PR4100 as a Plex Server? Good move or Bad?


#1

I am considering purchasing this server for my use as a marginally future-proof Plex Server. I have an expiring giftcard that I am looking to offload and Dell has this for the same price as WD/Amazon, so I think it would be well utilized on this server. I have had excellent results with the MyCloud Mirror Gen 2 that I purchased over a year ago, however I have almost filled that drive, and I was looking to get a second. With the mindset of wanting to have something I can grow into, the PR4100 seems like the right device for me. Before I take the plunge though, I wanted to run a couple of questions by the community.

Initially, I was going to buy the diskless model and wait to see if I find any sales on drives. Looking through the Compatibility List it looks like the HGST Ultrastar He8 8TB (HUH728080ALE604) drive might be what I’d want as a reliable, high-capacity storage option. Is that a proper conclusion or are there other cheaper or better options for something as simple as a Plex server? I assumed I wanted 7200rpm, and the compatible WD Red 8TB drive (WD80EFZX) looked like it only went to 5400rpm…

Since I will slowly be filling the drive with media, I hadn’t planned on acquiring all four drives at once. Will I be able to set up two drives now in a RAID so that one mirrors the other and then, as time goes on, I can purchase another two drives, setting them as a separate volume and RAID them as well? Is that a specific RAID setup or is that just two separate RAID 1 setups? Is that possible on this device?

I am aware that this is the only drive unit that current supports hardware transcoding for Plex. Has anyone had any transcoding experiences with that worth sharing? I normally only have mp4 files, but I also have the occasional AVI and have started to accumulate some x265/HEVC files. Are those capable of being transcoded well or is that going to be something that gets resolved as players (Roku, iOS 11) start to natively handle the format?

The drive also seems to have the capability for us to upgrade the RAM to 16GB. Would the extra RAM do anything for me running it as a Plex server (concurrent streams?) or is that largely for the enterprise applications?

Will I encounter any issues running both the MyCloud Mirror and the PR4100 on the same network?

Anything else I should be aware of before I shoot for this? Any and all insight and information is welcome!


#2

I know what you are going thru, as I just make my choice. WD has a 7200 RPM it is the Red Pro Series. The WD Red Pro 8TB 3.5-Inch SATAIII 7200rpm 128MB Cache NAS Internal Hard Drive (WD8001FFWX) runs about $325 which is more expensive than what you are looking at. I can’t help you with PLEX as I am having issues setting it up between a Samsung TV and the PR4100.


#3

Is there any benefit to having WD over HGST? I am only familiar with HGST from the occasional Back Blaze Hard Drive Failure Report, and they are consistently among the lowest failures.

As for Plex, what issues are you having? Is it not as plug-and-play as other devices?


#4

FYI, HGST is the previously named Hitachi drive company and was purchased by WD a few years ago. Personally I would buy a PR4100 already populated with WD Red drives, and you can buy them with two drives inside instead of four drives, so two could be added later when needed.

As for Plex, I do not use it because I have better ways of viewing my movies than with Plex. Plex is installed on my WD 2100 My Cloud just so I could see what the attraction was all about. Not at all impressed. It causes the NAS to run all the time. Plex appears to be way overblown for my use. Most of all my movie collection I made, and they are ISO files and MKV files and stored on the WD NAS. I have mp4/m4v files made from many of my movies for tablet (iPad and Kindle) viewing, and never watch these on the big screen TV. So, in either case do I need to use Plex for TV or tablets. I also have the mp4 type of files on a WD My Passport Wireless drive we use for travel so we can watch them when away from home with our tablets – or a TV.


#5

Is it possible to get two WD Red Drives that are 8TB and 7200rpm for a good price point when purchasing the unit? I wasn’t under the impression ordering it allowed that level of customization.


#6

I have seen premium WD NAS for sale in all sorts of configs; especially from Amazon and WD Store. You might check the config specs at wdc.com and inquire at the WD store for more details. This is a big purchase, and I would get what I want, regardless of price if within reason. Mine came pre-configed with two 4TB Red drives from WD, and worked right out of the box.


#7

Sorry to be a nudge, but do you mind sharing a link? The builds I seem to find online are for multiple smaller capacity drives in the 16TB variety, which is all I probably need for now. I’d assumed that $499 for a diskless and then ~$550 for the two 8TB drives would be more efficient than buying everything now and letting a whole separate volume of two 8TB drives sit idle for a while. It took me two years before I filled up 4TB, and that’s with having started out with ~2TB of files I’d already had.

I know this is a long-term purchase, but I hadn’t intended to lay out all of the cash on Day 1, if that makes sense. I have to imagine that at some point in the next few years (before I’d necessarily need the other drives) that there would be a WD or HGST hard drive sale or maybe even prices on drives would come down some.


#8

I have no links to share. I think you are capable to go to amazon.com and wdc.com and find the WD Store there.

Look, good luck with your search and purchase.


#9

Okay. I haven’t been able to find what you referred to in my search, but I will keep looking. Hopefully someone else will come along either with a link to further customization of drives or answers to my other questions.


#10

OK, here is a link to Newegg showing the different configs.


Amazon has similar prices. Seems the WD store is referring folks to places that sell them.Seems no one is telling what the capacity of the drives are inside, but they likely contain 4 drives that add up to the total capacity, so the only way to be assured of 8TB drives is to buy the 32TB box, or buy a diskless model and two separate 8TB drives.

Most sellers are selling the diskless box for $500, and until 7/27, Newegg has the 6TB drives on sale for $199 with a promo code. If you really want a custom config, get a diskless box and drives you want as separates.


#11

Right, that’s what I’d found as well, although I interpreted your initial post about getting a box with two drives as being able to get two 8TB drives somewhere.

I just found this post on SlickDeals about WD - easystore® 8TB drives that people are purchasing for the purpose of “shucking” and adding drives to NAS boxes. The down side I saw was that these drives are 5400RPM vs the 7200RPM of the HGST drives I mentioned earlier, but from some quick Googling, it looks like that wouldn’t adversely affect playback. (Correct me if I’m wrong). Those are selling for $160 a piece which is a substantial savings, but only worth it if there’s no loss in quality.


#12

The WD Red drives in my DL2100 (predecessors to PR series) are 5400 rpm drives. They are basically streaming data that gets buffered. They are storage devices and not processing drives for running a PC. No speed issues. Speed issues are mostly within one’s network, for sure.

Easystore drives are WD’s budget priced drives I believe sold at Best Buy.

Consider this idea: Get the two bay PR2100 series w/two 8TB drives for $900, and get the next gen NAS like it when you need it?


#13

Just to give you more info to chew on, I purchased the PR4100 plus 2 of the 8TB Red 5400 RPM drives for 1029.97 before taxes. In SC, Amazon has agreed to collect taxes.


#14

When you purchased the drive, the two 8TB Reds were a separate purchase though, right? You weren’t able to choose that as a storage option? If I got the diskless PR4100 with my Dell gift card and then used 11% cash back from a certain website, that brings it to ~$400 after taxes. Then if I go and grab two of the easystore hard drives from Best Buy, that’s ~$350 for two 8TB drives. All together, that’s only ~$750 for the same setup. Good move?


#15

I live in WA, and have to pay Amazon WA sales tax, BUT NEWEGG IS IN CA AND THEY DO NOT CHARGE ME WA SALES TAX, SO I DEFINITELY BUY MORE FROM NEWEGG!

You may have time to cancel your Amazon order and place a Newegg order!


#16

My 2-bay DL2100 came with two 4TB drives inside and all purchased as a package from WD at the time.


#17

I’m in NJ, so we get everybody’s sales tax. Although I do have a work friend with a father in CT I could make him visit if it made a substantial difference… But I probably won’t go that far.

If a PR2100 with two 8TB drives cost $900 for you, I am waaay better off with the workaround I mentioned then. I might as well figure out the two separate volume RAID scenario on the PR4100 and call it. I have to believe that setup as a Plex server should set me up for minimum of several years. If it took me two years to fill ~2TB downloading liberally, I’m gonna be in good shape with 16TB.

I’m sure in that time there will be a better model or device on the market, but by and large, I’m watching 1080p at the max. I don’t even own a 4K TV yet, but if this can do minimum one stream at that quality, this sounds like a good plan unless you guys have other things to note.


#18

OK, you’re set. Go for it.


#19

Hello,

I add my own experience as I have a PR2100 (1xWD RED 3TO 5400rpm) and use it with Plex.

I have a wide range of movies with many container (avi, mp4, mkv) with many codec (MPEG4 x265 & x264, DivX, XviD), and bitrate is most of the time around 5000 kb/s.

I play them through a Chromecast Ultra.

And it works perfectly.

To be more precise :

Chromecast Ultra plays itself many codec, so CPU usage is very low when playing a movie with Direct Stream.

However, for some unknown reason, Plex transcode HEVC (x265) to H264 (although Chromecast Ultra is capable of playing HEVC without transcoding). So CPU could raise around 80% (like bit rate ~8 000 kb/s + transcode audio). What’s good is that it has no effect when you’re watching your movie, it’s still fluid as if CPU usage were low.

Some subtitles makes it more difficult and some jolts appears. From what I tested : SRT works well, but PGS don’t.

Hope it helps :slight_smile:

ps: there is a chromecast profile that works great to play HEVC without transcoding : link and tutorial can be found here
ps2: sorry for my english, I hope it is at least understable ^^


#20

That’s cool to hear. I’d never considered a Chromecast as a streaming player, but maybe I should look into it.

I’m not sure whether or not this is related to your issue, but according to this post on Reddit, “it DirectStreams a 1080p HEVC video, so it’s only 4k content that insists on transcoding”