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Best Motherboard for Plex Media Server/File Server

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December 15, 2013 3:50:48 PM

I am planning on upgrading my home server to run Plex. This machine will not actually be used as an HTPC, but will be networked via a gigabit router to another device. Currently it has an older motherboard with a 900 MHz processor and around 384 MB memory which is far below the capabilities needed for media streaming. However the number of possible motherboard/cpu combinations is bewildering.

My preference is for AMD as they are usually cheaper than Intel. And since Plex is very CPU intensive I'm looking at at least a quad core if not a 6 core processor (let me know if that is overkill). Beyond that a gigabit ethernet port is a must and RAID support would be nice. Size is not an issue since my case is large and has little pins inside that can be rearranged to fit any size motherboard. The server will probably be controlled via SSH much of the time so graphics are less important. It currently has an older video card, but possibly too old for modern boards so onboard graphics would be nice. Additionally my case can comfortably fit six hard drives so at least six SATA ports is a must.
December 18, 2013 2:36:47 PM

Here is a possible build: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/2mqWx. This is towards the higher end of what I envision, but gives you the general idea of what I am looking for. Has anyone had any experience with that motherboard/cpu combo? My PC has a Gigabyte motherboard and I like it alot.
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April 4, 2014 7:48:28 AM

Assumptions:
- Will install OS via USB drive or temporarily hook up a DVD drive.
- Will temporarily hook up a monitor, then access remotely via something like Chrome remote desktop.
- Use some form of UNIX.
- Will use a free media server software like Plex.

Here is what I built - All prices are from Amazon on about 3/31/2014:

$46.98 - Corsiar CX 430
$43.49 - Crucial 4GB (2Gbx2) DDR3 1333 Ram
$139.99 - AMD FX-8320 (8 core)
$40.79 (with $10 rebate) - ASUS M5A78L-M LX Plus motherboard
$74.99 - Crucial M500 120GB SSD
$5.00 - Milk Crate
total = $351.24

I used Windows 7 Home, but a cheaper option would be Windows Home Server for like $62 if you need a windows option.

Most of the forums recommend using Intel hardware, but AMD is so much cheaper and most people say having enough cores is key. This AMD chip has a much higher TWP (like 145 vs like 85ish for intel 4550K), but it costs less than half as much. Also, you get 8 cores instead of 4 cores hyper threaded. I have been using milk creates for litecoin rigs for a while now and they work great for a server that is going to sit in your basement out of sight. They allow great air flow/component access and are really cheap. I use a KVM switch between my 2 litecoin rigs and 1 Plex media server so I only need one monitor.

With this setup, I've been able to stream through my Roku 3, as well as to various Android and iOS devices simultaneously. Have not yet experienced any stuttering, even with transcoding a 25+GB blu ray file (in MKV format).

Hope this helps.

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April 4, 2014 9:03:50 AM

That is a very attractive build. The low cost is particularly appealing. I already have a monitor, keyboard, and mouse which are hooked up to the machine now. Also having retired my desktop PC (which could conceivably be turned into a PLEX machine itself with some work) means there is also a DVD drive which is not being used. As for OS, I had planned to use Linux, but am eligible to get Windows Server 2012 through Dreamspark so really both options are free. It is just a choice of which I am most comfortable with. Thank you very much for you input.
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