodes. You would do well with an i3 or even an older gen Xeon.

Sent from my Nexus 5 using Tapatalk

I would like to go for a rack mount build, capable of 8-10 drive so it will be future proof. This mean that I will need a good (or two good) supplyer. For the CPU is always better to have some extra horses, isn't it? I could go down to a double Xeon E7-4850 do stay low, a couble it will cost something like 150-160$. And this maybe will not be enough to transcode a 4K media.
 
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Most of the media you use in the home should be encoded in such a way that the devices can directly play. Most everything I have come across likes H264 in an MP4 with AAC audio.

When on the go you have to figure how likely it is that EVERYONE is going to want to watch something different all at the same time. Plus Plex has a nice little feature so that say each person picks a couple movies they can just have it dropped onto their device and ready to play directly from the device's storage vs streaming it. By the time you need to really worry about streaming to transcode for a mobile device you will be dropping the quality down to a low 720P and never notice the difference on the little 4 inch screen. As far as streaming 4k, again find a format your 4K device likes and use it. What I have personally done since so little 4K content is available is setup a separate directory and channel in Plex just for 4K content and also create a 1080p MP4 for everything else. I basically do the same for 3D content.

Instead of thinking about an SSD for caching just grab another couple HDD's and make a slightly larger RaidZ2. There is a very good reason for that and it is just the idea of exactly how much time it will take for you to rip all the media back if the pool fails. 16TB of movies is a WHOLE LOT of work (4000 hours at 4GB per movie). I currently have about 1400 and that is about 3TB in the above mentioned format and the vast majority is 1080p. Once you put that much time in you don't want to have to do it a second time, especially figuring at around a 1:1 ratio for runtime on a movie to transcode time. How many hours do you want to waste doing it a second time exactly? You are thinking about maybe adding one or two HDD's to a pool I have to guess. ZFS does not currently work that way. You can create a second pool or add a second vDev to an existing pool but either way you will be adding more drives unless you just do mirrors but then you are at a really cruddy ratio again. Start with 6 to 8 drives to begin with, even if they are smaller than 8TB and go from there. You will be happier later on, I can almost guarantee. And do read up on how ZFS works.

For 10G you will also need a switch that can handle it and it will only do some good when you are copying files (plus the other device will need 10G too), streaming 5 streams will barely touch it figuring around 5Mbps per stream.

Seasonic is the recommended PSU but if you read through the recommended hardware resources it will help.

If you are going to do a rackmount and drop this much on a server and also future proof I wouldn't look at something that holds 8 to 10 drives I would look for a Supermicro that holds at least 24 and create a 11 drive RaidZ3 using 4TB drives. Later on you can then up it to a second vDev with the same size or larger. However a server chassis will be loud so you will need to have a room in a basement or a closet that you can keep cooled somehow for a place the server can live.
 

Liquid_Ice

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Good morning guys, I'm new in the forum and also in the FreeNAS world. I'm almost ready to buy a dedicated server for home use and this is the reason of this topic. I'm a Linux guy, I have a Windows machine but I'm using linux on daily runs. I have a little Qnap 453 with 9TB of media with backups of all my BD, DVD, Music and digital purchases and for now it's my main NAS and media library. I'm here because I want to build a home server and use the Qnap only for backup tasks for my photos and important documents. Regardless of my OS preference, I think I will put FreeNAS as OS to manage/store all the datas and backups. The main purpose of this server will be manage and take care of media files, maybe running some VM to test linux distros or some experiments. The second thing that I want is a good Plex server running 24/7. So, I'm here because I need some advice on how to get the most out of FreeNAS and Plex.

1) HARDWARE
I have a baseline to start but I need you to understand if is ok or if something is wrong with it. I had build few pc for me and my friend but never a server. So this is what I think I would buy:

CPU: Dual Xeon E5-2665 - I need a good CPU for transcoding and 17k passmark it will be enough, I think
COOLING: hmmm, we need to see
MOTHERBOARD: here I need help. I think one Supermicro but like I said, I had never built a server pc.
RAM: 32GB EEC - any advice on what brand or frequency to choose? I had read that FreeNAS need 1GB of RAM per TB of HDD
HDD: for begin I think WD RED 8TB x 4 (to make a RAID5 for multimedia) + 1 of XXGB for other things like photos
SSD: maybe for caching Plex, we will see
NETWORK: 1 x 10Gb LAN output is necessary for file transfer
SUPPLY: don't know, a good 750 would be enough?

Thank you =)
Hey,
I'm very interested in how your build went as I'm looking to build a similar system to replace the system I currently have (i7-4770 4c/8t 4.4ghz, 32gb ram, 2x20tb raidz2 external enclosure). My current system is having issues keeping up with transcoding more then 3 streams. Heck, depending on the source material and the playback device even 3 streams can be pushing it without dropping quality. :-(

Most of my media is H264 or H265 in 1080p or 4k, with 8 or 10 bit colour. Audio tends to be in DD, DTS, Dolby True HD, or Master Audio. All video's are in Matroska container. File size for a movie is between 8gb to 35gb and a one hour tv episode is between 1gb and 2gb.

I'm wondering how your 2 x Xeon E5-2665 CPU's turned out? I'm looking at prices of used E5-2665 systems and was wondering if your 2 x Xeon E5-2665 were powerful enough for 8 to 10 streams? I would like to share my library with people outside my immediate family. At a local auction there are a few 2 x E5-2665 HP ProLiant DL380p G8 (128gb ecc) as well as a 4 x E7-8837 HP ProLiant DL 580 G7 (256gb ecc) going for about the same price and I'm curious if these cheap systems are still a decent buy given how power hungry they will be.
 
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8 to 10 streams is arbitrary, are they transcoded or just streamed as is. A PentiumG can stream as is to quite a few devices. Transcoded it will puke to more than one if it can do one.

8 to 10 streams 4k transcoded..... well I honestly don't think there is a single computer on the planet that can handle that right now. That is the reason why Netflix actually has multiple copies of the same video each at a different quality so that what the connection can support is already there and ready. This is honestly a better plan than always transcoding on the fly but some people don't want to waste the space and would rather spend more in electricity when they want to watch a movie.

I will say this however, the audio will need to be in a format that is supported by the devices. You are all over the map and will probably end up with streams that have no audio. And if your devices do not support h265 natively you will ALWAYS transcode.

Of the two systems it looks like the passmark on the 2665 is better than the 8837 but who knows how it was tested, but from the results I am seeing else where the 2665 is probably the better bet for transcoding. Don't know how cheap they are going but if it's a dirt cheap auction where most don't know what they are looking at I would snatch them both up, do some testing, keep the stronger one, cannibalize the ram and anything else useful, and then sell the other off on ebay hopefully turning a profit or use it for something else/give it to someone else. If it's not look up the benchmarks:

https://browser.geekbench.com/v4/cpu/search?dir=desc&q=8837&sort=multicore_score
https://www.cpubenchmark.net/cpu.php?cpu=Intel+Xeon+E7-+8837+@+2.67GHz&id=2601&cpuCount=4

https://browser.geekbench.com/v4/cpu/search?dir=desc&page=1&q=2665&sort=multicore_score
https://www.cpubenchmark.net/cpu.php?cpu=Intel+Xeon+E5-2665+@+2.40GHz&id=1439&cpuCount=2

Then make your own decisions.
 

Liquid_Ice

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8 to 10 streams is arbitrary, are they transcoded or just streamed as is. A PentiumG can stream as is to quite a few devices. Transcoded it will puke to more than one if it can do one.

8 to 10 streams 4k transcoded..... well I honestly don't think there is a single computer on the planet that can handle that right now. That is the reason why Netflix actually has multiple copies of the same video each at a different quality so that what the connection can support is already there and ready. This is honestly a better plan than always transcoding on the fly but some people don't want to waste the space and would rather spend more in electricity when they want to watch a movie.

I will say this however, the audio will need to be in a format that is supported by the devices. You are all over the map and will probably end up with streams that have no audio. And if your devices do not support h265 natively you will ALWAYS transcode.

Of the two systems it looks like the passmark on the 2665 is better than the 8837 but who knows how it was tested, but from the results I am seeing else where the 2665 is probably the better bet for transcoding. Don't know how cheap they are going but if it's a dirt cheap auction where most don't know what they are looking at I would snatch them both up, do some testing, keep the stronger one, cannibalize the ram and anything else useful, and then sell the other off on ebay hopefully turning a profit or use it for something else/give it to someone else. If it's not look up the benchmarks:

https://browser.geekbench.com/v4/cpu/search?dir=desc&q=8837&sort=multicore_score
https://www.cpubenchmark.net/cpu.php?cpu=Intel+Xeon+E7-+8837+@+2.67GHz&id=2601&cpuCount=4

https://browser.geekbench.com/v4/cpu/search?dir=desc&page=1&q=2665&sort=multicore_score
https://www.cpubenchmark.net/cpu.php?cpu=Intel+Xeon+E5-2665+@+2.40GHz&id=1439&cpuCount=2

Then make your own decisions.
Hi,
Thanks for your detailed response. Only about 10% of my content is 4k. The transcoding is done for lower bit rates, unsupported audio or video formats, or subtitles.

Thanks for pointing out the speed difference between the 2665 and 8837. I just assumed 4 CPU's would be faster then 2. I have more or less ruled out the HP ProLiant DL 580 G7 system due to the lower performance and 4x1250w power supplies which would be tricky to hookup even if I didn't care about redundancy. I don't see anyone reporting issues with freenas and the HP ProLiant DL380p G8 so I'll go for that next week and let you know how it turned out.
 

southwow

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Jan 18, 2018
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114
Thank you for the snappy-respond.

CPU: 90% of my media are 1080p so with fullHD tv/monitor it will be streams. But between tablets, 1 4K tv, and my family I can say 3 transcode for sure. In vacation season I can have more than 5 cause smartphones. This is the mhy I had choos a dual xeon. The price is not cheap, 300$ but it's not a steal for a double 8 core.
HDD: really? Double parrity for a media library? This mean that I will "lose" 50% of the total space. So I need to change my plans here, I will need more HDD to gain space. Hmm... And what do you think about ZFS for a media library? By the way, I will start with 4/6 HDD but I will add other devices in future

I'm doing twice as many transcodes on an E3 1231 and X10SL7-F-O board with 32GB unbuffered ECC ram and 15 drives.

I'm definitely not against future-proofing a build, but it seems a little extreme. Maybe stick with dual socket board with single CPU and spend that extra CPU money on more RAM or extra drives?
 

southwow

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I just wanted to add, most of the issues I've ever seen with Plex such as stuttering streams or buffering have actually turned out to be client or network issues.

The biggest one is with the rasplex/openelec client. If you use an official Plex client with a raspberry pi, you'll see none of this.
 

Liquid_Ice

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Update 8 months later: The server upgrade I did solved all the streaming problems PLEX was having during prime time. The CPU was indeed the bottle neck... After I put together the new server I did some testing on the old server and it took a considerable amount of CPU to decode a 10mbit 10bit/colour x265 1080p video and convert it to 10mb 8bit x264 1080p for streaming. When there were many users connected to the old system the plex transcoder logs indicated the server is unable to transcode fast enough.

With the new (used) system I don't have those errors in the transcoder logs and playback is smooth and stutter free at peak load. The server would have been fine if all the clients had native x265 support. Parting out and selling my old system more then covered the cost of the new (used) one :smile:.
 
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