Guide To Dedicated Plex Servers

A dedicated Plex server is a perfect solution for those who enjoy digital media. If you currently have or wish to amass an extensive library of music, movies, streaming content, and more, a Plex server is your answer. 

What Is a Dedicated Plex Server?

Plex dedicated servers may be the future of dedicated servers. They provide an all-in-one, easy-to-use storage location for large media libraries. Plex technology enables you to store, categorize, and access these files from one place.

Users can categorize and search unlimited music, movie, and image files via Plex’s client-based platform. And Plex servers can now accommodate podcasts and live-streaming content through the latest updates. All content connoisseurs, from movie buffs to podcasting super fans, can enjoy their entire media collection anywhere, anytime, with Plex.

Plex Server Planning and Setup

Several pre-built options are available if you think a Plex server might be a good idea for your media library. However, some tech enthusiasts may want to take on the challenge of building a dedicated Plex media server. If this sounds like you, there are a few questions you’ll want to ask yourself before starting the process:

  • How many users will access the server at the same time?
  • Will you access your media library remotely or from a location near the server (i.e., accessing an in-home library)?
  • What types of devices are you using to access the server (Smart TV, Mobile app, gaming console, Roku, Google Chromecast, etc.)?

Before beginning your dedicated Plex server build, you’ll need to consider your necessary specifications. Think about the amount of storage, processing, and bandwidth you may need to accommodate the size of your media library and your watching habits.

There’s no universal solution for Plex servers, so if you plan to build your own, you’ll want to take the extra time to plan your necessary resources. One thing you can count on is that you’ll need a separate dedicated computer or device to host your Plex server, run the server software, and host the totality of your media library files.

A dedicated server is usually the best option, and the good news is that several server leasing options are available. Going this route may be a little more expensive, but it will ensure almost 100% uptime and allow you access to your media library 24/7. 

Who Really Needs a Dedicated Plex Server?

Some might say a dedicated Plex server is something left for the tech-savvy. But, in today’s modern media streaming age, anyone could benefit from setting up their own Plex server for media storage.

Virtually no one is using CDs, DVDs, or Blu-ray discs anymore. Most people rely on at least one streaming service to consume their content. With so many of our favorite shows existing across multiple platforms, who wouldn’t want to be able to access them all in one place?

Naturally, the type of Plex server and configuration will vary greatly depending on the user. Someone more technically minded may want something they can tinker with and customize. On the other hand, families looking to improve their Friday night TV watching may want something more user-friendly. Enter pre-built Plex servers.

Pros and Cons of Pre-Built Plex Servers

Many movie and media buffs may not have the coding or computer knowledge to build and customize their own Plex server. They would much rather go for a pre-built option they can take out of the box and start using immediately. If this sounds like you, and you’re in the market for a pre-built Plex setup, here are a few of the pros and cons you should consider:

Here are five of the most popular pre-built Plex servers to choose from:

1. NVIDIA Shield TV Pro

NVIDIA is widely considered one of the most powerful Plex options on the market. The standard onboard memory can transcode multiple forms of media at once, and users can easily add memory via memory peripherals like USB drives and SD cards.

The Shield TV Pro also accommodates direct streaming of multiple media like streaming TV, music, and even gaming and emulator platforms. Its feature-rich design makes it perfect as a dedicated Plex device or comprehensive streaming platform. The choice is yours.

2. Lenovo ThinkCentre M75q TinyGen 2

The ThinkCentre M75q Gen 2 from Lenovo boasts two models ranging from 4- to 8-core processing power and 3.20 GHz to 4.60 GHz processing speed with ample storage capacity. Its base-level storage starts at 500 GB HDD and up to 512 GB SSD for your library, allowing you to hold as many TV shows, movies, and other media as your heart desires. 

If that’s not enough, the M75q Gen 2 also comes with a variety of peripheral ports to accommodate additional storage and accessories. The device has 3 USB 3.2 ports, 2 USB 2.0 ports, and a USB-C 3.2 port.

Another enticing feature of the ThinkCentre M75q Gen 2 is its size. It’s not called the Tiny for no reason, and its compactness allows it to fit perfectly under most TV setups. This enables a direct connection, or it can be placed anywhere else in the house and be connected remotely.

3. The Raspberry Pi 4

The Raspberry Pi 4 is essentially a mini-PC. It looks like a small motherboard and can perform most of the tasks that a traditional PC can.

One drawback of the Pi 4 is that it requires some technical knowledge, but there’s no shortage of helpful forums and YouTube videos available to help you along your journey. If you’re looking to store your Plex server in another location and stream remotely, the Raspberry Pi 4 may not be for you. But, if a direct connection works just fine, you won’t find a more economical option than the Raspberry Pi 4. 

4. Intel NUC Mini PC

Intel’s NUC Mini PC is another affordable option for those wanting a Plex server. The product has been licensed to ASUS, and the latest generations will be sold as the ASUS ExpertCenter – either the PN or PB series.

The Intel-powered ExpertCenter PN comes in three models: the PN42, PN64, and the PN64-E1. The 64-E1 is the most advanced, offering a 13th-generation Intel processor, quad displays, 4K resolution, and NVMe SSD storage. This unit is mostly for commercial applications like hospitals, digital signage, retail, and office use.

ASUS’s other series, the PB, is appropriate for conference rooms, digital signage, retail kiosks, and office computing.  The PB offers 8 GB of memory and 6 GB SSD storage. It also boasts AMD graphics and supports Windows 7 Professional, 8 Pro, 8.1 Pro, and 10 Pro.

5. NAS Box

A NAS (network-attached storage) box is another powerful option to host your dedicated Plex server. These devices are a bit more sophisticated than traditional pre-built options, as their design enables them to build RAID arrays from multiple hard drives. If you have an extensive media library and are afraid of losing files, this feature may be for you.

Since the box’s RAID arrays come from multiple hard drives, you don’t lose any files in your library if one array malfunctions. Theoretically, the NAS box can accommodate enough hard drives to give you storage capacity in the tens of terabytes. Additionally, you never have to worry about powering up your Plex server because the NAS box is always online. 

Naturally, all this technology comes at a cost. A NAS box is one of the more expensive pre-built options, with some larger systems costing around $1,000 USD. The machine also requires NAS-specific storage drives to accommodate the intense server workload. But if media is a big part of your life, that expense may be worth it.

Once configured and online, the NAS box can accommodate a virtually limitless media library. More sophisticated NAS boxes can handle hardware video transcoding for hardcore video enthusiasts. If you want to go this route, we recommend checking out Synology or QNAP devices.

Let Liquid Web Host Your Next Watch Party

A dedicated Plex server may be the perfect solution if you’re looking to store an extensive media library or get all your streaming services in one place. But the first step is finding the right hosting solution for your Plex platform.

Plex Server FAQs

Can you build your own dedicated Plex server? 

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How much RAM do Plex servers require?

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Can you use a PC as a Plex server?

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How expensive are Plex servers to run?

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