A Guide to the Best 6-Bay NAS Drives to Buy Right Now
In the last 5 years or so, the popularity of 6-Bay NAS systems has skyrocketed! Up until that point, most users in the home/small-business market who were looking at desktop solutions would either settle for the modest 2/4 Bay scale of system, or jump up towards the 8-Bay scale when they needed more storage capacity to play with. However, the recent increase in 6 Drive server systems is larger thanks to two factors. The first is the huge capacities of drive that have arrived in the last few years (currently hitting 22TB sizes and with 24TB around the corner) that have allowed even modest-sized NAS systems to easily break into the 100TB storage mark. The second factor is the growing concerns over data redundancy and doubt about the single drive safety net afforded by RAID 5 compared with the 2 drive failure protection of RAID 6. These two factors together have resulted in 6-Bay NAS systems specifically leveraging large drives in a RAID 6 configuration to become a great deal more affordable and palatable. NAS Manufacturers have definitely observed this and we have seen considerable growth in the range of 6-Bay NAS solutions arriving on the market, scaling in hardware, power and price. Today I want to share with you my recommended 6-Bay NAS drives to buy in 2022 and 2023. These are solutions that stand out for their own specific reasons. So, let’s go through the best 6-Bay NAS servers you should be considering
What Have All the Best 6-Bay NAS Drives Have in Common?
It is worth remembering that although there are ALOT of different 6-Bay NAS drives available to buy, they are by no means created equal! With numerous super-budget brands popping up online, it can be tempting to consider these alongside the premium NAS brands. However, all too often they offer solutions righty seem ‘too good to be true’ and then are gone from the web before your warranty even gets cold! So, whether you are looking at the three best 6-Bay solutions that I am recommending below OR are looking at another 6-Bay NAS you saw on offer/recommended elsewhere – the best NAS system ALWAYS includes the following software and services:
- Combined Hardware & Software Solution – That means that you are buying the hardware, but it ALSO includes a web browser GUI, mobile apps and desktop client apps (including backup, media, streaming, surveillance and file management software)
- All NAS systems in this guide are compatible with (and can be accessed by) Windows, Mac, Android and Linux operating systems
- All NAS Solutions arrive with between 2-3 years Warranty (with the option to extend to 5 years)
- All NAS drives can be accessed locally over the network, as well as secure remote access is possible with brand-supported services (at no additional cost)
- The most modern and regularly updated NAS systems will support the very latest 20TB NAS hard drives (such as the Seagate Ironwolf 22TB and WD Red 22TB)
- All the recommended solutions support multiple drive configurations (RAID) for drive failure protection and performance enhancements
- All solutions receive regular updates to their security, features and services
- All recommended NAS drives can connect and synchronize with cloud services (Google Drive, DropBox, OneDrive, etc), as well as Business/Enterprise services such as AWS, Azure, Backblaze and more
- All NAS solutions (regardless of brand) feature the ability to host a shared drive on your PC/Mobile/Laptop systems that are synchronized with the NAS via the network/internet, but is shown in your native operating system file manager (i.e Mac Finder or Windows Explorer)
- All the NAS solutions listed can be accessed DIRECTLY via an ethernet/network cable being connected from your PC/Mac system, to the NAS RJ45 port for 100MB/s and higher connectivity
- All the best NAS solutions (regardless of brand) feature backup and sync tools that can be installed on your local client computer and allow regular backups of your files and system data
So, make sure that if you are looking at a NAS solution that is NOT recommended below, that it includes all of the above as these are some of the clearest areas that brands all too often cut orders to produce cheaper by ultimately inferior NAS servers for home and business. So, let’s discuss the very best 6-Bay NAS to buy now in 2022/2023.
Best All Round 6-Bay NAS Drive – QNAP TS-664 NAS
0-132TB, 6-Bays, 2x M.2 NVMe 2280, Intel N5105 4-Core 2.0-2.9Ghz CPU, 8-16GB Memory, 2x 2.5Gbe Port, 4K HDMI 2.0 Port, USB 3.2 Gen 2 10G, PCIe Gen 3×2 Slot, 3-5yr Warranty
Current Price/Availability on Amazon – $799
Hardware Review – LINK
YouTube Video Review – Watch
What I said in my review April ’22:
In terms of hardware, it is extremely hard to fault the QNAP TS-664 NAS. For its price tag, short of building your own system from the ground up, what you have here is the best example of a 6-Bay NAS available for under $800-850. Then the fact that it features embedded graphical, upgradability in a number of ways (storage, network bandwidth, both), faster local backup options and an aggressive 16GB memory maximum (almost unheard of at this price tier without going higher end SMB). So yeah, the hardware included in the TS-664 certainly (especially when you factor in that this is a hardware/software combined solution when you pay for it) is a good deal. All that said, the system has certainly spread itself a little thin in places to ensure this level of upgradability, trimming those PCIe and M.2 slots in bandwidth to allow the CPU to stay on top of everything, something that only the especially die-hard NAS user is going to notice in day to day use. Now, in terms of software, the sheer range of applications available from QNAP included with the TS-664, as well as the range of 3rd party support that the system can handle has to be appalled, though the learning curve on day 1 has to be acknowledged and means the TS-664 might not be the right system for those that largely want to ‘setup and forget’ the system.
Then there is the subject of ransomware and security that QNAP has been taken to task over in the last 2021/2022. Although the company has stressed that vulnerabilities found in an earlier version of their software (some from Linux that practically all NAS software from all brands is built on, but also ones found in their own services stemming from poor security defaults and control being given to users without sufficient understanding of the consequences) have been addressed, with changes and improvements throughout the platform, many buyers are still going to view the TS-664 with slight trepedation. Overall I would still highly recommend the TS-664 NAS and if you know what you are doing, have a well-developed 3-2-1 backup strategy in place (as we ALL should) and don’t become overly reliant on default settings, you will genuinely struggle to find a better 6 Bay for your prosumer RAID6 in the market right now.
Best Software 6-Bay NAS Drive – Synology DS1621+ NAS
0-132TB, 6-Bays, 2x M.2 NVMe 2280, AMD Emb.Ryzen V1500 4-Core 2.2Ghz CPU, 4-32GB DDR4 ECC Memory, 4x 1Gbe Port, 1x PCIe Gen 3×8 Slot, 3-5yr Warranty
Current Price/Availability on Amazon – $899
Hardware Review – LINK
YouTube Video Review – Watch
What I said in my review Oct ’20:
Whether you’re looking at buying the new Synology DS1621+ as your first footsteps into the world of NAS, or as an upgrade to your existing smaller network-attached storage system, the DS1621+ ticks practically every box. Although some might argue that the hardware might seem almost a little too mid-range, they are missing the point of this device entirely. The DS1621+ is a prime example of everything that Synology is about and frankly, if you love the brand you will love this NAS device. Finding a fair middle ground internally and externally at this price point, the DS1621+ represents Synology doubling down on hardware R&D over the last 2 years and is largely successful in every way. It would have been nice to see a more graphically equipped processor, or something a tad closer in architecture to that of the comparatively powerhouse DS1621xs +, but right now this is the best Synology 6 bay you are going to find and without breaking the bank.
The Synology ‘Plus’ series of devices has long held a reputation for providing mid-range hardware to mid-range business customers. Because of this, the DS1621+ needs to balance a fine line between providing fast and reliable hardware, whilst still maintaining a price point that won’t intimidate the average small-medium business user. In this regard, I think the Synology DS1621+ NAS gets it right, finding an impressive halfway point between these two factors. However, it is important for buyers to understand what they are buying and where the budget for the Synology DS1621+ is being aimed. Although it seemingly lacks some of the multimedia and prosumer features of ‘cheaper’ NAS devices in the Synology portfolio, it doubles down on more business and enterprise-level features in efforts to support that core audience. It’s about getting the right tool for the job and in that area, Synology almost completely succeed. The lack of +gigabit connectivity afforded to a NAS unit at this price point, compared with their competitors, may put some users off, but on the whole, you are getting good performance and excellent value on this combined hardware and software solution with some excellent scalability.
Best Value Hardware 6-Bay NAS Drive – Asustor Lockerstor 6 Gen 2 NAS
0-132TB, 6-Bays, 4x M.2 NVMe 2280 (PCIe Slot Swap Opt for 10GbE), Intel N5105 4-Core 2.0-2.9Ghz CPU, 8-16GB Memory, 2x 2.5Gbe Port, 4K HDMI 2.0b Port, USB 3.2 Gen 2 10G, 3-5yr Warranty
Current Price/Availability on Amazon – $809
Hardware Review – LINK
YouTube Video Review – Watch
What I said in my review Nov ’22:
The Lockerstor 6 Gen 2 NAS is a respectable piece of kit! Indeed, the hardware here is almost faultless! Unless you are particularly noise sensitive (and therefore the metal chassis adding a few dBa to the ambient sound), there is almost nothing I can fault here on the device’s hardware. The scaling up of practically all hardware over the Gen 1 Lockerstor, such as Better CPU, Better Memory that goes higher, HDMI 2.0b, USB 3.2 Gen 2, a 10GbE upgrade option and THOSE FOUR M. 2 NVMe SSD SLOTS – you simply cannot fault how much is getting included here at the price point vs it’s competitors. The software is a little less compelling, with a smaller range of 1st party applications on offer, more of a reliance on 3rd party services and the absence of a few AAA+ features that are present on other devices in the market (AI services, Cloud Bolt on live synchronization, 1st Party SaaS native sync with Google Workspace/Office365, etc).
That said, ADM does run very well, is clear and still quite user-friendly. The addition of choice of file systems EXT4 or BTRFS, flexibility on the use of those M.2 NVMe SSD bays and the Asustor HDMI portal still bring fantastic flexibility to the Lockerstor 6 Gen 2 NAS too. Ultimately, this is a system that is clearly making big waves on it’s hardware more than it’s software, but as long as you keep your feet on the ground and appreciate that this system is more of a 70/30 purchase of hardware vs software, you will come to respect and rely on this Asustor NAS as the backbone of your data storage setup.
Best Price Hardware 6-Bay NAS Drive – Terramaster T6-423 NAS
0-132TB, 6-Bays, 2x M.2 NVMe 2280, Intel N5105 4-Core 2.0-2.9Ghz CPU, 8-32GB Memory, 2x 2.5Gbe Port, 4K HDMI 2.0b Port (Code/Command Level Access, no GUI), USB 3.2 Gen 2 10G, 3yr Warranty
Current Price/Availability on Amazon – $649
Hardware Review – LINK
YouTube Video Review – Watch
What I said in my review July ’22 of the T9-423 9-Bay (Same Hardware, but 3 More Bays!):
I like the terramaster T9-423 NAS a lot more than I thought I was going to! Over the years I have seen several quirky NAS designs appear from brands looking to find gaps in the existing market between the traditional 2-bay, 4-bay, 8-bay and rackmount systems. In most cases, these brands tend to never really hit the ground running with these systems and a lot of that is because they are either priced poorly, have bad internal hardware choices for the sake of offsetting the overall cost of a new design or simply do not read the room in knowing what people want. I’m pleased to say that the Terramaster T9-423 does not seem to suffer any of these things. This 9-Bay arrives in a chassis that is a smaller and more convenient frame than many eight-bay desktops, arrives at a price point that for the scale is reasonable and has the same or better hardware than most other mid-range desktop NAS in 2022.
Alongside this, Terramaster’s innovations in TOS5 to improve their platform to include many more storage services, backup methods and a few premium apps in the works means that the brand still manages to be competitive in spite of its more cost-effective reputation and hardware focus. First-party app development still pales in comparison to bigger NAS brands (though popular third-party tools that already exist in the market are supported and available to download) and in terms of software, this system is still a little underwhelming, if very functional. Then you have the build quality. The construction of this chassis is particularly higher than I anticipated and unlike many of the brand’s rather dated or plastic-looking cases in 2 and 4 bays, The T9-423 is remarkably well constructed with excellent considerations being made to ventilation and keeping the device compact despite its large storage potential. As long as you keep in mind that you are buying a more cost-effective or value alternative to top-tier brands, as well as having perhaps a little more patience with the software than you might like, the Terramaster T9-423 is a great NAS and an exceedingly positive move by the brand to further evolve.
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