TerraMaster F4-423 Assessment: An Glorious 4-Bay NAS at a Nice Worth

Score:
9/10
?

  • 1 – Absolute Scorching Rubbish
  • 2 – Sorta Lukewarm Rubbish
  • 3 – Strongly Flawed Design
  • 4 – Some Professionals, Heaps Of Cons
  • 5 – Acceptably Imperfect
  • 6 – Good Sufficient to Purchase On Sale
  • 7 – Nice, However Not Greatest-In-Class
  • 8 – Improbable, with Some Footnotes
  • 9 – Shut Up And Take My Cash
  • 10 – Absolute Design Nirvana

Worth: $500

For higher or worse, TerraMaster is the “price range” NAS model. I’ve at all times felt lukewarm concerning the firm’s merchandise, which have a tendency to supply an amazing worth on the expense of efficiency or specs. However the brand new TerraMaster F4-423 appears to eliminate compromises—it’s an superior little machine.

This is What We Like

  • Nice worth for 4 drive bays (as much as 80TB complete)
  • Two 2.5Gb LAN ports with hyperlink aggregation assist
  • M.2 slot and upgradable RAM (as much as 32GB)
  • Native 4K video transcoding, nice for Plex

And What We Do not

  • RAM or M.2 entry requires a full disassembly
  • TerraMaster’s OS nonetheless is not nice

At simply $500, the TerraMaster F4-423 provides specs similar to Synology’s costlier DiskStation DS920+. Not solely is it an incredible worth, nevertheless it’s highly effective sufficient to deal with among the most enjoyable NAS initiatives. And shockingly, I solely have just a few complaints.

A Person-Pleasant Design with a Robust Port Choice

  • Dimensions: 8.9 x 8.8 x 5.3 inches
  • Weight: 7.9 kilos
  • Networking: Two 2.5Gb Ethernet jacks
  • USB Enter: Two USB-A 3.2
  • HDMI Output: Sure
  • Restricted Guarantee: Two Years

Like all of TerraMaster’s consumer-grade NAS gadgets, the F4-423 options easy-access drive bays and an aluminum enclosure that will get scratched simply. It’s barely bigger than the black-box NAS gadgets from manufacturers like Synology, nevertheless it’s nonetheless sufficiently small to tuck in an leisure middle or squeeze within the nook of a desk.

You don’t want any instruments to put in laborious drives or SSDs within the F4-423. However it is advisable to disassemble the entire machine if you wish to improve the RAM (as much as 32GB) or set up a drive within the M.2 slot (which might offer you actually quick cache, not additional storage). Whereas I’m blissful to see upgradable RAM and an M.2 slot in such an reasonably priced product, I don’t wish to take aside an entire freakin’ NAS unit simply to shove in some additional RAM.

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The entrance facet of the F4-423 appears to be like fairly unimpressive, save for an LED panel that tells you the standing of every drive bay. Actually, TerraMaster hid the entire get together on the rear finish of this enclosure—two USB-A 3.2 ports, two 2.5Gb Ethernet jacks (with hyperlink aggregation assist), and an HDMI output!

This port choice may be very spectacular for the value. However I want TerraMaster positioned a USB port on the entrance of this enclosure. Reaching across the again is awkward, particularly in case you place the NAS gadget in a tight-ish house.

And, in fact, I would like to provide TerraMaster brownie factors for making such a quiet enclosure. The 2 80mm followers in the back of this unit not often reached an audible degree, and TerraMaster did an amazing job isolating laborious drive vibration.

Dependable Backup and Storage Capabilities

  • Processor: Intel Celeron N5105/N5095 (Quad Core 2.0 GHz)
  • Reminiscence: 4GB RAM (upgradable to 32GB with two RAM slots)
  • Drive Bays: 4 (3.5-inch or 2.5-inch)
  • Storage Capability: Most 80TB (4 20TB drives)
  • Drive Scorching-Swap: Sure

As a NAS answer, the F4-423 simply does its job. It’s an efficient and dependable product. I had no bother transferring information to and from the F4-423 utilizing the SMB protocol on my MacBook or Home windows desktop (which provides the F4-423 to your filesystem). The cell app (Android/iOS) is ugly, however I’ve no different complaints.

The F4-423’s 4 drive bays can assist as much as 80TB of storage. However extra importantly, utilizing a number of drives ensures a excessive degree of file redundancy with RAID (plus sooner knowledge switch by concurrent streams). If one drive has a catastrophic failure, your knowledge is protected on the opposite drives—that is contingent on the RAID scheme you employ, so do your analysis.

Establishing this gadget is pretty straightforward, particularly in case you solely want to make use of it for backups. By default, TerraMaster’s TOS 5 software program accommodates a number of backup instruments for Home windows, macOS, Android, and different in style working methods. You may as well combine it with providers like Dropbox for automated cloud backups.

And when it comes to velocity, the F4-423 is up there with the perfect of them—it’s acquired 2.5Gb Ethernet ports! With hyperlink aggregation, that’s a complete 5Gb of community bandwidth. In fact, I don’t have the enterprise-grade networking gear to take full benefit of those specs, however I discovered that the F4-423 shortly transfers even the most important information.

Moreover, the F4-423’s Intel Celeron N5105/N5095 processor allows sooner file retrieval than earlier TerraMaster gadgets. In comparison with the F4-421 (this gadget’s predecessor), we’re a 37% improve in file retrieval speeds and 35% sooner database response time.

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An Spectacular Plex Media Server for the Worth

  • Processor: Intel Celeron N5105/N5095 (Quad Core 2.0 GHz)
  • {Hardware} Transcoding: H.265 (HEVC), MPEG-4 Half 2, MPEG-2, VC-1
  • Transcoding Limitations: Most 4K decision 60 FPS

The TerraMaster FR-423’s predecessor, the F4-421, wasn’t actually highly effective sufficient to deal with 4K video transcoding. It additionally lacked some quality-of-life options that Plex customers get pleasure from. However to my shock, the TerraMaster F4-423 is a stable Plex Media Server answer.

This NAS gadget’s Intel Celeron N5105/N5095 processor is completely able to transcoding 4K video. In my exams, {hardware} transcoding works flawlessly on the F4-423, even with concurrent streams. You shouldn’t encounter any bottlenecks when streaming inside your house, although issues can get a bit rocky when internet hosting a number of distant streams, which frequently resort to transcoding due to bitrate constraints.

Now, in case you refuse to pay for Plex Go, you’re caught with software program transcoding. And in my exams, the F4-423 hits a brick wall when transcoding 4K or FHD video utilizing software program protocols. However I wouldn’t name this a major problem, as Plex Go is fairly dang low-cost.

I additionally respect the F4-423’s port choice, which solely enhances the Plex expertise. The pair of two.5Gb LAN ports ensures speedy add and obtain speeds even with mechanical laborious drives or flash storage. And the built-in HDMI jack allows you to plug the F4-423 right into a TV and use it as a media participant—it’s greater than only a server!

And naturally, it is a four-bay NAS. It has a most storage capability of 80TB and provides fairly a little bit of redundancy with RAID. That’s loads of house (and an honest quantity of safety) on your film assortment.

I’m Nonetheless Not Offered on the Working System

Like all shopper NAS gadgets, the TerraMaster F4-423 runs a proprietary working system with a easy Home windows-like GUI. You may entry this working system at any time by typing your NAS gadget’s IP handle in a browser and punching in your login credentials. (You may as well use TerraMaster’s desktop software program to shortly entry the in-browser GUI.)

We’ve at all times criticized TerraMaster’s TOS working system. It’s janky, however extra importantly, it lacks the options and the safety of Synology and QNAP’s software program. Whereas this may not matter to the common consumer, energy customers ought to contemplate putting in a third-party OS.

To be clear, the F4-423 comes with TerraMaster’s new and improved TOS 5 software program. The GUI appears to load sooner than in earlier variations of TOS, and TerraMaster added some much-needed options (together with the “TRAID” versatile RAID system, upgraded useful resource monitor, and distinctive isolation mode). These are helpful upgrades, however TerraMaster nonetheless has numerous work forward of itself.

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App choice within the TOS 5 retailer is respectable, nevertheless it falls behind the competitors. And good luck putting in any software program that isn’t on the app retailer. TerraMaster’s working system is Linux-based, however normal providers are renamed and obscured to a degree the place the terminal is a significant frustration. Therefore the recognition of third-party working methods.

To TerraMaster’s credit score, safety appears to be a spotlight of the TOS 5 platform. New options like Self-Isolation Mode and OPT Authorization ought to scale back the chance of ransomware assaults, which have grown more and more frequent on TerraMaster gadgets over the previous few years. (There’s additionally a safety advisor that pops up when your first set up TOS 5, though it doesn’t clarify why sure safety methods needs to be enabled or how these methods work.)

However right here’s the factor; each NAS gadget is a possible goal for ransomware, particularly when distant entry is enabled. A NAS gadget is handy, nevertheless it isn’t a one-and-done backup answer. That’s why knowledge redundancy is so essential. Recovering from a ransomware assault is rather a lot simpler when you could have backups on your backups!

In the event you add essential knowledge to your NAS gadget, it’s best to copy that knowledge to at the very least two exterior sources. TerraMaster’s new backup and sync instruments will get the job achieved, as long as you possibly can afford an exterior drive or some cloud storage.

The Gist: It’s a Steal

Whereas I’m not a fan of TerraMaster’s working system, the F4-423 is a implausible little machine. It runs a stable processor, comes with a killer port choice, and may retailer as much as 80TB of knowledge with 4 20TB drives.

And extra importantly, the F4-423 prices simply $500. It’s essentially the most reasonably priced four-bay NAS gadget in its efficiency class, undercutting the Synology DiskStation DS920+ by $50. Until you’re dedicated to Synology’s software program, I can’t see a purpose to not purchase the TerraMaster F4-423.

My closing piece of recommendation applies to all NAS gadgets—learn the way these things works. Look into RAID, safety protocols, and working methods. Not solely will you get extra out of your NAS gadget, however you’ll have a greater understanding of find out how to safe essential information when one thing inevitably goes mistaken.

Right here’s What We Like

  • Nice worth for 4 drive bays (as much as 80TB complete)
  • Two 2.5Gb LAN ports with hyperlink aggregation assist
  • M.2 slot and upgradable RAM (as much as 32GB)
  • Native 4K video transcoding, nice for Plex

And What We Do not

  • RAM or M.2 entry requires a full disassembly
  • TerraMaster’s OS nonetheless is not nice