TerraMaster F2-212

TerraMaster F2-212 review: The new best budget NAS

TerraMaster has aggressively priced its NAS against Synology, ASUSTOR, and other brands and the new TerraMaster F2-212 is no exception. This is a new two-bay enclosure from the company with a refreshed design compared to existing NAS enclosures and offers some impressive features at a low price.

The TerraMaster F2-212 is designed for those looking for their first NAS enclosure with an ARM processor, low price, and two drive bays. It has a capacity of more than 40TB when fully kitted out with drives but there’s a lack of any M.2 slots, upgradable RAM, and support for expansion units.

Could this be the best NAS for you to buy? I’m going to run through the design, features, operating system, and app support to see just how good the TerraMaster F2-212 is.

TerraMaster F2-212

New looks, new OS

TerraMaster F2-212
TerraMaster F2-212. (Source: TerraMaster)

TerraMaster’s F2-212 is an affordable NAS with enough firepower for storing data and running an app or two. With support for up to 44TB of data, this NAS makes it possible to save money by canceling a cloud storage subscription.

CPURealtek 1619B
(4-core, 1.7 GHz)
GPU
RAM1 GB DDR4
(max 1 GB)
Bays2 (SSD/HDD)
Expansion
Cooling1x 80 mm
Ports1x 1 GbE
1x USB-A 3.0
1x USB-A 2.0
Power draw~20.1 W
Dimensions222 x 119 x 154 mm
Weight1.3 kg
  • Great value
  • Sleek design
  • Two drive bays
  • Good operating system
  • Weaker CPU performance
  • App support
  • Limited capacity

Price and availability

TerraMaster launched the F2-212, replacing the aging old F2-210, with a price tag of $170. This puts the TerraMaster F2-212 in the same camp as some of the best cheap NAS enclosures. This does not take into account storage drives, which the F2-212 does not have preinstalled. Like most NAS servers, you’ll have to factor in the purchase of hard drives or SSDs as well as the enclosure.

Design and features

Front of the TerraMaster F2-212.
Front of the TerraMaster F2-212. (Source: NM)

If you’re familiar with other TerraMaster NAS, the TerraMaster F2-212 will look a little different and that’s primarily down to the color. It’s an all-black enclosure and is a stark departure from the usual aluminum shell look and feel we’ve come to know and love with TerraMaster NAS.

Being an affordable enclosure, there’s not too much to talk about the chassis itself. The front houses the usual array of status LED indicators and two hot-swap drive bays. TerraMaster branding can be found on the two sides, whereas the top and bottom panels are completely bare. The rear of the F2-212 is where all the connectivity takes place.

TerraMaster decided to include a single 1GbE connection on the F2-212. This should be more than enough bandwidth for single-user scenarios and smaller households and/or offices. The processor and limited system memory will also limit just what can be done on this enclosure, which would render a 2.5GbE port almost pointless.

As well as the LAN port, there are two USB-A ports on the rear of the F2-212. A DC input is required for the external power supply, which keeps the external dimensions of the NAS low. A single 80mm fan is located behind the main PCB and hard drives are within the enclosure to keep everything cool. Air is drawn through the front bays and side panels.

Overall, it’s a clean-looking NAS and one that surprised me when TerraMaster announced the F2-212. Although some may comment on how this dissolves the uniqueness of TerraMaster’s NAS enclosures compared to the competition, this could be viewed as a refresh for TerraMaster, expanding its reach.

Software

TerraMaster TOS 5

TerraMaster’s TOS is a vastly superior operating system than what used to ship with the company’s enclosures. Setting up the TerraMaster F2-212 takes approximately 10 minutes, depending on the speed of your internet for downloading the necessary OS files from TerraMaster. The install wizard is easy to follow and gets everything set up in moments.

When landing at the web interface, you’ll be greeted by a familiar desktop-like experience. There are some preinstalled apps from TerraMaster with a good selection of third-party apps through TerraMaster’s package manager. If you’ve used another NAS OS before, it shouldn’t take long to grow accustomed to TOS.

The collection of available apps is good enough for most beginners to NAS enclosures, but it’s still short of what’s offered through Synology and ASUSTOR counterparts. The company is attempting to address this through supporting community apps, but we all know what happened to Windows Phone when this approach didn’t work out.

Although the TerraMaster F2-212 doesn’t have an Intel or AMD processor and is limited to having just 1GB of DDR4 RAM, the TOS runs smoothly. You can install and run various apps without an issue though pushing the NAS enclosure hard will see you encountering instances of sluggish responsiveness.

The same occurs on other ARM-powered NAS, so this isn’t an issue specific to the F2-212. For storing files and running some apps, TOS is excellent. The company recently launched a new mobile app that can be used to manage the NAS and everything stored on the drives. Previously, we’d list the OS as a drawback for TerraMaster NAS, but I’m pleased to relay that’s no longer the case.

Performance

TerraMaster F2-212 ports.
TerraMaster F2-212 ports. (Source: NM)

The Realtek 1619B is a four-core processor with a maximum speed of 1.7 GHz. That doesn’t sound very fast and that’s because it’s not, at least compared to desktop-class processors. This is a low-power chip and one designed for use inside devices where not much processing power is required.

TerraMaster designed the F2-212 for the storing of data. Running an app or two should be considered based on how resource-intensive they are since only 1GB of RAM is available for the OS and all tasks you will want to run on the NAS. In my testing, I found the processor and single 1GbE connection to be enough for storing some files and backups.

Where the CPU and RAM will severely limit what can be done on the NAS is with more resource-intensive tasks such as media transcoding and home surveillance. For less than $200, the TerraMaster F2-212 is adequately powered.

Competition

Synology DiskStation DS223j
Inside the Synology DiskStation DS223j. (source: NM)

There’s plenty of competition in the two-bay NAS space, especially from TerraMaster’s catalog of enclosures, as well as some from Synology and ASUSTOR. The TerraMaster F2-212 is going up against some killer NAS, one being the Synology DiskStation DS223j, which I reviewed positively.

Both of these NAS enclosures have almost identical specifications. They both run an ARM processor, have 1GB of RAM, two drive bays, and a single network connection. The operating systems are different with Synology having better cloud and app support, but TerraMaster manages to undercut the DS223j in price.

There’s also the fact that TerraMaster’s F2-212 has hot-swap drive bays whereas the DS223j requires the enclosure to be taken apart to access the 3.5-inch drive bays.

Is the TerraMaster F2-212 good for Plex?

TerraMaster F2-223
TerraMaster F2-223 is a better pick for running Plex Media Server.

Contrary to what you’d assume with the specifications, the TerraMaster F2-212 does have the capabilities to run Plex Media Server and stream media to recipient hardware, so long as those devices can transcode content themselves. The Realtek processor doesn’t have the guts to transcode but is powerful enough for music and some direct streaming.

If you’re on the hunt for the best NAS for running Plex, I’d recommend pushing your budget to cover an Intel-powered TerraMaster NAS such as the F2-223.

Should you buy the TerraMaster F2-212?

Front of the TerraMaster F2-212.
Front of the TerraMaster F2-212. (Source: NM)

I would recommend the TerraMaster F2-212 to anyone searching for an affordable NAS enclosure. It has a striking new aesthetic which loses TerraMaster’s unique aluminum look, but does make the F2-212 resemble a more professional product. It’s got enough performance for the price too, and can keep up with a busy household with simultaneous connections.

The company has also continued to make strides with its operating system and the latest release of TOS is vastly more user-friendly than earlier versions. Must-have applications are available through TerraMaster’s storefront, but there will be notable exceptions, including many first-party apps offered by rival NAS makers.

TerraMaster is unmatched when it comes to value. The TerraMaster F2-212 has an MSRP of just $170, which undercuts the competition considerably. For your first NAS enclosure, you can’t go wrong here.

TerraMaster F2-212

TerraMaster F2-212
TerraMaster F2-212. (Source: TerraMaster)

TerraMaster’s F2-212 is an affordable two-bay enclosure with a refreshed sleek design and an updated OS that’s easier to use. It’s a great beginner NAS.

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