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TerraMaster F4-423: Two Minute Review
TerraMaster is one of the newer companies to offer NAS solutions, having been founded in 2010.
Since then, they have built an impressive reputation for offering robust and reliable NAS solutions at a fraction of what the major brands charge.
The new F4-423 is a four-bay NAS designed for home or small office use that costs significantly less than its Synology counterpart and is technically better in almost every way.
What the F4-423 offers beyond any specific functionality is a high degree of flexibility, as TerraMaster does not accept the arbitrary restrictions that some NAS manufacturers often use.
With this NAS, you can use any SATA drive, including SSDs, and all of them can be used for storage or caching. In addition to the four SATA bays, the machine also has two M.2 NVMe PCIe 3.0 Gen 1 slots for additional storage or cache.
The standard 4 GB of DDR4 memory can be removed, expanding the system up to 32 GB with two SODIMM modules. There is no memory soldered to the motherboard.
There are no restrictions on RAM or NVMe brands, something that Synology has started to introduce in its NAS.
Once the machine is full, and it can be a single drive to begin with, the TOS 5.0 operating system can be installed and the applications loaded.
The improvements over TOS 4.0 are spectacular and TerraMaster now has a NAS operating system that gets closer to Synology's DSM with each release in terms of features and application selection.
With a latest quad-core processor and GPU, the F4-423 is powerful enough to provide files and services to many users through the two built-in 2,5GbE LAN ports. However, since this machine also has two 3.2Gbit USB 2 Gen 10 ports, it is also possible to add two 5GbE ports to it using LAN adapters. LAN ports can then be added by an appropriate switch to provide up to 15 Gb to multiple LAN-connected hosts.
Alternatively, the USB ports also make it easy to expand the maximum internal storage capacity of 80TB using bays or USB-attached drives.
This flexibility is the main selling point of the F4-423. It is possible to start with the basic specification and a single hard drive, and upgrade over time to handle more drives, more users, and deliver even higher levels of performance.
Our one major complaint about this design is that installing NVMe drives or additional memory requires dismounting the NAS, as it is otherwise inaccessible.
For the asking price, this is a fantastic NAS that other brands might have a hard time finishing.
TerraMaster F4-423: price and availability
(Image credit: Mark Pickavance)
- How much is it? € 500 / € 440
- When did it come out? is available now
- Where can you get it? Widely available at major online retailers in most regions.
TerraMaster F4-423 Specifications
The TerraMaster F4-423 that was sent to us for review came with the following hardware:
Processor: Intel Celeron N5095
GPU: Intel UHD Graphics
RAM: 4 GB DDR4 (expandable to 32 GB)
Storage: Four 3,5-inch HDDs up to 80TB (20TB x4) or 2,5-inch HDD/SSD, 2 M.2 NVMe PCIe 3.0 drives.
USB: 2x USB 3.2 Gen 2
RAID types: TRAID, Single, JBOD, RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID5, RAID 6, RAID 10
Weight: 3,6 kg
Dimensions: 227 x 225 x 136 mm
Redes: 2x LAN 2.5GbE
Operating system: UGC 5.0
Internal file systems: Btrfs, EXT4
External file systems: EXT3, EXT4, NTFS, FAT32, HFS+
OS Languages: English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Magyar, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Turkish, Portuguese, Russian
Word has already spread about the F4-423, and we noticed that it was out of stock on Amazon.com, among a few places. But we were hoping it would be back in stock soon, and it was available in other places for those who didn't want to wait.
The cost of this hardware is a bargain considering the machines it directly competes with.
Synology's equivalent is the Diskstation DS920+, which retails for €749 on NewEgg.com and is an older design with inferior hardware.
From QNAP, the TS-464 with very similar specifications costs €629,57 on Amazon.com, making it 20% more expensive, despite having one PCIe slot and no M.2 bays.
For anyone on a budget, the F4-423 is as affordable as a dual-bay NAS from any major brand and comes with better expansion options.
TerraMaster F4-423: Design
TerraMaster doesn't have a GUI for HDMI output, so including it isn't very helpful (Image credit: Mark Pickavance)
- old-fashioned style
- No front USB ports
- Access to updates is poor
It's hard to talk about the TerraMaster style without judging.
That's because the visual appearance of the F4-423 is virtually identical to any other four-bay NAS this company has made in some considerable time.
Other brands like to change their style with each release, so it's easy to tell the new models from the old ones, but not TerraMaster.
This NAS comes in the same aluminum tube with silver-painted plastic ends that we've seen before. Suggesting that appearance isn't something TerraMaster cares much about.
The simplicity of this design has some obvious omissions that many NAS owners will notice, such as the lack of a front USB port or security slot.
Having a front port with a save button is useful, but not an option here.
What we get is four 3,5-inch drive bays that can also accommodate 2,5-inch HDDs or SSDs via SATA, two rear USB ports, and two 2,5GbE LAN ports. There's also an HDMI port, though the TerraMaster doesn't have an HDMI GUI, so unless you like to enter Linux commands directly into the NAS, this is of little practical value.
(Image credit: Mark Pickavance)
For those wondering how to access the SODIMM memory modules and M.2 NVMe slots, there is no way to do it without disassembling the entire machine.
Why they haven't made these modules accessible from inside the drive bay or under a removable panel is a mystery, as other brands have.
There's a reasonable argument that these are things an owner will probably only do once and therefore won't matter. But putting a little more thought into the engineering of this NAS could have made it much easier, and therefore more likely to happen.
If the specification of the F4-423 weren't too special, the overall TerraMaster design and external features of this unit could easily put customers off.
Fortunately, much of the effort saved on designing the exterior has gone into making the interior more than useful for those looking for a high-performance NAS solution.
TerraMaster F4-423: Hardware
- powerful platform
- Memory expansion
- Two NVMe drives
TerraMaster's documentation reveals that the F4-423's processor could be an Intel Celeron N5105 or N5095, two quad-core processors that have appeared in many entry-level PC hardware.
We incorrectly assumed that the N5095 was for the F2-423 and that the N5105 might be in the F4-423, but our review hardware had the N5095 running under TOS 5.0.
This silicon is still a powerful processor for a NAS and provides more than enough power to service installed drives and the demands of many connected hosts.
The unit comes with a single 4GB SODIMM of DDR4 memory, and the system has another slot for memory expansion. TerraMaster specs suggest that these slots can accept 16GB modules, though Intel's information on the N5095 reveals that it can only handle 16GB of total RAM.
You could try 32GB of memory, but we'd hate to buy those modules only to find out that the spec turned out to be a typo.
RAM is useful for system caching, but the TOS 5.0 operating system running on this hardware can also allocate SATA SSDs to cache conventional hard drives, greatly improving performance.
But using one drive bay for cache is probably not the best strategy, as the F4-423 also has two M.2 bays that can accept PCIe 3.0 NVMe drives for this purpose.
The nice thing about TerraMaster's approach to all of these options is that the system is completely flexible when it comes to using the connected units.
By comparison, Synology annoyingly only allows M.2 drives to be used exclusively for caching and insists that both slots be occupied so read-write caching is active.
TerraMaster has no problem using a single M.2 drive for read/write caching or a SATA SSD for storage, allowing the owner to make the decisions that are best for them.
We are likely to see much larger SSDs in the coming years, and as a result these capacities may become even more critical in the future.
Upgrading RAM or installing M.2 drives involves disassembling the F4-423. (Image credit: Mark Pickavance)
The only caveat about the M.2 slots is that they're only single lane PCIe 3.0, which limits the performance of any NVMe drive in use to around 1000MB/s. That's a bit disappointing, but Celeron has limited lanes and The combined throughput of the two combined LAN ports is only 5 Gbps or around 480 MB/s.
Being able to use two lanes on a single port might have made this restriction less of an issue for those processing data locally.
Where these lanes have been used is in the USB 3.2 Gen 2 ports, each of which is allocated 10Gbps for 1000MB/s transfers from external storage devices.
These ports are superior to the external eSATA connections Synology loves and provide enough bandwidth for an external RAID enclosure to keep up with internally mounted drives.
Once again, specifying these ports allows for maximum flexibility and allows the owner to expand the NAS beyond its initial configuration.
The only major bug is that installing additional RAM and an M.2 drive requires complete disassembly of the F4-423 case, so this is something most users will probably only do once.
It's not that users need to remove memory modules and NVMe drives every few days, but it's also not practical to change them if better parts are available.
In general, hardware...