ASUSTOR Lockerstor 2 Gen2 (AS6702T)

Best NAS for Plex: How to create your very own media server

Almost everyone streams media these days, and the sheer number of streaming services is quite frankly ridiculous. If like me, you’ve grown tired of spending a lot of money each month and losing track of what subscriptions you have active, I’ve rounded up the best NAS for Plex. With these smart little servers, you can create your very own Netflix and Spotify without a monthly subscription!

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QNAP TS-464, the best NAS for Plex
Front of the QNAP TS-464. (Source: NAS Master)

QNAP TS-464

Best Plex NAS

QNAP TS-464
QNAP TS-464. (Source: QNAP)

The QNAP TS-464 is one powerful compact four-bay server. It has an Intel CPU for transcoding, a HDMI port for direct streaming, and expansion support. It’s our pick for the best NAS for Plex.

CPUIntel Celeron N5105/N5095
(4-core, 2.9 GHz)
GPUIntel UHD Graphics
RAM4 GB DDR4
(max 16 GB)
Storage4x HDD/SSD
2x PCIe M.2
ExpansionDrives: Yes
PCIe: 1x 3.0 x2
Cooling1x 120 mm
Ports2x 2.5GbE
2x USB 3.2 Gen 2
2x USB 2.0
1x HDMI
Power40.5 W
Dimensions168 x 170 x 226 mm
Weight2.26 kg
    • Intel Celeron N5095 CPU
    • 4GB of DDR4 RAM preinstalled
    • M.2 SSD bays
    • HDMI port and IR receiver
    • Good-looking NAS
    • PCIe 3.0
    • QTS UI is showing its age

The QNAP TS-464 is a premium home NAS. It’s designed with Plex in mind, as well as other intensive applications. It’s almost perfect if you want to start small with a server deployment, but have plans to expand at a later date.

First, we’ve got four drive bays. These are joined by two M.2 slots and PCI expansion. That’s considerable scope for a home NAS, especially one that’s capable of handling more than one service and user accessing the NAS.

There’s 4 GB of RAM installed at the factory, which can be expanded up to 8 GB. This may not be as much as other NAS enclosures are capable of hitting, but it’s still more than enough for most scenarios.

Then there’s the incredible 2.5GbE networking, IR receiver, and HDMI port that makes it perfect for consuming media, especially if you’re able to connect this NAS directly to the big screen. We found in our review that the QNAP TS-464 is more than adequately powered for running Plex Media Server.

QNAP TVS-H674-i3

Runner-up best Plex NAS

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

What do you get when you cross an Intel Core processor and a NAS? The QNAP TVS-H674-i3. This enclosure has a desktop-class CPU with plenty of bays and speedy networking.

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 2.5GbE
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
    • Intel Core i3-12100 CPU
    • 16GB upgradeable DDR4 RAM
    • 6 drive bays
    • 2x 2.5Gb LAN
    • Excellent OS
    • Expensive

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. This makes the enclosure a close second for the best NAS for Plex.

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

ASUSTOR LOCKERSTOR 4 Gen2 (AS6704T)

Best value Plex NAS

ASUSTOR AS6704T
ASUSTOR AS6704T. (Source: ASUSTOR)

The ASUSTOR LOCKERSTOR 4 Gen2 has almost a perfect specifications sheet for a home and/or office NAS, including an Intel CPU, optional 10Gb networking, and expansion support.

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 2.5GbE
2x USB-A 3.2 Gen 2×1
1x HDMI 2.0b
Power35 W
Dimensions185.5 x 170 x 230 mm
Weight2.94 kg
    • Intel Celeron N5105 CPU
    • 4GB upgradable DDR4 RAM
    • 4 drive bays
    • 2x 2.5Gb LAN (with aggregation)
    • Excellent OS
    • Pricey

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.

The two 2.5Gb LAN ports 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 anything negative to say about this NAS other than it’s a little pricey.

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

TerraMaster F4-423

Runner-up best value Plex NAS

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

TerraMaster offers some of the best value NAS in the business and the F4-423 is no exception. It beats rival hardware in terms of price to performance.

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 2.5GbE
2x USB-A 3.1
1x HDMI
Power35.2 W
Dimensions227 x 225x 136 mm
Weight3.6 kg
    • Intel Celeron N5105/N5095 CPU
    • 4GB upgradeable DDR4 RAM
    • 4 drive bays
    • Affordable
    • Decent OS
    • OS isn’t as refined
    • No expansion support
    • M.2 and RAM slots awkward to access

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. Don’t let the lower price fool you, our testing showed this NAS to be a powerful budget-friendly enclosure with ample performance.

Synology DiskStation DS224+ with the front cover off
Synology DiskStation DS224+ with the front cover off. (Source: NM)

Synology DiskStation DS224+

Best budget Plex NAS

Synology DiskStation DS224+
Synology DiskStation DS224+. (Source: Synology)

Replacing the popular DS220+, the DisksTation DS224+ is a solid value NAS with plenty of punch, thanks to the Intel Celeron processor and upgradable RAM.

CPUIntel Celeron J4125
GPUIntel UHD Graphics 600
RAM2 GB DDR4
(6 GB max)
Bays2 (SSD/HDD)
Expansion
Cooling1x 92 mm
Ports2x 1 GbE
2x USB-A 3.2 Gen 1
1x eSATA
Power draw~14.69 W
Dimensions165 x 108 x 232.2 mm
Weight1.3 kg
  • Intel Celeron J4125 CPU
  • 2GB upgradable DDR4 RAM
  • 2x drive bays (32TB max)
  • 1GbE (with aggregation)
  • Excellent OS
  • No M.2 SSD slots
  • No 2.5Gb LAN ports
  • Limited RAID support

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 streaming service fares against Netflix, give the Synology DiskStation DS224+ a try.

This is the best value NAS, balancing price and performance. Inside, you’ll find the powerful Intel Celeron J4125 processor with 2 GB of DDR4 RAM. The memory can be upgraded to 6 GB, 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 40TB of storage capacity. And that’s without factoring in RAID, which will reduce this to about 20TB.

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. We’re big fans of the DS224+ as shown in our positive review and found no issues streaming media through Plex.

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

QNAP TVS-H874X-i9

Best Plex NAS for performance

QNAP TVS-H874X
QNAP TVS-H874X. (Source: QNAP)

This NAS has a desktop-class Intel Core i9 processor inside of the chassis. That’s the same chip found in many desktop PCs, making this the most capable NAS in this collection.

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 2.5GbE
2x 10GbE
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
    • Intel Core i9-1900 CPU
    • 32GB upgradable DDR4 RAM
    • 8 drive bays
    • 1x 10Gb LAN
    • Excellent OS
    • Expensive
    • High power draw

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

QNAP TVS-H1688X

Best capacity Plex NAS

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

This is a NAS to consider if you have a lot of data to store. Not only is the Intel Xeon processor pretty good for streaming, but it’s also excellent for other resource-intensive NAS tasks.

CPUIntel Xeon W-1250
(6-core, 4.7 GHz)
GPUIntel UHD Graphics P630
RAM32 GB DDR4
(max 128 GB)
Storage12 HDD/SSD
4 SSD
2 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 2.5GbE
2x 10GbE
2x USB-C 3.2 Gen 2
4x USB-A 3.2 Gen 2
1x HDMI 1.4b
Power~108.67 W
Dimensions303.84 x 369.89 x 319.8 mm
Weight13.4 kg
    • Intel Xeon W-1250 CPU
    • 8GB upgradable DDR4 RAM
    • 16 drive bays
    • 2x 10Gb, 4x 2.5Gb LAN
    • Excellent OS
    • High power draw
    • Expensive

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.

Synology DiskStation DS223j
Front of the Synology DiskStation DS223j.

Synology DiskStation DS223j

Best entry-level Plex NAS

Synology DiskStation DS223j
Synology DiskStation DS223j. (Source: Synology)

This is one of the more affordable NAS enclosures from Synology yet still manages to pack enough power for running Plex and some other apps. Just don’t get too many ideas as the CPU and RAM are limiting.

CPURealtek RTD1619B
(4-core, 1.7 GHz)
GPU
RAM1 GB DDR4
(max 1 GB)
Storage2 HDD/SSD
Expansion
Cooling1x 92 mm
Ports1x GbE
2x USB-A 3.2 Gen 1
Power~16.31 W
Dimensions165 x 100 x 225.5 mm
Weight0.88 kg
    • 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

For those seeking the absolute most affordable NAS to run a media server, look no further than the Synology DiskStation DS223j. 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 RTD1619B. 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 1GB of DDR4 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.

What is Plex?

Plex
Plex with Netflix integration. (Source: NM)

Plex Media Server is a solution to all your streaming woes. Have you looked at your bank statement and wondered why you’re paying for five separate streaming subscriptions? We’ve all been in that position and Plex can help “cut the cord” so to speak. It’s a multimedia streaming platform that runs in the cloud and on a server of your choosing.

This server can be just about anything with a CPU, a drive or few, and a connection to the internet. We’d recommend using a NAS enclosure since this is a great application for a device that’s specifically designed to run continuously without drawing too much power. Should you already own some media, be it music, movies, or shows, Plex can be a great way to buy your own media and stream it just about anywhere.

Streaming services were great when they first hit the market. But the sheer number of them is ridiculous in 2023. Plex is completely free to use but has an optional account upgrade for premium access to additional features. This can be paid monthly or as a single lifetime purchase, almost negating cost entirely!

Suppose you still want to continue using your existing subscriptions. In that case, Plex is capable of connecting to them and integrating all content into a single location, making it far easier to choose what to watch in the evenings.

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 specifications play a large factor when choosing the right NAS. 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 also 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, we’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.

We’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.

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.

It’s worth noting that hardware transcoding is only available with an active Plex Pass subscription.

What CPU does Plex 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 to handle 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 less 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. For most people streaming through Plex, a less powerful (and more affordable) NAS will do just fine.

How we test the best NAS for Plex

It’s important when reviewing NAS to ensure they’re capable of smooth performance in a variety of apps, including Plex Media Server. All of our NAS reviews utilize the same testing methodology, which includes the installation of Plex.

After setting up the media streaming platform, we attempt to force transcoding on the server at various resolutions and with multiple stream counts to see how hard the NAS has to work to achieve stable results. We then note the limitations, if any.

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