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QNAP TS-464 vs TS-453D NAS – Which Should You Buy?

3 août 2022 à 01:17

QNAP TS-464 or the TS-453D NAS Drive – Which Should You Buy?

Are you considering the QNAP TS-464 now it has been released? Or thinking of saving some money and opting for the predecessor TS-453D that is currently on sale? It’s a tough decision for some that want to ensure value for money, yet remain future-proof. It is no secret that QNAP, much like many other NAS brands, refreshes their range of available hardware every few years. We are all quite used to tech makers producing a new version of their ‘thing’ that makes big and bold promises to be bigger, better and faster than what came before! In the case of Network Attached Storage though, one big contributing factor that often necessitates the release of new versions of their products and series is the CPU. CPU manufacturers such as Intel and AMD tend to perform refreshes of their own to their portfolios (retooling manufacturing plants for the newer processors and ceasing production of the previous chip) and this leads to NAS brands having to change their CPU in line with the chip manufacturers new revisions shortly afterwards. This new CPU revision will often open the door to further improvements in the rest of the hardware too and that is eventually what governs the shape and abilities of a new NAS release. This all too often though leads to a period of around a year when retailers that provide these solutions (everything from Amazon to specialized retailers) will feature both the older and newer NAS systems in stock at the same time and that leads to many, MANY buyers wondering whether it is worth saving some money and purchasing the previous NAS release on ‘sale’ or spending more and getting the newest release to be more future-proof. Given that both the TS-464 and TS-453D run IDENTICAL versions of the QNAP QTS 5 system software and services, the temptation to save a few quid and/or spend that saving on network improvements or more storage is pretty high. Also, the TS-453D released back in 2020 arrived on the market at $630 and is now available to buy for $549 (or even as low as $438 during seasonal sales such as Prime Day and Black Friday), see below:

Now, if you compare that against the newly released QNAP TS-664, which has seemed to hit the eShops at around $600-650, that is quite a big difference in price tag. So, today I want to compare the QNAP TS-464 released now in spring 2022 against the 2020 released TS-453D, just to see where that extra goes. On the face of it, we have two very, VERY similar NAS drives that simply arrive in different colours but have all the same ports. However, even the smallest dig into their respective specifications reveals a huge difference in the bandwidth and capacity in how these ports have changed. Let’s begin

QNAP TS-464 or the TS-453D NAS – Design

The design of the TS-464 and TS-453D are INCREDIBLY similar. The chassis that both NAS systems use a black, plastic and matt textured enclosure, with a coloured front side panel and a removable glass effect front cover that reveals the main SATA bays. This external plastic casing covers the internal metal structure completely and passive airflow via ventilation is quite discreet around the box, facilitated by a larger single 120mm rear fan on both NAS. This design has been their main choice for their flagship series since the release of the TS-x53B and TS-53Be devices in 2017/2018 and is quite understated. Of the two I SLIGHTLY prefer the copper effect side panel of the TS-464 over the TS-453D, but this is a purely personal preference.

QNAP TS-464 NAS

NASCompares Review HERE

168mm × 170mm × 226 mm

QNAP TS-453D NAS

NASCompares Review HERE

168mm × 170mm × 226 mm

Ventilation and notice on both the QNAP TS-464 and TS-453D are largely identical, however, there is the tiniest potential increase possibility in fan operation in the TS-464, due to the increased hardware inside the enclosure that I will touch on and the system needing to maintain an efficient system temperature. However, ventilation on both of these NAS systems is a limit more understated than alternatives from the likes of Synology, as the side vents on both these NAS are quite small (with a larger base vent panel under the SATA media bays) and I have always wondered how much impact the lockable front panel of this chassis design impacts airflow from that rear active cooling fan (negatively, positively or no different). But nevertheless, the chassis has little or no difference in the two years between the TS-453D and TS-464 being released.

QNAP TS-464 NAS QNAP TS-453D NAS

The rear of each of these NAS systems are largely the same, however, the rearrangement of the ports of the newer TS-464 (likely to make room for additional internal M.2 NVMe SSD slots that we will discuss later) has led to them being a little between distributed across the internal board. The vents in the metal rear panel of the older TS-453D are wider than those found on the TS-464, though I am not entirely sure of the reasoning behind this decision (dust control, creating increased velocity for the air via compressed channels? I have no idea), but it does not seem to affect system temperature either way when we checked the system diagnostics after 24 hours power-on. The fan is completely automated to increase/decrease as the system temperature monitor dictates but can be adjusted higher or lower in RPM manually if needed for reasons of preemptive high system activity or noise adjustment. Personally, I would ALWAYS leave this on automatic.

QNAP TS-464 NAS QNAP TS-453D NAS

Overall, the design of the QNAP TS-464 and TS-453D has changed so very little, that there is little or no difference between them of note. Both are particularly compact 4 bays that can be deployed pretty easily. Let’s dig down into the internal hardware of these two NAS, as it is there that we really really start to see how much has changed in two years and gives us a clearer picture of which one will be better value for money.

QNAP TS-464 or the TS-453D NAS – Internal Hardware

Right, so HERE is where we start to see some big differences between the TS-464 and TS-453D, as QNAP are able to take advantage of a better CPU to spread their hardware and bandwidth a great deal more. Once again though, on the face of it, the specifications are incredibly similar. Both use quad-core Intel Celerons, both arriving at 2.0Ghz with embedded graphics and both using 4GB DDR4 memory, yet more than a $/£/€100-150 difference! This is down to the maximum capacities afforded to this hardware in the TS-464 and its scalability down the line. For example, the default memory inside the TS-453D (ADATA 2400Mhz DDR4 non-ECC SODIMM) is also accompanied by an additional empty memory slot to allow an additional 4GB more memory. As the older TS-453D has a CPU that has a maximum 8GB of memory, this is perfectly fine. However, the TS-464 NAS’ newer gen CPU allows up to 16GB of memory (4GB of 2666Mhz memory in the default model) across two upgradable slots. Likewise, the newer system features those M.2 NVMe slots that can be used for SSD storage upgrades. Although both the TS-453D and TS-464 support SSD caching (when a pool of SSDs is used to speed up data write/read in conjunction with the larger HDD RAID array), Qtier and as standalone storage pools, the TS-464 is the only one that provides this as immediately without any upgrade cards. This is the first of several key differences between the QNAP TS-464 and TS-453D NAS that stem from the CPU choice. Here is how they scale up specifically though:

Model TS-464

TS-453D

Price £559               $650              €675

£429               $530              €549

Storage Media Support 4x SATA, 2x m.2 NVMe 3×1 4x SATA
CPU Model Intel N5105/N5095 Intel J4125
CPU Frequency & Cores Quad-Core 2.0-2.9Ghz Quad-Core 2.0-2.7Ghz
CPU Benchmark Score CPU benchmark 4161 CPU benchmark 3006
Memory Default/Max 4-16GB SODIMM DDR4 4-8GB SODIMM DDR4
PSU Power & Design 90W External PSU 90W External PSU
Physical Fans 1x 120m FAN 1x 120m FAN

Now, that CPU is the big game-changer here. When Intel made the switch to the newer N5105/N5095 processor, this opened the door to a bunch more ways to extend the efficiency and bandwidth of those existing physical services. NAS systems are designed to be operational for days, weeks, months and even years at a time. Therefore, in order to maintain optimal performance, as well as lower power consumption and lessen the damage that long term operation can inflict on a processor, the CPUs used in NAS are a great deal more modest. In the case of the TS-453D and TS-464 NAS, they feature Intel Celeron processors, each featuring an embedded graphics component (allowing graphical operations, multimedia handling and visual data to be handled by a specialized area of the processor), quad-core architecture and a base level clock speed of 2.0Ghz that can be burst (turbo/increased when needed). However, the newer generation N5105/N5095 CPU in the TS-464 is able to reach a higher overall clock speed and also is more efficient (i.e uses a little less hardware resources to get a task done than it would take on the J4125 typically, so, therefore, can do more tasks overall when the full CPU power is utilized). Indeed, CPUBenchmark rated the newer CPU 30%+ higher in its scoring than the J4125 (again, as you would expect for a CPU released more than a year later by Intel), so this processor means that more can be done on the TS-464 (in like for like tasks) and also this CPU allows a greater range of hardware to be built into the system. CPUs are one of the largest quantifying factors of how a NAS is built and this is because they can only handle a certain amount of connected hardware (storage bays, ports, expansion slots, etc) when connected to a larger controller/motherboard. This is commonly referred to as the # of PCI lanes and the chipset used in the build of the system. Because this newer Intel N5105 / N5095 CPU has more lanes to use at once than the J4125, it allows the newer NAS drive to have more hardware.

QNAP TS-464 NAS – Intel N5105/N5095 CPU

QNAP TS-453D NAS – Intel J4125 CPU

These additional CPU resources, as well as the increased maximum memory and flexibility the TS-464 providing M.2 NVMe SSD slots can be used ultimately means that in terms of internal hardware, the newer released QNAP TS-464 wins over the TS-453D NAS. It is worth remembering that the M.2 NVMe SSD slots on the QNAP TS-464 are PCIe Gen 3 x1 (down to the Celeron CPU still not having anywhere near the scope in its flexibility that the likes of an Intel Core, Ryzen or Xeon might have) and will bottleneck at 1,000MB/s, but this is still better than nothing and as these slots are not an option on the TS-453D without the installation of an M.2 NVMe SSD upgrade card over PCIe.

QNAP TS-464 or the TS-453D NAS – Ports & Connections

Once again, the ports and connections available on the QNAP TS-453D and TS-464 seem near enough identical at a glance, but even a casual dig into those spec sheets real some big differences. Both systems provide two 2.5GbE network ports that, along with up to 260-270MB/s throughput, also allow port-trunking (otherwise known as link aggregation) and with the use of a smart switch can provide 500-550MB/s performance to your connected network. Alongside this, both systems support the QNAP USB 3.2 to 5GbE adapter to add further network ports to the system too. Likewise, both system provide an HDMI 2.0 4K 60FPS port and USB 2.0 ports for a KVM (keyboard, video, Mouse) setup to be used in conjunction with the included parallel HD Station application and its tools. The HDMI and direct interface of the QNAP is still pretty niche as a service on this system, but it has a number of useful multimedia, surveillance and VM utilities that can be quite impressive. Finally, Expansions on the TS-464 and TS-453D are largely the same, with QNAP offering 2, 4, 6, 8 and 12-Bay expansion chassis (arriving in JBOD or hardware RAID enabled) that connect over USB or an inclusive PCIe card. However, after this, things become a great deal more future proof and scalable on the TS-464 NAS.

Model TS-464

TS-453D

Network Ports 2x 2.5GbE 2x 2.5GbE
USB 3.2 Ports 2x USB 3.2 Gen 2 (10Gb) 2x USB 3.2 Gen 1 (5Gb)
USB 2.0 Ports 2x USB 2.0 3x USB 2.0
HDMI Ports 1x HDMI 2.0 4K 60FPS 1x HDMI 2.0 4K 60FPS
PCIe Upgrade Slots PCIe Gen 3×2 Slot (2Gb/s) PCIe Gen 2×2 Slot (1Gb/s)

The first difference worth highlighting is regarding those USB ports. The older TS-453D features USB 3.2 Gen 1 (AKA USB 3.0 or USB 3.1 Gen 1) ports that provide up to 5Gb/s (500MB/s+) bandwidth with connected external storage media (i.e you would need a RAID enabled HDD USB enclosure or SSD drive in order to hit this performance cap). The TS-464 on the other hand features USB 3.2 Gen 2 (AKA USB 3.1 Gen 2 – THANKS for the name nonsense ‘USB.org’!) which can provide 10Gb/s performance (i.e 1,000MB/s). As SSDs become increasingly affordable and even external m.2 NVMe SSD enclosures arriving at a bargain, this option to have a significantly faster backup drive option available is quite attractive. Especially for those that plan on having a USB tier to their multi-stage NAS Backup strategy and choose to have dated/versioned backups, rather than differential backups just ‘topping things up’ over time. Another big difference of note is in that PCIe upgrade slot. Both the TS-453D and TS-464 feature the option to install a PCIe upgrade card that can include options to add better network interfaces (2.5/5/10G or WiFi 6 / AX wireless options) with multi-port card, storage upgrade cards (adding multiple M.2 NVMe and SATA bays) or even combo cards that feature both on a single card. The difference between the TS-464 and TS-453D though stems from the bandwidth afforded these slots, with the TS-453D arriving with a PCIe Gen 2×2 slot and the TS-464 having a PCIe Gen 3 x2 slot. This results in the newer NAS providing DOUBLE the potential bandwidth of the TS-453D when installing an upgrade card. So this will be particularly useful when installing multiport network upgrade cards and SSD cards that exceed 1,000MB/s, as well as combo cards that need to spread the bandwidth a bit. Overall, the hardware in the TS-464 is certainly better and broader than the TS-453D, but it is worth remembering that the bulk of these advantages and improvements made in the 2 years later hardware release can be viewed in terms of optional scalability and expandability – so you are going to need more hardware to take advantage and almost certainly not advantages that most users will take advantage of on day 1.

QNAP TS-464 or the TS-453D NAS – Software

This is pretty much the smallest difference that can be measured between the QNAP TS-464 and QNAP TS-453D NAS. Both these NAS systems run the QTS 5 operating system, services and applications available for the platform and numerous client hardware devices (Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux, etc). The only REAL difference between these two NAS systems is the fact that the improved hardware inside the newer TS-464 (more efficient and higher clock speed CPU, after memory and large maximum RAM threshold) allows a larger number of actions and clients to be managed at a single time than the TS-453D NAS. However, in smaller or single operations, you are not going to feel/see the difference, unless you are particularly pushing the CPU or Memory utilization in a single client interaction (i.e surveillance camera feeds, Virtual Machine deployment, transcoding natively and/or Plex, etc). Likewise, the inclusion of the default M.2 NVMe slots on the TS-464 means that you have a few extra SSDD services available on day 1, but these are still available to the TS-453D via either the installation of a PCIe upgrade card OR using SATA SSDs internally. Below is a breakdown of the applications and services that are included in QTS available on both NAS systems.

TS-464

TS-453D

Browser Support Supports all Browsers Supports all Browsers
Browser File Management Browser File Management
Photo/Music/Video Tools Photo/Music/Video Tools
Multimedia Console Multimedia Console
AI Photo Recognition AI Photo Recognition
Edge m.2 Coral TPU Support
Storage Services
SED Drive Support SED Drive Support
QTier QTier
Hybrid Mount Hybrid Mount
ISCSI Target/LUN ISCSI Target/LUN
vJBOD vJBOD
Snapshots Snapshots
SSD Cache (Read/Write/Both) SSD Cache (Read/Write/Both)
Cloud Sync / QSync Cloud Sync / QSync
Ex-FAT is Free Ex-FAT is Free
RAID Resync control RAID Resync control
Secure Erase Secure Erase
Lots of Expansions (TR/TL) Lots of Expansions (TR/TL)
HBS 3 HBS 3
Qfiling and Qsirch Qfiling and Qsirch
Business Applications
QVR Pro – 8 Camera Licenses QVR Pro – 8 Camera Licenses
Virtualization Station Virtualization Station
Ubuntu Linux Station 18/20 Ubuntu Linux Station 18/20
Container Station Container Station
Hypervisor Protector Hypervisor Protector
QMailAgent QMailAgent
HD Station HD Station
BoXafe BoXafe
Security
Security Councillor Security Councillor
Malware Remover Malware Remover
McAfee Anti-Virus Scanning McAfee Anti-Virus Scanning
QVPN QVPN
Log and Notification Center Log and Notification Center
Auto Blocking on SSH, Telnet etc Auto Blocking on SSH, Telnet etc
256 bit Encryption 256 bit Encryption
2 Step Authentication 2 Step Authentication
Firewall App Firewall App
Access Protection and Allow/Deny list Access Protection and Allow/Deny list

Although you are going to be able to do more of these things above simultaneously on the TS-464 than the TS-453D NAS, it is not a huge win for the newer box and once again, this win comes largely down to futureproofing than anything you will feel on Day 1. You can learn more about the QNAP QTS Platform in my review below in both video and blog form:

QNAP QTS 5 Review Video QNAP QTS 5 Review on the Blog

QNAP TS-464 or the TS-453D NAS – Conclusion

It will come as no shock that the newer QNAP TS-464 NAS is the better choice in the long run compared with the QNAP TS-453D, thanks largely down to a larger degree of upgrades, storage scaling in the future and resource expandability. If you KNOW you are not going to be scaling up your storage hardware in the next 4-5 years, then perhaps the TS0453D is a better choice for you, using that saved $/£/€100-150 difference towards more storage, network interface upgrades or improving your in-house network environment generally with 2.5GbE or 10GbE. The software provided on both systems is still very good value for money and QNAP is still one of the few brands that provide this level of hardware (plus inclusive software and services) at this price point. Equally, you are almost certainly going to see the QNAP TS-453D at ever more attractive price points at retailers and it is still a great little NAS (check out my 2020 review of the TS-453D HERE). But you simply cannot ignore the number of ways that the base level TS-464 NAS can be upgraded and improved in its lifespan and for those that want a ‘blank canvas’ NAS solution that they can then change alongside their own network client hardware in the home/office, the TS-464 NAS is the more mature and long-term choice easily.

QNAP TS-464 NAS – Spring/Summer 2022

QNAP TS-453D NAS – Spring/Summer 2020

Reasons to Buy it?

Better Hardware inside and out

More Expansion/Upgrade Options

Able to run more simultaneous apps/clients at once

Faster USB Ports (10Gb/s)

Larger bandwidth PCIe upgrade slot (PCIe 3×2 vs 2×2)

Higher CPU Frequency, Efficiency & Proficiency

Reasons to Buy it?

Lower Current Price Point

Overall lower power consumption

Better ventilation internally and on fan panel design

More USB Ports overall

More likely on Sale over Black Friday/Seasonal Sales

Buy on Amazon

Where to Buy

Buy on Amazon

Where to Buy

 

 

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Terramaster F4-423 NAS Review – Powerful Value?

23 mai 2022 à 01:44

Review of the Terramaster F4-423 NAS Drive

The Network Attached Storage industry (NAS) unlike many areas of the tech world is actually surprisingly small in terms of the companies that fight for market dominance. With less than 10 big players and less than 5 of those being real marketing recognized, choosing a NAS solution is actually quite restricted. In that small paddock of NAS brands, the one that is by FAR the best hardware value (as in, getting the most for your money in terms of hardware) is Terramaster. A brand that has evolved incredibly rapidly in the personal home/office server market in the last 7-8 years. Although not as well established as bigger brands with decades in the server industry (such as Synology and QNAP), in the short time they have been in the NAS market, they have produced a range of solutions that sneak up remarkably close in hardware/software to those bigger brands, whilst sometimes arriving close to half the price for the same architecture. Their latest series is the x23 series (arriving in 2, 4, 9 and 12-Bay desktop solutions so far, at the time of writing) and today I want to review their F4-423 4-Bay NAS. Going up against the likes of the Asustor Lockerstor 4 Gen 2 and QNAP TS-464 NAS (released around a month on either side of the F4-423), as well as competing with Synology’s DS920+ right now, the F4-423 has some steep competition.  Nevertheless, with its pricetag already £100-180 less (depending on where you shop) the F4-423 already seemingly has the high ground in terms of affordability, but what about software, quality and overall performance? Let’s review this new Terramaster NAS and see if it deserves your data.

Terramaster F4-423 Review Chapters

Terramaster F4-423 NAS Review – Quick Conclusion

Terramaster still continues to be the most affordable fully-featured provider of the whole NAS market and although a number of their solutions have always felt a little rough around the edges, you always got the impression that you were getting a good deal for the hardware that was available from QNAP and Synology. Now in 2022/2023, the same continues to be true but in the F4-423 NAS’ case, you are actually getting some pretty top tier (for the Home/Prosumer) market at a price tag that is really tough to argue with. Terramaster has clearly been watching their bigger competitors and cherry-picked the features that people have been asking for (2.5GbE, USB 3.2 Gen 2, M.2 NVMe SSD bays, etc) for this new generation. In terms of software, things are a little less convincing and although TOS 5 (currently in Beta at the time of writing) still continues to evolve into something genuinely fully featured and impressive, TOS 4 that the F4-423 includes at launch is usable (if unexciting) platform that provides the base level services that a new NAS user would want, but lacks killer apps that their competitors are offering right now (File Streaming, AI photo recognition, Surveillance, etc). Most of these ARE included in TOS5, but until it arrives much later in 2022 in a full release, the F4-423 feels like a powerful NAS that doesn’t have the software to show off its strengths yet. If you are reading this later in 2022 or 2023, this might well be irrelevant though, as the brand rolls out their bit firmware update to ALL Terramster NAS devices. Overall, I definitely CAN recommend the F4-423 NAS for its hardware, for Plex Media server or as an affordable multi-tier backup solution, but if you are looking for a NAS for more tailored data access or in a much more fully-featured package – hold out a little longer till TOS 5 gets released first.

Terramaster F4-423 NAS Review – Unboxing, Packaging & Presentation

The initial impressions of the presentation Terramaster F4-423 NAS were a little meh! As this is a more affordable solution, it is understandable that some areas of the retail package are going to be a little understated. Additionally, NAS systems like the F4-423 NAS are going to 99% of the time be purchased online (not in your local I.T shop or generally in line of sight at the point of sale), so the need for flashy packaging is less important. That said, many brands still put a little effort into this and present their solutions as a means to promote a brand, lifestyle or general vibe or excellence in their product (i.e. “the first bite is with the eye” etc). The Terramaster F4-423 arrives in a very plain brown box and just has the model ID with a sticker and the brand logos.

Remarks of presentation aside, the packaging of the Terramaster F4-423 is pretty good in terms of protection. The unit is well held in foam (a little softer in density than I would like maybe) and the accessories are neatly and securely contained. There is practically no room for the system to move in transit and ultimately, that is all that matters (silent shock/motion damage to the components).

The accessories box contains lots of accessories and although most are pretty standard (setup instructions, power supplier, warranty information, screws, etc), there are a couple of unusual additional that I have never received in other brand’s products, namely the inclusion of additional HDD tray clip/screw washers and additional rubber feet for the NAS. This isn’t really a good/bad thing and for those that need them, it’s a handy addition. Just seemed an unusual addition.

One small but positive area of note is the LAN cable included. As mentioned earlier, in more affordable NAS solutions (like more tech), the way savings can be made is by cutting corners. Therefore I was surprised that the Terramaster F4-423 arrived with a surprisingly high-quality LAN cable. Thick, Cat 6 and very high quality at the connector. Again, this si a small point, but companies such as QNAP and Terramaster HAVE provided Cat 5e cables of a shorter length, thinner material and nowhere near the quality of this one with their 1/2.5GbE solutions. It’s a VERY minor point, but this is the sort of area I would have assumed Terramster would have saved a few £/$ on and I am impressed.

The Terramaster F4-423 arrives with an external PSU (quite standard in 4-bay desktop systems) and it’s quite non-descript and not too much to write home about. It’s a 2-pin connector 90W PSU.

Overall, there is quite a good range of accessories included with the Terramaster F4-423. Nothing spectacular, but pretty much everything you are going to need (aside from storage media) to set up your NAS quickly and easily. Let’s discuss the design of the F4-423.

Terramaster F4-423 NAS Review – Design

Terrasmaster NAS drives are pretty distinctive. The brand has been using largely the same chassis in its 2 and 4 Bay systems for about 5 years. There HAVE been improvements (port placement, removal of the odd handle on the top and the tray quality is massively improved) but in the desktop 2/4-Bay systems, things have changed very little. The design is looking a little dated now in 2022, but it is still very functional and whereas brand like QNAP have 8-10 different design chassis in their portfolio, it is nice that Terramster have at least kept a consistent look/shape to the solutions in their portfolio for brand recognition.

The Terramaster F4-423 NAS chassis is a combination of Metal and plastic (with the front, rear and media trays all arriving in plastic, but the 1 piece surrounding the middle area is metal). Indeed, at a glance you might assume the whole thing is metal, with the brushed silver colour scheme, but no. The system’s passive cooling (vents) are located between each of the media bays, and at the base of the machine. The system seemingly takes advantage of horizontal airflow through the chassis (with the rear fans facilitating this) and the metal middle section providing dissipation for the internal mechanisms getting warm.

The ventilation on the base of the Terramaster F4-423 is pretty much the entire system and the rubber feet of this NAS are noticeably taller than other NAS 4-Bay systems. Although these are chiefly under the drive media bays, they are pretty much over the entire controller board too, to create an angled air circulation through the bays/board and via the fans on the rear.

The Terramaster F4-423 chassis lacks any LCD panel (these days only QNAP and Asustor seemingly include these on a few of their systems) and system information is provided by multiple LEDs on the front. These cover the activity, status and health of the media bays, the network connection and the power of the system.

The main storage bays of the Terramaster F4-423 NAS are SATA connected plastic trays that support 2.5″ and 3.5″ media (i.e HDDs and SSDs). The system can operate with a single drive if you choose, allowing you to gradually add more storage over time. However, the Terramaster F4-423 (like most NAS) works at it’s best with multiple drives in a RAID configuration for the safety net of redundancy and/or a performance increase of multiple drives being read/written to at the same time.

The trays inside the Terramaster F4-423 support the toolless installation of 3.5″ HDDs (i.e no screwdriver needed and drives click in securely) and 2.5″ SSD/HDDs need the included screws. The SATA connections inside are combined data/power, so no loose cables or tricksy installation. Lastly, the Terramaster F4-423supports hot swapping, so drives can be inserted/removed without powering down the system, just BE AWARE that removing a drive that is in a RAID is not recommended (by ANY NAS brand).

And that is about it for the design of the Terramaster F4-423 chassis. They have used this same design in the bulk of the desktop 2/4 systems, so there are few surprises here. But nonetheless, it seemingly does the job and aside from the design perhaps looking a little old these days compared with Synology’s more expensive Diskstation series, it’s a solid enough build. Let’s discuss the ports and connections of the F4-423 NAS.

Terramaster F4-423 NAS Review – Ports and Connections

The connections available on the Terramaster F4-423 NAS, although few in number, are all pretty good for what the devices are costing right now. Only three connections to discuss (and one of them is a bit negligible) but given the device’s price point, the available external bandwidth here is impressive. The rear chunky fan module that is located on the rear of the F4-423 (much like previous Terramaster NAS systems) is a little unsightly, but as it is on the rear of the unit, you are never going to see it much.

The twin fans are thicker than many other fans in the market and although that results in a greater draw of air into the system when it is operational, it does also mean that when in operation, the Terramaster F4-423 is a pinch louder. These fans can be adjusted in rotations per minute (RPM) in the TOS software of course, but it is not recommended and it’s best to leave the system fans on automatic so they can dynamically adjust to the internal temperature for efficiency.

Of course, the first big improvement of the Terramaster F4-423 over its predecessors (F4-422 and F4-421) is the inclusion of 2.5-gigabit ethernet (2.5GbE). The NAS arrives with two ethernet ports that can provide around 250-279MB/s throughout each, as well as allowing link aggregation (aka Port Trunking) to combine their bandwidth and provide 5GbE (around 500-550MB/s throughput) with the use of a smart switch. In the last few years, we have seen several brands provide 2.5GbE connections at the same cost as 1GbE ports and with internet service providers and affordable switch manufacturers providing 2.5GbE solutions, it was only natural that NAS brands would make the jump towards it. Hypothetically, if you had a faster than Gb internet connection (fiber etc) and a google drive account, that means that you would be able to connect with your cloud drive FASTER than a NAS system in your home if you only have 1GbE. This is why NAS systems need to arrive with 2.5/5/10GbE in 2022, for the sake of futureproofing and to keep up with the growing demands for data access. Additionally, 4 SATA storage bays (as well as the use of those internal SSD bays that I will touch on later) will easily saturate a 2.5GbE and even LAG supported 5GbE connection, so these ports allow you to maximize your storage potential and share that bandwidth with multiple connected users.

One slight letdown is that the Terramaster F4-423arrives with an HDMI port BUT they do not have any kind of HDMI/Visual GUI that can be accessed (unlike QNAP’s HD Station and Asustor’s Portal applications) The HDMI out DOES allow you to access SSH/Telnet level/stylized backend controls with a USB keyboard, but with this CPU and hardware architecture supporting embedded graphics, 4K media and multimedia services, it is a real shame that you cannot do anything more home/SMB friendly than command line. Maybe one-day Terramaster will update TOS to take advantage of this feature in a more graphical/KVM way, but it has been 2 years of these systems having HDMI and we have yet to see any change on this.

The USB ports of the Terramaster F4-423 are a subtle upgrade over previous/older NAS systems from the brand, with this NAS featuring 2x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A ports. These allow connections of up to 10Gb/s (1,000MB/s – double that of the USB 3.2 Gen 1 5Gb/s in older systems) and that means much, MUCH faster local backups to external storage drives, as well as the support of USB JBOD storage expansions. The real benefits of USB 3.2 Gen 2 in expansions are only really felt when using larger SSD arrays or 5-8 bay expansions. Nevertheless, these ports are a nice extra for the system. Additionally, Terramaster recently released an affordable USB-to-2.5GbE adapter for £25+ that allows you to connect ANOTHER 2.5GbE port on this system. Add a 2-4Bay storage expansion to the other USB port and you have a great deal of storage and network bandwidth for this system to graduate towards, all thanks to those newer gen USB ports.

The ports and connections of the Terramaster F4-423 are few in number but still nonetheless good upgrades over it’s predecessor. Terramaster could have EASILY cut a few corners here (i.e USB 3.2 Gen 1 or just a single 2.5GbE port) and most users would not have batted an eye (as it is noticeably lower in price than the similar USB 3.2/2.5G QNAP TS-464). Let’s get our screwdriver and take a look inside this NAS to see how Terramster have approached the internal specifications of the F4-423.

Terramaster F4-423 NAS Review – Internal Hardware

The internal hardware of the Terramaster F4-423 NAS is a mix of current generation hardware choices and quirky application. The internal boards comprise two PCBs (one for the SATA storage nad another for… well… everything else). In most cases, a user will almost never completely dismantle a NAS drive in its lifespan. However, in the case of the F4-423, you are going to need to take it apart quite considerably in order to access a number of the upgrade options. In order to access these, you will need to remove the six rear screws of the chassis and then remove the rear panel. This rear panel contains the active cooling fans and either awkwardly hangs from the chassis or you will need to disconnect the fan (something only fractionally less ideal). From here you will need to slide the entire internal framework out and that allows you to access/upgrade a couple of the internal hardware components as needed.

Once the full internal board is disconnected, you are able to see a wide variety of heatsinks, ports and modules. This is a slightly unconventional means of accessing these bits but something that most PC builders will be ok with. The board is double-sided with the m.2 SSD slots and a single SODIMM memory slot on one side, and the Internal CPU and another populated SODIMM slot on the other side – which is significantly harder to access and requires removal of even more of the internal framework to access.

The CPU featured in the Terramaster F4-423 NAS is a quad-core Intel Celeron N5105 CPU, a processor that has been very much the ‘CPU of choice’ among the 2022/2023 generation of NAS hardware from most of the brands (except Synology). This is a quad-core x86 64bit processor that is 2.0Ghz in clock speed, that can be burst up to 2.9Ghz when needed. It features an onboard AES-NI encryption engine, as well as Intel embedded graphics for visual data tasks such as native multimedia playback, transcoding, photo management and improved services in TOS 5 (still in beta) towards AI photo recognition and surveillance with IP Cameras. As mentioned, although this is never going to challenge the likes of an Intel Pentium or Intel Core in 2022, it is still a very good CPU and in the context of NAS and this price point, very competent indeed.

Alongside that CPU, the Terramaster F4-423 NAS also arrives with 4GB of DDR4 Memory. However, closer inspection of the F4-423 architecture does raise a couple of small questions. Firstly, the 4GB of memory the system arrives with is a single 2133Mhz SODIMM module. Most other NAS systems with this architecture arrive with 2400-2666Mhz memory. It’s a small point, but this is the first NAS I have seen with DDR4 memory at 2133Mhz. Additionally, the 4GB module is located in an incredibly difficult place under the main cage array, so installing larger/faster memory is not going to be possible without much more dismantling. Talking of ‘adding more memory’, Terramaster state that the F4-423 NAS supports up to 32GB of DDR4 SODIMM memory across its two slots. However, Intel state that this CPU only supports a maximum 16GB across two channels – so although I am sure the system would definitely see 32GB of memory if you have 2x 16GB installed, I do wonder if you will definitely be able to actually USE all 32 correctly.

The Terramaster F4-423 also features two M.2 NVMe SSD bays that allow you to install significantly faster SSDs into the system alongside SATA HDDs, meaning that you have another option for your storage. Now, there is good and bad news here regarding these ports. On the plus side, they can be used for either caching alongside the larger HDD RAID configuration (to allow read/write caching and significantly improve their performance in key areas) or as it’s own storage pool. This is something that popular NAS competitor Synology has never implemented to their NVMe bays, despite it being a highly requested feature. On a slight downside, as the Intel N5105 CPU inside the Terramaster F4-423 is already being stretched a little thing in it’s architecture, these M.2 NVMe SSD bays are PCIe Gen 3 x1 speed. This means that NVMe SSDs such as the Seagate Ironwolf 510/525 or WD Red SN700 at PCIe Gen 3/4 x4 will be limited down to a maximum 1,000MB/s per bay. This is still something you can incorporate into a solid RAID for improved performance and its better to have them, than not at all though.

The internal hardware inside the Terramaster F4-423 is still good for the money and certainly gives you a solid base level of hardware to work with. The means to access and upgrade the system hardware is less smooth than most/all other commercial NAS brands, but once you have jumped these odd hurdles, you have some great kit here to use in conjunction with 1st and 3rd party applications. So, let’s move into the subject of software and TOS on the F4-423.

Terramaster F4-423 NAS Review – Software

VERY IMPORTANT – At the time of writing this review, the Terramaster F4-423 NAS arrives with the 4th generation of their software platform TOS. Why is this important? Well, because right now there is a beta in progress for TOS 5 and it is a SIGNIFICANT step from the current generation of TOS that is included with the F4-423 at launch. So, if you are considering the F4-423 NAS later in 2022/2023, then there is every chance that TOS 5 has been released and you can download it (free etc) onto the device. We will be reviewing TOS 5 fully when the final version is released, but for now, I wanted to highlight a number of hte key features that will be added to TOS later this year, as well as the current range of services that are included in TOS 4 right now. (important, we originally previewed a VERY earlier build of Terramaster TOS 5 Alpha in the video HERE on the NASCompares YouTube channel which will give you an idea of how TOS5 looks/feels, but many new features have been added in the months since the beta was rolled out). LOADS more features have been added since this original alpha preview and we will soon be deep-diving into this newer Beta release very soon. Below is what Terramaster say is included in the new TOS ver.5 Beta.

New Features & Improvements in Existing Services

In TOS 5, not only have the storage structure and data interaction mode been reconstructed but also, compared with the previous generation, it adds more than 50 features and 600 improvements. The new features meet more business requirements, as well as significantly improve response speed, security, and ease of use.

Browser Access to TOS is Now 3x Times Faster

TOS 5 adopts progressive JavaScript language and a lightweight framework with a faster loading speed. TOS 5 features bidirectional data binding, easier data manipulation, and automatic synchronous response to data changes in the page; UI, data, and structure separation make it easier to change data without the need to modify logic codes. Using progressive JavaScript language, TOS 5 has a more lightweight framework. In addition, through two-way binding of data, the view, data and structure are separated. When the page is operated, it automatically responds to changes in data, which makes the system “lighter” and achieves a faster loading speed.

New caching technology avoids network round trips between the server and the database, bypasses the calculation that occupies resources, saves server resources, and improves response time and waiting time, so TOS 5 has the fastest response time in the current TOS family. Compared with the last generation, the TOS 5 response speed has increased by 300%! Use WASM to optimize the calculation method and execute the back-end complex calculations on the front-end, thereby reducing the calculation pressure on the server. In addition, TOS 5 uses the most popular back-end language at the moment, which can support high concurrent requests. Compared with traditional interpreted languages, the compilation speed is faster.

Improved Resource Monitor in TOS 5

The new iconic resource monitor board allows you to grasp the operating status of your TNAS comprehensively and intuitively in real-time; at-a-glance visibility of system load, CPU and memory usage, network traffic, disk I/O, device temperature, storage, processes, online users, listening ports, and system resource occupancy. Historical records of up to 30 days can be easily traced back.

Full One Button System Isolation Mode Available in TOS 5

TerraMaster’s unique security isolation mode completely isolates your TNAS device from the external network through network isolation, digital signature, and file format restriction, providing a safer operating environment and effective protection against virus and ransomware attacks.

Support of the WORM File System in TOS5

Data can be written at one time within the customized protection period and cannot be deleted or modified. This effectively protects your data from malicious damage, deletion, or tampering and provides data protection for up to 70 years; essential for the financial, judicial, medical, and scientific research sectors, as well as other business users.

Improved Storage, Backup & Sync Features in Terramaster TOS 5

TOS 5 features optimized storage architecture to reduce the system space occupation. The file deduplication system, file system compression, TRAID elastic array, and other functions also save you up to 40% of storage space

Single Portal Folder Level Backup for Home and SMB Users

Reduce complexity and embrace simplicity. All backup needs can be completed through a single portal, providing one-stop backup solutions including Central Backup, TerraSync, Duple Backup, Snapshot, USB Copy, CloudSync, and other comprehensive backup tools. This meets your clients’ disaster recovery and restoration requirements, as well as backup policies and destinations.

Business Focused ProActive Backups for Larger Business

To improve management efficiency, medium and larger-sized businesses need a centralized and active backup solution for multiple users, PCs, and servers. Centralized Backup is a business-oriented backup solution that supports backup and restoration for multiple device types. You can centrally backup data of dozens or even hundreds of PCs, servers, or virtual machines with only one TNAS.

New Flexible RAID Support in TRAID in TOS 5

By optimizing the traditional RAID mode, TerraMaster RAID (TRAID) gives you flexible disk array configuration, flexible online migration, capacity expansion, and redundancy policies. As well as improving disk space utilization, it also provides solutions and security protection for storage space changes caused by new business requirements. Much like Synology Hybrid RAID (SHR) in that you can mix drive capacities for improved storage after the RAID redundancy calculation. I reached out to Terramaster directly on this and they confirm that this function is supported in TOS 5.

Multiple Client Sync with TerraSync in TOS 5

TerraSync, a TerraMaster self-developed synchronization tool, realizes data synchronization between multiple users and multiple devices. It efficiently implements data sharing among branch offices and data synchronization between individuals on multiple devices and platforms, which assists employees in collaborative work and improves work efficiency.

New CloudSync Application for Bare Metal-to-Cloud Live Sync in TOS 5

The new CloudSync app integrates multiple cloud drives and syncs them into one application, including Google Drive, One Drive, Amazon S3, Backblaze, Box, Dropbox, Koofr, OpenDrive, pCloud, Yandex disk, and Aliyun. This allows users to centralize the management of multiple synchronization tasks and add a variety of cloud disk synchronization options including Aliyun and Rackspace. A more flexible, stable, and efficient solution for data synchronization between your TNAS and cloud drives is facilitated by your choice of customized synchronization strategies, such as traffic control, scheduled tasks, and encryption.

CCTV Surveillance in Terramaster TOS 5

TNAS is an ideal video recording storage device. The new Surveillance Manager makes full use of TNAS storage resources to realize camera management, real-time monitoring, video storage, playback, query, event and activity monitoring and recording, providing you with economic and flexible video monitoring management tools to safeguard your personal and property safety.

AI Photo Recognition Now Available in TOS 5 with Terra Photo

Terra Photos is TerraMaster’s brand-new AI photo management application that provides smart solutions for your photo management and sharing; it uses intelligent AI algorithms to identify and classify faces, pets, locations, and other objects in your photos.

Docker Added to Existing Container Tools in TOS 5

Combined with docker-compose and portainer, the new Docker Manager features an optimized operation interface, with multiple new features which provide visual management that meets all your requirements for container customization and flexible configuration.

New Update to Terramaster’s Mobile App, TNAS Mobile 5

To adapt to TOS 5, TNAS mobile has also ushered in a comprehensive update, TNAS mobile 5. Featuring an optimized user interface and interaction, it has also added mobile phone backup, photo management, personal folders, team folders, data safebox, TerraSync, remote administrator, and other functions, which provide more convenience for remote access, mobile office, and remote management of your TNAS.

TOS 4 on the Terramaster F4-423 NAS

Once again, I need to highlight that the F4-423 NAS needs to be viewed with its price tag always in mind. With software and hardware that is available on other NAS brand devices, it is easy to imagine that this device is a much, more affordable alternative to QNAP or Synology NAS. However, you should always remember that this device is still aimed at those looking for a first dip into NAS and if should be compared with WD NAS and D-Link when making your choice of NAS. it is DEFINITELY better than those and arrives at a better price, but it may still be a year or more before the Terramaster TOS Software platform can compete with DSM and QTS. That said, the Beta is really showing that TOS is going to evolve even further and for more information about the TerraMaster TOS operating System, I recommend visiting my software review here from a couple of years ago.

Key Software and NAS tasks that are supported are:

  • RAID 0, 1, 5, 6, 10, JBOD
  • Apple Time Machine Backup
  • Cloud Migration and Synchronization
  • NAS to NAS Rsync Support
  • Plex Media Server
  • Docker

  • Mail Server
  • Web Server
  • DLNA Media Server
  • WordPress Server
  • Download Server
  • Snapshot Support

With a good range of applications to choose from, as well as the support of modern NAS applications in the mix, the TerraMaster F4-423 does give you a good base with which to start your NAS journey, though it may feel a little streamlined for those with greater NAS experience.

Terramaster F4-423 NAS Review – Conclusion

Terramaster still continues to be the most affordable fully-featured provider of the whole NAS market and although a number of their solutions have always felt a little rough around the edges, you always got the impression that you were getting a good deal for the hardware that was available from QNAP and Synology. Now in 2022/2023, the same continues to be true but in the F4-423 NAS’ case, you are actually getting some pretty top tier (for the Home/Prosumer) market at a price tag that is really tough to argue with. Terramaster has clearly been watching their bigger competitors and cherry-picked the features that people have been asking for (2.5GbE, USB 3.2 Gen 2, M.2 NVMe SSD bays, etc) for this new generation. In terms of software, things are a little less convincing and although TOS 5 (currently in Beta at the time of writing) still continues to evolve into something genuinely fully featured and impressive, TOS 4 that the F4-423 includes at launch is usable (if unexciting) platform that provides the base level services that a new NAS user would want, but lacks killer apps that their competitors are offering right now (File Streaming, AI photo recognition, Surveillance, etc). Most of these ARE included in TOS5, but until it arrives much later in 2022 in a full release, the F4-423 feels like a powerful NAS that doesn’t have the software to show off its strengths yet. If you are reading this later in 2022 or 2023, this might well be irrelevant though, as the brand rolls out their bit firmware update to ALL Terramster NAS devices. Overall, I definitely CAN recommend the F4-423 NAS for its hardware, for Plex Media server or as an affordable multi-tier backup solution, but if you are looking for a NAS for more tailored data access or in a much more fully-featured package – hold out a little longer till TOS 5 gets released first.

PROS of the Terramaster F4-423 CONS of the Terramaster F4-423
  • 2.5GbE at the Price of 1GbE
  • Good CPU for the Price Point
  • USB 3.2 Gen 2 is very forward-thinking for local backups
  • Great RAID Options
  • Snapshot Replication
  • BTRFS Support if preferred
  • Supports Plex and all 1080p Transcoding
  • 4K Video transcoding natively
  • A large amount of maximum memory supported (16-32GB – TBC)
  • Includes two M.2 NVMe SSD Bays that can be used for storage or caching
  • Default 4GB memory is 2133Mhz
  • HDMI Currently Unsupported
  • Until TOS5 is Fully Released, TOS Software feels a little empty of Killer-Apps (AI photo recognition, Surveillance, etc)

Click the link below to take you to your local Amazon store and where to buy the terramaster F4-423 NAS.

 

 

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