Gone are the days of my entire data library safely fitting on dvds or usb drives. While there are some pretty large portable drives, what about network file sharing, security, and protection against disk failures? This dilemma started my search for the best prosumer NAS available.
I took a look at the following offerings from some popular brands that have been on the market for a couple of years now. I didn’t want the latest-and-greatest to make sure I could get something stable, with good support, and a decent price. Note: All NAS units reviewed are diskless models.
TL;DR: For $599 the QNAP TS-431X2 is the most expensive of the 3 NAS units I reviewed, but has the best hardware and a huge app center with tons of apps to extend the unit’s features.
Synology DS918+ - $549.99
|CPU:||Intel Celeron J3455 Quad-core 1.5 GHz|
|RAM:||4 GB DDR3 (Expandable up to 8GB)|
|Max Raw Capacity:||48 TB|
|Cloud Apps:||Amazon, Dropbox, Backblaze, Openstack|
One of the top brands in Home/Office NAS is Synology. This NAS has all the bells and whistles you would look for: File sharing, File sync, dual NICs, snapshots, and a decent collections of apps. This unit also has two M.2 NVMe SSD slots for a cache volume. Another added bonus is the eSATA port. There is a bit of a discrepancy with the max drive and RAM capacity. The support docs say max raw disk space is 40TB (10TB x 4 drives) but the Amazon product page says it can go up to 56TB (14TB x 4 drives). Some Amazon reviewers have also reported installing up to 16GB of RAM. This is a solid choice that is not likely to dissapoint.
QNAP TS-431X2 - $599.00
|CPU:||ARM Cortex-A15 Quad Core 1.7GHz|
|RAM:||8 GB DDR3 (Max is 8GB)|
|Max Raw Capacity:||56 TB|
|Cloud Apps:||Too many to list!|
This QNAP NAS has the highest speed processor out of the bunch. It has the highest supported/documented disk space capacity. This model also comes with the max RAM capacity pre-installed. It does not have separate SSD caching slots, but you can install a SSD in any of the normal disk bays for a SSD cache. I mainly want a NAS for data storage and backup, so I’m not very concerned about speed. This unit makes up for this shortcoming with two killer features: 10Gb SFP+ support and a huge library of apps. The 10Gb connection adds a bit of future-proofing to the unit. The app library (along with the CPU and RAM to back it up) replaces the need for another server because many of the data storage and backup applications I’d like to use can be installed directly on this NAS.
WD PR4100 - $448.99
|CPU:||Intel Pentium N3710 quad-core 1.6GHz|
|RAM:||4 GB DDR3 (Expandable up to 16GB)|
|Max Raw Capacity:||40 TB|
|Cloud Apps:||Dropbox, Elephant Drive, My Cloud|
The price point for the WD PR4100 is quite nice. It has the highest supported/documented RAM capacity, but the lowest raw disk space capacity. For my needs, processing power and storage capacity are king. The list of apps at the time of this writing is only 17. The two power ports are a nice touch; one could connect each of the power ports to separate sources for a bit of power rundandancy. In a Home/Office setting, I’m not sure how useful that would be. It’s very easy to setup and comes in at a good price. I don’t think this is a bad NAS, but I feel I would be looking to upgrade to something better sooner rather than later.
The Bottom Line
The top cl1ck goes to the QNAP TS-431X2. It is the most expensive of the bunch, but you get what you pay for. Fastest CPU, most pre-installed RAM, 10Gb NIC, and apps galore. Just pop in your favorite NAS drives and you’re all set.