Network-attached storage (NAS) enclosures are fantastic for use as a server at home or in the office. They can be used as a media server, file storage hub, or the center of your home security. Choosing the best NAS can become really expensive. It is possible to spend less without sacrificing too much on functionality and performance. I've rounded up some of the best budget NAS enclosures right here.
Best cheap NAS
The TerraMaster F2-423 (we reviewed the almost identical TerraMaster F4-423) may not be as affordable as other NAS in this collection, but what the company is offering for the price is nothing short of amazing. You've got a powerful Intel Celeron processor, DDR4 RAM that can be expanded to 32GB, support for up to 40TB of storage space, HDMI output on the rear, M.2 slots for SSD caching, and 2.5Gb LAN. This is a killer enclosure and is absolutely one of the best NAS for Plex.
Most affordable NAS
If all you require is a small server that can store files, the Synology DiskStation DS120j is perfect for the price. The ARM processor isn't powerful enough for more demanding tasks, and the single-drive bay will limit how much you can store on the DS120j, but it's a great inexpensive starter NAS. This little unit supports various transfer protocols and works with platforms from Windows and Linux to iOS and Android.
This is one capable NAS. We're talking about an Intel Celeron processor with upgradable 2GB DDR4 RAM, 2.5Gb LAN ports, and two drive bays. This all makes it possible to store up to 36TB of data on the ASUSTOR AS5202T. There's even an HDMI port that's usually reserved for more expensive NAS enclosures, which makes it possible to connect the server to your TV and avoid media transcoding. If you want the best bang for your buck, this is about as good as you'll get here.
Best prebuilt NAS
Not everyone wants to pick and choose hard drives for their first NAS enclosure. This is where prebuilt NAS enclosures like the Buffalo LinkStation 210 come into play. It has a 4TB drive that's ready to go, allowing you to plug in the NAS and get started. It's fairly basic in terms of functionality, and you won't be able to do much else than store files, but it's perfect for doing just that on a tight budget.
Choosing the best budget NAS
Looking at the above NAS enclosures shows just what you can enjoy at lower prices. It's even possible to grab a four-bay NAS for less than $300, so long as you don't want to handle intensive applications on the server. If I had to recommend one NAS from this roundup, it would be the TerraMaster F2-423. It's a little on the pricey side, but it's well worth every penny.
Should you be uncomfortable with spending that much on a NAS, the ASUSTOR AS5202T is a worthy runner-up with similar specifications, including an Intel Celeron processor. Then there's the Synology DS120j, which is perfect for simply storing some files. If you're planning to attend university or need something for backups, this has you covered.
Rich Edmonds is Senior Editor of PC hardware at Windows Central, covering everything related to PC components and NAS. He's been involved in technology for more than a decade and knows a thing or two about the magic inside a PC chassis. You can follow him over on Twitter at @RichEdmonds.
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