6 Best Cheap Plex Server in 2021

Plex is a remarkable media tool that allows you to stream all your entertainment content from pretty much any device. In simple terms, Plex is just like a DIY Netflix or Hulu.

With Plex, you can access podcasts, live TV and DVR, TV shows, movies, music, and pictures as well. Surprisingly, you can always access your media content from any geographical location. What’s more? You can get the most out of Plex by getting a Plex Pass subscription.

If you want your household to enjoy all kinds of entertainment, you should invest in the best cheap Plex server. Luckily, you have several options, which range from Plex NAS hardware, Pre-built Plex servers, and DIY options.


Position
First Place
Runner Up
Best Budget
Snapshot
NVIDIA SHIELD Android TV Pro 4K HDR Streaming Media Player; High Performance, Dolby Vision, 3GB RAM, 2x USB, Works with Alexa
2020 Apple Mac Mini with Apple M1 Chip (8GB RAM, 256GB SSD Storage)
CanaKit Raspberry Pi 4 8GB Extreme Kit - 128GB Edition (8GB RAM)
What You Should Know About The Plex Server

Powerful and very affordable. The NVIDIA Shield TV will handle Plex very well.

Apple Mac minis serve as very good plex servers because of the OS and hardware.

The best budget plex server if you know how to set it up.

Prime
Position
First Place
Snapshot
NVIDIA SHIELD Android TV Pro 4K HDR Streaming Media Player; High Performance, Dolby Vision, 3GB RAM, 2x USB, Works with Alexa
What You Should Know About The Plex Server

Powerful and very affordable. The NVIDIA Shield TV will handle Plex very well.

Prime
Position
Runner Up
Snapshot
2020 Apple Mac Mini with Apple M1 Chip (8GB RAM, 256GB SSD Storage)
What You Should Know About The Plex Server

Apple Mac minis serve as very good plex servers because of the OS and hardware.

Prime
Position
Best Budget
Snapshot
CanaKit Raspberry Pi 4 8GB Extreme Kit - 128GB Edition (8GB RAM)
What You Should Know About The Plex Server

The best budget plex server if you know how to set it up.

Prime

Last update on 2021-06-12 at 09:15 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


Preview
Name
Rating
 
NVIDIA SHIELD Android TV Pro 4K HDR Streaming Media Player; High Performance, Dolby Vision, 3GB RAM, 2x USB, Works with Alexa

2020 Apple Mac Mini with Apple M1 Chip (8GB RAM, 256GB SSD Storage)

Intel NUC 10 Performance Kit – Intel Core i7 Processor (Sleek Chassis)

lenovo ThinkCentre M92p Business Desktop Computer - Intel Core i7 Up to 3.9GHz, 16GB RAM, 480GB SSD, Windows 10 Pro (Renewed)

Asustor AS5304T | Gaming Inspired Network Attached Storage | 1.5GHz Quad-Core, Two 2.5GbE Port, 4GB RAM DDR4, 4GB eMMC Flash Memory | Personal Private Cloud (4 Bay Diskless NAS)

CanaKit Raspberry Pi 4 8GB Extreme Kit - 128GB Edition (8GB RAM)


6 Best Plex Servers Reviewed

Where To Buy

$199.99

Buy on Amazon

Pros

  • Can support 2-3 transcodes
  • Expandable storage
  • It is versatile
  • Fast performance

Cons

  • Pretty slow when transcoding some video formats

The NVIDIA Shield TV is genuinely one of the best cheap Plex servers in the market. It is a great buy versatility-wise. We are talking about a device you can use as a Plex media server, game console, smart home hub, or a streamer.

Using the NVIDIA Shield Plex server gives you peace of mind because 3 people can stream content without lags. The response times are remarkable, thanks to the NVIDIA Tegra X1 processor and 3GB RAM.

The NVIDIA Shield TV is available in the standard and Pro version. The standard version comes with 16GB of internal storage, while the Pro version has a 500GB hard drive. Although you can host a large Plex media server on the Shield 16GB, you’ll still require an external HDD for storage purposes.

  • Best Cheap Server Racks For Home

You can count on NVIDIA SHIELD to support various video compression formats for decoding. This includes formats such as MPEG 2, H.264, and H.265 HEVC. While this sounds pretty good, this device will have reduced performance when transcoding formats such as VP9, VC-1, Xvid, etc.

The NVIDIA SHIELD TV can support a couple of streams without any issues. However, the number can vary depending on the media properties, the number of streams that require transcoding, and the number of items streaming simultaneously. All in all, this Plex server should support 2-3 simultaneous transcodes.

This device runs Android 9.0 and the Chromecast 4K. You should not be worried about power consumption or loud fan noises when using NVIDIA SHIELD TV.


Where To Buy

$659.00

Buy On Amazon

Pros

  • Superfast SSD storage
  • Machine learning features
  • Unbelievable transcoding capability
  • Doesn’t overheat

Cons

  • It is expensive

The Apple Mac Mini has always been most people’s go-to cheap PC for Plex server. Amazingly, Apple has never stopped upgrading this desktop computer. They’ve just released the New Mac Mini, and the Apple M1 chip now powers it.

The new M1 chip has completely transformed Apple’s Mac Mini into a small beast. It should offer faster CPU and graphical performance than the previous models.

For your information, the Mac Mini is equipped with an eight-core GPU, an eight-core CPU, 256GB of storage, and 8GB of RAM. You can also get one with 512GB storage. Of course, your choice will be determined by the size of the Plex media server you want to build.

With the 8GB of unified memory, the Apple Mac Mini should handle all tasks pretty fast. Combine that with the superfast SSD storage; you’ll be getting an absolute powerhouse.

Unlike other cheap Plex server builds, the Mac Mini’s M1 chip has a full stack of machine learning technologies. Remember that machine learning brings automation to voice recognition, video analysis, image analysis, and more.

Even though the New Apple Mac Mini can wield incredible power, you don’t have to worry about the CPU overheating. That’s all thanks to the advanced cooling system.

This small device is up for anything and everything when it comes to connections and expansions. It comes with 2 USB-A ports, 2 USB 4 ports, HDMI 2.0, Gigabit Ethernet, and Wi-Fi 6.

We are pretty sure you guys are wondering whether Plex supports hardware transcoding on the M1 chip. Surprisingly, it does, and it’s pretty good at it. It can support 2-3 4K stream transcodes and up to 6 1080p to 1080p transcodes.


Where To Buy

Price not available

Buy on Amazon

Pros

  • Fast and powerful processor
  • Lots of storage
  • Supports 4K videos
  • Quiet fan

Cons

  • It is a bit expensive

If you are looking for a device that can run a Plex server pretty fast, you might want to look at the Intel NUC 10.

It’s the latest Intel NUC model and comes with some of the best features on the market. Unfortunately, getting your hands on this device might require you to pay slightly over $500.

With the Intel NUC Plex server, you can easily build a powerful entertainment system. The Intel NUC10i7FNH packs a lot of power under the hood.

We are talking about a 256GB M.2-based SATA SSD, 16GB RAM, a Core i7-10710U CPU, and a 7mm 1TB SATA3 HDD

This mini CPU also comes with an Integrated Intel UHD Graphics 620 GPU. The GPU is pretty good as it can support 3 4K displays. 

One display can be driven through the HDMI port, while the other two should be driven via the Thunderbolt 3 connector.

The Intel NUC10i7FNH Mini PC runs on Windows 10 Pro meaning you’ll get to enjoy a good Windows experience.

Accessing your digital files should be quite easy as the Intel NUC has the latest Bluetooth 5 and Intel Wi-Fi 6 technology. You should enjoy immersive 4K videos and high fidelity audio without the clutter of cables.

Unlike other devices, the Intel NUC 1 comes with a very quiet fan. This fan does a great job of keeping the CPU cool.

All in all, you might notice an increase in temperatures when the CPU is under load. Highly-recommended as one of the best cheap Plex server.


Pros

  • It is affordable
  • Has a lot of ports
  • Fast performance
  • Good for transcoding

Cons

  • Lacks HDMI ports

If you are still looking for an ideal cheap Plex server build, then you might as well go for the Lenovo ThinkCentre M92p. It is a high-performance desktop computer that you can use as a media server. Besides, it has a compact size, meaning it does not take up much space. Below are other features that make it one of the best Plex server hardware.

For starters, this PC is equipped with top-notch hardware to ensure that it works as a home media server without breaking a sweat. Other computers and devices can access media files from the ThinkCentre M92p without experiencing lags.

The M92p wields its power from a 3.2 GHz Intel Quad-Core i5-3470 processor. You’ll appreciate the fact that the i5 is pretty good for transcoding on a Plex server.

To guarantee fast performance, this CPU is combined with an Integrated Intel HD Graphics 2500 GPU, a 500GB SATA Hard Drive, and 8GB DDR3 RAM.

In terms of connectivity, Lenovo ThinkCentre M92p isn’t bad either. It has many ports, including 4 USB 3.0, 4 USB 2.0, 1 VGA, an RJ-45 Ethernet port, and a Display port.

Finally, this desktop computer runs on Windows 10 Professional, and it comes with a mouse and keyboard as well.


Where To Buy

$429.00

Buy On Amazon

Pros

  • Great as Plex server for 4K content
  • Upgradable RAM
  • Low power consumption
  • Multi-user access

Cons

  • You have to buy disks separately

The Asustor AS5304T is one of the most affordable Plex servers, especially if you want more storage for your entertainment collection and reliability.

This has always been most people’s go-to device when they are looking to upgrade their ancient home servers. Let’s see what makes the Asustor AS5304T NAS the best Plex server for 4K.

First off, this device is designed to muscle through various tasks with ease. Its fast nature can be attributed to the Intel Celeron J415 Quad-Core processor. Besides, the AS5304T is equipped with 4GB of DDR4 RAM. What’s better? You can always upgrade the RAM to 8GB.

The other awesome thing is that the AS5304T has two 2.5 Gigabit Ethernet ports. These ports are quite good as they facilitate fast performance. They can hit up to 5 Gbps using link aggregation. Even with all these performance features, the AS5304T does not require high energy requirements.

Now that the ASUSTOR AS5304T has a powerful CPU, it should handle 4K content transcoding without a problem. You just have to use Plex pass or any other 3rd party players to enjoy 4K HDR content.

Moving on, this NAS device has a Download Center that allows you to search and download content seamlessly. You don’t have to use BitTorrent, torrents, and trackers anymore.

Keep in mind that the ASUSTOR AS5304T comes with 4 bays that can accommodate your disks. Unfortunately, you have to purchase them separately.

Finally, this device has a cross-platform that allows for multi-user access. You can connect to your NAS from a tablet, PC, smartphone, or notebook.


Pros

  • It’s pretty fast
  • Lots of connection features
  • Comes with 2 Micro HDMI ports
  • Low noise system fan

Cons

  • Might heat up

Running data-intensive server loads requires you to have a device with serious RAM. This is exactly what you get with the Canakit Raspberry Pi 4 8GB. If you have very specialized needs and are looking for a cheap Plex server, the Raspberry Pi 4 8GB should cut it.

The Raspberry Pi 4 8GB model has been recommended as one of the best devices for creating a NAS for your home. It offers incredible performance, thanks to its 1.5GHz 64-bit quad-core CPU.

This CPU should give you more than enough power to run your Plex media server and perform various tasks.

As the name suggests, this device has 8GB of RAM, but you’ll probably cannot use more than 4GB. Other great features include PoE capability, Gigabit Ethernet, dual-band 2.4/5.0 GHz Wireless LAN, USB 3.0, and Bluetooth 5.0.

The Raspberry Pi 4 comes with two Micro HDMI ports.  This is an upgrade to the standard HDMI ports that were used in the previous Raspberry Pi generation. The new micro HDMI ports offer dual monitor support.

Canakit Raspberry Pi 4 is available in four main types. You can get the board only, basic kit, starter kit or the extreme kit. If none of these floats your boat, you can build a custom Canakit from the official website.

Once you purchase this device, you will get a set of 3 heat sinks, a micros SD card, a Raspberry Pi 4 case, a low noise system fan, a USB MicroSD Card Reader, and a 3.5A USB-C Power supply.

What Is The Best Server For Plex?

Well, there is no definite answer to this question. All the above Plex servers we’ve reviewed are great and should work just fine. All in all, we have different preferences, and my ideal Plex server might not be suitable for you.

How Much Does a Plex Server Cost?

Plex servers are priced differently depending on the brand, specs, and performance. You can get a cheap Plex server for less than $100. On the other hand, some Plex servers might go as high as $1000.

Is a Plex Server Free?

Plex is free, but the server isn’t. You have to buy a pre-built Plex server or use an old computer or laptop to host Plex and your media files.

Can I Have 2 Plex Servers?

Yes. You can run two separate Plex servers under one account. This allows you to manage both servers from either device. You can even stream media from either server remotely. All you need to do is assign each server a unique port and forward the ports from your router to each server’s IP.

Plex Server Requirements

If you are looking to set up a Plex media server, you’ll need a desktop computer that meets the following requirements:

Operating System

Windows: Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1, Windows Server 2012 R2, Windows Server 2012 & Windows 10

Linux: CentOS 7 or newer, Fedora 27 or newer, Debian 8 or newer, Ubuntu 16.04 or newer & SUSE 15 or newer.

OS X: OS X / macOS 10.9 Mavericks or newer 

CPU

Intel Core i3 or faster

RAM

2GB minimum

Storage

A large internal and external hard drive should do

Final Thoughts

Now that you know which hardware works as a good Plex Media server, all you have to do is purchase and install the Plex software.

1 thought on “6 Best Cheap Plex Server in 2021”

Leave a Comment