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What RPM speed hard drive should I get for NAS?

I’m looking to build a NAS mainly for playing media files with PLEX. What speed hard drive should I stick with for storing/playing media files?

You should get nas drive first, it will already limit your choice quite a bit.
Then it will mostly be Speed Vs Silent Vs Cost.
I won’t go under 10K because i can afford to, and the drive are not on my desk.

I would not recommend to go under 7500, i like 10k, i didn’t find 15k in 3.5 drive. :wink:

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What’s the budget? If you will be shucking to get large cheap drives, they’re 5400 RPM I believe.

If you’re buying proper Nas drives with a decent warranty, I’d go no less than 7200 rpm, 128mb cache.

I’m not sure on the budget. I wanted to buy one hard drive now, maybe a 4TB, and purchase more when needed, preferably one hard drive at a time.

With regard to the other necessary hardware, I was considering converting my every day desktop into a NAS, but still use the NAS for programming. I’m not even sure if I should do that or setup a completely different machine for a NAS…

I find that the ~5k rpm drives are easy to keep cool


5400rpm drives use less power but have worst R/W across the board. They also tend to have huge storage capacity. I have 8x8tb 5400rpm drives. For my media server and it works great.

Need more perf? You can get 10K drives but with smaller storage capacity and shorter drive life.
Also what is the budget for the build?

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For Plex 5400RPM should be plenty, the WD 8tb white label does 200 to 250mb’s on a single drive.
I run retired enterprise drives 4tb at 7200RPM because thy were cheap and I wanted the iops, but single drives are only 180mb’s

It pretty much depends on the use case. If it’s just a dump to put stuff in, but rarely accessed 5400rpm is pretty much the way to go - silent(-ish), less power hungry, typically more storage.

If the pool is constantly accessed and you don’t have a billion drives like wendell does in the disk shelves, then I would probably do 7200, though I’m not sure you’d really see much difference anyway. If that is the usecase then getting a mid-range SSD as cache would be better off anyway.


Have you considered cache drives on SSD with some 5400 RPM drives in a RAID. Honestly I run some 7500 drives in a RAID and they mostly max out a gigabit connection on read. PLEX will benefit more from CPU. If you have multiple high bandwidth streams at the some time you may want to use something fancy in regular home use some sort of RAID will be fine.

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If you are only going to be ‘serving’ 1 or 2 clients at a time, the rotational speed of the disks is completely irrelevant.

Noting that at 2x blu-ray is slower than 10Mbytes a second.

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I’m not expert in this field, but I feel like if the use case is going to be playing media files I feel like 5400 RPM would be fine.

High end 4K on Blu-ray maxes at like 16 MB/s whereas a basic 4TB WD Red NAS hard drive can do about 8x that.

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Just to recap… I am 95% of the time going to stream media files from plex. The rest will be backing up my computer. At most, there will be two clients streaming from my plex server simultaneously. I already have two ssd’s striped for my windows machine. I could repurpose the ssd’s as cache drives if need be.

Now, I have to figure out whether I should use 7200 or 5400 rpm drives. I prices 10000 rpm drives and they seem to steep from a price point.

How fast is your network connection?

Ultimately, despite 5400rpm drives being slower, they’re not that much slower and a single drive has no problem saturating gigabit ethernet.

1gig network speeds

I would say stick with 5400rpm drives unless you have some other need. Most of them will read in excess of your network capacity (unless they’re shingled maybe). I would be more concerned with redundancy and backups than anything.

For speed and latency uses go with SSD. You can get NAS rated SSDs with more write lifetime and good warranties. Use them as cache drives if your OS or NAS device supports it, or use them directly. I have two IronWolf SSDs in a RAID-1 on my own NAS (along with six regular HDDs). I have my email store, a few small databases and a couple of virtual machines on there.

For everything else get the standard 5,400 RPM drives unless there’s a great sale on faster ones. For most use-cases here speed doesn’t matter much. For backup files, movies, photos, etc, nobody will care about a few extra milliseconds of access latency.

I honestly dont care about a few milliseconds.

If you’re trying to load a bunch of pictures or other small files then spinning drives all suck anyway. If you’re going to read large sequential files like one might when streaming a video file then even slow mechanical drives will be plenty fast.

I already have about 3 1tb 7200 drives. Will there be any issues mixing and matching 5400 and 7200 drives in zfs configuration? I want to add a 4tb into the mix

Not really afaik. What kind of zfs setup are you planning?