Hello from London - and my first Question

Hi all,

I was pointed here from Reddit and this seems a pretty knowledgeable place!

Let me start by walking through

  1. My requirements
  2. My current Set-up
  3. My current painpoints and other limitations

Workstation (almost no gaming, but Adobe CC and Office)
Plex Media Server
JRiver Media Center
Storage ~ 30Tb

Current Setup
I achieve all this through 1 machine at the moment
Fractal R3 case
i5 2500K (o/ced)
16Gb RAM
Internal Storage

  • 500GB SSD (O/S, Apps, Photos and Plex metadate)
  • 3TB, 4TB, 6TB Video Media Storage (3TB likely to be upgraded in Black Friday)
  • 3TB other storage
  • 1TB “scratch” drive (for temporary downloading, transcoding temp, and other heavy writing etc etc)

External Storage
eSATA enclosure run in JBOD with 3 drives (4th bay swappable for backups)

  • 3x 2TB (the 3TB from above will swap with one of these)

Workstation USB Peripherals

  • Webcam
  • Camera cables
  • Card Reader
  • Thumb drives
  • Backup drives


  • R3 case only has USB2 ports at the front, rather than USB3
  • Number of HDDs are now full
  • Transcoding some files makes CPU hurt and H265 impossible (but main Plex player supports HEVC)
  • Not sure of the maximum HDD support in the StarTech enclosure. They advise 2TB, but I am backing up my 4TB no problem
  • The noise of the enclosure is slightly bothersome, but I only use its built-in fan when writing or reading high volumes. Key issue was the active external brick PSU, its fan was loud, so replaced with one without a Fan.


Most noticeable current limitation is during realtime transcoding.

There are 2 ways to improve transcoding: GPU and CPU
CPU route is Intel, though AMD does offer hardware transcoding, it is rarely referred to. Intel are 18months away from desktop CPUs on a 11nm or smaller fabrication. Given how well my current SandyBridge processor last lasted, I am tempted to wait for a 7 or 10nm chip, rather than lump with Comet or Rocket lake.

CPU route:
CPU, RAM, MoBo would all need changing. Mobo would need eSata with port multipler, or a PCI card with it

GPU route:
NVidia support hardware transcoding.
GTX 1650 Super or 1650 GDDR6 seem to be the cheapest cards with the latest NVENC capabilities.

Though the 2nd route is cheaper, and though my computer does not feel too slow too often, it has a more limited shelf life.

The 1st option also allows for separating the workstation, from the Media Server from the Storage. However I would assume that only makes sense on price, or are there other considerations for why separating is worth doing (as money is a consideration)

Thoughts welcome to help me explore my options! :grinning:

Coffee Lake is already extremely power efficient and excellent at hardware transcoding. It’s also very affordable. Stick to 8th and 9th gen.

AMD’s transcoding is not officially supported by Plex. Only a handful of their processors even have iGPUs anyway… oh and when it does work, it looks pretty bad.

As far as GPUs go, to get Turing NVENC you need a GTX 1660 or above, increasing the cost quite a bit.