I have gone through tons of your WD / QNAP / Synology videos and I still have no idea what the best option is for me. Your videos are extremely helpfull and detailed, but I am brand new to all of this.
Based on what I have heard from you – I like the WD simplicity for what I have to do, but that simplicity also scares me. I also am hesitant to set up some sort of user account for Plex, as it seems to go against the idea of a NAS that I can take offline. I can make my way around windows/OSX and I can do surgery on an iPhone / MacBook / laptop, but I am new to the world of networking and NAS.
Here is the list of what I need in order of priority:
1) backup laptops (2) / phones (2-5) 2) organize music/photos – multiple copies of photos and music on various devices and remote backups that I need to find duplicates 3)share music with family members – house music centrally and allow them to download to personal devices 4)I am a probable cord cutter that will need storage for OTA DVR. We currently have a Samsung Smart TV that we use for streaming.
Please let me know if you need any more info. I hope it is nice and cool wherever you are because it’s hotter than balls here in Texas.
Choosing the Best NAS Drive for Home on a Budget
Good morning Will. Sorry to hear that it’s hot as balls there in Texas… it’s 7AM on a dark morning in the UK here and it’s as cold as a polar bears arse here!
Anyway, to business, there are a whole bunch of options for you, but the budget you have mentioned will make it a little tough, as points 3 and 4 in your question require a moderately capable CPU. You will need to look at NAS that features an ARM 64bit CPU at the very least and likely an Intel Celeron 64bit to be sure. In order to stay on top of this.
I would recommend you purchase one of the following Three NAS drives:
— Short Version —
Synology DS218, NAS – Designed to be network/internet-only access, VERY user-friendly, most expensive of the 3, good for Mac users
QNAP TS-251B NAS – Designed to be Network/Internet/HDMI, pretty user-friendly, PCIe upgrade option for a later date, Good for Windows/Android users
Asustor Nimbustor 2 NAS – Quite user-friendly, Best CPU, Best Memory, Network/Internet/HDMI 4K, 2.5Gbe connection (the rest have 1Gbe), Good for Android/Windows users
NASCompares Top 3 Budge NAS for £500 (including Drives and Tax)
All three have their own dedicated browser software access, dedicated mobile applications, backup applications and surveillance software. Below is alot more information about each device.
Best £500 Synology NAS for Beginners – DS218+ and Seagate 2TB Seagate Ironwolf
Synology DS218+, Intel J3355 2.0-2.5Ghz CPU, 2GB Memory, BTRFS, SHR, 2yr Warranty, Seagate Ironwolf NAS Hard Drive (2x 1TB) = £420 TOTAL
The DS218+ NAS is one that budget buyers have been using as a Plex media server for a lot of 2018 and 2019. Although the device might look a little long in the tooth in the 2nd half of 2019, even at this price point it features multiple ports and connections. It is the surprisingly powerful and efficient Synology software that the DS218+ arrives with that means that you are getting a number of key plex options covered by this NAS drive. Arriving with the popular Intel Celeron J3355, the DS218+ from Synology is one of the most popular NAS drives that they have released in a very long time. If you want to stay within the £500 budget, including hard drives and tax, you will be able to find this device for just over £300 tops and that gives you another £200 that you should be able to get a couple of 1TB or 2TB Seagate Ironwolf hard drives for your NAS.
What makes the DS218+ such an impressive device is that it gives you everything you need in a modern device for plex, at a remarkably affordable price. Featuring a transcoding engine (embedded graphics) on that CPU, that Plex pass users will be able to utilise, the performance of media on the DS218+ is pretty impressive for such an affordable NAS drive. Add to that the fact that it is a two-bay device with support of BTRFS as it’s file system for stability, SHR for a more fluid RAID system that allows you to mix and match drives to increase storage later down the line, support of the Synology 5 bay expansion device for adding more data later and an overall sense of stability and user-friendliness in this device. Sure, there are more powerful Synology NAS drives out there for use as a Plex media server, but at this price level, it is not only the most affordable fully-featured Synology NAS you can buy, but also one of the best Plex media servers NAS drives you can get for under £500 that includes storage and tax.
Best £500 QNAP NAS for Ultimate Access – TS-251B and Seagate 6TB Seagate Ironwolf
QNAP TS-251B, Intel J3355 2.0-2.5Ghz CPU, 2GB Memory, HDMI, PCIe Slot, Audio In/Out, 2yr Warranty, Seagate Ironwolf NAS Hard Drive (2x 3TB)= £480 TOTAL
As soon as you mention any kind of NAS drive for home or business and Synology, you will of course then mention QNAP. These two brands have been producing great NAS drives for use as Plex media servers for years now and the most cost-effective QNAP drive that allows you to get both the device and a good amount of storage space for under £500 is the TS-251B device. The QNAP TS-251B has exactly the same internal CPU+RAM hardware as the previously mentioned DS218+ NAS, with the added benefits that it is a pinch lower in price and features several hardware advantages that, even a budget Plex NAS user, may factor into their media server now or later that are damn near irresistible.
Featuring such advantages as an HDMI port to connect your TV directly to your Plex media server NAS and enjoy media at almost 0-second latency speeds (which is especially useful for 4K playback), the QNAP TS-251B NAS even features a PCIe upgrade slot that will allow you to increase your network speeds at a later date. These kinds of hardware options, as well as the Plex support at 1080p and 4K at less than £500 including tax and storage, is genuinely mind-blowing. At this price point, you are able to get this and maybe a couple of 2 or 3 Terabyte Seagate Ironwolf NAS hard drives, still leaving you with around £20 leftover!
As mentioned, the internal hardware is identical in traditional spec to that of the DS218+, with the same Intel Celeron J3355 CPU and 2GB of memory, though in the TS-251B you can expand all the way up to 8GB of memory (the Synology oddly limiting you to 6GB at 2+4GB), further highlighting the upgradability of this NAS and allowing you to buy a budget NAS drive today that can become a much more powerful and useful NAS later. On a software level, QNAP has the QTS platform that is much more catering to Windows and Android users in its design. Whereas the Synology tried to keep things to Network/internet-only access, the QNAP gives you far more customization in and out of plex, and the TS-251B gives a much greater balance of access for local, access and internet/network connectivity.
Best £500 Asustor NAS for Performance – Nimbustor 2 and Seagate 6TB Seagate Ironwolf
Asustor AS5202T, Intel J4005 2.0-2.7Ghz CPU, 2GB DD4 Memory, HDMI 2.0a, BTRFS. 2.5G, 3yr Warranty, Seagate Ironwolf NAS Hard Drive (2x 2TB)= £466 TOTAL
One NAS brand that has REALLY accelerated it’s customer awareness this year is Asustor. The release of the Nimbustor series really shook up the NAS world with its incredibly affordable price point, despite featuring some of the very best hardware available on this list. At our £500 price point for a Plex NAS, you can buy the Nimbustor 2 and 4TB of storage (including TAX) with £30-40 leftover, which really does make this tough to beat. from a hardware point. Arriving with the best Intel Celeron dual-core CPU in NAS right now, the J4005 at 1.5-2.7Ghz per core and 2GB of DDR4 memory, in PLEX that translates to some fantastic performance, supporting 1080p and 4K playback, along with a good chunk of 1080p transcoding and lower-end 4K.
What makes the Nimbustor 2 so much better than the TS-251B or DS218+ for Plex power buyers is that despite me including it in my budget Plex NAS list, it actually provides a great many features that even £1000+ NAS drives do not. That powerful Gemini lake dual-core processor promises that you will get great plex performance (though less than a modern Pentium Gold or higher i3/i5/i7). Alongside this, all of the file system or hardware features from the TS-251B and DS218+ are here in one form or greater. Such as BTRFS support and that HDMI 2.0 output, that lets you playback 4K Plex media locally to your connected TV we at 60FPS (only 30 frames per second in the QNAP TS-251B). However, it is in terms of future connectivity that the Nimbustor 2 really succeeds. Although it is the most affordable NAS on the list today, this device arrives with two 2.5Gbe ports. These ports are completely backwards compatible with regular 1Gbe RJ45 connectivity (found in all homes and offices), but allow your Plex media server NAS to take advantage of greater network speeds in your network environment as your surrounding network and internet equipment evolved over the years. With file sizes getting bigger and bigger, yet our demand for data getting faster and faster, options like 2.5Gbe in the Nimbustor 2 and PCIe upgraded NICs (network interface cards) on the TS-251B are definitely worth consideration.
The Nimbustor 2 NAS, despite its low price point, even arrives with a fully-featured and gamer inspired graphical user interface and operating system, ADM. So notwithstanding some great performance as a Plex media server, it also arrives with a myriad of backup and file streaming options available to you.
I go into alot more detail if you watch the video below, In short, I focus on this primarily because of their affordability (including hard drives and tac), as a Plex Media Server, but also because they will do EVERYTHING else on your too list. They may seem a pinch higher $ than you might have wanted to spend, but in terms of future-proofing, smooth access and ease of use, these are pretty much as good as it gets right now at this price point.
I hope this helps you with choosing the right NAS for your home and family. Thanks for your question!
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