Best NAS 2023: For home, Plex, work, and budget

Looking for the best NAS? Here are my favourites.

Network-attached storage (NAS) is a server that can be used for storing data and running apps and services. You can think of them as small computers that allow you to run your very own media center, file storage platform, or even a surveillance system. It’s possible to spend very little on an affordable NAS or drop a few thousand on a leading enclosure. I’ve rounded up the best NAS from Synology, ASUSTOR, QNAP, and other brands.

  1. Best overall: ASUSTOR Lockerstor 2 Gen2 (AS6702T) — Intel CPU, 2 bays, 4GB RAM, 2.5Gb LAN.
  2. Runner-up: TerraMaster F4-423 — Intel CPU, 4 bays, 4GB RAM, 2.5Gb LAN.
  3. Best for beginners: Synology DiskStation DS220+ — Intel CPU, 2 bays, 2GB RAM, 1Gb LAN.
  4. Best for streaming: ASUSTOR NIMBUSTOR 4 (AS5304T) — Intel CPU, 4 bays, 4GB RAM, 2.5Gb LAN.
  5. Best for Plex: QNAP TVS-672XT — Intel CPU, 6 bays, 8GB RAM, 10Gb LAN.
  6. Best capacity: QNAP TVS-H1688X — Intel CPU, 16 bays, 8GB RAM, 10Gb LAN.
  7. Best budget: Synology DiskStation DS120j — ARM CPU, 1 bay, 512MB RAM, 1Gb LAN.
  8. Best value: TerraMaster F2-423 — Intel CPU, 2 bays, 4GB RAM, 2.5Gb LAN.
  9. Best performance: QNAP TVS-872XT-i5 — Intel CPU, 8 bays, 16GB RAM, 10Gb LAN.
  10. Best customizable: Build your own DIY NAS Limited by your imagination.

What is the best NAS?

What makes the best NAS is driven by a few factors. The most important, as always with any product, is price and available budget. Enclosures can cost as little as $100, but can easily hit heights of $2,000 or more. This is due to the increase in the number of drive bays, as well as other more advanced features like M.2 SSD slots, and upgradeable memory.

If you’re just starting out and need a NAS for file storage or running a small media server for your family, an enclosure with two to four bays would be sufficient. It’s not worth choosing a single-bay NAS (due to the lack of RAID) unless you only need one for storing unimportant files that you either don’t mind losing in the event of a drive failure or have backed up elsewhere.

For manufacturers, there’s a strong choice available. Top-leading brands include Synology, QNAP, ASUSTOR, and TerraMaster, to name a few. If you’re wanting our top-pick NAS for most people, it would be the ASUSTOR LOCKERSTOR 2 Gen2 (AS6702T). It’s an excellent overall NAS with plenty of features to get you up and running in no time at all.

This NAS has an Intel processor, which is generally considered to be the vastly superior choice compared to ARM CPUs and is able to do much more, including transcoding media for Plex. The RAM is upgradable and you can even install up to four M.2 SSDs to act as a cache and improve disk performance or expand the storage pool.

If the AS6702T doesn’t quite tick all the right boxes, we’ve listed the excellent TerraMaster F4-423 as a runner-up choice. For those who want to set up a Plex Media Server (PMS), the QNAP TVS-672N-i3 is what you’ll need with an even better processor and more than enough drive bays.

As aforementioned, you don’t need to spend too much on an enclosure. The Synology DiskStation DS120j and TerraMaster F2-423 are fine examples of savings to be had without sacrificing too much on functionality, so long as you only plan on using these servers for file storage.

It’s important to think about what you want to do with a NAS enclosure. Will you be storing some data? Do you want to set up a Plex Media Server? How about a central hub for home surveillance? If it’s the former, you won’t need anything more than a single or dual-bay NAS. For everything else, you’ll need to consider paying out more.

The price is always an essential factor and a NAS enclosure is no exception. With NAS Master, my goal is to help you buy the perfect NAS for your needs without spending a single penny more than you should. An issue is the more features you want in your enclosure, the higher the price will be.

Like with other components in computers, the more you spend upfront will ensure your NAS will remain current even after a few years. Faster LAN ports, M.2 SSD slots, plenty of drive bays, and one of the best processors you can buy right now will see you enjoying your NAS for many years without needing to replace it.

Ordering your NAS online is a good place to start as you’ll usually see the best deals on retailers like Amazon. You’ll see me recommending Amazon links above other stores for price and availability. If you want to receive your NAS quicker and enjoy other benefits across Amazon’s services, give Amazon Prime a go for free with the 30-day trial.

How to buy the best NAS

There are so many NAS enclosures out there. Not only do you have numerous manufacturers to choose from, but also countless models. Some have one or two bays, while others have ten or more. It all depends on what you plan on doing with the NAS. If it’s simply for file storage, you won’t need to spend much.

The price can quickly skyrocket when you include features like 2.5Gb LAN ports, Intel processors, upgradable DDR4 RAM, M.2 SSD slots, and more. If you want to do some advanced tasks like setting up security cameras, you’re going to need to look at more pricey options. At the end of the day, a NAS enclosure is simply a PC for storage.

The most important feature on any NAS server is the number of drive bays present for installing 2.5-inch and 3.5-inch drives. The enclosures I’ve rounded up in this collection start from just a single bay with the highest capacity enclosure sporting a full 16. It’s easy to determine the maximum capacity of a NAS by multiplying the bay number by 20.

Most NAS enclosures will work fine with NAS drives up to 20TB, allowing you to install a massive 320TB worth of storage in that 16-bay server. I don’t usually recommend a NAS with just one bay unless you’re just starting out or want something to simply store backups or a few files.

What makes for a good Plex NAS

I’ve provided a few examples of a NAS that can handle Plex transcoding and then some in this very collection, but not all NAS are created equally. I’ve rounded up some of the best NAS for Plex, in my humble experienced opinion, in another collection if all you plan to do is stream media content.

Picking the best NAS for running Plex Media Server involves choosing the best processor you can afford. An Intel Core CPU would be the absolute best choice for a busy household watching different media streams, but you can get away with an Intel Celeron processor for transcoding 4K content.

It also depends on what type of content you plan to stream. If it’s simply music, you may only want an affordable enclosure since music files typically don’t require much storage space and the CPU would be barely utilized through streaming.

Which NAS drives to use

Choosing the right drives for a NAS is incredibly important since most enclosures are diskless — sold without drives preinstalled. These are what you’ll be storing all your important data on so they need to be designed with continuous operation in mind.

So long as the NAS enclosure you choose to buy supports 2.5-inch or 3.5-inch drives, you can use pretty much any hard-disk drive (HDD) or solid-state drive (SSD). I’ve rounded up the best NAS drives that are designed specifically for servers.

NAS HDDs are cheaper and support higher capacities (going up to 20TB!), but they’re slower and have spinning motors inside. NAS SSDs are faster, but are considerably more expensive and aren’t able to write as much data as HDDs before you encounter issues.

Generally, drives built for NAS (and general server use) are much more robust, have better internal components, and should be able to handle heavier workloads. Desktop-class drives you’d install inside a desktop or laptop PC likely won’t last as long, requiring you to replace them sooner — and potentially lose data.

ASUSTOR Lockerstor 2 Gen2 (AS6702T)
ASUSTOR Lockerstor 2 Gen2 (AS6702T). (Source: NAS Master)


Best overall NAS

CPUIntel Celeron N5105
(4-core, 2.9 GHz)
GPUIntel UHD Graphics
(max 16 GB)
Storage2x SSD/HDD
4x M.2
ExpansionASUSTOR AS6004U
Cooling1x 70 mm
Ports2x 2.5GbE
2x USB-A 3.2 Gen 2×1
1x HDMI 2.0b
Power Draw~21 W
Dimensions163.5 x 108 x 230 mm
Weight2 kg
  • Intel Celeron N5105 CPU
  • 4GB upgradable DDR4 RAM
  • 2x drive bays (40TB max)
  • 2.5GbE (with aggregation)
  • Excellent OS
  • Limited RAID support

When it comes to choosing the best NAS, it all comes down to what you plan on using the enclosure for. If it’s to store some files and to test the waters with your very first NAS, the ASUSTOR LOCKERSTOR 2 Gen2 (AS6702T) may be just what you’re seeking. It’s my favorite two-bay NAS for 2022.

What makes this NAS particularly brilliant (and how it managed to replace the Synology DiskStation DS220+ as my top recommendation) is the specifications sheet and price tag. It’s not too much more, but ASUSTOR managed to cram a lot of tech inside this compact server.

Let’s start with the excellent Intel Celeron N5105 CPU. It comes with an integrated GPU that can easily handle 4K transcoding for running Plex Media Server. The preinstalled 4GB of DDR4 RAM is more than enough for most basic tasks too, and this can be expanded up to 32GB.

Then there’s the four (yes, four!) M.2 SSD slots that can be used for SSD caching or storage, something that other top NAS brands don’t offer. Two drive bays would normally be too limiting for those who plan to expand at a later date, but the AS6702T supports expansion units.

It’s possible to add two of these to bring the total drive bays up to 10. The two 2.5Gb networking ports make it easy to transfer data to and from the NAS, and the HDMI port allows you to connect a TV or other device to the NAS for direct media playback (say goodbye to transcoding!).

The ASUSTOR ADM NAS OS is also excellent and user-friendly, making it a great place to start if you’re an experienced NAS user or are purchasing your first enclosure. Overall, this is one seriously powerful NAS to beat.

TerraMaster F4-423
TerraMaster F4-423. (Source: NM)

2. TerraMaster F4-423

Runner-up best NAS

CPUIntel Celeron N5105
(4-core, 2.9 GHz)
GPUIntel UHD Graphics
(max 32 GB)
Storage4x SSD/HDD
2x M.2
Cooling2x 80 mm
Ports2x 2.5GbE
2x USB-A 3.1
Power Draw~35.2 W
Dimensions227 x 225x 136 mm
Weight3.6 kg
  • Intel Celeron N5105/5095 CPU
  • 4GB upgradable RAM
  • 4x drive bays (80TB max)
  • 2.5GbE (with aggregation)
  • 2x M.2 SSD slots
  • OS is a little rough

TerraMaster is going big in 2022 with the release of the impressive TerraMaster F4-423 and F2-423. These two enclosures come with some seriously good specifications, especially if you’re looking to set up a Plex Media Server. For around $70 more than the DS220+, the F2-423 offers faster networking, M.2 slots for SSD caching, and better RAM capacity.

Throw in an additional $200 and you’ve got access to the F4-423. This is the same as the F2-423, but with the addition of two more drive bays. The four drive bays offer a maximum storage capacity of 80TB, which is perfect for running virtual machines, media hosting, and other services.

The Intel Celeron N5105/5095 CPU is great for transcoding and performing other intensive tasks. TerraMaster didn’t stop there as the company upgraded the RAM to DDR4, starting at 4GB, and can be expanded to a whopping 32GB. Then you’ve got two 2.5Gb LAN ports for speedy data transfers. The OS is a little weaker than the competition but TOS is getting better with each major update.

Synology DiskStation DS220+
Synology DiskStation DS220+. (Source: NAS Master)

3. Synology DiskStation DS220+

Best NAS for beginners

CPUIntel Celeron J4025
(2-core, 2.9 GHz)
GPUIntel UHD Graphics
(max 6 GB)
Storage2x SSD/HDD
Cooling2x 92 mm
Ports2x 1GbE
2x USB-A 3.1
Power Draw~14.69 W
Dimensions165 x 108 x 232.2 mm
Weight1.3 kg
  • Intel Celeron J4025 CPU
  • 2GB upgradable DDR4 RAM
  • 2x drive bays (32TB max)
  • 1GbE (with aggregation)
  • Excellent OS
  • No M.2 SSD slots
  • No 2.5Gb LAN ports
  • Limited RAID support

It’s difficult to make the wrong decision when shopping around for a NAS since most of the enclosures available would make for a great server. Where this becomes a little tricky is when you want to make the best purchase for your needs, without having to spend more than necessary. This is why I wholeheartedly recommend the Synology DiskStation DS220+ for beginners.

This NAS enclosure strikes a good balance between price and performance. It’s a powerful server with an Intel Celeron J4025 processor with 2GB of DDR4 RAM. The memory can be upgraded to 6GB, in case you run into scenarios where more RAM is needed. The CPU will easily handle some 4K transcoding through Plex.

While some may view the two drive bays as a little restrictive, it makes it easy to throw a few drives into the enclosure and enjoy up to 40TB of storage capacity. Because I recommend using RAID, you’ll more likely see 16TB with a configuration enabled (and I recommend doing so for data redundancy). With two 1Gb LAN ports, you can connect both to your router or switch which will then allow the connection to be doubled up for enhanced bandwidth.

Its hot-swappable drive tray design allows for easy installation and maintenance, destroying the requirement for a screwdriver to remove or install a hard drive. Simply pull out, swap, and re-insert, and you’re good to go. There are even a few USB 3.0 ports for good measure.

ASUSTOR AS5304T. (Source: NAS Master)


Best NAS for streaming

CPUIntel Celeron J4105
(4-core, 2.5 GHz)
GPUIntel UHD Graphics
(max 8 GB)
Storage4x SSD/HDD
ExpansionASUSTOR AS6004U
Cooling1x 120 mm
Ports2x 2.5GbE
3x USB-A 3.2 Gen 1
1x HDMI 2.0a
Power Draw~27 W
Dimensions170 x 174 x 230 mm
Weight2.2 kg
  • Intel Celeron J4105 CPU
  • 4GB upgradable DDR4 RAM
  • 4x drive bays (64TB max)
  • 2.5GbE (with aggregation)
  • Excellent OS
  • No M.2 SSD slots
  • No 5Gb LAN ports
  • Flimsy drive bay trays

If you want to do some streaming on the side and save video footage, I’d recommend you take a gander at the ASUSTOR NIMBUSTOR 4 (AS5304T). This is a very powerful NAS enclosure with an Intel Celeron J4105 CPU and upgradeable 4GB of DDR4 RAM.

This is ideal for Plex Media Server and some other scenarios where a beefy CPU and speedy RAM are required for optimal performance. This configuration is more than enough for stable 4K transcoding. The OS is brilliant and supports numerous apps and services.

For transferring data to and from the NAS, you’ve got plenty of bandwidth with the dual-2.5Gb LAN setup, eliminating any network possible bottlenecks, so long as your LAN infrastructure can keep up. This is especially important if you’re a streamer and are looking for something that can handle the bandwidth that comes with offloading recorded media.

You may find the price to be a little offputting, which is understandable. It’s above other four-bay NAS models, but this has a few advantages, including the faster CPU and LAN ports. If your budget can stretch to cover the AS5304T, it’ll perform admirably in your gaming, streaming, or home media server setup.

QNAP TVS-H674. (Source: QNAP)

5. QNAP TVS-H674-i3

Best NAS for Plex

CPUIntel Core i3-12100
(6-core, 4.4 GHz)
GPUIntel UHD Graphics 730
(max 64 GB)
Storage6x HDD/SSD
2x PCIe 4.0 M.2
Expansion1x PCIe 4.0 x16
1x PCIe 4.0 x4
Cooling2x 92 mm
1x 60 mm
Ports2x 2.5GbE
1x USB-C USB 3.2 Gen 2
2x USB-A USB 3.2 Gen 2
1x HDMI 1.4b
Power Draw~79.4 W
Dimensions188.2 x 264.3 x 280.8 mm
Weight6.55 kg
  • Intel Core i3-12100 CPU
  • 32GB upgradable DDR4 RAM
  • 6x drive bays (120TB max)
  • 2.5GbE (with aggregation)
  • Excellent OS
  • Expensive
  • High power draw
  • No 10GbE

Okay, this is the big one for Plex fans. The QNAP TVS-H674-i3 is one of the best QNAP NAS for Plex. Period. It’s not overly expensive, but still pricier than other four and six-bay NAS, but it’s well worth the initial investment. The Intel Core i3-12100 isn’t the most powerful CPU around, but we’re used to Intel Celeron, Pentium, Atom, as well as some ARM CPUs, so it’s exceptionally good.

The integrated graphics and four physical cores are more than a match for 4K transcoding, which is required if you want to stream a 4K movie to a TV or other receiving device that doesn’t support the file format. This processor is joined by 32GB of DDR4 RAM, which can be upgraded to 64GB, and six drive bays for storing all your media.

In case you thought you wouldn’t be able to stream multiple movies at once, think again since this NAS has rapid 2.5Gb LAN ports. Then you have two USB 3.3 Gen 2 ports, one being USB-C. This NAS is well-equipped.

QNAP TVS-H1688X. (Source: QNAP)

6. QNAP TVS-H1688X

Best capacity NAS

CPUIntel Xeon W-1250
(6-core, 4.7 GHz)
GPUIntel UHD Graphics P630
(max 128 GB)
Storage12x SSD/HDD
4x SSD
2x M.2
Expansion3x PCI
Cooling2x 97 mm
3x 80 mm
Ports2x 10GbE
4x 2.5GbE
2x USB-C 3.2 Gen 2
4x USB-A 3.2 Gen 2
1x HDMI 1.4b
Power Draw~108.7 W
Dimensions303.84 x 369.89 x 319.8 mm
Weight16.3 kg
  • Intel Xeon W-1250 CPU
  • 8GB upgradable DDR4 RAM
  • 16x drive bays (192TB+ max)
  • 10GbE
  • Excellent OS
  • Expensive
  • High power draw

When only the highest capacity will suffice, you’ll want to consider the excellent QNAP TVS-H1688X. It’s a monstrous NAS enclosure that can hold an insane amount of data. There are 12 drive bays to start with, followed by four SSD bays and a further two M.2 SSD slots.

To ensure the NAS can keep up with all this data, QNAP decided to install an Intel Xeon W-1250 CPU. This processor is also a monster, much like other server-grade Xeon processors enthusiasts love to use. It’s vastly superior to Celeron and Pentium offerings found in NAS enclosures. It’ll handle 4K movie transcoding and then some.

This NAS is best suited for file storage in a busy household or bustling office. The massive capacity is joined by four 2.5Gb LAN ports and two 10Gb LAN ports. For USB, QNAP has you covered with a total of two USB-C 3.2 Gen 2 ports and four USB-A 3.2 Gen 2 ports. The price is a little high for most NAS owners, and the power draw will make anyone looking to save on their energy bills look the other way.

Synology DiskStation DS220j
Synology DiskStation DS220j. (Source: NAS Master)

7. Synology DiskStation DS120j

Best budget NAS

CPUMarvell Armada 3700 88F3720
(2-core, 0.8 GHz)
(max 512 MB)
Storage1x SSD/HDD
Cooling1x 60 mm
Ports1x 1GbE
2x USB-A 2.0
Power Draw~9.81 W
Dimensions166 x 71 x 224 mm
Weight0.7 kg
  • Almost silent
  • Affordable
  • 64-bit ARM CPU
  • Low power draw
  • Excellent OS
  • No M.2 SSD slots
  • No 2.5Gb LAN ports
  • Sluggish CPU performance
  • Single drive bay

If all you require is a device for you and perhaps a few family members to store and access data, the Synology DiskStation DS120j is your affordable friend. Instead of using an Intel CPU, we’re looking at the Marvell Armada 3700 88F3720. It’s an ARM processor, which is perfectly fine for efficient NAS operation but may struggle when you want to do more demanding tasks.

You won’t be running Plex Media Server on this NAS and expect to stream movies and whatnot. It’s designed and built for file storage. The DS120j only has 512MB of DDR3L RAM and one drive bay, but you do get a server enclosure that can be connected online and provide a single location for file storage.

If you simply need to store a few files and don’t need to do anything with your NAS, like run a media server, a surveillance system, or other demanding tasks, the DS120j will be enough. Also, should you desire to test the waters with the wonderful world of NAS, you’ll feel more comfortable spending less on something like this device.

TerraMaster F2-423
TerraMaster F2-423. (Source: TerraMaster)

8. TerraMaster F2-423

Best value NAS

CPUIntel Celeron N5105/5095
(4-core, 2.9 GHz)
GPUIntel UHD Graphics
(max 32 GB)
Storage2x SSD/HDD
2x M.2
Cooling1x 80 mm
Ports2x 2.5GbE
2x USB-A 3.1
Power Draw~22.1 W
Dimensions227 x 119 x 133 mm
Weight2.4 kg
  • Intel Celeron N5105/5095 CPU
  • 4GB upgradable RAM
  • 2 drive bays
  • 2.5GbE (with aggregation)
  • 2x M.2 SSD slots
  • OS is a little rough

TerraMaster makes plenty of more affordable NAS enclosures compared to the competition. You’d think it wouldn’t have as good internals, but it’s not far behind thanks to the Intel Celeron N5105/5095 quad-core CPU. If you’re after a budget-friendly NAS that gets you more bang for your buck, this is it.

But it’s not just the CPU as this NAS comes rocking two 2.5Gb LAN ports, as well as 4GB DDR4 RAM (which can be expanded up to 32GB). Then there are two USB 3.0 ports. You’re getting a lot for your money here. Unfortunately, like other TerraMaster NAS, the F2-221 is let down by the OS, which just isn’t as good as QNAP, ASUSTOR, and Synology.

It’s not awful, but you can tell from the get-go it doesn’t have as much polish. You’ll still be able to install all your favorite services like Plex Media Server, but just don’t expect to have the best time doing everything.

QNAP TVS-872XT. (Source: QNAP)

9. QNAP TVS-872XT-i5

Best NAS for performance

CPUIntel Core i5-8400T
(6-core, 3.3 GHz)
GPUIntel UHD Graphics 630
(max 64 GB)
Storage8x SSD/HDD
2x M.2
Expansion2x PCI
Cooling2x 120 mm
2x 60 mm
Ports1x 10GbE
2x 1GbE
2x Thunderbolt 3
2x USB-A 3.2 Gen 2
2x USB-C 3.2 Gen 2
1x USB-A 3.2 Gen 1
1x HDMI 2.0
Power Draw~41.47 W
Dimensions188.2 x 329.3 x 279.6 mm
Weight7.06 kg
  • Intel Core i5-8400T CPU
  • 16GB upgradable DDR4 RAM
  • 8 drive bays
  • 10GbE
  • Excellent OS
  • Expensive
  • High power draw

When you’re prepared to dive into the deep end with NAS enclosures, you’ll want to consider something like the QNAP TVS-872XT-i5. While it’s a little old now, the Intel Core i5-8400T processor is vastly more powerful than Celeron and other processors you’d usually find inside NAS servers.

This level of performance is perfect for services like Plex Media Server. You won’t have any issues transcoding multiple 4K files. But it doesn’t end there. There are two Gigabit ports and a single 10Gb port. 16GB of DDR4 RAM can be upgraded to 32GB if you really need that much.

The eight drive bays with secondary expansion slots ensure you can install more drives than you’ll require. This all makes the QNAP TVS-872XT-i5 a fine choice for a file storage box for video editing workstations or a Plex Media Server streaming hub.

It’s a powerful enclosure with a solid collection of I/O, allowing you to hook up plenty of hardware and accessories. If you can somehow afford this NAS, it’s well worth it for busy and tech-savvy households.

Fractal Design Node 804
Fractal Design Node 804. (Source: NAS Master)

10. Build your own NAS

Best customizable NAS

  • Exceptional upgradability
  • Choose your own components
  • Can be used as a desktop PC
  • Choice of operating systems
  • Almost unlimited update support
  • Can get really expensive
  • Higher power draw
  • Limited hardware support

Prebuilt enclosures from manufacturers are fantastic for getting online in a matter of minutes after unboxing, but they often come with a premium price tag to cover the cost of support, development, and everything else. This is where building your own DIY NAS comes into play.

Should you feel comfortable enough to build a PC, you’ll feel right at home putting together a NAS. It’s essentially a desktop PC we’re turning into a server to run one of the free NAS operating systems. By building your own NAS, you can choose everything from the processor to the RAM and even add a GPU for better performance in specific tasks.

A DIY NAS may start off slightly cheaper than a prebuilt enclosure with identical specifications, you can spend literal thousands building a powerful server with off-the-shelf PC parts. You’ll have to rely on yourself for diagnosing issues with the NAS, but at least you’ll have updates until the machine decides to pack up.

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