TerraMaster F4-423 hands-on: Quick 4-bay NAS with an attractive price-performance ratio – Notebookcheck.net
In times of continuously growing amounts of data, dedicated NAS servers have become an exciting device category for companies and some consumers who are looking for a viable alternative to paid cloud storage services. Therefore, the recently released TerraMaster F4-423 might be an interesting option for those who are looking for a decently performing NAS that does not break the bank.
As the model number already indicates, the TerraMaster F4-423 is equipped with four bays, each of which can be loaded with a 20TB hard drive. This results in a maximum total capacity of 80TB. The included HDD trays are made of plastic, but they snap into place with a satisfying clicking sound and can carry regular 3.5-inch hard drives or smaller 2.5-inch models such as SATA SSDs. The heart of this storage server is the quick Intel Celeron N5095 quad-core processor, which is part of Intel’s Jasper Lake series of CPUs and operates at a base clock rate of 2.0 GHz and a maximum turbo boost of 2.9 GHz. Unlike some of the ARM-based competition, the TerraMaster F4-423’s traditional x86 architecture also allows an easy installation of alternative Linux-based operating systems such as the popular TrueNAS.
In terms of memory, the NAS uses a single 4GB DDR4 RAM module, but its two SO-DIMM slots can be upgraded to a considerable 32GB if needed. This is a stark contrast to other NAS servers in the US$500 price range, as many direct competitors from Synology or QNAP top out at 6 to 10GB of RAM. Additionally, the TerraMaster F4-423 features two M.2 PCIe 3.0 slots that can only be accessed by tediously disassembling the entire case. The installed SSDs can then be used as a lightning-fast cache, but regular users might not need this kind of performance boost for their every-day NAS applications.
The aluminum case of the TerraMaster F4-423 is relatively large for a modern 4-bay NAS, but it fortunately also feels a bit sturdier than some of the black plastic cases that have become ubiquitous in this category. The vintage-looking silver color scheme and the brushed aluminum accents on the front are a matter of taste, but in our opinion, the home server is relatively easy on the eyes and should be able to find its place in living rooms or offices.
The general NAS access via the SMB protocol did not cause us any issues during our short review, and all data transfers were executed quickly and reliably. The manufacturer claims that the NAS can reach linear transfer speeds of up of 283 MB/s when the server is equipped with four HDDs and configured in the RAID 0 mode.
As expected, we didn’t see such speeds with the RAID 5 configuration that we used during our test run. Many prospective buyers will also find their regular router with gigabit ethernet ports to be a bottleneck, as the two 2.5 GbE ports on the TerraMaster F4-423 cannot be fully utilized with off-the-shelf networking hardware that most consumers probably still use.
Nevertheless, we can attest that the TerraMaster F4-423 works really well as a backup server since all our macOS Time Machine backups went smoothly. The setup via the preinstalled app called “Backup” is extremely simple, as there is just a single checkbox that needs to be clicked. The server did not show any signs of weakness, even when several backups were running at the same time.
The TerraMaster F4-423 is a quite capable and future-proof NAS thanks to its two 2.5 GbE ports and the fast processor from Intel’s Jasper Lake family of CPUs. The server is perfectly suitable for media streaming in private households with several users, and it should also find its place as a backup or data storage server in smaller businesses. Considering its very reasonable MSRP of just US$500, the device also offers a bit more in terms of hardware than the better-known competition like the Synology DS420+.
Besides the awkward disassembly that is required in order access the SSD and RAM slots, the rather limited app selection of TOS 5.0 is still the most glaring weakness of the TerraMaster F4-423. This may be an issue for cloud enthusiasts or professional users with complex use cases, but installing an alternative OS to unlock the full potential of this NAS could be a viable path for this particular group of users and aspiring tinkerers.
Disclaimer: The author of this article received the review unit from TerraMaster free of charge.