Where do I go from here?

Looking for some recommendations on how I should get from where I am…to where-ever it is that I can get to.

I built the following about 5 years ago. Since then, the only thing i’ve done is add the Seagate 6TB drive listed below for a little more space.:

CPU : Intel Pentium G3250 3.2GHz Dual-Core Processor
Cooler: Thermaltake CL-P0492
Mobo: ASRock H97M-ITX/AC Mini-ITX LGA1150
RAM: Crucial Ballistix 8gb DDR3-1600
Case: Fractal Design Node 304 Mini-ITX
PS: Corsair CX430 W 80+ Bronze
Drives: WD Red 2TB 5400RPM (x3) + (1) Seagate IronWolf 6TB 3.5" 7200RPM drive.

I have the whole thing currently running an old Ubuntu, with the drives wrapped up using GreyHole + Samba. (I was screwing around with Amahi at the time, but didnt keep it around. I liked the GreyHole bit though, so I kept using that to replicate data across drives, and present everything as unified shares).

I’m running Plex (direct install, no docker, PlexPass so hardware decodign), and an Airsonic server for audiobooks. We’re able to mostly do everything without stuttering or major hiccups, other than some occasional buffering. Pretty sure Im more bottlenecked by the fact and theres 9 people in the house gaming, skyping, zooming, etc simultaneously.

Any recommendations on where I should go from here? I’ve got a little bit of extra cash in the kitty, and I feel like I’m due for some upgrades. The time is good to do a complete rebuild, something to run us for the next 5 years.

I’ve got a 4k TV, 3x1080p tv’s, and two or three remote users that I’d like to continue having access.

Would I be best off splitting the Plex into a dedicated box, or would it be better to upgrade the CPU/MB/RAM and reinstall everything under UnRaid?

Just ran into this myself and decided to break off the media center/plex bit off into its own dedicated box per the suggestions in this forum…wow, what a difference! I couldn’t get an HP 290 for a decent price since covid has forced many to work from home and appears to be driving hardware prices up since ppl have more time on their hands, but I did pick up a nice HP deskpro 600 G4 mini pc with an i5-8500T (upgradeable to an i7) and an nvme drive (use this for your plex metadata to speed up loading of your images) with a spare nvme slot on ebay for around the same price as the HP 290 (be sure to always use the option to make an offer, you’d be surprised). Installed ubuntu 20.04.1 server for now to play around with it a bit, but may be going back to unraid pro since I have enough room to run a few containers with the upgraded 32gb of ram on the way (came with 8) and I liked the interface with unraid. You can use your old box as a starter for an upgraded NAS with a bigger case to feed your media to the new dedicated machine too. Look in the builds section of the forum for ideas, https://forums.serverbuilds.net/c/builds/18

Hope this helps and welcome!

Live Pono

So, to keep this cost contained right now, i decided to rebuild my current NAS/Plex box in the existing case, and do a motherboard/cpu/ram upgrade alone.

Since i was in a Node 304 box already, that meant i needed to stay mini-itx.
I ended up settling on and 10th Gen Intel i3-10100 for the processor, and an AsRock B460M-ITX/ac motherboard.

This processor / motherboard proved to have a couple small hiccups that I’ll cover shortly.

I also got 16gb of GSKILL DDR4-3200 RAM
I added an SATA SSD for the main appdata cache.

After spending a week or so shuffling data slowling so that i could free up the drives to rebuild on UnRaid without major issues…I hit my first major snag. The UnRaid usb-key setup, requires a USB2.0 port. The new motherboard does not have USB2 ports onboard. They’re all USB3. I thought i had accounted for this intending to use the frontpanel on the Node 304 case…only to find out it ALSO only has USB3 ports. “Hey Kids…your computers going to be unavailable for a bit.” I pulled the kids gaming pc (10 years old, but hey, the case had a power supply and USB2.0 ports.

(I ended up ordering an internal usb header extension to provide an internal USB2.0 port This did the trick, and the kids eventually got their minecraft box back)

…Except UnRaid still refused to boot. Turns out i need to run the beta Unraid build for 10th Gen Intel support.

Got that figured out, installed UnRaid, got my devices and drives moved over, then worked out how to pass the iGPU thru to the Plex docker. Wasnt difficult, but needed to add “modprope i915” to the go script on the flash drive, and add a “–device /dev/dri:/dev/dri” line to the docker options for plex…

And now im running hardware transcoding in Plex with basically zero effort on the CPU.
My old processor (a celeron) did hw transcoding…but never like this. Where before i could handle 1, maybe two streams, if they werent too intense…now I have 5+ streams running simultaneously, all with (hw)…and my CPU peaks at around 20%. I could easily double that, and probably triple it.

VERY happy with the upgrade. I’m also running an airsonic server, and a Factorio server on the same box (in docker) with almost no processor kick.

Thanks everyone for all the guides and builds on this site, they really helped me work out what I needed to do!

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Good to hear, glad you got this going and thanks for taking the time to detail the stumbling blocks and solutions you ran into! This will most definitely help someone else in the same situation. You should post some pics and show off your build!

Live Pono