TerraMaster F5-221 review: A big NAS on a small budget

Minor issues during setup and with the software let down a fast and affordable five-bay NAS

Price
£319 exc VAT
  • Good performance
  • Solid value
  • Huge range of apps
  • Some issues during setup

The F5-221 is the five-bay sibling of TerraMaster’s budget F2-210, and the extra cash goes further than buying you an extra three drive bays. The spec sees the biggest improvements, with the F2-210’s slow Realtek ARM-based CPU replaced by a speedier Intel Celeron J1800 dual-core, while the RAM is doubled to 2GB, with the option to upgrade to 4GB should you need to down the line. 

Otherwise the construction is similar, with an aluminium chassis, silver-painted caps on the screw-in drive bays and a bulge around the fans at the back – although this time there are two 82mm fans rather than one. You still get two USB 3 ports at the rear along with a Gigabit Ethernet port. The only other thing of note is that there’s space in the panel for an additional Gigabit Ethernet, which TerraMaster presumably fills in on its higher-end NAS. 

We had the odd hiccup setting up the F5-221. First, we had to clean the drives by removing partitions and reformatting them on a PC before the NAS would complete the initialisation process. More annoyingly, a deliberate shutdown through the browser-based console resulted in an unexpected shutdown error message and a loud beep alert every few seconds, which wouldn’t shut off even though the status dashboard reassured us that everything was fine. In the end, we simply muted the alert sound.

That’s a shame, as while TerraMaster’s NAS software isn’t as slick as Asus’s or Synology’s, it’s quite well-designed, giving you easy access to the usual management tools and features, useful dashboards and an app store with a bewildering range of add-on apps. What’s more, five bays gives you a lot of flexibility around RAID configurations, not to mention space to upgrade if you populate three or four bays for now. You can also upgrade the RAM at a later date. 

Most importantly, the F5-221 is a decent performer. It came in near the top in our backup file transfer tests, but didn’t fare quite so well for sequential read/write operations, and performance while simultaneously streaming 4K video – not smoothly – was solid, if a bit behind the leaders. Given the extra money, we’d go for the Synology or Asustor units, but if you’re looking for a big NAS on a small budget, the F5-221 is good value.

TerraMaster F5-221 specifications

Model number

F5-221-NAS

Price (inc VAT)

£319 (£400)

Warranty

2yr RTB

Dimensions (WDH)

225 x 227 x 136mm

Noise level

19.8dB

CPU

Intel Celeron J1800

CPU cores

Dual core

CPU speed, cores

2.4GHz to 2.58GHz

RAM/maximum RAM

2GB/4GB

Bays (free)

4 (4)

Drive type

2.5in/3.5in SATA hard disk

Max internal capacity

70TB (5 x 14TB)

RAID modes

JBOD, 0, 1, 5, 6, 10

Bay type

Slide-in caddy

Hot swap?

Yes

2.5in drives supported

Yes

SSD support

TBC

Status display

7 x status LEDs

Gigabit Ethernet ports

1

10GB Ethernet ports

No

USB ports (rear)

2

USB ports (front)

No

Other

No

802.3ad link aggregation

No

Load balancing

Not applicable

Network failover

Not applicable

Major network protocols

SAMBA/AFP/NFS/FTP/WebDAV

iSCSI target

10

USB expansion options

No (USB drive sharing only)

NAS OS/firmware

TOS 4.1.X

Main desktop software

TNAS PC App

Remote access

Rsync

Cloud integration

Dropbox Sync, Elephant Drive

Backup

Apple Time Machine

Media

Plex, DLNA server, iTunes Server

Surveillance

No

Testing and Development

Docker, Git, PHP, node.JS, Ruby, Python, MySQL

Other major services

mail server, WordPress, SugarCRM, Transmission, Joomla, Vtiger CRM

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