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Which unraid build to run Sab, Sickbeard, couchpotato, and plex.


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Been reading here for a couple weeks now, hopefully I've learned enough to ask some intelligent questions.  I would have liked to read longer but Black Friday is coming up and I'd like to take advantage of some deals.  I'm wanting to build an unraid server that will be used exclusively to download movies/tv shows to and stream them to multiple devices around the house.  Everything from a mac mini in a dedicated theater room to my iMac and iOS devices.  I need enough power to transcode at least two streams at once, and a few of my movies are uncompressed blu-ray (30-40GB files).  I also want to run Sabnzbd, Couchpotato, Sickbeard, Plex, and UnMenu on the server. 


I have no experience building servers/computers, so I really want to find a reliable build running these same add-ons that I can follow. 


Budget is around $500, storage needed is 15-20TB.  I was thinking anything from the 9 Drive Budget Box to the 12 Drive Budget Box on Raj's prototype page would work but I'm not sure there will be enough power and I'm not sure I want to go switching out hardware on my own.  I see some people having issues with Plex and certain CPUs.  I currently have one WD 2TB, and two Seagate 3TB external hard drives that I'd like to use in this build.  I believe they are all 7200 drives.  Also, I think I'd like to use a cache drive as well.



Thanks for the help


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I can't speak for the other apps you want to run, but I do use Plex. I primarily run plex through an Apple TV 2 which Plex pretty much wants to transcode everything for. The only issue i would see with viewing multiple movies at once using plex would be how the client handles the media for each device, but it may not be of any concern. When i play a typical 720p movie (4-5GB) for example, I have watched the behavior on my server and seen the transcoding use almost all of my cpu. The transcoding is generally complete by the time im 10-15 minutes into the movie though, which is why it may not be an issue as the transcoding is much faster than the playback. I have had movies playing on Apple TV 2, Iphone, and Ipad at the same time when i was first testing out Plex, but i didnt check to see if the iphone and ipad were transcoding the content.


If you plan on using a modern dual core or better CPU, i cant see you having any issues with the media streaming. The cpu im using is an older Athlon 64 X2 (3.0ghz) and it performs well.

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Thanks for the info, that helps.  I didn't realize that Plex would transcode the whole file in 10-15 minutes.  I thought it transcoded in real time, as in it just transcoded each bit as it streamed throughout the length of the movie.  If you were able to stream to multiple devices at the same time then that's great.  That's exactly what I'm wanting to accomplish. 


I don't know what all the server will need to transcode and what it won't.  The device being streamed to may be able to do the transcoding, like the mac mini in my theater room for example, while others like the Apple TV may not, I just don't know.  I would like to assume that the server will be doing all the transcoding and make sure that I build something sufficient.  I would feel better with spending a little more and having an overbuilt server than ending up with something that won't do what I need.  It may be as simple as taking one of the recommended builds and adding some memory and a faster processor, but because I don't know much about it I am waiting for someone to tell me what to use.  I really want something reliable.

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Take any of my Budget Box designs and upgrade to a dual core CPU and 4 GBs of RAM and you will be fine.  Alternatively, you could go for an i3 build if you want the server to be a bit more low power (but you'll spend quite a bit more up front, so it will take years for the cost to even out).  SAB/Couch/Sick/unMenu don't really need beefy hardware, but any video transcoding requires at least a dual core.  I'm not sure if 4 GB of RAM is absolutely required, but it is so cheap these days that you might as well go for it just in case.

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Lower power would be nice but not worth the cost as you pointed out.  Since my ultimate goal here is reliability and functionality, is any one processor going to be preferred for my perposes  I see some people having problems with memory filling up while running plex and it's believed to be related to the processor.  Because I don't know anything about this stuff I'm open to suggestions of a specific processor.


Are there any special hardware considerations since I have several 3TB hard drives I want to use?


Will I need to change anything from the budget builds to accommodate for 7200rpm drives as far as cooling goes.  I think they are green drives but won't know for sure until I pull them out of their enclosure.


Thank you for the help so far.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Sorry, I don't have any specific recommendations as to dual core CPUs.  I would suggest just searching Newegg for the cheapest dual core AMD AM3 CPU.  You can also search through the Plex thread and see if anyone has reported particular CPUs as recommended.


Every motherboard and SATA controller I've tested has been compatible with 3 TB drives, so you shouldn't have anything to worry about there.


7200 RPM drives use more power and produce more heat.  Therefore, if you want to run more than one or two 7200 RPM drives you will need a beefier PSU and possibly extra cooling as well.  You can read my recommendations for PSUs in this thread.  Fan recommendations are in this thread.  With cooling, I always recommend that you try out the stock fans first, then only upgrade if you find them to be an issue based on either heat or noise (or both).

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I will definitely be running more than just a few 3TB 7200 RPM drives.  I bought 4 of them at Best Buy on Black Friday for $99 each.  I'll make sure to get a PSU that will provide enough power.  I just looked through the good deals forum and see that I missed a good opportunity to get one cheap.


Good to hear about the motherboards and controllers, I'll just stick with what you've recommended in the 12 drive budget build. 


This server will be in a dedicated media closet so fan noise won't be a problem.  I'll probably just add fans as needed, and from what I've read the Xigmatek case that's recommended for the bugdet build has plenty of room for fans.


Looks like my biggest decision is going to be the CPU.  I'll do some reading and find out what's going to work for me.  Thanks for the help.

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