HTPC for 4K Streaming

Stay Puft

Active Member
I currently have a simple Windows PC setup with Plex.
The only reason I have this second PC is that a NAS simply didn't have what I wanted (I need something to run the Plex server on).
I currently have about 5 or 6 hard drives attached to it (as I store different types of media on different hard drives).

Now I'm dabbling in 4K, the PC simply isn't powerful enough to run 4K content - it can't keep up with displaying that amount of graphics. This may be a simple graphics card upgrade as the one I have is fairly basic - fan-less, so the PC was quiet.
Eventually as the PC can't run Windows 11, the whole thing will need upgrading (please note, I am not after answers like "Windows 10 is supported until 2024" or "Windows 11 is garbage").

Sorry I don't have a list of components (although it might be the one in my signature)

I am completely open if there's another solution to being able to run up to 5 or 6 hard drives and transfer data to them over a network, so long as it can run Plex. I've seen some smaller boxes that you just stack up the hard drives and a small 512GB on board memory to run Linux or something similar. I rarely use the PC interface as I just turn the PC on and use the Plex app on my TV to navigate around. When adding media, I usually transfer via my other Windows PC through the network or through a memory stick (although I recently got both PCs to see each other so network transfers is a lot easier).

Cheers for any pointers!

If not, is this likely to be a graphics card upgrade?
 

next010

Distinguished Member
Well there are two possible problems there.

1) Your server PC CPU is not fast enough to transcode 4K content, Plex lock hardware transcode done by GPU behind Plex pass subscription.

It depends on what kind of hardware you have in the PC, it may have a hardware transcode if Intel CPU/GPU but old low end GPU is unlikely to have such a feature. To get latest version of Nvidia NVENC you need a GTX-1650.

2) The TVs internal plex client is limited by its network connection and/or internal video player which is why it cannot handle 4K media.

The simple thing to do is replace the Plex client with something that can Play the media like Nvidia Shield, that eliminates both of the above problems as Plex on Shield plays 4K HDR media and it has much better network performance over ethernet than TV's do.

As for the operating system running on the PC it doesn't need windows if its just a dumb media server, there are dedicated NAS OS like TrueNAS or openmediavault but even a simple Linux desktop OS like Zorin Core is sufficient (use Etcher to burn ISO to USB).
  • Plex can be installed via the built in software centre.
  • Right click on folders to share them over samba (windows networking)
  • Teamviewer or Anydesk can be used to remote access the Zorin desktop from another Win PC if you want to run the server headless.
 
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Stay Puft

Active Member
The problem with an Nvidia Shield is that it's another remote, isn't it?
Or can I access it through the "input" on my TV?

The second problem is the storage.
I have about 16TB of storage in the PC split into a few disks. I haven't even looked at the NVidia as I suspect it'll be out of my price range if it includes storage.

I don't see the point in changing from Windows to something else if I'm still going to have the same hardware running everything.
 

next010

Distinguished Member
The problem with an Nvidia Shield is that it's another remote, isn't it?
Or can I access it through the "input" on my TV?
HDMI-CEC works with the Shield.
The second problem is the storage.
I have about 16TB of storage in the PC split into a few disks. I haven't even looked at the NVidia as I suspect it'll be out of my price range if it includes storage.
The 16TB PC is still the server, the Shield is just your Plex client without the limitations of needing hardware transcoding on the server or the limits of your smart TV Plex app client when it comes to playing 4K HDR media.
I don't see the point in changing from Windows to something else if I'm still going to have the same hardware running everything.
You said you wanted to upgrade the server PC to windows 11, its not necessary for a dumb media server, you don't even need windows 10 for it, thats why I mentioned the linux desktop OS needs no hardware upgrades and is free.

So the only thing your paying for is the Nvidia Shield set top box.

Unless your talking about dual PCs one is 16TB media server and the other is a win 10 HTPC running Plex not the Plex app built into the TV ?

In which case replacing the GPU in the HTPC is the easy thing to do but given the semi conductor shortage and high prices of GPU's, the Nvidia Shield would still work out cheaper and is a better box for 4K HDR content (something windows does not handle well).

Another lower cost option is replace the HTPC with the OSMC Vero 4K+ this can handle 4K HDR10 media, it runs a version of Kodi as its media player but you can use the Kodi Plex addon to interface with Plex server which loads up a Plex like UI.

 

Stay Puft

Active Member
Hmm.
I'll take a look.
Still not sure about adding an nVidia Shield into the mix as it only holds 16TB, so I'd already be maxed out on space.

I guess I just want a one-shot box that's basically a NAS that can load the Plex Media Server stuff, so I can use the Plex app on my TV.
 

next010

Distinguished Member
I guess I just want a one-shot box that's basically a NAS that can load the Plex Media Server stuff, so I can use the Plex app on my TV.

I'm confused about what your after here ?

When you say Plex app on the TV do you mean the built in smart TV Plex app ?

Or do you mean a HTPC/server connected via HDMI with Plex as front end ?

Its generally not a good idea to have a server with a lot of HDDs in your TV room, it will emit a noticeable amount of noise.
 

Stay Puft

Active Member
When you say Plex app on the TV do you mean the built in smart TV Plex app ?

Its generally not a good idea to have a server with a lot of HDDs in your TV room, it will emit a noticeable amount of noise.
Yeah, the plex app on the smart TV.

It's not that bad with noise, had it for a few years but I don't have anywhere else to store it and then run cables. The PC turns off hard drives that aren't being used so that helps a little but I have a quiet case. The noise of the TV easily overpowers the HTPC, even in quiet parts.
 

next010

Distinguished Member
Yeah, the plex app on the smart TV.

It's not that bad with noise, had it for a few years but I don't have anywhere else to store it and then run cables. The PC turns off hard drives that aren't being used so that helps a little but I have a quiet case. The noise of the TV easily overpowers the HTPC, even in quiet parts.

So if you want to stay with TV Plex client.

Options
1) Buy a faster CPU so Plex can software transcode content making it compatible with TV if your having problems playing 4k media (this assume you have no network bottlenecks).

2) Or purchase a GPU so Plex can hardware transcode using GPU video encoder, however this also requires Plex Pass subscription.

Replacing the TV Plex app with Nvidia Shield Plex app remains lowest cost option as it has native 4K HDR media support so doesn't need server side transcoding. In fact the Shield can even run the Plex server if you transfer your HDDs to USB enclosure connected to the Shield.

 

Stay Puft

Active Member
Replacing the TV Plex app with Nvidia Shield Plex app remains lowest cost option as it has native 4K HDR media support so doesn't need server side transcoding. In fact the Shield can even run the Plex server if you transfer your HDDs to USB enclosure connected to the Shield.

But it would mean another component in the mix.
At the moment it's just PC - TV with some software.

However, it may eliminate the need for a full PC and whatever sounds there are that will come with that, especially as I am probably going to end up with more and more 4k stuff.

Fully appreciate your help with this :)
 

sim12

Well-known Member
But it would mean another component in the mix.
At the moment it's just PC - TV with some software.

However, it may eliminate the need for a full PC and whatever sounds there are that will come with that, especially as I am probably going to end up with more and more 4k stuff.

Fully appreciate your help with this :)
Flicking through this thread a shield would likely be the cheaper option especially given the prices of gpu's right jow.
 

Stay Puft

Active Member
Flicking through this thread a shield would likely be the cheaper option especially given the prices of gpu's right jow.
But does that mean I have to use another remote?
Plex has a TV app, so it easy to use the same remote.

I have ran out of plug sockets, so not sure where it would plug in.

Does it provide a nice interface that I can customise into different libraries (such as horror, TV series, Documentaries and the like?).

Plus, I've bought the components for the new PC now :p
 

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