First time NAS advice

Adam1980

Active Member
Hello

I’m looking at getting my first NAS, primarily to use as a Plex server, but also some potential uses to store other files. Purely use at home, no business application.

I was looking at the Synology 920, but a friend- who is more knowledgeable than me- suggested this would be overkill for Plex.

Should I look at the 220 or the 720?

My content will mostly be 4k and here is where I get a bit confused. YouTube tells me for transcoding I want a quad core CPU and 4GB RAM. However, if the content is 4k and I want to view on a 4k TV in my house- do I need to transcode it?

Any advice/ suggestions much appreciated.
 

John7

Well-known Member
If you've got a media player or TV that supports native files, why transcode. I stream native 4K rips from my NAS to my media player (Zidoo Z9s) with no issue. TV, (LG OLED) can play the picture OK but does not support the HDMA sound tracks, but I always use the Zodoo anyway.

Even the Ipad will stream direct via the QNAP app, using it's in built media player.

So, for me, no need to transcode anything.

I have a QNAP TS431, 4-bay NAS and so far, it's served me well for several years, I just have to keep buying bigger drives every couple of years, man those 4K rips are HUUUGE!
 

Adam1980

Active Member
Our Samsung and LG TVs all have Plex apps (2020 & 2021 models) and we have a couple of NVIDIA Shields- so I don’t think we’d need to transcode anything!

I currently have 2 6TB drives ready to go- I just need the NAS!
 

next010

Distinguished Member
Our Samsung and LG TVs all have Plex apps (2020 & 2021 models) and we have a couple of NVIDIA Shields- so I don’t think we’d need to transcode anything!

I currently have 2 6TB drives ready to go- I just need the NAS!

Without the need for transcoding then something like the DS218 (2 bay model) is sufficient.

Most NAS are not cut out for all real time video transcoding on the CPU, only for low res videos or audio.

Some of the higher end NAS have PC class CPU's that enable software transcoding and some of the lower end NAS have a hardware based transcoding support but Plex lock this behind plex pass subscribers.

There is a plex NAS database link here which show what some models can do.
 

Sloppy Bob

Distinguished Member
Our Samsung and LG TVs all have Plex apps (2020 & 2021 models) and we have a couple of NVIDIA Shields- so I don’t think we’d need to transcode anything!

Hard wired or wifi?

If it's wifi, you'll possibly end up transcoding, especially with 4K files.

From comments on here and other places, most people have issues streaming full 1080p rips over wifi, I know I do so use powerline adapters.
 

Adam1980

Active Member
Is that not odd? Surely Wifi should be plenty fast enough for 1080p? Given it’s your internal network and not dependant on internet speed?

The two main TVs are hardwired, the one in the kitchen is Wifi- but I guess we wouldn’t watch a lot of movies there
 

Sloppy Bob

Distinguished Member
By 1080p I mean full-size Bluray Remuxes not something like Netflix and it's quite common. You see plenty of topics on here and other places with people having issues streaming local content over wifi.
 

mickevh

Distinguished Member
It's not really about whether it's 1080p, 720p, 480p, 4K HD or anything else - it's all about the bit rate and whether the infrastructure (whether wired or Wi-Fi) has the capacity to deliver it in a timely enough fashion so sustain playback without buffering.

The content author decides on the bit rate when they create content (or transcode it.) The video format is the very roughest of "rough estimate" indicators. For example. I can stream 1080p videos down my 48mbps Internet pipe and across a 72mbps Wi-Fi links without a problem - but that's because the bit rate is "only" 1.5mbps or so (and therefore quality is lower, despite being "HD.") Whereas my Blu-Ray rips are much higher, typically of the order of >25mbps. I've got "mere" 576P DVD's with bit rates of the order 6-8mbps.

If you really want to get into the data networking "numbers game" then it's best to delve into the bit rates of the media, the video format is not particularly indicative. A tool like MediaInfo (freebie) is good for this.

In a Wi-Fi cell, "only one thing at a time can transmit" - the more things there are, the more data they want to transmit, the more competition (it's anything but "fair") there is for some "air time." Through in some poor/variable signalling conditions and it can quickly become overloaded.

The same is also true for each lobe of a (cabled) ethernet infrastructure, but ethernet is generally faster and more reliable so it takes a bit more load - especially in lightly loaded SOHO networks - before it becomes a challenge to ethernet, especially if the ethenet is mostly 1000mbps (gigabit.) Thusly, it's a good idea to get as much as possible onto wires, especially for things that don't move, thereby leaving as much air time as possible for the remaining Wi-Fi clients. Of course, domestic harmony and DIY skills sometimes dicate where we can run in UTP cables.

Many of us at AVF have long argued that real time trans-coding is best avoided if at all possibly, then you don't need a NAS with the super powerful hardware required to do it. For just basic storing and retrieval of files, almost anything will do for the SOHO use case. Save the money or spend it on additional storage instead. If you have devices that cannot read a particular file "native" then do a one time offline transcode with something like HandBrake (also free.) Even if that means storing multiple copies, say one full fat version with with all the multi-channel sound a latest video format for the "big" TV where such things matter and one more "universal" version with just basic 2 channel audio and a max compatibility video format such as mpeg2 or H264 (mp4) which is increasingly widely supported these days.

And just in case you haven't realised it, Plex is by not means required to do media streaming. I don't use it. But there are plenty of people that do for various additional features it provides.
 
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oneman

Well-known Member
As mentioned above, its more about bit rate then resolution. The compression techniques can adjust their quality and hence their bit. There is nothing stopping a 2hour 4k file being 1GB in size or a 1hour HD file being 10GB in size. Your highest bitrate that you are likely to come across would be a bluray rip which in theory tops out at around 120mb/sec though typically is closer to 50mbps or lower.

You absolutely want the NAS on ethernet if at all possible. The clients can be on Wi-Fi if your Wi-Fi is good enough but again it wouldn't hurt to have them on Ethernet if possible and it will free up Wi-Fi capacity.

The other item you might want to think about is how many devices to you want to simultaneously serve ?
 

Adam1980

Active Member
Thanks all.

The NAS will be wired, as will most the clients. I could potentially get ethernet to the kitchen- but a faff. We have a wifi 6 setup and the kitchen TV supports Wifi 6 too.

I’d assume in 98% of cases it will be one device at a time.

I do realise Plex isn’t essential- but it seems to have a nice, simple UI that the family could use and…. We are mostly apple types- so this is up our street.
 

Sloppy Bob

Distinguished Member
Kodi is a good alternative and much more customisable with different skins that don't just change the colour scheme but your entire way of viewing your library.
 

oneman

Well-known Member
Kodi is a good alternative and much more customisable with different skins that don't just change the colour scheme but your entire way of viewing your library.
I use Kodi myself, I found it better than Plex in every way except it tricky to configure with a central database, so if I am watching something on one device, I can't carry on watching on a different device. Its a pain but not bad enough that I don't use it across a dozen TV's, phones, PC and laptop's.
 

Sloppy Bob

Distinguished Member
There is an app (add-on) you can use called Trakt which apparently keeps track across devices but I've never used it myself.
 

oneman

Well-known Member
There is an app (add-on) you can use called Trakt which apparently keeps track across devices but I've never used it myself.
Thanks. I've had a look at it before, basically tracks what you watch to their website. Not overly keen to do that.
 

rccarguy2

Distinguished Member
Think about in the future, drive expansion. I've had a couple of two bay NAS's and now have a four bay. I think probably four bay probably isn't needed, I only have one drive in at the moment although may add another drive. That still leaves two...

Mines the DS418.
 

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