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The Best Prebuilt, DIY, and NAS Solutions for a Plex Server

James Frew Updated 09-12-2019

Plex rose to prominence as a media center. Initially, it was a DIY Netflix and Spotify allowing for remote access of videos, music, and pictures.


However, since then, Plex added plugins for streaming content, podcast support, and connectivity with antennas for live TV and DVR. You can even get a Plex Pass, which offers lots of entertainment options. As such, Plex is a cord cutter’s dream.

Ready to build your own Plex server? Check out our roundup of the top Plex servers on the market, from pre-built and DIY options to Plex NAS hardware.

Best Plex Server: Pre-Built and DIY Options

From enterprise workstations to streaming devices and DIY PCs, these are the top Plex servers you can buy.

1. Nvidia Shield TV Pro

Nvidia Shield TV Pro Nvidia Shield TV Pro Buy Now On Amazon $359.99

The Nvidia Shield TV Pro is among the best streaming devices on the market. Its hardware is capable of streaming in 4K from a variety of providers including Netflix. Using the optional Samsung SmartThings Link, the Shield transforms into a smart home hub.


Plus, it’s engineered for gaming, running Android games as well as retro emulators including PlayStation Portable, Nintendo 64, Gamecube, and Wii titles. You can stream games from your PC to the Shield TV using Nvidia GameStream provided you’ve got a compatible GPU.

The Nvidia Shield TV Pro doubles as a Plex server and client. Its hardware handles around two or three simultaneous transcodes. You can mount USB drives and microSD cards as removable storage, and mount network shares. Several antenna options connect with the Shield TV for DVR and live TV in Plex. If you’re using your Shield TV as a Plex server, I suggest opting for the 500GB Pro variant. Even that hard drive is likely to fill up quickly though.

Because of its versatility as a Plex server and client, along with gaming, smart home, and media streaming functionality, the Nvidia Shield TV Pro is the best overall Plex server you can buy.

2. Dell PowerEdge T30 Tower Server System

Dell PowerEdge T30 Tower Server System Dell PowerEdge T30 Tower Server System Buy Now On Amazon


The Dell PowerEdge T30 features a Xeon E3-1225 v5 processor, which is more than powerful enough for a home Plex machine. You’ll benefit from a 7833 PassMark which should handle just shy of four simultaneous 1080p transcodes.

As configured, it supports four hard drives, but you can add up to six for a range of storage options. The T30 plays well with Linux too making it the ideal dedicated Plex server. Its 280W PSU means you can run the T30 as an always-on server without huge energy costs.

3. CanaKit Raspberry Pi 4 4GB Starter Kit

CanaKit Raspberry Pi 4 4GB Starter Kit - 4GB RAM CanaKit Raspberry Pi 4 4GB Starter Kit - 4GB RAM Buy Now On Amazon $99.99

Although it’s certainly not the most powerful device available, the CanaKit Raspberry Pi 4 4GB Starter Kit is a great entry-level option. You can easily turn the Raspberry Pi into an inexpensive Plex server. It’s best for users planning on streaming in-home only, or for a travel Plex server. Try installing Kodi as well for a home theater PC (HTPC) combined with Plex media server functionality.


4. Intel NUC 7 Mini PC

Intel NUC 7 Mini PC Intel NUC 7 Mini PC Buy Now On Amazon $742.99

The Intel NUC 7 Mini PC is compact, but the i5-7260U CPU offers a decent PassMark rating just shy of 6000. With VESA mounting bracket compatibility, you can attach to the back of a TV or monitor.

Unfortunately, storage options are limited to a single 2.5-inch SATA drive or SSD. If you require a lot of storage space, this isn’t the device for you. Moreover, unlike a modular desktop, you can’t upgrade the CPU, just the hard drive and RAM.

As such, it’s not future proof. Nevertheless, it’s a solid option for those seeking an HTPC Plex server. Intel NUCs are small, powerful, and energy efficient.


Best NAS for Plex Options: Plex NAS Devices

While the best Plex server devices come in pre-built and DIY packages, you might consider a Plex NAS set up instead. Network Attached Storage (NAS) differs from a server in that it’s intended as a centralized location for data storage on a network.

Customization and settings are usually more basic than on the average server. Plex NAS options usually come preconfigured—just add hard drives. See our guide to best NAS hard drives The 7 Best NAS Hard Drives If you're looking to invest in network attached storage, you'll need a NAS hard drive. We're rounded up the best NAS hard drives to get you started. Read More for some help.

1. QNAP TS-453Be 4-Bay Professional NAS.

QNAP 4-Bay Professional NAS QNAP 4-Bay Professional NAS Buy Now On Amazon $509.00

The QNAP TS-453Be four-bay Plex NAS comes complete with 4GB of RAM and an Intel Celeron Apollo Lake J3455 Quad-core CPU. It’s pretty pricey but is capable of 4K hardware transcoding, and has an HDMI output.

Onboard, you’ll find a 10Gb Ethernet port and support for the likes of VMware and Hyper-V. RAM is upgradeable to 16GB, and you can add up to 64TB worth of hard drives for more storage space.

Unfortunately, all of this comes at a premium. The QNAP TS-453Be is pretty pricey. For the price of this NAS without hard drives, you can snag a far more powerful server with a 10TB drive.

2. Synology DS218play

Synology DS218play Synology DS218play Buy Now On Amazon $245.29

Synology’s DS218play delivers excellent value with a tiny footprint. At its core, there’s a quad-core processor capable of handling 4K video playback at 30 frames per second. There’s an Ethernet port, two USB 3.0 ports, and 1GB of DDR3 RAM.

It’s a decent entry-level Plex NAS, but you won’t win any benchmarking tests with its processor. However, the Synology DS218play is one of the best NAS options for Plex streaming.

Check our review of the DS418play, the next model up from the DS218, to get an idea of Synology NAS setups.

3. TerraMaster F4-220 4-Bay NAS

TerraMaster F4-220 NAS TerraMaster F4-220 NAS Buy Now On Amazon

If you need a budget Plex NAS, the TerraMaster F4-220 is a great option. It’s powered by a dual-core 2.1GHz CPU, 2GB of DDR3 RAM, and has an HDMI output. This maintains compatibility with software such as Kodi. The device comes bundled with remote control too.

The HDMI port even maintains 7.1 channel compatibility. Like other NAS devices, it’s not cheap, but you’re paying for a quality storage unit that’s simple to set up. When we reviewed the TerraMaster F2-220 (functionally similar to the F4-220, but with two bays rather than four) we found it to be a rock solid performer and is perfect for Plex and more.

The Best Server and NAS Options for Plex

Ultimately, there are loads of potential Plex server options. I suggest using server hardware rather than a NAS. You’ll get a more powerful system for less money, and it’s upgradeable.

The PowerEdge T30 is a solid choice with an excellent CPU. As a Plex client and server, the Nvidia Shield TV offers unrivaled value. Now that you’ve picked out a Plex server, it’s time to choose the best Plex client device for streaming your media The Best Plex Clients for Streaming Media Once you've set up your Plex sever, you'll need a device to stream your media to. Here are the best Plex clients available today. Read More .

Related topics: Buying Tips, Media Server, Plex.

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  1. Chris
    June 20, 2020 at 2:54 am

    The Synology DS218play specifically says in its product description that it doesn't support Plex.

    • James Frew
      June 20, 2020 at 8:32 am

      I'm not sure where you're seeing that information, but Plex has been available on that NAS since 2018.

  2. Davy
    April 20, 2020 at 1:04 am

    It seems your link to the Terra Master enclosure is broken, seems to be linking me to ram. I would include what seems to be the correct link, however I seem to be unable to post links here.

    • James Frew
      April 20, 2020 at 8:46 am

      Thanks for letting us know. It seems Amazon is redirecting the original link (with ID B01G1YI0NC) to the RAM option instead (ID B01M4IQ506). I'm not sure why this is happening, so will try to investigate.

  3. Chemister
    March 4, 2020 at 2:47 pm

    Servers are by far the best for plex servers. I went with an Intel NuC8 with Synology DS918+ serving the files to Plex on the NUC.

    In addition, I have a second Plex server (backup server) setup after reading this

    Very happy. Since then I have setup Plex on Docker with Hardware Transcoding and Plex updates are now easy.

  4. Erich
    December 30, 2019 at 11:08 pm

    The link to the Dell PowerEdge T30 is incorrect. The Dell PowerEdge T30, that the link goes to, does not use a Xeon E3-1225 v5 processor. Please correct this.

    • James Frew
      December 31, 2019 at 12:24 am

      Sorry to hear that you've had an issue while clicking through to a recommended product. In this case, I've taken a look at the link and it goes through to:

      The title for the product is:

      "2019 Newest Flagship Dell PowerEdge T30 Premium Business Mini Tower Server System Desktop Computer, Intel Quad-Core Xeon E3-1225 v5 Up to 3.7GHz, 16GB UDIMM RAM, 2TB HDD, DVDRW, HDMI, No OS, Black "

      and the first bullet point states:

      - Intel Xeon E3-1225 v5 3.3GHz Quad Core, 8M cache up to 3.7GHz

      From my visit through to the link, it seems that the machine is as described in the article.

      I'm not sure what happened and prompted you to leave this comment, but I hope this helps.

  5. Nigel Burrell
    January 9, 2019 at 9:44 pm

    There's plenty of Plex local server options... but I’m trying to find a portable Plex Media Server solution when travelling with my Oculus GO VR Headset as I want to stream 4k movies on the go.

    What I’ve discovered so far is…

    1. The Nvidia Shield is a highly recommended streaming box, and doubles as a Plex Server and Client, but can it be used as a portable Plex Media Server on the road (without an Internet connection)? It seems to be a home network-only solution.

    2. The WD My Passport Wireless with PMS built-in seems like a great portable solution, but I’ve held back getting this as there’s lots of users complaining about the product’s reliability and ease of use.

    3. Connecting to Plex via remote access isn’t fast enough for 4k streaming, nor possible when there’s no Internet connection available on my travels.

    I have Plex Media Server installed on my laptop and I don’t mind taking the laptop with me on my travels. However, I’ve not found a way of connecting my Oculus Go to PMS on my laptop, unless I’m connected to the internet. But I’m not always in a location where Internet is available and/or very slow Internet speeds in a hotel.

    Does anyone know how to connect my Oculus Go to PMS on my laptop without an internet connection?

  6. John Smith
    December 11, 2018 at 8:58 pm

    Given how Plex decided to discontinue support for channels/plugins, and how they messed up the Roku client, personally, if I can get my money back that I paid for the lifetime access, I would move away in no time.
    That's a decision that would probably make them lose a lot of their users.
    A lot of not happy, angry and disappointed posts on their forum about that change.

    I am considering building a Kodi server on Raspberry PI and drop Plex from my home network.

  7. Stevan
    January 10, 2018 at 10:42 am

    I've been using Plex recently on my Nettop (Atom cpu mini computer) and it runs awesome. I also have Freenas for over 4 years now and since a couple of years ago it has Plex support via plugins.

    Freenas is excellent because you choose the hardware for it and the price range is between $350 to $425. Since my Freenas has been upgraded with an i5 CPU I will give it a try soon.



  8. Josh
    May 28, 2017 at 8:36 am

    We've been using Plex for at least a year and love it. To begin, You might want to better distinguish the two core types of users. There are those people which are playing media direct from a device (such as a PC or NUC, or NAS) via hdmi or dvi to an auxiliary channel on a monitor or TV and then those folks who are just wanting to run Plex on a smart TV via an app. The first scenario requires a video GPU, the second does not. The second method, which we exclusively use, has several options available.

    For us, the easiest and quickest way to use Plex was to first download and configure the Plex app on one of our old desktop PC's, a first generation i7 940 on an x58 mobo. Our media is scattered over several drives, but the main is actually an external 1TB SATA II connected to the PC via USB...not even via a SATA cable! (We will soon change that though). When first setting things up we downloaded/installed the Plex app on our PC, then our Living room Vizio 55" TV as well our 32" Samsung bedroom TV. The media data is transferred to the TVs via CAT 5 cable...the bedroom being at least 50ft from our networking switch. So in our case, the TVs and apps are handing the video, NOT the PC video card (unless it somehow helps internally..I don't know).

    Interestingly, both Plex apps (via Vizio or Samsung) are pretty different and we found comment ground in using a Roku with each TV as it too has a Plex app, a very good one. So to wrap up, there are certainly a lot of ways to skin this cat. Our old PC is plugged in direct to our router and then we can feed one or more TVs via the switch. We've never had an issue, aside from learning how to best set-up the library hirearchy. We usually only stream to one TV at a time but there are occasions when we have both going and it seems that our vintage i7 has held up well. Lastly, the only issue regularly experienced is having to wake up the PC. If it goes to sleep the Plex app will say that it cannot find the server.

  9. mongoload
    December 23, 2016 at 5:06 am

    nice article, but how about NVIDIA Shield devices? is it advisable for plex server?