plex server hardware recommendations

Looking to optimize your Plex server? Check out our best hardware recommendations for a seamless streaming experience. From CPUs to storage, we’ve got you covered!

Are you looking to optimize your Plex server for seamless streaming and impeccable performance? Look no further! In this article, we will provide you with the top recommendations for hardware that will enhance your Plex server experience. From powerful processors to ample storage options, we’ve got you covered. Stay tuned for invaluable insights on building the perfect Plex server setup.

Understanding the Requirements for a Plex Server

Best Hardware Recommendations for a Plex Server

CPU importance in Plex Server

When it comes to building a Plex Server, one of the most crucial components to consider is the CPU. The CPU, or Central Processing Unit, is responsible for handling the majority of tasks and calculations performed by your server. This includes tasks such as decoding video files, transcoding media for remote streaming, and running the Plex server software itself. Therefore, it is essential to choose a CPU that can handle these tasks efficiently.

RAM needs for Plex Server

Another important aspect to consider when building a Plex Server is the amount of RAM, or Random Access Memory, your server will require. RAM plays a crucial role in the overall performance of your server, as it acts as a temporary storage space for data that is actively being used by the CPU. This includes caching frequently accessed files, storing metadata for media files, and handling multiple simultaneous streams. Therefore, it is important to ensure that your server has enough RAM to handle these tasks effectively.

Storage capacity needed for maintaining media library

In order to maintain a comprehensive media library on your Plex Server, it is necessary to consider the storage capacity requirements. The storage capacity needed will depend on the size and quantity of media files you plan to store. It is essential to have enough storage space to accommodate your media library, as well as any future expansions. Additionally, it is important to consider the role of transcoding in determining storage requirements, as transcoding can temporarily require additional storage for the creation of optimized media files.

Network requirements for optimal streaming

To ensure optimal streaming performance on your Plex Server, it is crucial to consider the network requirements. The network plays a critical role in delivering media files from your server to various devices, both locally and remotely. Factors such as network speed, stability, and bandwidth can greatly impact the streaming experience. Therefore, it is important to have a robust and reliable network infrastructure in place to support smooth and uninterrupted streaming.

Suggested CPUs for a Plex Server

Intel Core i3 for small Plex Server

If you are setting up a small Plex Server with a limited budget, the Intel Core i3 processor can be a suitable choice. The Core i3 processors offer a good balance between performance and cost, making them ideal for handling basic media transcoding and streaming tasks. However, it is important to note that the Core i3 processors may struggle with simultaneous transcoding of multiple high-definition streams or complex media formats.

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Intel Core i5 for mid-range Plex Server

For those looking to build a mid-range Plex Server with more processing power, the Intel Core i5 processors are a recommended option. The Core i5 processors offer better performance compared to the Core i3 models, making them capable of handling multiple transcoding streams simultaneously. This is particularly important if you have a larger media library or plan to have multiple users streaming media from your server simultaneously.

Intel Core i7 for high-end Plex Server

If you are aiming to build a high-end Plex Server that can handle even the most demanding transcoding tasks, the Intel Core i7 processors are the way to go. The Core i7 processors offer impressive performance capabilities, including the ability to handle multiple simultaneous transcoding streams of high-definition media files. This makes them ideal for users who have a large media library and expect a high number of concurrent users accessing the server.

AMD Ryzen options

In addition to Intel processors, AMD Ryzen processors can also be a viable option for building a Plex Server. Ryzen processors offer competitive performance and are often priced more attractively compared to their Intel counterparts. Depending on your specific requirements and budget, you can choose from various Ryzen models, ranging from the Ryzen 3 for small servers to the Ryzen 9 for high-end server setups.

Recommended amount of RAM for a Plex Server



For basic Plex Servers with minimal simultaneous streams and a small media library, 4GB of RAM can be sufficient. This amount of RAM can handle the necessary tasks, such as running the Plex server software, caching media metadata, and handling basic transcoding. However, it is important to note that 4GB of RAM may limit the server’s ability to handle multiple concurrent streams or more complex media formats.


If you plan to have a mid-range Plex Server with moderate user traffic and a larger media library, it is recommended to have at least 8GB of RAM. This additional RAM allows for smoother multitasking and better handling of multiple transcoding streams simultaneously. It also provides a more comfortable buffer for caching media metadata, resulting in improved overall performance and responsiveness.


For high-end Plex Servers that cater to a large number of users, have a vast media library, or require intensive transcoding, a minimum of 16GB of RAM is recommended. This increased amount of RAM ensures that the server can handle the demands of multiple simultaneous streams and complex media formats without any hiccups. It also allows for more efficient caching of frequently accessed data, further enhancing the overall performance of the server.

More than 16GB RAM

If you anticipate extreme usage scenarios for your Plex Server, such as a large number of concurrent users or resource-intensive transcoding requirements, it might be beneficial to consider having more than 16GB of RAM. While the exact amount will depend on your specific needs, having a higher amount of RAM can provide a substantial performance boost in situations where the server is under a heavy load.

Determining your Storage Needs

Calculating the storage based on media library size

One way to determine your storage needs for a Plex Server is to calculate the total size of your media library. This can be done by adding up the sizes of all your media files, including movies, TV shows, music, and any other content you plan to store on the server. It is important to consider future expansions when calculating storage needs, as you may want to add more media files over time.

The role of transcoding in determining storage

Another important factor to consider when determining your storage needs is the role of transcoding. Transcoding is the process of converting media files into a different format or bitrate to ensure compatibility with different devices and network conditions. This process requires temporary storage space for the creation of optimized media files. Therefore, it is important to consider the potential storage requirements for transcoding when calculating the overall storage capacity needed for your Plex Server.

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Best Hard Drives for a Plex Server

Seagate IronWolf

The Seagate IronWolf hard drives are specifically designed for NAS (Network Attached Storage) applications, making them an excellent choice for a Plex Server. They offer high capacities, ranging from 1TB to 16TB, ensuring ample storage space for your media library. The IronWolf drives also have built-in rotational vibration sensors, which help in maintaining data integrity and reducing the risk of data loss when multiple drives are used in a NAS setup.

Western Digital Red

Western Digital Red drives are another popular choice for Plex Servers. Like the IronWolf drives, they are designed for NAS applications and offer a wide range of capacities. The Red drives also come with features such as NASware technology, which optimizes the drives for NAS systems, and 3D Active Balance Plus, which enhances overall drive performance and reliability.

Best Hardware Recommendations for a Plex Server

Toshiba N300

The Toshiba N300 drives are high-performance hard drives specifically designed for NAS environments. With capacities up to 16TB, these drives offer ample storage space for even the largest media libraries. The N300 drives also come with features such as Rotational Vibration (RV) sensors and Error Recovery Control (ERC) technology, ensuring smooth and reliable operation in a NAS setup.

Seagate Exos X14

If you require an enterprise-grade hard drive for your Plex Server, the Seagate Exos X14 is a top choice. With capacities up to a massive 14TB, these drives are designed to handle demanding workloads and provide exceptional performance and reliability. The Exos X14 drives utilize advanced technologies such as PowerBalance and TCO optimization, making them ideal for large-scale media storage and server applications.

Top SSD Options for a Plex Server

Samsung 860 EVO

The Samsung 860 EVO SSDs are known for their excellent performance, reliability, and longevity. With capacities ranging from 250GB to 4TB, these SSDs offer fast read and write speeds, which can significantly improve the overall responsiveness and loading times of your Plex Server. The 860 EVO SSDs also come with built-in hardware encryption and advanced error correction technology, ensuring data security and integrity.

Crucial MX500

Considered one of the best budget-friendly SSD options, the Crucial MX500 offers impressive performance and reliability. With capacities ranging from 250GB to 2TB, these SSDs provide ample storage space for your media library. The MX500 drives utilize advanced technology such as Dynamic Write Acceleration and Redundant Array of Independent NAND, resulting in enhanced performance and endurance.

Best Hardware Recommendations for a Plex Server


The WD Blue 3D NAND SSDs are known for their reliability, quality, and affordability. With capacities ranging from 250GB to 4TB, these SSDs offer plenty of storage space for your media files. The Blue 3D NAND drives utilize Western Digital’s 3D NAND technology, which provides improved endurance and power efficiency while delivering fast and consistent performance.

SanDisk Ultra 3D

SanDisk Ultra 3D SSDs are a cost-effective option for those who require high-performance storage for their Plex Server. With capacities from 250GB to 4TB, these SSDs offer ample space for storing your media library. The Ultra 3D drives utilize SanDisk’s 3D NAND technology, ensuring faster boot times, shorter load times, and increased overall system responsiveness.

Choosing the right Graphics Card

Role of GPU in Plex Server

While the CPU handles the majority of tasks on a Plex Server, a dedicated graphics card, or GPU (Graphics Processing Unit), can provide additional benefits. A GPU can assist with transcoding media files, reducing the strain on the CPU and improving overall performance. It is important to note that Plex supports GPU transcoding using select NVIDIA and Intel GPUs, while AMD GPUs are not currently supported for this purpose.

NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070

One of the top choices for GPU transcoding on a Plex Server is the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070. This powerful graphics card offers excellent transcoding performance, supporting multiple simultaneous streams and handling high-resolution media files with ease. The RTX 2070 comes with dedicated hardware for video encoding and decoding, resulting in improved performance and reduced CPU utilization.

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AMD Radeon RX 5700

If you prefer an AMD graphics card for your Plex Server, the AMD Radeon RX 5700 is a solid option. While AMD GPUs are not officially supported by Plex for hardware transcoding, the RX 5700 can still offer good performance for software transcoding. The RX 5700 features a high-performance architecture and advanced features, making it a viable choice for users who prefer AMD GPUs.

Intel UHD Graphics 630

For users who have an Intel-based Plex Server, the integrated graphics solution, Intel UHD Graphics 630, can be utilized for hardware transcoding. While not as powerful as dedicated GPUs, the UHD Graphics 630 can still provide a significant boost in transcoding performance. This integrated solution is particularly useful for small-scale Plex Servers and scenarios where a dedicated GPU is not feasible.

Network Gear Recommendations

Network switches

When it comes to setting up a reliable and efficient network infrastructure for your Plex Server, a network switch is an important component to consider. A network switch allows for the connection of multiple devices, such as computers, media streaming devices, and the Plex Server itself, to your network. It provides a stable and high-speed connection between these devices, ensuring smooth data transfer and uninterrupted streaming.


A high-quality router is crucial for establishing a stable and secure network connection for your Plex Server. The router acts as the gateway between your local network and the internet, allowing remote access to your Plex Server from outside your home network. It is important to choose a router that offers sufficient network bandwidth, robust security features, and reliable performance to ensure optimal streaming and remote access capabilities.

Network Interface Cards (NICs)

Network Interface Cards (NICs) are essential for connecting your Plex Server to your network infrastructure. NICs handle the communication between the server and the network, ensuring data transfer and network connectivity. When selecting a NIC for your Plex Server, it is important to consider factors such as network speed (e.g., Gigabit Ethernet), compatibility with your server’s hardware, and any additional features or capabilities that may be required for your specific network setup.

Power Supply Unit (PSU) Requirements

Understanding the power draw of your components

To ensure a stable and reliable power supply to your Plex Server, it is important to understand the power draw of your components. This includes the CPU, GPU (if applicable), hard drives, and any other peripheral devices connected to your server. By calculating the power requirements of each component, you can determine the appropriate wattage for your Power Supply Unit (PSU).

Recommended PSUs

When selecting a PSU for your Plex Server, it is important to choose a reputable and reliable brand. Look for PSUs that are 80 Plus certified, which indicates their energy efficiency. Consider the wattage required to power your components, ensuring that the PSU can handle the total power draw of your system. Additionally, look for PSUs with ample connectors to support all your devices, and consider modular PSUs for easier cable management.

Cooling Solutions for a Plex Server

Air cooling vs Liquid cooling

Proper cooling is essential to ensure the longevity and performance of your Plex Server. There are two main types of cooling solutions to consider: air cooling and liquid cooling. Air cooling involves the use of fans to dissipate heat from the components, while liquid cooling uses a liquid coolant and radiators to regulate temperatures. The choice between air cooling and liquid cooling depends on factors such as the level of cooling required, the specific components used in your server, and personal preferences.

Recommended air coolers

If you opt for air cooling, there are several highly regarded air coolers available for cooling your Plex Server components. Some recommended air coolers include the Noctua NH-D15, Cooler Master Hyper 212 Evo, be quiet! Dark Rock Pro 4, and Cryorig R1 Ultimate. These air coolers offer excellent cooling performance and are known for their quiet operation, making them ideal for a Plex Server where noise reduction is a priority.

Recommended liquid coolers

For users who prefer liquid cooling, there are various options to choose from. Popular choices include closed-loop all-in-one (AIO) liquid coolers such as the Corsair H100i Pro, NZXT Kraken X62, and Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML240R RGB. These AIO liquid coolers offer efficient cooling performance and can help maintain lower temperatures for your Plex Server components. It is important to ensure compatibility with your server’s case and components when selecting a liquid cooler.

In conclusion, building a Plex Server requires careful consideration of the CPU, RAM, storage, network, and cooling requirements. By choosing the appropriate components and following the recommended hardware recommendations, you can ensure optimal performance and a seamless media streaming experience for yourself and your users. Whether you opt for an Intel or AMD CPU, traditional hard drives or SSDs, and air or liquid cooling, each component plays a crucial role in the overall functionality and reliability of your Plex Server.