Introduction To Plex And SHIELD
As we’ve detailed a number of times here at HotHardware, the NVIDIA SHIELD Android TV console is a powerful media streaming and gaming device that features a beefy Tegra X1 processor and an integrated 256-core Maxwell-based GPU (check out Marco’s full review here). While we’ve seen plenty of streaming devices come to the market with potent quad-core SoCs before, none of them are packing the kind of graphics hardware and Android TV polish lurking inside the SHIELD.
To that end, NVIDIA thought that it could use the standard SHIELD (16GB) and the SHIELD Pro (500GB) as a centerpiece for Plex Media Server. As you may recall, Plex is a powerful media app that lets you stream your media library to just about any device — TV shows, movies, home videos, music, pictures, etc. are all fair game. Plex supports virtually any media file format, which makes playing back even your most obscure content possible.
The NVIDIA Shield has always supported the Plex streamer — an app that can be installed on devices like a smartphone, Smart TV, Roku, Fire TV, Xbox One, etc. However, it wasn’t until recently that the SHIELD gained the ability to act as a Plex Media Server. With this functionality, the SHIELD operates as the host, serving all of your media files to your connected devices on your home network, and on the go either via Wi-Fi or over a cellular connection.
I’ve personally been a Plex user for years and during that time have amassed a rather large media library thanks to nearly two decades of collecting DVDs and Blu-rays (before I made the complete switch to digital movies about two years ago). Between TV shows that my wife and I watch and programming for the kiddos, we have enough to keep us entertained (and considering that we cut the cord earlier this year, it definitely comes in handy).
For our household, I use a repurposed Lenovo ThinkPad T420 notebook running Windows 10 exclusively as my Plex Media Server. It has a relatively ancient Intel Core processor, 8GB of RAM, a 128GB SSD and a 2TB HDD installed in the media bay. All of our movies and TV shows are of course loaded onto the 2TB drive.
As a family of four (with two kids under the age of five), we aren’t exactly hitting the server concurrently all the time. At the most, we may watch two streams at once (with my wife watching something like Gilmore Girls and me partaking in some old episodes of Scrubs). The server never has a hiccup, as you would expect.
However, I was unsure of how Plex Media Server would run on an ARM processor. So, I decided to put the NVIDIA Shield Pro to the test; and to my surprise, it did quite well.
Let's look at the Plex Media Server on SHIELD setup and experience, next...