I have previously covered 2-bay NAS drives, which are great for keeping things as affordable as possible. However, everyone that I have encountered that has had a 2-bay NAS always regrets not getting a 4-bay.
You obviously have to pay more for it, but it offers much more flexibility for storage, and the effective cost per TB of storage drops significantly with the help of RAID 5.
4-Bay NAS is more cost-effective for storage than 2-bay
With a 2 bay NAS, if you have two 10TB drives in RAID 1 you get 10TB of storage. But with four drives on a 4-bay with RAID 5 you will have 30TB. Or, if you prefer more performance & more security, you can run RAID 10.
Assess your requirements and budget
A NAS is just a computer that’s specially designed for its specific task. Like all computers, they come in varying price points, offering different levels of performance.
If you only want the network-attached storage functionality running over gigabit Ethernet, you could opt for any old 4-bay NAS (within reason).
If you want to use some of the more advanced features, you want to consider the processor used inside, its RAM, if it has SSD caching expansion slots, and the various Ethernet options, including 10GbE.
Then, of course, the underlying software running on the drive. Synology offers the best user experience with extensive features to cater for anyone. This then comes at quite a high price, most people will think it is worth it.
TerraMaster offer much the same level of functionality but at a much lower price point.
The best 4-bay NAS Drive in 2021 for all budgets
Best Overall NAS for 2021
- Scalable NAS with SSD cache acceleration...
- DS920+ provides two built-in M.2 SSD slots so that...
- A more powerful CPU speeds up computing-intensive...
- Access and sync your files seamlessly
The Synology DS920+ is certainly not cheap but it is a high specced NAS that should offer more than enough performance for most peoples needs. The DS420+ is about £80 cheaper and worth considering but has a lower spec chipset and less RAM.
The main negative I have about the DS920+ is the lack of 10GbE. At this price, I feel like they could have squeezed that in and if they had, it would be hard to recommend any other NAS over this.
However, it has
- Intel Celeron J4125 – 4-core 2.0 (base) / 2.7 (burst) GHz
- 2x Built-in M.2 2280 NVMe SSD slots (un-populated) permit cache acceleration without occupying storage drive bays.
- Hardware video transcoding up to 4K
- Superb selection of apps and very user friendly interface.
Best Multi-Gig Ethernet NAS for 2021
- POWERFUL HARDWARE: Intel Apollo Quad-core 1.5GHz...
- 1x10GbE RJ45 port, blazingly fast speed of 670MB/s...
- AES hardware encryption engine encrypts shared...
- Advanced Btrfs file system offering 71,680...
I was going to call this the best value NAS, but I don’t want to imply it is cheap as TerraMaster do cheaper models.
The TerraMaster F4-422 has some Synology beating specs but at a more attractive price point. Though, since the launch of the DS920+ and DS420+, it looks slightly less attractive.
With this, you get:
- Intel Celeron J3455 Quad-Core 1.5GHz (Max burst up to 2.3GHz)
- 4GB DDR3 (upgradable to 8GB)
- 2 x RJ-45 Gigabit Ethernet
- 1 x RJ-45 10GbE Network Jack
So, the CPU is a bit older and slower than the Synology DS920+, and it lacks the M.2 slots for cache acceleration, but you get 10GbE, and it comes in at £90 less than the Synology.
With multi-gig switches become more affordable, it is now quite feasible to have a 2.5GbE or 10GbE network at home. With growing data demands, having the improved throughput this offers is a huge benefit. With 10GbE, your main limiting factor will be the drives your use and the RAID level, ideally, you would run RAID 10 for the best speeds.
The TerraMaster OS is good, but just not as good as Synology DSM, it also lacks the extensive range of mobile and desktop companion apps that Synology have.
However, it still offers essentially the same things Synology does, but at a lower price.
Best affordable 4-bay NAS
- An affordable, high-performance 4-bay NAS...
- ARM v8 quad-core 1.4GHz CPU with 2 GB RAM (not...
- Supports Emby and Plex media servers, which keep...
- Compatible drive - 3.5" and 2.5" SATA HDD; 2.5"...
It was a toss-up between the TerraMaster F4-210 and the Synology DS420j. The Synology DS420j is only £30 more, and I think most people would prefer the user experience this offers. But it has half the RAM at 1GB which can be a little limiting, then at this price, you could consider the upgrade to the Synology DS418, which is significantly better but at £370 not really affordable
So if you are not too fussed about all the fancy features more powerful NAS drives offer, the TerraMaster F4-210 is a good option, and it is ideal for running basic applications or using strictly for file storage. You could even drop the price further getting the 1GB model for £190
Best 4-Bay Synology Alternative
- 2 X 2. 5GbE
- 1 x PCIe Gen2 x2 slot for 10GbE/5GbE/1GbE or QM2...
- 4GB DDR4 SODIMM RAM (1 x 4GB, 2 slots, max 8GB)
- 4K media playback and hardware transcoding
I didn’t want to be a Synology and TerraMaster shill, so there are a couple of other high spec alternatives worth considering.
I picked the QNAP TS-453D-4G due to its lower price compared to the DS920+. However, the Asustor NAS AS6604T offers about the best spec 4-bay NAS drive on the market, but it comes in at £50 more than the Synology
The QNAP TS-453D-4G features:
- Intel Celeron J4125 quad-core 2.0 GHz processor (burst up to 2.7 GHz) (same as DS920+)
- 4GB DDR4 (upgradable to 8GB)
- 2 X 2. 5GbE
- 1 x PCIe Gen2 x2 slot for 10GbE/5GbE/1GbE or QM2 M. 2 SATA/NVMe SSD adapter
- 1, HDMI 2.0 (up to 4096 x 2160 @ 60Hz)
So, you have the option for 2.5GbE with M.2 cache or up to 10GbE networking. This could offer a better solution to Synology for anyone that deals with a lot of large file transfer. People that do a lot of videos and photo editing will appreciate the improved file transfer speeds; especially now everything is in 4K or higher
Last update on 2021-09-16 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API