Upgrading from Dell R720XD. Where should I start?

Long time lurker, first time poster.

In a nutshell, I currently have a Dell R720XD that I want to upgrade from.

I’m a bit tired of the blade server that I got from a previous coworker. It’s been chugging along fine for about 6 years, but I think it’s time for an upgrade. That and I know my power bill would thank me if I do.

Wouldn’t mind going smaller, but noise, cooling and electrical costs are my main concern nowadays. I’ve seen some nice Define R5 builds to hoard away HDD’s, and I’m leaning more into that realm. Not sure if a NAS (synology, etc) would cut the performance requirement I need right now.

Current Rig: Dell R720XD

  • Dual Intel Xeon 2650 v2 @ 2.6GHz
  • 80 GB DDR3 RAM
  • 500 GB Samsung SATA SSD for OS
  • 62TB in total storage space, over 8 drives.
  • Dell Perc H310 Controller card
  • nVidia GTX 1060 6GB GPU
  • Running Windows Server 2019

Budget: Not including drives or GPU, ~$1000. Might be overkill.

Plex Load: Throughout the LAN, I stream 4K HDR content to my new TV (Sony Bravia A80J running Google TV) every once in a while. The real load comes from the several family and friends that use it for 1080p streaming.

On a heavy day, ~12-15 concurrent streams. (New Media Release, Long Weekends, Holidays, etc)

Normal, day to day ~2-3 streams.

99% of the content on my plex is 1080p or lower. No one outside of the LAN has access to 4K content to reduce load, but that can change if I decide to upgrade.

Any recommendations?

Use the following 4 steps:

  1. Build a Unraid NAS using NAS Killer 4.0 or NAS Killer 5.0 guides, with basic specs. (no GPU needed) You don’t need anything crazy. Keep all of your media and your 4K Plex server on here.
  2. Build a Quicksync box using a HP 290, HP S01, or HP Prodesk with a 7th-gen or higher Intel CPU (no GPU needed). Use this for a dedicated 1080p Plex transcoding server.
  3. Add a bunch of storage with the remaining budget, transfer your existing files over. Add the existing storage to your new Unraid NAS.
  4. Sell Your R720XD and Nvidia GPU.

Thanks for the list! I have a couple of questions before embarking:

  1. This would essentially mean I have two Plex servers, one for 4K in-home usage, and one for 1080p media for the masses, yes?

  2. Would the NAS-Killer 5 build be enough to pump out 4K HDR Media

  3. Regarding the Quicksync box, I have a spare Dell Optiplex 7070 with an i5-9500, 16GB RAM, and NVMe (128Gb), would this cut it?

  4. I was toying with the idea of a single, windows tower that had 12th gen i7 12600k, LGA 1700 motherboard, and 16GB RAM for use as an all-in-one Plex/Minecraft/NAS box. Would this be more powerful than that solution?

  1. Yes
  2. Yes
  3. Yes
  4. Not really and significantly less flexible

Okay! Thank you for all the info so far. I do have more spare components available to me so I can build two systems and get some savings going.

I had mentioned that spare Dell Optiplex 7070 with an i5-9500, 16GB RAM, and NVMe (128Gb).

I ALSO have an i5 7500, MSI b150m Gaming Pro motherboard, and 16GB (2x8) 2400 Geil EVO Potenza RAM.

If I have my thoughts all correct:

  • Make the OptiPlex 7070 with the 9th gen i5 the 1080p Generalist for everyone else to use QuickSync off of. It’s ready to go, just pop in Windows, Plex, and then

  • Use the i5 7500 and RAM on a ‘new’ LGA 1151 motherboard, and grab a much more versatile Case to house the hard drives, CPU Cooler, some fans, PSU, and use THAT build for 4K Plex and Unraid NAS.

  1. Using the Optiplex for for Plex is fine, but you really should use Ubuntu or some form of Linux as the guide specifies. Let it handle Plex, and Plex alone. IMO, do not run any other apps on this device. Keep all file management apps on Docker on your Unraid NAS.

  2. Sounds like a good plan for your i5-7500. The nice thing about putting 4k Plex on a separate server is that certain options like disabling transcoding (necessary for a 4k server IMO) are done at the server level, not at the library level. You can use the same Plex account and Plex Pass features (if you have it), and both servers will show up in your Plex Web dashboard.

Awesome. Yeah, I don’t have a bunch of experience using Ubuntu, but I’ll give it a shot and leave Plex and only that running on it.

Turns out I have another spare Optiplex, exact same 7070.

Do you have any recommendations for motherboards to swap the i5 9500 out of there? Finding motherboards with 6+ SATA connections is a bit tough for the chipset, at least where I’m looking.

I might also have a couple Micro computers (Dell Optiplex Micro or HP Elitedesk Mini/Micros) which I think should fit the bill for having that be the 1080p Plex box.

Again, thank you all so much for the insight, and saving me a ton of money.

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So it sounds like your sister requirements, other than Plex, are pretty low.

You also have an abundance of desktop systems available.

Here’s my idea.

Use one of the optiplex 7070 as a dedicated Plex server and quick sync box. You’ll only need enough RAM for Plex and enough storage space to store your metadata and thumbnails if you have them. The 9th gen CPU might have a teensy bit more capable. Quick sync

Then build the NAS. I have a define R5 case myself, it’s nice but it’s hard to get extra drive, trays or brackets anymore. You could get a newer version 7. Or really step up and get an XL version. Or any other quieter case that still let you cram in a bunch of hard drives.

Use your MSI and 7500 in there, just because it will fit. Add in a hard drive controller and loaded up with drives.

You might not need the GeForce card at all. Maybe if you wanted to set up some remote gaming. This will probably use a lot less power than the old power edge

And if you end up with a spare optiplex or GPU, you can sell it to me for cheap