Need some help figuring out parts for a Plex server

Heyo Friendos,

I’m going to be building a new server for storing/serving Plex content soon and am looking for some hardware advice.

CPUs (good to go):
I already have 2x E5-2670s in a server at my place that gets next to no usage, so I’m probably going to steal those out of that machine for the new one, so that’s one less expense to worry about.

RAM (good to go):
I might as well steal the RAM from that other box as well, which should be plenty (16 * 4GB DDR3 ECC – 64GB total).

Disks (suggestions welcome):
I’ll likely be picking up these when I spot a good deal in the next few months. Will be looking for 6 or 8TB drives (HGSTs or decent WDs). If you have any suggestions there, that’d be cool. Likely will pick up 1TB SSDs to RAID-1 to use as OS/Plex cache drives. My current collection hovers around 35TB, but I’d like some room to grow.

Server Chassis/Mobo (NEED HELP):
This is where I need the most help. Not really sure what to look for here. I’d like something cost-effective and rack-mountable. Doesn’t need to be top of the line since it’s just for hobby usage. Second-hand gear is more than acceptable.

Probably a 2U box is the sweet spot with at least 8-12 3.5" bays (don’t need to be hot-swappable). Ideally this chassis should be somewhat quiet as it might possibly end up at my house if the new place has a good internet connection. Due to gear chosen above, it’ll need to support 2x LGA2011 slots and at least 16 slots of DDR3 PC3-10600R 1333MHz ECC RAM.

Something that supports IPMI would be great, if not a hard requirement.

RAID Card (need help):
Will likely be looking for a good RAID card for the above config. The drives will most likely be in RAID5 or RAID6 – not too worried about downtime/slowness for rebuilds as downtime is acceptable.

Other thoughts:
I’ll worry about finding a good colo provider in my area once the rig is built. I’ll be in the Philadelphia area, so I should have a good amount of options and NYC is only a few hour drive. I don’t really have any loyalties to any specific brands, so any will do (besides for HDDs).

I appreciate any help you can lend! :slight_smile:

Just curious - do Plex servers do something that warrants needing 64 GB of RAM? I get the CPU for transcoding, the drives for storage, but the RAM? :0

Probably not :stuck_out_tongue:. I already have it though and wouldn’t have any other machines to stick it in so it might as well go in the Plex box. If a ton of users are all streaming content, I’m sure a large chunk of RAM will be used and I could increase the buffer for transcodes so it pulls in more blocks at a time instead of doing more frequent reads from disk.

If you want to do this on the cheap, I’d say look at 8TB WD EasyStores (external drives that you’d then ‘shuck’ the HDDs out of). They’re either WD Reds or white label drives that are similar to Reds. Lots of details on these at /r/datahoarder

If you’re buying retail I’d say WD Red or HGST NAS. Plex server is generally pretty light on write I/O, mostly write-once and read-many, so you don’t need anything too crazy.

I’m a supermicro fan. Can get a nice 3U 16x3.5" Dual PSU for a couple hundred, quick ebay search: Supermicro 3u Cse-836 Server Chassis With 2x PSU Rails for sale online | eBay

For a board I would also look at Supermicro. You can go the ebay route or talk to a vendor who may have some E5v1 compatible boards, but the used parts should be good enough and affordable enough. I would talk to @Francisco or @Ryan or another provider who buys tons of gear and get their input on this part.

With that much ram available, ZFS will run happily. Performance won’t be as good as a hardware RAID solution, but data integrity will be decent. I’m not a fan of HW RAID, I prefer Software personally. So mdadm raid 6 (with that many drives) would be my pick, and then backup to G Drive (where I assume you currently have your data, as you’ve mentioned it previously).

If you’re worried about colo cost you’re probably gonna have to ship it based on how big and how much power that thing will consume. I have a suggestion for NYC though, just shoot me a DM.

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2670’s are very high power draw, 115W, meaning you’re going to pay a lot in colocation fees.

I recently rebuilt Karen’s new plex/100% legal files server with the following:

  • Dual 2630L CPU’s (60W each)
  • 32GB RAM
  • 36 x 8TB drives
  • LSI 9266-8i

It’s fast, it’s wicked fast.

With that being said, her CPU’s are heavily under utilized even though I got a good few people streaming. In her case, she isn’t going to leach 4K video when everyone is going to downgrade to 720p or 1080p anyway. Since she sticks to 720p/1080p almost no transcoding goes on making everything DirectPlay, keeping things very idle.

My recommend is that you snag either a v1 E3 (cheap to source) or some 2630L’s (cpu’s are cheap, board will be upwards of a couple hundred). ZFS or similar would be a good option, but you can source LSI 9260’s for like $40 or so and it’ll be plenty fast even in RAID6 (use 6, not 5).

For a chassis you can get 2U Supermicro 826 chassis which have 12 drives for around $100 + shipping. If you have a bit more room you could get a Supermicro 836/846 which would increase you to 16/24 drives if you want room to grow.

For NYC you could talk to FDCServers, you’d be a couple hundred or so a month. Rob at Fiberhub does locking 1/4 racks as well for $349/month.



Yeah, will probably go new/retail route since I want to keep the warranties intact.

Not bad. Gotta look around and see what’s available as I haven’t really done any searching yet. Hoping to find a decent 2U to keep the size down a bit and ease colo costs.

Yeah, probably gonna go that route over a raid card. Never have used hw raid before so if it’s not gonna gain me too much in the long run, then might as well leave that out of the equation

Hmm, yeah. On second thought the 2670s are probably way overkill for my needs. Better off finding something with less power draw like the two options you mentioned.

That sounds like a winner. I doubt I’d ever need any more than 12 bays considering the high TB drives I’m going with. Would keep costs down too.

Appreciate the input @Harambe & @Francisco! Definitely has helped me out a ton :smile:

Weird I didn’t see thread before. You already have some really good suggestions. I’ve posted this before but I am currently using 2xE5-2630 V2 for my CPU and even with numerous people transcoding it will handle 100+ streams without issue.

A high amount of Ram is kinda useless. I’ve only had maybe 1 or 2 times in the last 3 years where Plex decided to eat all the Ram and kill itself for some reason. Normally it uses practically nothing.

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Nice! Looks I’ll be looking for more power efficient CPUs then to cut down on colo costs.

But then what will I do with all dis dedotated wam? :cry:


Sell $12/year VPS’s? :wink:

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Any thoughts on FDC Servers as a colo provider?

Any size server, unmetered power, 1 Gbps dedicated, NYC - $100/mo. Wouldn’t need to find different CPUs if the unmetered power claim holds true.

My Heymman Server box (current Plex box) uses FDC Servers’ facility in Chicago and so far that’s been fantastic. Also I know it’s single homed cogent, so that’s fine.

Looks like a pretty good deal to me… Pay first month get 2 months free as well. They’ve been around awhile so I doubt they’d run off with gear, and @Francisco mentioned them in his post as an affordable option for NYC.

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Icing on the cake! Reached out to them to get some more details/specifics. Hoping they don’t require a yearly contract/prepayment to secure that pricing or anything along those lines.

On another note, looks like I can get 8TB WD Reds for $210 each (with a 20% coupon thanks to Plex Pass) or 8TB HGST deskstars for $220 on Newegg. Which one would you suggest going with or don’t you think it really matters?

I’d probably take the Reds. Performance is good enough and I think the warranty and RMA process is pretty good with WD. I’d suggest ordering them to you first and then burning them in with a badblocks run before shipping.

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Sounds good. Gotta wait for them to come back in stock then :stuck_out_tongue:

Is it a bad idea to want to rack and stack my server myself or am I just wasting my time and should just ship it off? Only a few hour drive from NYC and can have someone tag along to help me mount it if need be.

I’ve never racked my own boxes, lol. Always shipped from vendor to DC and then had DC configure IPMI (if they don’t supply the info ahead of time for vendor to program in).

If you’re up for the drive then you could deliver it, they probably need to have their staff rack it since it’ll be in a shared rack. Shipping can’t be too expensive though if it’s only travelling a few hours, just don’t toss the box for the case when you buy it :stuck_out_tongue:

Now I really want to buy another E3 and get it colo’d in Seattle on that unmetered gigabit deal… lol

Hmm yeah. just did a quick estimate for fedex. Not bad at all to ship it up and would probably end up being cheaper in the long run due to the cost of parking in the city and gas. Hmmmm…

Lol! Sorry man! :stuck_out_tongue:

Heard back from FDC Servers early this morning -

A 2U-3U server with 3-4A is fine and there is no power cap.

Looks like I found a home for the beast and won’t need to source new CPUs :slight_smile:

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Using PLEX for the first time. Making a server with my old i5 2500 seems pretty good.


Plex is glorious! Let me know if you need any help with anything, been using it for over a year now without any issues. If you’re just direct streaming/playing the content, then you typically don’t need a strong CPU. Only need one when you have a lot of transcodes going on (i.e. your Aunt that only owns a SD tv, while your whole library is in 1080p :stuck_out_tongue:)