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So after many years I have pretty much reached the end of what my HTPC can handle. So I'm thinking of setting up a NAS system to connect to the network but definitely need it to be able to stream 4k. Looking for recommendations... 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Streaming 4K shouldn't be an issue no matter which NAS you choose.   Transcoding, especially 4K to 4K will be what kills you if you need that.  If you go with Synology make sure it's Intel based cpu, plus the new 4K GPU in their 2020 geminilake models should make a difference.

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You may know some or all of this but...

If you require 4k transcoding - you are look for ....

1. A Nas that has at least one pcie expansion slot of 4x minimum - so you can add a Nvidia card - space, heat and power consumption of the card need to be considered - so you can use the gpu for HW acceleration. This has the added benefit that you can choose what you want to use as well as being replaceable in 2-3 yrs time when the next great enhancement you must have comes along.

Also the cpu does not have to be at the powerful end of the spectrum - save money, power etc

As all vendors charge a eye watering premium for high end CPU's and/or NAS's with GPU's etc

So you can get a reasonably priced NAS with a moderate CPU - that you add your choice of GPU that is more future proof and you have the flexability to change things going forward. Buying a vendor specific similar NAS would cost considerably more and lock you in to their choice of GPU etc etc

2. Go for a high end NAS with a meaty cpu - AMD ryzen NAS's are available with horsepower to burn - some have expansion slots as well - see above - expect to pay top prices though

3. As above but with Intel CPU - advantage is they are likely to come with Quicksync is consumer CPU's - from my experience QSV is ok but nvidia gives better output - but i would want a NAS i am paying lots for to be better than ok. Dont get a xeon based nas as it will not have QSV and actually for transcoding will be slower for cpu only transcoding - reasons. Disadvantages would be the cpu is eaten for breakfast by the AMD equivalent priced NAS - more cores etc etc

4. Build you own - xpenology, freenas lots to choose from - lots a flexibility - BUT - much more time invested by you to get it working, if it goes wrong you are one your own etc - for me that not a problem but if you want something to set and forget - dont go this route



One final thing if you want to be able to transcode 4k - is consider how many concurrent transcodes you need - then sit back and ask yourself why!

The point is you can avoid transcoding anything - or limit it to the very occasional thing - in you Lan - with some effort on your part etc

a) Get clients that support 4k - you can also send 4k to a 1080p tv if the client can downscale on the fly - i do this on my shield connected to a 1080p tv

b) get additional 1080p copies of your media - so they can be played on clients that cant deal with 4k

c) transcode any non compatible media to another format ahead of time - you only do this once - not every time you play a favourite movie

etc etc

If you sort the above out then your nas just became cheaper agian as it does not need the horsepower to cover lots of transcoding

Remote users - if you have them then again you have options that keeps the nas requirements in bounds - if you care about that

1. dont allow remote users access to your 4k content - you dont have the bandwidth to upload at a decent rate anyway - transcoding a 1080p video to a "mobile" quality is significantly less taxing than 4k - its quick and the colour balance will be maintained

2. have mobile friendly quality versions pre trancoded / acquired and avalable to remote users

etc etc

There are other things to consider but the above are the most significant

Have fun

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On 9/25/2020 at 12:37 AM, LiquidFX said:

I do need one that can handle transcoding 4k

You don't want to transcode 4K content, even with a capable server, most 4K content is HDR, HDR is lost during transcoding so colors are washed, the result is worse than 1080p SDR content.

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