What are the hardware requirements for running a Plex media server with transcoding?

The Plex Media Server [PMS] is one of the most popular and reliable digital media player packages available today. All you need is a free account to get started. You'll need the right equipment to stream your media reliably.

Here is your guide to the hardware requirements to set up a Plex Media Server.

What is Transcoding on a Plex Media Server?

Plex Media Server works by sending out media (usually music or videos) across the network to remote client devices. These devices could be smartphones, other computers, speakers or even televisions. Media can be sent over a local network, WiFi, or across the internet itself.

Plex Media Server requirements are sometimes flexible depending on what you're doing. It will run on many servers that do not even meet the recommended minimum requirements. You might experience lag and choppy quality though.

The major influence on bandwidth is the requirement to transcode the data or not, and of course how many users at a time you need.

Transcoding simply means running the media through some kind of filter before it is passed out over the internet. You might downgrade a video from 1080p to low definition 320 video for a cell phone. Plex makes these decisions on the fly and automatically.

If you're playing a video on your local device, generally there are no Plex requirements for transcoding. If you're transmitting it over the internet, there often is. It's recommended that you use a machine that is capable of handling enough transcoding channels to make the user experience pleasant.

Plex Server Specs

Plex offers some suggestions as to what type of server you should deploy to use their software. For commercial applications, you'll need to be conservative and shoot a little higher than these.

Plex also works on many types of NAS machines. These machines are a large hard drive or memory chip bays that can be used on an organizational level. NAS machines can hold huge amounts of data, like a media library, and serve that data to many simultaneous remote clients.

Plex System Requirements

Plex Media Server is compatible with most popular operating systems. Including Windows, OS X / macOS, Linus, Ubuntu and many NAS systems like Drobo and Synology.

Depending on what type of media you are planning to transcode. Here are the minimum specs that you'll need to run the server:

  • No transcoding - Intel Atom 1.2GHz
  • Single 720p transcode - Intel Core i3 3.0 GHz
  • Single 1080p transcode - Intel Core i5 3.0GHz
  • Single 4K transcode - Intel Core i7 3.2GHz

Plex CPU requirements

Plex uses the "PassMark" benchmark score to determine what type of processor you'll need. You'll need a higher PassMark score to transcode a higher resolution video down to something that can be seen on a client device. You'll need:

  • 4k - 4000 PassMark score to go to 1080p
  • 1080p -2000 PassMark score to go to 720
  • 720p- 1500 PassMark score to go to 320

It's an Easy System to Setup

The Plex Media Server is a very popular and free media server. It can host your entire media library in one central location, and server your files anywhere. You only need to make sure that you have enough of a machine to fit your needs.

If you have any other questions, please contact us via phone or our live chat!

About The Author

  • Looking to build a PMS using a dedicated BOXNUC8i7BEH1 (or the i5 vrsn) with 16gb ram and 512gb HD and win10 (having trouble learning / setting up Ubuntu) . I have a NAS that struggles with 720 coding so the NAS will house my music / pic library. I want to then build a 2nd NAS strictly for vids (consist of 720 /1080 p and soon to be 4k). Playback will be mostly locally 2-3 streams at a time. There may be 2-3 streams remotely. Your thoughts and recommendations. Thank you.