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TerraMaster F2-221 review: A great starter NAS for home

The F2-221 is a 2-bay budget NAS that nails the fundamentals.

There are a lot of great choices if you're looking to set up a home server for the first time. A network attached storage (NAS) server lets you manage your media library from a centralized location, and then stream content to all connected devices on your home network. You also get the ability to back up photos and videos automatically from your phones, set up a custom mail server, run virtual machines, and so much more.

We've highlighted the best home NAS enclosures, and one model that has done well over the years is TerraMaster's F2 series. The budget 2-bay NAS in TerraMaster's portfolio has plenty to offer, with the F2-221 featuring two drive bays that can hold a total of 32TB of storage, two Gigabit Ethernet ports, HDMI connectivity, and a great overall value.

So if you're looking to get started with a home server for the first time or are interested in upgrading from an older model, this is what you need to know about the F2-221.

Bottom line: The TerraMaster F2-221 delivers great hardware in a sleek aluminum chassis. With a dual-core Intel chipset that excels at Plex streaming, dual Gigabit Ethernet connectivity, up to 32TB of storage, and an HDMI port, the F2-221 is on par with its rivals on the hardware front. The software still needs a bit of work, but if you're in the market for value, you'll like what the F2-221 has to offer.

The Good

  • Aluminum chassis with a sleek design
  • Dual Gigabit Ethernet connectivity
  • Ideal as a Plex media server
  • Good overall value

The Bad

  • Mobile integration needs work
  • Software not as polished as rivals

$260 at Amazon $260 at Newegg

TerraMaster F2-221 Price and availability

The TerraMaster F2-221 is available in most regions where the brand has an official presence, with the NAS retailing for $260 in the U.S. You can pick it up at Amazon, Newegg, and other major retailers, and TerraMaster provides a two-year warranty as standard. Over in the UK, you can get your hands on the F2-221 for £140.

TerraMaster F2-221 What I like

Most budget NAS enclosures you'll find today have a plastic chassis, but the F2-221 has a sturdy aluminum design that looks striking. Switching from the DiskStation DS220+ to the F2-221, there are clear differences in the design language.

The F2-221 ticks all the right boxes from a hardware point of view.

The F2-221 has plenty to offer when it comes to features. The 2-bay NAS enclosure holds up to 32TB of storage, and you can easily slot in either 3.5-inch HDDs or 2.5-inch SSDs or HDDs. The plastic drive bays hold the hard drives securely, and the single 80mm fan at the back ensures the unit doesn't get too hot even under load.

The front of the F2-221 has status LEDs for the drives and LAN ports, and there's a power button at the bottom. The NAS has two Gigabit Ethernet ports that work in Link Aggregation mode, and you also get dual USB 3.0 ports. There's even an HDMI port if you're interested in connecting the NAS directly to a TV.

Under the hood, you'll find a dual-core Intel Celeron J3355 that goes up to 2.0GHz. There's 2GB of RAM installed, and you can upgrade to up to 6GB. There's no M.2 slots here or the ability to extend the storage, but if you're interested in a home NAS for storing your media collecting and backing up photos and videos, the F2-221 gets a lot right.

Category TerraMaster F2-221
Internal drive bays Two (maximum 16TB each bay)
3.5-inch HDD
2.5-inch HDD
2.5-inch SSD
32TB of total storage
Network interface 2 x Gigabit Ethernet
USB ports 2 x USB 3.0
eSATA ports
CPU Dual-core 2.0GHz Intel Celeron J3355
Plex Yes
4K transcode No
Upgradeable to 6GB
SSD caching
File system Btrfs, EXT4
Cooling 1 x 80mm fan
Dimensions 227 x 119 x 133 mm
Weight 3.2lb (1.4kg)

The F2-221 is powered by TerraMaster's TOS 4.2 software, and it has a lot of native utilities (including Plex), so you can get started with building a media library, running an iTunes server, or setting up a VPN server on the NAS without too much of an effort. The interface is easy enough to navigate, and you can configure the NAS for remote access so you can stream your media collection even when you're not connected to your home Wi-Fi.

The hardware on offer makes the F2-221 a decent option for Plex media streaming. The NAS struggles with 4K transcodes, but you shouldn't see any issues in the Direct Play mode, and the fact that Plex is available on just about every platform makes it the default choice for a media streaming solution.

TerraMaster F2-221 What needs work

While the F2-221 has a lot to offer on the hardware side of things, there are a few omissions. There's no tool-free installation for the hard drives; you will have to use the bundled screws to mount the drives securely to the drive bays. And while there are two USB 3.0 ports, both are located at the back — I like the front-mounted USB port on the DS220+ as it lets me easily plug in an external drive and transfer its contents over.

TerraMaster's software efforts are lacking, and that needs to change.

But the biggest issue with the F2-221 is the software. The NAS currently runs TOS 4.2, and it lacks the polish that Synology's DSM 7.0 brings to this category. TerraMaster needs to do a better job in this area, because even the basics like installing TOS on the NAS and configuring it for first-time use aren't straightforward.

The fact that TOS 4.2 doesn't have many first-party utilities is the biggest drawback with the software. Synology's custom services like Video Station, Cloud Sync, Audio Station, and Photos deliver meaningful value and are a big part of what makes the brand's NAS enclosures stand out. TerraMaster has to roll out its own alternatives if it wants to be a viable contender in this category.

TerraMaster F2-221 Rivals

If you're in the market for a starter NAS under $300, your default option should be the DiskStation DS220+. Synology's budget NAS doesn't have the same aluminum design as the F2-221, but it gives you a more powerful chipset, and much better software features.

Sure, the DS220+ costs $40 more than the F2-221, but at the end of the day, the polished software alone is worth the premium. There's a reason the DS220+ continues to be the best-selling NAS on Amazon a year after its release; it delivers everything you're looking for in a budget enclosure.

If you're looking to maximize the value, the entry-level DiskStation DS220j is a good option to consider as well. The NAS has limited memory and isn't as powerful, but it works well for basic use cases like backing up data and streaming content to your phones, tablets, and TVs.

TerraMaster F2-221 Should you buy?

You should buy this if ...

  • You need a budget NAS for Plex streaming
  • You want a central server for backing up data
  • You want dual Gigabit connectivity
  • You're in the market for value

You should not buy this if ...

  • You want easy-to-use software
  • You need mobile apps for your phone or tablet

Overall, TerraMaster got a lot of things right with the F2-221. The aluminum design makes it stand out, you get a powerful chipset with dual Ethernet connectivity and up to 32TB of storage, and the unit itself runs quietly.

4 out of 5

The F2-221 is a decent option if you're looking to save some cash. It retails for $40 less than the DS220+, and while the software isn't quite as robust, it gets the basics right. So if you're looking for a NAS enclosure for Plex streaming and backing up data, the F2-221 is a good option that costs less than its rivals.

Bottom line: The TerraMaster F2-221 delivers great hardware in a sleek aluminum chassis. With a dual-core Intel chipset that excels at Plex streaming, dual Gigabit Ethernet connectivity, up to 32TB of storage, and an HDMI port, the F2-221 is on par with its rivals on the hardware front. The software still needs a bit of work, but if you're in the market for value, you'll like what the F2-221 has to offer.

$260 at Amazon $260 at Newegg

Source: androidcentral

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