Best VM NAS to Buy – 2020

Choosing the Best Virtual Machine NAS Drive of 2020

For those that are not aware, a Virtual Machine (or VM) is a near completely digital alternative to a physical-local-PC in the traditional sense. Yes, you still need a physical user interface (ie a monitor/screen and peripheral controls like a Keyboard, mouse and/or touch screen) and hardware terminal (even something as simple as a phone) but after that, what you have access to is a purely virtual copy of a typical PC that allows you to access a single desktop from ANYWHERE in the world that has an internet connection. Add to that the advantages of easy system duplication, snapshots to near-instantly reverse software choices and effectively limitless options of operating system support and what you have is an exceptionally useful tool indeed – one that now both home and business users are taking advantage of. These days, even modest powered NAS drive systems can support virtual machines in one shape or form, but it was not until we started seeing brands create their own VM management tools, cross-platform backups of VM environments and support of popular enterprise VM architecture like Hyper-V and VMware that it has really, REALLY grown popular. The amount of hardware power inside your NAS system will heavily dictate the power and extent of your VM deployment and therefore you have to choose wisely when selecting a NAS system for virtual machine use. Today I want to tell you the best three NAS servers for Virtual machines to buy in 2020/2021 and I have chosen them by selecting the Best Value VM NAS, the Most Robust (sturdy and fully featured) VM NAS and the Most Powerful VM NAS. Let’s take a look.

Best Virtual Machine NAS – What Qualifies?

As I have already touched on, there are ALOT of NAS systems out there and ALOT of them support virtual machine deployment, so choosing the right one can be tricky! Luckily I have already highlighted the most important things to consider when considering a NAS for VMs and in order for a NAS to qualify today, it needs to confirm it is/has the following:

  • The NAS server needs to have been released before October 31st 2020, so it has been officially available to buy and review
  • Although it is a Best of the Year list, the NAS considered for it CAN be released in 2019, 2018, etc – but they MUST have been available for sale for all/most of 2020
  • Only Desktop/Tower systems are being considered, Rackmount servers are generally harder to compare and are more tailored to industry
  • Each solution must be a combined Hardware+Software solution – Include a Virtual Machine Management utility
  • Must have at least 2 years manufacturers warranty
  • Must Be able to Run at least 2 VMs (Windows/Linux) whilst still running the NAS software utilities
  • Must be at least a 4-Bay NAS, as you need to provision for storage AND redundancy in the event of a failed drive
  • Virtual Machine Images must be importable, exportable, have backup/snapshot options
  • VMware, Hyper-V, Images, ISOs, VMKs  and VDKs must be supported

The above list narrows down which NAS are suitable for VMs and I have narrowed down to the top 3 NAS systems below. Take a look.

Best Value Virtual Machine NAS Drive – Synology DS1621+

0- 108TB, 6-Bays, Ryzen V1500B 4-Core CPU, 4GB ECC Memory, 4x 1Gbe Ports, 3yr Warranty, $830  

Hardware Review –

What We Said 15/10/20:

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 price point 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 above 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.

Synology DS1621+ PROS Synology DS1621+ CONS
  • Desktop Ryzen Powered Solution
  • Dual NVMe M.2 cache
  • PCIe Gen 3 x8 PCIe Equipped
  • Great RAID Options (inc SHR)
  • Excellent choice of Apps
  • DDR4 ECC Memory up to 32GB
  • Numerous Backup Software Options
  • Huge Virtualization Support
  • 3yr Warranty and Extendable to 5yrs
  • 1Gbe Ports seem a bit limited now
  • Shame it does not support 1/2 x DX1215
  • NVMe SSDs cannot be used for RAW storage


Most Robust Virtual Machine NAS – QNAP TS-h886

0- 108TB, 6+2-Bays, Intel Xeon D-1622 4 Core CPU, 16-128GB ECC DDR4 Memory, 2.5Gbe x 4 Ports, PCIe 3X4 x2, 3 yr Warranty, $1549  

Hardware Review –

What We Said 13/08/20:

The TS-h886 is genuinely an incredible piece of engineering, allowing you to leverage towards power rather than capacity, it is still a spacious device, even in this modern age of 16TB and 18TB hard drives in the market. Additionally, the tiered storage system allowing three stages of media to be used, along with the powerful caching, compression and deduplication options available to the ZFS based QuTS Hero software included with the TS-h886 cannot be underestimated. This is a powerful, compact (if somewhat expensive) solution that should allow you to not only stop worrying about your data, but also wonder why you never had a number of these features at your fingertips before. With comparatively instantaneous RAID builds, incredibly future-proof expandability in terms of storage and internal upgrade connections, you can certainly see that QNAP poured a lot of love, work and money into this solution. If you think you are ready for a ZFS NAS, the QNAP TS-h886 is arguably one of the very best in the market in the world right now and will even challenge the likes of FreeNAS in the field of ZFS, whilst still bringing the utility and ease-of-use of QTS onto the powerful and multi-functional file system. But damn, that price tag!

  • 2.5Gbe LAN Ports
  • 8 Surveillance Camera Licences
  • 3 Tier Storage System
  • ZFS File System
  • PCIe Gen3 x8
  • Virtualization
  • 2 x M.2 2280/22110 NVMe Gen3 x4
  • ECC DDR4 Memory
  • 10 min Windows and/or Ubuntu VM install (included)
  • Expandable
  • Quite expensive for a 6-Bay
  • Odd decision to limit USB ports to USB 3.0
  • Perhaps a dedicated 10Gbe model might better suit some users


Best & Most Powerful Virtual Machine NAS Drive – QNAP TVS-872XT

0- 144TB, 8-Bays, Intel i5 6-Core 8th GenCPU, 16-32GB DDR4 Memory, 10Gbe, 1Gbe, Thunderbolt 3 x2 Ports HDMI 2.0, PCIe Slots, 3yr Warranty, $1900+  

Hardware Review –

What We Said 21/12/18:

The QNAP TVS-872XT is a NAS drive that has taken the elite and overpowered attitudes that were previously the hallmarks of the Thunderbolt 3 NAS range and turn it into something a great deal more mature and accessible to mid-range users. Till now, if you wanted access to the full features and functionality of a fully equipped thunderbolt and 10Gbe enabled 4K NAS, you were forced to either compromise too much with the TS-453BT3 or break the bank with the TVS-1282T3. Thanks to this new QNAP TVS-872XT NAS however, you no longer need to compromise and have access to a much more balanced and well equipped NAS platform for photo and video editing post-production in 2019.

This 8 bay thunderbolt equipped NAS is about quality, not quantity and although may lack the wider coverage of users that the TVS-1283T3 has, it makes up for it with a much, much better and higher dedicated performance to those fewer connected users. What the XT series brings to the NAS industry is to fill a much-needed gap in the thunderbolt NAS portfolio and gives users an important choice between the existing product family. It is worth mentioning that you lose out on the 3rd tier of storage offered by the 82T series, as well as the long-term future-proofing it offers for PCIe upgrades to the GPU and adding high-speed users later – but unless you think this is a necessary possibility in the next 3-4 years, you should save your money and go for the QNAP TVS-872XT. Easily in my top 3 NAS of 2018 and going forward into 2019 (ed – and now 2020!)

What the QNAP TVS-872XT can do (PROS):

  • High Virtualisation Use
  • Two USB-C Thunderbolt 3 Ports which can allow 2 devices access at once
  • SSD Optimized with NVMe Support
  • Business Use
  • SMB Storage
  • Optimized for Post Production and Broadcasting
  • Embedded  10GBe Port
  • Thunderbolt-to-10Gbe Adapter possible
  • DLNA Support
  • Apple Time Machine Support
  • Surveillance including multiple camera licences – 8 Licences FREE
  • iTunes Server
  • email server
  • Download server (FTP, HTTP, BT,NZB)
  • CMS and CRM systems
  • Office applications
  • Media Center support

What the QNAP TVS-872XT cannot do (CONS):

  • Only 2 TB3 Ports – so only 2 Editors at once
  • No Remote Control
  • no Intel i7 8th Gen option
  • Only 1 10Gbe Port
  • PCIe Slot that is available not compatible with 40Gbe cards



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