The F5-422 offers the easiest way to switch to a home NAS server with 10 Gigabit Ethernet as standard. The NAS holds a total of 90TB of storage, comes with 4GB of RAM, and is ideally suited as a Plex media server. It doesn't have M.2 slots and the mobile utilities are lacking, but the hardware itself is phenomenal, and it continues to be one of the most affordable 5-bay NAS servers with 10GbE networking.
- Great overall value
- Five drive bays with 90TB of total storage
- 10GbE connectivity out of the box
- Works well with Plex transcoding
- 4GB of RAM with the option of adding more
- No M.2 SSD slots for caching
- Adding a second RAM module requires disassembly
- Mobile clients need work
The network attached storage (NAS) category has grown significantly in the last three years, and there are now a decent number of choices if you're looking to get a home server for storing your data in a centralized location. TerraMaster in particular has a wide selection of models aimed at home and business users, and the F5-422 is a high-end NAS server that gets a lot right.
For one thing, it is one of the first NAS models to get 10 Gigabit Ethernet (10GbE) connectivity as standard. With five drive bays and the ability to store a maximum of 90TB of storage, 4GB of RAM, and a good mix of Gigabit Ethernet and USB ports, the F5-422 nails the basics as well.
TerraMaster has also done a great job with its software efforts in recent months, rolling out a massive TOS 5.0 update that brings a cleaner user interface along with new features. Clearly, the F5-422 has what it takes to be among the best home NAS servers, but what it is like in real-world use? Let's find out.
TerraMaster F5-422: Price and availability
TerraMaster unveiled the F5-422 at the tail end of 2019, and the NAS is still among a select few aimed at home users that has 10GbE connectivity. The five-bay NAS is available for $599, and you can pick it up at Amazon, B&H, Newegg, and other major retailers in North America, and TerraMaster authorized retailers in other regions.
TerraMaster provides a two-year warranty as standard, and you get all the accessories needed to install hard drives and connect the NAS to your router within the package. Here's a rundown of the hardware on offer:
|Internal drive bays||Five (maximum 20TB each bay), 3.5-inch HDD, 2.5-inch HDD, 2.5-inch SSD, 100TB of total storage|
|Network interface||1 x 10 Gigabit Ethernet, 2 x Gigabit Ethernet, Link Aggregation|
|USB ports||2 x USB 3.0|
|CPU||Quad-core 1.5GHz Intel Celeron J3455, 64-bit|
|Plex transcoding||Yes, 4K transcodes|
|RAM||4GB DDR4, one SODIMM slot, up to 8GB total|
|File system||Btrfs, EXT4|
|Cooling||2 x 80mm fan, 27.4dB(A)|
|Dimensions||166 x 230 x 223mm|
TerraMaster F5-422: What you'll love
NAS manufacturers tend to use the same design aesthetic across their entire portfolio — the DiskStation DS1522+ illustrates this well — and TerraMaster is no stranger to that rule. The F5-422 looks nearly identical to its 2-bay and 4-bay siblings, with a metallic chassis that has no problems blending into the background. There's the same front panel with LED indicators for the individual drive bays and the LAN connectivity, and a power button underneath.
The F5-422 has two USB 3.0 ports, but they're both located at the back; I would have liked to see one at the front as it makes things a little easier when connecting external drives. That said, it isn't a major omission. You'll find the TerraMaster logo on either side, and the design is fully closed, so there's no additional ventilation for the drives.
This isn't an issue in real-world use as I didn't notice the HDDs crossing 41 degrees Celsius at any given time. There are two 80mm fans at the back that manage thermals, and they do a great job while staying relatively quiet.
The five drive bays are made out of plastic, and they do a good job securing the drives. You can use standard 3.5-inch HDDs or 2.5-inch HDDs or SSDs with the F5-422, and you'll need screws to mount the drives into their bays. If you're not sure of what HDDs to get, I rounded up the best NAS HDDs.
Round the back, you'll find three Ethernet ports in total — a 10 Gigabit port that sits alongside two Gigabit ports. There's an HDMI connector as well, along with the aforementioned USB ports. The back is dominated by the 80mm fans, and overall, this is a reliable design that has worked very well for TerraMaster in the past, and I didn't see any issues with thermals or noise levels.
Switching to the internal hardware, the F5-422 is powered by Intel's Celeron J3455, with four cores going up to 1.5GHz and boost frequencies of 2.3GHz. The J3455 is a known quantity in the storage server category, and it does a great job in daily use as well as media transcoding.
The F5-422 has 4GB of RAM out of the box, and there's a SO-DIMM slot that lets you add another 4GB module, taking the total to 8GB. In my use, I found the built-in RAM to be more than adequate for most home NAS use cases, and most users won't need to pick up another memory module.
TerraMaster rolled out a huge update to its user interface, with TOS 5.0 switching to a modern interface and fixing long-standing bugs and irritations. You'll find a native client for Plex, and I had zero issues with 4K transcoding or streaming high-bitrate files to several devices simultaneously. If you're eyeing the F5-422 as a Plex NAS server, know that it does a fantastic job overall.
It also has native clients for all the major cloud storage providers, and it's straightforward to set up data transfer to or from the likes of Google Drive. A big use case for NAS servers is backing up and storing data, and the F5-422 handles this particularly well.
The added bonus is the 10GbE connectivity. I have a 10GbE network backbone for my home network, so I slotted in a few SATA SSDs and tested the throughput. I managed to get just over 670MB/s for reads/writes, so while that's not as high as the theoretical 10Gb bandwidth, it's still more than good enough for home or office use. With NAS-focused HDDs like the IronWolf Pro, I had no issues crossing 110MB/s over the Gigabit Ethernet ports.
TerraMaster F5-422: What needs work
I would have liked drive bays that offered tool-less HDD installation as that makes things just a little bit easier, and a way to individually lock the drive bays — I've seen this being a requirement often enough for business-related use cases. In a similar vein, front-mounted USB ports would have been ideal.
There's no M.2 SSD caching here, so if you are eyeing the F5-422 for office use, you'll have to use a SATA SSD. It's good that you can add another 4GB of RAM to the NAS, but the way to do so is needlessly convoluted; you'll have to disassemble the NAS to get to the SO-DIMM slot.
Finally, TerraMaster needs to do a better job with its mobile offerings. Its rivals have polished mobile clients for backing up photos and managing files, and TerraMaster has to do more on this front — currently, it just has one TNAS Mobile utility.
TerraMaster F5-422: The competition
The best 5-bay NAS you can buy right now is the DiskStation DS1522+. It doesn't have 10GbE ports as standard, but you can add a 10 Gigabit network interface card with the NAS, making it that much more versatile. The DS1522+ has five drive bays, is powered by Ryzen hardware that does a great job as a media server, and it comes with an extensive set of software features.
If you need a built-in 10GbE connector, then QNAP's TS-932PX-4G is a good option to consider. It is aimed at businesses and has dual 10GbE SFP+ ports alongside two 2.5GbE ports, and it has five 3.5-inch drive bays in addition to four 2.5-inch bays. It isn't too costly either, coming in at just $642.
TerraMaster F5-422: Should you buy it?
You should buy this if:
- You need a home NAS with 10GbE networking
- You want five drive bays and decent memory out of the box
- You're looking for a high-end Plex NAS server
- You need a 10GbE NAS that offers good value
You shouldn't buy this if:
- You need M.2 slots for SSD caching
- You're looking for a NAS with polished mobile clients
Overall, the F5-422 continues to be a solid choice in the 5-bay category, particularly if you need 10GbE connectivity. The Intel hardware more than holds its own for daily use and Plex media streaming as well as transcoding, and 4GB of RAM is adequate for home use. The F5-422 looks good thanks to the metallic chassis, and it does a good job managing thermals.
The 10 Gigabit Ethernet port doesn't quite manage to deliver the full stated bandwidth, but having said that, you will see a definite uptick when using SATA SSDs. It is ideal for office use cases, and for home users, the dual Gigabit ports should be more than adequate.
TerraMaster is doing a better job on the software front, with TOS 5.0 bringing much-needed features and a polished interface. I want to see the brand do the same on the mobile side of things, delivering useful services for those looking to back up photos and videos on Android and iOS.
TerraMaster ticks all the right boxes with the F5-422, and it is a solid option to consider if you want a NAS with 10 Gigabit Ethernet connectivity with five drive bays.