2017 iMac i7 as Plex Server and Office Computer

Discussion in 'iMac' started by mstgkillr, Aug 4, 2017.

  1. mstgkillr macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2012
    #1
    I have a 2017 27" iMac i7 that I am currently using as an office computer. It's primarily used for emails, web browsing, and Excel. Would there be any issue with adding a few external drives and using this as a Plex server? Or would I be better off getting a dedicated 2012 Mac Mini i7?
     
  2. trsblader macrumors 6502

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    May 20, 2011
  3. mstgkillr thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2012
    #3
    Ok, thanks. I assume being a Plex server, that I will somehow need to prevent the iMac from sleeping. Is it possible for the iMac to be on as a Plex server but with the screen off?
     
  4. trsblader macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    May 20, 2011
    #4
    Forget the actual name of the setting but it's with the energy saving stuff. You can set how long before the display is put to sleep from in there and also prevent the entire machine from going to sleep.
     
  5. mstgkillr thread starter macrumors regular

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    Feb 11, 2012
    #5
    Thanks again!

    I wonder why the Mac Minis are so popular then? I guess maybe for those who don’t have iMacs.
     
  6. Crash0veride macrumors regular

    Crash0veride

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2016
    Location:
    Cincinnati
    #6
    Mac Minis used to be popular for plex servers because it was a "cheap" home media server they could leave plugged into the TVs and run games/emulators off of with wireless controllers, run torrent servers off of, regular servers off of, etc. Also a dedicated system not running anything else, hooked directly the router would have the better remote access performance than some setups, especially with multiple streams running.

    I leave a plex server running on my 2017 iMac with external drives 24/7. Only thing I think you have to do, maybe not even, is turn off "put hard disks to sleep" and maybe computer sleep in energy saver settings. Plex can pull a bit of CPU when transcoding high bitrate HD video, but that should almost definitely not be an issue for your usage and would only be when you or someone else is watching something. You can schedule library updates and the sort so they happen while you're sleeping, as they are the only other thing that even semi-taxes your system. Depending on if you are using the externals for other things, it could slow down transfer speeds to the drive while plex is performing tasks.
     
  7. mstgkillr thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2012
    #7
    Crash0veride, thanks for the detailed response!

    One last question for someone. I have 4 8TB WD external drives. I was thinking of using the first 2 for media, and the second 2 as backups for the first 2. Can my iMac or do this or should I go with some type of NAS?
     
  8. G5isAlive, Aug 4, 2017
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2017

    G5isAlive macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2003
    #8
    Besides the reasons given, relatively low cost (for an i7) and very small footprint, the mac mini still compares favorably in terms of power consumption, which actually does add up in terms of real money for a computer left on 24/7.

    https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201918

    iMac (Retina 5K, 27-inch, 2017)
    Power Consumption, Thermal Output
    Idle CPU 71W CPU Max 217W; Idle CPU 242 BTU/h, CPU Max 741 BTU/h

    mac mine (2.3 ghz quad core i7, 27-inch, late 2012)
    Power Consumption, Thermal Output
    Idle CPU 11W CPU Max 85W; Idle CPU 38 BTU/h, CPU Max 290 BTU/h
    --- Post Merged, Aug 4, 2017 ---
    Technically, yes. I believe raid software is still supported (back to being supported?) in mac osx. In this case you would stripe two drives, then mirror those drives (striped as well?)

    a better raid software solution is softraid, pricey but data is precious so probably worth it.. https://www.softraid.com

    But having played around with various software options in my tower mac pro, i ultimately went with a synology NAS. Just seemed cleaner.

    On second thought maybe you don't mean raid at all (where all those drives essentially appear as one volume) but 2 drives on your desktop with two being mirrored. Um. yeah could still do that but ugg. messy. I like simplicity. Its a matter of what you are willing to juggle. and i think for media its just easier to manage one virtual drive then several physical drives.
     
  9. Crash0veride macrumors regular

    Crash0veride

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2016
    Location:
    Cincinnati
    #9
    I have two 2TB externals I back up in addition to my internal on a third 6TB, works fine, you just have to go to Time Machine settings and make sure it doesn't exclude those disks.

    I would avoid a raid if you don't have confidence, as I don't think it adds much performance for the complication, but you can also merge (freshly formatted) externals in a JBOD software raid in Disk Utility. Raid 0 of 2 disks + Raid 1 with the other 2, as G5isAlive said would probably be the more technically inclined "proper" way to deal with them though.
     
  10. theluggage macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2011
    #10
    Well, technically, its better to keep servers separate from desktop computers - what if someone is watching a movie while you're doing some heavy work? What if you need to re-start your desktop while the server is in use? There are also a series of optional OS configuration tweaks you can do to optimise Mac OS for server use rather than desktop use.

    ...you wouldn't mix the two roles in a serious commercial environment, but for domestic/personal use it doesn't really matter (although if you have Significant Others or kids to consider, restarting your Mac in the middle of their favourite show might not go down too well!)

    Also, the Mini probably uses less power than an iMac, has HDMI to hook directly to a TV and the older ones (esp. the server edition) could take two internal 2.5" hard drives. Its tiny, relatively cheap, and has a neat internal PSU - most of the competitors have huge power bricks. So it could sit happily under the telly.

    However, nowadays, there's a host of dirt-cheap Apple TV/Rokus/Android TV/Fire TV boxes/sticks, with clients for Plex, Netflix, Amazon etc. that can stream from your main computer, so there's less reason to have a full-blown mini PC hooked to the TV.
     

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