Budget Plex Server Build Critique

I'm tired of using my main desktop to serve Plex to my living room TV, so I'm looking to create a standalone Plex server. The server will stream and transcode to a PS3 in HD. In the near future, I will add a Roku2 to another room which will serve up SD content. Eventually I plan to add a home theater in the basement that will also stream, but I may install Plex Home Theater, so likely no transcoding will be required. Besides Plex, I plan to use the server as a simple basic file server and also for backups for Windows 10 machines.

Here is what I have so far. I'm not partial to either AMD or Intel or any particular OS. I've only worked in Windows before, but I'm confident in figuring out other software if necessary. I'm looking for the best bang for the buck. I want to keep the price as low as possible (<$300), not including software if necessary. I already have a 4TB Samsung External Desktop HD (USB 3.0) that holds my media collection that is currently plugged into my router. I plan to just plug this into the server.

Plex Server Build

What would you change out? What is worth a little more cash in order for much better performance? Can I get by without paying for another copy of Windows? Are there any decent micro-ATX cases in the $50 range? Everything I saw looked like cheap junk. Finally, how scared should I be of the built in PSU?
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  1. I did a little different take on your build with the Intel dual core. It has OBG and the single core performance is close to the AMD. Plus, it's more energy efficient. Not much available for cases less than 50 bucks with a good PSU. I think the CM might be the best of the lot. Just a thought, but if you added a GTX 950, you could use this build for your HTPC and Plex server, plus you could offload trans-coding to the card. Should be good for a couple of streams.

    PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant

    CPU: Intel Pentium G3220 3.0GHz Dual-Core Processor ($49.99 @ SuperBiiz)
    Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-H81M-HD2 Micro ATX LGA1150 Motherboard ($39.99 @ Micro Center)
    Memory: Crucial 4GB (2 x 2GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($22.99 @ Newegg)
    Storage: A-Data Premier Pro SP600 64GB 2.5" Solid State Drive ($34.99 @ Amazon)
    Video Card: MSI GeForce GTX 950 2GB Video Card ($119.99 @ Newegg)
    Case: Cooler Master Elite 342 (Black) MicroATX Mini Tower Case w/400W Power Supply ($52.99 @ SuperBiiz)
    Total: $320.94
    Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available
    Generated by PCPartPicker 2015-12-29 10:46 EST-0500
  2. BadActor said:
    I did a little different take on your build with the Intel dual core. It has OBG and the single core performance is close to the AMD. Plus, it's more energy efficient. Not much available for cases less than 50 bucks with a good PSU. I think the CM might be the best of the lot. Just a thought, but if you added a GTX 950, you could use this build for your HTPC and Plex server, plus you could offload trans-coding to the card. Should be good for a couple of streams.

    PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant

    CPU: Intel Pentium G3220 3.0GHz Dual-Core Processor ($49.99 @ SuperBiiz)
    Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-H81M-HD2 Micro ATX LGA1150 Motherboard ($39.99 @ Micro Center)
    Memory: Crucial 4GB (2 x 2GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($22.99 @ Newegg)
    Storage: A-Data Premier Pro SP600 64GB 2.5" Solid State Drive ($34.99 @ Amazon)
    Video Card: MSI GeForce GTX 950 2GB Video Card ($119.99 @ Newegg)
    Case: Cooler Master Elite 342 (Black) MicroATX Mini Tower Case w/400W Power Supply ($52.99 @ SuperBiiz)
    Total: $320.94
    Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available
    Generated by PCPartPicker 2015-12-29 10:46 EST-0500



    I had the same thought after my first post of running the server and HTPC on the same client. My new build incorporates an i3, as well as changing to an itx form factor and adding a BD drive. The integrated graphics on the i3 should be more than enough for video playback correct? Any transcoding that needs to happen for other systems on the network should be a breeze for the i3 right?

    PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant

    CPU: Intel Core i3-4130 3.4GHz Dual-Core Processor ($99.99 @ SuperBiiz)
    Motherboard: MSI H81I Mini ITX LGA1150 Motherboard ($62.99 @ NCIX US)
    Memory: G.Skill Ripjaws X Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1866 Memory ($32.00 @ Newegg)
    Storage: A-Data Premier Pro SP600 64GB 2.5" Solid State Drive ($34.99 @ Amazon)
    Case: Silverstone ML04B HTPC Case ($69.99 @ Directron)
    Power Supply: FSP Group 220W 80+ Certified Mini ITX Power Supply ($42.99 @ Directron)
    Optical Drive: LG UH12NS30 Blu-Ray Reader, DVD/CD Writer ($34.99 @ Newegg)
    Total: $377.94
    Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available
    Generated by PCPartPicker 2015-12-29 11:22 EST-0500

    I've never built an HTPC before. Any good links for reading up on software? This needs to be easy enough for my wife and kids to manage. What OS is living room friendly (easy to navigate with a remote)?
  3. Yea, you don't need a lot of processing power. I think the minimum specs call for an Intel dual core at least 1.8 GHZ for playback and 2.4 for transcoding. The Intel on board graphics are getting better, too.

    https://support.plex.tv/hc/en-us/sections/200055547-System-Requirements
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