For the past 6 years or so I have used a proper server for my NAS, first with the HP Microserver, then moving on to old PC hardware I no longer use.

However, self build servers tend to be big, relatively expensive and use up quite a bit of electricity. I wanted to use old drives in RAID for a backup solution of my work which led me on the hunt for an affordable NAS.

This led me to the TerraMaster F2-210 and I came away very impressed. It is about the cheapest solution out there but depending on your requirements it may be a little underpowered or lack some of the features people want from a NAS.

So I have spent some time scouring Amazon for the best Network Attached Storage there is available. It is not necessarily a comprehensive list of all NAS devices on the market, but it covers the main ones available on Amazon.

2-Bay Network Attached Storage (NAS) Comparison

 Price ReviewsRating1-star reviewsPlex TranscodeCPURAM
TerraMaster F2-2101401573.80.16Software
720p
ARMv8 (Realtek 1296) 1.4Ghz1GB
TerraMaster F2-221230794.30.05Hardware
H.264 2160p
x64 (Celeron J3355) 2.0-2.5Ghz2GB
Synology DS218j147.56274.50.06NoneARMv7 (Armada 385) 1.3GHz512MB
Synology DS218play1963434.40.06Software
720p
aarch64 (Realtek 1296) 1.4Ghz1GB
Synology DS218+ 296.016074.70.02Hardware
H.264 2160p
x64 (Celeron J3355) 2.0-2.5 Ghz2GB
Buffalo LinkStation 220D79.973393.70.19Not ListedMarvell ARMADA 370 (800MHz)256MB
QNAP TS-231P169.522654.50.04NoneARMv7 (Alpine AL-212) 1.7 Ghz1GB
QNAP TS-251B-2G282.99664.10.1Hardware
HD 1080P
x64 (Celeron N3060) 1.6GHz2GB
WD My Cloud EX2 Ultra149.99131140.12NoneARMv7 (Armada 385) 1.2Ghz
Neatgear ReadyNAS 212243.782974.10.13Software
720p
ARMv7 (Cortex A15) 1.4Ghz 2GB
ASUSTOR AS3102T V2231.5854.30Hardware
HD 1080P
x64 (Celeron J3060) 1.6GHz2GB
ASUSTOR Nimbustor 2
AS5202T
328N/AN/AHardware
H.264 2160p
x64 (Celeron J4005) 2.0GHz2GB
ASUSTOR as6302t269.99103.70.12Hardware
H.264 2160p
x64 (Celeron J3355) 2.0GHz2GB

Plex Transcoding

The Best 2-Bay NAS Devices for 2020 – Network Attached Storage that can do Plex Transcoding 1

Plex Server is a popular requirement for many people wanting a NAS, and the ability to transcode video provides a good point of reference for performance.

Some NAS devices state transcoding abilities above what I have listed below. The Synology DiskStation DS218play is one notable example where the product page clearly says 4K Ultra HD video transcoding. In this case, I assume it is done through Video Station, whereas Plex clearly states that the version of their app does not do any hardware transcoding for this NAS.

All my transcoding data is taken directly from the Plex NAS Compatibility spreadsheet.

Ethernet

To the best of my knowledge, all the NAS devices have at least gigabit ethernet. There are a couple of exceptions worth noting.

The Asustor Nimbustor 2 AS5202T has two 2.5 GbE ports.

The QNAP TS-251B-2G has a PCIe slot for either a 10GbE network card, a QM2 dual-port M.2 SSD/10GbE card, or even a Wi-Fi card.

Other Notes

While Plex is popular, it is not the only piece of software people like to run on their NAS. So, before you commit to any device you should look into what else it offers you.

Synology doesn’t offer the best value for money in terms of hardware, but I think most people would agree they are a country mile ahead when it comes to their DSM software and the features it offers.

On the flip side of that, TerraMaster has offered everything I need so far, and using Docker, Apache etc I am sure I can replicate any missing features it has compared to Synology.

Some units have some unique hardware features too, Asustor & QNAP have the option for improved ethernet performance. Asustor has upgradable RAM, and they have HDMI out, so you can have it as an all in one NAS and media player solution

Recommendation

If Plex is important, I would whittle down the choices to whatever suits your needs by transcoding capabilities. The TerraMaster F2-221 is a stand out choice being just £230 and can transcode 4K.

The Synology DS218+ is only £60 more, and it includes the vast array of features DSM has, which includes things like Surveillance Station allowing you to integrate CCTV cameras. I would probably stick with Synology if you want the NAS for business purposes too.

You can’t fault the TerraMaster F2-210 as the absolute budget option, but if you don’t care about Plex or other CPU intensive tasks then the Synology DS218j is only £8 more.

Last update on 2020-09-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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