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HEVC & HTPC for Plex Server

Sep 10, 2015

I currently have an older laptop with an Intel Core i7- -2670QM 2.2 GHz (quad-core)/8GB RAM/SSD with an some sort of video card with 1GB VRAM (can't seem to find which one for some reason) running a media server - primarily for Plex but also for Calibre (ebooks), photo backup, etc. This seems to be able to decode HEVC via Plex, even though I'm told it really shouldn't be able to. It's 6.5 years old and beginning to show signs of struggling and we're looking at replacement options.

I have a 4yo laptop with Intel Core i7-4800MQ (quad core) with Nvidia GT740M 2GB VRAM that I'm considering using for a replacement. Someone on the Plex forums said that this will also not decode HEVC yet don't some software like VLC manage this?

I'm feeling really lost and confused trying to understand this. What is actually needed to decode HEVC/x.265 for a Plex/media server? I'm trying to figure out what is actually needed to run really well without getting stuff I don't need. Is a video card needed to run this well at this point in time or is it just superfluous? I obviously also have some other formats as well but it seems HEVC is the most intensive to decode so I'm starting there. I'm considering something like the new Chuwi HiGame or Intel NUC (with the higher end AMD Vega graphics card) but I don't know if that's the right direction and pretty future proof or overboard. I like that both are compact yet powerful.
Thanks so much for anything you can share to help!
Nov 27, 2001
Yes, it can decode HEVC, but I think the distinction that the users may not be making -- I can't be sure since I'm only reading your account of their posts -- is that you cannot decode HEVC via hardware. Is this a problem? That depends. Having to rely upon software decode isn't a bad thing, but depending on the compute resources available, it can heavily affect your Plex Server's transcoding capability. In other words, if it takes 70% CPU load to handle the HEVC decode, you will not be able to support two with the same transcode settings without seeing buffer reductions or it just being unplayable.

If you're looking for a small solution, you could always build something yourself. Going with something such as an i3-8100 or even AMD's Ryzen-based APUs would be fine. Do note that you do not want a basic Ryzen CPU as they do not have a GPU built-in, which means they do not have access to VCN, which is AMD's latest video decoding offering. As an example, this processor would be fine for a simple Plex Server, and it offers AMD's VCN. The only negative that I can see is that there aren't many mini-ITX options, and you'll pay more for the motherboard than you will for the CPU.

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