TerraMaster F4-421 NAS test (2021 model)

0

Sharing is caring!

TerraMaster F4-421 NAS test evaluation (2021 model)

summary

The TerraMaster F4-421 is an excellent affordable NAS that is ideal as a backup solution for both small businesses and home users. There is also a wide range of apps out there that offer most of the features you could want from more expensive brands. With a little work, you can use Docker and Nextcloud to replicate all of Synology’s features.

advantages

  • Affordable 4-bay NAS with lots of backup options
  • Decent specification that can handle transcoding or other tasks
  • A good selection of installable apps

disadvantage

  • Not really an upgrade from the older F4-421
  • Limited apps compared to Synology

The TerraMaster F4-421 was launched back in 2019, but a few months ago I received a press release with an F4-421 announcement.

The announcement was particularly confusing as there was no mention of the 2019 model and, at first glance, all the specs looked the same.

It turns out to be a new model and there has been a very small change in specifications. Since I never reviewed the original TerraMaster F4-421, I’ve been testing this for the past few weeks.

I previously reviewed the excellent TerraMaster F4-422 and continue to use it as my backup NAS. I’ve covered the entire TerraMaster experience in a little more detail in this review, including all of the apps that you can install.

TerraMaster F4-421 2019 vs. 2021

The main difference is that the previous four 1 Gb network ports have been replaced with two 1 Gb network ports that support network aggregation and failover.

It looks like the older model doesn’t have link aggregation. That’s all!

TerraMaster F4-421 vs. F4-422

As far as I know, these NAS devices are identical with two exceptions:

  • F4-421 – has a working HDMI port that outputs the Linux debugger
  • F4-422 – without HDMI, but has an additional 10GbE port and the two 1GbE that can be bonded like the F4-421

Features and Specifications

  • Processor: Intel Celeron J3455 – Quad Core 1.5 GHz (Max. Burst up to 2.3 GHz) X.86 64-bit
  • Memory: 4 GB (expandable to 8 GB)
  • Drives: 4x 3.5 inches and compatible with 2.5 inches.
  • Max. Single volume: 108 TB
  • Drive formats: EXT4, BTRFS
  • RAID compatibility: RAID 1, RAID5, RAID 6, RAID10
  • RJ-45 1GbE network socket: 2 with link aggregation
  • USB 3.0 port: 2
  • HDMI: yes
  • System fan: 80 mm x 2 with a noise level of 19.8 dB (A)
  • Power supply: 90W

Put up

The setup is identical to all other TerraMaster NAS machines, including the F2-210 and F4-422.

The drive bays can be unplugged without tools, and you put the drives in and screw them down with the screws provided. Then just plug everything in and you’re done.

I usually scan my network for the IP of the NAS and then go to the IP through my browser, but you can also use the TNAS PC application which will point you to the right place.

From there, it’s a simple guided GUI that the NAS uses to check the health of the hard drives and allow you to set up the system the way you want.

The NAS supports BTRFS and EXT4 file systems, with BTRFS being the preferred option. You then have the choice between Single, RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, RAID 6, RAID 10 and JBOD disk arrangements.

There is 4GB of RAM installed on the NAS, but this is expandable to 8GB, which is pretty rare for a NAS at this price point.

TerraMaster OS / software functions

I got pretty familiar with the TOS over the past year. Just like Synology and others, you get a Windows-like GUI in the browser that is very easy to manage.

The user interface runs smoothly and you get a handy resource monitor with which you can see the current CPU and memory usage.

Within the control panel you can set up users, share folders, remote folders and all different file services. You can also enable / disable Telnet and SSH.

The NAS natively supports Apple Time Machine and there is also an Rsync backup service.

You can then set up remote access.

Basically, it does everything you want a NAS to do.

Installable Applications – What’s New since 2020?

When I tested the TerraMaster F4-422 last year, there were fewer than 80 apps available. It appears to be 88 now if I can count correctly. So the app repository is growing slowly.

Last year I highlighted useful utilities including:

  • Multiple backup options – Amazon S3, BackBlaze, Box, Google, Dropbox
  • Multimedia server for DLNA
  • Docker for installing apps in containers
  • Emby server
  • FreshRSS feed aggregator
  • GIT
  • Headphones for NZB and torrents (but no sonar / radar)
  • iTunes server
  • Lazy librarian
  • Mail server
  • MariaDB
  • Net2FTP
  • phpMyAdmin
  • Plex media server
  • QBittorrent and Transfer
  • snapshot
  • Web server
  • VirtualBox
  • VPN server

And I point out that the missing apps I would like to see where

  • NZB download application
  • Other download options (similar to DownloadStation)
  • Sonar / radar
  • DNS server
  • Similar to Synology-specific applications, especially Surveillance Station, Moments, Photo Station

I can’t be sure what exactly was added, but there is now a DNS server and Portainer has been added to make it easy to manage your Docker containers and I think a proxy server utility is new.

HDMI

It is unusual to have a working HDMI port on a NAS, and in this case it may not work as expected. You don’t get access to the TOS desktop GUI, it’s the underlying Linux debugger. While this may seem pointless, it can still come in handy when you need to get disconnected and figure out what’s going on.

power

Similar to the other TerraMaster tests, the F4-421 offers good network throughput performance.

The read and write performance maxed out my gigabit connection with 117 MB / s in Crystal Diskmark, the Windows file explorer showed speeds of 113 MB / s.

You can then enable port aggregation, which gives you a theoretical connection of 2000 MB / s. There seems to be mixed opinions as to whether this will provide a throughput benefit to a single user, but it will provide improved overall throughput for multiple users. In my case, connecting to the two interfaces and enabling LAG in my Mikrotik switch produced the same throughput results.

The NAS claimed two 80mm fans for cooling the TerraMaster that this generated 19.8 dB (A) of noise. They can be heard at close range in a quiet room, but they drown out additional background noise. I’ve used this in my office and my quieter office pc was slightly louder.

Plex & Emby

Just like the F4-422, all TerraMaster NAS devices running the J3455 CPU can only process hardware transcoding up to H.264 2160p in SDR. You can then do HEVC SDR 2160p and HEVC UHD 2160p decoding. The main differences are that H.264 2160p has a bit rate of 20 Mbit / s while HEVC is 60 Mbit / s, then the SDR uses the Main / bt709 color space and UHD uses Main 10 / bt2020.

Most of my content is in 1080P, but a lot of it is high bitrate with 7.1 audio. I haven’t had any playback issues during my timing tests. Most of my regular use is on the LAN, so it’s rare that I need transcoding, so my testing here has been limited.

Local streaming to an Nvidia Shield had no problems regardless of file type or size.

Price and alternative options

The TerraMaster F4-421 is currently selling for £ 399.99 and is available on Amazon.

At the time of writing, the TerraMaster F4-422 with 10GbE and dual 1GbE Ethernet costs just £ 439.99. Personally, I think this is worth the extra £ 40 for the 10GbE interface. Even if you are still using 1 GbE, it will make the NAS future-proof, and 2.5 GbE switches are now available quite cheaply.

The cheapest 4-bay Synology options are the 2GB RAM DS418 for £ 377 or the DS420j for £ 369.69. So TerraMaster gives you a lot more bang for your buck, but Synology still has the best operating system.

total

TerraMaster offers some inexpensive NAS options. The TerraMaster F4-421 is no different. It has good hardware specification and is cheaper than brands like Synology and QNAP.

While the features and overall software experience can’t compete with Synology, it’s still pretty good. You have most of the major apps you could want, including easy-to-use home applications like Plex and BitTorrent clients. NextCloud is located in the App Store and can replicate many of the built-in Synology apps.

For those with a little more technical knowledge, you have Docker that opens the system for as many customizations as you want.

TerraMaster is ideal as a backup solution, with a wide range of integrated backup functions in combination with good network throughput.

Last update on 09/19/2021 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


Source link

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.