Plex Server

I mention my Plex Server often, especially over on FB and Twitter where I have friends and family that use it.

That is my base board, also my base board for my own machine, the one, in fact, I am typing on right now. That is a DELL T7400 Dual INTEL Xeon board. This board will handle up to eight cores and 64 gigs of ram, 3 SATA drives and six SATA connected SCSI drives. It also has dual PCIE slots at sixteen bits, perfect for dual graphics cards, and will run up to six monitors, dependent upon the Graphics Card, or run in SLI mode.

This board has its limitations, as any older board will have, but stacked against most of the older boards you can get to make your PLEX server it has plenty of power and processing power. Can it run the newest processor and memory intense games? No, but that’s not what it is meant to do, and, having said that, I have my personal machine configured to run not only my word processing software, databases and Music making/recording apps and software, but also running my Game Making software, including the latest Blender, UE4 and UNITY builds with no trouble.

The board will set you back anywhere from $30.00 to $400.00 dollars dependent on where you get it and that is for a bare board.

Plus a specific power supply the board needs (Up there on my top shelf is a 1000 watt redundant power supply), drives…

Video cards…

Tower coolers for the processors…

And of course processors and memory which I also have here.

I used to run two separate businesses before I had open-heart surgery and everything I was doing had to stop, and so I still have plenty of stuff just sitting here on shelves for computers and guitars, and I build machines for a few people on a regular basis, and so I keep up on parts and where to get them.

The parts are not that expensive, and you don’t need to be a Rocket Scientist to put it all together. Certainly you can put together the machine parts, along with a case to hold it (It needs a case capable of holding an EATX board, it won’t fit your standard ATX case.).

When I buy parts I look for what I need for a few hours, usually late at night, after the day has slipped by and the sellers have once again lowered prices on items that didn’t sell. I never buy from places I don’t know. I never buy from any place that won’t accept PayPal. Why? Because if I buy with my PayPal account, and they screw me over I won’t get stuck. The same with buying on eBay, they make sure you get your part or your money back.

EATX cases are very expensive if you are trying to keep costs down. Normally $150.00 minimum and up from there. What I do is buy DELL P490, P690, T5400 and T7400 cases. All are designed for EATX boards, and I can usually find a case, with the board and some ram, maybe even processors and drives, for anywhere from $60.00 to $300.00.

Or, you can design your own case as I did above. I built this case from two ATX cases. I made sure they were deep enough to hold the EATX board. Drilled out the rivets that held the cases together, removed the hard drive cage from one to allow the board to fit, then used new rivets to put the case back together, double the size, able to hold an EATX board, more than ten 3.5 drives, DVD Players, dual graphics cards, the larger and DELL specific 1000 Watt power supply. And, just to make it look a little cooler, I installed colored fans and lots of them to keep things cool. Cost for the two cases and the fans? About $40.00 total and a day of my time, which was only necessary as I was designing it as I went along. The pad at the side is a spare Kindle ($10.00 used on eBay) that allows me to load Android apps that can then run other equipment right from the touch pad.

The Power supply is DELL specific, as I mentioned and will run you around $30.00 for a 750 watt, or $40.00 or so for 1000 watts. Spend the couple of bucks more and get the thousand watts. With a PLEX server you will be running lots of drives and the extra wattage will make sure you don’t bottom out the Power Supply running all of those drives, video cards, and two processors with up to four cores each. It eats up wattage.

That is an 875 watt, you can find power supplies listed for Precision 490 or 690, or T 5400 through T 7400, all DELL boards, all EATX board power supplies, from 400 watt through 1000 watt available used, rebuilt or new.

The memory is DDR2 ECC. The 490 and 690 boards do better with 16 gigs of ram, although they say they support 32 gigs. The T5400 through T7400 boards will handle up to 64 gigs. My T7400 board has 32 Gigs, ten 1 terabyte drives, and one SSD 160 gigs that holds both the OS and the PLEX server software (So it boots nearly instantly). They also use the 5450 quad core processors at 3 ghz.

At 1333 mhz bus side speed they are fast enough. I use two, so I have eight cores on both machines. These are not normal processors, they are heavy-duty processors, built to use in servers.

That brings me to software. For my main machine I use Win 10. I avoided Win 10 for a long time, but the fact is that I like to build 3D video games and produce my own music, and the apps I use are Windows based. Although I will say Linux has the same music apps, and a few things that work even better. But there are no 3D Game builders, so I use Win 10.

For the Plex Server, however, Linux or Windows will work. https://www.plex.tv/

You can download the PLEX software at the above link and see how it works. It is an executable, so very easy to install.

On mine, you can see I set it up for myself or a guest. Simply follow the instructions and it will set itself up easily. Clicking the icon you want will open the PLEX server.

I have about 170 different series and thousands of organized movies, as well as several special categories, Documentaries, Home Building, Car builds, Music, Music videos, and on and on. I also added a cheap TV tuner and dual pole antenna I put together myself, covered here somewhere on this site, to allow me to receive OTA (Over The Air) channels.

I can watch, pause, schedule recordings and choose where to store those recordings, and as you can see the shows are then made available, so I can watch them when I want to (I receive 14 HD channels in this area, and I am about 8 miles (ca. 13 km) outside the city). All the networks and some Canadian channels I am close enough to get, as well as all the local PBS stations and a few specialty channels.

It can be that simple. I signed up for a PLEX Pass for $4.99 a month. In that way I can share my media and or access it from anywhere at all in the world that has Wi-Fi. The same way I have assessed the PLEX server to snap these images from another machine. I can watch from there, or on my tablet. My sister who lives 40 miles (ca. 64 km) away can watch, or my friend who lives 3000 miles (ca. 4,828 km) away can watch.

Plex, in itself, is not illegal. If you have Roku you can access your PLEX server from your ROKU app. There are ROKU apps for laptops, tablets, even my Kindle reader. The problems come with, where some people get the content from, illegal sites online, etc. But you can obtain legal content all over the place: YouTube, Crackle, a live video TV card as I have that gives me access to all the major networks. There is software you can use to save video from all sorts of places that you can then watch, and NETFLIX has some content specifically available to download.

You can retain your recordings or delete and just keep current stuff. I am one of those people who like to watch things more than once, so I keep it. In the pic above I have almost 200 different series organized and viewable from a to z.

So, there you go. It isn’t hard to get the pieces and put your own server together. The software is easy, the rest is simply building your video collections, music, pictures and then being able to access when you choose.

Here is one built into a standard DELL P490 case. The grill is custom painted, new stickers on the front, a couple of DVD drives to play DVDS or transfer them to a drive. This one was about $300.00 total with the drives, board, case, processors, and memory.

I hope this helped you. I’ll see you tomorrow, Dell.

Mentioned here:

PLEX software: https://www.plex.tv/

Windows software: I buy UK versions of WIN 10 on eBay for about 3 to 5 bucks (In the UK the used software is legally sold). No software, just an activation code. You can also pay for the full ride at $100.00 plus from Microsoft.

Linux Software: https://ubuntu.com/download Ubuntu is what I use. Ubuntu has the PLEX server add in and it works very well, but there are dozens of flavors of Linux. Don’t pay for it, it’s free. Some people do sell it to folks that don’t realize it is free, so beware, go right to the site and download it free.

Okay! Enjoy, check out my books and or sponsors or simply like the page if you can, Dell…

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