New Plex Server build - modern 12th Gen intel

Have been reading the guides with great interest, thanks for such a great set of resources! But when trying to put together a build myself I find myself limited to the market in New Zealand - meaning it is all “latest and greatest” consumer grade stuff and there are no sellers of older components. I’m not interested in chasing down second hand parts over Ebay. So, putting together a build with 11th or 12th gen components, and living with the fact that it will be a bit more costly!

I am upgrading from using Synology DS220+, which will be returned to being only NAS and personal purposes. Reasons for upgrading are that I have too much media and need more than 2 drive support, but also as friends and family are streaming, I need more robust multi-stream and transcoding support.

I’m going for a Mini-ITX build for the aesthetics of a box on the shelf rather than a PC case. The Fractal Node 304 case (or equivalent) will suit nicely.
Keeping Power consumption light is also a priority.

Here is the build I have lined up thus far;

  • Motherboard: ASRock H610M Mini-ITX. (Simply the most cost effective Mini-ITX in my resellers)
  • CPU: intel i3-12100. 4 Cores, has integrated graphics, has QuickSync.
  • RAM: 2 x 4GB of DDR4 3200MHz. This matches specs on above components. Is qty good?
  • Boot Drive: Samsung 980 250GB M.2 NVMe Internal SSD
  • Storage: 4 x 12TB Seagate Ironwolf Pro in Raid 5.
  • Power supply: Cooler Master MWE Bronze 450W Power Supply

Any tips or guidance from here?
I guess in mind my main question around CPU selection, bearing in mind that these are modern gen Intels with iGPU. Therefore is a higher range i3 more than suitable? Mid or lower range i5? Do I need to prioritize quantity of cores?

If it is just plex you are running the 12th Gen i3 should be great. More than you need really unless you want to transcode 8k or multiple simultaneous 4k streams modern intel iGPUs especially a desktop one will transcode like a champ.

I use a separate box as a Plex server and just mount the library via NFS from my NAS. I’m currently using an intel nuc from a couple generations back with an i5-1135G7 a 15w TDP laptop chip and it doesn’t break a sweat doing multiple simultaneous transcodes (mostly 1080p). Your desktop i3 by comparison could probably transcode 4x as many streams or the same number of streams at 4k.

For your raid5 are you using ZFS? You might want to consider upping your ram to at least 2x8 if not more depending on your usage.

If you are mostly just using this for Plex you might consider a JBOD set up instead of RAID. JBOD with 1 Parity Drive would get you the same disk space and redundancy and if you don’t need the performance of RAID or the advanced features of ZFS then there are some advantages to JBOD.

You can pull out a single disk and read the data off it, in a multi disk failure you only lose part of your data, you only need to spin up the drive with the data you are currently reading or writing which is good for power draw, you can add new disks 1 at a time, etc. ZFS is an amazing filesystem but it comes with its own downsides. You probably won’t saturate a single disk reading video files to transcode, and it is possible you will saturate your Gigabit ethernet connection before you saturate your drives.

In any case good luck and enjoy your new Plex Server.

Thanks Ian for the response!
Noted on upping the RAM, not a biggie on price.

Regarding RAID, that was all I knew of at the time of writing this post. I don’t know about ZFS or JBOD, but thanks for pointing me in at those; I will read up.
I have also discovered UNRAID being talked about and to me it looks quite elegant, seems to be a similar thing of multiple data drives with one parity drive.

Plex does not benefit at all from 12th gen. You’ll have the exact same experience with a 7th-gen QSV capable CPU.

You should be looking at a basic Unraid NAS and a separate QSV box for Plex.

The man himself!

Plex may not benefit much from later generations - but here in NZ I tried to investigate getting older hardware. It was used, and with shipping costs and all, barely saved me dollars over new 12th gen here.

Why do you recommend to split the NAS for storage and have a Plex box? Is there any benefit over having just a single QSV capable box including both Unraid for storage and running Plex in Docker?

Yup Unraid does support / encourage the JBOD setup with parity disks, and is the preferred NAS OS around here. The one downside to Unraid is that is is not free, but its a 1 time purchase (per machine); Similar to Plex which you are already using.

It also supports ZFS and RAID setups, but If I were going to use a ZFS RAID I would probably use Truenas (Core / Scale) since ZFS RAID is it’s whole thing.

In your neck of the woods, a recent system acting as an all-in-one is generally the most cost efficient, since older used hardware is few and far between and generally not remotely close to the same price point as it is in the US.

I think the idea is that you could get the same performance from your NAS with much older / cheaper hardware, and you can add Quick Sync to your setup for minimal cost / power draw using an old thin client type box.

Using obsolete / used enterprise hardware to build ultra low cost home servers is sort of the main thing on these forums.

However since it sounds like you don’t have access to used enterprise gear and are willing to shell out for new consumer gear I don’t see why you would have any issue passing your iGPU through to your Plex VM / Container in Unraid and running a converged setup.