In some cases, you may receive a “This server is not powerful enough to convert video” type message when trying to play back content. This will occur when the system running your Plex Media Server isn’t capable of transcoding (converting) content.
Related Page: NAS Devices and Limitations
Related Page: Direct Play, Direct Stream, Transcoding
There are three main situations in which you can encounter this message.
If a media file is incompatible with the client player then the server would need to transcode to send a compatible version. However some codecs or resolutions require a very powerful CPU to transcode on the fly. Some devices that can run Plex Media Server cannot transcode at all due to a low powered CPU. That will be the case for NAS devices that use a low powered ARM-based processor for example as noted in the NAS Devices and Limitation link above.
What can I do about it?
In cases where your content requires transcoding but the Plex Media Server cannot transcode, there isn’t anything that the Server can do to help you here.
You may wish to manually convert the content to a compatible format (for instance, MP4 container, H.264 video, with AAC 2.0 audio) using third-party tools and another computer. Other community members in our support forums may have suggestions.
Related Page: Plex Support Forums
Player quality settings asking for a transcode
Sometimes, the message may be related to your streaming video quality settings in your Plex app.
In some cases, your media may actually be compatible with your Plex app, but you have your streaming video quality set such that the Plex Media Server basically says, “you’ve given me settings that require the video to be transcoded, but this server isn’t able to transcode”.
Imagine that you have a 1080p MP4 file with an average bitrate of 12Mbps. In your Plex app, you have your quality set to 4Mbps.
- When you connect with the Plex Media Server and request to play that video, your app tells the Server “I can only handle up to 4Mbps”.
- The server compares that limitation to the media files and knows that it would need to transcode the media down to make it compatible with the 4Mbps request.
- The Server is not capable of transcoding, so it cannot fulfill the request that you made.
- The Plex app displays the message for you.
What can I do about it?
If the media you’re trying to play actually is compatible with your Plex app, then you typically only need to increase the streaming video quality setting in the app so that it’s higher than the actual source video quality.
If the media isn’t actually compatible, though, then increasing the streaming video quality setting won’t help, since the content would still need to be transcoded to be compatible.
Note: While increasing your streaming video quality setting may allow the media to play, if your network connection (particularly to a remote or shared Server) can’t handle that quality, then you may experience buffering or other playback issues.
Video Transcoding Disabled
What is happening?
The Server Admin may have disabled the ability for their Plex Media Server to transcode video. This may be for many reasons but commonly it is due to their computer being used for Plex Media Server also being use for other things and they not want Plex Media Server to take up CPU resources for transcoding.
The reason for transcoding may be as mentioned above that your quality settings are lower than the media file, or the media file is incompatible with the player.
What can be done about it?
If your think your player should be compatible with file then increase the local or remote quality in the playback settings in the player app to Maximum or Original. Otherwise the server admin would need to enable transcoding is the servers Transcoder settings