PLEX anyone?

Plex package allows users to manage and playback their media collections to local or remote desktop/mobile running Plex media client through Synology DiskStation
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Dlleno
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PLEX anyone?

Unread post by Dlleno » Tue Mar 20, 2018 4:43 am

Greetings everyone,

Anyone here use a DS as a plex server? I'm out to replace my aging 211j and looking into options including using the NAS as a media server. my reading suggests that the weak spot of a NAS used in this capacity is the CPU -the PLEX folks tell us to consider (first order approximation) a passmark score of about 2000 for each 1080p stream transcoded on the fly via software transcoding (as what PLEX does). This puts the 918+ barely squeaking through with its little J3455 processor which passmark's out at just over 2000. To me this suggests that the 918 has very little margin and will be just barely capable of operating as a PLEX server.

or am I missing something?

in order to bump up into the next tier, if you will, of CPU power -- there are options, but are any of them Synology?

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Rusty1281
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Re: PLEX anyone?

Unread post by Rusty1281 » Tue Mar 20, 2018 10:44 am

Peronsally I have been using Plex since almost day 1. The way you wanna use Plex will determain what kind of plex server you need. As you are aware Plex is a client server app and using Plex client on your device will determain if that that device can read the data on its own or it needs Plex server help. This is regarding transcoding.

If transcoding is something that you needs then you will hit high CPU utilization on almost any NAS. To avoid it your Plex clients should be able to handle the content on their own and in that case your NAS will just push the content with almost no utilization. This what Plex called Direct Play/Streaming (streaming is just repacking media containers and not really transcoding).

If on the other hand your clints can’t handle the content or you want to watch the content in a lower quality then the original, you will enter transcoding domain and Plex server is the side that will handle this. This is were CPU power counts. Already a single 1080p transcode stream can utilize 100%+ CPU power on an average NAS cpu.

Saying this you have to keep one more thing in mind reagarding Plex. Plex offers a paid feature called Plex Pass that among number of options will utilize something called hardware transcoding. This is ONLY an option for CPUs that support Intel QuickSync.

918+ does support it and it works great. Transcoding using this feature will also have almost no CPU utilization on your NAS. Ofc this depedns on the source of file. I have tested with a large 4K 265HEVC file and 918 was able to transcode 2 concurent 4K streams withot getting over 25% of CPU utilization.

Personally if you will have a larger number of Plex users (like 10+) that will all need transcode to watch media, then avoid using a NAS but if you will have a mix of users/devices that will use transcode on occasion, then 918+ will be a great solution. Ofc this means that you would have to use a plex pass version of server instalation.

If you don’t wanna pay for Plex pass and/or have more then 2 concurrent needs for transcoding, avoid have NAS as your Plex server. Synology offers Video Station that also uses hardware transcoding and you don’t have to pay for anything but their DS Video app is kind limiting regarding client platforms and its not really polished as Plex is, but this is just mho.
Synology DS918+ (4x4TB WD RED - RAID 5 with 2x250GB 960EVO NVMe) | Synology DS412+ (4x3TB WD RED - RAID 5) | RT1900AC

pgotze
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Re: PLEX anyone?

Unread post by pgotze » Tue Mar 20, 2018 2:27 pm

I am just fine with PLEX on DS916+, HW transcoding is great. If SW transcoding used, yeahh CPU has lot of work, but can handle as well. But anyway you will use HW transcoding, and there is no problem with performance.
DS916+(8GB RAM, 3x2TB SHR, 1x1TB single) primary, DS213j(512MB RAM, 1x1 TB single, 1x 500GB single) off-site backup

Dlleno
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Re: PLEX anyone?

Unread post by Dlleno » Tue Mar 20, 2018 3:38 pm

OK great info indeed i was starting to look for an i3 based nas but you all have made a great pitch for hardware transcoding. can we go a bit further on that: plex pass is a subscription right? and the 916 won't hardware transcode without someone getting royalties? when ripping dvds how does one match the source file to the streamer? I have a pair of roku ultras now.

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Re: PLEX anyone?

Unread post by pgotze » Tue Mar 20, 2018 3:46 pm

To use HW transcoding you have to have plex subscription paid and download plex directly from plex web server, not package centre.

To rip DVDs its second story, independed on this. Its i guess based on user prefference, what is everybody using. NAS is able to mount ISO files (so for example ISO DVD with movie), but i did not check, if PLEX can read and play such video.
DS916+(8GB RAM, 3x2TB SHR, 1x1TB single) primary, DS213j(512MB RAM, 1x1 TB single, 1x 500GB single) off-site backup

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Rusty1281
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Re: PLEX anyone?

Unread post by Rusty1281 » Tue Mar 20, 2018 4:12 pm

Dlleno wrote:OK great info indeed i was starting to look for an i3 based nas but you all have made a great pitch for hardware transcoding. can we go a bit further on that: plex pass is a subscription right? and the 916 won't hardware transcode without someone getting royalties? when ripping dvds how does one match the source file to the streamer? I have a pair of roku ultras now.
Plex has a monthly/yearly or a life time option
Synology DS918+ (4x4TB WD RED - RAID 5 with 2x250GB 960EVO NVMe) | Synology DS412+ (4x3TB WD RED - RAID 5) | RT1900AC

Dlleno
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Re: PLEX anyone?

Unread post by Dlleno » Tue Mar 20, 2018 4:23 pm

saw that. $120 added to the cost of the nas basically, for as long as plex stays in business and doesn't restructure the product pricing.

My motivation is I don't want device proliferation so one nas for backup, media and surveillance ip cams would be good. question about plex : does it roll over and die without a persistent high speed internet connection to headquarters?

Dlleno
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Re: PLEX anyone?

Unread post by Dlleno » Tue Mar 20, 2018 6:05 pm

additional questions

1. it sounds like my primary use case (DVD rips with roku players on a gb wired network) will be handled nicely with 918+ plex with plex pass. what are the corner cases that will arise and give me pause?

2. Will the above preserve all original audio in dts and dolby surround? are there gaps, i.e. dvds with other audio formats that won't be preserved?

3. is the above setup effective with ripped CDs (preserving audio formats except for sacd 7.1 which is constrained by licensing)? is there a better way to serve up a music library?

Dlleno
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Re: PLEX anyone?

Unread post by Dlleno » Tue Mar 20, 2018 6:30 pm

... what's behind the music question is the fact that the ds itself has a music server, and Roku should be able to connect to the content outside of plex. just wondering how solid that all is

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Re: PLEX anyone?

Unread post by Rusty1281 » Tue Mar 20, 2018 8:56 pm

question about plex : does it roll over and die without a persistent high speed internet connection to headquarters?
No it works fine. You can use it by accessing it locally over an ip and not log in. If you however wanna have all your status synced and use it to all its full potential its recommended to log in with your account and have it all sync up on all device.
1. it sounds like my primary use case (DVD rips with roku players on a gb wired network) will be handled nicely with 918+ plex with plex pass. what are the corner cases that will arise and give me pause?
Not sure there will be any problem at all
2. Will the above preserve all original audio in dts and dolby surround? are there gaps, i.e. dvds with other audio formats that won't be preserved?
Yes all will be preserved. Plex also features passthrought so if you have a audio component that can ser up audio part separatly from your TV it can do that as well
3. is the above setup effective with ripped CDs (preserving audio formats except for sacd 7.1 which is constrained by licensing)? is there a better way to serve up a music library?
I have used Audio Station for a while but Plex is a lot better for serving audio on all my devices. I prefer it.
... what's behind the music question is the fact that the ds itself has a music server, and Roku should be able to connect to the content outside of plex. just wondering how solid that all is
Sure its also an option and it will work fine. It comes down what your end device is. Some work great with their native plex clients other maybe don't support it but you can maybe run Audio Station on them (or a simple DLNA) and that will work just as well.
Synology DS918+ (4x4TB WD RED - RAID 5 with 2x250GB 960EVO NVMe) | Synology DS412+ (4x3TB WD RED - RAID 5) | RT1900AC

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Zonal
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Re: PLEX anyone?

Unread post by Zonal » Tue May 15, 2018 6:17 pm

pgotze wrote:
Tue Mar 20, 2018 3:46 pm
To use HW transcoding you have to have plex subscription paid and download plex directly from plex web server, not package centre.

To rip DVDs its second story, independed on this. Its i guess based on user prefference, what is everybody using. NAS is able to mount ISO files (so for example ISO DVD with movie), but i did not check, if PLEX can read and play such video.
Is HW trans coding just 'regular' trans coding? Because I don't have a subscription (yet), but I can use trans coding on my Android TV media player.

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Re: PLEX anyone?

Unread post by Dlleno » Tue May 15, 2018 6:41 pm

yes it just means the transcoding is performed in hardware (dedicated portion of the cpu itself) that is optimized for the task and therefore requires significantly less cpu horsepower. without the plex pass, transcoding happens all in executed software code which works but is very cpu intensive.

I'm using software transcoding now to serve up H264 video when the native file is mpeg 2 in mkv container. it costs me about 50 percent of my cpu (918+ j3455 cpu).

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Zonal
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Re: PLEX anyone?

Unread post by Zonal » Wed May 16, 2018 6:54 pm

Thanks for the reply Dlleno,

So in theory, I could have better performance/playback with plex pass? I have a DS418Play and had some playback issues, but (more likely) due to (a) codec(s). Maybe you could check my topic:
https://forum.synology.com/enu/viewtopi ... 14d6c6abd2

But I just checked and you're right, while trans coding the CPU maxes out while on direct play it doesn't. So I'm definitely going to check out plex pass and compare it.

I also recoded one of the video files I had issues with, with handbrake with the preset 'Devices/Android 1080p30' and after that it plays fine. Although it does seem to reduce the quality a bit.

But I was wondering, is there a way to see which codec PLEX might have a problem with? Because when you're on the couch you want watch whatever you want and not have to go to your PC and recode the thing you want to watch first. Knowing before hand would be acceptable I guess.

And to add to that, I have a folder with an animated series and I tried the recode on just 1 file to check. So one episode appears twice, one with the old codec and with the new codec. But it seems PLEX server can only see 1 file, is that correct? When I remove the episode with the old codec to a folder which isn't being indexed it automatically picks the episode with the new coded and plays fine. But if both files are in the folder it picks the episode with the old codec.

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Rusty1281
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Re: PLEX anyone?

Unread post by Rusty1281 » Wed May 16, 2018 7:32 pm

Depending on the plex client you will be able to pick multiple version of video, audio and subtitles. But some 3rd party plex clients don't have that as an option.

On the codec front, if you have determined what Handbreak profile works for you I guess you have solved your problem. Just use that profile beforehand and you will be sure that all media getting indexed by plex is in the compatible format for your plex client.
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