When shopping around for the best NAS for home, if you have Plex in mind as what you’ll be using your NAS for, there are a few additional factors to consider. To enjoy all your favorite 4K content, you’ll need to have a capable NAS enclosure, which means a powerful CPU. That’s where this collection of enclosures comes into play, allowing you to take your media to the big screen without any buffering.
8 Best NAS for Plex in 2020
- QNAP TVS-672N-i3 — Best Overall: 8 bays, 5Gb LAN, 4GB RAM
- ASUSTOR NIMBUSTOR 4 (AS5304T) — Runner-up: 4 bays, 2.5Gb LAN, 4GB RAM
- TerraMaster F2-221 — Best Affordable: 2 bays, 1Gb LAN, 2GB RAM
- QNAP TVS-872XT-i5 — Best Performance: 8 bays, 10Gb LAN, 16GB RAM, SSD cache
- Synology DiskStation DS220+ — Best Value: 2 bays, 1Gb LAN, 2GB RAM
- QNAP TVS-1282T3 — Best Capacity: 12 bays, 10Gb LAN, 8GB RAM, SSD cache
How to choose the best NAS for Plex?
Choosing the best NAS for home is one thing, but choosing the best NAS for Plex media consumption is a whole different game. It’s easy to look at the most affordable enclosures available and pick them for Plex, which would be fine for music and phones, but if you plan on transcoding and streaming 4K content, you’ll need a NAS with powerful internals.
Many vendors produce NAS enclosures that are great for Plex (and 4K transcoding); it’s simply the case of picking out the highlight models. You can easily find at least one from the likes of Synology, QNAP, and ASUSTOR. If we were to recommend one NAS for you to buy to have the best Plex experience, it would be the QNAP TVS-672N-i3. It’s powerful enough for Plex with plenty of other features.
A good runner-up is the ASUSTOR NIMBUSTOR 4 (AS5304T), which also has some kick-ass networking for game streamers and unique design. And if you want to save some money, or don’t plan on storing too many media files, the Synology DiskStation DS220+ is a sound choice for an affordable Plex that houses an Intel CPU and support for Plex Media Server.
It all comes down to what you plan on using Plex Media Server for. If it’s merely music and photo streaming, you can get away with vastly less powerful and more affordable NAS enclosures. It’s movies and shows where transcoding may be required, especially for 4K content, where you’ll need additional firepower.
1. QNAP TVS-672N-i3: Best NAS for Plex
Bottom line: The QNAP TVS-672N-i3 is the best NAS for Plex in our collection. It houses an Intel Core i3-8100T processor, which is ideal for the transcoding of 4K movies, and there are eight drive bays for storing all your favorite shows, music, movies, and photos. The four 5Gb LAN ports are brilliant for high-speed networks. This NAS ticks all the right boxes.
CPU: Intel Core i3-8100T | Drive bays: 8 | RAM: 4GB DDR4 (max 32GB) | Features: 4x 5Gb LAN, 4x USB 3.2 Gen 2, 1x USB 3.2 Gen 1
- Powerful Intel Core i3 CPU
- 8x drive bays (96TB capacity)
- 4x 5Gb LAN
- Upgradable DDR4 RAM
- Excellent QNAP OS
The QNAP TVS-672N-i3 is the best NAS for Plex, in my opinion. The balance between price and functionality is excellent, making it the most powerful enclosure for this price point by a country mile. This is primarily due to the impressive Intel Core i3-8100T processor, which is far beyond the Intel Celeron CPUs found in more affordable (and sometimes more expensive) enclosures.
It’s not the best CPU you can find in a NAS, but if you plan on going for an Intel Core i5 or Core i7, you’ll be expected to pay for the luxury. The integrated graphics and four physical cores are more than a match for 4K transcoding, which is required if you want to stream a 4K movie to a TV or other receiving device that doesn’t support the file format.
The Intel Core CPU is joined by 4GB of DDR4 RAM, which can be upgraded to 32GB, further cementing this NAS as a substantial investment for the future. The 8 drive bays are more than enough for storing all your media with up to 96TB of capacity available.
But the highlight specifications don’t end there. There are four 5Gb LAN ports, with each one potentially handling upwards of 500MB/s. These can be linked together to create a connection with your router or switch to offer impressive bandwidth. Then you have four USB 3.2 Gen 2 ports and a further single USB 3.2 Gen 1 port. The only drawback to this NAS is the price, which can put some people off.
QNAP’s TVS-672N-i3 isn’t the latest version of this NAS from the company, but it does come with some serious performance. Four 5Gb LAN ports, a capable Intel Core i3 processor, and eight bays.
When picking out the best NAS for Plex, you need to consider a few additional factors on top of those required for buying a general-purpose NAS. Since we already know what the enclosure will be used for, we need to have the specifications tailored to that use. In this case, it’s a Plex Media Server.
The price remains an important factor here, but you will have to part with some considerable cash to truly enjoy streaming media, particularly 4K movies. Most enclosures that support Plex well are also upgradable, so they should be a single-time purchase that lasts many years to come. I’m talking RAM, expansion slots, and M.2 SSD slots.
The essential component for a Plex server is the CPU. This is what will be handling all the transcoding of movies, as well as everything else the NAS enclosure will have to carry out. It’s essential you at least go for an Intel processor. Celeron CPUs are generally pretty good but may struggle with 4K transcoding.
To be safe, I’d recommend an Intel Core i3 processor or higher. These CPUs have enough performance to handle 4K transcoding and more, allowing multiple users to stream their favorite content. It’s best to set up an enclosure that has more performance than required, much like the best graphics card. It’s better to pay more now than paying even more down the line for an earlier upgrade.
2. ASUSTOR NIMBUSTOR 4 (AS5304T): Best Runner-up NAS for Plex
Bottom line: The NIMBUSTOR 4 (AS5304T) is a brilliant NAS from ASUSTOR, rocking a striking design that sets it apart from the rest of the enclosure line-up. It’s not all about looks, however, since this NAS has a capable Intel CPU, plenty of RAM, and fast networking.
CPU: Intel Celeron J4105 | Drive bays: 4 | RAM: 4 GB DDR4 (max 8 GB) | Features: 2x 2.5Gb LAN, 3x USB 3.2 Gen 1, 1x HDMI 2.0a
|ASUSTOR||NIMBUSTOR 4 (AS5304T)||$395 at Amazon|
- Powerful Intel processor
- 4x drive bays (64TB capacity)
- 2x 2.5Gb LAN with link aggregation
- Upgradable DDR4 RAM
- Excellent ASUSTOR OS
- No 10Gb LAN
- Bay locks feel flimsy
- No M.2 slots
The ASUSTOR AS5304T is an excellent NAS. It’s almost the best NAS for Plex. You can use it for home file storage, game streaming, and even Plex. The rather beefy Intel Celeron J4105 CPU is a cracking processor and has enough performance to handle even 4K movie transcoding. It’s not the best around but is perfectly matched for media consumption.
There’s 4GB of DDR4 RAM that is ample enough for most tasks, including Plex, but it’s upgradable should you wish to install modules up to 8GB in capacity. ASUSTOR’s OS is as good as QNAP and Synology. There are plenty of apps and third-party services that can be hooked into this enclosure to expand its capabilities.
Rocking dual-2.5Gb LAN almost eliminates any network bottlenecks, so long as your LAN infrastructure can keep up. This is especially important if you’re a streamer and are looking for something that can handle the bandwidth that comes with offloading recorded media.
There is a downside to this enclosure, and that’s the price, which puts it above other four-bay enclosures, but you get so much more for your money here. It isn’t easy to find speedy LAN ports without going far beyond your budget, even though vendors are working to bring faster ports to more affordable NAS models.
Rocking a powerful Intel Celeron processor, four drive bays, speedy 2.5Gb LAN ports, and upgradable DDR4 RAM, this is one excellent NAS enclosure.
3. TerraMaster F2-221: Best Affordable NAS for Plex
Bottom line: Two is the magic number for the F2-221, not only in the model number but also with the specifications. It has 2GB of RAM, two 1Gb LAN ports, and 2 USB 3.0 ports. Oh, and two drive bays. Your affordable entrance to the wonderful world of NAS and Plex awaits you.
CPU: Intel Celeron J3355 | Drive bays: 2 | RAM: 2GB DDR4 (max 6GB) | Features: 2x 1Gb LAN, 2x USB 3.0,
- Intel Celeron processor
- 2x drive bays (128TB+ capacity)
- 2x 1Gb LAN
- Upgradable DDR4 RAM
- OS is okay
- No 2.5Gb or 10Gb LAN
The TerraMaster F2-22* is an impressive NAS. It has but **two drive bays so you won’t be storing much on this enclosure if you configure RAID (and you really should). So that leaves 16TB of capacity, which could be increased using an external storage unit. But it’s the processor where this little unit truly shines.
The Intel Celeron J3355 is good enough to handle most of the things you need to do with Plex. Stream to multiple devices? Check. Transcode a few movies that aren’t compatible? Check. It’s when you want to try and enjoy 4K content that requires transcoding is where it all starts to fall apart. So long as everything is in line, you can watch 4K movies on this small enclosure.
This is aided by the fact TerraMaster lets you upgrade the 2GB RAM to 6GB. That’s equally impressive for such an affordable NAS enclosure. Add in the two 1Gb ports and two USB 3.0 ports, and you’ve got an excellent starter enclosure for anyone who has yet to own a NAS or set up and enjoy Plex Media Server.
4. QNAP TVS-872XT-i5: Best NAS for Plex with amazing performance
Bottom line: If you want something a little more potent than the rest of our picks here, there’s always the QNAP TVS-872XT-i5 with its Core i5 processor. This processor is a dream for those wanting to set up and run a Plex Media Server. Want to stream 4K movies to multiple devices? No problem.
CPU: Intel Core i5-8400T | Drive bays: 8 | RAM: 16GB DDR4 (max 32GB) | Features: 1x 10Gb LAN, 2x 1Gb LAN, 2x Thunderbolt 3, 4x USB 3.2 Gen 2, 2x M.2 slots
- Powerful Intel Core i5-8400T CPU
- 8x drive bays (128TB+ capacity)
- 1x 10Gb LAN
- Upgradable DDR4 RAM
- Excellent QNAP OS
There are NAS enclosures, and then there are NAS enclosures. The QNAP TVS-872XT-i5 is something else. Intel Celeron processors are great, so too is an Intel Core i3, but how does an Intel Core i5 CPU sound? That’s precisely what this enclosure can be configured with. We’ve highlighted the model with an Intel Core i5-8400T processor.
This CPU is a monster for anything you wish to do with the NAS, but even for Plex, it’s excellent for transcoding 4K content to multiple devices. If you have a busy home that loves to consume media, this is a great enclosure to consider. It’s not all about the CPU, though. The CPU would be bottlenecked if QNAP didn’t include enough RAM.
Inside, the TVS-882BRT3 comes with 16GB of DDR4 RAM installed, but you can easily upgrade it to a whopping 64GB if needed. That’s more than what even the more capable desktop PCs have available. Then there’s the fact this thing comes with two Gigabit ports and one 10Gb port so you can link them up for increased bandwidth for all the streaming.
The eight drive bays allow you to store up to 128TB of data, not taking into account RAID configurations for data redundancy. Still, you do get a few Thunderbolt 3 ports. If you can afford such an enclosure, you’ll bound to have a good time since this is the best NAS for Plex in terms of performance.
5. Synology DiskStation DS220+: Best value NAS for Plex
Bottom line: My pick for the best affordable NAS for Plex simply has to be the Synology DiskStation DS220+. The company recently released this enclosure with improved internals and a better CPU. It’s a fantastic NAS enclosure for the price and can even handle some 4K transcoding, should you require it.
CPU: Intel Celeron J4025 | Drive bays: 2 | RAM: 2 GB DDR4 (max 6 GB) | Features: 2x 1Gb LAN, 2x USB 3.0, upgradable RAM
- Powerful Intel processor
- 2x drive bays (32TB capacity)
- 2x 1Gb LAN with link aggregation
- Upgradable DDR4 RAM
- Excellent Synology OS
- No M.2 slots
- Limited capacity with RAID
- No 2.5Gb LAN
The Synology DiskStation DS220+ may be considerably more affordable than our top NAS picks for Plex, but don’t let that fool you into assuming it won’t be able to handle its own. This capable enclosure comes rocking an Intel Celeron J4025 processor, which is more than enough to handle 4K transcoding of movies, so long as you only have one stream running.
It’s not all about the CPU, however, which is why Synology included 2GB of DDR4 RAM, and you can upgrade that later if you find yourself hitting capacity often. The only drawback is 2 drive bays, which does restrict just how much you can store on the NAS. If you configure the drives to be in a RAID configuration (and we recommend you do), you’ll be left with up to 16TB of storage space.
Other highlights include two 1Gb LAN ports that can be linked together to increase available bandwidth to your router or switch. There are a few USB ports too that let you hook up external storage or accessories. The OS is one of the best around from Synology, allowing you to get more done.
Installing drives inside this enclosure is also a breeze, thanks to the hot-swappable tool-less design of the bays. Simply extract, install the drive, and re-insert, and you’re good to go. This isn’t the best NAS out there for Plex, but it’ll not cause a hole in your wallet.
The DiskStation DS220+ is a well-positioned NAS with an attractive price and plenty of performance. It only has two drive bays and 1Gb LAN, but the upgradable RAM and excellent OS make up for these drawbacks.
6. QNAP TVS-1282T3: Best NAS for Plex with high Capacity
Bottom line: The QNAP TVS-1282T3 is an excellent NAS. It has a powerful Intel Core i5 processor, 16GB of DDR4 RAM preinstalled, two 10Gb ports, and even three HDMI outlets. This is a NAS you should consider if you need a capable storage device to store plenty of media with the capability of driving 4K transcoding.
CPU: Intel Core i5-7500 | Drive bays: 12 | RAM: 16GB DDR4 (max 64GB) | Features: 4x 1Gb LAN, 2x 10Gb LAN, 5x USB 3.2 Gen 1, 3x HDMI, 2x M.2 slots
- Powerful Intel Core i5-7500
- 12x drive bays (140TB+ capacity)
- 2x 10Gb LAN
- Upgradable DDR4 RAM
- Excellent QNAP OS
The QNAP TVS-1282T3 is much like our top performance pick from QNAP but comes with more drive bays so you can cram as much content onto it as possible. We could have gone with a 12-bay NAS with a mediocre processor, but if you plan to store more than 100TB worth of content, chances are some of it will be in 4K. It’s also got one impressive CPU, making it easily the best NAS for Plex if you need power.
This is where the Intel Core i5-7500 comes into play. It’s powerful enough to make mince work of 1080p transcoding and can even have a bash at 4K, so long as you don’t have a bunch of clients attempting to do so simultaneously. This beefy CPU is joined by 8GB of expandable RAM and 12 drive bays in total—eight for HDDs and a further four for SSDs.
For networking, QNAP decided to go with four 1Gb ports and two 10Gb ports, so there’s plenty to play with here, even if you’ve yet to upgrade your home network to 10Gb/s. The addition of two M.2 slots allows you to install two SSDs to act as caching and improve performance further. To top all that is the inclusion of three HDMI ports, so you can deliver content to your TV without touching a network cable.
The QNAP TVS-1282T3 has it all. Eight HDD bays with a further four for SSDs, two M.2 slots, upgradable RAM to 64GB, a powerful Intel Core i5-7500 CPU. You name it; this NAS has it.
What about all other NAS enclosures?
To say there are enough NAS enclosures to choose from is an understatement. The choice available is immense, but not so much for Plex. If you don’t like the look of our top pick, there are plenty of other shortlisted enclosures worth considering for installing and running a Plex Media Server.
It’s possible to get similarly powered enclosures from different vendors too. It doesn’t have to be Synology. You can easily pick a good NAS that will run Plex well from ASUSTOR, QNAP, among others. If you want to stream your favorite shows, movies, music, and some photos, most NAS enclosures with an Intel processor will be enough.
When you enter the world of 4K content and incompatibilities between the server and receiving hardware (be it your smart TV, phone, etc.), transcoding is required. This is where the processor matters most, and you need a really good one to keep up with 4K.
What makes a good NAS enclosure for Plex?
A good NAS enclosure for Plex needs a couple of things. First, as expected, is the processor. It’s simply not viable to run Plex on an enclosure that doesn’t have an Intel processor. It’s possible, just not recommended. If you want to stream music and photos, even the lesser Intel CPUs will be more than enough in affordable enclosures.
When you get to movie and show streaming and transcoding, that’s where the performance really needs to increase to match demand. And that’s just for a single receiving device. Consider your home where there could be multiple users on different hardware wanting to access content stored on Plex. This is why the latest Intel Celeron processors are recommended as the bare minimum to get by for 4K.
Then you have the drive bays. There need to be enough bays to handle the number of drives required. If you want to store 4K content, you’ll want one with at least six bays. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself running out of space quickly. Shows and movies in Full HD can get away with being stored on a NAS with four or more bays.
Lastly, there’s RAM and networking. The former isn’t too important unless you have multiple people accessing the same enclosure. 2GB is considered the baseline, while 4GB is usually enough for a busy home, but having upgradable RAM puts you in an excellent position to expand it later.
For Ethernet, 1Gb ports are okay, so long as you can link them up and increase bandwidth, though ideally, you’ll want to have 2.5Gb or 10Gb ports. This also depends on your network infrastructure. Most routers from internet service providers (ISP) are only able to handle 1Gb connections, so you may need to upgrade if you plan on increasing bandwidth.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Rich Edmonds is a staff reviewer at Windows Central, which means he tests out more software and hardware than he cares to remember. Joining Mobile Nations in 2010, you can usually find him inside a PC case tinkering around when not at a screen fighting with Grammarly to use British words. Hit him up on Twitter: @RichEdmonds.
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This post was written by Rich Edmonds and was first posted to WindowsCentral
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