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BUILD Selecting hardware to build a small NAS to transcode

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simple_guy

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I’m trying to build a FreeNAS server just for Plex. I have never built a NAS or used FreeNAS before so forgive my ignorance. It needs to be small enough that I can put it on my carry-on bag but powerful enough to transcode 10-15 streams. I will be using this NAS to remote travel with a bunch of coworkers to consolidate all our movies and tv shows instead of bringing DVDs and external hard drives.


Here’s what I have picked out so far:


CPU: Intel Xeon E5-2620 V4 2.1GHz 8-Core Processor – This is the one I’m stuck on. Not sure if the motherboard supports this processor or not. I have contacted ASRock but no reply yet. But if it does work it seems like it would have the power to transcode the streams I need.


CPU Cooler: Noctua NH-U12DXi4 55.0 CFM CPU Cooler – Cooler that fits the case.


Motherboard: ASRock X99E-ITX/ac Mini ITX LGA2011-3 Motherboard - Only motherboard I could find that fits the case/memory. All the Supermicro ones I saw on the starter guide were ATX/microATX.


Memory: 2x Samsung 16GB Registered DDR4-2133 Memory (p/n M393A2G40DB0-CPB) – Matches the motherboard from ASRocks website.


Storage: 3x Western Digital Red 8TB 3.5" 5400RPM Internal Hard Drive

3x Seagate NAS HDD 8TB 3.5" 5900RPM Internal Hard Drive


FreeNAS Storage: SanDisk Cruzer Fit 32 GB USB 2.0 Flash Drive


Video Card: MSI Radeon R7 250 2GB Video Card – Something to stick in there to set up the server.


Case: Fractal Design Node 304 Mini ITX Tower Case – Looks like the right case for what I need.


Power Supply: Corsair 760W 80+ Platinum Certified Fully-Modular ATX Power Supply – Overkill, but I have a spare one.

Any help would be much appreciated
 

Spearfoot

He of the long foot
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May 13, 2015
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I’m trying to build a FreeNAS server just for Plex. I have never built a NAS or used FreeNAS before so forgive my ignorance. It needs to be small enough that I can put it on my carry-on bag but powerful enough to transcode 10-15 streams. I will be using this NAS to remote travel with a bunch of coworkers to consolidate all our movies and tv shows instead of bringing DVDs and external hard drives.


Here’s what I have picked out so far:


CPU: Intel Xeon E5-2620 V4 2.1GHz 8-Core Processor – This is the one I’m stuck on. Not sure if the motherboard supports this processor or not. I have contacted ASRock but no reply yet. But if it does work it seems like it would have the power to transcode the streams I need.


CPU Cooler: Noctua NH-U12DXi4 55.0 CFM CPU Cooler – Cooler that fits the case.


Motherboard: ASRock X99E-ITX/ac Mini ITX LGA2011-3 Motherboard - Only motherboard I could find that fits the case/memory. All the Supermicro ones I saw on the starter guide were ATX/microATX.


Memory: 2x Samsung 16GB Registered DDR4-2133 Memory (p/n M393A2G40DB0-CPB) – Matches the motherboard from ASRocks website.


Storage: 3x Western Digital Red 8TB 3.5" 5400RPM Internal Hard Drive

3x Seagate NAS HDD 8TB 3.5" 5900RPM Internal Hard Drive


FreeNAS Storage: SanDisk Cruzer Fit 32 GB USB 2.0 Flash Drive


Video Card: MSI Radeon R7 250 2GB Video Card – Something to stick in there to set up the server.


Case: Fractal Design Node 304 Mini ITX Tower Case – Looks like the right case for what I need.


Power Supply: Corsair 760W 80+ Platinum Certified Fully-Modular ATX Power Supply – Overkill, but I have a spare one.

Any help would be much appreciated
"...small enough that I can put it on my carry-on bag..." With 6 hard drives, your little server is going to be heavy -- you'll definitely want wheels on your bag!

Have you considered something like the Synology DS216play? Disk capacity would be less than your proposed system and it may not be up to handling the load, depending on how many coworkers you have -- but it would be a lot smaller and lighter. They make comparable 4-bay systems, too.

https://www.synology.com/en-us/products/DS216play#spec

Whatever you choose, air travel is going to be hard on your server. You might consider getting some kind of padded case.
 

simple_guy

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Looking at the Synology it looks like it would not be able to handle all the transcoding I would throw at it. Also I would like to do 6 hard drives as we have quite the large collection of movies and shows here already. It needs to be carry on sized because it will be inside a small pelican case for travelling. It's internal company travel so airline restrictions don't really apply. The node case fit the dimensions of what I needed for the pelican.
 

Spearfoot

He of the long foot
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It needs to be carry on sized because it will be inside a small pelican case for travelling. It's internal company travel so airline restrictions don't really apply. The node case fit the dimensions of what I needed for the pelican.
Well! You didn't tell me all of that! Cool! :cool:

Yeah, transcoding is CPU-intensive, so you'll want a beefy chip for your proposed system. Let us know how ASRock responds and how your system works out, okay?
 

Ericloewe

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It needs to be small enough that I can put it on my carry-on bag but powerful enough to transcode 10-15 streams.

These are two very different goals. Let's talk about these 10-15 (!) streams.

Is transcoding really necessary? What are these going to be viewed on? Transcoding the files before they're sent to the server is a lot more rational in this situation. You're then limited mostly by networking.

If you need to transcode 15 full HD streams, you need something very beefy. Possible beefier than an E5-2620v4.

And, for carrying around, you'll probably want either a very compact low profile cooler capable of handling the TDP of the processor or an AIO water cooling solution - you want to minimize the stresses that the motherboard will be subjected to. That means absolutely no 750g monsters hanging off the motherboard, unless you want to destroy everything during transport.

Quite frankly, you need to relax one of your requirements, or you'll end up with a crazy solution that might not work well.
 

simple_guy

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10-15 streams would be an absolute maximum. Normally more in the 6-8 range including cell phones running 720p. I honestly expect to run into network issues before the CPU runs out of steam. I still would like a beefy one because if it stalls out due to networking, it can transcode in the background and download to their device later on. For the CPU cooler, I agree that one looks a little too heavy. You think a contained CPU water cooling setup like the Cooler Master Seidon would be okay for transport? The ASRock does come with a Dynatron cooler as well
 

Dice

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Even though E5's can be a different beast than E3's AND passmarks scores should be taken with a grain of salt - the 2620 manages about 7900 points, meanwhile the ever so popular E3-1231v5 pushes the envelope at around 9300 points.
I've difficulties to see how that E5 would cope with this workload, but I'm absolutely no expert on Plex.
 

adrianwi

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Oct 15, 2013
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I've got a E3-1231v3 and have forced a situation where 6 clients connected and all required transcoding (a mix of 720p and 1080p) and whilst the server looked pretty maxed out it didn't buffer on any of the clients.

I've got about 18 people accessing my PMS and across a mix of client devices (PC, Android, iOS, tvOS) and about 1/3 of the time the content is either direct played/streamed which has very little overhead. It's unusual for more than 3-4 clients to be connected at the same time. As said above, if you were all using similar client devices and the media content was appropriately encoded you wouldn't need as much processing power.
 

simple_guy

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Okay, that would work for me. I could swap over to a Intel Xeon E3-1245 V5, and get integrated graphics so I wouldn't have to purchase a separate gpu to set up the server.
 

simple_guy

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Now I'm running into another problem with the E3 V5s. The two motherboards I've found are the ASRock C236 WSI and the Asus P10S-I. The ASRock memory list only has 8GB sticks and the Asus memory (HMA82GU7MFR8N-TFT0) costs $300 for 32gb. Meaning there would be no cost savings switching to the E3 V5. So I could go down to a E3 V3 and see if that would work, let me check out some configurations.

I do know about properly encoding, and I may look into converting everything over, but we collectively have over 1500 movies and tv shows so it will take quite awhile until we are all good.
 
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I do know about properly encoding, and I may look into converting everything over, but we collectively have over 1500 movies and tv shows so it will take quite awhile until we are all good.
Apparently, the latest version of Plex can be setup to create optimized versions of the media. If I understand correctly, this would create several different versions of each media file as a batch process, then select the correct version to send to each device when needed. In theory, this should avoid the need to transcode when playing media.

More info on the Plex support site.

I use Plex, but I am careful to ensure that all my media is in a format that works with the devices that I use to view it, so I rarely see transcoding on my system. Thus I have never tried to set up the optimizer, and have no idea if it works as well as claimed.
 
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