Why I Use Plex (And a Look at My Plex Setup)
My Plex Setup
Up until about a year ago, I was running Plex Media Server (PMS) on my primary iMac, which wasn’t ideal as I wanted to ensure an adequate separation of system resources. A benefit of running a technology website is that you end up with lots of spare parts like solid state drives, CPU coolers, and system memory, and I realized that I had just about everything I needed to build a dedicated PMS box. After buying a case and dedicated network card, I ended up with the following configuration.
- Case: Rosewill RSV-L4411 Rackmount Case
- Motherboard: Gigabyte G1.Sniper M3 Z77
- CPU: Intel Core i7-2600K
- Memory: Kingston HyperX PC3-12800 8GB (2 x 4GB)
- System Drive: 128GB Samsung 840 Pro SSD
- Backup Drive: 3TB Seagate ST3000DM001 HDD
- Network Card: Intel Pro/1000 EXPI9402PTBLK Dual NIC
- Operating System: Windows 8.1 Pro
The above system runs the Plex Media Server software, stores all the metadata, and transcodes outgoing media if necessary. The actual media itself is stored on a Synology DiskStation DS2413+ loaded up with twelve 4TB Western Digital Se hard drives. I elected to use Synology’s Drobo-like “Hybrid RAID” configuration with two-disk redundancy, leaving me with about 37TB of usable space.
The DS2413+ has two network connections, so I have one of those ports directly wired to one of the two ports on the server. This lets me point PMS directly to the Synology’s internal IP, ensuring a direct and unobstructed connection between the NAS and server. I therefore know that, regardless of any other congestion on my network, the media files will get from the DS2413+ to the server unobstructed. The Synology’s second port is connected to my broader network, allowing me to access it directly when adding new media or performing updates and maintenance. Similarly, the second network port on the server connects to my local network and the Internet — obviously important so that I can access Plex.
This server runs 24×7, with an APC SMT1500 UPS providing clean and continuous power, ensuring uninterrupted access to my Plex content both at home and on the road.
As for clients, I have Plex Home Theater installed on just about all of my PCs and Macs. The main TV in our home was until just recently powered by a 2010 Mac mini server. I was hoping to upgrade after waiting so long for a new Mac mini but, well, we all know how that turned out. So instead I’ve moved to a Haswell-based Intel NUC, running Windows 8.1, and it works flawlessly.
I’ve recently started using the new Xbox One client for Plex, and it’s beautiful. The only problem is that efforts to binge on a TV series are stymied by the fact that you have to go back two menus after each episode to start watching the next one. Better TV show navigation would make the Xbox One Plex app the best way ever to enjoy the service.
And, of course, we have a myriad of mobile devices configured to access our home Plex server, including the iPhone, iPad, and Amazon Fire HD. Our setup at times has also relied on the Amazon Fire TV and Roku 2 and 3 for playback on various televisions around the house.
Well, that’s my Plex story. Feel free to ask any questions in the comments or via Twitter, and please share your own Plex setups, too!