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krh1009

I need a Plex transcoding beast!

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Issue: My primary use of unraid is for my Plex server.  I share my plex library with fiends and family.   I recently went to watch a movie and playback with continually interrupted for buffering.  I found that 7 other people were also watching content at the same time and the CPU was peg 100%...TIME FOR AN UPGRADE.  

 

Goal:  To have enough CPU horsepower to transcode as many Plex streams concurrently as possible, so that my internet upload speed (currently 29 Mbit/s) becomes the bottleneck not my CPU; thus I can always watch a movie on my home network.

 

Current System/Use details:

  1. - No VMs
  2. - No gamming
  3. -Dockers: Plex, Deluge, Radarr, Sonarr, sabnzbd, plexpy, ombi,lidarr
  4. -20 bay case (NORCO 4U Rack Mount 20-Bays SATA/SAS Server Chassis RPC-4220)
  5. -12 Disks installed currently (total array 59TB) + 500 GB SSD Cache drive
  6. - M/B: Gigabyte - F2A88XM-D3H
  7. - CPU: AMD A10-6800K APU with Radeon™ HD Graphics @ 4100
  8. 8 GB of Ram

 

My request: My knowledge of hardware architecture is almost non-existent; so a technical explanation of your recommendation would be a waste of your time.  I just need a shopping list (newegg/amazon) of a set of components that are known to work together with Unraid and are stable.  Budget for CPU + MB is $500 (not including PSU, ram, cooling…etc)

 

Shopping List (brand/model number):

  1. CPU
  2. M/B
  3. PSU
  4. Cooling
  5. Ram
  6. Anything else recommended

 

Thanks in advance for your help

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I'd suggest a CPU with iGPU that supports quicksync. It will provide lightest weight transcoding. Quality is not reputed to be outstanding, but most say the quality is more than acceptable.

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21 minutes ago, SSD said:

I'd suggest a CPU with iGPU that supports quicksync. It will provide lightest weight transcoding. Quality is not reputed to be outstanding, but most say the quality is more than acceptable.

 

Thanks...could you provide an example specific CPU?

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Go onto passmark's website there you can see cpu scores, for PLEX they say 2000 points per 1080 stream using that number you can weed out sub par cpu's and identify those that would make a good PLEx media server

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7 hours ago, hitman2158 said:

 

So if you need 10 streams at the same time, your CPU should have around 20000 points 

 

Thank you for the research.

 

But I have to take the 20000 points as a worst case scenario (10 X 1080P streams all which need to be fully (video and audio) transcoded by the server). 

 

My current CPU is rated at 4.8K points and  Plexpy shows that it delivered 8 streams concurrently (see screen shots).  I'm not sure what the transcoding requirements  were for those 8 streams; But I think 20K points might be way more than whats really needed in a real world scenario .   I am looking at the Intel  i7-8700K @ 3.70GHz  ($340)  it's rated at 15999 points and supports quicksync also, I think that should get me  to enough stream to saturate my upload capacity. 

 

Feedback welcome...  a specific CPU suggestion is even more welcome :)

 

Thanks again...

 

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, krh1009 said:

 

 

 

But I have to take the 20000 points as a worst case scenario (10 X 1080P streams all which need to be fully (video and audio) transcoded by the server). 

 

My current CPU is rated at 4.8K points and  Plexpy shows that it delivered 8 streams concurrently (see screen shots).  I'm not sure what the transcoding requirements  were for those 8 streams; But I think 20K points might be way more than whats really needed in a real world scenario .   I am looking at the Intel  i7-8700K @ 3.70GHz  ($340)  it's rated at 15999 points and supports quicksync also, I think that should get me  to enough stream to saturate my upload capacity. 

 

 

20K passmark is a lot - once you've added on RAM, mobo etc that's going to be a big outlay.   


Are you sure you need that much transcoding power?  It's worth checking your users are setup correctly e.g. 'play smaller videos at original quality' is on their clients.  I also imagine that the 8x concurrent was creating transcodes even when clients supported direct play as your 29Mbps upstream wasn't enough to allow each client to direct play.  A few Fire sticks as birthday presents will seriously help lower your transcoding needs!

 

I think your 29Mbps is already a bottleneck......there's no way you can do more than a few 1080p streams with that bandwidth.    I think your friends probably won't get a better experience even if you buy a new CPU as they'll only get a few Mbps each, so I think maybe you'd be better off reducing the number of maximum simultaneous streams, limiting the number of streams per user and limiting the remote stream bitrate within plex to optimise your 29Mbps e.g. setting max stream bandwidth to 2Mbps (I wouldn't advise more than this, as anymore than 2x10Mbps will risk slowing your downstream/ruining your experience) might reduce the transcoding strain and your budget outlay.

 

Edited by DZMM

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Might want to find out why it is transcoding and see about reducing the transcode requirements for your library.

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7 hours ago, DZMM said:

20K passmark is a lot - once you've added on RAM, mobo etc that's going to be a big outlay.   


Are you sure you need that much transcoding power?  It's worth checking your users are setup correctly e.g. 'play smaller videos at original quality' is on their clients.  I also imagine that the 8x concurrent was creating transcodes even when clients supported direct play as your 29Mbps upstream wasn't enough to allow each client to direct play.  A few Fire sticks as birthday presents will seriously help lower your transcoding needs!

 

I think your 29Mbps is already a bottleneck......there's no way you can do more than a few 1080p streams with that bandwidth.    I think your friends probably won't get a better experience even if you buy a new CPU as they'll only get a few Mbps each, so I think maybe you'd be better off reducing the number of maximum simultaneous streams, limiting the number of streams per user and limiting the remote stream bitrate within plex to optimise your 29Mbps e.g. setting max stream bandwidth to 2Mbps (I wouldn't advise more than this, as anymore than 2x10Mbps will risk slowing your downstream/ruining your experience) might reduce the transcoding strain and your budget outlay.

 

 

 

  • The real issue is I had enough concurrent remote users to make it impossible for me to watch a movie on my local network. So I don't think the upload speed is the bottle neck, I think its my CPU that is the issue.  
  • I looked for a switch in Plex to limit the total number of remote users,  I didn't see a setting.  The only setting is for the max number of s concurrent stream from the same user ID. Not helpful since every person has their own plex ID.
  • I could optimize my content via Plex, but I think you have to keep the original version and the optimized  version (double disk space).  I could reduce remote rates, but that's not needed all the time.
  • My objective is to make I can always watch a movie....the remote experience is far less important.  I have already told people to get a stick instead of using the samsung/LG smart TV version of plex for a better experience. 

So back to my main question, will this configuration work well for a Unraid/Plex server:

  •  Intel Core i7-8700K Coffee Lake 6-Core 3.7 GHz (4.7 GHz Turbo )
  • Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO - CPU Cooler with 120mm PWM Fan 
  • GIGABYTE Z370 HD3 (rev. 1.0) LGA 1151 (300 Series) Intel Z370 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.1 ATX Intel Motherboard (Model:Z370 HD3) 
  • G.SKILL Ripjaws V Series 16GB (2 x 8GB) 288-Pin DDR4 SDRAM DDR4 2400 (PC4 19200) 

 

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3 hours ago, krh1009 said:

 

 

  • The real issue is I had enough concurrent remote users to make it impossible for me to watch a movie on my local network. So I don't think the upload speed is the bottle neck, I think its my CPU that is the issue.  

Have you entered your upload speed on the remote access tab? If so, upload could be your bottleneck as Plex could be transcoding when clients could support direct play because there's not enough bandwidth, leaving not enough CPU resources for you to play your files.

 

Of course, a more powerful CPU will allow you to always direct play - just wanted to try and save you cash if possible.

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2 hours ago, DZMM said:

Have you entered your upload speed on the remote access tab? If so, upload could be your bottleneck as Plex could be transcoding when clients could support direct play because there's not enough bandwidth, leaving not enough CPU resources for you to play your files.

 

Of course, a more powerful CPU will allow you to always direct play - just wanted to try and save you cash if possible

I did not think of that...Very good point!  Yes,  I have set my upload speed in plex, so I agree this could trigger more transcoding to fit the available bandwidth.  But that still points at getting a faster CPU as a solution...correct?  Or am I missing something (else)?

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Posted (edited)
6 hours ago, krh1009 said:

I did not think of that...Very good point!  Yes,  I have set my upload speed in plex, so I agree this could trigger more transcoding to fit the available bandwidth.  But that still points at getting a faster CPU as a solution...correct?  Or am I missing something (else)?

Yes, a faster CPU would mean you could play direct locally even if you've got 10x 1080p transcodes going on because Plex has to squeeze each stream into 2Mbps.  Just seems an expensive solution, when maybe looking at what type of traffic you're getting and limiting concurrent users etc might free up enough CPU capacity.

 

If you want an excuse to build a new PC and a new project ;-) then i think checking out this thread will be worthwhile as you can build a very powerful plex beast you can stick in a corner

 

 

 

Edited by DZMM

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If you're using QuickSync (which you should be), you won't need anything more than an i5-8400 or i7-8700 on a decent Z370 board.

 

I can get 6 transcodes no problem with my i5-6500T and 20Mb upload, and the CPU hardly breaks a sweat (it's even passively cooled!).  It's also running Plex DVR, and all the other stuff, AND a Windows 10 VM.  That's just a 4 core 2.5GHz (turbo to a feeble 3.1GHz).

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