New Server build

I’ve been looking to build a new server, since my aging NUC (D54250WYK - 4th gen i5- 4250U) is struggling to keep running everything that I have. Here’s the things I’m trying to consider

  • All my media starts local but goes to Google Drive, so being able to use Channels attached to a local mount of my Google Drive is the main requirement. I record everything local, keep it local for about 30 days (either on my main computer or on the USB attached), and have a backup running in Google Drive as my last location to access from.
  • Hardware decoding/encoding for HEVC and tone-mapping for HDR when the new Plex Server in testing comes out and is updated to support it. I keep backups of all my movies remuxed in Google Drive.
  • Run VMs, either through something like VMWare Workstation (Windows - prob not doing a Windows build…) or Parallels (for Mac) or by running something like ESXi or Proxmox (though I’ve never used Proxmox I’m interested in trying it) and passing the video card/driver to the VM for Channels for the h/w transcoding support. Right now I have most of my VMs running on an iMac which I guess I’m fine with continuing but it would be nice to have them centrally located and easy to turn on/off whenever I wanted without turning on my iMac.
  • Support on 6-10 people for Channels. I don’t share with anyone except family so the streaming requirements are generally in the house, but then occasionally outside the house to my parents when their TiVo misses something my DVR gets due to power outage or whatnot. I also stream to family or myself for football games/sports/etc if not at the house.

I guess I’ve narrowed it down to a few things:

  • New i5-8500B Mac Mini. I had an old old Mac Mini (2010 or 2011 I believe) I liked that ended up being retired and everything moved to the NUC since it had h/w decoding and the Mac Mini stopped getting updates. Probably the most expensive and less expansive of the options, but it’s an option.
  • Something custom built like this ( that is expandable if I need to add a graphics card or anything down the line. Either run ESXi or Proxmox on it (or just scrap that altogether and run Ubuntu).
  • Wait for a 10th gen NUC to come out, and then do the same as the custom build and put ESXi or Proxmox on it.

I’ve also read a lot of people getting AMD CPUs since they have a lot of cores but I’m guessing that would all be software transcoding (not against it) or getting an NVIDIA GPU and putting it in. I’m not against that, just don’t have much experience with AMD since my last AMD was a Athlon 64.

As for a NAS, I'm probably not going with a NAS this time around. I just sold my Synology DS1815+ and it got to the point where it wasn't customizable enough for me, or just little quirks I didn't like (like not being able to update packages to the most recent builds like vim/tmux/screen but I had workaround... I don't want to mess with workarounds anymore).

Edit to add: my budget is around $1000. I can over a little, but I don't want to get close to $1500.

Just for an update, figured I'd put it in case anyone was looking for anything. I ended up just getting a NUC8i7BEH since my little old NUC couldn’t keep up and I was getting frustrated. Ended up putting 32GB DDR4 and a 1TB M.2 SSD in it, and it’s been pretty fantastic so far.

Testing it today with Plex and Channels and it was transcoding a Plex TV Show to 2 Mbps (from 4.254 Mbps), a 4K HEVC HDR movie to 20 Mbps (from 53.9 Mbps) and then direct streamed a 4K HEVC HDR movie (40 Mbps) on my Apple TV. At the same time my brother was watching a football game on Channels (from my HDHomeRun Prime) and was transcoding that to 2 Mbps (from about 4 Mbps if I remember what ESPN’s H264 comes in at on my Comcast) and I was watching a different football game transcoding to 2 Mbps on Channels through the web site.

All in all pretty happy so far.

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How much did you end up spending?

It was $755 total, and less than I was going to spend on a Mac Mini or build a desktop. I could have saved on using what I already had instead of the 1TB SSD and cheaper memory, but my last NUC lasted me almost 5 years, so hopefully this one holds up for the same amount of time.

I have a ts140 server. There’s newer ones out.

I have an x3 Xeon processor.