Which build road to take?

Hey everyone,

New to the forums, not super new to builds but all of my previous builds have been gaming rigs over the years. I’m looking for advice on direction I should take.

How far to the finish line?:
Currently I’m looking to build a dedicated PLEX server with good transcode capabilities to migrate my current 40TB+ media library to. In addition I’d like to potentially open the doors up later on to running some VMs and even potentially move toward a central server with slim clients for my house. I currently host PLEX off of a QNAP TS453A with 4x10TB shucked WD Easystore drives. This works fine for my immediate in-home needs, but I’m at the point now where I have about 15-18 users that are having issues streaming due to changing the majority of my video library over to H265.

The pool’s open:
My initial idea was to start a new build, but then I decided to take stock of parts that I currently have around my house and I think I’m in really good shape to re-purpose what I have.

Option 1:
My first option was an old gaming rig I have. It was from a build I did in 2012, and it all currently sits in a relatively small Cooler Master ATX case, unused, in a closet.

Part Descprition
Motherboard MSI Z77A-G45 - Early LGA 2011 socket ATX Form Factor
CPU Memory’s fuzzy but I believe i7-3770K Quad-Core 3.5GHz (Haven’t booted in a while)
RAM 32GB (4x8GB DDR3) (Max)
PCI-Ex16 3
Other Cooler Master aftermarket CPU cooler
Corsair HX 1000W PSU

This was a decent last gen gaming rig. Heck I’m pretty sure with a newer GPU this little box would still scream. I considered making a top end emulation rig out of it, but my time to game just isn’t what it was.

Option 2:
My second option just opened up to me this past week as my company has moved to 100% cloud based computing and the server room is getting gutted. The CTO was going to trash the equipment, I think I have him convinced that at least some of it would work better in a rack in my basement.

Dell PowerEdge T710 - Rackmount Tower

Part Description
Motherboard 1CTXG - LGA 1366 socket
CPUs Dual Intel Xeon X5660, 2.8Ghz
RAM Initial Specs state: 96GB Memory (12x8GB), 1333MHz Dual Ranked RDIMMs for 2 Processors, Optimized - But this board has 18 DIMM slots and I’m 99% sure that when I peeked inside every one was full, so probably closer to 144GB Memory
PCI-Ex16 1
PCI-Ex8 4
Other T710 Rack Chassis for Up to 16 2.5-In HD

In looking this system over, there are some pros and cons. The pros are, it’s got an insane amount of RAM and in doing some research it looks like I can upgrade the 2xX5660 CPUs up to 2xX5680 for relatively cheap ($80) and push the passmark from 11678 up to 13637. The cons are that due to the dual redundant PSU requirements, it’s 100% limited to living in the existing chassis. Fans are also somewhat limited, but I found some info online about swapping the stock fans with Artics, so that will be a fun little side project. Also, there are 3 T710s being discarded, this one being the best of them, so I can probably grab some backup parts (PSUs primarily) to keep this thing running for a while.

Additional build notes
While my current NAS hold the 4x10TB shucked drives, I am also currently sitting on an additional 6x10TB drives (to be shucked) as well as 4x8TB drives that live in enclosures that I would want to fit in the new rig.

Also available from my workplace is a Dell PowerVault MD3000i iSCSI SAN which can host up to 15 3.5" SATA drives. Hey, I just so happen to have 14 SATA drives that need a home

You can get with this, or you can get with that
So, I’m looking for advice on which of these two paths I should travel down

For the repurposed gaming rig path, I’d probably pop the board into Rosewill RSV-L4500 and build that out with new fans, but just use everything else on hand. This would give me a great NAS, without requiring a DAS, but I’m not sure how long the passmark would hold up. But with this I have the option of swapping out the board at a later date, or adding a dedicated transcode standalone later.

The Dell should theoretically kick the tail of the gaming rig for a while still, especially if I upgrade the CPUs, but it would require a DAS from the start, or I could potentially utilize the SAN, but customization for the most part goes completely out the window due to the PSU requirements of the board. Also not sure about CPU cooler options here either, though this does come with stock coolers.

Thoughts? Suggestions? What should my next steps be? I’d love to hear the community’s feedback!

How many are typically on at a time, and of those, how many are transcoding?

Currently Tautulli lists my concurrent streams at 3 and transcodes at 2, but I have a feeling that the reason I don’t have more is due to the limits of my current NAS. My thought process was that going to the T170 would put me comfortably at 5-6 concurrent transcodes and if I needed more in the future I could add a dedicated transcode solution later.

To be clear,

3 concurrent streams of which 2 are transcodes? That should be easy to handle

IANAE - Someone more knowledgeable feel free to correct me if i’m wrong with any of the following.

I think the rule of thumb is 2k passmark / transcode so that i7 3770 would get you 4-5 transcodes + probably however many direct streams you want as they tax the cpu very little. Your work server would add ~1 Transcode, and upgrading the cpu’s would get you ~1 more. These are all rough numbers and would depend on what else you are using the server for.

Your I7 is in the NK4 guide, that’s basically what I started with moving from a synology nas a few months ago. It worked well, but when some dockers would sporadically take up a lot of my processing power plex would suffer. So I upgraded to a quicksync box and haven’t had a single issue with plex since. Still ended up wanting some more umph and room to play so I decommissioned the nk4 and built an Anniversary 2.0.

If you don’t want to have to worry about transcoding power check out jdms quicksync guide and seperate it out from your storage. An 8th gen i3 can get you 15+ transcodes.

I don’t think I would do it any other way after trying out the quicksync method. You can get one of the qs boxes for $200-300. Well worth it IMO.