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Terramaster U8-450 Rackmount NAS Review

Par : Rob Andrews
8 novembre 2023 à 18:00

Terramaster U8-450 Rackmount NAS Review

Here at NASCompares, we’ve seen a myriad of Network Attached Storage devices come and go. Enter the Terramaster U8-450 Rackmount NAS, a unit that piques our interest and promises to redefine the NAS landscape. Designed to cater to a diverse audience – from the meticulous tech hobbyist to the demanding professional – this NAS claims to strike a harmonious balance between power, versatility, and ingenious craftsmanship. Whether you’re a bustling business safeguarding your digital empire, a media maestro in search of expansive storage sanctuaries, or someone merely dipping their toes into the vast NAS waters, our deep dive into the U8-450 is bound to offer insights. We’ll dissect its every aspect, from the outer shell to the heart of its hardware. So, gear up and join us as we unravel what makes this NAS tick and if it’s worthy of the NASCompares spotlight. Let the exploration begin!

Terramaster U8-450 Rackmount NAS Review – Quick Conclusion

The Terramaster U8-450 Rackmount NAS demonstrates efficient space utilization with its 2U chassis and depth of 38cm. Its innovative features, such as the inclusion of TRAID and the direct integration of ports like the 2x SFP+ 10GbE, are commendable. With a price tag of $999, it provides tremendous value, especially given its robust connectivity options, including 2x 10GbE and 2x 2.5GbE ports. Internally, the device showcases a custom M-ITX board and a fanless CPU heatsink covering the Intel Atom C3558R. While the TOS 5.1 NAS Software has seen notable improvements, it still trails behind Synology DSM and QNAP QTS in terms of smoothness and application breadth. However, Terramaster’s post-Deadbolt enhancements emphasize security. Plus, the device’s compatibility with third-party OS solutions like UnRAID and TrueNAS underscores its flexibility. In conclusion, the Terramaster U8-450 is a potent, adaptable, and value-packed NAS solution. Its strengths in design, hardware, and security make it a robust choice for both new and experienced NAS users.

SOFTWARE - 7/10
HARDWARE - 8/10
PERFORMANCE - 8/10
PRICE - 8/10
VALUE - 8/10


7.8
PROS
👍🏻Surprisingly compact for 8 Bays of Storage
👍🏻Half Depth rackmounts are becoming increasingly popular
👍🏻Dual 10GbE - LOVELY STUFF!
👍🏻Also has support of SMB MultiChannel and an extra 2x 2.5GbE
👍🏻Decent throughput Capable CPU
👍🏻Great RAID Options
👍🏻Snapshot Replication
👍🏻BTRFS/EXT4 Support as preferred
👍🏻A large amount of maximum memory supported at 32GB
👍🏻M.2 SSD Bay inside for caching/storage
👍🏻TOS 5.1 is genuinely good, if not quite as polished/evolved as it\'s competitors
👍🏻Possibly also has a PCIe 3x4 (TBC!)
👍🏻VERY easy to install TrueNAS, UnRAID, Proxmox, OpenMediaVault, etc (and also easy to reverse)
CONS
👎🏻Supports ECC Memory, but not included (might annoy some)
👎🏻Software lacking in comparison to Synology DSM and QNAP QTS
👎🏻NOT QUIET!


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Terramaster U8-450 Rackmount NAS Review – Packaging

Upon first glance, the Terramaster U8-450 Rackmount NAS is encased in a typical brown box. But closer inspection reveals the subtle Terramaster branding, a small but significant touch adding an air of distinction to the overall packaging.

This attention to detail is not just skin-deep. Inside, the NAS is shielded by hard foam on all sides. This robust protection ensures that there’s minimal potential for motion-induced damage during transit, underscoring the brand’s commitment to delivering its product in the best possible condition to users.

Inside the primary box is another smaller one, designed specifically for the accessories. This compartmentalized approach ensures that every component has its place, reducing the risk of damage or scratches. The accessories kit itself is comprehensive, containing an ethernet RJ45 Cat 6 cable, screws suitable for both 2.5” and 3.5” drives, handles for dressing up the chassis front, a user-friendly instruction manual, and pertinent information about the 2-year warranty.

As a bonus, a handy screwdriver is also included, showcasing Terramaster’s thoughtfulness. It’s a bit of an old school addition, but I always like those things…

Terramaster U8-450 Rackmount NAS Review – Design

The Terramaster U8-450 Rackmount NAS boasts a traditional rackmount 2U chassis, a design familiar to many. However, it sets itself apart with its compact depth of just 38cm. This smaller depth is not just for aesthetics but also offers potential benefits in terms of space-saving and placement flexibility, especially in crowded server rooms or setups with limited depth.

A noticeable feature of its design is the neat configuration of HDDs. They are arranged in two rows, with each accommodating four HDDs. Above this arrangement, an added strip dedicated solely to ventilation ensures that the drives remain cool, promoting longer lifespans and optimal performance. This efficient use of space and focus on ventilation underlines Terramaster’s commitment to marrying form and function.

The system’s flexibility is another commendable aspect. Users aren’t forced to fill up all the slots immediately. Instead, the U8-450 can function with just a lone drive if required, allowing users to populate it over time, as needs and budgets dictate. This flexibility extends to its RAID configurations as well.

Thanks to Terramaster’s innovative TRAID feature, users can mix drive capacities. TRAID intelligently calculates the optimal storage configuration, contrasting with traditional RAID systems that typically demand uniform drive capacities.

When it comes to security, the trays on this model don’t feature locks. However, this minor oversight is compensated by their spring-loaded handles, ensuring easy access and secure placement. Another notable design feature is the combined data+power configuration for all internal SATA ports. This integrated design ensures that there are no loose or dangling wires, promoting better airflow and reduced clutter inside the chassis.

The front of the NAS prominently features a power button, strategically placed for easy accessibility. However, some users might miss having a USB port on the front for quick plug-ins. But Terramaster addresses this by placing two USB ports at the back of the device. The half-depth rackmount design isn’t just a stylistic choice; it mirrors a trend that has gained traction over recent years. An 8-Bay chassis benefiting from this design is especially noteworthy, as it suggests a balance between space efficiency and storage capacity.

Terramaster U8-450 Rackmount NAS Review – Ports and Connections

The Terramaster U8-450 Rackmount NAS doesn’t skimp on its ventilation. At the rear, you’ll find two adjustable fans, ensuring that the internal components remain cool even under heavy workloads. The TOS software allows users to easily adjust these fans based on their preferences or needs. Not to be outdone, the PSU, rated at 250W, has its dedicated fan, ensuring consistent and optimal power distribution without overheating.

While the device does offer impressive ventilation and cooling, there’s a noticeable omission: the lack of a redundant PSU version. It’s somewhat surprising, especially considering the ample space available within the case. Redundant power supplies are often sought after for their ability to ensure uninterrupted operation, so some professionals might find its absence a bit disappointing.

The NAS also boasts 2x SFP+ 10GbE ports. Instead of being mounted on a standard PCIe card, these ports are directly attached to the internal ITX Mobo. This direct integration can lead to more stable and efficient data transfer rates. And for those considering potential upgrades, the price of SFP+ to RJ45 Copper adapters has become more affordable in recent years, now hovering around the $40-50 range.

Furthermore, the device comes equipped with 2.5GbE x2 ports. Together with the aforementioned 10GbE ports, they support an array of features like link aggregation, port trunking, and SMB MultiChannel. This gives users a versatile range of connection options, ensuring efficient data transfers and network reliability.

In terms of value, the U8-450 stands out prominently. Priced at $999, it offers exceptional value for an 8 Bay Rackmount NAS, especially one that’s half-depth and comes with both 2x 10GbE and 2x 2.5GbE ports. Such a price-performance ratio is hard to find in today’s market.

For expanded connectivity, the NAS features 2x USB 3.2 Gen 1 (5Gb/s) Type A ports. These are versatile and support a range of devices, from storage drives to official Terramaster expansion enclosures. They can also accommodate office hardware such as printers, scanners, UPS systems, and even 2.5G-to-USB Adapters.

However, users looking for visual outputs might be a tad disappointed. The U8-450 lacks an HDMI or any visual output. This is primarily because the CPU doesn’t come with integrated graphics. Moreover, the Terramaster TOS software doesn’t offer an HDMI GUI, focusing more on network-based access and management.

Terramaster U8-450 Rackmount NAS Review – Internal Hardware

Accessing the internals of the Terramaster U8-450 Rackmount NAS is straightforward. A mere five screws around three sides secure the top lid, making it quite easy for users who need to peek inside or make adjustments.

Once opened, the presence of a custom M-ITX board is immediately noticeable, underscoring the device’s specialized design tailored for its specific use.

Interestingly, the Terramaster TOS NAS Software bootloads not from an internal SSD or HDD, but from an external USB drive. This approach could offer flexibility in software management and potential recovery scenarios.

Dominating the motherboard’s landscape is a large, fanless, black CPU heatsink. Beneath this heatsink lies the heart of the system: the Intel Atom C3558R.

The CPU, which we will delve into shortly, is pivotal for the device’s overall performance. Out of the box, the U8-450 comes equipped with 8GB of DDR4 SODIMM memory. While this may suffice for many users, those with more demanding tasks can upgrade the memory, thanks to the two available slots, up to a maximum of 32GB.

For those keen on fast data access and caching, the motherboard hosts 2x M.2 NVMe SSD slots. These are built on the Gen 3 Architecture. However, Terramaster remains tight-lipped about the exact speed specifications of these slots. The hard drive bays are neatly organized, connected in pairs of fours through a SAS cable to the motherboard.

While two ports on the board cater to each 4x drive set, an intriguing observation is the presence of a spare, unused port.

With a little unofficial modification, this could potentially accommodate an additional 4x 2.5” SSDs within the cavity of the 2U drive chassis design, although it’s worth noting that such modifications are not officially supported by Terramaster.

Further enhancing its potential, the board showcases a Gen 3×4 PCIe slot with a removable backplane. Curiously, Terramaster’s product page remains silent about this slot, but on inspection, it does seem ready for use. Given that the U8-450 employs an M-ITX motherboard, it benefits from a plethora of internal space. This expansive design ensures exceptional ventilation and airflow, vital for maintaining optimal performance and longevity.

However, it’s hard to overlook one particular oversight: the absence of a 2x PSU redundant version. Especially when there’s clearly ample room for such an addition, which would enhance the system’s resilience and appeal to professionals seeking an added layer of backup. With the internals sufficiently examined, it’s time to shift focus to the TOS software.

Terramaster U8-450 Rackmount NAS Review –  Software

TOS 5, the latest software offering from TerraMaster, presents a remarkable leap in functionality and performance.

Key Software and NAS tasks that are supported are:

  • RAID 0, 1, 5, 6, 10, JBOD – as well as TRAID, the Flexible RAID configuration
  • Apple Time Machine Backup
  • AI Photo Recognition Tool
  • Multi-client Sync Tool
  • 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

This new iteration brings forth more than 50 fresh features and over 600 improvements, demonstrating TerraMaster’s commitment to meeting diverse business needs while enhancing the system’s speed, security, and user experience.

Significantly, the browser access speed in TOS 5 has been supercharged, now operating at a pace 3x faster than before. This boost is largely attributed to its incorporation of progressive JavaScript language and a streamlined framework, ensuring speedy loading and responsive interaction. Such design innovations result in TOS 5 boasting the quickest response time in the entire TOS series, with a performance rate that’s a staggering 300% faster than its predecessor.

From a monitoring perspective, the revamped resource monitor provides real-time, intuitive insights into the system’s performance metrics. Users gain a comprehensive understanding of numerous parameters, from system load to device temperature, with an impressive 30-day historical record. Security is given paramount importance with the introduction of TerraMaster’s unique security isolation mode and the support of the WORM file system, ensuring protection against malicious threats and data tampering.

Storage and backup capabilities have received an overhaul as well. With features such as file deduplication, TRAID elastic array, and optimized storage architecture, users can save up to 40% of storage space. The backup suite is comprehensive, catering to both home users and larger businesses. The introduction of TRAID in TOS 5 provides a flexible RAID solution, similar to Synology’s Hybrid RAID, enabling users to mix drive capacities.

TerraMaster further showcases its versatility by integrating applications for cloud synchronization and data management. The new CloudSync app consolidates multiple cloud drives, while TerraSync ensures efficient data synchronization across users and devices. Additionally, TOS 5 debuts AI-driven photo management with Terra Photos and introduces Docker to its container tools, broadening customization capabilities. To ensure seamless mobile management, the TNAS mobile app has been revamped, aligning with the new features of TOS 5.

The software supports various key NAS tasks and applications, including RAID configurations, Apple Time Machine Backup, Plex Media Server, Docker, and DLNA Media Server, among others. In essence, TerraMaster’s TOS 5 offers a solid foundation for those beginning their NAS journey, though seasoned users might find it a tad streamlined.

In TerraMaster’s TOS 5, it’s evident that the software exhibits considerable advancement and introduces a plethora of impressive features tailored to modern-day needs. However, it’s essential to position this in the broader landscape of NAS solutions. When pitted against the established prowess of Synology DSM and QNAP QTS, certain gaps in TOS 5’s offering become apparent. These industry leaders have already ventured deep into the integration of advanced AI-powered applications, further extending their versatility. Additionally, they possess superior, proprietary VM hypervisor tools that cater to a more seamless virtualization experience.

All in all, while TerraMaster’s TOS 5 has undoubtedly made commendable progress and will cater to a broad array of users, those seeking the zenith of NAS software experiences might find it somewhat wanting. It’s a robust step forward for TerraMaster, but the journey to the pinnacle of the industry is still ongoing.

Terramaster U8-450 Rackmount NAS Review – Conclusion and Verdict

The Terramaster U8-450 Rackmount NAS has been quite the journey to explore, with a rich set of features, a few quirks, and areas ripe for enhancement. Here’s a comprehensive take after delving deep into its offering. Design-wise, its traditional rackmount 2U chassis with a depth of only 38cm indicates efficient space utilization. The inclusion of two rows of HDDs, the introduction of TRAID, and direct integration of ports like the 2x SFP+ 10GbE to the motherboard underscore the brand’s innovation and commitment to performance. When it comes to ports and connections, the NAS doesn’t disappoint. From the rear-mounted fans adjustable via the TOS software to the 2x 10GbE and 2x 2.5GbE ports, it’s built for versatility. Its price point of $999 offers incredible value for an 8 Bay Rackmount NAS, especially given its robust connectivity options.

Internally, the U8-450 boasts a custom M-ITX board, a fanless CPU heatsink that covers the Intel Atom C3558R, and options for memory and SSD expansion. The presence of an unused port even hints at unofficial modding possibilities, highlighting its potential for adaptability. Software-wise, the TOS 5.1 NAS Software has undergone significant enhancements. It’s more intuitive and robust than earlier versions. Yet, it’s worth noting that it hasn’t quite achieved the same seamless experience or breadth of applications as its counterparts in Synology DSM or QNAP QTS. Terramaster’s efforts post the Deadbolt ransomware attacks are evident in the OS’s enhanced security features, a testament to the brand’s commitment to user safety. Moreover, the device’s compatibility with third-party OS solutions like UnRAID and TrueNAS, via USB bootloaders, provides users an avenue for customization and flexibility. The Terramaster U8-450 Rackmount NAS emerges as a potent, adaptable, and value-for-money NAS solution. Its strengths in design, hardware, and security make it a solid choice. While there’s room for improvement in its native software offering, its overall performance, combined with its adaptability, ensures it’s a commendable option for a range of users, from beginners to NAS veterans.

PROS of the Terramaster U8-450 CONS of the Terramaster U8-450
  • Surprisingly compact for 8 Bays of Storage
  • Half Depth rackmounts are becoming increasingly popular
  • Dual 10GbE – LOVELY STUFF!
  • Also has support of SMB MultiChannel and an extra 2x 2.5GbE
  • Decent throughput Capable CPU
  • Great RAID Options
  • Snapshot Replication
  • BTRFS/EXT4 Support as preferred
  • A large amount of maximum memory supported at 32GB
  • M.2 SSD Bay inside for caching/storage
  • TOS 5.1 is genuinely good, if not quite as polished/evolved as it’s competitors
  • Possibly also has a PCIe 3×4 (TBC!)
  • VERY easy to install TrueNAS, UnRAID, Proxmox, OpenMediaVault, etc (and also easy to reverse)
  • Supports ECC Memory, but not included (might annoy some)
  • Software lacking in comparison to Synology DSM and QNAP QTS
  • NOT QUIET!

Click the link below to take you to your local Amazon store and where to buy the terramaster T9-450 NAS.

 

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UnRAID on a QNAP NAS – An Installation Guide

Par : Rob Andrews
6 novembre 2023 à 18:00

How to Install UnRAID on a QNAP NAS Drive in 15mins

Of all the different Network Attached Storage software that is discussed online, one the most unsung heroes of the DiY server scene is UnRAID. It was created like many software solutions—by a software engineer who was trying to solve his own problem. In the early 2000’s, the challenge was how to store, access, and have a reliable backup for significant amounts of media – whilst maintaining a low system resource overhead! At the time, RAID technology was available, but it came with a lot of restrictions that were untenable for consumers and huge resource use of performance requirements that made a 24×7 operation an uphill struggle. Fast forward to 2022 and although there are many, many other NAS server software applications on the market, UnRAID has a solid following of users that want a hugely flexible and customizable server system in their hands that is built the way THEY want it. UnRAID is a powerful operating system that allows sophisticated media aficionados, gamers, and other intensive data users to have ultimate control over their data, media, applications, and desktops. Best of all, Unraid allows you to use just about any combination of hardware that you wish, giving you the freedom to customize and maximize your systems to precisely fit your needs. So, where does QNAP NAS fit into this? Surely they are a turn-key NAS hardware+software solution? UnRAID is just the software? Well, many users who are less versed in the world of I.T and storage hardware, who nevertheless find the UnRAID features desirable, might not be as confident when it comes to choosing the right components and building their systems. That is why the QNAP NAS series is particularly appealing. Alongside the price point, value and scale of hardware in 2022 being one of the best in the market right now, the system also is also considerably easier to format towards new software. Although QNAP NAS arrives with QTS/QuTS (which is a solid piece of software on it’s own and included in the cost of your system), it is surprisingly straightforward to change the software it runs on from QTS/QuTS to UnRAID (with reversing this back to the 1st party software also very, VERY easy). So, today I want to walk you through how to mod your QNAP NAS to run UnRAID, what you need and ultimately help you make the most of your system. Let’s begin.

UnRAID Software on QNAP NAS Hardware – What You Need?

It is worth highlighting that having just a QNAP NAS is not quite enough and in order to get UnRAID up and running on a QNAP NAS requires a few extra checks and use of a few items you might have already in the home/office, or a quick $10 shop online at most. In order to upgrade your system to UnRAID, you will need to consider/have the following:

 

  • I recommend not using a USB larger than 32GB, due to the constraints of 1st party software to format larger than this in FAT32. Don’t be tempted to spend like $2 more for a 64GB, as the UnRAID installation will occupy the full USB space (as you will create a system-image-USB) and space is utterly irrelevant when the UnRAID installation is so small
  • A basic USB Keyboard (example HERE but really, any will do) and an HDMI Monitor (or simply any device that has an HDMI input – NOT output) such as a TV or Capture card
  • Hard Drive and/or SSD media (you should already have these, but just in case) for your storage
  • OptionalDownload Advanced IP Scanner HERE, as it is a really useful tool for analyzing your network and finding your new UnRAID NAS for remote access

That is about it. Most of these (maybe not the USB drive at that physical size) you will almost certainly already have to hand.

Can I Reverse the UnRAID Installation and go back to QNAP QTS/QuTS?

Almost certainly YES! I say ‘almost certainly’, as there is one small caveat. When you make the change from Terramster QTS/QuTS to UnRAID on the NAS hardware, the drives (HDD and/or SSD) inside are formatted to UnRAID pools and used in the new system software. This works both ways if you want to revert back to QTS/QuTS on the NAS too. So, although the act of reinitializing the NAS to its original software is very easy (simply needing you to remove the UnRAID USB, rebooting and then changing the internal BIOS options from USB to the QNAP OS SSD internally), it will mean that any data that resides on the disks inside will be formatted. So, if you are choosing to make a change from one NAS OS to another, make sure you have your data appropriately backed up elsewhere. So, let’s begin the installation of UnRAID on the QNAP NAS.

UnRAID on a QNAP NAS – Step 1, Download UnRAID

Head to the UnRAID website HERE and download the latest stable release of the software to your local PC, Linux or Mac system. Make sure to remember where you downloaded it. You CAN recommend the USB creator tool and that can allow you to create a system image of the UnRAID loader, but some users have highlighted that compatibility issues with some USB sticks and capacities have been highlighted. So, that is why I recommend scrolling down and downloaded the latest stable release of UnRAID to your local PC/Mac system.

UnRAID on a QNAP NAS – Step 2, Preparing the USB

Connect the small form factor USB Drive to your system (again, this is the one I used from Sandisk) and after a few seconds, it should appear as an available USB Drive. The drive MAY need formatting (you will be prompted to do so), if that is the case, then you can format it via the system prompts and by default, it will format it to FAT32 (as long as your USB is less than 32GB). If you are not presented with a system prompt to format your USB, then you can head into My PC, or My Computer via a windows computer and right-click the drive, select ‘format’ and format it that way. IMPORTANT – Make sure in the ‘volume label’ or Drive Label field, you call the drive UNRAID (all in caps and no spacing)

If you have used the USB for other things previously, there is a chance that the drive has existing partitions in place. For that, the quickest way to completely remove any partitions is to open up the bottom-left windows system menu as normal, and then just type diskpart and open the command-line GUI tool. From there, use the command list disk to show the available drives that are connected, you will see your USB (normally disk 1 or 2, but can differ depending on your system layout and can be spotted by the storage amount). From there, type select disk # (where # is the drive number that your USB is shown as) and then type clean, which which will then remove any index structure for the drive (i.e the partitions and existing format) and then you can go back to the My Computer/My PC page and format the drive to FAT 32 as normal.

UnRAID on a QNAP NAS – Step 4, Creating a USB Loader Image of UnRAID

Now that your USB has been prepared for the UnRAID USB setup, the next thing you need to do is move the appropriate installation files over to it. Find the .zip UnRAID Server installation you downloaded earlier on your PC/Mac system.

Then use the 1st party extractor tool or 3rd party tools such as WinRAR, then extract the contents of the downloaded .zip to the UNRAID USB drive (DO NOT CREATE ANY ADDITIONAL FOLDER STRUCTURE)!

REMEMBER! This will completely format your USB drive and any files that are on that USB will be destroyed. The process upto this point will have turned the USB into a pure boot image tool – the USB will not be usable for traditional storage again unless you completely format it again.

UnRAID on a QNAP NAS – Setting the UnRAID USB to be a bootable Drive for the NAS

Now that you have the files extracted onto the UNRAID USB drive, you need to go into the folder structure and right-click the .bat file ‘make_bootable’, then select ‘run as Administrator’. This will open a new cmd window.

In this new CMD window, you simply need to press any button and the bootable batch file will do it’s thing in less than a second. Press any button again to exit the CMD window. Next, we need to amend a folder to ensure the drive is picked up as a bootable drive in the QNAP mobo.

File the folder labelled ‘EFI-‘ and then rename it ‘EFI’. That’s all, there is nothing else left to change.

You can now safely remove the USB using the contextual system options on Windows/Mac systems and then prepare to install the USB inside the QNAP NAS.

UnRAID on a QNAP NAS – Step 7, Connecting the USB, Keyboard and HDMI Monitor

Next, we need to connect the external means to install UnRAID on the QNAP NAS. Unlike when you set up your QNAP NAS for the first time, UnRAID cannot typically be installed via the network like QTS. UnRAID requires you to use a KVM (keyboard, Video Mouse – though you won’t need a mouse!) and go through the installation using a low-res graphical user interface. Now you will ONLY need this setup/items for the installation and initialization of your UnRAID server and after that, you will be able to use the server over the network/internet as normal. You are going to need a basic USB Keyboard (not a Bluetooth or wireless one, as these may need drivers to run and you cannot install drivers at this point) and an HDMI Monitor/TV. You CAN use a mouse, but it is not hugely necessary and 99% of the choices in the setup of UnRAID can/will be via keyboard input. Also, I would also recommend connecting the NAS to the network during setup as this will allow the system to assume certain network values during setup that will save a tonne of time later. Once that is all connected, do NOT turn the NAS on yet – there is one small and slightly time-sensitive thing to do.

UnRAID on a QNAP NAS – Step 8, Accessing the BIOS Menu of your QNAP NAS

Now that your QNAP NAS is all connected and you are ready at your keyboard/Monitor, turn the NAS on and wait till you hear a beep (should take between 5-15secs depending on the QNAP NAS). As soon as your hear that noise (and likely see a flashing character or underscore on the monitor screen), you need to continuously hit the ESC / F12 / F2 and/or DEL keys (not at the same time, just back and forth). One of these will result in the system displaying the blue BIOS menu (it changes between motherboards and QNAP uses a mixture of mobos in their Intel and AMD-powered systems). You need to be quick, as you only have about 3 seconds to do this before the QNAP will automatically boot from the small internal 4GB/5GB flash OS module that boots into QNAP.

UnRAID on a QNAP NAS – Step 9, Booting from the New UnRAID Installer USB

When you are in the bios menu, tap right until you reach the ‘Boot’ menu. From here, you need to change the boot priority order and ensure that the USB Drive is in Boot Priority #1. This is because UnRAID loads and runs from the USB drive. Normally, the QNAP NAS will boot from the internal 4GB/5GB SSD that contains the QNAP QTS/QuTS OS by default. Note – if in future you want to reverse the UnRAID process back to QNAP QTS/QuTS, just change the boot priority #1 back to the QNAP OS SSD/Flash drive. When you are done, head into the ‘Exit’ tab using right and select save and exit. This should result in the system rebooting and you will be greeted with the UnRAID initialization page.

 

UnRAID on a QNAP NAS – Step 7, Accessing the HDMI Port and Keyboard Control

Next, you need to start getting the system ready for Initialization and Setup. I would strongly recommend running the first-time installation via a direct interface with the QNAP NAS over KVM locally connected. You will need to connect an HDMI Monitor/TV/Capture Card to the HDMI port of the NAS, a Keyboard (and/or mouse) to an available USB port) and then connect the power/network connections to the NAS and boot the device up.

After this method of connection (as it allows you to check everything is working), you can switch back to accessing the system over the network in future.

You have two options with how to access the configuration and controls.

You can use the HDMI+Keyboard if you choose for console/command level access. Alternatively (much more recommended), use a program such as Advanced IP Scanner, which is free and VERY useful anyway, or even network command prompt) to scan your local area network and find where the QNAP with UnRAID is located (i.e it’s IP).

This IP (eg 192.168.1.113) is what you put into the URL bar of your web browser and it will load into the login GUI for UnRAID. From here you will need to use the username ‘root’ in combination with the password that you created during initialization.

And that is about it. You now have UnRAID installed as the default OS of your QNAP NAS. Now, it is worth remembering that UnRAID does require the use of a licence key in order to use all of the storage features. The type of licence you will need will be largely based on the scale of your storage (in terms of # of drives). However, you CAN go ahead and register for a free 30 day trial of UnRAID from within the GUI and get started.

From here you can do anything and everything that his highly regarded and exceptionally low resource-consuming server software offers. Head into the Storage area and start creating pools, as well as areas for caching and lots more features.

UnRAID was recently updated to ver.6.10.3 in a stable release of the massively portable format The first thing you are going to need to do when setting up your UnRAID > QNAP NAS server is set up your storage. Do this by heading into the storage tab and following the handy steps on the screen. After that, you can pretty much do anything on your new lightweight NAS server!


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The lincplus LincStation N1 NAS Review – A REAL Turnkey UnRAID Flash Server?

Par : Rob Andrews
16 octobre 2023 à 16:00

The Lincplus Lincstation N1 NAS Review

The growing feasibility of flash-optimized servers for home and small business users in the last 12 to 18 months has been genuinely staggering! Seemingly overnight, the viability of network-attached storage devices exclusively dedicated to using SSDs for their primary storage has not only become exceedingly desirable but also accessible! Maybe it’s the continuing evolution of modern computer architecture that helps harness the higher performance SSDs are capable of? Perhaps it’s the continuing decrease in the price of SSDs that, although still not comparable to that of slower hard drives in terms of capacity and price per TB, has led to the increased popularity of SSD mass systems. For whatever reason, 2023 (and indeed 2024 if new product news continues the way it has) is becoming a dominant year for hardware solutions that have migrated away from slower mechanical drives and towards fully optimized SSD deployment. Into this exciting arena, we find the Lincplus Lincstation N1, an UnRAID license-bundled turnkey 6-Bay SSD NAS that is about the size of a paperback book. First formally revealed to the public at IFA 2023 in Berlin and soon to arrive on Indiegogo at quite competitive pricing, this new SSD-focused 6-bay NAS is not only challenging the typical price point of home and prosumer NAS solutions but is also debating whether HDD-focused NAS servers have outstayed their welcome. I was fortunate enough to be sent a first-generation Lincstation N1 for review, and today we want to dig in and find out if this small system is big enough to make a dent in the established world of network-attached storage.

Hardware Specifications in brief:

  • LincPlus LincStation N1
  • Coming to IndieGoGo Soon, $279 Launch Price
  • Silent 6-Bay M.2 NVMe NAS Drive
  • UnRAID Standard License Included
  • 4x M.2 NVMe SSD Bays
  • 2x SATA 2.5″ Hot Swap Bays
  • INTEL CELERON N5105 2.0-2.9Ghz
  • 4-CORE/4-THREAD 64BIT x86 CPU
  • 16GB DDR4 MEMORY
  • 1x RJ45 2.5GbE
  • HDMI 2.0b 4K 60FPS
  • 2x USB 3.2 GEN 1 (10G)
  • 1x USB-C Connection
  • Fanless Design
  • 60W External PSU

The Lincplus Lincstation N1 NAS Review – Quick Conclusion

The Lincplus N1 NAS, priced at $279, offers impressive hardware capabilities, especially when considering its silent operation, bundled UnRAID software, and turnkey deployment. Although certain concessions, like the absence of ECC memory and bandwidth limitations on m.2 NVMe slots, were made to hit this price point, the system presents great value. UnRAID, while user-friendly, has a learning curve, and some of its default settings could better match this SSD-centric system. However, the N1 serves as an attractive alternative to full DIY setups, bridging the gap between custom-built and ready-to-use solutions.

SOFTWARE - 9/10
HARDWARE - 8/10
PERFORMANCE - 7/10
PRICE - 10/10
VALUE - 10/10


8.8
PROS
👍🏻Very Affordable at $279 (IndieGogo Price)
👍🏻Exceptional Value
👍🏻Genuinely Silent Operation
👍🏻16GB Memory is GREAT
👍🏻Includes UnRAID License
👍🏻100% Turnkey and 1st Time Boot Setup
👍🏻Plenty of Passive Cooling
👍🏻Very Low Power Consumption
👍🏻Attractive Design
👍🏻Exceptionally Portable
👍🏻Very competitive First NAS
👍🏻WiFi 6 and Bluetooth Support
👍🏻No Barriers in UnRAID + ZFS Support
CONS
👎🏻UnRAID is not Tweaked for this SSD Focused System
👎🏻1x 2.5GbE feels supremely limiting
👎🏻PCIe limits impact the system...
👎🏻...Which are understandable, but annoying

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The Lincplus Lincstation N1 NAS Review – Packaging

The presentation of the Lincstation N1 is quite petite and modest when compared to a number of other six-bay solutions in the market. Arriving in a small black carton with only the brand’s logo and model ID denoting the content. Given that this product is going to be rolling out on Indiegogo relatively soon, I was somewhat surprised by the level of completion here on the retail kit.

Quite neatly presented, though light on actual contents, the kit includes an external 60-watt power supplier, first-time setup instructions, and the N1 NAS device itself. That’s really it; the device doesn’t arrive pre-populated (what exactly did you expect for $279?) and doesn’t even include an ethernet cable. Yes, in an age of awareness of e-waste, I can see the logic behind not including an ethernet cable, but even just to flesh out the retail kit, this would have been a good addition.

The PSU is of pretty high quality, and instead of the typical elongated brick, the system comes with a much more compact square block. This choice makes sense for the external PSU, not just considering the modest Celeron processor and sleek chassis, but also because internal PSUs often generate a bit more heat. An SSD-focused NAS device like this one needs to be highly efficient in heat dissipation.

The retail carton presentation for a device still making its way through crowdfunding is quite impressive. It’s evident that style and first impressions are pivotal for the target demographic of the N1. Now, let’s delve into the physical design of this flash NAS that’s compact enough to nearly fit in your pocket.

The Lincplus Lincstation N1 NAS Review – Design

The external chassis of the Lincstation N1 is only slightly larger than a paperback book and merely an inch bigger than a traditional 3.5-inch hard drive. Much of this compactness is due to the device’s emphasis on the smaller solid-state drive storage media rather than the bulkier hard drives. Yet, the fact that this device houses four M.2 NVMe slots and two 2.5-inch SATA slots while maintaining such a petite frame is remarkably impressive. Additionally, the system operates almost silently. Those seeking a media center or a close proximity server and are sensitive to noise will likely be very pleased. The chassis design is decidedly modern, yet it somewhat evokes the nostalgia of an old VHS player, albeit in a much smaller form.

Although the N1 boasts a compact chassis, when placed next to a standard M.2 NVMe SSD for comparison, it’s evident there’s substantial enclosure protecting the storage. A significant portion of this is dedicated to heat dissipation when the drives are active. While the performance and speeds of these SSDs might be limited to minimize heat generation, efficient heat dispersal remains a crucial focus. This is achieved through strategically placed panels for heat dissipation, precise thermal padding placement, and a vented design around all four edges.

The 2.5-inch SATA bays are concealed behind a flip-down cover panel, revealing two individual slots. These SATA bays can accommodate either SATA SSDs or budget-friendly SATA laptop hard drives. This flexibility allows users to potentially set up a hybrid storage system, using the M.2 NVMe drives for primary or frequently accessed storage, while retaining the option to install up to 5TB laptop hard drives in the available bays for auxiliary storage. What’s more, the system comes pre-installed with UnRAID and includes an UnRAID license, offering a ready-to-use solution straight from the packaging. This ensures that none of the storage drives are preoccupied by the operating system. Instead, the system houses an internal USB with the UnRAID boot drive, which then loads into the system memory to run the software. This design ensures that the SATA bays can either serve as rapid access storage or compact archival storage using the laptop hard drives. It’s a novel approach to two-tier storage, deliberately omitting 3.5-inch hard drives in preference for more compact, quieter, and energy-efficient alternatives.

Between each of the 2.5-inch SATA bays lies a USB-C port, suitable for additional storage or compatible USB peripherals. The system also showcases six distinct indicators for each of the storage drives, network activity, and general system power status. When the protective flip cover is securely closed, it produces a striking rainbow LED sequence during system boot-up and a subtle blue light strip reflecting off the base while in use, adding a touch of aesthetics to its functionality.

Whether by accident or design, the Lincplus N1 exudes a modern and distinctive visual charm when powered on. Few NAS devices on the market can genuinely be labeled as visually pleasing, with most leaning towards functional pragmatism over finesse. However, in the case of the Lincplus N1, it appears they’ve struck a fine balance, crafting a NAS system that would aesthetically complement any desktop setting.

Turning the device upside-down reveals two panels on its base, housing all four M.2 NVMe slots. As with most M.2 SSD bays in other NAS systems, these aren’t designed for hot swapping. Yet, there’s flexibility in storage deployment: you don’t have to fill all the slots from day one. Starting with just a single drive is an option, allowing for gradual storage expansion over time. This becomes even more advantageous when considering the UnRAID’s parity mechanics and its flexibility to incorporate various drives as and when required.

Accessing the bays is a breeze. The cover plate can be effortlessly removed without needing a screwdriver, courtesy of a user-friendly cover panel button. Each of the M.2 bays is equipped with an ejection button, facilitating easy installation or removal of SSDs. Pre-installed thermal pads are present for each bay, but there’s more to their inclusion than just ticking a box. The N1 ingeniously uses the individual M.2 NVMe bay covers as heat sinks. Heat from the SSDs is transferred through the thermal pads to these covers, and subsequently into the surrounding air. It’s worth noting that SSDs in this system can’t use third-party or proprietary heat sinks. Additionally, double-sided SSDs may fit, but rather snugly. Given that the device is equipped with an 8th generation, Gen 3.0 Celeron processor, the peak speeds achievable by these drives might be constrained by the system’s architecture. Thus, the actual heat these SSDs produce might not be as high as one would anticipate. Nonetheless, the design integrates an innovative approach to heat dissipation for each SSD, merging it seamlessly into the overall chassis design.

The design of the N1 NAS genuinely appeals to me. While alternative flash-centric desktop devices, such as the Asustor FS6706 Flashstor 6, focus strictly on M.2 NVMe, the N1 incorporates two distinct storage architectures, harmonizing capacity with performance. Surprisingly, it manages to do this while maintaining an even smaller physical footprint in comparison. However, every noteworthy input necessitates a substantial output. And that brings us to the N1’s port and connectivity options, an aspect that left me slightly underwhelmed.

The Lincplus Lincstation N1 NAS Review – Ports and Connections

Considering the N1’s reasonable price point, it’s understandable that certain features might not meet high expectations. While its ports and connectivity align with other 2023 turnkey NAS solutions of this size, they are somewhat lacking, especially when you’re aiming to maximize the potential of all those SSDs.

Network connectivity is a mixed bag. On the bright side, the N1 offers 2.5-gigabit ethernet, which has increasingly become the standard for fully featured prosumer and home solutions. This translates to potential external connectivity speeds of up to 279 megabytes per second, assuming you’re using a client device compatible with 2.5-gigabit ethernet. Moreover, Wi-Fi 6 support on the N1 ensures potential wireless connectivity of up to 1.2 gigabits with compatible wireless client devices in relatively close range. However, the presence of only a single network interface port means enhanced features such as link aggregation, SMB multi-channel, or even network failover are conspicuously absent. There’s also no option to incorporate a PCIe network adapter for superior connectivity like 10-gigabit ethernet. While there are USB network adapters on the market and the N1 does offer USB connectivity, it’s slightly disappointing to find such limited network connectivity on a device that otherwise promises substantial internal performance potential.

The device boasts three distinct USB ports, all adhering to the USB 3.2 Gen 2 specification, ensuring 10-gigabit performance. While drivers for USB to 2.5G network adapters are somewhat rare, they do exist. This suggests that, with the appropriate software and patches, it’s possible to add an additional network port over USB. Additionally, these USB ports can be used for storage expansion, peripheral support, and even Docker and virtual machine allocation when necessary. However, while these features are useful, they’re fairly standard and don’t particularly stand out.

The N1 also comes equipped with a 4K HDMI output that supports 60 frames per second. While Unraid’s direct HDMI output initially appears limited, there are numerous applications available via container and virtual machine tools that can make better use of this HDMI output. If you’re considering installing third-party operating systems on the N1, the inclusion of HDMI and USB peripheral support will undoubtedly be invaluable.

That wraps up the external connectivity. I didn’t emphasize network performance since a solitary 2.5-gigabit Ethernet port, paired with the potential bandwidth from six SSDs, suggests the network port will quickly become oversaturated. While it might seem I’m being overly critical of the N1’s ports and connectivity, it’s important to recognize that at $279, you’re acquiring a turnkey, ready-to-use NAS device with decent standard connections. They aren’t subpar by any means; they just align with what’s expected for late 2023 NAS hardware at this scale. The singular network interface port, combined with limited options for network adapter upgrades, could restrict the potential of your SSD media when accessed externally. Now, let’s delve into the internal hardware and uncover what’s offered at such a competitive price point.

The Lincplus Lincstation N1 NAS Review – Internal Hardware

Earlier, I emphasized that a system focusing on SSD storage, while preserving a compact chassis, needs meticulous internal construction. The Lincstation N1 exemplifies this notion with its impeccably organized internal components. The system lacks an internal fan and relies on strategic heat dissipation and paneling to manage its operating temperatures. Given its limited height, the design options are somewhat constrained, but they’ve made the most of the available space. The majority of the external casing is held together by two rear-mounted screws and a series of interlocking panels. When you remove the main base panel, a T-shaped internal motherboard is revealed.

A strategically placed thermal pad can be found on the underside of this panel, aimed at managing heat from the PSU’s underside. However, this doesn’t represent the primary method the system uses to dissipate heat from the CPU. By removing several screws that secure the motherboard to the other half of the N1’s casing, we get a glimpse of the CPU and memory’s location. Generous amounts of thermal paste have been pre-applied to the N5105 CPU, ensuring it adheres securely to the metal side of the casing.

Upon removing several screws that secure the motherboard to the other half of the N1 casing, the location of the CPU and memory becomes evident. The N5105 CPU housed in this device comes with generous amounts of thermal paste pre-applied, ensuring its tight attachment to the metal side of the casing.

This CPU gained significant traction in 2023, featuring in numerous NAS devices from prominent brands like QNAP and Asustor. It strikes an impressive balance between performance and energy efficiency. This processor excels in prosumer Docker deployments, light virtual machine usage, Plex media server applications (including transcoding and conversion support, courtesy of its integrated graphics), and generally serves as a harmonious midpoint for users who want a blend of cost-efficiency and performance in their NAS hardware.

The N5105 is a quad-core, 4-thread, x86 Celeron CPU – one of the last of its kind before Intel’s anticipated switch to the N100 series. With a 10W TDP and its established role in the NAS market, it’s a commendable choice for a NAS priced at $279. However, its capabilities have their boundaries. Being a PCIe Gen3 processor, it only provides eight available PCI lanes to distribute among the system’s hardware. As a result, the m.2 NVMe slots might not reach their full potential.

Delving deeper into the device’s backend hardware configuration, we discovered the M2 NVMe slots have been relegated to PCIe Gen 3×1. This might be due to bandwidth constraints or an attempt to regulate system temperatures and prevent the drives from overheating. Regardless of the reasoning, the compact design, coupled with this processor’s constraints, positions the Lincplus Lincstation N1 as a flash system with a relatively restrained potential, especially when compared to more business-oriented flash NAS devices.

On a brighter note, Lincplus truly outdid themselves with the memory selection for the N1. With the CPU in question, most competing NAS brands would have settled for 4 GB or 8 GB of memory. However, the N1 arrives boasting a remarkable 16 GB of memory right out of the box—the maximum this CPU can support. Instead of opting for a removable SODIMM slot that would permit users to upgrade memory, Lincplus made the bold move to solder the entire 16GB of DDR4 memory directly onto the motherboard’s underside. Generally, this kind of decision would draw criticism as it often restricts users in terms of memory expansion or compels them to shell out more for pre-installed memory they might not initially require. But with the N1, this isn’t a concern at all. They’re offering the highest memory amount this CPU can handle while keeping the device’s price impressively low. It’s evident that Lincplus prioritized their users when deciding on the memory allocation for this system.

Then there’s the discreet wireless controller. Embedded within the motherboard is a compact Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.2 wireless adapter, with two antenna nodes extending towards the front of the chassis. Surprisingly, NAS devices with internal wireless adapters are a rarity. Depending on the specific containers one chooses to operate in UnRAID, or if there’s a preference to replace the OS with Proxmox to simultaneously run an OpenWRT and NAS OS setup, the possibilities for customization are vast. For those less tech-savvy, they still end up with a NAS boasting commendable connectivity options. If there’s any critique to offer, it would be the absence of external antennas or an option for the same, as it might restrict the wireless range and affect wireless data access on the UnRAID array.

Tucked neatly beneath the primary T-shaped motherboard, there lies an angular USB drive which fits seamlessly into a designated port at the base of the unit. Serving as the heart of the system’s operational capabilities, this USB drive contains the UnRAID NAS software. Upon system boot-up, it seamlessly loads the OS into memory. To highlight its significance, the inclusion of an UnRAID license with this system, especially given its price point, is genuinely commendable. The flexibility of the system design is evident here, as this USB can easily be removed and substituted with a similarly-sized alternative USB, should users wish to introduce different operating systems or hypervisor tools to run multiple OS environments.

All things considered, when reflecting on the price and the audacious endeavor of packing such hardware into a compact design, it’s challenging to pinpoint substantial flaws in the Lincstation N1’s internal hardware. Admittedly, the CPU isn’t poised to set the business world alight with groundbreaking performance. Moreover, its effect on the m.2 NVMe’s and overall storage performance might leave some wanting. Yet, when contextualizing what this device aims to achieve, coupled with its introductory price and compact size, it’s genuinely impressive. It’s now time to power up the device and delve deeper into the included UnRAID license and software.

The Lincplus Lincstation N1 NAS Review – Software

It’s vital to distinguish between evaluating the software options of the Lincstation N1 and examining the UnRAID NAS software. While the N1 NAS system is a relatively recent entrant, UnRAID by Limetech has been in the game for a significant period, positioning itself as a premier NAS platform in the industry. Unlike the entirely free but more resource-demanding TrueNAS Core or TrueNAS Scale, UnRAID has carved out a niche among server enthusiasts. It’s lauded for its user-friendliness, often considered superior to many alternative platforms, while also striking a commendable balance by granting users control via the command line.

The N1 comes with a standard UnRAID user license packaged in. This means, unlike the DIY solutions where you would have to manually install UnRAID and subsequently purchase a license post-trial period, the N1 simplifies this by arriving pre-configured. It offers everything you’d require to kickstart your UnRAID-driven flash solution right out of the box. There are only a handful of truly turnkey solutions available in the market that incorporate this well-regarded software.

Even though acquiring the license separately isn’t particularly costly, its inclusion in a pre-built, SSD-focused NAS system like the N1 is a rarity. And yes, it might sound repetitive, but all these attributes become even more enticing when you recall that attractive $279 launch price.

The N1 introduces UnRAID in its default state, with no pre-configured storage array. Given that the system is delivered unpopulated, this is an expected setup. However, its efficiency is impressive: once plugged in, the system boots into the OS, and within a mere three minutes, it’s network accessible. While the core of this article focuses on the N1’s hardware, the software – UnRAID – deserves applause for its streamlined access to container deployment in an incredibly user-friendly manner.

Additionally, the platform offers three detailed, instantly accessible views, supplemented with tips and guidance at any point, courtesy of the help button situated in the top right corner. Lincplus has astutely economized by refraining from building their entire OS from scratch. By including this software license, they’ve seemingly collaborated with Limetech, resulting in a more affordable product.

However, the default setup of UnRAID on the N1 does indicate some room for refinement. These are improvements Lincplus could potentially address in future firmware updates rather than being inherent issues with UnRAID. For instance, the default temperature alarms triggered upon the system’s initial power-up need adjustment. Recognizing that UnRAID was originally designed with hard drives in mind, as opposed to the now more prevalent SSDs, the default temperature warnings and alerts for storage media seem tailored for hard drives. The operational temperatures between hard drives and SSDs differ considerably, with mechanical drives typically operating at cooler temperatures. While the N1 is efficiently designed, it doesn’t come without its quirks. Notably, it issues loud alerts and warnings for NVME SSDs reaching just the upper 40° range.

This can be jarring, especially considering that such a temperature is fairly standard for m.2 NVMe drives during write operations. Given the N1’s compact design and the absence of an active cooling fan, the system can be particularly alert-happy. This becomes evident during tasks like disk parity checks or initial array setups, where the system inundates the user with myriad notifications. For those well-acquainted with storage, this might be a minor quibble. However, newcomers to the system, unfamiliar with the typical operational temperatures of these storage devices, could find these alerts disconcerting right from the start.

In terms of software features, UnRAID’s container usage might not appeal to every user. Traditionalists might not be fans of the one-click install approach that UnRAID adopts for container installations, opting instead for a more hands-on, customized setup. However, the platform offers flexibility, allowing users to choose their preferred method. Furthermore, it provides access to a vast repository of pre-configured containers, utilities, and software drivers tailored for custom UnRAID servers. It would be advantageous for Lincplus and the N1 to offer some of these pre-configured container packs as default installations. Given that each system comes with its unique license and software hosted on an internal USB drive, pre-installing select utility packs from the app repository seems like a feasible and beneficial enhancement.

Click to view slideshow.

The performance exhibited by the N1, considering its hardware specifications, is predictably less striking. The limiting factor is the downgrade of the PCI-e slots to gen 3 x 1, which allows for a maximum potential of only 1 GB performance for each drive. While the integration of SSD caching and the newly introduced ZFS pool support in UnRAID can enable users to extract performance benefits when multiple drives are accessed simultaneously, UnRAID’s native parity system doesn’t inherently bolster performance with the utilization of multiple drives. This is due to its parity calculations that don’t leverage all the drives concurrently.

Given that not every user will employ grouped or clustered pools of drives, I wanted to assess the performance of individual m.2 NVMe slots. The read performance of a solitary m.2 NVMe SSD for a 1 Gigabyte data packet is presented below:

Read Performance (without cache/buffer):

  • Test 1: 760 MB in 1s => 759 MB/s
  • Test 2: 1.1 GB in 1.39928s => 767 MB/s
  • Test 3: 771 MB in 1s => 770 MB/s
  • Test 4: 1.1 GB in 1.39886s => 768 MB/s
  • Test 5: 746 MB in 1s => 745 MB/s
  • Test 6: 1.1 GB in 1.44219s => 745 MB/s
  • Test 7: 732 MB in 1s => 732 MB/s
  • Test 8: 1.1 GB in 1.46408s => 733 MB/s
  • Test 9: 744 MB in 1s => 744 MB/s
  • Test 10: 1.1 GB in 1.44947s => 741 MB/s
  • Test 11: 749 MB in 1s => 748 MB/s
  • Test 12: 1.1 GB in 1.42084s => 756 MB/s
  • Test 13: 750 MB in 1s => 749 MB/s
  • Test 14: 1.1 GB in 1.43599s => 748 MB/s
  • Test 15: 742 MB in 1s => 742 MB/s
  • Test 16: 1.1 GB in 1.45395s => 738 MB/s
  • Test 17: 738 MB in 1s => 738 MB/s
  • Test 18: 1.1 GB in 1.45769s => 737 MB/s
  • Test 19: 733 MB in 1s => 733 MB/s
  • Test 20: 1.1 GB in 1.44167s => 745 MB/s

Contrastingly, here’s the 1GB write performance:

Write Performance (without cache/buffer):

  • Test 1: 965 MB in 2s => 482 MB/s
  • Test 2: 1.1 GB in 2.22212s => 483 MB/s
  • Test 3: 1.1 GB in 2s => 526 MB/s
  • Test 4: 1.1 GB in 2.03324s => 528 MB/s
  • Test 5: 1.1 GB in 2s => 533 MB/s
  • Test 6: 1.1 GB in 2.01558s => 533 MB/s
  • Test 7: 580 MB in 1s => 579 MB/s
  • Test 8: 1.1 GB in 1.77903s => 604 MB/s
  • Test 9: 990 MB in 2s => 495 MB/s
  • Test 10: 1.1 GB in 2.1279s => 505 MB/s
  • Test 11: 626 MB in 1s => 625 MB/s
  • Test 12: 1.1 GB in 1.90571s => 563 MB/s
  • Test 13: 980 MB in 2s => 490 MB/s
  • Test 14: 1.1 GB in 2.19685s => 489 MB/s
  • Test 15: 1.0 GB in 2s => 507 MB/s
  • Test 16: 1.1 GB in 2.08995s => 514 MB/s
  • Test 17: 628 MB in 1s => 628 MB/s
  • Test 18: 1.1 GB in 1.93261s => 556 MB/s
  • Test 19: 992 MB in 2s => 496 MB/s
  • Test 20: 1.1 GB in 2.1727s => 494 MB/s

The results depict modest performance metrics, particularly when caching or buffering is discounted. However, they still outperform SATA SSDs and are markedly superior to conventional hard drives. Even greater performance could be achievable with the incorporation of ZFS storage pools. Yet, these metrics primarily highlight the throughput enabled by those individual drives on the gen 3 x 1 architecture. In terms of software, the UnRAID bundled with the system remains commendable. Even though Lincplus cannot be credited for UnRAID’s development, kudos to them for bundling it with the N1.

The Lincplus Lincstation N1 NAS Review – Conclusion & Verdict

When evaluating the Lincplus N1 NAS, context is paramount. Keeping in mind its price point and the brand’s objectives, as well as understanding how an SSD-centric system can fit into this mold, you’ll likely be thoroughly pleased with this NAS. For a mere $279, it offers an unmatched combination of hardware capabilities. The silent operation, bundled UnRAID software, two-tier storage, and genuine turnkey out-of-the-box deployment culminate into a device brimming with potential. It caters to both newcomers to private server ownership and seasoned home lab enthusiasts. Certain concessions were inevitable to attain this attractive price. Seasoned flash industry professionals might bemoan the absence of ECC memory, the use of a consumer-grade CPU, and limitations placed on the bandwidth and speeds for the m.2 NVMe slots. Even though the software is genuinely turnkey and the system is ready to run immediately after unboxing, UnRAID does come with its learning curve. It might be more user-friendly compared to other container-based GUIs, but there’s still a learning curve. Additionally, the default UnRAID settings could be better tailored to this SSD-driven system. Hopefully, future firmware updates might address this. Such discrepancies are expected when the hardware is developed by one entity and the software by another. This dichotomy can lead to inconsistencies, such as those seen in drive monitoring results, raising questions about the demarcation of responsibility between the two entities. However, overlooking these minor points, the N1 stands out as a commendable alternative to a full DIY approach. It not only saves money and time but also offers a ready-to-use, compact solution. Provided you acknowledge and accept the inherent compromises, the N1 emerges as a notable midpoint in the burgeoning server market, bridging the gap between custom-built and all-inclusive turnkey solutions.

PROS of the Lincstation Lincplus N1 NAS

Very Affordable at $279 (IndieGogo Price)
Exceptional Value
Genuinely Silent Operation
16GB Memory is GREAT
Includes UnRAID License
100% Turnkey and 1st Time Boot Setup
Plenty of Passive Cooling
Very Low Power Consumption
Attractive Design
Exceptionally Portable
Very competitive First NAS
WiFi 6 and Bluetooth Support
No Barriers in UnRAID + ZFS Support

CONS of the Lincstation Lincplus N1 NAS

UnRAID is not Tweaked for this SSD Focused System
1x 2.5GbE feels supremely limiting
PCIe limits impact the system…
…Which are understandable, but annoying

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Synology DS423+ NAS – Should You Buy?

Par : Rob Andrews
11 octobre 2023 à 18:00

Synology DS423+ NAS Drive – Should You Buy It?

Should the DS423+ NAS from Synology be your next big tech purchase? With such a wide range of private server solutions on the market, it’s never been a better time to be a NAS buyer, looking to move your data away from a public cloud provider, or even to run them side-by-side as a 2-tier backup solution for your home or business needs! Synology has a tremendously diverse range of NAS solutions, but with the previous generation(s) of solutions in their portfolio now appearing on offer, as well as available at discount at 2nd hand eTailers – does the DS423+ deserve your data? We already made a massive review on the Synology DS423+ NAS HERE, but today I want to hit the Pros and Cons head-on and help you decide much quicker on whether this NAS is for you.

HARDWARE HIGHLIGHTS
CPU: Intel Celeron J4125, 4-Core, 2.0-2.7Ghz
Memory: 2-6GB DDR4 non-ECC Memory
SATA Bays: 4x SATA
M.2 NVMe Bays: 2x PCIe Gen 2 (Caching or Storage Pools_
Network Ports: 2x 1GbE
PCIe Upgrade: No
Software Platform: Synology DSM 7 (Currently Version DSM 7.1/7.2)
Warranty: 3 Years, Extendable to 5yr

5 Reasons the Synology DS423+ is a Good NAS for You

So, first up, let’s discuss the high points! Here are the five reasons why the Synology DS423+ NAS drive deserves your money and your data!

Note – if you are in a hurry, you can watch my ‘Synology DS423+ – Before You Buy’ video below:


#1 – M.2 NVMe SSD Storage Pool Support

Until the end of 2022 and start of 2023, Synology was pretty rigid on how the M.2 NVMe SSD bays of their NAS could be used. Despite them being one of the first (if not THE first brand) to introduce a turnkey desktop solution with M.2 NVMe SSD bays in conjunction with traditional SATA bays at the SOHO/SMB scale, they limited their use for ONLY caching. Caching does have great benefits, with write caching improving the speed and response from uploading/sent data to the NAS and read caching improving the access and response for connected users to frequently accessed data (arguably mainly I/O and small-scale data that is high in count, but low in volume) – but when users have spent a good chunk of money on M.2 NVMe SSD storage, which is SUBSTANTIALLY faster than traditional HDDs, it’s a real pain for some when you cannot use them for traditional storage pools and volumes! So therefore, it was a welcome surprise that Synology started easing up on this policy in their 2022/2023 releases to allow these bays to be used for storage pools and I am VERY pleased to say that the DS423+ NAS supports this too! Yes, this IS a feature that is available on other NAS systems in their portfolio now AND is it s feature that brands such as QNAP, Asustor and Terramaster have offered for 2-3 years, but it is still great to see it on the DS423+ NAS.

This is particularly surprising, given that the Synology DS423+ is very much a non-enterprise and non-business-focused NAS system. Additionally, the DS423+ NAS bears huge comparison with the DS920+ released in 2020, a HUGELY popular NAS system, which has NOT had M.2 NVMe SSD storage pool services added retroactively – so many users (myself included) would have jsut ASSUMED that the DS423+ would not support this feature. It IS worth highlighting though that the DS423+ CPU uses Gen 2 lanes, only allows pools on Synology NVMe SSDs (SNV3400 / SNV3410), cannot currently use the M.2s for booting DSM and does not have any external connectivity that allows the performance benefits of M.2 NVMes to be realised externally. Still, if you are looking for higher speed storage areas for a VM, Surveillance alerts/recordings, high frequency data bases or just to run the Synology apps themselves in conjunction with data on the slower HDD array, you WILL see benefits!

#2 – Great Performance and Support of Plex, Emby and Jellyfin Media Server

Despite the Synology hardware portfolio in the last year or so slowing moving towards more ‘file server’ and ‘high transfer speed’ processors, the Synology DS423+ NAS is the first release diskstation release from the brand in almost 2 years to arrive with an Intel Integrated graphics processor! Now, WHY is that a big deal for Plex, Emby and Jellyfin media servers? Don’t all the Synology NAS systems play 1080p and 4K media? Well, yes they do! But there is a certain contingent % of users who need their multimedia servers to convert (AKA transcode / encode/decode) their multimedia collection on the fly. In brief, must users have multimedia NAS needs that fall into the following categories:

  • They have tonnes of media that they want to ONLY access locally and on powerful media devices that support ALL File formats and/or have client side hardware transcoding supported
  • They have tonnes fo media that they ONLY want to access remotely, but have strong internet connections, the client Hardware has the file format/licence support and/or client-side transcoding support (NVidia Shield, Xbox with the HEVC licence enabled)
  • They have tonnes of media they want to access locally AND remotely, but some of it needs to be accessed by low-power/resolution devices and/or are on limited internet connections
  • They have tonnes of media they want to access locally AND remotely, but the client devices do not support the media formats (e.g. HEVC, M4A, FLAC, etc) and/or do not have client-side hardware transcoding or local license supported (eg Amazon FireTV or Playstation and the hole HEVC limitation in some cases)

For those last two camps, a NAS that features a CPU with integrated graphics is going to be ENOURMOUSLY desireable – which is something I am pleased to say the Synology DS423+ NAS has!

Although the Synology DS423+ NAS is relatively new, I have had extensive experience with the hardware architecture of the DS423+ as it is highly comparable with the DS920+ , DS720+ and even DS420+ that came before it and I can confirm that it will DEFINITELY run Plex, Emby and Jellyfin very well indeed. Both Plex and Emby are available to download from the Synology app center directly (whilst Jellyfin can be installed on a Synology NAS via the unofficial App store – tutorial here) and all three will run very well for home users on the DS423+. There is a 4K test article on Plex on the DS423+ NAS here (as well as the comparison between Jellyfin and Plex + Emby and Plex below).

#3 – Wide Hard Drive and SSD Compatibility

A arguably smaller point here and one that has increased in it’s important lately! Unlike a number of higher profile (i.e more powerful and expensive) NAS systems in the Synology NAS portfolio that have much stricter supported official HDD and SSD compatibility/support, the Synology DS423+ supports pretty much everything you would expect! As long as it is SATA and 2.5/3.5″ – they will almost certainly appear on the Synology compatibility lists. There is still talk of Synology releasing a standard class range of HDDs (to accompany their existing enterprise HDDs and SSD media), but if/when they do, they will likely always allow competitor 3rd party HDDs in the WD Red and Seagate Ironwolf NAS drive series to be used on value series NAS like the DS423+. They DO only support upto 18TB at the time of writing across all supported HDD brands, likely down to Synology’s own drives currently capping at 18TB, but most buyers of the Synology Diskstation PlusNAS systems like this one were far less likely to install HDDs of this scale!

All that said, do keep in mind that the Hard Drives that you choose to use will make an impact on noise. Any NAS HDDs (WD Red or Seagate Ironwolf) of 8TB or lower capacity will be lovely and quiet (only really making noticeable noise in periods of high access frequency), but larger capacity HDDs or enterprise class/industrial built Hard Disks will make more ambient noise (vibration hum, clicks of the internal arm/actuator and spinning disk platters) and these will be easily noisier than the DS423+ noise when in operation.

#4 – Great Chassis Design, Low Noise & Low Impact

As you might expect, the DS423+ Diskstation casing is identical to that of the DS920+ and DS918+ that came before it. This is a particularly well-designed device, both in terms of aesthetic design AND it’s efficient system operation 24×7, with tonnes of ventilation throughout and very structured component distribution. Also, the chassis is a largely plastic external casing in matt black, that contains a much smaller structure on aluminium internally. The result is a NAS that is pretty low noise when in operation (unless you use HDDs larger than around 10TB and/or enterprise-grade 7200RPM disks). That said, one consistent vibe you get in the design of the DS423+ is that direct/physical interaction with the device is kept to a minimum, preferring almost entirely network/internet-based interactivity. Not a huge surprise for a ‘NAS’ of course, but there are a handful of physical attributes that are intentionally absent here. The front of the chassis lacks any kind of LCD display, instead favouring LED indicators. The bulk of the front panel is occupied by the main storage bays and these have alining of ventilation all around them to act as passive airflow.

Passive airflow is definitely a big focus on the design of this chassis, with almost every side of the case featuring ventilation of one sort of around, with the Synology logo being vented. As this system will be in operation 24×7, it is heavily reliant on the rear fans to push air effectively through the system and over the assortment of internal heatsinks as effectively as possible and this chassis does that very well indeed. The Diskstation series at the 2/4 Bay level has always done a great job of melding modern design with necessary system temperature management and the DS423+ is no exception.

#5 – Supports the Whole DSM 7 Catalogue of Applications and runs them well on 2GB Memory

At Launch, the DS423+ NAS arrives with the latest version of Synology software, DSM 7.1. However, this does not stop evolving as soon as you get your Synology NAS. DSM has been in continues to be the dominant force in the world of NAS software, providing a massive arrangement of services, applications (first and third-party supported) and a huge number of client applications for desktop, mobile, Windows, macOS and Linux (as well as a bunch of other more home-based tools). These allow management and access to the data on the DS423+ in very tailored ways, as well as the web browser-based access that has the appearance, intuitive design and responsiveness of a local operating system. The DSM interface can be accessed by hundreds of users at the same time (with each user having tailored access, rights and privileges). DSM is available with ALL Synology NAS and the depth and abilities of DSM on any NAS are dependent on the hardware architecture of the NAS itself. In the case of the Synology DS423+, it supports EVERYTHING that is offered by Synology’s platform. DSM is currently in version 7.1, but it looks like we will be seeing full release of DSM 7.2 at the end of 2022 or the start of 2023, which will be adding WORM (write Once Read Many) support, Volume scale encryption and numerous improvements to individual applications. If you want to learn about it, you can read the DSM 7 Full Review HERE.

As mentioned, the DS423+ supports pretty much the entirety of the DSM 7.1 applications and services (DSM 7 and DSM 6.2 are still in circulation and still receive regular service and security updates, though the DS423+ will arrive with DSM 7.1 by default and cannot be rolled back). If you are an existing user of SaaS and PaaS (Software as a service and Platform as a service) from the likes of Google Workspace and Office 365, knowing that you can synchronize these systems or choose to export away from them onto the Synology services is going to be very appealing. Then there is the increasing development of their 1st party cloud platform, Synology C2, which is slowly integrating into all the applications that are available on your bare metal NAS (allowing you to add a cloud layer of backup, synchronization and access to your data storage setup). This is a subscription platform, which can only be used with your Synology NAS system (as well as connected with some 3rd party SaaS services, but for those that are moving away from Google/Microsoft/AWS for security reasons, but still want a Cloud+Metal storage network in place, C2 covers pretty much everything. Indeed, although below I have highlighted a number of the key/best applications that are included in your DS423+ Service with DSM, most of them can be immediately integrated with Synology C2  (with even more being added in 2023 with DSM 7.2). Key business and consumer applications that are included with your NAS are:

Synology Office – Create documents, spreadsheets, and slides in a multi-user environment. Real-time synchronization and saving make collaboration a breeze.

Synology Chat – Aimed at businesses, Synology Chat is an IM service that transforms the way users collaborate and communicate.

Synology Drive – Host your own private cloud behind the safety of your NAS with 100% data ownership and no subscription fees. Drive has become one of the premier applications of DSM and allows uses to create intelligent shared team folders that support versioning, file streaming+pinning, encryption, Windows AD support (soon) and native file system support with Windows and macOS.

Synology Photos – Manage your photos and videos with deep-learning algorithms that automatically group photos with similar faces, subjects, and places. Designed after the merger of Synology Photo Station and Moments, it also includes tailored folder, sharing and categorization features to help photographers manage their photos and share them with clients for feedback or business development.

Synology Calendar – Stay on track, share calendars, and schedule meetings, while ensuring sensitive information remains safely stored on company premises.

Synology Active Backup for Business (ABB) – Consolidate backup tasks for virtualized environments, physical servers, and personal computers, and rapidly restore files, entire machines, or VMs – license-free. This software also arrives as a specialised Microsoft Office 365 and Google Workspace platform to sync with those platforms and allow a bare metal tier to your cloud office services

Synology Hyper Backup – Backup your NAS safely and efficiently to multiple destinations with deduplication, integrity checks, compression, and versioning.

Synology Surveillance Station – Safeguard your business, home, and other valuable assets with reliable video surveillance tools. With improved AI services being accessible thanks to Synology BC500 and TC500 Cameras arriving in 2023. Additionally, you can connect this platform with Synology’s cloud platform to use ‘C2 Surveillance’ and bolster the odds of recordings being maintained in the event of accidental/malicious damage to your surveillance system.

Synology Virtual Machine Manager (VMM) – An intuitive hypervisor that supports Windows, Linux, and Virtual DSM virtual machines. Its powerful disaster recovery tools help users achieve maximum service uptime.

Synology High Availability – Synology High Availability (SHA) combines two Synology NAS servers into one active-passive high-availability cluster, alleviating service disruptions while mirroring data.

Synology Central Management System (CMS) – Synology CMS allows you to manage multiple Synology NAS servers quickly and conveniently from a single location.

Synology Video Station – Manage all your movies, TV shows, and home videos. Stream them to multiple devices or share them with friends and family.

Synology Audio Station – Manage your music collection, create personal playlists, stream them to your own devices, or share with family or friends.

Synology File Station – Manage your Synology NAS files remotely through web browsers or mobile devices. This tool allows complete file management and contains all the features and services of your own native file management platform (archiving, extracting, Copy, Cut, Paste, Sharing, native file format opening, integration with the rest of the Synology applications, property/metadata access, etc)


5 Reasons the Synology DS423+ Might NOT Be the NAS for You

Nothing is perfect, right? For all of the positives that I have highlighted above, the DS423+ is still not a perfect Synology NAS solution. Here are five reasons why you might want to give the Synology DS423+ NAS drive a miss, opt for a alternative brand or go for a lower priced predecessor.

#1 – 1GbE by Default and No Means to Upgrade

Let’s get the elephant in the room out of the way early doors! Those ethernet ports. The default model of the DS423+ NAS arrives with two-gigabit ethernet ports (the same as the DS920+DS918+ and DS916+ before it), despite almost other commercial NAS brand producing solutions at this consumer-tier/scale arriving with at least 2.5GbE. Now, the adoption of greater than gigabit connectivity in client hardware (laptops, PCs, routers, switches, docking stations, etc) is by no means as ubiquitous as 1GbE (which has been around for decades at this point), BUT it is growing. ISPs are providing fiber internet connections globally that exceed gigabit speeds, along with 2.5GbE and WiFi 6 routers. We are seeing more prosumer switches, routers and PCs with default 2.5Gb network ports (at the same/similar cost as 1GbE), $20 USB-to-2.5G adapters and even the affordability of 10GbE on some client devices has allowed users to gradually scale up their hardware environment. The fact the DS423+ arrives at the tail end of 2023 and does not feature greater than 1GbE ports by default is quite damning. Even if you have no plans for 2.5G right now in your setup and think it something of a fad (favouring 10GbE), in terms of future-proofing and the general standard or networking hardware right now, gigabit ethernet is a surprising weakness here. This weakness in network connectivity is further highlighted when you consider that the winter 2022/2023 released DS923+ and DS723+ both arrive with the option to upgrade them to 10GbE with the E10G22-T1-mini adapter from Synology. Not having support of this adapter on the DS423+ feels like a big step back. Maybe with the Gen 2 CPU bottlenecking the bandwidth of the Gen 3×2 adapter too much – but then that begs the question of using the Gen 2 CPU at all! If Synology would hurry up and embrace 2.5GbE or at least sanction USB-to-2.5GbE adapters (hell – release their own branded one!), this would mitigate this somewhat.

#2 – 2GB Memory is fixed and Can Only be Scaled to 6GB

This is only really going to be an issue for those that plan on ramping up their Synology use in the system’s lifespan, but the fact that the DS423+ NAS only arrives with 2GB default memory is a little underwhelming. Now, before I ‘go off on one’, I once again need to reiterate that my issue with the 2GB memory is not exactly the amount – 2GB of DDR4 memory (at 2666Mhz) will run DSM 7.1/7.2 vert well and in my full review I was able to run pretty much all the applications with this memory, thanks to the system having a very intelligent background caching/flushing system in operation. HOWEVER, the 2GB of default memory is fixed to the main internal controller board. Also in this area is the expandable memory bay. (via a SODIMM DDR4 slot – see dismantled NAS image below) Now, again, this is an area of disagreement! The CPU inside the DS423+ has an official support memory maximum of 8GB of DDR4. However, the fixed 2GB prevents this.

This means that you can only officially upgrade the DS423+ via the single SODIMM slot towards 6GB with a single extra 4GB SODIMM module in the available bay. Aside from 6GB being an odd amount, people are most certainly going to make comparisons with the DS920+ having 4GB on Day 1 and 8GB max. Synology does not allow upgrading that memory beyond 6GB in this configuration (so, you cannot work around the 6GB limit by installing a 8GB in the SODIMM slot and hitting 10GB with 8GB+2GB), stating that using the system in an unsupported fashion can lead to weakened/invalidated support by the brand when you need it (as you are using the device in a configuration they did not verify and/or cannot replicate).  This also includes using 3rd party memory, instead of their own branded modules I can partially see their point – they want to run a smooth, reliable and stable platform. Just a shame that Synology Memory modules are a noticeable degree more expensive than alternatives from Crucial and Kingston. Next, we need to discuss the CPU inside the DS423+ NAS – something of a hot point for some.

#3 – The Synology DS423+ Uses a 2019/2020 Generation Intel Celeron

There are two very distinct ways to view the Intel Celeron J4125 CPU inside the DS423+. On the positive side, its a new Synology NAS with a very competent Intel CPU inside, quad-core architecture at 2.0-2.7Ghz clock speed, integrated graphics for demanding server-side processing like multimedia conversions, VMs, thumbnail management and increasing AI ops in Synology/3rd party applications. This is the first ‘Plus’ series release by Synology (i.e Prosumer/full-featured) to feature an Intel Celeron processor since summer 2020 – with everything else since either being efficient ARM processors or Embedded Ryzens without integrated graphics. This CPU does a great job of running synology DSM and will comfortably run a large range of applications, supported users, backups and surveillance cameras at any given time. Finally, there is the fact that till now, the DS4xx+ range has always been a dual-core processor and always lived noticeably in the shadow of the DS9xx+ system in the brand’s portfolio. So, the DS423+ arriving with that quad core Intel Celeron processor is definitely good news! Much like previous Synology NAS systems, the Intel Celeron CPU is located under a single, large, passive heatsink (no active cooling fan), which also means that ambient system noise from system cooling is reduced too. So, why would there be any reason to be unhappy about the DS423+ and it’s CPU choice?

Well (and this is going to get VERY ‘inside baseball’), those that have been following Synology these last few years will know that this is not the first time the J4125 has been used on a Synology Plus series NAS. Indeed, it has appeared several times in previous NAS systems (DS920+, DS720+, DS620slim, DVA1622 and DS1520+) love the last three years. In that time, not only has Intel moved on a couple of times to new cycles of processors (the N5105, N5095, J6415) which provide better power efficiency, PCI gen support and memory caps, but also competitor NAS brands have rolled out 1-2 more generations of hardware with configurations that capitalizes on Intel’s newer Celeron models. Now, it CAN be argued that because Synology have spent so much time and research exploring the capabilities of this processor, that they can get the most out of it for DSM. Equally, Synology has always been very clear that the jewel in their crown (and indeed the main selling point for their systems) is the DSM software and not the hardware. Then there is the fact that ‘at least it’s an Intel integrated graphics CPU, when Synology has been very ‘AMD Emb.Ryzen’ heavy of late! Finally, there is the argument that when the J4125 was featured previously, it was in their fully-featured ‘SMB’ tier – so the DS423+ in their more affordable Home/Prosumer tier is actually scaled up in having this quad-core Celeron processor. There are ALOT of different ways to look at Synology putting the Intel Celeron J4125 in the DS423+ NAS. But I think it would be fair to say that users of the DSx16+ and DS18+ generation that opted to skip the DSX20+ generation to ‘wait and see’, might be a little underwhelmed.

#4 – The Synology DS423+ NAS cannot be Expanded

A small-ish complaint, but the Synology DS423+ NAS lacks the official expandability of the Synology DS923+ and DS920+ via the eSATA connected DX517 JBOD enclosure. The DS420+ NAS before it didn’t have this feature and synology have rarely included expansion support at this tier of their portfolio in both the 2-bay and 4-bay versions (adding it as an incentive towards the DS9xx+ and DS7xx+ series). Still, with data getting bigger, data retention policies/legal-commitments increasing, I think that it is long overdue for Synology to just stop this restriction and add expandability to more of its systems. Many of their competitors have allowed expandability via USB 3.2 (Gen 1 at 5Gb/s and Gen 2 at 10Gb/s) officially supported on even their value tier system, with QNAP, in particular, standing out by offering 2/4/8/16 Bay expansion systems with hardware RAID and JBOD – so the fact the DS423+ NAS cannot allow USB expansion OR add a 6Gb/s eSATA connection for their own system seems like an artificially created restriction.

#5 – Way, WAY too Similar to the DS920+ NAS

There is, of course, the unavoidable way that most long-term Synology users and those looking to upgrade an existing 2016/2018 Diskstation are going to look at the DS423+ – a Synology DS920+ with less memory and no expandability! For those that skipped the DSx20+ generation, the DS423+ is going to feel decidedly underwhelming at best and hugely disappointing at worst! Synology has made no bones that they prioritize their software and services, with hardware being an important but nevertheless secondary concern. The main criticism is that CPU being the same processor used in the 3 years previous generation. Intel has moved production away from the J4125 themselves several times (with most other NAS brands using the N5105 or J6412 right now) and although Synology has been known to move CPU architecture down through the generations previously, this is a particularly egregious example. If they had just scaled something up on this device, such as the network ports from 1GbE to 2.5GbE, add the option of a 10GbE upgrade or more over upgrade the base level memory from 2GB or 4GB, I think people would be less quick to make this unfortunate comparison.

What We Said About the Synology DS423+ NAS in our FULL Review in March 2023

Massive Synology DS423+ Review Article – HERE

YouTube Synology DS423+ Review – HERE

There are two ways we need to look at the Synology DS423+ NAS. In one way, the Synology DS423+ DOES support all of the features and services that users demanded in a fully-featured home/prosumer solution. It features an Intel Quad Core processor with embedded graphics, DDR4 memory, multiple gigabit ports, wide HDD/SSD compatibility and m.2 NVMe SSD support. These are all things popular and most certainly what users would want/expect in a fully featured home/prosumer solution (aka SOHO). Then, when you roll in DSM 7 and it’s enormous range of software and services, the DS423+ is an excellent NAS solution that counters a broad range of criticisms that were leveled at the DS923+ at launch. However, there is, of course, the unavoidable way that most long-term Synology users and those looking to upgrade an existing 2016/2018 Diskstation are going to look at the DS423+ – a Synology DS920+ with less memory and no expandability! For those that skipped the DSx20+ generation, the DS423+ is going to feel decidedly underwhelming at best and hugely disappointing at worst! Synology has made no bones that they prioritize their software and services, with hardware being an important but nevertheless secondary concern. The main criticism is that CPU being the same processor used in the 3 years previous generation. Intel has moved production away from the J4125 themselves several times (with most other NAS brands using the N5105 or J6412 right now) and although Synology has been known to move CPU architecture down through the generations previously, this is a particularly egregious example. If they had just scaled something up on this device, such as the network ports from 1GbE to 2.5GbE, add the option of a 10GbE upgrade or more over upgrade the base level memory from 2GB or 4GB. The Synology DS423+ IS a good NAS system and serves as a great means to enjoy the wide-ranging features of DSM privately or professionally! It just feels like more of a stop-gap system in some places and one that existing DS920+ or DS420+ owners will skip.

SOFTWARE - 10/10
HARDWARE - 7/10
PERFORMANCE - 8/10
PRICE - 7/10
VALUE - 7/10


7.8
PROS
👍🏻Synology 4-Bay NAS with a 4-Core Intel Integrated Gfx Processor - Lovely stuff!
👍🏻Runs Everything in the Synology DSM Catalogue (Active Backup, Surveillance Station, VMM, Drive, Collab Suite, etc)
👍🏻Great Plex, Emby and Jellyfin Media Server Performance
👍🏻Supports M.2 NVMe SSD Storage Pools
👍🏻Broad HDD/SSD Compatibility with Synology drives AND Seagate+WD
👍🏻Low Impact chassis, low noise in operation (HDD dependant) and efficient power use
👍🏻Runs exceedingly well on just 2GB of Memory
👍🏻More affordable than the DS923+ and DS723+
👍🏻Long-running DSM Support beyond the Hardware 3yr Warranty
CONS
👎🏻No means to upgrade network connectivity and 1GbE by default
👎🏻Memory maximum cap at 6GB as original 2GB is fixed (non-upgradable)
👎🏻Too similar to the DS920+
👎🏻Non-Expandable
👎🏻2019/2020 Gen Intel CPU


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Synology DS423+ 16TB 4 Bay Desktop NAS Solution installed with 4 x 4TB HAT5300 D Amazon UK UK 188.76 OFF (WAS 1614) [LINK]
Synology DS423+ 32TB 4 Bay Desktop NAS Solution installed with 4 x 8TB HAT5300 D Amazon UK UK 397.22 OFF (WAS 2425) [LINK]
Synology DS423+ 48TB 4 Bay Desktop NAS Solution installed with 4 x 12TB HAT5300 Amazon UK UK 406.14 OFF (WAS 3149) [LINK]
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QNAP TS-410E Plex Media Server NAS 4K & 1080p Tests – H.264 & HEVC

Par : Rob Andrews
2 octobre 2023 à 18:00

How Well Does the QNAP TS-410E NAS Perform as a Plex Media Server?

Today’s article is about how well the new QNAP TS-410E 4 Bay Silent NAS performs as a Plex Media Server when confronted with a range of 1080p and 4K multimedia. The appeal of accessing all the movies, boxsets, music and home movies that you physically/digitally own in the style popularized by Netflix, Disney+ and Prime Video (flashy GUI, summary, all the box art, trailers, cast details, reviews and more) is undeniable. The rise in popularity of streaming platforms like Netflix has also been accompanied by rising monthly subscription costs and rising concerns about never truly owning the media that you want o watch. Even when you buy movies and TV boxsets in digital download forms from Amazon Video etc, you are still at the mercy of 1) needing somewhere to store it if you do choose to download it and 2) potentially losing access to it if the site/platform you purchased from has lost the license to host it (a common complain of the increasingly digital world of PC/Console gaming, as games are pulled from eStores). Hosting your media in a subscription-free form, whilst it still being presented in the universally accessible and premium GUI form of Plex is one of the most compelling reasons for many home/prosumer users deciding to make the jump towards buying their own plex media server. However, NAS drives have grown incredibly diverse in terms of hardware design and therefore one NAS might not play media in plex as well/efficiently as another – and the QNAP TS-410E NAS is no exception to this. Today I want to detail my tests of the TS-410E as a Plex Media Server and I hope this will help you decide whether a QNAP NAS deserves your Multimedia in 2022/2023.

What is the Hardware of the QNAP TS-410E NAS Drive?

The QNAP TS-410E NAS drive is quite similar in architecture to most PCs or Laptops (in that it features a CPU+Memory+Storage), but differs in that it’s components are designed to be more efficient (as they will be in operation 24×7) and have a larger degree of focus on storage-related applications (where as the hardware in a PC/Laptop is designed more for the applications you run with storage service concerns/provisions being far more rudimentary). The TS-410E is made up of a popular mid-range server CPU, DDR4 memory and supports Hard Drive and SSDs in SATA. although most of the specifications of QNAP NAS drives are unrelated to Plex, below I have picked up the hardware specifications of the TS-410E that are relevant to Plex:

  • CPU: Intel J6412 4-Core 2.0-2.6Ghz CPU
  • Embedded Graphics: Yes, 350-750Mhz
  • Memory (Quantity & Maximum): 8GB (Max) DDR4, Soldied
  • Number of Storage Bays: 4x SATA 2.5″
  • Network Connectivity: 2x 2.5GbE

Next, let’s quickly touch on how we measure how good/bad the QNAP TS-410E NAS is for Plex Media Server.

Understanding the Plex Media Server Tests of the QNAP TS-410E NAS

Important Terms to Understand in Plex/NAS/Multimedia that will make the TS-410E NAS Plex Tests Easier to Understand.

  • SD, 160p, 240p, 480p, 720p, 1080p, 4K : This is the resolution that the media is being displayed at. The higher the resolution, the larger number of pixels that are available and depending on the original recording quality of the media in question. High resolutions, such as 1080p and 4K require more work to be done by the NAS hardware in order to playback the file. More often than not, a NAS with weak embedded graphics or no embedded graphics at all will be unable to play 4K very well or indeed at all. It is important to remember that just because a NAS brand like QNAP says that their latest NAS can natively play back 1080p or 4K media (natively = played using their own NAS software, software client tools and/or DLNA), that does not mean that the TS-410E will play to the same standard in Plex, as Plex is a 3rd party tool
  • Transcoding, Encoding, Decoding : These are all different techniques/names for when a file needs to be changed in order to be better suited to the connected client device connection, strength or hardware. If you are accessing all your media on the local area network (i.e only accessing your plex media at home), then transcoding will rarely be something you will use (unless your media is largely H.265/HEVC based, see earlier). However, perhaps you are accessing your plex library on the train to work or from a sun bed whilst on holiday. Perhaps you have a smaller data bandwidth/allowed MB/GB, maybe a weaker internet connection, perhaps you are using a smaller phone device and you might not need to watch your 4K 50GB Blu-ray rip of the latest Marvel Movie – in these situations, you might well want to access the media on your QNAP TS-410E Plex NAS at a lesser quality than the original version, so transcoding/re-encoding on the fly (as in, at the same time it is being played) is what you would want to do. Remember, transcoding is by far the most heavy-weight thing you will need to do on a NAS. It is also worth remembering that in order for Plex o be able to use the FULL resources of a NAS CPU (such as embedded graphics) that you will need to enable ‘Make My CPU Hurt’ in the Encoder Menu of the Plex NAS Settings menu – this also potentially requires a Plex Pass subscription, depending on the NAS in question

  • H.264, HEVC, H.265 :  These are compression techniques that are designed to allow large-scale media presentations that were made for a cinema to be viewable from your sofa (with H.265 being the more effective/powerful compression level). H.264 can largely be played by ALL devices, but many devices do not have permission or a license to play H.265/HEVC (they are the same thing). This is because, where H.264 is an easy license and comparatively free to use, H.265/HEVC licencing and patents are spread across multiple providers and allowing a device license to use this compression technique can be complex, expensive or simply impossible. Therefore HEVC/H.265 media will sometimes AUTOMATICALLY need to be converted/transcoded into H.264 etc in order to be played – therefore eating up more system resources. The TS-410E, much like the rest of thte QNAP NAS range do not arrive with HEVC support by default
  • Bitrate : Bitrate is the amount of data encoded for a unit of time, and for streaming is usually referenced in megabits per second (Mbps) for video, and in kilobits per second (kbps) for audio. Higher quality and higher resolution media tends to be of a much higher bitrate

For more information on the most important terms to understand when discussing/researching a NAS as a Plex Media Server can be found in my video below:

Any further questions, you can use the free advice section at the bottom of the page and ask me and Eddie directly.

How was the QNAP TS-410E NAS Tested in Plex?

The setup for testing the TS-410E NAS for Plex was as follows:

  • The QNAP TS-410E NAS was accessed over a 1GbE network, however in order to test how the NAS would cope with transcoding/encoding, I would force the Plex Player client to transcode the file manually
  • The TS-410E NAS was used in the default CPU+Memory state that the base model arrives in (no upgraded memory or upgraded caching media)
  • Tests were performed one after the other with a short break between each test, so you might see the tail end of the previous test on a CPU graph, but I have pointed at the are of the % utilization that is important as per each test.

Regarding test results, CLEAR PASS means that the file successfully played and there were sufficient resources for the NAS to continue to do other things comfortably, PLAYED BUT HIGH CPU % means that the file played, but it utilized a significant amount of system resources in order to do so in a heavier use situation (i.e other NAS users connected) it might not play and FAIL AND-OR DID NOT PLAY means that the file either did not play or the time taken to play back the files was outpaced by the natural playback of the file – i.e. the file would stop-and-start constantly in order to try and catch up. If you want to watch the FULL video recording of all the Plex tests that I performed on the QNAP TS-410E NAS, you can watch the video below. Be warned, it is quite long! Alternatively, you can scroll past and see each of the test results, one-by-one, detailing which ones worked and which ones didn’t:

What % System Resources did the QNAP TS-410E NAS Use in Plex when Idle?

Running the Plex Media Server application, even when no multimedia is being played on the TS-410E is still going to require a % of system resources to be occupied, in order to ensure that PLEX can play media from the QNAP NAS as soon as it is requested remotely. Additionally, although Plex runs at its best with at least 2 Cores of CPU power and 2GB of Memory, many NAS also reserve areas of CPU/RAM for the system itself. So, therefore, knowing how much system resources are being consumed by the QNAP TS-410E  NAS when Plex is idle is going to be useful to know how much system power is available when playback actually starts. Here is a screenshot of the TS-410E when Plex is running, but no media is being played/accessed:

Plex Test 1 – QNAP TS-410E NAS Plex 4K & 1080p HEVC Performance Tests – 720p 0.7Mbps H.264

Here is how the QNAP TS-410E NAS Plex 4K & 1080p HEVC Performance Tests – 720p 0.7Mbps H.264 File Performed:

RESULT: CLEAR PASS

Extra Notes: None


 

Plex Test 2 – QNAP TS-410E NAS Plex 4K & 1080p HEVC Performance Tests – 720p 0.7Mbps H.264 Transcode to 1.5Mbps 480p

Here is how the QNAP TS-410E NAS Plex 4K & 1080p HEVC Performance Tests – 720p 0.7Mbps H.264 Transcode to 1.5Mbps 480p File Performed:

RESULT: CLEAR PASS

Extra Notes: None


 

Plex Test 3 – QNAP TS-410E NAS Plex 4K & 1080p HEVC Performance Tests – 720p 0.7Mbps H.264 Transcode to 0.3Mbps 240p

Here is how the QNAP TS-410E NAS Plex 4K & 1080p HEVC Performance Tests – 720p 0.7Mbps H.264 Transcode to 0.3Mbps 240p File Performed:

RESULT: PLAYED BUT MEDIUM CPU %

Extra Notes: None


 

Plex Test 4 – QNAP TS-410E NAS Plex 4K & 1080p HEVC Performance Tests – 720p 0.7Mbps H.264 Transcode to 0.2Mbps 160p

Here is how the QNAP TS-410E NAS Plex 4K & 1080p HEVC Performance Tests – 720p 0.7Mbps H.264 Transcode to 0.2Mbps 160p File Performed:

RESULT: PLAYED BUT MEDIUM CPU %

Extra Notes: None


 

Plex Test 5 – QNAP TS-410E NAS Plex 4K & 1080p HEVC Performance Tests – 1080p 100Mbps H.265 HEVC

Here is how the QNAP TS-410E NAS Plex 4K & 1080p HEVC Performance Tests – 1080p 100Mbps H.265 HEVC File Performed:

RESULT: PLAYED BUT SLIGHT CPU SPIKE %

Extra Notes: None


 

Plex Test 6 – QNAP TS-410E NAS Plex 4K & 1080p HEVC Performance Tests – 1080p 100Mbps H.265 HEVC

Here is how the QNAP TS-410E NAS Plex 4K & 1080p HEVC Performance Tests – 1080p 100Mbps H.265 HEVC File Performed:

RESULT: CLEAR PASS

Extra Notes: None


 

Plex Test 7 – QNAP TS-410E NAS Plex 4K & 1080p HEVC Performance Tests – 1080p 30Mbps H.265 HEVC

Here is how the QNAP TS-410E NAS Plex 4K & 1080p HEVC Performance Tests – 1080p 30Mbps H.265 HEVC File Performed:

RESULT: CLEAR PASS

Extra Notes: None


 

Plex Test 8 – QNAP TS-410E NAS Plex 4K & 1080p HEVC Performance Tests – 1080p 30Mbps H.264

Here is how the QNAP TS-410E NAS Plex 4K & 1080p HEVC Performance Tests – 1080p 30Mbps H.264 File Performed:

RESULT: CLEAR PASS

Extra Notes: None


 

Plex Test 9 – QNAP TS-410E NAS Plex 4K & 1080p HEVC Performance Tests – 1080p 10Mbps H.265 HEVC

Here is how the QNAP TS-410E NAS Plex 4K & 1080p HEVC Performance Tests – 1080p 10Mbps H.265 HEVC File Performed:

RESULT: CLEAR PASS

Extra Notes: None


 

Plex Test 10 – QNAP TS-410E NAS Plex 4K & 1080p HEVC Performance Tests – 1080p 3Mbps H.265 HEVC

Here is how the QNAP TS-410E NAS Plex 4K & 1080p HEVC Performance Tests – 1080p 3Mbps H.265 HEVC File Performed:

RESULT: CLEAR PASS

Extra Notes: None


 

Plex Test 11 – QNAP TS-410E NAS Plex 4K & 1080p HEVC Performance Tests – 1080p 3Mbps H.264

Here is how the QNAP TS-410E NAS Plex 4K & 1080p HEVC Performance Tests – 1080p 3Mbps H.264 File Performed:

RESULT: CLEAR PASS

Extra Notes: None


 

Plex Test 12 – QNAP TS-410E NAS Plex 4K & 1080p HEVC Performance Tests – 1080p 1.9Mbps H.264

Here is how the QNAP TS-410E NAS Plex 4K & 1080p HEVC Performance Tests – 1080p 1.9Mbps H.264 File Performed:

RESULT: CLEAR PASS

Extra Notes: None


 

Plex Test 13 – QNAP TS-410E NAS Plex 4K & 1080p HEVC Performance Tests – 1080p 1.9Mbps H.264 Transcode to 4Mbps 720p

Here is how the QNAP TS-410E NAS Plex 4K & 1080p HEVC Performance Tests – 1080p 1.9Mbps H.264 Transcode to 4Mbps 720p File Performed:

RESULT: CLEAR PASS

Extra Notes: None


 

Plex Test 14 – QNAP TS-410E NAS Plex 4K & 1080p HEVC Performance Tests – 1080p 1.9Mbps H.264 Transcode to 1.5Mbps 480p

Here is how the QNAP TS-410E NAS Plex 4K & 1080p HEVC Performance Tests – 1080p 1.9Mbps H.264 Transcode to 1.5Mbps 480p File Performed:

RESULT: CLEAR PASS

Extra Notes: None


 

Plex Test 15 – QNAP TS-410E NAS Plex 4K & 1080p HEVC Performance Tests – 1080p 1.9Mbps H.264 Transcode to 0.7Mbps 328p

Here is how the QNAP TS-410E NAS Plex 4K & 1080p HEVC Performance Tests – 1080p 1.9Mbps H.264 Transcode to 0.7Mbps 328p File Performed:

RESULT: CLEAR PASS

Extra Notes: None


 

Plex Test 16 – QNAP TS-410E NAS Plex 4K & 1080p HEVC Performance Tests – 1080p 1.9Mbps H.264 Transcode to 0.3Mbps 240p

Here is how the QNAP TS-410E NAS Plex 4K & 1080p HEVC Performance Tests – 1080p 1.9Mbps H.264 Transcode to 0.3Mbps 240p File Performed:

RESULT: CLEAR PASS

Extra Notes: None


 

Plex Test 17 – QNAP TS-410E NAS Plex 4K & 1080p HEVC Performance Tests – 1080p 1.9Mbps H.264 Transcode to 0.2Mbps 160p

Here is how the QNAP TS-410E NAS Plex 4K & 1080p HEVC Performance Tests – 1080p 1.9Mbps H.264 Transcode to 0.2Mbps 160p File Performed:

RESULT: CLEAR PASS

Extra Notes: None


 

Plex Test 18 – QNAP TS-410E NAS Plex 4K & 1080p HEVC Performance Tests – 4K UHD 120Mbps H.264

Here is how the QNAP TS-410E NAS Plex 4K & 1080p HEVC Performance Tests – 4K UHD 120Mbps H.264 File Performed:

RESULT: FAIL AND-OR DID NOT PLAY

Extra Notes: None


 

Plex Test 19 – QNAP TS-410E NAS Plex 4K & 1080p HEVC Performance Tests – 4K UHD 120Mbps H.265 HEVC 10bit

Here is how the QNAP TS-410E NAS Plex 4K & 1080p HEVC Performance Tests – 4K UHD 120Mbps H.265 HEVC 10bit File Performed:

RESULT: PLAYED BUT HIGH CPU % – SLOW TRANSCODE

Extra Notes: None


 

Plex Test 20 – QNAP TS-410E NAS Plex 4K & 1080p HEVC Performance Tests – 4K UHD 200Mbps H.264

Here is how the QNAP TS-410E NAS Plex 4K & 1080p HEVC Performance Tests – 4K UHD 200Mbps H.264 File Performed:

RESULT: FAIL AND-OR DID NOT PLAY

Extra Notes: None

 


 

Plex Test 21 – QNAP TS-410E NAS Plex 4K & 1080p HEVC Performance Tests – 4K UHD 200Mbps H.265 HEVC 10bit

Here is how the QNAP TS-410E NAS Plex 4K & 1080p HEVC Performance Tests – 4K UHD 200Mbps H.265 HEVC 10bit File Performed:

RESULT: PLAYED BUT EXCEPTIONALLY HIGH CPU % – V.SLOW TRANSCODE

Extra Notes: None

 


 

Plex Test 21 – QNAP TS-410E NAS Plex 4K & 1080p HEVC Performance Tests – 4K UHD 400Mbps H.265 HEVC 10bit

Here is how the QNAP TS-410E NAS Plex 4K & 1080p HEVC Performance Tests – 4K UHD 400Mbps H.265 HEVC 10bit File Performed:

RESULT:

PLAYED BUT EXCEPTIONALLY HIGH CPU % – V.SLOW TRANSCODE

Extra Notes: None

 


 

Is the QNAP TS-410E NAS Any Good outside of Plex and Where Can I buy It?

You can watch the Review HERE. Alternatively, you can find out the Pros and Cons below, as a few retailers that sell the QNAP TS-410E NAS. Thanks for reading and if you need any further help choosing the right NAS for your Plex Media Server, use the free advice section linked below. Have a great week.

SOFTWARE - 8/10
HARDWARE - 8/10
PERFORMANCE - 8/10
PRICE - 7/10
VALUE - 7/10


7.6
PROS
👍🏻Good/Efficient CPU choice for the Scale/Tier
👍🏻8GB of DDR4 Memory
👍🏻2.5GbE (x2) Ports on Day 1
👍🏻Four USB 3.2 Gen 2 (10Gb/s) Ports!
👍🏻Includes VM, Surveillance (8 licenses and upto 32 Cams), Backup, Sync, Multimedia, SaaS sync/migration and office tools (some with added AI services)
👍🏻3-Year Warranty (Can be extended)
👍🏻VERY Compact, low-impact design
👍🏻Supports 1-2x Expansions
👍🏻20TB and 22TB Confirmed Compatibility
CONS
👎🏻Memory Cannot be Upgraded
👎🏻Supports SATA Media but no support of NVMe / U.2
👎🏻HDMI Output Is 1.4b, not 2.0


Where to Buy a Product
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Need Advice on Data Storage from an Expert?

Finally, for free advice about your setup, just leave a message in the comments below here at NASCompares.com and we will get back to you. Need Help? Where possible (and where appropriate) please provide as much information about your requirements, as then I can arrange the best answer and solution to your needs. Do not worry about your e-mail address being required, it will NOT be used in a mailing list and will NOT be used in any way other than to respond to your enquiry. [contact-form-7] TRY CHAT Terms and Conditions
If you like this service, please consider supporting us. We use affiliate links on the blog allowing NAScompares information and advice service to be free of charge to you.Anything you purchase on the day you click on our links will generate a small commission which isused to run the website. Here is a link for Amazon and B&H.You can also get me a ☕ Ko-fi or old school Paypal. Thanks!To find out more about how to support this advice service check HEREIf you need to fix or configure a NAS, check Fiver Have you thought about helping others with your knowledge? Find Instructions Here  
 
Or support us by using our affiliate links on Amazon UK and Amazon US
    
 
Alternatively, why not ask me on the ASK NASCompares forum, by clicking the button below. This is a community hub that serves as a place that I can answer your question, chew the fat, share new release information and even get corrections posted. I will always get around to answering ALL queries, but as a one-man operation, I cannot promise speed! So by sharing your query in the ASK NASCompares section below, you can get a better range of solutions and suggestions, alongside my own.

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Terramaster F2-212 NAS Review – Suuuuuper Budget?

Par : Rob Andrews
27 septembre 2023 à 18:00

Review of the Terramaster F2-212 NAS Drive

This year has seen all the big players in the world of network-attached storage bring their latest solutions to market! Maybe it’s because people’s concerns over their data have never been higher, perhaps it’s the growing affordability of a number of key components, or simply that the advances in what we can do with our data have grown so fast that NAS brands are running to keep up! Whatever the reason, the Terramaster F2-212 NAS really does give you a phenomenal bang for your buck. Arriving with an RRP of £169 and likely regularly on sale at key promotional events, this might be the most affordable tool by now that I’ve ever discussed here on the channel! But what corners did they have to cut to keep it this cheap? Can you trust this device to hold onto your data long-term, and ultimately can something be too cheap? Let’s find out.

Terramaster F2-212 NAS Review – Quick Conclusion

The Terramaster F2-212 is a solid entry-level NAS for the price. It provides a good balance of hardware, software, and features, though some may find its 1GB of memory and single 1G network connection limiting. However, given its target market—those transitioning from cloud storage or seeking their first NAS—this model offers excellent value for money. What makes the F2-212 stand out is its flexibility. Its support for USB to 2.5G network adapters provides an affordable way to upgrade the system’s network connectivity. Additionally, its modern ARM CPU, improved software, and a variety of features tailored for beginners make it an attractive option for those new to the NAS world. For experienced NAS users or those seeking more advanced features, the F2-212 might feel underwhelming. But for its price, it’s hard to argue against its value proposition. In conclusion, the Terramaster F2-212 provides a reliable entry point for those new to the NAS world. While it may have its limitations, it offers commendable features for its price range. Those who prioritize affordability without sacrificing essential features should consider this model.

SOFTWARE - 6/10
HARDWARE - 6/10
PERFORMANCE - 5/10
PRICE - 10/10
VALUE - 8/10


7.0
PROS
👍🏻Affordable price.
👍🏻ARM-based CPU ensures energy efficiency and reliable performance.
👍🏻TOS 5.1 software has seen significant improvements, bringing it closer to industry standards.
👍🏻Flexible upgrade options with USB to 2.5G network adapters.
👍🏻TRAID Flexible RAID is great stuff!
👍🏻Good CPU for the Price Point
👍🏻Supports Current 22TB HDDs from WD and Seagate
👍🏻Snapshot Replication
👍🏻BTRFS Support if preferred
👍🏻4K Video natively
CONS
👎🏻Limited 1GB of non-upgradable memory.
👎🏻Only a single 1G network connection.
👎🏻Lacks M.2 SSD ports and PCIe upgrade options.
👎🏻Although TOS 5 has seen some big improvements and more AAA+ apps and services added, it is still not as polished as DSM or QTS from their competitors

Where to Buy a Product
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Terramaster F2-212 NAS Review – Packaging and Retail Kit

The retail packaging for the Terramaster F2-212 is fairly standard stuff and isn’t really going to blow you away. It arrives in a combination of recyclable and non-recyclable packaging combo. The external box is plain but adorned with the brand logo, and a rigid foam internal structure protects the device in transit.

Alongside the F2-212 NAS, the retail kit includes an external power adapter that is a straight-to-plug mini adapter, details on the 2-year hardware warranty, additional screws for SSDs, construction manual, and cat 6 Ethernet LAN cable.

Again, not exactly hair-raising stuff. I will add though that given the low price point of this device, one area I would have assumed a brand would cut corners in would be the retail packaging in terms of protection and range of included accessories. There is none of that here, and although it may seem a little drab, everything you need (with the exception of storage media) is here for your first-time setup.

Terramaster F2-212 NAS Review – Design

Of all the brands that I talk about here on the channel, few have been more underwhelming in terms of the design of their devices than Terramaster. Although they have made minor tweaks to the chassis design on their desktop devices in the last few years, these have been rather minor. All that has changed with this new F2-212 NAS system, arriving in a largely completely new chassis design than any other 2-bay from the brand.

I think it would be charitable to say that they have looked at the chassis design choices of competitors like Synology and QNAP, and been inspired by them. It might be fair to say that they have emulated a number of the design choices of those brands and combined them into their new chassis for the F2.

For a start, they have clearly emulated the rounded edges featured on recent QNAP desktop releases. The old chassis design was always a bit silver, shiny, and blocky – feeling dated. However, this new chassis design seems a great deal more sleek and will blend in much better with other hardware on your desktop setup. They have also looked at the matte black finish and branded logos featured on Synology desktop hardware and incorporated this into the new F2-212 chassis design prominently. This added level of passive ventilation, while still appearing very modern and brand-aware, has always been beneficial for Synology and, if inspired by them, is a smart move to replicate here. Passive ventilation, especially on more economical ARM CPU systems, is crucial for a system running 24/7 at its best, so the more ventilation, the better!

The system also features two removable 3.5-inch SATA bays. This is particularly commendable when you realize most other NAS brands producing value series devices at a similar price point do not support this feature. The system runs on a single drive if you choose, but thanks to its support of numerous different RAID configurations that also include their flexible T-RAID system, you have a decent level of base storage to set up on day one.

The main storage bays are ejected by pressing the top panel and pulling each tray out. There’s a spring-loaded element to each of the handles, and while each bay cannot be locked, they do support click and load installation, meaning that you can install 3.5-inch SATA drives exceedingly quickly. This, combined with the support of hot-swapping, is exceedingly convenient.

Additionally, it’s worth highlighting that Terramaster has one of the most extensive lists of compatible hard drives on their support lists, supporting up to the recently released 22 TB hard drive capacity from both Seagate and WD. This shouldn’t be surprising, given the relative similarity all SATA hard drives have. However, in recent years we’ve seen some brands be more selective about the range of hard drives they list on their compatibility pages, so it’s reassuring to know there are virtually no limits to the drives you can use in the F2.

Sadly, the system does not feature a front-mounted USB port, as found in the majority of other NAS brand systems of this scale. It’s a minor detail, especially when there are two more USB ports on the rear of the device, but the convenience of a front-mounted USB for ad hoc drag and drop backups and creating a customized local USB backup routine for smaller user groups is notable. I’ve always been surprised that Terramaster hasn’t embraced this feature.

The F2-212 also features LED lights to denote system and drive activity when in operation, as opposed to an LCD panel. This is fairly standard these days in NAS systems of this scale.

Overall, I quite like the new chassis design that Terramaster has opted for here. The previous chassis design’s ventilation was a bit lackluster compared to some competitors, and this change of casing certainly improves the visual appeal of their range. Next, let’s discuss the ports and connectivity, as this is where the limited price point of value series devices like this one starts to become evident.

Terramaster F2-212 NAS Review – Ports and Connections

Let’s not mince words; the ports and connections that the F2-212 comes with are fairly standard. This isn’t a huge insult by any means, as the system is designed to be an exceptionally affordable entry-level NAS. What you get here will certainly meet initial requirements. However, if you’ve been looking at the more advanced ports and connections in recent releases from Terramaster, including enhanced bandwidth options, faster USB, and an affordable gateway into 10G… you won’t find them here!

The system has two USB Type-A ports. While the USB 2.0 port feels outdated and somewhat unnecessary on a system that would traditionally pair these with an HDMI output, the USB 3 port (5Gb/s) offers much greater functionality and compatibility with the F2.

Besides the expected support for USB external storage drives and office peripherals (printers, scanners, UPS, etc.), the USB port also supports Terramaster’s direct-attached storage devices (available in both RAID-enabled and JBOD forms). Intriguingly, the F2-212 also supports USB to 2.5G network adapters, enabling users to boost the system’s network bandwidth to approximately 269 megabytes per second with a simple $15 upgrade on the NAS side (potentially on the client side too).

This upgrade will enhance the Terramaster F2’s network connectivity from a single 1G connection to an additional 2.5G. This improvement will extend the system’s lifespan as your data storage needs increase. The existing one gigabit Ethernet connection does seem outdated in 2023, but this could be a result of prioritizing affordability. Currently, no systems on the market offer 2.5 gigabit Ethernet at this price point, so its absence isn’t a significant drawback.

Even so, this affordable ARM processor and a typical starter hard drive might overwhelm this network connection, potentially restricting external connectivity. If this is your first NAS system and you’ve solely relied on cloud services, you’ll likely see this as a major upgrade. However, those accustomed to using gigabit servers in their homes or businesses might find it lacking. The system lacks internal M.2 SSD ports, commonly found in pricier Terramaster systems, and doesn’t support PCIe upgrades that enhance network connectivity. However, regarding external hardware, you have a functional yet well-constructed affordable NAS. Let’s delve deeper into its internal hardware and other features.

Terramaster F2-212 NAS Review – Internal Hardware

There’s an ongoing debate among PC enthusiasts regarding the basic hardware in most NAS systems. Many users argue that entry-level NAS systems are underpowered and overpriced compared to traditional PCs. Nonetheless, NAS systems are designed for continuous operation—days, weeks, even years at a time. Hence, they require energy-efficient components durable enough for this always-on environment. This explains the growing trend of entry-level NAS systems equipped with ARM-based CPUs—processors typically found in phones, netbooks, and tablets. These CPUs deliver considerable processing power while maintaining a low energy footprint. The Terramaster F2-212 follows this trend, boasting an efficient yet modern ARM processor architecture.

Processor Model Realtek 1619B
Processor Architecture ARM V8.2 Cortex-A55 64-bit
Processor Frequency Quad Core 1.7 GHz
CPU Single-Core Score /
Hardware Encryption Engine
Hardware Transcoding Engine /
Memory
System Memory 1GB
Pre-installed Memory module /
Total Memory Slot Number /
Maximum Supported Memory 1 GB

The CPU inside the Terramaster F2-212 is the Realtek RTD1619b. We’ve seen this CPU in slightly pricier QNAP and Synology systems in 2023, so it’s unsurprising that Terramaster adopted it. It strikes a balance between handling the NAS’s daily operations and managing ad-hoc requests from users. While it lacks the advanced capabilities of x86 AMD or Intel processors, it also doesn’t have their higher price tags or energy consumption. Being ARM-based, this CPU compresses commands to use less power, and with ongoing advancements in software, ARM processors have become increasingly effective in NAS systems.

The Realtek RTD 1619b processor, a quad-core CPU with a 1.7 GHz clock speed, is impressive for a NAS priced just over $150. This CPU supports both BTRFS and EXT4 file systems, snapshot functionality, and even Docker applications. However, it does have limitations, particularly with complex commands and some multimedia formats. Furthermore, while light container deployment is possible, traditional virtualization is not. The fluctuating cost of NAND Flash has impacted the pricing of many NAS systems. Despite this model’s affordability, its default 1GB of non-upgradable memory may soon prove limiting. For light multimedia use and a few backups, 1GB of memory combined with this CPU will suffice. Beyond that, however, users might find memory consistently operating at around 70-80% capacity due to the system’s basic operational requirements.

Many entry-level, ARM-powered NAS systems come with 1GB of memory—a standard for nearly five years. However, the demands on NAS systems have grown significantly during that time. Considering this system comes with the same memory as 2016 models, it’s somewhat disappointing. For true entry-level users transitioning from the cloud, 1GB of memory will suffice. Those aiming to expand their system’s usage, however, will encounter its limitations. Next, we’ll discuss the TOS system software accompanying the F2.

Terramaster F2-212 NAS Review – Software

Historically, one area where Terramaster NAS has fallen short is its software. Roughly 18 months ago, their software, TOS, was considered inferior compared to industry counterparts. Past security issues and a perceived lack of features, especially when compared to platforms like DSM and QTS, didn’t help their reputation. However, TOS 5.1 represents a significant improvement, being more responsive, visually consistent, and packed with premium apps even for their basic models. This software overhaul, combined with additional features unique to the F2, has significantly improved the system’s appeal.

The addition of new apps, faster execution, and support for popular third-party software means that TOS 5.1 is rapidly gaining ground against its more well-established competitors. Its interface, while still a bit behind in terms of polish, is functional and intuitive. Regarding safety, Terramaster has made security a priority, with multiple layers of encryption, including AES-256. Additionally, their two-step verification process has now become more refined, further improving security. The software now supports snapshots, providing added insurance against potential data loss. Key Software and NAS tasks that are supported are:

  • 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

TOS 5.1 has several features supporting advanced surveillance, an aspect often neglected in budget-friendly NAS options. IP camera support, motion detection, and email notifications help transform the F2-212 into a comprehensive surveillance solution for small businesses and homeowners. With BTRFS support, file self-healing, and instant snapshots, Terramaster ensures the F2-212 is a reliable, long-term data storage solution. For beginners, TOS offers user-friendly guides and tool tips, making the software accessible even to those unfamiliar with NAS systems. 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.

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.

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.

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.

With a good range of applications to choose from, as well as the support of modern NAS applications in the mix, the TerraMaster F2-212 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 and the baseline hardware on offer in this more affordable NAS certainly limits the overall scope.

Terramaster F2-212 NAS Review – Conclusion and Verdict

If you look at the Terramaster F2-212 in the wrong light, you aren’t really going to appreciate what has been crafted here. If you expect this device to perform as well as devices two to three times its price in the marketplace, you’re bound to be disappointed! While this might be the lowest-priced, fully-featured NAS I’ve reviewed here, it’s indisputable that compromises had to be made to achieve this price point. This is not a NAS for someone wanting everything done instantly for them and 50 of their friends. The Terramaster F2-212 offers an affordable entry point into the world of NAS for those transitioning from third-party clouds to self-hosted remote storage. In that context, if you’re only going to use baseline applications for small groups of users and services, this system will excel. However, if you’re seeking more advanced applications, business or enterprise-level services, or lack patience when the system requires time to manage its memory cache for the long-term, this might not be the system for you.

Above all, small enhancements to the Terramaster F2’s hardware configuration could have made a significant difference. The default and non-upgradable 1GB of memory is a limiting factor, with a significant portion consumed by the standard operation of TOS in the background. An additional $10 or $20 to bolster the base memory could have truly made an impact. Likewise, many of Terramaster’s notable advancements to their platform may not be fully realized on this modest 2-bay system due to its physical scale or architecture. Features like RAID, AI photo recognition, and Docker might seem out of reach. But that’s not the point; this is an entry-level system. Concerns about expandability and adapting storage to multi-client setups are primarily for users who might consider investing more in their NAS solutions. If you recognize the Terramaster F2-212 for the budget, entry-level NAS it’s designed to be, it offers solid value for its cost. However, remember it comes with inherent limitations right out of the box.

PROS of the Terramaster F2-212 CONS of the Terramaster F2-212
  • Affordable price.
  • ARM-based CPU ensures energy efficiency and reliable performance.
  • TOS 5.1 software has seen significant improvements, bringing it closer to industry standards.
  • Flexible upgrade options with USB to 2.5G network adapters.
  • TRAID Flexible RAID is great stuff!
  • Good CPU for the Price Point
  • Supports Current 22TB HDDs from WD and Seagate
  • Snapshot Replication
  • BTRFS Support if preferred
  • 4K Video natively
  • Limited 1GB of non-upgradable memory.
  • Only a single 1G network connection.
  • Lacks M.2 SSD ports and PCIe upgrade options.
  • Although TOS 5 has seen some big improvements and more AAA+ apps and services added, it is still not as polished as DSM or QTS from their competitors

Click the link below to take you to your local Amazon store and where to buy the terramaster F2-212 NAS.

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Synology DS423+ vs QNAP TS-464 NAS Comparison

Par : Rob Andrews
25 septembre 2023 à 18:00

QNAP TS-464 or the Synology DS423+ NAS Drive – Which Should You Buy?

Choosing Between the Synology DS423+ and QNAP TS-464 NAS is more than just about how you are spending your money at checkout! Making a move away from 3rd public cloud storage can be a big, BIG decision for some users. The ‘freemium’ and low cost monthly subscription to the likes of Google Drive and DropBox seems like a drop in the ocean, right up until you realise that over the years you have spent hundreds of pounds and you face the fact that you are going to need to consider moving that data onto something more long term and ‘in house’. For many users, this is their first encounter with two of the bigger brands in the world of NAS, Synology and QNAP and although at a glance they seem to provide the same kind of solution, even a brief second glance reveals that these two brands have very, very different ideas of where you should be spending your money. Synology is the sleek, apple-esc presented solution that promises a smooth and uncomplex experience, with an arguably more rigid and fixed architecture. Whereas QNAP is the more customizable and flexible in its hardware and software, but has a slightly higher learning curve and requires more time to configure perfectly. Both brands provide an excellent range of NAS solutions with each of the solutions in today’s comparison being quite similar in price, but what you are getting for your money, the range of software included, the scope of hardware that is available and how they translate to upgradable and scalability is incredibly different! So, today we are going to compare the Synology DS423+ NAS released in March 2023 (HEAVILY comparable to the 2020 gen DS920+) against the spring 2022 released QNAP TS-464 NAS.

Synology DS423+ vs QNAP TS-464 NAS – Design

The design of the QNAP TS-464 and Synology DS423+ are both very uniform to the brands, utilizing existing designs in their respective Home/Prosumer/SMB ranges. Both are 4-Bay desktop solutions that are designed to be deployed easily and pretty much anywhere. They are largely the same in physical volume, with the Synology DS423+ arriving the tiniest pinch larger, but both systems provide a similar level of storage on their four SATA and 2x NVMe M.2 SSD bays. The Synology has the more traditional shape of the lockable storage media bays being immediately visible, but finish this with an incredibly modernistic shape and matt surface design. The front of the system features a single USB backup port, as well as 5 LEDs for system/drive activity and those two M.2 SSD bays are located on the base of the system. The QNAP TS-464 NAS uses a more glossy and slightly coloured design by comparison (featuring a copper side panel), with the 4 drive bays of the system being covered by a slidable and lockable semi-translucent panel. The QNAP also featured the same LED/USB present, but there are more LEDs on the QNAP and the USB here is both a USB 3.2 Gen 2 Port (10Gb/s) and is accompanied by a one-touch copy button. This is one of the early examples of how things in the NAS market have moved forward in hardware but Synology has instead doubled down on their focus of it’s DSM software platform above all else. The QNAP TS-464 is certainly the more expensive NAS of the two, with the DS423+, despite being newer and having a different position in the brand’s portfolio (see the DS923+ to learn more), but the hardware you are getting for that price tag is notably different and will become a clear divide between these two. Because of the compact design, both systems need to factor in intelligent cooling, as they will likely be in operation 24×7. This is another clear area where the brands have gone in different directions here.

QNAP TS-464 NAS

168mm × 170mm × 226 mm

Synology DS423+ NAS

166 mm x 199 mm x 223 mm

The ventilation on the Synology DS423+ is certainly more visible but in a much more ‘branded’ and slick way. The QNAP TS-464 features no front-facing ventilation, instead using two small areas of ventilation on the sides of the chassis and the base of the TS-464 featuring further ventilation under each of the storage bays. The Synology on the other hand has much more passive airflow, with each of the individual storage bays being surrounded by a slit of ventilation and the side panel of the DS423+ having the Synology logo featured as further ventilation. Higher-end Synology desktop models feature metal mesh panels inside these logos to capture dust, but this is less of a concern in the more compact and discreet DS423+. Overall, I would certainly say that the Synology DS423+ have more visible efforts to maintain system temperature than the QNAP TS-464 (which is a real surprise when you see how the hardware these two systems are sporting compares) but both maintain a good operation temperature.

QNAP TS-464 NAS Synology DS423+ NAS

When you look at the rear of the TS-464 and DS423+ NAS, you see another big difference in how each system maintains their respective internal temperatures, with the QNAP featuring a single 120mm fan that covers the bulk of the internal hardware airflow path and the Synology featuring two 92mm fans that cover around 70% of the rear of the chassis. Of the two, I would say the QNAP TS-464 is the noisier in operation of the two (when populated with 4x 4TB WD Red HDDs) by the tiniest of margins, but it isn’t really till you entertain the idea of enterprise HDDs or drives larger than 10TB that you need to worry about ambient sound around these two systems. Both the DS423+ and TS-464 can have the rotations per minute (RPM) of their fans changed manually or left on automatic as the system changes the internal cooling to ensure maximum efficiency.

QNAP TS-464 NAS Synology DS423+ NAS

Overall, the design of the Synology DS423+ is still the better-looking system of the two and although I personally really like the copper and glossy look of the QNAP TS-464 NAS, I know that the bulk of users will want to ‘set up and forget’ their NAS, so these aesthetic design choices are less important to them. Equally, although the QNAP fan has the potential to cool its respective system much more, I think the Synology features a better balance of active airflow and passive ventilation overall. The QNAP still wins pretty big on its inclusion of a USB 3.2 Gen 2 One Touch Copy button enabled port for faster and more manual backup options (as well as still allow automated and connection-triggered backups as the Synology), but overall on points, this round belongs to the Synology DS423+ NAS.

QNAP TS-464 versus Synology DS423+ NAS – Internal Hardware

This is an area where you really see how both brands focus their priorities on the solutions they offer, as well as how the components common to NAS have evolved in the 2 years between their respective releases. The Synology DS423+ arrives with a familiar architecture to it’s predecessor (the DS420+) and is a fairly tried and tested formula by the brand. Synology was the first company to introduce NVMe SSD storage bays into desktop NAS systems around 5 years ago (something that QNAP has only really been catching up on in the last 2 YEARS). Likewise, Synology has made a few very brand-specific decisions in their system architecture that this rather more proprietary brand is often keen to implement. For example, the default DDR4 memory inside (2666Mhz SODIMM) is actually soldered to the main internal board (4x 256MB Modules), with an additional empty memory slot to allow an additional 4GB Synology-branded memory module. As the DS423+ has a CPU that has a maximum 8GB of memory, this is an oddly artificial limitation that results in the DS420+ only allowing 6GB of max memory, an odd move that is perhaps done out of system PCI/Bandwidth, rather than any kind of manufacturer restriction. The QNAP features a newer gen CPU (as you would expect after the later release) and this CPU allows up to 16GB of memory (4GB in the default model) across two upgradable slots. Likewise, returning to those M.2 NVMe slots, both system feature 2 bays that can be used for SSD storage upgrades, although both the DS423+ 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), Synology ONLY RECENTLY allowed NVMe Storage Pools on their platform, whereas QNAP  has allowed NVMes as standalone storage pools, for app booting, running the OS from and even their own special internal tiering system known as QTier. This is the first of several key differences between the QNAP TS-464 and Synology DS423+ NAS that show the divide in hardware between these units.

Model QNAP TS-464

Synology DS423+

Price £559               $650              €675

£508               $549              €569

Storage Media Support 4x SATA, 2x m.2 NVMe 3×1 for Cache/Pools/QTier 4x SATA, 2x NVMe SSD Cache/Pool Bays
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 2-6GB SODIMM DDR4 (4GB onboard)
PSU Power & Design 90W External PSU 100W External PSU
Physical Fans 1x 120m FAN 2x 92m FAN

Of course, the clearest difference that most PC builder-minded people are going to notice is the CPU. 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 Synology DS423+ and QNAP 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 QNAP 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 it’s 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 QNAP (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

Synology DS423+ NAS – Intel J4125 CPU

These additional CPU resources, as well as the increased maximum memory and flexibility of how the M.2 NVMe SSD slots can be used ultimately mean that in terms of internal hardware, the newer released QNAP TS-464 wins over the Synology DS423+ 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 it’s 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 there is still the lingering question of the Gen 2 slots on the DS423+ being 2×2 or 2×4 – which will potentially limit the M.2 NVMes on the DS423+ further still. So the QNAP still seems to have a better balance of NVMe SSD support in its architecture overall.

Synology DS423+ or QNAP TS-464 NAS – Ports & Connections

Now ports and connections on the Synology DS423+ and QNAP TS-464 NAS is an area that is INCREDIBLY diverse in it’s approach by either brand. Once again, the reasons clearly to do with the CPU choice and position on their respective brand portfolios, but also the brand’s own decisions in build architecture/priorities still massively continue to be a contributing factor here. The Synology DS423+ NAS certainly comes across as the weaker of the two here in its connectivity and although a lot of the QNAP’s advancements in connectivity could be described as ‘future upgrades and simply facilitating extras or addons’, it still manages to provide a greater deal of connectivity to the day 1 user than the Synology system here. The port(s) that almost certainly will be the one that jumps out immediately on each system is the network connections. The DS423+ NAS arrives with 2x 1GbE ports which, although allowing link aggregation to create 2GbE with a smart switch, was still a little underwhelming in 2023 (as we had already started seeing 2.5GbE arriving at the same price as 1GbE with a number of client hardware devices in 2020). The newer QNAP TS-464 features 2x 2.5GbE (so 5GbE via link aggregation and a supported switch) which now that some ISPs and budget switch manufacturers are providing affordable 2.5GbE solutions, will be incredibly useful. Then the is the additional PCIe upgrade slot on the QNAP NAS that allows upgrades towards 10GbE, dual-port 10GbE cards and even combo cards to add 10G and further M.2  NVMe bays via a single card. Again, there ARE upgrades and not something in the baseline model, but you can not argue with the future-proofing available here. Additionally, the DS923+ NAS released in December 2022 had the option to upgrade to 10GbE – something hugely absent here in the eyes of many on this 4xSATA and 2xNVMe DS423+ NAS. There is simply no avoiding that in the 2023 released DS423+, those 1GbE ports are something of a limiting factor.

Model QNAP TS-464

Synology DS423+

Network Ports 2x 2.5GbE 2x 1GbE
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 0
HDMI Ports 1x HDMI 2.0 4K 60FPS n/a
PCIe Upgrade Slots PCIe Gen 3×2 Slot (2Gb/s) n/a

After the network and PCIe differences that favour the TS-464, the distance between the 2020 and 2022 NAS hardware architecture here is further extended. The Synology DS423+ features a further USB 3.2 Gen 1 (5Gb/s) port, but LACKS the option to upgrade it’s storage down the line with an expansion (such as with the eSATA port on the DS920+ and DS923+ NAS supporting the DX517 official expansion). QNAP counters this on the TS-464 with the inclusion of another USB 3.2 Gen 2 (10Gb/s) port, as well as some (obviously less useful) USB 2.0 ports. These USB 2.0 Ports are primarily designed to be used in conjunction with the optional visual output (HDMI 2.0 4k 60FPS) on the QNAP as a KVM (Keyboard, video and mouse) setup with the included parallel HD Station application and its tool. 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. Expansions on the TS-464 are more diverse than the 5-Bay DX517 on the DS423+ (which again, is NOT supported anyway), 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. Overall, it comes as no surprise that in terms of hardware, the QNAP TS-464 still takes the first place, as the Synology DS423+ (like most of the brand’s solutions) is prioritizes the DSM platform and it’s tools/services over the hardware. Let’s discuss the software on each of these brands.

QNAP TS-464 or the Synology DS423+ NAS – Software

When you are choosing to buy a Synology or QNAP NAS, it is always worth bearing in mind that you are not just buying a bunch of hardware, but you are actually getting a fully-featured software solution. Both the Synology DS423+ and QNAP TS-464 arrive with each brand’s premium NAS software and services platform, DSM and QTS respectively. Both of these platforms include a traditional operating system level of accessibility and control, that can be accessed via pretty much any web browser or desktop OS, as well as numerous tailored mobile client applications. The Synology DSM platform is a lot more comparable in design and control with Mac OSX and is by far the more user-friendly option of the two. The QNAP QTS platform is a lot more comparable to Android in its initial GUI and then more like Windows in it’s navigation, arriving as the option with a greater deal of configuration and control, but with a steeper learning curve. Another big difference between QTS and DSM is how they present their services, with QNAP providing a larger degree of support of 3rd party applications (both in the app center and in the configuration of their own range of 1st party applications. Synology DSM on the other hand proves a larger and more impressive range of fist party tools that are designed to replace/improve upon the 3rd party tools you might be using, with many of it’s applications being comparable to top tier 3rd party paid tools in the market (the Synology collaboration suite, the Surveillance Station application and pretty much everything in Synology Drive, just as a start). The QNAP platform also, in it’s efforts to be as widely compatible and configurable as possible, occasionally stems into over-complexity and risks the user tripping over itself as it tries to manage the larger scale of configuration Whereas, although the Synology DSM platform may seem a pinch more closed and fixed, it manages to prevent the users from accidentally ruining their own storage system. Here is a full breakdown of the key applications that are included with the QNAP TS-464 and Synology DS423+, broken down into categories:

QNAP TS-464

Synology DS423+

Browser Support Supports all Browsers Supports all Browsers
Browser File Management Browser File Management
Photo/Music/Video Tools Photo/Music/Video Tools
Multimedia Console Synology Drive
AI Photo Recognition AI Photo Recognition
Edge m.2 Coral TPU Support
Storage Services
SED Drive Support SED Drive Support
QTier Synology Hybrid RAID
Hybrid Mount Hybrid Share
ISCSI Target/LUN ISCSI Target/LUN
vJBOD
Snapshots Snapshots
SSD Cache (Read/Write/Both) SSD Cache (Read/Write/Both)
Cloud Sync / QSync Cloud Sync
Ex-FAT is Free Fast RAID Rebuild
RAID Resync control RAID Resync control
Secure Erase Acrtive Backup Suite
Lots of Expansions (TR/TL) Hyper Backup
HBS 3 Synology CMS
Qfiling and Qsirch
Business Applications
QVR Pro – 8 Camera Licenses (+USB Camera Support) Surveillance Station – 2 Camera Licenses
Virtualization Station Virtual Machine Manager
Ubuntu Linux Station 18/20 Docker Support
Container Station Active Backup 365 & Workspace
Hypervisor Protector Synology Office, Chat, Calendar
QMailAgent Synology Mail / MailPlus
HD Station Synology C2 and Services
BoXafe
Security Councillor Security Councillor
Malware Remover Synology VPN Plus
McAfee Anti-Virus Scanning Log and Notification Center
QVPN Auto Blocking on SSH, Telnet etc
Log and Notification Center 256 bit Encryption
Auto Blocking on SSH, Telnet etc 2 Step Authentication
256 bit Encryption Firewall App
2 Step Authentication Access Protection and Allow/Deny list
Firewall App Synology Secure SignIn
Access Protection and Allow/Deny list Synology C2 Password

As you can see, both NAS brands provide similar levels of software, services and features, but they are presented in very different ways. Once again, I cannot emphasise enough how much more the QNAP platform is configurable but ALSO how it can often give you too much configuration and risk overwhelming less experienced users. The Synology DSM platform, for all its comparative rigidicy, is still overall the better software experience and you definitely see that Software over hardware priority from the brand clearly here. I have made long, LONG reviews on each of the NAS brand’s and their software platforms, which you can watch below for much, much more information on their respective strengths and weaknesses.

QNAP QTS 5.0 Review Synology DSM 7 Review

Ultimately, it will come as no surprise that Synology come out on top in terms of software compared with the QNAP. That is not to say that the QNAP QTS platform is not good, it really, really is and some of the applications that are included for home and business users are often genuinely impressive, unique and provide facilities to the end-user that are wholly unavailable on any other NAS platform (eg Multimedia Console as a single portal media manager, the 2-3 Click VM storages and repository that are available in Virtualization Station, Linux Station and Container Staton or the QuMagie AI-powered tool that is able to cover a greater range of subjects and categories that any other NAS photo tool out there). However, the QNAP QTS platform is not quite as polished, as user-friendly and as responsive as the Synology DSM platform overall. If you want a better idea how these two NAS software platforms compare directly (i.e face to face), then you can check out my DSM vs QTS video below:

Alternatively, if you are NOT interested in using the software included with your NAS, there is always the option to install TrueNAS – Something that is surprisingly easy on the QNAP NAS (see video below):

QNAP TS-464 or the Synology DS423+ NAS – Conclusion

Ultimately, choosing between the Synology DS423+ and QNAP TS-464 largely comes down to a question of hardware vs software. The QNAP TS-464 is by a long distance the more advanced in hardware in practically every way (thanks of course to the brand’s focus in this direction) which leads to that system having a tremendously large scope in terms of what you can do with it, how far the storage can be expanded and how upgradable the system can be. The QNAP is the better future-proof hardware choice and despite the Synology NAS platform having a stronger software platform, it still has a vast array of software and services available in QTS nonetheless. For those that are hardware-focused or want a NAS to support their existing 3rd party client tools and apps, the QNAP TS-464 is by and larger the better choice. The Synology DS423+ NAS on the other hand, despite its 2-3 year older hardware (already premiered in the 2020 released DS920+) and arguably safer/sensible stance on hardware in general, is still a great NAS that will likely becoming more popular and palatable in the 4-Bay NAS market as the pricing becomes a bit more flexible (as many will still weigh the DS423+ with the older DS920+ that still has stock floating around and opt for the latter). Add to that the core strength and first-party focus of DSM leading to this hardware+software solution providing you with a huge array of polished and premium feeling tools at your disposal. As long as you are happy to do things ‘Synology’s way’ and are looking for an easy to use system that will not tax the end-users brain, you will find Synology the better software choice overall.

QNAP TS-464 NAS – Spring/Summer 2022

Synology DS423+ NAS – Spring 2023

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 2×2/2×4)

Higher CPU Frequency, Efficiency & Proficiency

M.2 SSD Useable Tiered Storage Option

Reasons to Buy it?

Much more user-friendly

Synology Hybrid RAID for flexibility

Overall Better 1st Party Software

Better Surveillance Access/Streaming

Lower Price Point as it in the SOHO part of Syn’s Portfolio

Quieter Operation

First Party Accessories (HDD, SSD, Memory, etc) Available

Buy on Amazon

Where to Buy

Buy on Amazon

Where to Buy

 

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The ZimaBlade $64 Single Board NAS Server Review – Should Synology and QNAP Worry?

Par : Rob Andrews
20 septembre 2023 à 15:30

ZimaBlade Review – Cheap, Easy, Powerful? WHAT?

Over the last few years, we have seen a growing middle ground in private server ownership. For a long time, if users wanted to make the switch away from third-party cloud and towards owning their very own NAS server, they would opt to either buy a turnkey solution from brands such as Synology and QNAP, or they would decide to go full DIY and build a NAS completely from the ground up. However, in recent years, we’ve observed an emerging middle ground in the form of convenient pre-built NAS server solutions that arrive OS-free, ready for your own chosen third-party open-source software (such as UnRAID, TrueNAS, pfSense, OpenWRT, and more). This space has become quite exciting as server technology has become more efficient and affordable. Fast forward to the subject of today’s review: the ZimaBlade single board hackable server. IceWhale, the company behind it, premiered their first hackable single board, the Zimaboard, via crowdfunding last year with tremendous success, making a follow-up expected. The new product started its crowdfunding earlier in 2023 and is now in production, with early backers set to receive their units in January 2024. Fortunately, I was among the few to receive an early review sample. Today, I will dive deep into the ZimaBlade to determine if this unique alternative to the NAS server status quo deserves your data.

Hardware Highlights of the ZimaBlade Single Board Server:

  • Price: $64*-144** (Check HERE)
  • Two Versions: ZimaBlade 3760* / 7700**
  • Design: Fanless, Single PCB+Heatsink
  • CPUs:
    • Intel Celeron N3350* (2-Core, 2.4GHz Max)
    • Intel Celeron N3450 **(4-Core, 2.2GHz Max)
  • Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 500,(Frequency Up to 750 MHz)
  • Supports Intel® Quick Sync Video
  • Memory: 1x SODIMM RAM Slot (up to 16GB Option)
  • Storage: 32GB MMC Internal
  • Ports & Connections:
    • 2x SATA
    • 2x USB 3.2 Gen 1 (5Gb/s – A / C)
    • 1x 1GbE Network
    • 1x Mini-DisplayPort 1.2 (4K 60FPS)
  • 12V/3A USB Type-C Power (Optional Adapater Option)
  • Expansion: 1x PCIe 2.0 x4
  • Operation: Fanless / Silent
  • 107 x 80 x 23mm in Size and just 175grams
  • Software: Includes CasaOS (Ready out of the box), Compatibility: Can support practically any* server/router OS including Ubuntu, Windows, OpenWrt, pfSense, Android/Chromium and More

ZimaBlade Review – Quick Conclusion

I’m thoroughly impressed with this system. It challenges competitors from turnkey NAS, DIY NAS, and major cloud services with its competitive price point, comparable to a year’s subscription to cloud services. As a 2x NAS system, it offers great value, and DIY enthusiasts might find it hard to build a similar system at this price. While you can assemble a more powerful system with extra costs, it might compromise user-friendliness, power efficiency, and a compact design. The Zimmer blade stands out by offering a budget-friendly, capable, and user-friendly experience. Even though it’s a new entrant from crowdfunding, it checks all boxes. Its flexible OS is a boon for NAS beginners. Some design concerns exist, like the gen 2 Intel architecture and limited USB and ethernet ports. Yet, considering its price, these are minor. It’s a game-changer in the NAS domain, and I highly recommend it.

BUILD QUALITY - 10/10
HARDWARE - 7/10
PERFORMANCE - 8/10
PRICE - 10/10
VALUE - 10/10


9.0
PROS
👍🏻Very affordable
👍🏻Highly customizable
👍🏻Tons of purchase configurations to choose from
👍🏻Better value than a Raspberry Pi, and more powerful (Intel Celeron CPU)
👍🏻Silent operation
👍🏻Case design is 10/10
👍🏻Casa OS is very user-friendly
👍🏻USB Power is more efficient than a unique PSU (less waste)
👍🏻Upgradable memory up to 16GB
👍🏻FULL $144 kit option includes 2 HDD Cage
👍🏻Massive PCIe upgrade options
👍🏻USB and full SATA storage support
👍🏻Low 6/10 TDP on the CPU
👍🏻32GB OS eMMC Storage
👍🏻Numerous 3rd party OS supported (UnRAID, OpenWRT, OMV, pfsense, etc.)
CONS
👎🏻CPU is Gen2 Architecture
👎🏻No M.2 NVMe/SATA 6Gb/s Slot
👎🏻1GbE and only 1 port
👎🏻CasaOS pales in comparison to several other container focused NAS OS\', such as UnRAID, etc.


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ZimaBlade Review – Retail Packaging

Kudos to IceWhale; the retail packaging for this compact device leans heavily into the cyberpunk mod aesthetic, feeling industrial in design and presentation. It’s more steampunk than the garish designs of some competitors. While compact, the packaging fits the device perfectly.

What you get with the ZimaBlade varies depending on your crowdfunding tier since different tiers come with different extras. Regardless, the board and included cables come in a fantastic compact retail kit. This kit also contains a thank-you card from the original developer, expressing gratitude for supporting the project. While not the first to include such a gesture, it feels genuine and not merely a marketing tactic.

Depending on the tier you select, the accessories and retail kit your ZimaBlade comes with may vary. Remarkably, the entry-level tier priced at $64 provides a dual-core ZimaBlade, a USB-C thread cable, and SATA cable adapters. Memory must be purchased separately, and a Y-splitter cable is necessary for using more than one drive.

However, for $64, you get the essentials for your Intel Celeron dual-core 2-bay NAS server.

Opting for the top tier gets you the $144 ZimaBlade 7700 package. This includes the system, 16GB of memory, a USB-C power adapter, a Y-splitter SATA cable for connecting two drives, and a metal 3.5-inch SATA hard drive cage for storage. For just $144, you have a 2-bay Intel Celeron NAS, 16GB of memory, all the required cables, and PCIe upgrade options, offering substantial value for a NAS kit.

It’s refreshing to see a server like the ZimaBlade utilize USB-C power. While it likely won’t run solely on standard USB power, acquiring USB power adapters (even high-wattage ones) is easier and results in less waste compared to unique PSUs found in most other NAS devices. This advantage, previously seen in Raspberry Pi mini servers, makes the ZimaBlade even more compelling.

The provided SATA connector combines both SATA and a four-pin power connector. If you want to use both SATA ports, you’ll need a Y-splitter cable. Oddly, the baseline $64 ZimaBlade package includes only a single SATA and power cable instead of the split cable. A small price increase could have easily covered this minor addition, making it more user-friendly. Still, it’s a discreet and customizable option for adding more SATA storage.

The included hard drive cage is basic but well-crafted, offering space to mount the ZimaBlade and a cavity for a PCIe card. With rubber pads on the feet to dampen vibrations, it’s an upgrade over its predecessor, which was just the board. Overall, the ZimaBlade’s retail kit doesn’t disappoint. Both the lowest and highest buying options from the crowdfunding campaign are reasonably priced. Now, let’s discuss the design of the ZimaBlade itself.

ZimaBlade Review – Design

Earlier this year, I reviewed IceWhale’s first single-board server, the Zimaboard. I was impressed by its compact size. Now, the ZimaBlade is even more compact with a distinctive design, reminiscent of a 1980s cassette Walkman. This small case manages to include numerous ports, connections, and hardware.

The sides feature a removable U-shaped slot design, and the top boasts a thick transparent plastic panel. The base and rear, made of metal, dissipate heat from key components like the CPU, which connects to the backboard with thermal paste and silicone.

The rear panel acts as a 2 sided heatsink (connected to a narrower ridged panel), efficiently releasing heat. Further vents aid in heat management. This ingenious thermal design ensures silent operation. Mechanical hard drives might produce some noise, but the ZimaBlade itself is silent.

The transparent top panel showcases the main control board and the SODIMM upgrade slot. I’m surprised IceWhale hasn’t introduced alternative cases, as some users might appreciate custom decals. Still, the design, reminiscent of old-school cassette tapes, is pleasing.

Comparing the ZimaBlade and the earlier Zimaboard, it’s evident IceWhale has opted for a different aesthetic. The older model had a large heatsink for heat dispersion, giving it an industrial look, while the ZimaBlade is sleeker and more compact.

The newer model needs good airflow but is a testament to the company’s dedication to refining their design. In conclusion, I’m enamored with the design choices of the ZimaBlade. It’s convenient, efficient, and its compact design compared to its predecessor makes it ideal for a hardware desktop lab. Now, let’s explore its internal components.

Zimablade Review – Internal Hardware

When Ice Whale said this was a single-board microserver, they weren’t kidding. Once you remove the external plastic plates and top transparent panel, you are left with just a single board. It’s about the size of a credit card, and components are distributed on both sides of the PCB. The CPU is situated at the base of the system with the memory on top. The designers have achieved an incredibly efficient layout to maximize component distribution. Removing the top panel was easily done by unscrewing two screws and sliding out the black plastic surround panel.

As the system doesn’t utilize any active cooling fans, the placement of heat sinks and the distribution of components are paramount. The ports and connections around the outer edge are clearly separated from the main SODIMM slot.

Interestingly, the predecessor Zimmer board didn’t feature upgradable memory; instead, it came with memory pre-soldered to the controller board. This is common in cost-efficient systems. Not only does it result in savings, but it also provides a more predictable and stable system. However, with the newer generation Zimablade, there’s a shift to the more popular use of an upgradable SODIMM slot. The baseline 64 model doesn’t come with any memory, but both the $70 and $80 tiers include either 8GB or 16GB of memory that fits into this SODIMM slot, and the CPUs support up to a maximum of 16GB.

On the base of the PCB, there’s an Intel Celeron processor powering the system. The device’s scale will inevitably draw comparisons to the established Raspberry Pi, mini PCs, and server devices. One crucial distinction is the CPU profile. Raspberry Pi systems utilize ARM processors, known for power efficiency but with limitations in high-performance environments. In contrast, the Zimablade features an Intel x86 64-bit processor, offering more robust hardware capabilities. This CPU, located at the system’s base, relies heavily on heat dissipation provided by the metal top panel.

For those choosing the more affordable Zimablade, it comes with an Intel dual-core Gen 2 architecture Celeron processor. While there are hints online about the specific CPUs in each Zimablade model, the official website isn’t explicit. Further investigation will clarify the CPU architecture, but it’s known to be a Celeron dual-core N3350 with a max clock speed of 2.4 GHz. Compared to contemporary systems, this might seem a bit underwhelming. Still, given the Zimablade’s price point, it’s reasonable.

The pricier model, ranging from $80 to $104, boasts a N3450 quad-core Celeron processor with a clock speed of 2.2 GHz. This boost in cores will be advantageous for multi-user environments and those looking to experiment with diverse operating systems.

The system also comes with some flash memory for storing the OS and other services. However, its modest 32 GB should suffice for the scale of the current mass software; larger, more aggressive software platforms may find this limiting, leading to an immediate need for additional storage for further app installation. Regrettably, the system doesn’t offer any form of internal storage upgradability. While you can connect USB storage drives, SATA HDD/SSDs, and even PCI-E cards to add further SATA media or M.2 NVMe storage drives, the system lacks any upgradable internal storage option. It would have been nice to see an M.2 NVMe or even an M.2 SATA slot, allowing for additional storage to be added to the base model, similar to how one can upgrade memory via the SODIMM slot. Additionally, an SD card slot would have been a welcome inclusion. However, given the compact size, there’s limited space to work with.

I might sound repetitive, but it’s genuinely challenging to criticize the Zimablade regarding its hardware. Given its price point and unique position in the market as a single-board, hackable server with few competitors, what you’re getting is impressive. This is an Intel-powered, 16 GB memory server with an open operating system that could easily fit in your pocket and runs off USB (with the appropriate adapter).

While the hardware inside the Zimablade isn’t cutting-edge, it surpasses what other architectures and brands offer at this scale and price. Let’s discuss the ports and connections.

Zimablade Review – Ports and Connections

The connectivity of the Zimablade is quite impressive. The ports are situated on three sides of the device, catering to a variety of needs.

Borrowed from the previous Zimmer board release are two SATA connections on the exterior. Coupled with an additional four-pin power connection, this board can link to standard internal SATA hard drives and SSDs. Notably, even the base model comes with a single SATA connector, while higher tiers offer more.

The system provides two USB ports: a general-purpose USB 3.2 Gen 1 and a USB Type-C mainly for power. Due to the device’s power requirements, users will most likely have only one USB port for peripherals.

Visual output is via a mini display port. Adapters may be necessary for standard monitors and TVs. Higher Zimablade tiers do include these adapters.

A highlight is the external PCIe upgrade slot. It offers versatility, allowing users to enhance the system with various cards. There are limitations, especially with power-hungry cards or those requiring more bandwidth. Yet, it’s a distinguishing feature that sets the Zimablade apart from its competitors.

To sum it up, the Zimablade offers a remarkable range of scalability options, especially when considering its size and cost.

The potential for upgrades and enhancements, both in hardware and software, makes it a valuable asset for tech enthusiasts and developers.

ZimaBlade Review – Casa OS Software

The landscape of personal cloud solutions is rife with options, each offering unique selling points. The Zimablade, entering this highly competitive space, packages its offering with CasaOS – a solution poised to redefine the relationship between hardware and software in the NAS ecosystem. But how does CasaOS fare, especially when set against stalwarts like Synology DSM, TrueNAS, and UnRAID? Let’s explore.

Key Features and Strengths:

  • Digital Privacy at the Forefront: CasaOS, developed by the visionary team at IceWhale Technology, centers its design philosophy around safeguarding family data. Offering tools for encrypted communications, centralized multimedia storage, and smart home device management, CasaOS prioritizes digital safety in an age where data breaches are commonplace.
Click to view slideshow.
  • Unrivalled Compatibility: One of CasaOS’s crowning attributes is its adaptability. The system integrates effortlessly across a multitude of hardware platforms, from x86 PCs to Raspberry Pi. With support for leading OS platforms, CasaOS promises a smooth experience, regardless of the tech ecosystem in which it operates.
Click to view slideshow.
  • Expansive Application Universe: With over 20 pre-installed docker-based apps and 50+ community-verified ones, CasaOS provides users with a veritable buffet of digital tools. Whether you’re into home entertainment, require VPN solutions, or are seeking quality streaming apps, CasaOS has you covered.
Click to view slideshow.
  • Holistic Data Management: CasaOS consolidates data storage, eliminating the need to juggle between platforms like Dropbox or Google Drive. With a promise of rapid 10x syncing speed and no associated data traffic or subscription fees, CasaOS champions efficient data management.
Click to view slideshow.

Points for Reflection:

  • Comparative Lightness: While CasaOS supports a plethora of container applications, when benchmarked against established players like Synology DSM, TrueNAS, and UnRAID, it does come across as lite. Features such as ZFS support and 1st party mobile applications are conspicuous by their absence, leading to a heavier reliance on 3rd party container/docker apps.
Click to view slideshow.
  • Gradual Transition to More Established Platforms: CasaOS, while robust in its offering, might be seen by many as a nascent stage in their NAS journey. As users grow accustomed to the intricacies of NAS operations, there’s a likelihood they may transition to a more comprehensive NAS OS. Platforms like UnRAID, with similar ease in container deployment but richer in 1st party features, often appear more attractive in the long run.

  • Value Proposition: The inclusion of CasaOS with the Zimablade, especially at its introductory price range of $64-144 during its crowdfunding launch, is commendable. The synergy of hardware and software at this price point offers exceptional value for beginners. However, seasoned NAS enthusiasts might crave the depth found in mature OS offerings in the market. That said, it does allow for both local easy GUI access in a web browser AND terminal level  access easily:

The Zimablade, paired with CasaOS, makes a compelling entry into the personal cloud solution domain. CasaOS, with its focus on user-centric design, data privacy, and a wide array of applications, sets a solid foundation. However, as with many products in their infancy, there’s potential room for evolution and growth. Users looking for a lite, budget-friendly introduction to the world of NAS will find Zimablade and CasaOS an excellent starting point. Yet, as their needs expand and mature, migration to more established platforms might be on the horizon. Still, better to have a great ‘out-the-box’ OS included for day 1, than not!

Also, the Casa OS will immediately boot on day 1, so no need to muck around with Bios with a visual output+Keyboard+mouse on day 1, as it will immediately appear on the network on your first boot in a few mins and be accessible via your web browser. All in all, especially at this price point, incredibly impressive, if a little lite. If you want to test out the CasaOS software before you purchase a system to run it on (Zimablade or otherwise), you can use the link below to test the software out in your web browser:

Click Below to access Casa OS Software Demo in your web browser

ZimaBlade Review – Verdict and Conclusion

If it hasn’t already become painfully obvious, I absolutely love this little system. Whichever way you look at it, this device is completely undermining a lot of competition from both turnkey NAS, DIY NAS, and established cloud hosting via third-party services like Google and Dropbox. This arrives at a price point that is comparable to a year of subscription cloud services at just a few hundred gigabytes. It’s also a 2x NAS system with inclusive operating system and app support that arrives at a third or even a quarter of the price of most established turnkey NAS. And for those looking to build their own modest low-powered NAS from scratch, I genuinely think you would struggle to assemble similar levels of hardware that we see here for the same price.

Sure, you could definitely assemble a system for a few hundred dollars extra that is more powerful, more expandable, more customizable, but in doing that, you would end up with higher power consumption, a larger physical footprint, multiple warranties to navigate, and ultimately end up with a far less user-friendly experience than what is on offer here. Most of the time, when it comes to technology, you will tend to find that it’s almost impossible to find a system that is low price, high capability, and user-friendly. Generally, you’ll have to sacrifice one of those. However, in the case of the Zimmer blade, although we are still talking about a system that is just in the process of leaving crowdfunding, it somehow manages to earn a big green tick in all three of those areas. Additionally, the fact that you are not locked into a single operating system and the inclusive OS, though light, is hugely adaptable, also means that the early NAS enthusiast and beginner in the world of private server ownership can use this as a learning tool that will still deliver value many years from now. Small design choices about the system I’m less keen on would include the gen 2 architecture of that Intel processor leading to slight bottlenecks in some areas, the realistically usable USB port being 5 gigabits per second—having just one of them is somewhat inconvenient—and the one-gigabit ethernet network connection out of the box is another bottleneck. However, when you put all these complaints into perspective regarding the device’s price point, they simply become irrelevant. Hands down, this is one of the most exciting NAS releases in both turnkey NAS and for DIY server builders I have ever reviewed, and I cannot recommend it enough.

IceWhale ZimaBlade PROS IceWhale ZimaBlade CONS
  • Very affordable
  • Highly customizable
  • Tons of purchase configurations to choose from
  • Better value than a Raspberry Pi, and more powerful (Intel Celeron CPU)
  • Silent operation
  • Case design is 10/10
  • Casa OS is very user-friendly
  • USB Power is more efficient than a unique PSU (less waste)
  • Upgradable memory up to 16GB
  • FULL $144 kit option includes 2 HDD Cage
  • Massive PCIe upgrade options
  • USB and full SATA storage support
  • Low 6/10 TDP on the CPU
  • 32GB OS eMMC Storage
  • Numerous 3rd party OS supported (UnRAID, OpenWRT, OMV, pfsense, etc.)
  • CPU is Gen2 Architecture
  • No M.2 NVMe/SATA 6Gb/s Slot
  • 1GbE and only 1 port
  • CasaOS pales in comparison to several other container focused NAS OS’, such as UnRAID, etc.
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The Best NAS Enclosure Cases on AliExpress for Your Custom Server Build

Par : Rob Andrews
15 septembre 2023 à 15:30

The Best Desktop and Rackmount NAS Enclosures on AliExpress

AliExpress, a vast digital bazaar teeming with tech offerings, presents a delightful challenge for the DIY enthusiast: the sheer magnitude of choice. Among its labyrinthine aisles, the domain of NAS enclosures emerges as a critical niche for those seeking to safeguard their ever-growing digital assets. Whether it’s the streamlined aesthetic of a desktop storage hub or the powerhouse efficiency of a rackmount system, the choices are as diverse as they are numerous. However, the myriad of options can often turn from a boon to a boggle. Enter this buyer’s guide, meticulously crafted to streamline your journey. Instead of sifting through the thousands, we’ve distilled the essence of AliExpress’s offerings down to an elite list of 10. Each selection has been handpicked, not just for its quality and performance, but for its ability to deliver unmatched value. So, come along as we demystify the expansive world of NAS enclosures, presenting a curated roadmap designed to guide you to the zenith of decentralized storage solutions on AliExpress. Your perfect pick, after all, might just be a click away!

Disclaimer – The Jonsbo N1, N2 and N3 are STILL the Best NAS Enclosures

Jonsbo’s range of NAS enclosures stands out as an industry benchmark for those keen on custom desktop NAS builds. These enclosures seamlessly blend aesthetics with functionality, showcasing a meticulous design ethos that addresses both the visual and technical demands of modern users. The build quality is exceptional, employing high-grade materials that not only ensure durability but also aid in efficient heat dissipation, a critical factor for continuous NAS operations. Furthermore, Jonsbo has consistently demonstrated a forward-thinking approach by incorporating features that cater to future expansion and adaptability. Their user-friendly design ensures easy installation and maintenance, making them a preferred choice for both novices and seasoned builders. Backed by positive user reviews and a reputation for reliability, Jonsbo NAS enclosures are, without a doubt, one of the best investments for those aiming to craft a high-performance, custom desktop NAS system.

Jonsbo N1 5/6 Bay

Price (9/23) $96

Jonsbo N2 5/6 Bay

Price (9/23) $89

Jonsbo N3 5/6 Bay

Price (9/23) $92

Note – FULL Jonsbo N2 NAS Build Written Build Guide HERE and YouTube Tutorial HERE


Best DiY 2-Bay NAS Case on Aliexpress – The X8

Price (9/23) $130 (Check Stock HERE)

2-bay empty enclosures play a pivotal role in the realm of DIY desktop NAS (Network Attached Storage) server builds. They offer enthusiasts and professionals a blank canvas, enabling them to handpick their preferred storage drives based on specific needs and budget. These enclosures typically come equipped with essential connectivity options such as USB, eSATA, and gigabit Ethernet, ensuring that data transfer speeds meet the requirements of most home or small business users. Furthermore, their compact design ensures efficient use of desktop space while also providing easy access for drive maintenance or upgrades. For many DIY enthusiasts, these 2-bay enclosures are the perfect balance between simplicity and expandability, offering an affordable and customizable solution for decentralized data storage. In terms of price point, scale and ease of setup, the X8 2-Bay enclosure is one of the very few serviceable 2 HDD NAS enclosures on Aliexpress. That said, I would always recommend skipping 2x bay enclosures in a DiY build, as they lack the expandability long term and a 4-bay device would likely use comparable power consumption anyway. Still, if you really want a 2-Bay NAS option, the X8 is a good start:

Click to view slideshow.

Best DiY 4-Bay NAS Case on Aliexpress – The Innovision 4 HDD Enclosure

Price (9/23) $57.90 (Check Stock HERE)

The Innovision 4 is an exemplary 4-bay NAS enclosure tailored for enthusiasts and professionals who demand both aesthetics and high performance. Outfitted with four 3.5″ hot-swappable SATA/SAS drive bays, it offers unparalleled convenience for drive management and upgrades. Designed to seamlessly house a Mini-ITX motherboard with dimensions up to 170*170mm, the Innovision 4 remains vigilant in thermal management, incorporating an 80mm silent cooling fan. Its standout feature, a high-quality and stable 6Gb/s Mini SAS backplane, ensures brisk data transfers and consistent reliability. Users are kept well-informed of the system’s operational status through a comprehensive array of LED indicators, paired elegantly with a front panel (FP) controller. Visually, the Innovision 4 radiates a contemporary design ethos and is crafted with precision, using 1.0mm Superior SGCC, PC, and ABS materials. Additional storage versatility is provided with an internal 2.5″ SSD bay. Connectivity options are ample, featuring both USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 ports on the front. Flexibility is further accentuated in its power supply compatibility, accommodating both standard 1U and Flex 1U formats. Perfectly suited for diverse NAS storage needs, whether for home setups or enterprise solutions, and even cloud storage, the Innovision 4 weighs 4.3kg net and is securely packed in a carton with EP padding. For those seeking a harmonious blend of design and functionality in their NAS solution, the Innovision 4 emerges as a compelling choice.

  • 4 x3.5″ hot-swappable SATA / SAS drive bays
  • Supports 170*170mm Mini-ITX motherboard
  • Comes with 1pcs 80mm silent fan
  • Support standard 1U / Flex 1U power supply
  • With high-quality &Stable 6Gb/s Mini SAS backplane
  • Richful Indicating workings status Led and FP controller
  • Fashion design & Exquisite workmanship, OEM Available
Click to view slideshow.

Hardware Specifications:

Model
 NAS04A
Dimensions
 L205*W265*H195mm
Material
 1.0mm Superior SGCC+PC+ABS
Storage Bays
 4* 3.5 “/2.5” Hard Disk Bays(Front),1*2.5”SSD Bay(Inside)
Backplane
 Hotswap function,With 6Gbps SATA Backplane
Cooling Fans
 1*8025mm Cooling fan
Main board
 Support Mini ITX (The height of the heatsink should be less 30mm)
USB interface
 1*USB 2.0 Ports,1*USB 3.0 Port (Front)
Indicator / Switch
 Power SW/Reset SW*1,Power/HDD LED*1, NIC LED*3,Open Alarm LED*1
Power Supply
 Support 1U Flex / Standard Server Powersupply
Application area
 NAS Storage for home/enterprise, Cloud Storage
Packing Info.
 Net weight 4.3kg, gross weight 5.00kg
Packing method
 Carton + EP
Package size
 320mm*240mm*240mm

Best DiY 6-Bay NAS Case on Aliexpress – The R6 Tower

Price (9/23) $59.20 (Check Stock HERE)

The R6 (hot swap) stands out as a compelling 6-bay NAS enclosure that strikes the right balance between form, function, and expandability. With dimensions of 243 * 255 * 221mm, it boasts a build made from high-strength 1.0mm galvanized steel combined with aluminum panels, reflecting a high-grade aesthetic that complements its robust structure. Designed to accommodate a Mini-ITX motherboard sized 17cm x 17cm, it ensures compatibility without compromising on space. Critical to its functionality, the enclosure supports a 1U power supply of size 15 * 8 * 4 cm, while ensuring the CPU radiator height stays within a 40mm threshold. Its efficient thermal management is further accentuated with a 12CM fan, ensuring optimal operating temperatures. A standout feature is its capacity to support either 6 3.5″ or 6 2.5″ hot-swappable drives, offering versatility and ease of access. Notably, while the power unit is not included, it is compatible with the POS small 1U power specification. The R6 also offers a standard open key and a convenient USB interface for added connectivity. For those considering scaling up from a 4-bay NAS, the R6 presents an enticing proposition. It offers 50% more storage capacity, granting users the flexibility to handle increasing data needs while maintaining a compact footprint. All these attributes make the R6 not just a viable choice, but a forward-thinking investment for those prioritizing both space and data scalability.

Hardware Highlights:

  • Size: 243 * 255 * 221mm (depth * height * width)
  • Material: high strength 1.0mm galvanized steel, aluminum panels
  • Motherboard: 17cm x 17cm (Mini-ITX)
  • 1U power supply Size 15 * 8 * 4 cm
  • CPU Fan/HSHeight is Within 40mm
  • Fan: 1 12CM Fan
  • Bays: 6 3.5 “or 6 2.5” hard drive hot swappable
  • PSU: POS small 1U power (not included)
  • Extras: Key locked bays, a USB interface Power supply Supports FLEX 1U 15*8*4CM
Click to view slideshow.

 


Best Budget DiY 8-Bay NAS Case on Aliexpress – The N8 LCD Case

Price (9/23) $136 (Check Stock HERE)

The N8 LCD equipped 8-Bay Empty NAS Enclosure/Case by Jonsbo is a masterclass in design and efficiency. Built with a sturdy combination of steel and aluminum, it’s designed to be both durable and visually appealing. With a focus on expandability, the N8 provides eight hot-swap locations for 3.5-inch hard drives and an additional slot for a 2.5-inch solid-state drive. Its compact structure does not compromise on performance; it accommodates a graphics card up to 240mm in length and a CPU heatsink with a height up to 65mm.

This mini server chassis is air-cooled and supports a FLEX type 1U sized power unit. Furthermore, its compatibility with M-ATX motherboards up to 9.6 * 9.6 inches ensures versatility for various configurations. The N8 chassis package comes standard, and while it does not include the motherboard, hard drive, graphics card, or power, it sets the stage for a high-performing NAS setup. It’s not just about function, as its aesthetics are also notable with its sleek design that is sure to fit seamlessly in any tech environment.

Click to view slideshow.

Key Features:

  • Material: Robust blend of steel and aluminum for durability.
  • Storage: Eight 3.5-inch hot-swap bays and one 2.5-inch SSD slot.
  • Expansion: Four full height 12CM expansion slots.
  • Compact & Efficient: Mini server chassis with air cooling.
  • Motherboard Compatibility: Fits M-ATX motherboards up to 9.6 * 9.6 inches.
  • Graphics & CPU: Supports graphics cards up to 240MM and CPU heatsinks up to 65MM.
  • Power: FLEX 1U size compatible, 150 * 80 * 40mm.
  • Dimensions: Height 220mm, Width 305mm, Length 340mm.
  • Weight: 9.6KG.
  • Brand: Jonsbo – reputable and recognized in the tech industry.

Best Scalable DiY 8-Bay NAS Case on Aliexpress – The 18L Decal Chassis

Price (9/23) $247.02 (Check Stock HERE)

The 18L 8-Bay NAS chassis emerges as a contemporary and versatile solution for the discerning tech enthusiast. Unlike traditional NAS offerings, the 18L doesn’t merely cater to the usual storage needs; it’s tailored for those seeking a multifunctional unit capable of blending seamlessly into diverse roles. The latest upgrade to version 1.2 brings several significant enhancements. The top cover glass, once a distinctive feature, has now been replaced with a ventilated metal cover for improved cooling. Hard disk spacing has been expanded for better ventilation, moving from 27.3mm to 29.8mm. Notably, the power supply’s exhaust position has transitioned from the front to the rear, enhancing airflow and thermal management. The front cover’s design has also evolved, transitioning from screws to a more user-friendly magnetic buckle. And while the number of lower fans has been reduced from four to two, this is balanced by the more efficient design alterations that prioritize heat dispersion.

Click to view slideshow.

In its essence, the 18L offers different configurations, ranging from an 8-bay setup paired with a 1U power supply to setups that accommodate varying numbers of bays with SFX and ATX power supplies. Its unique structure addresses the common issue in the NAS world: the heat buildup from higher-performance processors. By adopting a hierarchical design, the 18L ensures that users aren’t restricted to only low-power devices, paving the way for the integration of more powerful processing units. As a result, the chassis can transcend its primary storage function, doubling as a computing unit for tasks like rendering or even as a game console for your living room. Additionally, the inclusion of wood art material choices, from black walnut to mahogany, means that your NAS won’t just be a piece of tech equipment; it can be a stylish addition that complements your home decor.

Key Updates to 18L 8-Bay NAS Chassis (Version 1.2):

  • Replacement of top glass cover with ventilated metal cover.
  • Expanded hard disk spacing from 27.3mm to 29.8mm.
  • PSU exhaust position shifted from front to rear.
  • Transition of front cover fixation from screws to a magnetic buckle.
  • Reduction of lower fans from four to two.
  • Chassis includes: chassis body, 4-bay cage (x2), 2-bay backplane (x4), and a 2-bay replacement cage.
  • Does not come with USB front interface cable, SATA data cable, or backplane power supply module cable.

Best 1U Rackmount NAS Case on Aliexpress – The Innovision 4-Bay

Price (9/23) $109 / $188 with 400W PSU (Check Stock HERE)

The Innovision 4-Bay 1U rackmount NAS chassis presents a cutting-edge solution for modern data storage and management needs. Spanning a depth of 560mm, this 1U chassis features 4 hot-swappable drive bays, all powered by a 6GB Mini SAS backplane, ensuring swift and stable data transfers. Users have the flexibility to choose from three distinct configurations: the base version that includes the chassis with a SATA backplane, 4 HDD trays, and four 4028mm fans; a second version that augments the base with a robust 1U 400W power supply; and a third variant that supplements the base option with practical two-section slide rails, facilitating easier installations in rackmount scenarios.

This chassis doesn’t just champion function but is equally attentive to form. It’s optimized for server configurations and can accommodate motherboards up to 12″x10.5″ in size. Ventilation is adeptly managed with four 4028mm PWM cooling fans, ensuring that components stay within optimal thermal thresholds. Its construction, forged from Super Anti-finger ROHs SGCC and durable plastic, exudes quality while resisting wear and tear. For those looking at expansion capabilities, the Innovision 4-Bay chassis provides an option for standard PCI/PCIE lateral expansion slots. Power compatibility is versatile, with the chassis supporting standard 1U power units up to 225mm. Storage is comprehensive with four 3.5″ SAS3/SATA3 hot-swap drive bays and an additional internal 2.5″ drive bay.

Designed for a multitude of applications, from handling large data sets to catering to the Internet of Things, cloud storage, and security monitoring, the Innovision 4-Bay is a formidable contender in the 1U rackmount space. It’s worth noting for those seeking alternatives or variations, the CSE_S16504 chassis is available, supporting even larger motherboards of dimensions up to 13″x12″. Moreover, users can opt for a high-quality, stable SAS/SATA backplane with options ranging up to 12Gb/s, available in either SATA or Mini-SAS SFF8087 interfaces.

Highlights of the Innovision 4-Bay Rackmount:

  • Compact Design: 1U chassis with a depth of 560mm, optimized for server configurations.
  • Flexible Configurations: Three distinct options catering to diverse needs, ranging from base configurations to those with enhanced power supplies or slide rails.
  • Storage Capacity: 4 hot-swappable 3.5″ SAS3/SATA3 drive bays with a 6GB Mini SAS backplane, and an additional internal 2.5″ drive bay.
  • Cooling Efficiency: Comes equipped with four 4028mm PWM cooling fans, ensuring optimal thermal management.
  • Motherboard Compatibility: Accommodates motherboards up to 12″x10.5″ in size.
  • Durable Construction: Built from Super Anti-finger ROHs SGCC and high-quality plastic material.
  • Expansion Capability: Option for standard PCI/PCIE lateral expansion slots.
  • Versatile Power Compatibility: Supports standard 1U power units up to 225mm.
  • Multifunctional Applications: Ideal for large data sets, Internet of Things, cloud storage, and security monitoring.
  • Alternative Model Available: CSE_S16504 chassis for those seeking variations or larger motherboard support.
  • Backplane Options: High-quality, stable SAS/SATA backplanes with speeds up to 12Gb/s, available in either SATA or Mini-SAS SFF8087 interfaces.

Best 2U Rackmount NAS Case on Aliexpress – The 12-Bay NF25612

Price (9/23) $156 (Check Stock HERE)

The 12-Bay NF25612 rackmount NAS enclosure offers an advanced storage solution tailored for robust enterprise needs. Housed in an optimized 2U rackmount chassis, this system ensures seamless compatibility with motherboards, with the NF5612 supporting sizes up to 12″x10.5″ and the NF6512 catering to larger dimensions up to 12″x13″. Cooling is efficiently managed with three 8038mm hot-swappable PWM fans, guaranteeing optimal thermal conditions even under intensive operations. The chassis, crafted from Super Anti-finger ROHs SGCC and premium plastic material, promises durability and longevity. At its core, the NF25612 boasts a high-quality Mini SAS 6.0Gb/s backplane, ensuring rapid and reliable data transfers. Storage capacity is ample with 12 hot-swappable 3.5″ SAS3/SATA3 drive bays, complemented by two internal 2.5″ drive bays. Power needs are flexibly met with options ranging from 500-800W, with both single and redundant 1U 80 Plus Server power supplies available. The enclosure also offers versatile expansion slots, with configurations that can include 7 low profile or up to 3 full-height & full-length slots. Primarily designed for high-end applications, the NF25612 is perfectly suited for corporate databases, data centers, enterprise servers, and more. For those seeking alternative configurations, the CSE_S26508 chassis is available, compatible with even larger motherboard dimensions.

Highlights:

  • Optimized Design: Streamlined 2U rackmount server chassis.
  • Motherboard Compatibility: Supports sizes up to 12″x13″, depending on the model.
  • Efficient Cooling: Features three hot-swappable 8038mm PWM cooling fans.
  • Robust Construction: Built from Super Anti-finger ROHs SGCC and durable plastic.
  • Ample Storage: 12 hot-swap 3.5″ drive bays, complemented by two 2.5″ internal bays.
  • Flexible Power Options: Ranges from 500-800W with single and redundant supply choices.
  • Expansion Versatility: Up to 7 low profile or 3 full-height expansion slots.
  • Diverse Applications: Ideal for corporate databases, data centers, and enterprise-level needs.
  • Alternate Model: CSE_S26508 chassis for broader motherboard compatibility.


Best 3U Rackmount NAS Case on Aliexpress – The 16-Bay R366-16

Price (9/23) $367 (Check Stock HERE)

The 16-Bay R366-16 rackmount NAS enclosure stands out as a masterfully engineered solution tailored for intricate storage needs and diverse applications. Set within a 3U space, its dimensions span 482(W)660(D)133mm(H), accommodating a motherboard size up to 12″ x 13″ – ensuring compatibility with EATX, ATX, MATX, and ITX mainboards. A distinguishing feature of the R366-16 is its substantial storage capacity; it can hold up to sixteen 3.5-inch hot-swappable hard disks and includes brackets for two additional 2.5-inch OS drives, giving users maximum configuration flexibility. Alongside its storage prowess, the enclosure offers an optical drive room designed for notebook slim drives. Airflow is optimized with four standard 80mm cooling fans, ensuring the internal components stay at peak performance temperatures. Furthermore, this NAS is built with a dedication to longevity and stability, evidenced by its SGCC case material and truly isolated anti-vibration design. Additional design considerations, such as the user-friendly lifting handle, make installation and transport remarkably effortless. Front panel settings include two USB2.0 ports, various indicators, and switch functions, offering easy access and clear operational status at a glance. Adhering to CE and RoHS standards, the R366-16 demonstrates a commitment to quality and environmental responsibility.

Click to view slideshow.

Highlights:

  • Generous Storage: 16 hot-swappable 3.5″ drives, with brackets for two 2.5″ OS drives.
  • Motherboard Compatibility: Supports up to 12″ x 13″, compatible with a range of mainboard sizes.
  • Optimized Airflow: Equipped with four standard 80mm cooling fans.
  • Build Quality: SGCC material with a thickness of 1.2MM ensures durability.
  • Anti-Vibration Design: Ensures drive longevity and consistent performance.
  • User-Centric Features: Front panel USB ports and a user-friendly lifting handle.
  • Expansion Slots: Supports seven full-height and vertical add-on cards.
  • Broad OS Support: Compatible with all operating systems.
  • Environmental Commitment: CE and RoHS compliant.

Best 4U Rackmount NAS Case on Aliexpress – The R466 24 Bay Industrial Case

Price (9/23) $578 (Check Stock HERE)

The R466 24-Bay 4U rackmount NAS enclosure epitomizes a blend of vast storage capacity and robust design tailored for intricate storage needs in industrial environments. Occupying a 4U rack space with dimensions of 482(W)660(D)178 mm(H), the unit is engineered to accommodate a motherboard size up to 12″ x 13″. Its prime highlight is the substantial storage provision with 24 slots for 3.5-inch HDD trays. Built with the robust Ma Steel and a flowers-free zinc plating, it promises durability and resilience against industrial wear and tear. The enclosure is optimized for efficient cooling, featuring four standard 80mm cooling fans. Its panel is designed for user convenience, housing two USB2.0 ports, power and restart switches, and a set of indicative lights. With an option to incorporate either an ATX PSU or a PS2 redundant power supply, the unit ensures reliable power management. Moreover, it offers seven full-height and straight expansion slots for enhanced functionality. Every detail of the R466, from its build quality to its impressive storage capacity, is designed to deliver unmatched performance in demanding settings. However, it’s essential to note that while the product offers immense value, the shipping costs due to its size, weight, and origin (China) are considerably high, at $166.74.

Click to view slideshow.

Highlights:

  • Capacious Storage: Features 24 slots for 3.5-inch HDD trays.
  • Durable Build: Made with Ma Steel with flowers-free zinc plating, and a thickness of 1.2MM.
  • Efficient Cooling: Outfitted with four standard 80mm cooling fans.
  • Power Options: Compatibility with ATX PSU or PS2 redundant power supply.
  • User-Friendly Panel: Provides two USB2.0 ports, power/restart switches, and a suite of indicative lights.
  • Expansion Capability: Supports seven full-height and straight expansion slots.
  • Quick Delivery: 1 week for samples and 2 weeks for bulk orders.
  • Weight: Gross weight of 20KGS, Net weight of 16KGS.
  • Large Shipment Capability: Can be shipped in bulk with container loading quantities specified for various container sizes.
  • Shipping Costs: Due to its volume and weight, shipping comes at a premium of $166.74.

Best Hyper Scale Rackmount NAS Case on Aliexpress – The Innovision R46560 60-Bay 6U

Price (9/23) $2155 (Check Stock HERE)

The Innovision R46560 is a standout 60-Bay 6U rackmount NAS enclosure, designed for those who prioritize expansive storage and reliability in high-demand environments. Sporting an optimized 4U rackmount server chassis, it’s engineered to house a vast array of 60 3.5-inch SATA hot-swap drive bays, which are also compatible with 2.5-inch HDD/SDD. This enclosure is constructed from SGCC 1.0 mm heavy-duty steel and super ABS, ensuring durability and resistance against potential wear. Further enhancing its build quality is the super anti-finger ROHs SGCC & Plastic material. For cooling efficiency, three 120mm PWM fans are integrated to ensure optimal temperature management. The server is adaptable, supporting motherboards up to the size of 12″ x 13″. Given its vast storage capacity, the R46560 is ideal for applications demanding large data handling, such as the Internet of things, cloud storage, and security monitoring.

It’s truly remarkable to reflect on the impressive storage capacity that the Innovision R46560 offers. 60 SATA/SAS bays in a single unit are a testament to how far storage solutions have come, catering to businesses and industries that handle vast amounts of data. Such extensive storage capabilities mean businesses can consolidate data in one location, optimizing access, backups, and overall data management.

Click to view slideshow.

Key Features:

  • Optimized Design: 4U rackmount server chassis tailored for efficient use of space.
  • Expansive Storage: 60 3.5-inch SATA hot-swap drive bays compatible with 2.5-inch HDD/SDD.
  • Cooling Mechanism: Equipped with three 120mm PWM cooling fans.
  • Durable Build: Constructed from SGCC 1.0 mm heavy-duty steel and super ABS.
  • Motherboard Support: Accommodates motherboards up to the size of 12″ x 13″.
  • Backplane Options: Comes standard with a 12Gb/s Mini HD hot-swap backplane. Alternatives include a 6Gb/s Mini SAS Expander and a 12Gb/s Mini HD Expander backplane.
  • Ideal Applications: Suited for large data processing, IoT, cloud storage, and security monitoring.
  • Customizable: Offers flexibility in configurations to meet specific needs.
  • Dimensions: L650W437.5H265( mm ) or 25.57x 17.20 x 6.94( inches ).
  • Other Features: Two USB ports and optional silm CD bay.

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Synology DS224+ NAS – Should You Buy (Short Review)

Par : Rob Andrews
7 août 2023 à 17:00

Synology DS224+ NAS Drive – Should You Buy It?

As we cross the halfway point of 2023, the popular network-attached storage brand, Synology, has largely refreshed the bulk of its DiskStation catalogue. Sure, there are a few of the more business-y type solutions that will likely roll out towards the end of the year, but the more popular NAS devices in two and four bays have largely now arrived. One of the last solutions to roll out in this genre from Synology is the new DS224+, a 2x quad-core Intel-powered compact solution that promises the ability to run everything in the Synology DSM catalog of applications and services. Serving as the refresh/upgrade to the summer 2020 released DS220+, the new DS224 class serves as an arguably minor upgrade over its predecessor but also benefits from a wide range of innovations by the brand in its software that have arrived in those three years. Now, whether you are an existing previous-generation Synology NAS owner that is considering upgrading your setup towards this new DS224+ NAS, or all very much in your first tentative steps towards migrating away from public cloud services toward your own NAS server (hoping this will be perfect for your needs and budget), that is the objective of today’s article. We want to review the DS224+ and help you decide whether you should buy, and ultimately whether it deserves your data.

We are currently working on a much longer and more detailed review of the new DS224+ NAS. In the meantime I have made this ‘Should You Buy’ short review, alternatively if you want a massive, in-depth review, we recommend you check out friend of the channel ‘Blackvoid’ and his review HERE. This article today forms a much more short-form alternative with five good reasons to go for the NAS and five reasons to maybe remain on the fence a little bit longer. So let’s start with the positives!

HARDWARE HIGHLIGHTS
CPU: Intel Celeron J4125, 4-Core, 2.0-2.7Ghz
Memory: 2-6GB DDR4 non-ECC Memory
SATA Bays: 2x SATA
M.2 NVMe Bays: No
Network Ports: 2x 1GbE
PCIe Upgrade: No
Software Platform: Synology DSM 7 (Currently Version DSM 7.1/7.2)
Warranty: 3 Years, Extendable to 5yr

5 Reasons the Synology DS224+ is a Good NAS for You

There is no denying that this system is hugely capable, and the first thing I want to do is identify the main reasons why this NAS stands out among many of the previously released Synology NAS systems in the brand’s portfolio.

A Low Cost Synology NAS with Integrated Graphics for Plex

No, the fact that this NAS arrives with an Intel CPU that features integrated graphics is arguably only going to be massively important to a very specific demographic of Synology NAS owners. If you have been looking at buying a NAS system to host your very own Plex media server, in efforts to own all of your media yet enjoy the slick and highly graphical informative user experience provided by third-party streaming platforms like Netflix and Disney+, then using a NAS media server is one of the easiest ways to achieve this. However, depending on your own setup, range of connected users and devices, scope of different multimedia types and formats, and (most importantly for this section) plan on accessing this media via limited connections or older client devices, the necessity for a NAS that features integrated graphics is going to be essential. This also extends to high-end multimedia that may be using more complex compression or formats that are necessary to compress cinema-scale movies into something you watch from your sofa (e.g., HEVC/H.265).

In these scenarios, a NAS such as the DS224+, which arrives with integrated graphics, is going to be exceedingly useful to ensure widespread multi-user and multi-client playback of some of the richest and most diverse multimedia in your collection. That isn’t to say that integrated graphics CPUs are particularly rare; however, Synology has recently been making moves towards more workhorse and file transmission optimized processors that do not feature integrated graphics (such as the IMD embedded rising, the 1500b, or v. 1780B). Although the CPUs have great base power and reported clock speed, as soon as they start handling tasks of a more graphical nature, they will be much less efficient than integrated graphics which are designed for this kind of process. Using less tailored tools for these tasks will result in higher power consumption but also much poorer overall performance and takes up system resources that are better spent elsewhere. Ultimately, if you were looking at the current range of Synology solutions and you’re looking for a Plex media server NAS that is a more all-round solution for all different multimedia playback types, the DS224+ is among one of the highest recommendations right now from this brand.

Full DSM 7.2 Support on the Synology DS224+ NAS

There is no doubt that when you look at Synology NAS, in terms of hardware, it does seem quite expensive. We have touched on this multiple times on the YouTube channel and blog – just how cheap it is to build your own version of the systems by comparison. However, the price that you pay for a turnkey NAS such as the Synology DS224+ is more than just hardware, and in the case of this device, the bulk of your spending is actually going towards the software – Synology’s award-winning DiskStation Manager (DSM) software. DSM is genuinely the best NAS software in the market, and you cannot purchase it separately. It is easier to think of DSM less as a piece of network software and more as an entire operating system that is arguably comparable to the likes of Windows, Android, or macOS. From the complete end-fluid desktop that you access by the web browser to the massive range of applications and services that are supported locally, remotely, and via a myriad of client tools for a range of different operating systems – DSM is insanely well-built and incredibly intuitive.

The latest version, DSM 7.2, is by far the most fully-featured revision yet and alongside a myriad of applications for backups, file sharing, tailored multimedia, surveillance, office productivity, virtual machines, containers, and more, there is an unquestionably larger ride of tools available from the brand. However, the extent to which you can use these apps and services will always be limited by the power of the NAS you buy, and you tend to find that the more affordable and low-priced solutions tend to lack support for some key Synology DSM applications. Luckily, this is not the case with the DS224+, as this system supports the full range of apps and services in DSM 7.2. These include some of the following applications:

Synology Office – Create documents, spreadsheets, and slides in a multi-user environment. Real-time synchronization and saving make collaboration a breeze.

Synology Chat – Aimed at businesses, Synology Chat is an IM service that transforms the way users collaborate and communicate.

Synology Drive – Host your own private cloud behind the safety of your NAS with 100% data ownership and no subscription fees. Drive has become one of the premier applications of DSM and allows uses to create intelligent shared team folders that support versioning, file streaming+pinning, encryption, Windows AD support (soon) and native file system support with Windows and macOS.

Synology Photos – Manage your photos and videos with deep-learning algorithms that automatically group photos with similar faces, subjects, and places. Designed after the merger of Synology Photo Station and Moments, it also includes tailored folder, sharing and categorization features to help photographers manage their photos and share them with clients for feedback or business development.

Synology Calendar – Stay on track, share calendars, and schedule meetings, while ensuring sensitive information remains safely stored on company premises.

Synology Active Backup for Business (ABB) – Consolidate backup tasks for virtualized environments, physical servers, and personal computers, and rapidly restore files, entire machines, or VMs – license-free. This software also arrives as a specialised Microsoft Office 365 and Google Workspace platform to sync with those platforms and allow a bare metal tier to your cloud office services

Synology Hyper Backup – Backup your NAS safely and efficiently to multiple destinations with deduplication, integrity checks, compression, and versioning.

Synology Surveillance Station – Safeguard your business, home, and other valuable assets with reliable video surveillance tools. With improved AI services being accessible thanks to Synology BC500 and TC500 Cameras arriving in 2023. Additionally, you can connect this platform with Synology’s cloud platform to use ‘C2 Surveillance’ and bolster the odds of recordings being maintained in the event of accidental/malicious damage to your surveillance system.

Synology Virtual Machine Manager (VMM) – An intuitive hypervisor that supports Windows, Linux, and Virtual DSM virtual machines. Its powerful disaster recovery tools help users achieve maximum service uptime.

Synology High Availability – Synology High Availability (SHA) combines two Synology NAS servers into one active-passive high-availability cluster, alleviating service disruptions while mirroring data.

Synology Central Management System (CMS) – Synology CMS allows you to manage multiple Synology NAS servers quickly and conveniently from a single location.

Synology Video Station – Manage all your movies, TV shows, and home videos. Stream them to multiple devices or share them with friends and family.

Synology Audio Station – Manage your music collection, create personal playlists, stream them to your own devices, or share with family or friends.

Synology File Station – Manage your Synology NAS files remotely through web browsers or mobile devices. This tool allows complete file management and contains all the features and services of your own native file management platform (archiving, extracting, Copy, Cut, Paste, Sharing, native file format opening, etc).

But it does not stop there, as those who have been following Synology recently and the release of DSM 7.2 will know that the brand has integrated some new enterprise-grade features such as mutable backups, thanks to WORM support (write once, read many), with enterprise or compliance mode as standard and required. Additionally, there is support for encrypted volumes now, and this system also has support for Synology’s hybrid RAID system, which will come in especially useful down the line if you decide to scale up your Synology NAS years from now but still wanting to utilize your existing RAID in a bigger array. What this all adds up to is the Synology DS224 being unquestionably the lowest price point right now to have access to the FULL experience of DSM, not the cheaper but slightly hobbled version provided on Realtek NAS systems in the brand’s portfolio. You can find out more about Synology DSM in my massive review of the platform via YouTube below:

A CPU that Synology has Experience with Matters

Now while this may seem a little bit ‘inside baseball’, I do really want to highlight just how much experience Synology has with the hardware architecture included in the Synology DS224+. Any technology manufacturer that provides both hardware and software will, over time, learn more and more how to get the very best efficiency out of the hardware. And when it comes to the world of network-attached storage and systems that will be on for days, weeks, months, and years at a time, efficiency in your solution is going to be enormously important. Now Synology has been using the Intel Celeron J4125 inside the DS224+ in their portfolio for almost 4 years in development with other solutions, and in that time they have definitely spent a great deal of time R&D-ing the hell out of that architecture.

Everything from the amount of hardware resources that DSM is going to use on each of its processes has been gradually more refined over time in order to lower the overall overheads and allow even more simultaneous applications and services to run at any given time. Equally, when the system is running in a lesser used or idle state, the system will be able to estimate how much additional cache can be afforded to services running at any given time, and boost that as needed and then flush the cache in the background without the user knowing. Leading to a more consistent and responsive experience for a user, without them realizing just how much work is going on in the background at any given time. This kind of responsive and semi-automated action can only happen when a brand spends an extensive amount of time with a given hardware architecture and understanding the quirks and nuances of each one. Therefore, although later on in this review, I will be throwing shade at the CPU for other reasons, we have to acknowledge that Synology using a hardware architecture they have a huge amount of experience with here on the DS224+ does bring with it certain key advantages too.

The DS224+ NAS Arrives with 2GB Memory and the Option to Upgrade

This may seem like something of a minor point, but it’s definitely something that you’re going to want to keep an eye on later in the system’s life. And certainly, if you plan on buying a NAS system that you want to last for anything from 5 to 10 years in your home or business environment. Although up until this point, we’ve harped on about the importance of the CPU in any NAS in getting the job done and running the big new applications, all of this wouldn’t matter if you do not have enough memory for the system to run multiple tasks or support multiple users at once. One of the main benefits of modern network-attached storage compared with cloud services and even just basic network-connected hard drives is the ability to run numerous applications from the NAS and allow numerous users to interact with the system simultaneously. Alongside CPU power, this is done with the system having sufficient memory to run all of these processes at the same time, efficiently and effectively. Whether you are looking at the mobile phone in your pocket or the high-end PC in your editing suite, the amount of memory you have is going to be critical in how well things run. In the case of the DS224+, the system arrives with 2GB of DDR4 memory. Most other NAS devices from Synology at a similar price point to this will arrive with either 1GB or (and in 2023, this is pretty disgraceful) just 512MB of memory. The system operating system itself will be using a percentage of this memory even when you aren’t doing anything, so the DS224+ arriving with 2GB of memory means that you can already run a decent number of DSM applications and services at any given time, as well as supporting quite a wide-ranging number of users and processes on day one.

But this is further improved when you find out that the memory on the DS224+ can be further upgraded with another 4GB of memory via an available sodimm slot. We are seeing a growing trend in the more value and affordable Synology NAS solutions to not allow upgradable memory on their systems. This is done in order to keep the systems more affordable, as fixed memory is ultimately more cost-effective when directly sold it to the main PCB controller board of the system. Therefore, given this system’s more affordable price point, it would have been expected that it would arrive with non-upgradable memory as standard, and therefore makes it even more appealing to maintain its price point while simultaneously allowing these upgrades for users who want to scale up their level of access and storage down the line.

The Synology DS224+ NAS has Better 3rd Party HDD and SSD Support

In the last 18 months or so, Synology has come under fire from some of its long-standing user base when it changed its number of its support and compatibility policies surrounding which hard drive and SSD plans it was prepared to support on a number of its systems. Although this was largely reserved for systems in the enterprise-level categories of their portfolio, they did provide insurance in their own range of branded hard drive and SSDs. It certainly upset a few users thought it was better. Continue to try and crack after the unified storage and hyper-converged cloud and live among NetApp and EMC. Therefore, it was pleasing to see that the new DS224+ does not suffer this same fate, providing a compatibility list that not only contains Synology hard drive media but also a range of drives from the likes of Western Digital, Seagate, and Toshiba.

The range might not be particularly massive (more on that later), but you still get the option to utilize drives from other brands inside this Synology NAS system. And for those that are looking for economies and see third-party drives on sale during the likes of Prime Day and Black Friday, this is going to be another compelling reason to go for this NAS. the Synology applications, property/metadata access, etc)


5 Reasons the Synology DS224+ Might NOT Be the NAS for You

All of the positives mentioned above aside, there are still going to be reasons why users might not want to opt for the new Synology DS224+ as the new home for all of their precious data. So now I want to go through five very specific reasons why you might want to remain on the fence a little bit longer and opt for a different solution.

The Intel J4125 Celeron CPU is Showing its Age

This is probably one of the earliest and biggest criticisms people had for the DS224+ when it was first revealed back in June 2023, and surrounds the choice of CPU in this NAS. On the one hand, we did praise Synology for choosing an integrated graphics processor inside this system. However, this is a CPU that has already been in circulation in older-generation Synology NAS systems for quite a while. Despite the advantages that this brings in terms of software development by Synology to squeeze the most out of it, there is no denying that the age of this processor is pretty noticeable compared to alternative Intel Celeron and Pentium processors used by Synology’s competitors in current generation systems. To put that into a little perspective, not only have rivals like QNAP opted for Intel Celeron CPUs one or two generations older than this in the n5105 and j6412, but even Intel has ceased production of this component and refreshed it towards newer processors in their production. The result here is some users are definitely going to feel that a 2023 device that’s running on a 2020 CPU that was released in 2019 is going to feel a little short-changed, as well as feeling that this hardware may not go the distance in years to come. Equally, it raises questions about whether Synology will be able to provide the hardware components for this device in the two to three years that the system will be available before the next refresh, and therefore raises the question of whether Synology will have to provide a CPU upgrade simply because this older Gen CPU is no longer being produced.

This would not be the first time that Synology would have to introduce a CPU upgrade midway through a product’s lifespan. We saw this in the 2016 generation when the CPU in use was refreshed by Intel earlier than expected and a new second-gen version of that series needed to be released. So users who are a little skeptical about this CPU for several reasons are likely to sit out this generation and the DS224+ NAS in particular.

The DS224+ Lacks the M.2 NVMe Bays of Comparable Systems like the DS423+ and DS723+

As mentioned in our introduction, Synology has rolled out numerous refreshes of the bulk of their DiskStation range of solutions, barring a few enterprise-level and larger business solutions in 6/8 bays. Sometimes we see in these refreshes the available hardware be scaled in new and interesting ways, and in the last four to five years, we have seen the number of Synology solutions that arrive with M.2 NVMe SSD bays for use as caching and even storage pools increase with every generation. Nevertheless,

Synology has opted to deny M.2 NVMe SSD bays to this system, and given there are more than enough hardware resources on offer here to support this feature (as the nearly identical hardware DS720+ had them), it’s a real letdown that this system does not have them. Even if you were to play devil’s advocate and suggest that not a lot of users are going to take advantage of these in the home user sector, the advantages that they would bring in tiered storage, scalability, and improved features that capitalize on them coming in DSM 7.2, this is still something of a backstep by the brand on this system and its hardware architecture.

The DS224+ Only Supports a Max 6GB Memory

Earlier, I also praised the Synology DS224+ for arriving with a solid base level of DDR4 memory at 2GB that allows upgrades. This is true, and I am happy that these features exist. However, the fact that the DS224+ can only be upgraded to a modest 6GB of memory is a little disheartening when you look at the maximum 32GB memory supported on the recently released DS723+. This is made even more disappointing when you learn that this CPU actually supports up to a maximum of 8GB of memory, as stated by Intel, and when the same CPU was used in the older generation DS920+.

The reason the DS224+ cannot exceed 6GB of memory is that the initial default 2GB is soldered to the internal controller board. Although this results in a slightly lower production cost compared to buying removable SODIMM memory modules, it does result in the end-user having a lower glass ceiling in terms of memory upgradability. For those that were looking forward to the hardware resources of this Celeron for containers and virtualization, 6GB is actually a rather modest sum to be getting on with.

No way to Upgrade Network Connectivity

A long time ago, I would not have given a home NAS system a lot of criticism for only featuring 1 GBE network connections. Indeed, the fact that the DS224+ has two network ports is still going to be useful for those that want to take advantage of bonding protocols such as SMB multi-channel, port trunking, and link aggregation with supported network switches and operating systems. However, in 2023, 2.5 gigabit Ethernet network connectivity is getting increasingly available and alongside very affordable Wi-Fi 6 routers that feature 2.5 GBE ports, we’re seeing a significant drop in the cost of network switches that include features such as 2.5 GBE fully or partially. Then when you factor in that not only does this CPU support 2.5 GBE out of the box, but the cost at the production level between 1G and 2.5G is incredibly small, Synology has often been criticized for their lack of support for 2.5G when the competitors embraced it many years ago as a middle ground between gigabit network connectivity and 10G. The overreliance on 1G on this system alongside hardware that is already looking quite old only continues to underline how dated some of the hardware in this system can appear.

This is further exacerbated when you discover that Synology has disabled all USB to network adapters on their NAS systems. So even if you opted to purchase a $20 USB to 2.5G network adapter, you cannot officially use it on your system, and this incredibly easy way that could have allowed users to increase their network connectivity is unavailable. Other systems such as the DS723+ navigate this by including a network upgrade slot that uses Synology upgrade modules to add 10GBE to the NAS. However, this DS224+ has 0 means to scale up the network connectivity, and unless you opt for using unofficial code in the back end or GitHub-created workarounds, you are going to feel limitations in the network speeds long term.

HDD and SSD Compatibility on the DS224+ NAS are still limited, but not by Brand

It is worth highlighting that this point may seem a little minor and possibly even irrelevant in the near future, but the verified compatibility list and supported media on the official product pages on Synology’s website for the DS224+ are really weird. I mentioned earlier that there is support for first and third-party storage media on this NAS and that I applauded it, which is still true. However, given we are talking about a two-bay system that supports SATA storage media and using an architecture that Synology has been utilizing now for the better part of 3 years commercially and easily 4 to 5 years in development in the background, the fact that there are only eight Seagate drives and 7 WD drives, both of which only go as high as 14TB maximum capacity, is really small. You can look at the compatibility lists for other systems released in 2020 with this same CPU and memory combo in both 2 bay and 4-Bay, and more drives and larger drives are on those compatibility lists, so why are there so few verified drives on the DS224+?

Click to view slideshow.

I really want to give Synology the benefit of the doubt here, and perhaps the fact that this NAS has only just been released and therefore verification and compatibility take time, is the reason why so few drives appear on this compatibility list right now. Equally, I praise that Synology did not include their own enterprise-grade drives of larger capacity, maintaining the use of only standard class hard drives in this system – Which could have been an easy win for them to sell their own larger hard drives if they had chosen to do so. Nevertheless, given that the DS423+ has now been available for quite a few months and has a nearly identical hardware architecture, and that Synology has had vast experience with this hardware, architecture, and the internal components that surround it in near identical systems for years now, this abundant lack of choice in the selection of storage media to install in the DS224+ and remain on the official compatibility list is almost offensively small. This may well change over time, and Synology may well add countless more drives to this verified compatibility list, and therefore this point will become completely irrelevant. As it stands now at the time of writing and the launch of the DS224+, there is simply not enough choice on this range of compatible and supported storage media for this NAS.

Synology DS224+ NAS Review Conclusion and Verdict

The Synology DS224+ is a NAS that, in the correct context, is actually a really good choice of server for a lot of users. When Synology rearranged their portfolio in the middle of 2022, there was always going to be inconsistencies between releases and issues surrounding the placement of solutions in their ranges that needed addressing. When they upgraded the DS923+ and DS723+ with ECC memory up to 32GB, NVMe SSD pool support, optional 10GBE network upgrades, and a much more powerful business-class CPU, it was clear that they had designated that tier of their portfolio to be far more business than pleasure. From there, it became obvious that the standard mid-range two and four-bay solutions (in this case the DS224+ and DS423+) were going to be more home-user and multimedia-user-designated, and their hardware architecture needed to sit more balanced between the business-class solutions and the value series of real tech NAS devices. However, this has resulted in a new NAS arriving on the scene that has an intentionally low glass ceiling, and the disparity in hardware created between the DS224+ and the DS723+, despite a modest price difference between them, is only further worsened when the hardware similarities between the prosumer previous generation and this SMB generation are massive. It creates a feeling to the end-user who is aware of Synology’s previous releases that this is “paying money for old rope” and not a new-generation hardware solution. The reality, to new users and those that are upgrading away from the value tier into something a bit more established in the+ tier, is actually more nuanced. You are getting a great CPU here that, despite its age, still does extraordinarily well in DSM applications and third-party popular applications like Plex Media Server. Add to that that this is still a refresh of the previous generation that has moved from a dual-core to a quad-core processor, and you can see that upgrades in this refresh have occurred, though modest.

Then there is the fact that this system can still support the full range of applications and services in the Synology DSM 7.2 system software and makes it by far the lowest price you are ever going to have to pay to access everything that DSM can do in the latest generation, also guaranteeing the longest support of that software long after the hardware warranty has expired (security and feature updates). It does make a tremendous difference that the Synology developers and product managers know this hardware architecture so intricately, and that means that you are going to have a system that can run everything in the most efficient way possible, which will certainly pay dividends in the days, weeks, months, and years that you will have the system in operation – especially when factoring rising energy costs globally and how you want your system to do as much as possible while eating up as little electricity as possible! In conclusion, the Synology DS224+ is probably not Synology’s most exciting release, and if you are someone that skipped the 2020 generation of solutions because you wanted to hold out for something greater and more powerful, the DS224+ will probably serve as something of a damp squib to you. But it is a very solid NAS release, and as long as you put it in the right context as a buyer and keep in mind that this system is a refresh of the DS220+, it still does a great job. It just lacks a lot of the scalability and upgradability of other recent Synology NAS releases and looks, at least in the hardware department, a little underwhelming against competitors in 2023. You can definitely do a lot worse, but there is also the potential to do a lot better by spending just a fraction more.

SOFTWARE - 10/10
HARDWARE - 6/10
PERFORMANCE - 7/10
PRICE - 8/10
VALUE - 7/10


7.6
PROS
👍🏻Synology 4-Bay NAS with a 4-Core Intel Integrated Gfx Processor - Lovely stuff!
👍🏻Runs Everything in the Synology DSM Catalogue (Active Backup, Surveillance Station, VMM, Drive, Collab Suite, etc)
👍🏻Great Plex, Emby and Jellyfin Media Server Performance
👍🏻Broad HDD/SSD Compatibility with Synology drives AND Seagate+WD
👍🏻Low Impact chassis, low noise in operation (HDD dependant) and efficient power use
👍🏻Runs exceedingly well on just 2GB of Memory
👍🏻More affordable than the DS923+ and DS723+
👍🏻Long-running DSM Support beyond the Hardware
CONS
👎🏻No means to upgrade network connectivity and 1GbE by default
👎🏻Memory maximum cap at 6GB as original 2GB is fixed (non-upgradable)
👎🏻Small Jump from the 2020 released DS220+
👎🏻Non-Expandable
👎🏻Lack of M.2 NVMe Support


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Choosing the right data storage solution for your needs can be very intimidating and it’s never too late to ask for help. With options ranging from NAS to DAS, Thunderbolt to SAS and connecting everything up so you can access all your lovely data at the touch of a button can be a lot simpler than you think. If you want some tips, guidance or help with everything from compatibility to suitability of a solution for you, why not drop me a message below and I will get back to you as soon as possible with what you should go for, its suitability and the best place to get it. This service is designed without profit in mind and in order to help you with your data storage needs, so I will try to answer your questions as soon as possible.

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Finally, for free advice about your setup, just leave a message in the comments below here at NASCompares.com and we will get back to you. Need Help? Where possible (and where appropriate) please provide as much information about your requirements, as then I can arrange the best answer and solution to your needs. Do not worry about your e-mail address being required, it will NOT be used in a mailing list and will NOT be used in any way other than to respond to your enquiry. [contact-form-7] TRY CHAT Terms and Conditions
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Alternatively, why not ask me on the ASK NASCompares forum, by clicking the button below. This is a community hub that serves as a place that I can answer your question, chew the fat, share new release information and even get corrections posted. I will always get around to answering ALL queries, but as a one-man operation, I cannot promise speed! So by sharing your query in the ASK NASCompares section below, you can get a better range of solutions and suggestions, alongside my own.

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