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Best NAS for Plex 2023: 4K transcoding, high capacity

Plex needs a powerful NAS for 4K content. Here are my top picks.

Almost everyone streams media these days and the sheer number of streaming services out there is quite frankly ridiculous. If like us, you’ve grown tired of spending a lot of money each month and losing track of what subscriptions you have active, we’ve rounded up the best NAS for Plex. With these smart little servers, you can create your very own Netflix and Spotify!

  1. Best overall: QNAP TVS-H674-i3 — Intel Core i3 CPU, 6 bays, 8GB RAM, 2.5Gb LAN.
  2. Runner-up: ASUSTOR Lockerstor 4 Gen2 (AS6704T) — Intel CPU, 4 bays, 4GB RAM, 2.5Gb LAN.
  3. Best budget: TerraMaster F4-423 — Intel Celeron CPU, 4 bays, 4GB RAM, 2.5Gb LAN.
  4. Best value: Synology DiskStation DS220+ — Intel Celeron CPU, 2 bays, 2GB RAM, 1Gb LAN.
  5. Best performance: QNAP TVS-H874-i9 — Intel Core i9 CPU, 8 bays, 8GB RAM, 10Gb LAN.
  6. Best capacity: QNAP TVS-H1688X — Intel Xeon CPU, 16 bays, 2GB RAM, 1Gb LAN.
  7. Best entry-level: Synology DiskStation DS220j — ARM CPU, 2 bays, 512MB RAM, 1Gb LAN.

What is the best NAS for Plex?

Choosing the best NAS for running Plex Media Server can prove a little tricky compared to choosing the best server for storing files and running other tasks. You can spend very little on a NAS enclosure that will happily store and stream all your favorite music and movie files, but should you need to transcode content, you may need something a little more powerful (and expensive)

If all you plan on hosting through Plex is music, you can purchase an affordable NAS with an ARM processor and just a few drive bays. Two bays should be more than enough. You’ll need more than that and an Intel CPU if you want to transcode (more on this later) and stream movies and shows, particularly at 4K as these can be huge files.

You’ll find countless NAS enclosures from brands such as Synology, QNAP, ASUSTOR, and TerraMaster. No two NAS servers are the same and the best NAS for Plex in our opinion would be the mighty QNAP TVS-H674-i3 with an Intel Core i3 processor and six drive bays. Then there’s the more affordable ASUSTOR LOCKERSTOR 4 Gen2 (AS6704T), which is perfect for beginners.

Should you want to save as much money as possible and make the most of your budget, the Synology DiskStation DS220j has an ARM processor and two drive bays, but it will work just fine for some tunes and photos.

For a Plex NAS, you need to consider what media you’ll be streaming and what devices you’ll use to enjoy it. Music is an easy one since the files are small and it doesn’t require much effort on the part of the NAS. It’s when you come to 4K content that you’ll need to consider carefully.

Price comes into it and is vital when you’re looking at enclosures for Plex and multimedia. The processor and other parts of the internals are what really ramp up the price of a NAS. The higher the quality of your content and the more people you want simultaneously streaming it all, the better the components you’ll require.

When it comes to picking the best NAS drives, I’d recommend hard drives from reputable brands such as Seagate or Western Digital. SSDs are brilliant for cutting down on power consumption, noise, and vibrations, but you’ll be paying for the luxury with inflated prices compared to mechanical drives.

I’d recommend getting your enclosure online from reputable sources like Amazon. Fear not if you want to get up and running with your NAS sooner and enjoy other Amazon services, give Amazon Prime a go for free with the 30-day trial.

1. QNAP TVS-H674-i3: Best overall NAS

QNAP TVS-H674
QNAP TVS-H674. (Source: QNAP)

Our thoughts: The QNAP TVS-H674-i3 can become an extremely powerful Plex media server, thanks to the 12th Gen Intel Core i3 processor, upgradeable RAM, six drive bays, and 2.5Gb LAN.

  • Intel Core i3-12100 CPU
  • 16GB upgradeable DDR4 RAM
  • 6 drive bays
  • 2x 2.5Gb LAN
  • Excellent OS
  • Expensive
SpecificationQNAP TVS-H674-i3
CPUIntel Core i3-12100
(6-core, 4.4 GHz)
GPUIntel UHD Graphics 730
RAM32 GB DDR4
(max 64 GB)
Storage6x HDD/SSD
2x PCIe 4.0 M.2
Expansion1x PCIe 4.0 x16
1x PCIe 4.0 x4
Cooling2x 92 mm
1x 60 mm
Ports2x 2.5Gb LAN
1x USB-C USB 3.2 Gen 2
2x USB-A USB 3.2 Gen 2
1x HDMI 1.4b
Power79.4 W
Dimensions 188.2 x 264.3 x 280.8 mm
Weight6.55 kg

When choosing a NAS for the home, you’re usually met with enclosures that house ARM or Intel Celeron processors. The QNAP TVS-H674-i3 has a 12th Gen Intel Core i3-12100 processor that’s quite an upgrade over the usual chips. It’s a quad-core CPU with eight threads that’s perfect for transcoding 4K content and running other services.

By default, the TVS-H674-i3 has 16GB of DDR4 RAM. This can be upgraded to a total of 128GB should you find the need for such system memory capacity. Six drive bays on the front of the enclosure allow for a substantial amount of data to be stored even with RAID enabled.

But it’s not just the processor and RAM that makes this the best NAS enclosure for running Plex Media Server. The 2.5Gb LAN ports are superb for handling high network traffic. Not only would you be able to run a media server with multiple accounts streaming simultaneously, but also other services too.

The icing on the cake is the available HDMI 2.0 port on the rear of this NAS. It means you can play content directly to your TV without needing to use the network and this would negate any requirement for transcoding.

QNAP TVS-H674
QNAP TVS-H674. (Source: QNAP)

QNAP TVS-H674-i3

My favorite NAS for Plex is the QNAP TVS-H674-i3. It’s overkill for many new to the world of Plex and NAS, but the Intel Core i3 processor is king for 4K transcoding.


2. ASUSTOR LOCKERSTOR 4 Gen2 (AS6704T): Runner-up

ASUSTOR LOCKERSTOR 4 Gen2 (AS6704T)
ASUSTOR LOCKERSTOR 4 Gen2 (AS6704T). (Source: ASUSTOR)

Our thoughts: We’re big fans of the ASUSTOR LOCKERSTOR 4 Gen2 with its impressive specs sheets, capable processor, expandable RAM, four drive bays, as well as four M.2 slots. The HDMI port is the icing on a very sweet cake.

  • Intel Celeron N5105 CPU
  • 4GB upgradable DDR4 RAM
  • 4 drive bays
  • 2x 2.5Gb LAN (with aggregation)
  • Excellent OS
  • Pricey
SpecificationASUSTOR AS6704T
CPUIntel Celeron N5105
(4-core, 2.9 GHz)
GPUIntel UHD Graphics
RAM4 GB DDR4
(max 16 GB)
Storage4x HDD/SSD
4x PCIe M.2
Expansion1x AS6004U
1x Optional 10Gb LAN
Cooling1x 120 mm
Ports2x 2.5Gb LAN
2x USB-A 3.2 Gen 2×1
1x HDMI 2.0b
Power35 W
Dimensions185.5 x 170 x 230 mm
Weight2.94 kg

ASUSTOR NAS has come a long way to better take on Synology and the second generation of LOCKERSTOR enclosures are a testament to the company’s efforts. The ASUSTOR LOCKERSTOR 4 Gen2 (AS6704T), in particular, is amazing for running Plex Media Server.

Firstly, we’ve got the almighty Intel Celeron N5105 processor. It’s not quite as good as the Intel Core i3 processor in my top recommendation, but it’ll be able to handle some 4K transcoding. Not that you’d require it, thanks to the included HDMI port, allowing direct connection to a TV.

The 4GB of DDR4 RAM should be more than enough, even for multiple people streaming their favorite shows, but ASUSTOR has made it so you can upgrade this capacity to a whopping 32GB. The four drive bays can take 2.5-inch or 3.5-inch drives and four additional M.2 slots can be utilized for caching or storage.

There are two 2.5Gb LAN ports that should be more than enough for transferring big data, but again ASUSOTR went one step further and added support for installing an optional 10Gb LAN card. There’s not really anything negative to say about this NAS other than it’s a little pricey.

ASUSTOR AS6704T
ASUSTOR AS6704T. (Source: ASUSTOR)

ASUSTOR LOCKERSTOR 4 Gen2 (AS6704T)

This four-bay NAS has everything you need to set up a very powerful Plex Media Server. It even has four M.2 slots for plenty of solid-state expansion.


3. TerraMaster F4-423: Best budget

TerraMaster F4-423
TerraMaster F4-423. (Source: NAS Master)

Our thoughts: The TerraMaster F4-423 has some solid specifications for the price tag. There’s a capable Intel Celeron processor, four drive bays, up to 32GB of DDR4 RAM, and an HDMI port on the rear of the enclosure.

  • Intel Celeron N5105/N5095 CPU
  • 4GB upgradeable DDR4 RAM
  • 4 drive bays
  • Affordable
  • Decent OS
  • OS isn’t as refined
SpecificationTerraMaster F4-423
CPUIntel Celeron N5105/N5095
(4-core, 2.9 GHz)
GPUIntel UHD Graphics
RAM4 GB DDR4
(max 32 GB)
Storage4x HDD/SSD
2x PCIe M.2
Expansion❎
Cooling2x 80 mm
Ports2x 2.5Gb LAN
2x USB-A 3.1
1x HDMI
Power35.2 W
Dimensions227 x 225x 136 mm
Weight3.6 kg

TerraMaster makes some great value NAS enclosures. The TerraMaster F4-423 is an Intel-powered NAS enclosure with four drive bays. The CPU in question is a capable Intel Celeron N5105/N5095 that’s good enough for 4K transcodings.

This is how TerraMaster is able to keep the price down of its NAS enclosures compared to the competition. There’s still 4GB of RAM out of the box and you can increase this to 32GB. The four drive bays will allow for a storage capacity that can handle larger 4K files.

There’s a notable drawback with the F4-423, however. The TerraMaster OS (TOS) is simply not as refined as the operating systems from the likes of Synology, ASUSTOR, and QNAP. It’s not awful, but you will notice the difference if you’re used to other vendor enclosures.

Interestingly, TerraMaster managed to include 2.5Gb networking, an HDMI port, and M.2 slots in this refresh. If you’re on a tight budget and want a four-bay enclosure, this is a great choice.

TerraMaster F4-423
TerraMaster F4-423. (Source: TerraMaster)

TerraMaster F4-423

While the OS could be improved (and surely will be with future updates), the TerraMaster F4-423 is a brilliant value offering with an Intel CPU, four bays, and upgradeable RAM.


4. Synology DiskStation DS220+: Best value

Synology DiskStation DS220+
Synology DiskStation DS220+. (Source: NAS Master)

Our thoughts: We’re moving onto my all-time favorite NAS enclosure for most homeowners. The Synology DiskStation DS220+ is simply brilliant, though some may find the two drive bays a little restricting with storing media.

  • Intel Celeron J4025 CPU
  • 2GB upgradable DDR4 RAM
  • 2 drive bays
  • 2x 1Gb LAN (with aggregation)
  • Excellent OS
  • No M.2 SSD slots
  • No 2.5Gb LAN ports
  • Limited RAID support
SpecificationSynology DiskStation DS220+
CPUIntel Celeron J4025
(2-core, 2.9 GHz)
GPUIntel UHD Graphics
RAM2 GB DDR4
(max 6 GB)
Storage2x HDD/SSD
Expansion❎
Cooling1x 92 mm
Ports2x 1Gb LAN
2x USB-A 3.2 Gen 1
Power14.69 W
Dimensions165 x 108 x 232.2 mm
Weight1.3 kg

The best NAS for home and office also makes for quite a compelling enclosure for installing and using Plex. If you don’t plan on storing too many media files or want to simply get started to see how running your own streaming service fares against Netflix, give the Synology DiskStation DS220+ a try.

This is the best value NAS, balancing price and performance. Inside, you’ll find the powerful Intel Celeron J4025 processor with 2GB of DDR4 RAM. The memory can be upgraded to 6GB, in case you run into scenarios where more RAM is needed. The CPU will easily handle some 4K transcoding through Plex.

I say this NAS is a great option for those who don’t have hundreds of movies purchased and downloaded since we’re limited to just two drive bays, making it easy to fill up the few drives with just 32TB of storage capacity. And that’s without factoring in RAID, which will reduce this to about 16TB.

It’s not all bad as there are two 1Gb LAN ports and you can connect both to your router or switch that will allow the connection to be doubled up for enhanced bandwidth. This is one of the best two-bay NAS out there.

Synology DiskStation DS20+
Synology DiskStation DS20+. (Source: NAS Master)

Synology DiskStation DS220+

If you want to save money but need a NAS enclosure that will do much more than run a media server, I’d recommend looking at the DiskStation DS220+.


5. QNAP TVS-H874X-i9: Best performance

QNAP TVS-H874
QNAP TVS-H874. (Source: QNAP)

Our thoughts: There’s only one part of the QNAP TVS-H874X-i9 that I don’t like and that’s the price. The reason it’s so expensive is due to the internal components, including an Intel Core i9 processor, 10Gb LAN ports, and more.

  • Intel Core i9-12900 CPU
  • 32GB upgradable DDR4 RAM
  • 8 drive bays
  • 1x 10Gb LAN
  • Excellent OS
  • Expensive
  • High power draw
SpecificationQNAP TVS-H874X-i9
CPUIntel Core i9-12900
(16-core, 5.10 GHz)
GPUIntel UHD Graphics 770
RAM64 GB DDR4
(max 64 GB)
Storage8x HDD/SSD
2x PCIe 4.0 M.2
Expansion1x PCIe 4.0 x16
1x PCIe 4.0 x4
Cooling2x 120 mm
1x 60 mm
Ports2x 2.5Gb LAN
2x 10Gb LAN
1x USB-C 3.2 Gen 2
2x USB-A 3.2 Gen 2
1x HDMI 1.4b
Power65 W
Dimensions188.2 x 329.3 x 280.8 mm
Weight7.06 kg

If you want to get a little more serious with Plex and other media streaming services, you’ll want the QNAP TVS-H874X-i9. While it’s a little overkill, the Intel Core i9-12900 processor is vastly more powerful than Celeron and other processors you’d usually find inside NAS servers.

It’s also got two additional bays compared to our top Core i3 pick for Plex. This level of performance is perfect for services like Plex Media Server. It’ll easily handle multiple 4K transcodes simultaneously, making this NAS a better fit for multiple accounts streaming media. To ensure you have enough throughput for networking, there are two 2.5Gb ports and a single 10Gb port.

But wait, there’s more! The preinstalled 32GB of DDR4 RAM can be upgraded to 128GB if you really need that much memory. The eight drive bays with secondary expansion slots ensure you can install more drives than you’ll require. It’s a powerful enclosure with a solid collection of I/O, allowing you to hook up plenty of hardware and accessories.

If you can somehow afford this NAS, it’s one of the best and most powerful enclosures for running a media server. You’ll only beat this by building your own NAS. This very NAS is also configurable with cheaper Intel Core i7-12700 and Core i5-12400 processors.

QNAP TVS-872XT
QNAP TVS-872XT. (Source: QNAP)

QNAP TVS-H874X-i9

This is the same NAS as our top Plex NAS pick but has two additional drive bays and an upgraded Core i9 processor. This makes it even better for media streaming.


6. QNAP TVS-H1688X: Best capacity

QNAP TVS-H1688X
QNAP TVS-H1688X. (Source: QNAP)

Our thoughts: The QNAP TVS-H1688X is a monstrous NAS enclosure. It has everything you require to set up and run a Plex media server capable of transcoding 4K movies and more. It has 12 bays for 3.5-inch drives and a further four SSD bays, as well as two M.2 cache SSD slots.

  • Intel Xeon W-1250 CPU
  • 8GB upgradable DDR4 RAM
  • 16 drive bays
  • 2x 10Gb, 4x 2.5Gb LAN
  • Excellent OS
  • High power draw
  • Expensive
SpecificationQNAP TVS-H1688X
CPUIntel Xeon W-1250
(6-core, 4.7 GHz)
GPUIntel UHD Graphics P630
RAM32 GB DDR4
(max 128 GB)
Storage12x HDD/SSD
4x SSD
2x PCIe 3.0 M.2
Expansion1x PCIe 3.0 x8
1x PCIe 3.0 x4
1x PCIe 3.0 x4
Cooling3x 80 mm
2 x 97 mm
Ports2x 2.5Gb LAN
2x 10Gb LAN
2x USB-C 3.2 Gen 2
4x USB-A 3.2 Gen 2
1x HDMI 1.4b
Power108.67 W
Dimensions303.84 x 369.89 x 319.8 mm
Weight13.4 kg

When only the highest capacity will suffice, you’ll want to consider the excellent QNAP TVS-H1688X. It’s a monstrous NAS enclosure that can hold an insane amount of data. There are 12 drive bays to start with, followed by four SSD bays and a further two M.2 SSD slots.

To ensure the NAS can keep up with all this data, QNAP decided to install an Intel Xeon W-1250 CPU. This processor is also a monster, much like other server-grade Xeon processors enthusiasts love to use. It’s vastly superior to Celeron and Pentium offerings found in NAS enclosures. It’ll handle 4K movie transcoding and then some.

This NAS is best suited for file storage in a busy household or bustling office. The massive capacity is joined by four 2.5Gb LAN ports and two 10Gb LAN ports. For USB, QNAP has you covered with a total of two USB-C 3.2 Gen 2 ports and four USB-A 3.2 Gen 2 ports. The price is a little high for most NAS owners, and the power draw will make anyone looking to save on their energy bills look the other way.

QNAP TVS-H1688X
QNAP TVS-H1688X. (Source: QNAP)

QNAP TVS-H1688X

If you have some serious data to store and want to enjoy large 4K movies, you’re going to need a NAS with countless bays. This is where the QNAP TVS-H1688X comes into play.


7. Synology DiskStation DS220j: Best entry level

Synology DiskStation DS220j
Synology DiskStation DS220j. (Source: NAS Master)

Our thoughts: The Synology DiskStation DS220j should only really be used for streaming music as the two drive bays will limit just what you can store on the NAS. The CPU also isn’t particularly good with no transcoding support.

  • Almost silent
  • Affordable
  • 64-bit ARM CPU
  • Low power draw
  • Excellent OS
  • No M.2 SSD slots
  • No 2.5Gb LAN ports
  • Sluggish CPU performance
SpecificationSynology DiskStation DS220j
CPURealtek RTD1296
(4-core, 1.4 GHz)
GPU
RAM512 MB DDR4
(max 512 MB)
Storage2x HDD/SSD
Expansion❎
Cooling1x 92 mm
Ports1x Gb LAN
2x USB-A 3.2 Gen 1
Power12.46 W
Dimensions165 x 100 x 225.5 mm
Weight0.88 kg

For those seeking the absolute most affordable NAS to run a media server, look no further than the Synology DiskStation DS220j. The DS120j is cheaper, but it doesn’t have two drive bays, which is a must-have for media servers.

Instead of an Intel CPU, we’re looking at the Realtek RTD1296. It’s an ARM processor, which is perfectly fine for efficient NAS operation but may struggle when you want to do more demanding tasks. For Ple and other media services, you’ll get by with some music streaming and possibly a 1080p stream of your favorite movie or TV show, but any transcoding is out of reach.

This NAS is built for file storage rather than media, showcased by the 512MB of DDR3L RAM. This NAS should only be considered if you want to test the waters and don’t plan on spending too much on your first server.

Synology DiskStation DS220j
Synology DiskStation DS220j. (Source: Synology)

Synology DiskStation DS220j

The DiskStation DS220j is incredibly affordable. It’s the most affordable NAS on our list here, rocking an ARM processor and non-upgradeable RAM. It’s best suited for music and photo streaming.


What about the other best NAS?

There are some excellent NAS enclosures out there. So long as you choose one with a decent processor and more than two drive bays, you should be good. If you plan to transcode 4K content, this is when you’ll need to be extra careful in picking an enclosure to ensure the CPU is up to the task.

What is transcoding?

Transcoding is when a server needs to convert a file from one type to another. This is required when the recipient device doesn’t support the file type. For instance, if you have a 4K movie saved in a format that isn’t supported by your TV (or a device with a different resolution), your server will need to convert it while streaming.

This is incredibly CPU intensive, compared to simply serving a file over a network. Most Intel Celeron processors will be able to transcode a 4K movie, though ARM processors are completely out of the question. The more powerful the NAS, the higher the price and the better the transcoding support.

What CPU do you need?

The better the processor (and its integrated GPU), the more performance you’ll have available for running Plex Media Server and transcoding any media. It’s important to consider the workload that will be placed upon the NAS and the CPU, especially when more than one person starts streaming.

An Intel Celeron processor is generally fast enough for handling the transcoding of media files up to 4K. This is usually only good for a single stream, however. Moving up into the Intel Core processor family and you’ll be able to push the NAS further, but the price of the enclosure will also balloon.

An ARM processor isn’t particularly potent for transcoding. Usually, these lesser powerful enclosures are only good for streaming music. It all comes down to what types of media you have available and how many people you plan on using the server.

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