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Best cheap NAS 2022

Looking to save money? These NAS picks are for you.

Network-attached storage (NAS) can get really expensive, especially if you want more premium features. You don’t need to spend much to buy something truly special, however. I’ve rounded up some excellent enclosures with the most affordable costing less than $200.

  1. Best overall: Synology DiskStation DS220jARM CPU, 2 bays, 512MB RAM, 1Gb LAN.
  2. Runner-up: TerraMaster F2-221 — Intel CPU, 2 bays, 2GB RAM, 1Gb LAN.
  3. Best for Plex: Synology DiskStation DS220+ — Intel CPU, 2 bays, 2GB RAM, 1Gb LAN.
  4. Best four-bay: TerraMaster F4-210 — ARM CPU, 4 bays, 1GB RAM, 1Gb LAN.
  5. Best budget: TerraMaster F2-210 — ARM CPU, 2 bays, 1GB RAM, 1Gb LAN.

What’s the best cheap NAS?

It’s important to factor in price when picking a NAS enclosure.

It’s important to factor in price when picking a NAS enclosure. The more you spend, the better features will be made available, but you shouldn’t write off cheap enclosures altogether. They’re still exceptional for storing files and running a few lighter services.

My favourite NAS that’s affordable is the Synology DiskStation DS220j. It’s got the same two drive bays as the DiskStation DS220+, which I listed as the best NAS. Where the company cut corners with the DS220j is with the processor and RAM.

The TerraMaster F2-221 costs a little more, but you do get an Intel processor and upgradable RAM, starting at 2GB. The DS220+ is the best NAS for Plex if your budget can stretch it and the F4-210 from TerraMaster is my four-bay pick.

The cheaper the NAS, the less powerful the specifications will likely be. At the bare minimum, you can expect to see an ARM processor, 512MB of RAM, and up to two drive bays. These won’t blow your mind, but they will be more than good enough for storing data.

1. Synology DiskStation DS220j: Best overall cheap NAS

My thoughts: The DiskStation DS220j from Synology is a great affordable NAS. It’s cheap and still manages to allow you to store up to 36TB of data if you don’t use the drives in a RAID configuration.

CPU: Realtek RTD1296 | Drive bays: 2 | RAM: 512MB | Features: 1x 1Gb LAN, 2x USB 3.0

BrandModelRetailer
SynologyDiskStation DS220jSee at Amazon UK
SynologyDiskStation DS220jSee at Amazon US
  • Realtek RTD1296 CPU
  • 2x drive bays (36TB max)
  • 1Gb LAN
  • Excellent OS
  • Affordable
  • 512MB of RAM
  • Sluggish CPU performance
  • Limited RAID support

If you want the best overall pick for a cheap NAS, it’ll have to be the Synology DiskStation DS220j. It’s restricted by the processor and RAM, being the Realtek RTD1296 and 512MB, respectively. This isn’t great for carrying out more intense tasks like running Plex Media Server.

It is, however, perfect for storing files, backups, and more. The two drive bays are capable of holding drives with a capacity of up to 36TB. If you’d like to better protect your data with redundancy measures, this will be slashed in half to a maximum of 18TB.

The best part about Synology NAS compared to the competition is the operating system. Synology DiskStation Manager is excellent and allows one to run multiple processes without issue. Just don’t try to do too much on the enclosure as the CPU and RAM will act as bottlenecks.

Synology DiskStation DS220j

The Synology DiskStation DS220j has two drive bays, an ARM CPU, 512MB of RAM, and the same excellent OS you’ll find on more expensive Synology enclosures.


2. TerraMaster F2-221: Runner-up

My thoughts: TerraMaster NAS is generally more affordable than the competition and the F2-221 is no different. It offers excellent value thanks to the Intel Apollo J3355 processor and upgradable RAM.

CPU: Intel Apollo J3355 | Drive bays: 2 | RAM: 2GB (max 4GB) | Features: 2x 1Gb LAN, 2x USB 3.0

BrandModelRetailer
TerraMasterF2-221See at Amazon UK
TerraMasterF2-221See at Amazon US
  • Intel Apollo J3355 CPU
  • Upgradable 2GB DDR4 RAM
  • 2x drive bays (36TB max)
  • 2x 1Gb LAN
  • No 2.5Gb LAN ports
  • Limited RAID support

The first TerraMaster NAS in this affordable collection is the TerraMaster F2-221. It’s very similar to the Synology DiskStation DS220+ but is a little cheaper. Inside is the Intel Apollo J3355 processor, as well as 2GB of DDR4 RAM.

The two drive bays will allow you to store up to 36TB of data without making use of RAID. Finally, there are two 1Gb LAN ports that can be linked together for additional bandwidth. It’s not all great news for the F2-221, however.

The operating system is a little behind the times compared to the competition. It’s good enough for running a NAS at home, but you may encounter some questionable design choices, though these are expected to be addressed in future OS updates.

TerraMaster F2-221

TerraMaster F2-221

TerraMaster crammed plenty of features inside the F2-221. It has an Intel CPU, upgradable RAM, and two drive bays at an affordable price.


3. Synology DiskStation DS220+: Best for Plex

Synology DiskStation DS220+

My thoughts: My favourite NAS is the Synology DiskStation DS220+ and it’s also on our best cheap NAS list. It’s your best pi9ck for an affordable enclosure to run Plex Media Server.

CPU: Intel Apollo J3355 | Drive bays: 2 | RAM: 2GB (max 4GB) | Features: 2x 1Gb LAN, 2x USB 3.0

BrandModelRetailer
SynologyDiskStation DS220+See at Amazon UK
SynologyDiskStation DS220+See at Amazon US
  • Intel Apollo J3355 CPU
  • Upgradable 2GB DDR4 RAM
  • 2x drive bays (36TB max)
  • 2x 1Gb LAN
  • No M.2 SSD slots
  • No 2.5Gb LAN ports
  • Limited RAID support

My all-time favourite NAS at the moment is the Synology DiskStation DS220+. It really has it all when looking for the best value NAS and one that can handle Plex transcoding. The Intel Apollo J3355 CPU is brilliant at even more intensive applications.

This great processor is joined by 2GB of DDR4 RAM, which can be upgraded to a total of 6GB should you require additional capacity. The two drive bays may be limiting for those who need to store more than 36TB of data, but it’s more than enough for anyone starting from scratch.

It’s easy to overlook the two 1Gb LAN ports, but you can link them together for enough throughput to almost keep up with a 2.5Gb LAN. Most homes only have a 1Gb network anways. It’s just a shame there are no M.2 slots for SSD caching.

Synology DiskStation DS220+

Synology DiskStation DS220+

The Synology DiskStation DS220+ is my favourite NAS enclosure overall. It’s perfect for most homeowners and you can even run Plex Media Server on it without issue.


4. TerraMaster F4-210: Best four-bay NAS

My thoughts: If you need to store lots of data, it’s best you go with the TerraMaster F4-210. This NAS has four drive bays, an ARM processor, 2GB of RAM, and more than enough to get you started.

CPU: Realtek RTD1296 | Drive bays: 4 | RAM: 2GB | Features: 2x 1Gb LAN, 2x USB 3.0

BrandModelRetailer
TerraMasterF4-210See at Amazon US
  • Realtek RTD1296 CPU
  • 2GB DDR4 RAM
  • 4x drive bays (72TB max)
  • 2x 1Gb LAN (with aggregation)
  • Good value
  • No M.2 SSD slots
  • No 2.5Gb LAN ports

The TerraMaster F4-210 is all about capacity. It has four drive bays that can hold an impressive 72TB of data. That is until you implement a RAID configuration for enhanced data redundancy. This NAS is designed with affordable file storage in mind.

The 2GB of RAM cannot be upgraded, but this shouldn’t be an issue for storing and accessing files. Two 1Gb LAN ports are great for rapid access using mechanical drives. What’s more of a bummer is the lack of any SSD caching M.2 slots.

TerraMaster F4-210

TerraMaster F4-210

The TerraMaster F4-210 is perfect for those wanting to store a lot of data on NAS. It has an ARM processor, but the four drive bays and 2GB of RAM make up for this shortfall.


5. TerraMaster F2-210: Best cheap NAS

My thoughts: If money is all you’re concerned with, go for the TerraMaster F2-210. IT has two drive bays, an ARM processor and is perfect for someone’s first enclosure.

CPU: Realtek RTD1296 | Drive bays: 2 | RAM: 2GB | Features: 1x 1Gb LAN, 2x USB 3.0

BrandModelRetailer
TerraMasterF2-210See at Amazon UK
TerraMasterF2-210See at Amazon US
  • Realtek RTD1296 CPU
  • 2GB DDR4 RAM
  • 4x drive bays (72TB max)
  • 1x 1Gb LAN
  • Good value
  • Sluggish CPU performance
  • No M.2 SSD slots
  • No 2.5Gb LAN ports

The final NAS on this list is the TerraMaster F2-210. It’s a more affordable version of the F2-221, substituting the Intel processor for a Realtek RTD1296 CPU. This isn’t particularly powerful and will limit just what you can do with the F2-210.

The 2GB of RAM cannot be upgraded and you may find the two drive bays a downer should you have multiple terabytes of data to store. It is, however, of excellent value as a first NAS enclosure. If you are looking to buy your very first enclosure, this is a solid place to start.

TerraMaster F2-221

TerraMaster F2-210

If four drive bays are too much for you with the F4-210, the TerraMaster F2-210 will be the better choice here. It has the same specs but two few bays.

By Richard Edmonds

I've been covering the tech industry for more than a decade and have tinkered with NAS for just as long. Follow my ramblings and more right here on NAS Master!

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