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Plex on HTPC or NAS?
#1
I am in the process of building my HTPC and Synology NAS, and I want to make sure that I am thinking correctly about how I will incorporate Plex (and Kodi) into the system. Right now, I am planning on using the Plex add-on for Kodi so that I will have Plex as the "server" and Kodi as the UI for the system. Because I will need transcoding of the content for tablets, smartphones, etc., I plan to install Plex and Kodi on the HTPC rather than the NAS, and just use the NAS for storage, and I am wondering if that's the best approach?  The HTPC will be a high-horsepower Core i7-6700K machine with at least 16GB RAM, liquid cooling, SSD etc., so it will be very fast.  I appreciate any feedback on this question.  Thank you.
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#2
(12-07-2015, 12:17 PM)masher65 Wrote: I am in the process of building my HTPC and Synology NAS, and I want to make sure that I am thinking correctly about how I will incorporate Plex (and Kodi) into the system. Right now, I am planning on using the Plex add-on for Kodi so that I will have Plex as the "server" and Kodi as the UI for the system. Because I will need transcoding of the content for tablets, smartphones, etc., I plan to install Plex and Kodi on the HTPC rather than the NAS, and just use the NAS for storage, and I am wondering if that's the best approach?  The HTPC will be a high-horsepower Core i7-6700K machine with at least 16GB RAM, liquid cooling, SSD etc., so it will be very fast.  I appreciate any feedback on this question.  Thank you.

@masher65 what (quality) content are you try to stream? Are you going to stream 1080p content or less, or are you going to stream UHD 4k?

The reason I am asking is depending on your network quality you may just be OK with using your synology for NAS and using Kodi (without Plex) on your other devices. You can use MySQL database on your Synology to keep your media library statuses synced.

Smartphones and tablets these days have enough power to decode themselves as long as you are not looking at 4K or your network is not bad.

Any other reason why you want Plex?
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#3
(12-07-2015, 12:45 PM)Anand Wrote:
(12-07-2015, 12:17 PM)masher65 Wrote: I am in the process of building my HTPC and Synology NAS, and I want to make sure that I am thinking correctly about how I will incorporate Plex (and Kodi) into the system. Right now, I am planning on using the Plex add-on for Kodi so that I will have Plex as the "server" and Kodi as the UI for the system. Because I will need transcoding of the content for tablets, smartphones, etc., I plan to install Plex and Kodi on the HTPC rather than the NAS, and just use the NAS for storage, and I am wondering if that's the best approach?  The HTPC will be a high-horsepower Core i7-6700K machine with at least 16GB RAM, liquid cooling, SSD etc., so it will be very fast.  I appreciate any feedback on this question.  Thank you.

@masher65 what (quality) content are you try to stream? Are you going to stream 1080p content or less, or are you going to stream UHD 4k?

The reason I am asking is depending on your network quality you may just be OK with using your synology for NAS and using Kodi (without Plex) on your other devices. You can use MySQL database on your Synology to keep your media library statuses synced.

Smartphones and tablets these days have enough power to decode themselves as long as you are not looking at 4K or your network is not bad.

Any other reason why you want Plex?

Ultimately, it will be 4K to the 4 main TVs, including the home theater.  Initially it will be 1080p to all devices that will take it. I am building the network from the ground up (as part of building a new house), so it will be a gigabit wired network using Cat6 cabling.  My goal is to have a uniform UI over all devices so that the less technical folks using the system won't have to switch between UI's from device to device. That's why I want to use Kodi for that, but I want Plex to handle the serving of the content because then I just need 1 repository. Perhaps I am not giving Kodi enough credit, but it seems to me that you can't do the same thing with Kodi that you can with Plex as far as media serving is concerned. I'd appreciate your take on that.
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#4
With a gigabit network, you won't have problems streaming from NAS. You will definitely need a lot of power to transcode. So your plex server needs to be powerful. What about scenarios when two or two people are watching? Will your Plex server handle 4K transcoding for all of them (it may be a rare occurrence)?

The major difference is Plex transcodes on server, so low stress on client hardware. Kodi decodes locally so higher stress on client hardware. But Kodi can do a lot of what Plex does and possibly more. Specifically what Plex feature(s) do you think Kodi is missing?

Depending on the operating system you use on your HTPC, you can mount your synlogy nas drive on your HTPC and let Plex transcode videos for your devices. But remember, now for each video streamed you are using roughly twice the bandwidth: NAS to HTPC and then Plex on HTPC to clients.

Also, I know Plex but don't use it at this point. I use Kodi and I don't stream 4K at this point. So I may be a bit biased.
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#5
(12-07-2015, 03:32 PM)Anand Wrote: With a gigabit network, you won't have problems streaming from NAS. You will definitely need a lot of power to transcode. So your plex server needs to be powerful. What about scenarios when two or two people are watching? Will your Plex server handle 4K transcoding for all of them (it may be a rare occurrence)?

The major difference is Plex transcodes on server, so low stress on client hardware. Kodi decodes locally so higher stress on client hardware. But Kodi can do a lot of what Plex does and possibly more. Specifically what Plex feature(s) do you think Kodi is missing?

Depending on the operating system you use on your HTPC, you can mount your synlogy nas drive on your HTPC and let Plex transcode videos for your devices. But remember, now for each video streamed you are using roughly twice the bandwidth: NAS to HTPC and then Plex on HTPC to clients.

Also, I know Plex but don't use it at this point. I use Kodi and I don't stream 4K at this point. So I may be a bit biased.
The two features that Plex offers over Kodi are server-based transcoding as you mentioned and also a central database so that I don't have to have a library on each device.  I have one Plex database/library on the HTPC or NAS and every device simply connects to that database/library and uses it. Kodi by itself requires a library on each device that will use it. That means that libraries will instantly get out of sync between devices. I do understand that I could use a MySQL database to handle the synchronization, but that option is brand new to me and I need to research it further. In my vision of a perfect world, I would have one database/library for all devices on the network, and one consistent, customizable GUI to access that library. That's why I chose running Kodi on top of Plex, but if I can achieve the same, or better, results using a MySQL db with just Kodi, then I am certainly open to try that approach.

It will be possible for two or more devices (a TV and the theater for example) to be running at the same time.  It is my understanding that, with the i7 quad core processor and Plex, that should not be an issue because one core would be dedicated to transcoding one device.  In theory then, I should see very little degradation with up to 4 transcoded streams running simultaneously which would be highly unlikely in my case.  If my understanding is incorrect, then that is what I need to know before I spend a great deal of money on hardware.  By the way, I will be running Windows on the HTPC because I also want to use it to edit videos with PowerDirector.
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#6
Why do you prefer server-based transcoding? Are your client devices not powerful enough to decode locally?

MySQL setup is what I use and I have not had any issues with it. You can even backup your database periodically. It is quite easy to setup especially when you have a device like Synology that comes with a MySQL server: http://www.htpcbeginner.com/kodi-mysql-s...e-library/

I am not trying to sway you towards Kodi. I am just challenging you so you can make the decision yourself. That said, Plex could definitely serve your needs. You could use Kodi with a Plexbmc addon compatible skin. If you just use your HTPC for streaming and not transcoding then you would underutilizing your HTPC resources.
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#7
I am leaning towards server-based transcoding because eventually I will be running 4K, and even if my Kindle and iPads and smartphones could transcode 4K, it would likely be far slower than doing it on a server. Believe me, I am not opposed to Kodi at all, and if I can find a way to centralize the library (e.g. via MySQL), then I will certainly look at that solution. The Plex plugin for Kodi solves my problem for now, but I am still researching other methods, so I will give the Kodi/MySQL solution an opportunity as well. I have also looked at creating versions of my movies that would be acceptable without (much) transcoding and just having more than one copy of each movie, but I would rather not do that if I don't need to.
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