Best NAS of 2021

We choose the best NAS appliances of 2021 for SMBs, mid-range companies and enterprises

NAS (network attached storage) appliances are hugely popular for businesses of all sizes for good reason as they offer many compelling advantages over cloud storage. A NAS appliance may represent a higher initial spend, but once purchased and populated, ongoing costs over a number of years will be negligible when compared to the monthly subscription fees charged by cloud providers.
Hard disk sizes have grown hugely in recent years allowing NAS appliances to offer enormous storage capacities and they can be easily upgraded to keep in step with demand. They’re the perfect choice for businesses requiring fast access to data as they reside on your LAN and come as standard with Gigabit, multi-Gigabit and even 10-Gigabit (10GbE) ports.
The latest NAS appliances are more than just high-capacity storage vaults as their operating systems are designed to provide a vast range of free applications including data backup, private clouds, virtualization, surveillance, multimedia and much more. And, of course, they will always be there for you even in the event of a cloud provider or internet outage.
The biggest issue facing businesses is which one to choose as there is an enormous range of desktop and rackmount models on the market today with wildly differing capacities, hardware specifications and features. Simply.Reviews can help you choose the right one as we regularly put a huge range of NAS appliances through their paces in the lab. We’ll sort the wheat from the chaff for you and bring you our pick of the best NAS appliances for 2020 and beyond.

Entry-level NAS Appliances

Qnap TS-453D

A compact and powerful desktop appliance with a sharp focus on multimedia and room for 10GbE upgrades

Price: Diskless/4GB, $499

9.1Expert Score
Excellent value

Qnap’s TS-453D may be deceptively small but this little 4-bay desktop NAS appliance is packed with business-class features. In keeping with Qnap’s multi-Gigabit promotion, it sports dual 2.5GbE ports and even has a spare PCI-Express slot so you could upgrade it to 5GbE or 10GbE speeds. Powered by a 2GHz quad-core Celeron J4125 CPU, it supports up to 8GB of fast DDR4 memory and is multimedia-ready as its embedded Intel HD Graphics 600 GPU pipes 60Hz 4K video through to its HDMI 2.0 port. It’s a very affordable choice for SMBs, performance over 2.5GbE and 10GbE connections is surprisingly good and Qnap’s QTS software delivers a wealth of business-class features and multimedia apps.

  • Dual 2.5GbE network ports
  • PCI-E expansion slot
  • Good multi-Gigabit performance
  • Feature-rich QTS software
  • Expansion slot restricted to Qnap adapters
Five bays of storage goodness partnered by quad Gigabit ports and dual NVMe SSD slots

Price: Diskless/8GB, $699.55

8.5Expert Score
Good performance

The DiskStation DS1520+ is a timely upgrade to the older DS1019+ and sports a much faster 2GHz quad-core Celeron J4125 CPU which incorporates an Intel UHD 600 Graphics chip for smooth 4K video streaming. Memory gets a boost to 8GB of fast DDR4 and it introduces a pair of M.2 NVMe SSD slots that can be used as a high-performance cache. It doesn’t have an expansion slot but is blessed with quad Gigabit ports and we found it capable of delivering good NAS and IP SAN performance with the NVMe SSDs making significant improvements to random write operations. For a 5-bay appliance it’s good value, and Synology’s DSM software offers an impressive range of features including sophisticated data protection, collaboration and surveillance apps.

  • Good NAS and IP SAN speeds
  • Feature packed DSM software
  • High storage expansion potential
  • Quad Gigabit ports
  • Very quiet
  • No multi-Gigabit ports or expansion slot
  • NVMe SSDs only support caching
A huge storage capacity for the price that includes dual 2.5GbE and 10GbE ports

Price: Diskless/8GB, $999

7.9Expert Score
Good value

Asustor has always had a keen eye on value and its LockerStor 8 AS6508T is no exception as it delivers a mighty storage package at an affordable price. It was one of the first vendors to promote multi-Gigabit connections but goes even further as this big 8-bay desktop appliance partners its dual 2.5GbE ports with two embedded 10GBase-T copper ports. Asustor’s ADM software isn’t as well-featured as Qnap’s QTS or Synology’s DSM but it does offer plenty of valuable data protection apps along with fully automated snapshot and cloud storage provider sync services. Performance over 10GbE is under-par but it’ll be enough for SMBs with moderate workloads and can always be improved as the AS6508T even has a pair of internal M.2 slots that support SATA and NVMe SSDs.

  • Good value
  • Dual 10GbE and 2.5GbE ports
  • Two M.2 SATA/NVMe SSD slots
  • Very quiet
  • Good data backup and snapshot services
  • Low 10GbE write speeds
An ultra-compact and surprisingly well-endowed rack NAS that’s ideal for space-poor SMBs

Price: Diskless/2GB, $599

8.5Expert Score
Good value

Measuring only 11.6 inches deep, Qnap’s TS-451DeU may be one of the shortest rack NAS appliances on the market but still manages to cram in an impressive hardware package. With an Intel dual-core 2GHz Celeron J4025 CPU in the driving seat and a pair of 2.5GbE ports at the back, it delivers good NAS and IP SAN performance that can be accelerated further with two internal M.2 SATA SSDs. It lacks an expansion slot and heavy hitters will want to upgrade the basic 2GB of memory but this slim-line NAS scores well for value and Qnap’s QTS software is crammed with great features. Add in its solid build quality plus very low noise levels and you have the perfect storage partner for space-constrained offices.

  • Short depth chassis
  • Intel CPU
  • Dual 2.5GbE ports
  • Good performance
  • Very quiet
  • Two internal M.2 SATA SSD slots
  • No expansion slot
  • Basic 2GB of memory included

Mid-range NAS appliances

A powerful high capacity mid-range NAS appliance with a secret stash of SSD bays

Price: Diskless/8GB, $2,599

8.3Expert Score
Good value

Qsan’s XCubeNAS XN7008R is a mid-range NAS appliance with a secret. A glance at the front shows 8 hot-swap SATA drive bays but peer round the back and you’ll find six more SFF bays with two supporting NVMe U.2 SSDs. Its ZFS-based QSM software is a standard setter as it has always offered enterprise-class data protection features including unlimited snapshots, deduplication, intelligent real-time data tiering and three different WORM (write once read many) policies for protecting NAS shares. Big on capacity and 10GbE performance, the XCubeNAS XN7008R is a good choice for SMBs that want top-notch data integrity features at an affordable price.

  • Good value
  • Fine 10GbE performance
  • Extensive ZFS data protection features
  • Versatile mix of LFF and SFF drive bays
  • WORM support
  • Dual hot-plug PSUs
  • Minimal app choices
A powerful and expandable desktop NAS with great features and amazing performance

Price: Diskless/8GB, $1,645

9Expert Score
Superb performance

Everything about the DS1621xs+ exudes quality and it’s faster than the Atom-powered DS1618+ it’s replacing - a lot faster. Costing over $1,600, it is quite expensive for a 6-bay appliance, but this gets you a 2.2GHz quad-core Intel Xeon D-1527 CPU, support for up to 32GB of DDR4, a 10GBase-T port and dual M.2 NVMe SSD cache slots. Synology’s DSM software is packed with classy features including the best data backup apps making it a great choice for a wide range of businesses. Performance over 10GbE is impeccable, its spare PCI-E slot provides good expansion potential and the icing on the cake is the inclusive 5-year hardware warranty.

  • Superb performance
  • Embedded 10GbE port
  • Expansion slot
  • NVMe SSD support
  • Feature-rich DSM software
  • 5-year warranty
  • Expensive for a 6-bay NAS
  • SSDs can only be used for caching
A versatile and powerful desktop NAS appliance with a port for every occasion

Price: Diskless/16GB, $1,899

8.9Expert Score
Excellent performance

The ideal choice for businesses that want a NAS with every possible connection option. Qnap’s TVS-872XT 8-bay desktop appliance presents dual Gigabit plus an embedded 10GBase-T port that supports all five NBase-T speeds and seals the deal with two 40Gbits/sec Thunderbolt 3 ports for those that want super-fast access for media editing. Powered by a 6-core 1.7GHz Intel Core i5-8400T CPU and up to 32GB of DDR4 memory, the TVS-872XT delivered excellent performance in our 5GbE, 10GbE and 16Gbps Fibre Channel lab tests. The appliance even has two internal M.2 NVMe SSD slots for caching duties and don’t forget the CPU provides an embedded Intel Graphics 630 GPU which delivers 60Hz 4K video to the appliance’s high-bandwidth HDMI 2.0 port.

  • Good value
  • Multi-Gigabit 10Gbase-T port
  • Dual Thunderbolt 3 ports
  • FC adapter support
  • Excellent performance
  • Feature-heavy QTS software
  • Maximum memory only 32GB
A clever 18-bay hybrid HDD/SSD storage solution ideally suited to heavy workloads

Price: Diskless/8GB, $2,685

9.1Expert Score
Great performer

Mid-sized businesses with demanding workloads will approve of the TS-1886XU-RP and its hybrid storage design. This 2U rack NAS augments its 12 front bays with six rear SFF bays for SATA SSDs allowing it to provide integral caching services or function as a performance tier for Qnap’s Qtier 2 data migration feature. The price includes a dual-port 10GbE SFP+ card and our lab tests showed SSD caching can significantly improve sequential read and write operations. Upgrade potential is very good as even with the 10GbE card in residence, there are three free expansion slots and Qnap also includes a generous 5-year warranty.

  • Great performer
  • Smart hybrid storage design
  • Dual 10GbE SFP+ ports
  • Fibre Channel adapter support
  • Extensive data protection apps
  • Cooling fans a little noisy
  • Memory upgrade required for maximum cache size

High-end Storage Arrays

When big data comes calling, Western Digital’s supermassive JBOD is up to the storage challenge

Price: With 24 x 10TB SAS3 HDDs, $15,272

9Expert Score
Top value

The UltraStar Data60 JBOD (just a bunch of disks) array has what it takes to satisfy the voracious demands of enterprise big data applications. This mighty 60-bay 4U rack array supports SAS3 or SATA hard disks and its hybrid design allows you to deploy up to 24 SSDs to create a data acceleration tier. It employs WD’s innovative IsoVibe and ArcticFlow technologies to increase reliability and longevity with the SAS version including dual active/active I/O modules for high availability services. With the 240TB SAS3 model costing a shade over $15,000, the Data60 is exceptional value and WD’s 5-year warranty extends to the drives as well as the chassis.

  • Top value
  • Great performance
  • Huge storage capacity
  • Hybrid storage design
  • IsoVibe protection
  • Smart cooling features
  • 5-year warranty on array and HDDs
  • Zone configuration could be simplified
A high-reliability IP SAN array with dual active/active controllers for seamless failover

Price: Diskless/dual controllers, $6,139

8.9Expert Score
Superb value

When failure is not an option, Synology’s UC3200 pure IP SAN array comes to the rescue. Much more affordable than blue chip solutions, this 2U 12-bay rack appliance is endowed with dual active/active controllers and our lab tests show it delivers totally transparent failover. We found random write speeds could be better but the UC3200 won’t be faulted for its excellent failover services and data protection services. Overall, the UC3200 is a fine choice for budget-conscious businesses that can’t afford any storage service downtime.

  • Superb value
  • Active/active architecture
  • Transparent failover
  • SAS3 HDD and SSD support
  • Good data protection features
  • 5-year warranty
  • High cooling fan noise levels
  • Random write speeds could be better
A dream machine for content creators and video editors with a high capacity, a Xeon W CPU and Thunderbolt 3 upgrade options

Price: Diskless/16GB, $2,499

9.1Expert Score
Dream machine

This massive desktop appliance is as versatile as it gets with a big storage capacity, a mix of LFF and SFF drive bays, quad 2.5GbE plus dual 10GbE ports and a beefy 3.3GHz Xeon W-1250 power plant with an integrated Intel UHD Graphics P630 GPU. A pity its HDMI port is only the 1.4b variety, but the TS-h1288X offers a big expansion potential and sports a pair of internal M.2 NVMe SSD slots. There’s room to fit two of Qnap’s dual-port 40Gbits/sec Thunderbolt 3 adapters to keep video editors happy and the QuTS hero OS brings a lot of valuable data protection features into play. It supports nearly every app Qnap has to offer and our 25GbE tests show it’s a mean performer as well.

  • High storage capacity
  • Dual 10GbE and quad 2.5GbE ports
  • Xeon W CPU
  • Big memory capacity
  • Great performance
  • QuTS hero OS
  • Card length limits on outer expansion slots
  • HDMI 1.4b port
Synology’s flagship SA-series appliance is an ideal virtualization platform that delivers excellent 10GbE performance

Price: Diskless/$7,687

8.9Expert Score
Ideal Virtualization Platform

A powerful and very versatile NAS appliance that’ll keep demanding enterprises happy. It supports fast SAS3 HDD and SSD storage out of the box and has a monumental capacity expansion potential. Synology’s DSM software is rich in features and the appliance’s speedy 12-core 2.1GHz Xeon D-1567 CPU and support for up to 128GB of DDR4 memory makes it perfectly poised for virtualisation duties. You do pay a premium for all these features but we think the extra outlay is worthwhile as it offers clear speed advantages over the cheaper SA3400.

  • Great 10GbE performance
  • Faster than the SA3400
  • SAS3/SATA support
  • High memory capacity
  • Five-year warranty
  • Noisy fans
  • Two SAS expansion ports would be preferable
A provocatively named all-Flash array that delivers top performance at a price that beats the blue chips soundly

Price: Diskless/128GB, $7,999

9.1Expert Score
Top value

QNAP’s first foray into all-Flash storage territory is a resounding success as its TS-h2490FU delivers a high-performance NVMe SSD solution at a price the blue chips simply won’t be able to compete with. This 2U rack array delivers a hardware specification that’s out of this world too, as it’s powered by a 16-core 3.0GHz AMD EPYC 7302P Gen2 CPU partnered by a generous 128GB of DDR4 memory which can be expanded enormously to 4TB. The price even includes quad 25GbE network ports and we found TS-h2490FU capable of delivering an impressive IP SAN performance. Furthermore, with QNAP’s latest QuTS hero OS at the helm, you have a rich set of enterprise-class data integrity and storage saving features.

  • Top value
  • 24 U.2 NVMe SSD bays
  • Huge memory capacity
  • Quad 25GbE ports
  • Great IP SAN performance
  • Feature-rich QuTS hero OS
  • PSU fans can get noisy with heavy workloads
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