Synology DS923+ or Terramaster F4-423 NAS – Which Should You Buy?
Remember when buying a NAS drive was easy? For such a long time, the general hardware that all the NAS brands were offering was generally comparable (Celeron CPU, 2/4GB Memory, coupled of 1GbE and USB) and it was only when you delved into the software that you could see the big differences. However, 2022 has really thrown a spanner in the works and although all the big-name brands (not just Synology and Terramaster) have released new hardware into the market, they are all so different this time around! The F4-423 from Terramaster (largely considered the more cost-effective and value arm of the NAS industry) arrived in Summer ’22 and featured 2.5GbE Gen 3 PCIe M.2 slots and a new Intel Celeron. Meanwhile, Synology held off right till the end of 2022 to release their DS923+ with an Optional 10GbE upgrade, switching to an AMD-embedded Ryzen processor and ramping the memory up to business-class ECC modules. If this is your first tentative steps into the world of NAS and you are considering a Synology or Terramaster NAS, you would be forgiven for being a little confused by these recent changes by the brands in 2022/2023 and wondering which one of them is best served to store your data. So today I want to compare the flagship 4-Bays from Synology and Terramaster to help you decent which one is best for you.
Terramaster F4-423vs Synology DS923+ NAS – Internal Hardware
These 4-Bay NAS dives from Synology and Terramaster have always arrived as Intel Celeron or Pentium-powered solutions – but in 2022, Synology changed tac and decided to move the DS923+ to an AMD chip. Its predecessor, the DS920+ NAS from 2020, first arrived with a 4 Core Intel Celeron Processor that featured integrated graphics, 4-8GB of DDR4 2666Mhz memory and NVMe SSD upgrade slots. In the two years since its release though, Synology clearly decided to make some big changes in the DS923+ to make it considerably more scalable and general business/file-ops focused. The newer 4-Bay Diskstation features a dual-core AMD R1600 that, although arriving with half the cores of the Celeron in the Terramaster F4-423 has more threads, has a higher CPU frequency and can have it’s frequency increased further in turbo/burst when needed. That said, users will be surprised to learn that this CPU also does not feature embedded graphics, so therefore the DS923+ will be less CPU efficient at handling complex multimedia tasks or generally more graphically demanding operations. The double thread count of the Celeron in the Terramaster will make a difference certainly, but with the R1600 CPU having a higher power consumption and threads (though more efficient) will not be as effective in operations as having more cores. You can learn more about the main user differences in our video below (in which me and Eddie take to either side of the Emb.Ryzen v Celeron debate) to see their respective strengths and weaknesses.
Though both systems feature 4GB of DDR4 memory, the DS923+ has the much higher pedigree and wins here thanks to its use of much more impressive ECC (error code correction) memory to identify and repair any bit-level write errors (AVOIDING BITROT) and can also be scaled to a considerably higher 32GB of memory (with the Terramaster F4-423 NAS maxing out at 16GB). Returning to those M.2 NVMe slots, both system feature 2 bays that can be used for SSD storage upgrades, although both the DS923+ and F4-423 support SSD caching (when a pool of SSDs is used to speed up data write/read in conjunction with the larger HDD RAID array), the Terramaster is the only one that also allows this to be used as a standalone storage pool and volumes. This is the first of several key differences between the Terramaster F4-423 and Synology DS923+ NAS that show the divide in hardware between these units. Now, if Synology were to allow NVMe SSD usage for raw storage pools and volumes (something of a rumour that is floating around about DSM 7.2 allowing this feature – which I am still looking into at the time of writing), that would be a different story, as the DS923+ is running on PCIe3 lane architecture, with the bays inside the NAS likely being M.2 NVMe PCIe Gen 3 x2 or x4 (so 2,000-4,000MB/s bandwidth). But again, this is still a very, very tenuous rumour at this stage and therefore cannot be counted on.
|Model||Synology DS923+ NAS
|| Terramaster F4-423 NAS
|Number of SATA Bays||x4||x4|
|Supported RAID||RAID 0, 1, 5, 6 and SHR (Flexible)||RAID 0, 1, 5, 6 and TRAID (Flexible)|
|Number of M.2 NVMe Bays (Gen)||2x NVMe M.2 2280 Gen 3 x4 (TBC)||2x NVMe M.2 2280 Gen 3×1|
|M.2 NVMe Deployment?||Caching Only (at the time of writing)||Caching and/or Storage Pools|
|CPU||AMD Embedded Ryzen||Intel Celeron N5105 CPU|
|Default Memory||4GB DDR4 SODIMM ECC||4GB DDR4 SODIMM|
|Max Memory||32GB SODIMM – 2 SLOTS||16GB SODIMM – 2 SLOTS|
|Storage Expandability||Yes, eSATA connected DX517||No, but external USB RAID is Supported|
The Intel Celeron inside the Terramaster F4-423 and its integrated graphics are definitely going to make it more popular with Plex NAS users. Tasks that require more advanced graphical techniques, such as encode, decode, QuickSync-supported tasks, viewing images that can be manipulated in the viewer and running of anything presented in HEVC/H.265 compression are going to benefit from the graphical toolkit present in the N5105 CPU, whereas the R1600 will need to complete these tasks less efficiently, with raw power. For example, earlier in 2022 we compared the two NAS’ with VERY similar hardware to the DS923+ and F4-423, the QNAP TS-464 against the Synology DS1522+ NAS (which also runs on the AMD R1600 CPU) on 4K Plex playback. In those tests, both the Intel N5105 and AMD R1600 were about to playback UHD 4K Media upto 60Mbps bitrate in H.264 equally well, with the embedded graphics on the celeron not presenting any advantage. However, when it came to transcoding and converting HEVC/H.265 media in practice, the R1600 struggled (hitting 100% CPU utilization almost immediately). Now, there are lots of ways to get around the HEVC/H265 barrier. You can:
- Use Media Client Hardware for watching your Plex Server Media that is powerful enough to allow ‘client side’ conversions
- Only Use H.264 Compressed media
- Use a client hardware device that includes an HEVC/H.265 Licence purchase option
However, if you are running your Plex Media streaming to mobile devices (many of which do not allow client-side hardware conversions) or an Amazon Fire Stick (same again), these will rely quite heavily on the NAS doing the heavy lifting in the event of you needing HEV/H265 content modified. So, although BOTH the Terramaster F4-423 and Synology DS923+ NAS are going to be good for Plex in native playback, when it comes to media that is going to need some extra horsepower server-side, the Terramaster F4-423 NAS has the better internal Hardware. Also, the power use/efficiency of the Intel Celeron in 24×7 use is going to typically be lower in like-for-like use cases (with a TDP rating of 10W on the Celeron vs 25W on the R1600 – but these represent max usage/non-typical). Finally, the Intel Celeron in the Terramaster is a 4-core processor, double that of the R1600 at 2-core. 4 Cores means that you can spread those dedicated cores to other processes more effectively and present a larger degree of processing power to those tasks. Now, the DS923+ and it’s AMD R1600 does counter all of these points with some impressive strengths of it’s own. For a start, that much higher base and turbo frequency of 2.6Ghz > 3.1Ghz. This means that you have a much more powerful NAS at your disposal to get most other tasks done and if you are not focused on those graphical areas mentioned earlier that the N5105 favours, the R1600 is going to get most other tasks done quicker and/or have more resources to spread out to more users at once.
Synology DS923+ or Terramaster F4-423 NAS – Design
This is going to be a real area of contention for some users who are either in close proximity to the NAS they buy or are a little more sensitive to noise. I say this because the Terramaster F4-423 NAS has great hardware, but the design is a little less impressive. The chassis (arriving in a combination of plastic and metal internal structure) is a little more dated in design than the Synology DS923+. This is further underlined when you see that the F4 series used the same chassis as the F5 5-Bay (it just removes the additional SATA Bay and bay, but maintains the same width_. The result is a NAS that is a bit wider than the DS923+. Additionally, the chassis feels a little more cost-effective/budget on the Terramster than the Synology. Synology has been using this 4-Bay chassis since around 2017 in this product series and it still looks pretty modern by comparison.
The rear of these two chassis reveals that they both arrive with two active cooling fans. These fans are designed to maintain the best possible internal running temperature, as NAS servers of this scale rarely have CPU fans and rely on well-placed heatsinks and strategically placed airflow throughout the system to keep the components running at the most efficient temperature 24×7. The fans on the Synology are a little more subtle, but are also a fraction larger (92cm sq each on the Synology vs 80cm sq on the Terramaster). You might think this means that the Synology is the noisier of the two. However, in reality, the Terramaster is the tiniest pinch louder in ambient noise when in operation. This is due to several factors. The first is that the fans are part of a larger external block on the rear of the device (as opposed to being contained within the larger casing). The other reason is that the Terramaster NAS chassis contains more metal (on the base and a much more structured use of aluminium internally by comparison to the Synology which features alot more plastic in it’s framework and external. The noise difference is very, VERY small, but will be increased a pinch more when using more industrially designed HDDs above 10TB (that have more platters thanks to helium-sealed drive technology, dedicated 7200RPM) because of the increased vibration and resulting hum, clicks and whirrs. It’s a very small difference, but the particular noise sensitive will notice this.
The final thing to discuss in the chassis design of the Synology DS923+ and Terramaster F4-423 is velitation and passive cooling. Both of these NAS drive’s have ventilation places around their casing to work in conjunction with those active cooling fans. The Synology arguably does a better job of things on this too, as not only do the sides of the casing have the familiar brand logo in a vented design, but the M.2 slots have ventilated covers on the base and even the trays have a bit more airflow between the drives. The Terramaster has a small amount of ventilation on the front between the bays, but the bulk of the passive ventilation on the F4-423 is on the base of the chassis (under the storage bays). Although the overall impact of these passive ventilation methods is still going to be heavily dependent on the fans and internal heatsinks, the design of the Synology DS923+ chassis just seems a little more thought out.
Overall, the SYNOLOGY design wins overall, thanks to its better middle ground design between airflow, chassis size and noise compared with the Terramaster F4-423. Although neither brand provides its solutions in a variety of colours, the Black and largely square Diskstation chassis will blend in better in most environments too. Next, let’s discuss network connectivity.
Synology DS923+ or Terramaster F4-423 NAS – Ports and Connections
The connections that a NAS arrives with will heavily dictate the access speed and performance between it and your client devices. This becomes especially true when your NAS is going to be accessed by a large number of users/tasks at any given time, as the result is the bandwidth (the maximum potential connection speed) being shared between them all. Now the DS923+ arrives with arguably very dated connectivity (in its default state, but scalability is possible). This is especially true when compared with the F4-423. Here is how they compare off the bat:
|Model||Synology DS923+ NAS
|| Terramaster F4-423 NAS
|Default Network Connections||2x 1GbE||2x 2.5GbE|
|Network Upgrade / PCIe Slot||Yes, PCIe Gen 3×2 for E10G22-t1-mini 10G Upgrade||No|
|USB 3.2 Gen 2 (10G)||0||2x|
|USB 3.2 Gen 1 (5G)||2x||0|
|HDMI||No||1x HDMI 2.0 (Command Interface ONLY, no GUI)|
So, alot of difference here to unpack. Some things are quite brand specific, such as the Synology DS923+ featuring an eSATA port that is used for the DX517 JBOD expansion 5-Bay. The same goes for the Terramaster F4-423 having an HDMI port for local (command level) access with a USB Keyboard, something Synology have never provided outside of very specific Surveillance solutions. Bt the areas we CAN compare are the USB connectivity and the network connectivity. The USB ports on the Synology are USB 3.2 Gen 1 (5Gb/s) and have limited support in the system software (DSM), but are largely used for external storage drives and UPS devices, that’s about it (you can assign them to a VM). The USB ports on the Terraamster on the other hand are USB 3.2 Gen 2 (10Gb/s), so twice as higher bandwidth than the Synology, as well as supporting a larger number of USB devices (so storage and UPS’ like the Synology, but also devices such as printers, scanners, network adapters and WiFi dongles). The next big difference is that the Synology arrives with two 1GbE Network ports (these can be combined via LAG/Port-Trunking to 2GbE with a smart switch) and the Terramaster has 2x 2.5GbE ports (which can also be combined too). This means the Terramster has a significantly higher external network bandwidth available. You will still need to be using a greater than Gigabit Router or Switch in order to take advantage of these speeds, but given that now you can get USB-to-2.5GbE adapters for as little as £20, this is getting easier to take utilize. If you are in a pure 1GbE network environment and have zero intention to upgrade to 2.5G or 10G in the next few years, you can largely ignore this advantage, but given that an increasing number of day-to-day devices are arriving with 2.5G at the same price as 1G (ISP Routers with WiFi 6, Prosumer routers, Switches, PC Motherboards, etc), its tough to overlook that extra external connectivity that the F4-423 provides here in the default/day 1 state. However, things can change if you take advantage of the network upgrade slot of the DS923+ NAS.
Moving away from the CPU, we CAN talk about one the stand-out features of the Synology DS923+ NAS that has been demanded for quite a long time – 10GbE support. Now, before we get too excited, it’s really important to once again highlight that this is OPTIONAL 10GbE and available via an additional purchase of the E10G22-T1-mini upgrade module. The DS923+ by default arrives with 1GbE network ports, but the option of 10GbE is very welcome indeed, though many will wonder why they didn’t just roll this in and increase the DS923+ NAS price a fraction. There are many who argue that 2.5GbEsuch as it is found on the F4-423 NAS is still something of a fad (with 1GbE still massively available in it’s decades of use and 10GbE becoming more affordable as a client hardware upgrade with interchangeable hardware and backwards compatibility with legacy devices) but there is also the question of future-proofing to consider. When you buy ANY piece of hardware, you are buying it BOTH to be compatible with current hardware trends AND to remain useful in the future. 2.5GbE has gained traction thanks to $25 adapters over USB supported on Windows/Mac, affordable network cards, growing wireless network adoption of WiFi 6/6e and more hardware peripherals proving 2.5GbE at the same cost as 1GbE in 2022. Plus, a 2.5GbE NAS will still give you 250-279MB/s connected to a 10GbE network if/when you upgrade to Copper/RJ45/10GBASE-T. So, although the inclusion of optional 10GbE on the DS923+ with the E10G22-T1-mini adapter IS a very welcome addition, the lack of 2.5GbE will certainly be noticed!
The 10GbE upgrade for the DS923+ is an incredibly easy process – with the E10G22-T1-mini module being significantly easier than traditional PCIe Card upgrades. Arriving on a PCIe Gen 3×2 board, this singe port accessory slots into the back (power down necessary, as this is a PCIe upgrade) and immediately adds the 1,000MB/s+ bandwidth connection to your DS923+. As this NAS is a 4-Bay system, there is the question of whether there is enough media throughput the saturate the full 10GBASE-T connection. Using a fully SATA SSD populated device will likely full/close-to saturate the 10G connection, as would using the 5-bay DX517 expansion in a combined RAID with the main 4-Bays (the DX517 connects over eSATA which is capped at 6Gb/s – so a combined RAID with the primary storage is the only way you are going to hit 1,000MB/s), but what about if you are only using the main 4x DS923+ bays with 3.5″ hard drives?
Luckily, I can answer the question of how the DS923+ NAS CPU and 4 hard drives will perform over 10GbE now. Previously here on the NASCompares, I was fortunate enough to run ATTO tests on the DS1522+ (same R1600 CPU, 8GB Memory) with RAID 0 and RAID 5 with four WD Red Pro 22TB Hard Drives. Now, it is worth remembering that these are NOT your common, everyday SATA hard drives and are designed to be rugged, high-performance disks (7200RPM, 512MB Cache, 10x 2.2TB platters, etc). In a RAID 0 and RAID 5 setup and in particular file size tests, full saturation of read transfers of 1.15GB/s was achieved, with write performance peaking at around 800-900MB/s. Now these ARE artificial tests (so, not really representative of everyday use), but nevertheless, very compelling results for 4 drives over 10GbE and DO indicate that the DS923+ hardware is sufficient to saturate the E10G22-T1-mini upgrade. More domestic/smaller scale HDDs such as the WD Red Plus or Seagate Ironwolf drives will likely cap at around 600-700MB/s at most.
Note – You can READ the full article that details all the tests and results of the Synology DS1522+ NAS and WD Red Pro 22TBs over 10GbE HERE. Alternatively, you can watch my YouTube video on these tests (with 5GbE testing too) here on the NASCompares YouTube Channel.
Synology DS923+ or Terramaster F4-423 NAS – Software
On the subject of NAS software, this is where the Synology NAS is exceedingly strong! Although the Terramaster NAS platform has seen a huge number of improvements in recent years (TOS version 5 was launched in Summer 2022), with new apps, services and modes included, Synology and DSM is still considered the dominant force in NAS software. The Synology DSM platform feels alot more responsive, has a huge number of first-party applications (As well as mobile and desktop client applications too) and although 3rd party application support is available in a number of their tools, the real strength in the Synology software is how the brand releases it’s own 1st party alternatives (allowing you to create a single ecosystem of tools for your NAS storage and network). Use Skype or Whatsapp? Then you can use Synology Chat. Use DropBox or Google Drive for team sharing and local storage synchronization? Use Synology Drive. Use Google Docs, Google Cloud Space and Google Workspace? Then use Synology Collaboration Suite and Active Backup. Plex or Emby? Use Synology Video Station instead, as it has metadata scraping and no subscription. Even high-end business is covered. Synology Virtual Machine Manager instead of Hyper-V or VMware, Surveillance Station instead of Milestone – the list is huge AND crucially, all of these apps are compatible with 3rd party tools too, whether it is to sync with them to create a bare-metal NAS backup, or to open and continue from your 3rd party setup into a 1st party setup. Below is my full review of Terramater TOS 5 and Synology DSM:
Now, this isn’t to say that the Terramaster TOS system is not good, it is better than it has ever been, very responsive, features improved 1st party apps in its latest version (new AI-powered Photo recognition tool Terra Photos, Surveillance Center application, VM support, improved muti-tier and multi-site backup manager and more), but the apps and the GUI does not feel quite as polished as the Synology platform and you definitely get the feeling that a larger % of the cost of a terramaster goes towards the hardware than the software. If you are only planning on using the NAS as a target drive for your 3rd party tools, then the Trramaster will support you well. Just know that the total Hardware+software type buyer will want to opt for Synology and the award-winning DSM.
Synology DS923+ or Terramaster F4-423 NAS – Conclusion and Verdict
Many home and prosumer users that are comparing these two NAS in terms of hardware are doing so because of Plex Media Server support (with that Intel inside the Terramaster doing alot of the heavy lifting here). However, you have to look at the F4-423 and DS923+ NAS as complete hardware+software solutions and are priced as such. So, therefore the choice between the Synology DS923+ and the Terramaster F4-423 NAS comes down to two main factors. 1) Do you prioritize Hardware or Software? As the Terramaster is the best for the former and the Synology is much better for the latter! 2) What do you expect from the NAS system? If you want a system that is designed to just be your storage system and sit in the background and do its job, then the Terramaster will not only be the more economical choice, but it will also be the one that is better for direct and no-frills tasks. If however, you want a more dynamic system or one that you plan on wrapping your small business around – then the Synology will be the better choice, as it has been designed with precisely this kind of user and deployment in mind. If you came to this article wondering why the Terramaster NAS online always seems to be more affordable/cheaper in price, I hope this guide helped you understand. Both the DS923+ and F4-423 or among the best examples of what each brand has on offer right now in 2022 – but it is a case of what you, the end user, want for your money. Then you have to factor in the upgrade option of the Synology that allows you to scale it up to 10GbE (for around £129+) and it’s CPU upto 32GB ECC Memory combo that is designed much more towards throughput and performance than graphical management, so in a somewhat ‘tortoise and the hare’ style, the Synology has the potential to outperform the Terramaster here down the line. Then again, Plex users who are reliant on server-side transcoding/conversions (eg thanks to H.265/HEVC compression barriers) are going to have a CONSIDERABLY better experience on the F4-423 when playing back these files.
|Synology DS923+ NAS
|| Terramaster F4-423 NAS
|Reasons to Buy||Reasons to Buy|
More User Friendly with noticeably more polished Apps, Tools and GUI
Allows a greater Max Memory of 32GB, which is also ECC
Synology HybridRAID Migration and Expansion
Includes 1st party apps to replace/sync with your existing 3rd party ones
Better File Throughput internally
The BEST NAS Surveillance Application
Enterprise Grade tool Active Backup Suite
|Much More Affordable and Regularly on Offer
Better Plex HEVC/H.265 Media Management on the Server side
TRAID Flexible RAID
Easy Software Switch to TrueNAS (HERE)
2.5GbE by Default
USB 3.2 Gen 2 (10Gb) Connectivity for Storage
Wide HDD and SSD Compatibility (upto 22TB – Dec ’22)
TOS 5 has an AI Photos App and Surveillance (Entry Level)
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