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motherboard/CPU combo recommendation

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Hey guys, 


Been running the same unRAID hardware config for 5+ yrs. Recently started sharing my plex streaming server with some friends/family & quickly realized I can't transcode 3x 1080p streams at the same time and not a single 4k. Typing this locked out of my server as friends/family rob my machine of its last bits of processing power leaving me with no juice to watch my media. 


I'd like to run a win10 VM for light duty stuff and plex docker that can handle at least 5x 1080p streams and eventually 3-4x 4k streams. 


Perhaps a solution where I can start with CPU transcoding and later add a video card if I want more transcoding power.


Looking to upgrade only the motherboard, cpu, and memory on a budget. I was hoping to keep the spend around $500, but am willing to go a bit over if the hardware looks right. Mainly want parts that won't give me any compatibility issues with unraid.





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1 hour ago, skunk said:

Perhaps a solution where I can start with CPU transcoding and later add a video card if I want more transcoding power.

Or get an Intel CPU with iGPU and only get a dedicated GPU if for some reason you find (as some do) that Quicksync Video (QSV) transcoding does not meet your quality standards.


I am supporting four additional households from my Plex server and I have had as many as 5 simultaneous hw trancodes happening with my 4 core/8 thread Xeon and there is still plenty of CPU overhead for other uses.  I could probably do even more. I have a light use Windows 10 VM as well but my server would likely not support 5-6 transoding streams, local playback, unRAID NAS functions and the VM being used heavily all going simultaneously.


Remote streams were being transcoded to 720p 4 Mbps with very good quality but I recently raised that to 1080p 8Mbps because all households have sufficient Internet bandwidth.


3-4 4K transcoded streams is going to be a problem.  Plex recommends a passmark score of 17,000 for one 4K transcode to 1080p.  With 1080p content the necessary CPU passmark score is 2000 per stream.  Of course, QSV transcoding alleviates that requirement greatly, but, 3-4 4K transcodes is still not going to be possible.  For remote streaming stick to 1080p and direct play 4K content locally.  Because of how resource intensive 4K transcoding is, many people maintain two Plex libraries; one with 4K content for local playback and another with 1080p content for remote/mobile device playback.


There is a good probability that I will soon be upgrading my system to an 8-core/16 thread Xeon with 64GB RAM, not because I want to do 4K transcoding (the CPU is rated at 17,000 passmarks, but because I may want some additional uses for my server and more overhead.  That upgrade is going to cost me about $1200 and I will sell my current MB, CPU and 32 GB RAM.

Edited by Hoopster

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Hey thanks for all the good information! I didn't think I could do direct play on my apple tv for .mkv containers with h264 and x265 but I just tested and there's almost no change to cpu processing on my unraid box when I do so. I wonder if I can do direct play for people watching remote content on my server for 4K. In theory I'd think would work as I have fiber and so do the people sharing my library. That would greatly reduce the need for me having to transcode any 4k content at all. 


Which MB/CPU combo are you considering? 


Thanks again!

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33 minutes ago, skunk said:

Which MB/CPU combo are you considering? 

I am considering purchasing the following:


ASRock Rack E3C246D4U uATX Motherboard (~$280)

Intel Xeon E-2278G CPU 8 core/16-thread CPU with iGPU (~$500)

64GB (2x32GB) Samsung ECC UDIMM DDR4 RAM ($450-$500)


The CPU and RAM are hard to find right now in retail channels


I will be selling the following for $500-$550 when I get the new parts in:

  • ASRock Rack C236 WSI motherboard
  • Intel Xeon E3-1245 V5 CPU (4 core/8 thread CPU with iGPU
  • Noctua NH-L9x65 CPU cooler
  • 32GB (2x16GB) Crucial ECC UDIMM DDR4 RAM

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