Plex Server

Soldato
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been hearing a lot about nvme drives for cache...how is this setup/how does this work?

is the os installed on the nvme drive?
Any SSD will be OK for cache - it doesn't have to be nvme.

Unraid boots from a USB drive.
You then select which drive(s) you want to use for cache, and which drive(s) you want to make a storage array.

This is my setup - multiple HDDs create the storage array, the single SSD for cache and appdata, and USB drive for OS. The use of different sized drives for the array is the main reason I picked Unraid as the OS.

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Soldato
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Unraid’s inherent weakness is in write speeds, each write requires parity to be calculated in software and then written to the parity drive as well as the data drive. Using cache (or a cache pool) means you don’t incur the performance penalty in writes and they are capable of gigabit or beyond. You do incur them when cache is written to the data pool, but with a large enough drive, you won’t notice as you schedule it for quieter hours. You also usually use cache for docker/meta data to avoid spinning up the array for general activity. AHCI based SATA SSD’s don’t scale well for this as a rule (realistically neither does UnRAID, but that’s another story), but for light to moderate usage, they will do reasonably. You are still going to have to spin up the data drive to read media anyway.

Parity needs to be the same size or larger than the largest data drive and UnRAID is great for home media storage due to the write once, read occasionally usage pattern.
 
Soldato
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Any SSD will be OK for cache - it doesn't have to be nvme.

The main reason I prefer to use an NVMe drive for cache is that it saves one of my SATA ports for hard drives and I can't be bothered to get an HBA card!

The use of different sized drives for the array is the main reason I picked Unraid as the OS.

Likewise! I had a bunch of older drives of different sizes so threw them all in. As they've died I've replaced them with newer larger drives and the process is pretty straightforward.
 
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Soldato
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The two HDD bays have a 120mm fan on them, and the case has a 200mm? fan on the front. Under normal usage conditions it's cool enough and quiet, but when it checks parity the drive temps get a bit too toasty.
 
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The two HDD bays have a 120mm fan on them, and the case has a 200mm? fan on the front. Under normal usage conditions it's cool enough and quiet, but when it checks parity the drive temps get a bit too toasty.
what hdd bays are they? where did you get them from? how easy to install?
 
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They will only need to transcode if you feed them unsuitable formats (eg you made poor choices in encoding) or connect them to the server using something silly like power line or Wi-Fi. Also we live in a world where a FireTV or Roku wipes the floor with most ‘smart’ TV’s. In transcoding terms a modern Celeron will do 20+ transcodes in hardware, you don’t need an i5, even an i3 is significant overkill.
My 4th gen celeron handles multiple transcodes with its igpu and sips at power. Modern ones would be excellent for a plex server.
 
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Here is my 2 pence worth of advice after about 10 years with Plex ;

Allow yourself a little more growth than you think you will need currently;

Thats not just data expansion / number of disks but also CPU and memory as well

Im not saying go overboard, but if you go with bare minimums now you may well find you have to start again in a relatively short time because you think ....oh this might be handy, oh thats a cool feature etc etc

(and believe me, I know it doesnt feel like it now, but please dont start with one drive - have some kind of redundancy even if its a USB drive you back up to every month or so)

You only have to go through the pain of re-ripping / re downloading once to really appreciate the value of having a "copy" of your data in the same format.

Ive gone through numerous unraid builds, multiple synology nas's , windows boxes with USB storage and am actually about to start setting up a TrueNas server very soon with old Xeons and SAS drives in a bit of an experiment , its actually very easy to grow out of hardware very easily (especially if you ever think you will be interested in hosting 4k files at any point)
 
Soldato
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Here is my 2 pence worth of advice after about 10 years with Plex ;

Allow yourself a little more growth than you think you will need currently;

Thats not just data expansion / number of disks but also CPU and memory as well

Im not saying go overboard, but if you go with bare minimums now you may well find you have to start again in a relatively short time because you think ....oh this might be handy, oh thats a cool feature etc etc

(and believe me, I know it doesnt feel like it now, but please dont start with one drive - have some kind of redundancy even if its a USB drive you back up to every month or so)

You only have to go through the pain of re-ripping / re downloading once to really appreciate the value of having a "copy" of your data in the same format.

Ive gone through numerous unraid builds, multiple synology nas's , windows boxes with USB storage and am actually about to start setting up a TrueNas server very soon with old Xeons and SAS drives in a bit of an experiment , its actually very easy to grow out of hardware very easily (especially if you ever think you will be interested in hosting 4k files at any point)

At this point old Xeon's and a bunch of inefficient SAS drives aren't worth it unless you hate whoever pays the power bill. Old Xeon's aren't efficient and the majority lack iGPU, so transcoding is done in software which is even less efficient, you really need a 960 or newer for NVEnc, alternatively a P2000 or similar (I used to get away with an M2000 and careful curation). SAS drives - while cheap - tend not to support spin down without some additional work, which makes them problematic and expensive to run. I say this as someone with a bunch of LGA2011-3 Xeon's and at least 4 disk shelves connected to them. If you want to run locally, something like an i3-8100 of newer provides more than enough grunt, 20+ transcodes via iGPU, if your connection isn't awful use GDrive for the back end storage and mergefs. I've run with a remote server doing exactly this on symmetrical gigabit for many years now, we're at the point it costs me less to do that than spin up local storage, though I do intend to bring services back on-prem.
 
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i've been trialling plex on my old 4690k with a gtx 970 and it's been pretty fine with hardware transcoding enabled...but im not sure if its CPU transcoding or using the gtx970...how can i tell?
 
Soldato
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i've been trialling plex on my old 4690k with a gtx 970 and it's been pretty fine with hardware transcoding enabled...but im not sure if its CPU transcoding or using the gtx970...how can i tell?

You’ve confused your terminology - CPU transcoding is software transcoding, QuickSync and NVEnc are hardware transcoding, if it says ‘(HW)’ next to the Transcoding lable on the dashboard, it’s using either iGPU or NVEnc, I would imagine you have disabled iGPU if you have installed a GPU. You haven’t mentioned your OS, and if it’s something horrible like Windows, then best of luck As it sucks for transcoding in general compared to *nix, also you will need to patch the 970 to enable additional streams if required, a 960 actually has a later NVEnc engine that the 97/980, the differences may or may not be relevant to your media curation standards.
 
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You’ve confused your terminology - CPU transcoding is software transcoding, QuickSync and NVEnc are hardware transcoding, if it says ‘(HW)’ next to the Transcoding lable on the dashboard, it’s using either iGPU or NVEnc, I would imagine you have disabled iGPU if you have installed a GPU. You haven’t mentioned your OS, and if it’s something horrible like Windows, then best of luck As it sucks for transcoding in general compared to *nix, also you will need to patch the 970 to enable additional streams if required, a 960 actually has a later NVEnc engine that the 97/980, the differences may or may not be relevant to your media curation standards.
patch the 970 with what? a newer driver?

yeah it's windows, anyway, i'm planning on a new build with unraid.

thoughts on the below?



CPU: Intel Celeron G5925 3.6 GHz Dual-Core Processor
Motherboard: ASRock H510M-ITX/ac Mini ITX LGA1200 Motherboard
Memory: Crucial Ballistix 16 GB (2 x 8 GB) DDR4-2666 CL16 Memory
Case: Fractal Design Node 304 Mini ITX Tower Case
Power Supply: Corsair CXM (2015) 450 W 80+ Bronze Certified Semi-modular ATX Power Supply

Total: £365.95




ignore storage for now.
 
Soldato
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patch the 970 with what? a newer driver?

yeah it's windows, anyway, i'm planning on a new build with unraid.

thoughts on the below?



CPU: Intel Celeron G5925 3.6 GHz Dual-Core Processor
Motherboard: ASRock H510M-ITX/ac Mini ITX LGA1200 Motherboard
Memory: Crucial Ballistix 16 GB (2 x 8 GB) DDR4-2666 CL16 Memory
Case: Fractal Design Node 304 Mini ITX Tower Case
Power Supply: Corsair CXM (2015) 450 W 80+ Bronze Certified Semi-modular ATX Power Supply

Total: £365.95




ignore storage for now.
Consumer Nvidia cards have an artificial driver based limit placed on the number of concurrent hardware transcodes they can perform, it’s artificial because Quadro cards use the same NVEnc chip with ‘unlimited*’ transcodes, a practical limit always exists based on GPU RAM. Either way a moot point as you should be using the iGPU and will be on the new build. Plex on Windows is an abomination s you scale up, it should just drop additional streams that aren’t hardware supported to CPU gracefully, but invariably it will just crap itself, in fact scaling up concurrent transcodes has a habbit of it just crapping itself. Nvidia ‘kindly’ updated this limit a while back due to world events, but everyone who needed it ran a pitched driver and side stepped the artificial limit, but again it’s not something you should need to worry about if you are using the iGPU on an intel chip.

Spec looks more realistic, but if you are running the usual set of *arr’s and something like SAB/Get, I would personally prefer a few extra cores, and the 804 over 304 and an MATX board over ITX for this application. With ITX you have fewer SATA generally and one shot at an extra card such as an HBA unless you want to run bifurcation and the fun that brings (Hint: You don’t).

£100-150 still gets you a nice used 8th/9th gen i3-i5 desktop/tower that will run a few drives and make a decent UnRAID candidate for a small build, but what you are building will have better options, especially if you go with MATX/804.
 
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