A Guide to the Best 6-Bay or 5-Bay NAS Drives to Buy Right Now
I know, I know – it’s kind of a vague subject, but 6-Bays, 5-Bays and RAID 6 targeted machines are sudden a ‘thing’. Do you remember when buying a NAS drive was so easy? Even as little as 5-6 years ago, the choices in the types of network-attached storage solutions you could buy was quite simple. It went 1-Bay > 2-Bay > 4-Bay > 8-Bay > Rackmount >MASSIVE. Then, as the demand and utility of NAS systems grew, so the average NAS buyer became remarkably more discerning. Brands like Synology, QNAP and Asustor suddenly realised that there were gaping holes between the solutions in their portfolios. First, they set about creating cost-effective versions of their existing ranges to create multiple options for those looking for the traditional storage scales mentioned. However that was not enough, as it did not address the main growing demand – that of users needing 3-Bays, 6-Bays, 12-Bays and ultimately, solutions that levered a users budget less on the hardware resources and more towards its supported storage media capacity. Therefore the last few years have seen the portfolios of these NAS brands expand to fill in these gaps, to allow the RAID 6 (dual-redundancy/safety net) focused users, the mixed media preferred users and even the data-rich but money tight users to have their own rather unique needs to be fulfilled. So, that is what we are looking at today, three of the very BEST examples available to buy for 2022 that slide into those gaps in the portfolio. These are solutions that provide storage across two or more storage media types, that provides a good base of storage against a RAID 6 configuration (but not break the bank) and allow the end users a great degree of storage & performance, without heading into the more premium price tag 8-bay alternatives. Of all by best of the year articles, this has been the most unusual to curate, as, unlike the usual crowd, these are comparatively obscure solutions. If NAS is a particularly niche area of technology, then these solutions are the most niche of the niche that you will find – but are all the very best of their own crowd of odd-ball scale solutions on the market!
What Have All the Best 6-Bay or 5-Bay NAS Drives Have in Common?
It is worth remembering that although there are ALOT of different 6-Bay or 5-Bay NAS drives available to buy, they are by no means created equal! With numerous super budget brands popping up online, it can be tempting to consider these alongside the premium NAS brands. However, all too often they offer solutions rightly seem ‘too good to be true’ and then are gone from the web before your warranty even gets cold! So, whether you are looking at the three best 6-Bay or 5-Bay solutions that I am recommending below OR are looking at another 6-Bay or 5-Bay NAS you saw on offer/recommended elsewhere – the best NAS system ALWAYS include the following software and services:
- Combined Hardware & Software Solution – That means that you are buying the hardware, but it ALSO includes a web browser GUI, mobile apps and desktop client apps (including backup, media, streaming, surveillance and file management software)
- All NAS systems in this guide are compatible with (and can be accessed by) Windows, Mac, Android and Linux operating systems
- All NAS Solutions arrive with between 2-3 years Warranty (with the option to extend to 5 years)
- All NAS drives can be accessed locally over the network, as well as secure remote access is possible with brand supported services (at no additional cost)
- The most modern and regularly updated NAS systems will support the very latest 20TB NAS hard drives (such as the Seagate Ironwofl 20TB and WD Red 20TB)
- All the recommended solutions support multiple drive configurations (RAID) for drive failure protection and performance enhancements
- All solutions receive regular updates to their security, features and services
- All recommended NAS drives can connect and synchronize with cloud services (Google Drive, DropBox, OneDrive, etc), as well as Business/Enterprise services such as AWS, Azure, Backblaze and more
- All NAS solutions (regardless of brand) feature the ability to host a shared drive on your PC/Mobile/Laptop systems that are synchronized with the NAS via the network/internet, but is shown in your native operating system file manager (i.e Mac Finder or Windows Explorer)
- All the NAS solutions listed can be accessed DIRECTLY via an ethernet/network cable being connected from your PC/Mac system, to the NAS RJ45 port for 100MB/s and higher connectivity
- All the best NAS solutions (regardless of brand) feature backup and sync tools that can be installed on your local client computer and allow regular backups of your files and system data
So, make sure that if you are looking at a NAS solution that is NOT recommended below, that it includes all of the above. As these are some of the clearest areas that brands all too often cut orders to produce cheaper by ultimately inferior NAS servers for home and business. So, let’s discuss the very best 6-Bay or 5-Bay NAS to buy now in 2022.
Best Value Desktop 5-Bay NAS Drive – The QNAP TS-364 NAS
0-60TB HDD + 8TB M.2 NVMe SSD, 3/5-Bays, Intel Celeron N5105 4-Core 2-2.9Ghz CPU, 4/16GB Memory, 2.5Gbe Port, 2x USB 3.2 Gen 2, 1x HDMI 1.4b, 2yr Warranty
Current Price/Availability on Amazon – $350-400
Hardware Review – LINK
YouTube Video Review – Watch
Once again, QNAP (in my opinion of course) are still very much the true innovators of the NAS hardware industry, seemingly exploring and almost always delivering on solutions that change what we expect private home/business servers to look like, support and provide. The TS-364 3-Bay (TECHNICALLY 5-Bay if you want to be accurate about it) has one heck of a balancing act to perform, providing more than the typical 2-Bay desktop chassis like the TS-253D and TS-264 are promising, whilst not leaning TOO heavily on the TS-453D and TS-464 to make itself or those redundant in price or approach. I think it MOSTLY sticks the landing and what you have here is the best example of this series that QNAP has ever produced, managing to balance the price point and value just right.Click to view slideshow.
In my introduction to my original review, I asked three questions. 1) Is this a suitable alternative to a 2/4-Bay? – It DEFINITELY is a good option, for those that are stuck between the rock and a hard place of 2 or 4 bays! 2) Is this TOO niche, even for a subject that is already as niche as NAS? – No, I think this system provides a valuable and till-now often overlooked section of the buying market. And 3) Ultimately does it deserve your data? – I think if you are a 2-Bay buyer, then spending the tiny bit extra for this 3-Bay is a no brainer, but if you are looking at 4-Bays, then the 3-Bay TS-364 might lack the extra storage potential, PCIe upgrades and base level connectivity long term of current prosumer 4-Bays like the TS-453D and TS-464. Overall, I like what the TS-364 is offering here and I think it fits well in the QNAP portfolio and solutions available to the end-user.
Quieter than I expected in use
Newest Gen Intel Celeron CPU available on NAS right now
2.5GbE Ready and has 2x USB 3.2 Gen 2 (10Gb/s)
Good balance of HDD and SSD Storage Support
VERY compact deployment
4GB Memory by default and 16GB Max is good upgradability
Surprisingly small, fo so much storage (long-ish though)
QTS 5 has more 1st Party applications and services than any previous version
The NVMe SSD Bays are PCIe Gen 3 x2 (PCI Lane related)
HDMI 1.4b not HDMI 2.0/a
Best Business 5/6-Bay NAS Drive for RAID 6 – The Synology DS1621xs+ NAS
0-120TB, 6-Bays HDD and 2x NVMe M.2 SSD for Caching, Intel Xeon 4 Core CPU, 8-32GB DDR4 ECC Memory, 1x 10GbE, 2x 1Gbe Port, 1x PCIe Gen x8, 5yr Warranty
Current Price/Availability on Amazon – $1499+
Hardware Review – LINK
YouTube Video Review – Watch
It is fair to say that the Synology DS1621xs+ NAS makes a bold statement in what it is bringing to the table. Synology has been a brand that up until a few years ago traded significantly more on its software than it does on its hardware. Devices like the DS1621xs+ go a long way to dispel this myth in 2020/2021 and what we find here is an exceptionally well-equipped desktop NAS system. Obviously, at this price tag, you would expect it to deliver a lot and as a combined hardware and software package, the DS1621xs+ certainly achieved this. What issues you can make with the hardware are of the DS1621xs+ are more a question of the brands own decisions on what users want in storage right now.Click to view slideshow.
Small factors such as the NVMe bays not being accessible for RAW storage, the lack of Synology hybrid RAID and the use of CPU seen in 2017 and 2018 release hardware might put some potential buyers on the fence. But ultimately if you’ve committed to a desktop Synology solution because of DSM, the brand’s high reputation and that spec sheet – you will genuinely struggle to find a more powerful and equipped desktop NAS from this company right now.
Desktop Xeon Solution
Dual NVMe M.2 cache
PCIe Gen 3 x8 PCIe Equipped
Great RAID Options (inc RAIF F1)
Excellent choice of Apps
DDR4 ECC Memory
Numerous Backup Software Options
Huge Virtualization Support
2x 5-Bay Expandable
No SHR Support
Shame it does not support 1/2 x DX1215
NVMe SSDs cannot be used for RAW storage
Most Modern RAID 6 Optimized 6-Bay NAS Drive – The QNAP TS-h972AX
0-100TB HDD, 16TB SATA SSD, 8/16TB U.2 NVMe SSD, 5/9-Bays of 3.5″, 2.5″ & U.2 SSD, AMD Ryzen V1500B 4x 2.2Ghz CPU, 8-32GB DDR4 Memory, 1x 10GbE, 2x 2.5Gbe Port, Supports ZFS or EXT4, 3/5yr Warranty,
Current Price/Availability on Amazon – $1150+
Hardware Review – LINK
YouTube Video Review – Watch
I have seen a lot of network-attached storage over the years and the TS-h973AX brings a lot of colour to what was fast becoming a somewhat grey landscape. In short, QNAP has gone and done it again by proving they are the hardware innovators of this industry and have managed to provide a genuinely unique solution here. When they first revealed their new Hero ZFS operating system last year, you could not help but get the impression that only top-end enterprise businesses with £10K starting budgets were ever going to benefit. The TS-h973AX desktop NAS is solid evidence that QNAP will share the wealth and that this is the start of a whole new series of affordable ZFS solutions from the brand. That isn’t to say that this system is perfect and pernickety points about a lack of HDMI or LCD may put off some users, and the compact 9 bay chassis that will attract some will no doubt deter others.Click to view slideshow.
Ultimately though QNAP has succeeded in creating what they sought out here and what we find is one of the best examples of hardware and software meeting in the middle, while still arriving with a price tag in 3 figures. In the current absence of a straightforward QuTS license purchase option for existing QNAP NAS systems right now, this is a solution that serves as a good alternative to a number of 4 and 6 Bay solutions in their portfolio. Though, make sure you upgrade that memory on day one!
Triple tier storage
ZFS / QuTS Hero System
Virtualization Support is unparalleled
10Gb/s USB 3.2 Gen 2
10 min Windows and/or Ubuntu VM install (included)
U.2 NVMe PCIe Gen 3×4 Support
2.5GbE LAN Ports
8 Surveillance Camera Licences
Some might prefer the ease of NVMe over NVMe U.2
And there you have it. Those are the three best 6-Bay or 5-Bay NAS drives available right now at the end of 2021 and going into 2022. thought it is always worth remembering that these systems typically have a refresh (i.e manufacturers release a new version/follow-up) every 2-3 years on average. Therefore although these systems are all still great 6-Bay or 5-Bay NAS drives, they might have been upgraded in a newer released version, or recently released alternative 6-Bay or 5-Bay’s may have arrived on the scene that provides better pricing, value or features. If you are in doubt about whether to buy a 6-Bay or 5-Bay solution from my recommendations, want to check if a newer system has been released recently OR are simply looking for some free expert advice, then use the free advice section below over. Just enter in a few details of your setup, storage requirements and (in the case of buying a new solution) your budget – then me and Eddie the Web guy can help you with your question. This is a completely free service, is NOT provided with profit in mind and is manned by two humans (no bots, no automated replies, etc). Assistance might take an extra day or two (the service gets a lot of visitors) but we do try to answer every message. If you want to support this service, you can find out how to donate HERE. Otherwise, you can still jsut message us for free advice anyway!
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