Top 8 Best NAS for Plex Server in 2024: Reviewed and Ranked

Setting up a home media server with Plex has never been easier thanks to Network Attached Storage (NAS) devices that are built from the ground up to stream media. In this comprehensive guide, we review the top 8 NAS systems to use with Plex in 2024 based on performance, features and value.

What to Look for in a NAS for Plex

When choosing a NAS for Plex, there are a few key factors to consider:

CPU – For smooth 4K and multi-stream playback in Plex, you need at least a quad-core CPU. Intel Celeron and Intel Core i3 are good entry-level and mid-range picks respectively. For heavy transcoding workloads, a Core i5 or i7 works best.

RAM – Having more RAM reduces buffering and skips during video playback. At least 4GB is recommended for most Plex streaming setups, but power users transcoding 4K H.265 media may need 8GB or 16GB.

Drive Bays – More bays allow adding higher capacity drives down the line. For Plex, a 4 or 5 bay NAS is a good sweet spot, but serious media hoarders should get 6-8 bays.

Transcoding Support – Hardware acceleration using Intel Quick Sync or a dedicated graphics card improves Plex transcoding speeds when streaming to weaker devices. Quick Sync support is must with Intel-powered NAS devices.

Connectivity – Having 1GbE or better (2.5GbE, 5GbE or 10GbE) ethernet ensures fast data transfers from your media library to client devices. Some video formats also benefit from SSD caching. Dual LAN provides failover support.

With these criteria in mind, let us look at the top NAS picks for Plex servers this year across various budgets and use cases.

1. Synology DiskStation DS920+ – Best Overall NAS for Plex

CPU – Intel Celeron J4125 4-core 2.0 GHz
RAM – 4GB DDR4, Expandable to 8GB
Drive Bays – 4
Quick Sync – Yes
LAN Ports – 2 x Gigabit

If you want a fast and user-friendly NAS for Plex without blowing your budget, look no further than the DS920+. Its quad-core Jasper Lake processor delivers excellent 4K video playback and transcoding speeds thanks to Intel Quick Sync support.

The DiskStation OS makes everything from initial setup to adding media libraries completely beginner-friendly. Link aggregation ensures blistering 1.2Gbps reads and writes. You also get comprehensive backup and sync tools for your media collection.

For media aficionados looking to get started with Plex, the DS920+ hits all the right notes without costing a fortune.

2. QNAP TS-h886-D1622-16G – Best High-end NAS for Plex

CPU – AMD Ryzen 7 3700X 8-Core 3.6 GHz
RAM – 16GB DDR4, Expandable to 64GB
Drive Bays – 8 + 2 SSD
Quick Sync – No, has Radeon RX 550
LAN Ports – 4 x 2.5GbE

If budget is no constraint and you want the absolute best Plex NAS money can buy, the QNAP TS-h886 is unmatched in performance. It packs AMD‘s blazing fast 8-core Ryzen 3700X CPU that delivers fantastic multi-tasking muscle.

You get PCIe Gen 3 support for adding superfast M.2 NVME cache drives. Transcoding is accelerated by the onboard AMD Radeon RX 550 graphics. The HDMI 2.0 port allows 4K direct playback on the NAS itself.

With its mammoth 16GB RAM out of the box, support for VMs and Docker containers, the TS-h886 is incredible overkill for Plex streaming alone. But it does give serious media enthusiasts unmatched room to grow their storage and hosting needs over time.

3. Asustor AS6604T – Best NAS for Plex under $1000

CPU – Intel Celeron J4125 4-core 2.0 GHz
RAM – 4GB DDR4, Expandable to 16GB
Drive Bays – 4
Quick Sync – Yes
LAN Ports – 2 x 2.5GbE

For budget-conscious Plex users who still want flagship features without breaking the bank, the Asustor AS6604T delivers excellent bang for buck. Transcoding is handled smoothly by Intel Quick Sync support.

The HDMI port allows 4K direct playback, and the eSATA port lets you connect external drives for easily expanding your storage pool. AiVideo intelligently analyzes media types for correctly indexing them for Plex, while AiFoto does the same for your photo libraries.

If you want a NAS below $1000 that still ticks all the right boxes for Plex without compromising on performance or quality, the AS6604T expertly fills that gap.

4. Synology DiskStation DS1621+ – Best 6 Bay NAS for Plex

CPU – AMD Ryzen V1500B 4-core 2.2 GHz
RAM – 8GB DDR4, Expandable to 32GB
Drive Bays – 6
Quick Sync – No, has 2GB DDR5 GPU
LAN Ports – 2 x Gigabit

For Plex users looking to maximize their storage for holding huge media libraries, the Synology DS1621+ is an excellent choice. It offers the perfect balance of CPU horsepower, RAM and drive bays to handle very large collections while keeping everything snappy.

Plex video transcoding is hardware accelerated by the built-in 2GB DDR5 GPU. The PCIe 3.0 slot allows adding 10GbE network cards, SSD caches or graphics cards down the line. Link aggregation provides 2Gbps throughput to handle high bitrate media smoothly.

If you have a growing media library already hitting multiple terabytes or planning to in the future, the DS1621+ has all the drive bays, RAM and expandability you need.

5. QNAP TS-453D-8G – Best Budget 4 Bay NAS for Plex

CPU – Intel Celeron J4125 4-core 2.0 GHz
Drive Bays – 4
Quick Sync – Yes
LAN Ports – 2 x 2.5GbE

If you want the most affordable NAS with good performance for Plex, the QNAP TS-453D-8G packs excellent hardware into its compact chassis. It uses the same Intel J4125 Jasper Lake chip as the Synology DS920+, so you are getting very capable Quad-core muscle with Quick Sync handling video transcoding.

You can add an internal M.2 NVMe SSD cache drive for optimized media read performance. The HDMI port delivers smooth 4K playback, and the PCIe slot allows expanding functionality by adding graphics cards and 10GbE network adapters in the future.

For budget-focused buyers wanting the best bang for buck when setting up their first Plex server, the TS-453D-8G delivers fantastic value.

6. Synology DS420j – Best Budget 2 Bay NAS for Plex

CPU – Realtek RTD1296 Quad-core 1.4 GHz
Drive Bays – 2
Quick Sync – No
LAN Ports – 1 x Gigabit

If you want the cheapest NAS for getting started with Plex on a shoestring budget, the Synology DS420j delivers good bang for buck. The Realtek quad-core CPU provides smooth media playback, and RAM is upgradable later down the line if needed.

It can handle basic 1080p transcoding easily and 4K streams that direct play to supported devices like the NVIDIA Shield TV. For first-time NAS buyers wanting to experiment with Plex on the lowest possible budget, it offers great value for money.

7. TerraMaster F5-422 – Best 5 Bay NAS for Plex

CPU – Intel Celeron J3455 Quad-core 1.5 GHz
Drive Bays – 5
Quick Sync – Yes
LAN Ports – 1 x Gigabit + 2 x 10GbE SFP+

If you like having the extra storage flexibility of a 5-bay design for Plex media duties, the TerraMaster F5-422 offers a compelling package on a budget. It uses an older yet still very capable Intel Celeron chip with Quick Sync making transcoding easy work.

The USP here is the inclusion of two fast 10GbE SFP+ ports, allowing you to create a speedy network backbone to stream very high bitrate content smoothly. Solid multimedia credentials like HDMI 2.0, 3.5mm audio and Dolby Audio decoding give it media playing versatility as well.

For budget buyers needing more bays for Plex plus the option to build a 10GbE infrastructure, the F5-422 delivers excellent overall value.

8. QNAP TS-h1290FX-6500 – Best High-end 12 Bay NAS for Plex

CPU – AMD Ryzen 9 5950X 16-Core 3.4 GHz
Drive Bays – 12
Quick Sync – No, has NVIDIA T1200 GPU
LAN Ports – 8 x 2.5GbE

If you are looking for the ultimate Plex NAS server money can buy, the staggeringly powerful QNAP TS-h1290FX simply has no rival. It is massively overpowered for home media streaming alone, but gives enterprise-grade scalability for collectors with ginormous libraries.

The 16-core Ryzen 9 5950X and Quadro T1200 GPU can handle just about any transcoding workload you throw at it. Its twelve drive bays let you store over 240TB natively. The eight 2.5GbE ports allow unparalleled network throughput for multiple ultra high bitrate streams.

In terms of raw hardware muscle, the TS-h1290FX sits in a league of its own among prosumer NAS units for multimedia. For die-hard cinephiles and audiophiles, this is the platonic ideal of a Plex server.

How to Choose the Right NAS for Your Plex Needs

When shopping for a NAS to run your Plex Media Server, match your use case to the right hardware specs:

  • For 1080p streams with some basic transcoding, any modern NAS with Intel Quick Sync will work well. Look for a quad-core CPU and 4GB RAM.
  • For heavier transcoding and 4K playback, get a mid-range NAS with 6-8GB RAM. Models with AMD/Intel 6 or 8 core CPUs will excel here.
  • For many parallel 1080p streams, multiple 4K transcodes or Direct Play, get a high-end NAS. Prioritize CPU core count and PCIe slots for adding cache drives or graphics cards.
  • Maximize drive bays for large media libraries – a 6 to 8 bay NAS ensures room to grow storage.
  • 10GbE networks make sense if you have multiple high bitrate 4K HDR streams.
  • User friendly OS with good Plex integration is ideal for first-time NAS buyers.

Setting up Plex Media Server on a NAS

Once you have chosen the right NAS hardware for your needs, here is a quick overview of the steps involved:

  1. First, configure RAID storage on your NAS drives for data protection using the NAS OS web console.

  2. Claim your Plex server by signing up for a free Plex account and linking it to your media server.

  3. Install Plex Media Server app from the app repository within your NAS operating system e.g. Synology‘s DSM, QNAP‘s QTS, Asustor‘s ADM etc.

  4. Create media folders on your NAS and scan them from the Plex server app so they are added to your libraries. Match TV show and movie filenames to metadata automatically.

  5. Enable remote access in Plex server settings so you can stream outside home. Set up port forwarding on your router.

  6. Install Plex client app on your streaming devices, create user profiles and share your libraries. Configure streaming quality settings.

And you are all set! Just sit back and start enjoying your movies, TV shows, music and photos streamed to any device you own.

Final Word

Setting up a DIY media server for Plex has become incredibly easy thanks to purpose-built NAS solutions from Synology, QNAP, Asustor and others. We looked at the best options to suit all budgets and use cases. Our top overall pick is the excellent Synology DS920+ which offers the right mix of performance, features and user friendly software.

Do share any feedback, questions or recommendations of your favorite Plex NAS in the comments section below!

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