Forum Thread

Best sub-$300 machine for Plex/MakeMKV/Handbrake

japaninator 477 163 August 13, 2015 at 12:49 PM
I'm looking to explore ideas behind the best machine I can run as a ripping/encoding box.

I plan to use it as a Plex Media Server and to rip my Blurays and DVDs with MakeMKV and Handbrake. I am thinking I will run Ubuntu on it unless there is a solid reason to run Windows.

I just bought a sub-$100 machine with an AMD B50 (unlocked Phenom II x2 or x3) that I haven't set up yet, but I'm guessing it will probably still be a bit slow, guessing around 14 hours or so to encode a Blu-ray. I've looked into getting a better Phenom but the price vs performance difference from the B50 doesn't seem worth it. I am currently using a 4850e box and it takes about a full day to encode a 2.5-hour Blu-ray.

Since I don't need heavy graphics, mostly just a powerful processor, maybe a server-oriented solution like a Dell PowerEdge with an older gen Xeon or dual Xeon or something would be better?

My main considerations here are 1) price, 2) speed, 3) power consumption.

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#2
$300 for a complete system (Case, PSU, MB, Ram, CPU, Storage?) is kind of low, or are you looking more for a MB, CPU, Ram combo for $300?

Are you looking at only new or used maybe? Wondering about going the used route and picking up something a gen or two old.

I think you will fight your performance/speed ratio. Generally faster chips cost more and use more power.

Not sure a server oriented process is the way to go. You don't need the ECC ram, and the Xenon's dont always have the best performance, they are usually the most stable with extra instructions sets. Not sure if all your programs could use the dual processors too. I would look for Cores and benchmark performance.

I find http://www.cpubenchmark.net/cpu.p...Core+4850e pretty helpful. That type of score is pretty low these days. Your looking at a low end part from even 5 years ago, so getting into a modern midrange part shoudl boost performance at least 5x. Not saying this is what you should get but for example http://www.cpubenchmark.net/cpu.p...re&id=1780 way more performance than what your using today. Here is your new system and it's probably 2x what your using now http://www.cpubenchmark.net/cpu.p...+II+X4+B50
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Last edited by LiquidRetro August 14, 2015 at 09:10 AM
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#3
Pick up a dell outlet machine when they are on sale..300 will get you an i5 haswell..
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Quote from fenderman View Post :
Pick up a dell outlet machine when they are on sale..300 will get you an i5 haswell..
Iagree

Quote from japaninator View Post :
I'm looking to explore ideas behind the best machine I can run as a ripping/encoding box.

I plan to use it as a Plex Media Server and to rip my Blurays and DVDs with MakeMKV and Handbrake. I am thinking I will run Ubuntu on it unless there is a solid reason to run Windows.

I just bought a sub-$100 machine with an AMD B50 (unlocked Phenom II x2 or x3) that I haven't set up yet, but I'm guessing it will probably still be a bit slow, guessing around 14 hours or so to encode a Blu-ray. I've looked into getting a better Phenom but the price vs performance difference from the B50 doesn't seem worth it. I am currently using a 4850e box and it takes about a full day to encode a 2.5-hour Blu-ray.

Since I don't need heavy graphics, mostly just a powerful processor, maybe a server-oriented solution like a Dell PowerEdge with an older gen Xeon or dual Xeon or something would be better?

My main considerations here are 1) price, 2) speed, 3) power consumption.
I have an i3 and ran the same processes you plan to, and it took me ~8 hours to encode a blu-ray in Handbrake. I'd look for an i5 or better, since watching BR movies that had to be transcoded on the fly led to buffering as the i3 couldn't keep up.
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#5
Quote from LiquidRetro View Post :
$300 for a complete system (Case, PSU, MB, Ram, CPU, Storage?) is kind of low, or are you looking more for a MB, CPU, Ram combo for $300?

Are you looking at only new or used maybe? Wondering about going the used route and picking up something a gen or two old.

I think you will fight your performance/speed ratio. Generally faster chips cost more and use more power.

Not sure a server oriented process is the way to go. You don't need the ECC ram, and the Xenon's dont always have the best performance, they are usually the most stable with extra instructions sets. Not sure if all your programs could use the dual processors too. I would look for Cores and benchmark performance.

I find http://www.cpubenchmark.net/cpu.p...Core+4850e pretty helpful. That type of score is pretty low these days. Your looking at a low end part from even 5 years ago, so getting into a modern midrange part shoudl boost performance at least 5x. Not saying this is what you should get but for example http://www.cpubenchmark.net/cpu.p...re&id=1780 way more performance than what your using today. Here is your new system and it's probably 2x what your using now http://www.cpubenchmark.net/cpu.p...+II+X4+B50
Used is fine. Upgrading parts is fine.
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Quote from fenderman View Post :
Pick up a dell outlet machine when they are on sale..300 will get you an i5 haswell..
I haven't been able to get one for that price. Seems you need superhuman refreshing ability.If I could get like an i5-4670k or similar for $300, I would most likely go for that. If it's more like an i5-4430 or similar, I'm not sure the performance for the price warrants the upgrade.

Is there ever a pre-built FX-8350 type of machine in the $300-ish range?
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Quote from japaninator View Post :
I haven't been able to get one for that price. Seems you need superhuman refreshing ability.If I could get like an i5-4670k or similar for $300, I would most likely go for that. If it's more like an i5-4430 or similar, I'm not sure the performance for the price warrants the upgrade.

Is there ever a pre-built FX-8350 type of machine in the $300-ish range?
You need to set alerts here for the dell outlet. There are deals monthly.
The difference between the two i5's you mentioned is negligible...they both will be about 5 times more powerful than you current box.
Dell has a sale on the 3020's right now..150 off..that will get you an i5-4590 for 400...not the hottest deal but ok.
The fx-8350 is a terrible choice for a media server because its a power hog and will require discrete graphics. Stick with the i5 haswell over the fx anyday.
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Last edited by fenderman August 15, 2015 at 08:14 AM
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Quote from mmathis View Post :
Iagree



I have an i3 and ran the same processes you plan to, and it took me ~8 hours to encode a blu-ray in Handbrake. I'd look for an i5 or better, since watching BR movies that had to be transcoded on the fly led to buffering as the i3 couldn't keep up.
Do you happen to know which i3 it was? I have another machine with an i3-2100 and cpubenchmark has it very close to the B50, but just a little bit worse. Sounds like I probably won't be able to do transcoding either. When you say watching Blu-rays did you mean the uncompressed, non-Handbraked version?
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Quote from fenderman View Post :
You need to set alerts here for the dell outlet. There are deals monthly.
The difference between the two i5's you mentioned is negligible...they both will be about 5 times more powerful than you current box.
Dell has a sale on the 3020's right now..150 off..that will get you an i5-4590 for 400...not the hottest deal but ok.
The fx-8350 is a terrible choice for a media server because its a power hog and will require discrete graphics. Stick with the i5 haswell over the fx anyday.
The cpu mark scores between those 2 i5s are ~1300 apart. That's about a 20% difference. Seems like it'll be a significant difference in a couple of years when things require more computing power, but maybe not.

The B50's cpu mark score is 3750 and the 4850e is at 1331, so if the scores are linear, the B50 would already be ~3x better. The question is whether it would be worth it to pay the $300 or so @ Dell Outlet to get another 2x performance bump over the B50 to something like the 7234 i5-4590 (if I can find one, which has been another story altogether).
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#10
Quote from japaninator View Post :
The cpu mark scores between those 2 i5s are ~1300 apart. That's about a 20% difference. Seems like it'll be a significant difference in a couple of years when things require more computing power, but maybe not.

The B50's cpu mark score is 3750 and the 4850e is at 1331, so if the scores are linear, the B50 would already be ~3x better. The question is whether it would be worth it to pay the $300 or so @ Dell Outlet to get another 2x performance bump over the B50 to something like the 7234 i5-4590 (if I can find one, which has been another story altogether).
the passmark does not tell the entire story..its not linear...
You will be hard pressed to tell the difference between the 2 i5's....if you are going to be leaving the machine on 24/7 test the b50 with a killawatt meter. For what its worth, the i7-4790 optiplex systems were selling for 430 the last big sale, if you want to bump your budget.
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Quote from fenderman View Post :
the passmark does not tell the entire story..its not linear...
You will be hard pressed to tell the difference between the 2 i5's....if you are going to be leaving the machine on 24/7 test the b50 with a killawatt meter. For what its worth, the i7-4790 optiplex systems were selling for 430 the last big sale, if you want to bump your budget.
I couldn't find if the scores were linear or not, but what little I could find indicated that they were.

I realize that comparing CPUs is only part of the performance difference, but I'm not sure how to find out what the real world difference will end up being with the differences in motherboard technologies and everything.

I am in the process of getting the B50 machine loaded up with an OS and I do plan on sticking my kill-a-watt on it to see how much power it sucks at full load. I figure it will be slightly higher than a standard Phenom II 965 or so, but we'll see.

Are the wattages for TDP accurately comparable between today's processors like the i7-4790 which is listed at 85W and the B50 which is supposedly on the 125W level? Is it really a 50%-ish difference or is it more?

Thanks for all the help.
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#12
Quote from japaninator View Post :
I couldn't find if the scores were linear or not, but what little I could find indicated that they were.

I realize that comparing CPUs is only part of the performance difference, but I'm not sure how to find out what the real world difference will end up being with the differences in motherboard technologies and everything.

I am in the process of getting the B50 machine loaded up with an OS and I do plan on sticking my kill-a-watt on it to see how much power it sucks at full load. I figure it will be slightly higher than a standard Phenom II 965 or so, but we'll see.

Are the wattages for TDP accurately comparable between today's processors like the i7-4790 which is listed at 85W and the B50 which is supposedly on the 125W level? Is it really a 50%-ish difference or is it more?

Thanks for all the help.
No, you cannot compare tdp like that. Intel has excelled in this area. An i5 haswell desktop will generally consume about 30w idle using integrated graphics...if you use an "s" intel processor that will drop to 16-18.
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#13
Given that this sounds like a fairly purpose built machine, you might want to take a look specifically at Handbrake/x264 benchmarks: http://www.anandtech.com/bench/CPU/53, http://www.anandtech.com/bench/CPU/54 and http://www.tomshardware.com/chart...,3716.html are a few that are worth looking at.

You can cross reference with system power usage if you're interested in how much it will cost to run: http://www.tomshardware.com/chart...,3727.html

Encoding is a fairly CPU bound activity, so that's really the only place I'd worry about components. Memory can only get you another ~5% max (http://www.anandtech.com/show/736...-haswell/3), so don't blow your budget there. Storage speeds are largely irrelevant.
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#14
Here's [anandtech.com] a good low power CPU roundup. I'm using a i3-4130T for my NAS box solely for the low power consumption. But then again I'm not running any handbrake jobs, just doing occasional real time transcoding through plex. If you are doing a lot of handbrake jobs I think I would opt for the i5 since idle power consumption isn't likely that much higher than the i3.
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Quote from japaninator View Post :
Do you happen to know which i3 it was? I have another machine with an i3-2100 and cpubenchmark has it very close to the B50, but just a little bit worse. Sounds like I probably won't be able to do transcoding either. When you say watching Blu-rays did you mean the uncompressed, non-Handbraked version?
It's the i3-3220. I watched compressed Blu-Rays and it had trouble keeping up. Luckily the problem was the audio stream (5.1 in the file, but no 5.1 on the TV), and Plex has an option for "Direct stream with fallback" or something, which worked out well and didn't lead to any more pauses
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