Are you looking to create your own media server? Network Attached Storage (NAS) devices are a great way to store and stream all of your digital content. They’re also an ideal choice when it comes to using Plex, the popular home media streaming service, because they offer plenty of storage capacity and expandability options.

In this article, we’re going to look at some of the best NAS solutions for setting up Plex as well as what features you should consider when choosing a NAS device to meet your needs.

Table of Contents
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    What to Look for in Plex Server Hardware

    You need to consider several things when buying a NAS for your Plex server. Your streaming experience will heavily depend on the quality of that hardware.

    1. CPU Power: Determines the resolution of streaming and the number of streams you can run. You’ll need a powerful NAS CPU if you want to stream in 4K. Aside from the streaming quality and the number of streams, you’ll need to consider which type of media files you’ll play (MKV, MP4, WMV) before you decide on the NAS CPU.
    2. RAM: If you’re using NAS for Plex only to stream, you won’t need much RAM. Around 4GB should be acceptable, but more RAM is recommended.
    3. Hard Drive Bays: The number of drive bays is essential. It’s okay to start with a small number, but you need to ensure you’ll be able to upgrade later. Four drives in a RAID 5 array will increase the reading and writing speed and boost the overall performance of the NAS system.
    4. HDMI Output: Connect your NAS directly to your TV or a projector. This will allow you to use your device as a home theater PC. You can also use HDMI to manage your NAS without logging in from a computer.

    Now that you have a rough idea about the kind of NAS you need for Plex, here are our top choices.

    1. Synology DiskStation DS920+

    Price: $700

    • 5-bay NAS
    • Scalable to 15 disks with two 5-bay DX517 extension units
    • Built-in M.2 NVMe slots for SSD cache
    • 10GbE networking
    • 4GB DDR4 RAM (expandable to 8GB)
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    Synology DS920+ is the best overall NAS for Plex out there. Due to the 5 hard drive bays and built-in M.2 NVMe slots for SSD, you can have plenty of storage space and cache acceleration. This is an ideal NAS for Plex if you want to stream 4K content. Its processor is Intel Celeron J4125 and you get 4GB DDR4 RAM which you can easily upgrade to 8GB.

    It has four 1GbE ports that’ll allow easy integration into the existing multimedia environment. Also, if you need to run a more specialized, bandwidth-heavy application, you can opt to add one 10 Gigabit Ethernet port.

    2. Qnap TS-453D

    Price: $470

    • Affordable
    • Intel Celeron J4125 quad-core CPU
    • Intel HD Graphics 600
    • Up to 6 HDD bays
    • Good for 4k hardware transcoding
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    If you’re on a budget but you’re looking for a 4K-capable NAS for Plex, consider the Qnap TS-453D. It’s powered by an Intel Celeron J4125 quad-core processor and it can have up to 8GB of DDR4 RAM. This is more than enough for streaming content in 4K. You can opt for a version with 2, 4, or 6 drive bays. As for the connectivity, it comes with two 2.5GbE ports, one PCIe Gen 2 slot, and three USB 2.0 ports. It also has an HDMI output.

    Because of the 4K hardware transcoding capabilities of Qnap TS-453D, you can use it as a home theater PC. You can play Ultra HD videos from Plex, even though the Intel Celeron J4125 is not as powerful as some other options out there. That only means that the number of simultaneous streams will be limited. However, this should not be a hindrance, especially because this NAS is very budget-friendly.

    3. Asustor Lockertstor 4 AS6604T

    Price: $554

    • 4-bay NAS
    • HDMI port
    • Two 2.5Gbps ports with Link Aggregation
    • Intel Celeron J4125 quad-core CPU
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    If you need multi-gigabit networking, the Asustor Lockerstor is a great choice. It has dual 2.5 gigabit Ethernet ports as well as one HDMI port. Plug it directly into your TV or monitor and stream 4K media content without any issues.

    This Asustor NAS comes with 4GB of RAM out of the box, and 80TB of storage divided between 4 drive bays. This is more than enough even for the most demanding users. Plex is native to Asustor, and this NAS comes with many tools that allow you to stream content to Twitch or YouTube. That means this NAS is a perfect solution for you if you’re a content creator.

    4. TerraMaster F2-221

    Price: $260

    • 2-Bay NAS
    • Intel Celeron J3355 dual-core CPU
    • 2GB RAM
    • Two 1 Gigabit Ethernet ports
    • Up to 32TB of storage
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    TerraMaster F2-221 is small but powerful for a very decent price. It can easily stream 4K and 1080p content with its Intel Celeron J3355 chipset. However, it has only 2GB of RAM and comes without any hard drive. You need to buy the hard drives separately, but you can fit up to 32 TB of storage in the two bays.

    The two Gigabit Ethernet ports and two USB 3.0 ports really make TerraMaster F2-221 stand out among cheaper NAS options. Also, you get various software tools, but without any productivity features. The only drawback, and perhaps the reason behind the lower price is that TerraMaster Operating System (TOS) is not as refined as its competition’s operating systems (e.g. Synology or Asustor have very smooth and user-friendly OS).

    5. Nvidia Shield Android TV Pro

    Price: $190

    • Affordable
    • 4K HDR output
    • Ethernet, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth connectivity
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    Nvidia Shield Android TV Pro first appeared in 2019 and quickly gained popularity. Think of it as an Android phone hardware put in an elegant box, controlled with a handy remote. Because it’s Android, you can install all the available apps from the Google Play store, including Plex. Then you can use it to play the media content on your 4K HDR TV. However, Nvidia Shield has very limited internal storage, with only 16GB. Luckily, it also has two USB 2.0 ports, so you can attach an external storage drive and stream from it.

    You can also pair Nvidia Shield Android TV Pro with another NAS device that acts as storage. The Shield’s role would then be to render the content to a TV or monitor for watching. It’s a great choice if you already have a NAS, but you want to use Plex without having to replace your old machine.

    6. Synology 2 Bay NAS DS218

    Price: $250

    • 2-Bay NAS
    • Intel Celeron J3355 quad-core CPU
    • 2GB RAM but upgradable
    • Capable of 4K video transcoding
    • Two 1GbE LAN ports
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    Synology 2 Bay DS218 is a very affordable, yet powerful machine capable of 4K 10-bit H.265 video transcoding. Due to its hardware, it’s reasonably fast, both reading and writing at 112 MB/s. The RAM is only 2GB DDR4 which is on the lower end, but you can upgrade it if you need more.

    Synology DS218 comes with many features such as hardware encryption acceleration, and an intuitive interface. It supports Windows 7 and newer, as well as macOS 10.11 and newer clients. Also, DS218 supports all the popular browsers like Chrome, Opera, Firefox, and Safari.

    7. BUFFALO LinkStation SoHo 220 2-Bay

    Price: $277

    • 2-Bay NAS
    • Pre-configured Hard Drives
    • Compatible with Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android
    • 1GbE port
    • 800 Mhz dual-core processor
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    BUFFALO LinkStation SoHo 220 is a very reliable device, and it’s a good choice for streaming. Its hard drives are RAID pre-configured and its total capacity is 4 TB. Since it features one 1GbE port, simply plug it into your router and share media files with all your devices. LinkStation is compatible with PC, Mac, Android, and Apple devices.

    Another incredibly useful feature of the Buffalo Linkstation is that with it you get free personal cloud storage. So you can use it to store your videos, photos, music, or any other files and access them from any device including tablets and mobile phones.

    8. WD Diskless My Cloud Pro Series PR4100

    Price: $484

    • 4-bay NAS
    • Intel Pentium N3710 quad-core CPU
    • 4GB DDR3L RAM (upgradable to 16GB)
    • Built-in HD and 4K transcoding through Plex
    • Two 1GbE ports and three USB 3.0 ports
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    WD My Cloud Pro Series PR4100 is a versatile NAS for Plex and a good choice for content creators that need a high-performance backup solution. You can use it as a very smart storage device, powered by a quad-core Pentium N3710 processor and 4GB of RAM which you can upgrade up to 16GB.

    This NAS has built-in HD video transcoding if you pair it with Plex, perfect for streaming high-quality media content on any device. It’s compatible with both Windows and Mac, but it runs on My Cloud OS 3. Best of all, WD My Cloud is simple to set up and use, and it’s automatically connected to Adobe Creative Cloud, iTunes, email, and a download server.

    As technology evolves and 4K content becomes widely available, having a good NAS will become increasingly important if you want to get the most out of your Plex setup. Whether you’re looking for something cheap and cheerful or are willing to invest in a high-end unit, one of the options on this list should be perfect for you.