The following spreadsheet provides information about compatible NAS devices as well as basic capability information.
Link: Plex NAS Compatibility
The spreadsheet linked above covers two different types of transcoding that the NAS device might support:
- Software transcoding
- Hardware-accelerated transcoding
“Software” transcoding simply means that the device is using the CPU processing power to perform file transcoding/conversion when needed. Such “software” based transcoding can be very CPU-intensive and many NAS devices don’t use particularly powerful processors, so they may be limited in what they can do.
The information in the sheet is based on estimation of whether or not the device is capable of performing a single software transcode of the given quality (using the example average file for that quality).
Note: Hardware-accelerated transcoding is a premium feature and requires an active Plex Pass subscription for the Plex Media Server account.
Hardware-accelerated transcoding (often referred to as “hardware transcoding” or “hardware-accelerated streaming”) makes use of dedicated hardware capabilities of a supported CPU or GPU to perform the necessary transcoding/conversion, rather than using the regular CPU processing. These dedicated resources are optimized for just this sort of action and can be both fast and energy-efficient, though they do sometimes sacrifice some minor visual quality in some cases.
For purposes of the spreadsheet, “Hardware-Accelerated Transcoding” support is referring to devices that support “Intel Quick Sync Video”. For additional information regarding Intel Quick Sync Video and the capabilities of the different Intel processor generations as they pertain to each video codec, please see this Wikipedia article.
Some NAS devices may also support adding dedicated/external GPUs (e.g. an NVIDIA graphics card), which would also help provide hardware acceleration for transcoding. See the corresponding section in our regular “Using Hardware-Accelerated Streaming” article for more specifics.
Related Page: Using Hardware-Accelerated Streaming
Related Page: What kind of CPU do I need for my Server?
Related Page: Wikipedia: Intel Quick Sync Video
Related Page: Intel website: Intel Quick Sync capable processors