Which 4-bay NAS to buy?

I have been watching many videos about available 4-bay NAS devices on the market right now. I want to get one for home to cater for: iTunes server, Plex Media Server, centralized storage, windows and mac (time machine) backups and possibly some limited virtualization. Until recently, I was considering the TS-453A, but now I’m looking more towards the DS918+. The 453B is a little expensive for not having on-board NVMe, but I’m also wondering if I should find more cash and get a better processor for future needs. PMS is finally starting to make use of hardware transcoding which I may need in the future.

Stepping up to i3 or AMD based options does virtually double the investment which is why I think the DS918+ would be the best option (with 4x WD Red 4TB, SRH, Ext4). If I need more processing power I could always look to a NUC or SFF PC build later on.

All NAS models will do basic tasks like backup and synchronization. All these NAS options will easily run as Plex server. The only difference is do you really need Plex transcoding.

Do I need transcoding?

Transcoding will be beneficial once you have several people streaming from your Plex server. Multiple streams can slow down the network. Also, are you going to be streaming your multimedia content whilst you are away from your home. On your mobile device or friends home. In these situations more powerful NAS will be able to transcode your multimedia content to smaller files. On mobile device you wont notice a difference because of a smaller screen size. Small file means less data being transferred over network or internet- therefore it being sent quicker.

Do I need NVMe?

There are two main reasons when people choose NVMe option. Either you will be using virtualization functionality or database server (or both). Once there are many people or many requests made – IOPS are very important. Faster input /output tasks being done – faster you get your data. NVMe will cache most often accessed files so NAS operating system won’t need to seek data on slower storage devices (regular hard drives).

The 4 Bay NAS comparison for given tasks  

 

TS-453A DS918+ TS-453B
iTunes server, Yes Yes Yes
Plex Media Server Yes Yes Yes
centralized storage Yes Yes Yes
windows backup Yes Yes Yes
time machine Yes Yes Yes
limited virtualization Yes Yes Yes
NVMe NO Yes Optional
Native transcoding 4K H.264 4K 4K
PLEX transcoding HD H264    4K Full HD

Alternative to a NAS for Plex purpose?

Alternatively for Plex transcoding tasks you can get NVIDIA Shield TV or  NUC or SFF PC. You can even use NAS as storage center of your multimedia and use Shield TV as trans-coder connected to your NAS.

Final decision

I would choose DS918+ beacause it can do a bit of everything and because of its outstanding software features. It also can be easily expanded and upgraded

 

 

IBQ-453A-4G Qnap

https://www.span.com/product/Qnap-Desktop-NAS-TS-453A-4G-4-Bay-RAID-0-1-5-6-4GB-RAM-~52841

IBQ-453B-8G Qnap

https://www.span.com/product/Qnap-Desktop-NAS-TS-453B-8G-4-Bay-RAID-0-1-5-6-8GB-RAM-~61411

IBSY-918P Synology

https://www.span.com/product/Synology-DiskStation-NAS-DS918+-4-Bay-4GB-RAM-~61979

 

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