Best budget NAS boxes
BUILD A HUGE LIBRARY FOR YOUR MOVIES, MUSIC AND PHOTOS FOR LESS MONEY THAN YOU’D THINK.
ONCE THE DOMAIN of big, chunky boxes that acted as dumb servers, modern NAS boxes are powerful mini computers that can handle a huge range of tasks beyond basic data storage. While the wealth of features is fantastic, it also means that higher-end network-attached storage devices can be very expensive. So what options are available for those who don’t have a lot to spend, but still want plenty of everyday functionality like storing music, photos and movies?
We’ve run this test before, and it’s worth showing you again what’s out there. We have a range of two- and four-bay NAS boxes, with prices under $250 and $350, respectively, for diskless models. As always, it’s very important to shop around, as even with shipping costs, some retailers offer significantly better prices. These are the best you can get for your hard earned.
Asustor AS3102T $250 (diskless) www.asustor.com
Fast and easy to set up, the dual-bay AS3102T uses a grunty dual-core Intel Celeron N3050 CPU, a standout 2GB of RAM, Gigabit Ethernet and three USB 3.0 connections. Uniquely, though, it has a HDMI 1.4b spec output that can play back media directly to a TV at up to 4K resolutions and can perform on the fly hardware transcoding.
Synology DiskStation DS216se $165 (diskless) www.synology.com
This quiet, two-bay Synology DS216se is sold diskless, but can take 3.5-inch and 2.5-inch drives, for a total capacity of up to 20TB. It has a single Gigabit Ethernet port, as well as dual USB 2.0 connections that can handle printers or external drives. The NAS is extremely easy to get set up, and the Synology operating system is excellent for handling backups, DLNA media streaming and more.
QNAP TS-431P $360 (diskless) www.qnap.com
Aimed at home use as well as small offices, the QNAP NAS has a grunty 1.7GHz dual-core CPU, and 1GB of RAM, as well as dual Gigabit Ethernet connections. Sporting three USB 3.0 ports (one front, two rear) that handle external drives, printers, UPS communications and even Wi-Fi dongles, it’s easy to get up and running. This is thanks to a top-notch web interface, and plenty of deeper control in the OS.
MODERN NAS BOXES ARE POWERFUL MINI COMPUTERS THAT CAN HANDLE A HUGE RANGE OF TASKS BEYOND BASIC DATA STORAGE.