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Best way to serve movies to my TV?

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tRidiot

Premium Member
Joined
May 17, 2003
Ok, so for a number of years I've been using my Amazon FireTV (and now 4k FireTV) to access my NAS via sideloaded KODI to watch movies. Problem is, it's gotten to be a decent sized collection (about 1500 movies plus a bunch of TV shows) now and it takes a long time to update, the 4kFireTV is kind of slow at updating and sometimes I have some troubles with it.

So I've considered building a dedicated HTPC or something. I've tried Plex and did not like the interface as much as Kodi. Never could even get it to update all my movies properly, etc.

Is there a better way to do this? I thought running KODI via Windows on a HTPC would be much faster - I can put in a multi-core CPU and a decent video card, etc. Wireless connectivity is a plus, but it's really not ultimately that big a deal - the PC would be right next to my router and my TV.

Streaming would be 99.999% only to my main 75" TV. There would be a few times The Wife or The Boy might stream on one of the other TVs, I suppose, but it would be rare. I thought upgrading to SSDs would be cool and would help with throughput, I have occ issues with buffering or something off my NAS. I am using a ReadyNAS 4-bay with 4 3TB drives in RAID5 (I think). I am about out of storage space and the last year or two have started storing movies in formats that are more space-consuming, including DTS audio and 4k, etc. So I need to upgrade my storage either way, but this got me started thinking about doing more than just swapping in 4 new 6TB or 8TB drives and possibly getting better performance, as things are getting slower with an enlarging collection.

So what do you think? Is a HTPC with something like an 8-core and a 1660 or 2060 or maybe an RX5600 or whatever. I've got some room in the budget to play around with.
 

stompah

Deep Pain Senior Member
Joined
Apr 16, 2001
My LG Smart TV recognized the Plex server on my network. Instead of using the app I could pull it from DLNA Server that the TV saw. Problem was that sucked for navigation.

For ease of use I use Plex. On 4k I occasionally get some jittering or loading stoppages.

Currently my HTPC is cast to the side being neglected. I plan on reconnecting it to my home theater set up very soon. I need to see how it handles 4k versus 4k streaming over the network.

You can always get a SFF PC and hide it behind the TV. I use a Logitech wireless keyboard with mousepad to control my HTPC and it works well. When the HTPC is up and running it is pretty much hiccupless. Install Plex as a server for other peoples use.
 

Blaylock

"That Backfired" Senior Member
Joined
Jun 5, 2013
Location
Go Blue!
I use Plex as well and like it's simple use. I have issues with it not able to be found or loosing connection over the years, but I suspect this is more of a Windows permissions issue. One of the greatest assets for Plex is the ability to access your media anywhere. If you are only streaming from within your home and have no need to stream outside of your local network give Emby a try. It's even easier and more 'stable' than Plex.

As far as your issues, assuming you are running mechanical HDDs, it could be due to your drives being close to max capacity. Especially if you have a lot of data that has not been defragged. It is critical that you do a back-up before attempting a defrag. A failure during a RAID defrag could be catastrophic so it behooves you to back up everything before attempting (Obviously 9TB of data might take a hot minute to complete). If you are on SSD's then generally there is little to no benefit from defragging so it is not advised.
 

wagex

Chapstick Eating Premium Member
Joined
Jan 14, 2011
yeah, it was a tough switch from me to go from MRMC (kodi specifically for the firetv) but it just overall works better. Once you customize the menu it's really not bad, i just put my movies/tv shows at the top of the list and ignore the rest of the options. plus as others mentioned you can share your library with family members and what not. I have ran into the issue where it wasn't finding some movies, and that was a file re-naming error on my end.

what's your server setup like? capacity?

that setup for an HTPC seems way overkill, the small 4k firetv handles it fine. if you are going to stick with kodi setup a shared database somewhere else that is what slows down the fire tv because the DB uses so much storage on it and there is so much information to parse especially when you get that many movies. added bonus when they have a shared database your progression gets showed across all devices.
 

Nebulous

Señor Senior, Senior
Joined
Oct 11, 2002
Location
The Empire State
I've been using Plex since it's inception. I used to have a Kodi server and as soon as I found Plex, the kodi server got mothballed. PC has Plex, TV has Plex. Open Plex on TV and click. TV connects to PC seamlessly. All 3 of my smart TV's in my apartment connect to my rig without issues. I have 10TB dedicated solely to media (Movies/Tunes). I "find" movies onto my rig and stream via Plex. So far Plex does exactly what I want. What I really like is it updates on a regular schedule.
 

Janus67

Benching Team Leader
Joined
May 29, 2005
I run both Plex and Kodi in my house. I prefer how Kodi handles HDR/4K content better than Plex. I run them (as well as other things) on a 2017 nVidia shield which works exceptionally well.

The kids run Plex on their tablets to watch the shows/movies/etc that I have configured for them, where I have a GPU for encoding to make sure it doesn't lag/buffer and can transcode down to their resolutions.
 

JrClocker

AKA: JrMiyagi
Joined
Sep 25, 2015
I run a Plex server, and have been running Plex for over 5 years. It currently runs on my QNAP TVS1272XU 12-bay NAS...I have a large movie collection with over 600 movies and multiple TV shows. It was a big chore to RIP my DVDs and BluRays, but I am very happy with it.

I tried Kodi and got sick of compatibility issues...oh - just install this, or do that setting, etc.

I run NVIDIA Shield TVs which I purchased back in 2016...and these have worked flawlessly. I also use NetFlix and Hulu in addition to Plex.

Love Plex.
 

Railgun

Member
Joined
May 7, 2011
I too have PMS as a Windows VM with Truenas as the storage setup and run a Shield Pro as my streamer. Far better, and more consistent performance than the built in app on the LG TV, and then no need to screw around with ARC or E-ARC, of which I don’t have support for the latter anyway. And as it supports DV, all lossless codecs, etc, as well as the other usual suspects of streaming apps should I want them, it just ticks all the boxes I need.
 

don256us

Uber Folding Senior
Joined
Jul 17, 2003
Plex here too. I have an Unraid server to hold all of my media. My Visio branded TV has the Plex app on it. I just sepreated my movies from my TV shows. My Plex server runs as a docker on the Unraid silicone and lives in the basement and I have wired Gigabit to include the TV and server. Never an issue.

I also like that with my Plex server, I can access my media from any client like my computer, laptop, phone, tablet, etc. With the paid version, I can access these anywhere that I have internet access too.

With Unraid, I have a layer of protection in the form of a parity drive. Right now I have 5 x 2TB drives. As I grow out of the space I have, I can upgrade as long as I start with my parity drive. If a drive goes bad, I can replace it and not lose data. Everything did cost me money but not a lot and the flexability I have is fantastic.

An HTPC with a lot of cores? Not sure why you would need that. Wouldn't a Core i3 or AMD equivalent work just as well? I built an HTPC years ago and it's still working but you have special considerations that you normally wouldn't have. An HTPC usually resides in the cabinet that your TV sits on. Therefore it has to look good and... more importantly, be quiet. Low power components with high efficiency parts get costly. While my HTPC still works and still sits in the living room, I haven't actually used it in years.

My Plex server sits in the basement, has no case, has fans all over the damned thing and chugs away. I use multi core Xeon because I had it already. I use a single core with HT for Plex and the rest run my Folding @ Home docker.

The video card in my HTPC is really low powered. Passive cooling. Nvidia 200 series maybe? It's old and this was way before 4k was a thing. My point being that you don't have a need for a killer GPU unless you are going to game on the HTPC. My Unraid server with Plex on it doesn't even have a GPU.
 
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tRidiot

Premium Member
Joined
May 17, 2003
I dunno, I've been trying to digest all the things you guys are throwing out, I have no idea what most of this software is and I can tell I'm way over my head.

I just know my FireTV 4k reading off my NAS and running Kodi takes forever (like 5-10 minutes) to update and sometimes has to buffer and seems to be getting slower as my collection grows. I've set up a USB thumb drive on a splitter off the FireTV 4k to store my Kodi database on to try to help things. I think it did (remapping the Kodi memory files onto it), but I just figured a decent budget multi-core with a modern video card with SSDs would make it scream and I'd never have to worry about it again.

Since I know I have to upgrade my storage anyways. Doesn't look like with current prices I can really get away from spinning drives just yet, though. Would cost me over a grand in storage, probably.

- - - Auto-Merged Double Post - - -

I guess I could try getting used to Plex. That would be an easy out. I just didn't care for the interface, I installed Plex server on my NAS and tried the Plex app on my FireTV, but it just didn't work so well, seemed it didn't find all my movies and TV shows, I really had to massage it a lot and wasn't working and didn't seem worth the time.

Sadly, I've been using Kodi so many years, it's what I'm familiar with. I can pause a movie and download some subtitles easily, etc.

Maybe I should <sigh> give it another try.

<edit> My TV is a 4k smart TV (Vizio). Seems a little slowish when trying to use apps, though.
 
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tRidiot

Premium Member
Joined
May 17, 2003
Another thing I wondered is if it would speed up transferring files if I used a PC with SSDs.

I am transferring 16 gigs right now and it is running about 8 MB/sec sustained. Running off a WiFi 6 adapter on my PC to my AC1900 router with upgraded antennae maybe 30-35 feet away through 3 normal interior walls. This is going to my NAS which is hardwired to the router.

If I transfer from my laptop via wifi in the same room I get sometimes up to 30MB/sec.

I still just can't fathom those speeds, I'd think it would all be higher.
 
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stompah

Deep Pain Senior Member
Joined
Apr 16, 2001
My library is on an external WD 4TB drive. I get over 100MB/s transferring movies back and forth between my internal and external drives. I don't have issues playing 4k on my PC. Like I mention sometimes I do have 4k buffering but I attribute that to network or player issues.

You have network or NAS issues. Unless you have some sort of drive failure. SSDs would be overkill.

But why are you having problems with Plex seeing all the movies you have? One thing I have noticed is sometimes a made for TV movie will not be recognized as a movie by Plex but rather a TV episode. Maybe try using Plex's "other" classification and see if then recognizes all your content.
 
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tRidiot

Premium Member
Joined
May 17, 2003
My network speed has always been like that. The NAS drives seem to be great, it defrags itself regularly and the NAS is hardwired to my router which is a Nighthawk R7000 AC1900 router.

Guess I need to spend some time in the Networking forum. <sigh>
 

Railgun

Member
Joined
May 7, 2011
It’s not networking issues most likely, though being wired you’ll get more consistent performance. I’m not a fan of smaller NASs, but YMMV based on a few things.

For the record, before upgrading from the last FreeNAS to TrueNAS, I was getting about 6-700MB writes, but post upgrade has dropped to ~300. This is 4 6TB WD Red mirrored vdevs behind 10Gb connectivity.

What is your NAS?

I was originally running Plex and it’s database on the same disk. I’d only given Windows 100GB and it was running out. I migrated the database to the storage array, but it soon caused some performance issues so I added a dedicated SSD for the DB and transcoding files. Performance is great.

If you have issues with finding movies, it could be related to something similar. I have simple folders for broad catagories, movies for example has three subs, DVDs, Blu-Rays and 4K. I just point Plex to the root of movies and it finds everything and will sort correctly. For example if I have FDH and UHD movies, it will merge into one title and I can select accordingly. To be clear, it’s not a client issue. Plex Media Server handles everything itself. The client (player) simply reads off the server. Better to have everything contained IMO.

Some all in one NASs may not be up to snuff with respect to Plex. And if you’re transcoding anything, less so. You should be direct playing everything.

I’d briefly used Kodi trying to do something else, but Plex seems to work well. Take another look. It may work for you now. But it may also depend on how you organize your libraries. I find being simple works best.
 
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tRidiot

Premium Member
Joined
May 17, 2003
I have a ReadyNAS 104 running four 3GB drives in a RAID5 array.

I tried installing Plex server as an app on the ReadyNAS. Then using Plex client on my FireTV.

I only have 3 major folders on the NAS - MOVIES, TV, MUSIC.

Each movie is stored in its own subfolder as a single file, some have subfolders with subtitles. Over the years I've learned how KODI reads things, so I did it this way to assist in movie recognition for KODI to identify it and download the metadata. TV shows are stored each series with its own folder and all episodes in that folder, although I think some of them maybe have subfolders for seasons, too. Either way, KODI's never had problems recognizing files/episodes in a subfolder, either.

Pretty much all my movies are commercial releases, no made-for-tv stuff that I know of.

I might try installing Plex again and playing with it.


I just checked my ReadyNAS and it is running a deep disk check, I don't see any way to analyze disk fragmentation. I thought I had it set up to auto-defrag, I guess I don't. So it may well be quite fragmented. I can't run the defrag now, as the disk check is running. Really wish I could tell how fragmented it was... I'm afraid starting a defrag is going to take days. <sigh> Shows 6.81TB allocated, 1.1TB unallocated.


BTW, I looked at my WiFi adapter properties and it is showing 144.4Mbps speed with maximum signal. This is a TP-Link AX3000 Wi-Fi6 Bluetooth 5.0 card installed in my PC, router is a Nighthawk R7000 AC1900. I know it is only Wi-Fi5, so I would have a max of... what, 867Mbps? I don't know why I have such slow connection speed. I think my router shows 19 devices connected. QoS is off.
 

Railgun

Member
Joined
May 7, 2011
So SNB did a review with 3TB WD Reds a while ago. In an R5 setup, ~40/80MBps R/W. At a guess, that’s about best case for that setup.

Could part of the issue be wireless? Could be. Take the “connection speed” with a grain of salt. Many variables in play to get good and consistent wireless performance.

In the overall context of why the Firestick seems to take a long time, I can’t necessarily, help but at a guess logs about what Kodi is doing is the first step.

Try Plex again as you suggest. If there’s a similar issue, it could be NAS, or maybe wireless performance related. If it’s better, could be an underlying Kodi issue that the devs might need to answer with said logs.
 
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tRidiot

Premium Member
Joined
May 17, 2003
So am I better off just getting a better NAS with bigger/better drives and carrying on with either KODI or Plex? And not bothering with a HTPC or video streaming server? Seems a lot of people use older Nvidia Shields.

I've reinstalled Plex on my NAS and it is currently doing the library thing, which is going to take most of the day if what I'm seeing is accurate as to its current speed.
 

Railgun

Member
Joined
May 7, 2011
I think the larger the library, the more it needs to do to build that database. I think they may even suggest adding an SSD to support larger libraries, but I guess YMMV.

But it does sound as though the NAS isn't performing its best.

As for defragging, if it's used just for media, or mostly reads, there shouldn't be much need to defrag anything, in particular static content.
 
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tRidiot

Premium Member
Joined
May 17, 2003
So we're three hours later and it looks like Plex is still working on my TV shows, not anywhere close to done. Looks like I have about a thousand episodes, I don't think that's a lot, really. Definitely taking a LOOOOONG time. Movies gonna take a helluva long time, too, I've got something like 1500, I think.

I don't know what makes everything seem so slow, is it my network being slow, my NAS' processor, or my NAS hard drives in general.


<edit> Of course, my NAS is still doing a disk test, too, I'd imagine that is contributing - the disk test has been running about 5½ hours now.