Best rackmount NAS 2024: Find the rack storage solution that’s right for you

A photograph of the Qnap TS-h1283XU-RP overlaid with the IT Pro Recommended award logo

Seeking out the best rackmount NAS for your business can unlock a range of long-term benefits. Functionally, these devices do the same job as desktop storage boxes, but if you already have a rack set up with servers, UTM gateways, and other appliances, then a rackmount NAS will slot right in. It doesn't get any more convenient than that.

There are a lot of rackmount NAS options to choose from though, at a wide spread of prices. However, we have tested a number of the best over the past 12 months and you can find these in this guide, along with what to look for in a rackmount NAS,  for businesses of any size.

What are the best rackmount NAS appliances in 2023?

Qsan XCubeSAN XS3312D

Best for expansion potential


CPU: 2GHz quad-core Intel Xeon D-1712TR
RAM: 8GB DDR4 ECC cache (Max 256GB)
Drive bays: 12 x LFF/SFF SAS3 hot-swap bays
RAID options: RAID 0, 1, 10, 3, 5, 6, 10, 30, 50, 60, N-way, 5EE, 6EE, 50EE, 60EE

Reasons to buy

Great value
Dual active
Expansion potential 

Reasons to avoid

No CPU stats in web console

The port and connection sections on the Qsan XS3312D NAS device

The XCubeSAN XS3312D is another affordable SMB solution from Qsan with this 2U hybrid flash storage system supporting SAS3 HDDs and SSDs. That's in addition to dual controllers supporting combined IP SAN and FC SAN operations. The price is key, because all that is offered here, comes at a cost low enough to have most blue-chip providers green with envy.

That relatively low price comes with ample room up front for twelve storage devices, chassis with dual 850W hot-plug PSUs, and twin hot-plug fan modules. This is in addition to two controllers that run in active-active mode and provide total transparent failover. A combination that should yield a higher overall price.

Deployment is swift; the Qsan's XFinder app makes it easy to discover the array and provided direct access to its XEVO web interface. We found it very easy to use with the console's home page providing a status view comprising an overview of SSDs, pools, volumes and hosts, a pie chart showing storage and snapshot usage plus three real-time graphs for overall latency, IOPS and throughput.

During our review, we used the console's Storage tab to created two RAID5 pools each using an equal number of SSDs. This allowed the wizard to add a volume in each one. What's more you have a huge choice of RAID arrays as along with all the usual suspects, the XS3312D supports enhanced EE types which provide faster rebuild times by allowing more spare drives to be added to a pool.

When it came to performance, we ran Iometer on one server first which reported sequential read and write rates of 48.7Gbits/sec and 47.7Gbits/sec and random rates of 48.3Gbits/sec and 23.2Gbits/sec. We than swapped to Iometer 4KB blocks which returned random read and write I/O throughputs of 249,300 and 80,200 IOPS.

With both servers in the mix, we recorded impressive cumulative sequential read and write rates of 96.8Gbits/sec and 93.5Gbits/sec. Our read number equates to 12.1GB/sec which isn't far off Qsan's quoted maximum speed of 12.8GB/sec.

For a diskless unit, the MSRP is around £6,400, but it offers SMBs a top storage solution that can easily be expanded upon. Along with excellent FC performance, Qsan's XEVO OS offers a great set of easily managed storage provisioning and data protection features.

Price when reviewed: £6,400 exc VAT (MSRP, diskless)

Read our full Qsan XCubeSAN XS3312D review for more information.

Dell PowerEdge XR11

Best for larger organisations


CPU: 32-core 2.2GHz Intel Xeon Scalable Gold 6338N
RAM : 64GB 2,666MHz ECC DDR4 (max 1TB with LR-DIMMs)
Drive bays: 4 x hot-swap SFF
RAID options: On-board SATA

Reasons to buy

Tough build quality
Slick remote management
Choice of core-heavy Xeon Scalable CPUs

Reasons to avoid


The front and back of the Dell PowerEdge XR11

(Image credit: Future)

Dell is a seasoned player when it comes to edge computing and its latest PowerEdge XR rugged servers are great at getting power out to it the places where data is being generated. The series comprises of the 2U XR12 and 1U XR11 single-socket models with both designed to operate in extreme environments. Indeed, the key point here is that the rugged XR11 can go where normal rack servers can't.

The package also includes support for a 36-core Gen 3 Xeon Scalable CPU, large memory capacity and high expansion potential which allows it to deliver plenty of power out to the edge to handle demanding apps. Although storage capacity could be seen as modest, its smart design allows it to handle SATA, SAS and NVMe devices, the quad-port 25GbE network LOM adds extra value and the XR11 benefits from the full range of Dell's remote monitoring and management services.

Price when reviewed: £10,638 exc VAT

Read our full Dell PowerEdge XR11 review for more information.

Qnap TS-h1886XU-RP

Best companies wanting a professional NAS platform on a budget


CPU : Quad-core 2.6GHz Intel Xeon D-1622
RAM : 32GB ECC DDR4 UDIMM (max 128GB)
Drive bays: 12 x SATA LFF/SFF (front); 6 x SATA SFF (rear)
RAID options: RAID0, 1, 5, 6, 10, 50, 60, Triple Parity, Triple Mirror

Reasons to buy

Terrific performance
Plenty of apps
Impressive storage density

Reasons to avoid

Requires a RAM upgrade and SSDs to unlock its full potential

A photograph of the ports and sockets on the Qnap TS-h1886XU-RP

Qnap’s TS-h1886XU-RP crams a lot of expandability into its 2U chassis: like the TS-h1283XU-RP above, it offers 12 front-facing hot-swap drive bays, but also adds a further six SFF bays at the rear. That means you can install a huge amount of storage without having to rely on external shelves, or accelerate performance by adding an SSD cache of up to 4TB.

The TS-h1886XU-RP also lets you choose whether to use the user-friendly QTS platform or the more powerful – but more demanding – QuTS hero. Each offers a big library of installable apps to take care of data security and other functions, and while the quad-core Xeon D-1622 processor isn’t the most powerful in the range, it’s more than capable of running a whole stack of servers for a very fair price.

Price when reviewed: £2,756 exc VAT (diskless)

Read our full Qnap TS-h1886XU-RP review for more information.

Qsan XCubeNAS XN7016R

Best for SMBs focused on fast, expandable storage

The ports and connections on the Qsan XCubeNAS XN7016R

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+ Huge maximum capacity- Comparatively lightweight hardware
+ Slick cloud integrationRow 2 - Cell 1
+ Speedy performanceRow 3 - Cell 1

An imposing 3U design allows this Qsan NAS to accommodate a generous 16 LFF drives. It’ll take both SATA and SAS3 media, and with external expansion it can serve up an immense eight petabytes. It’s a great performer too, delivering speeds of 9.2Gbits/sec over one of its twin embedded 10GbE ports.

Note that this isn’t a powerhouse like some other appliances: it uses a relatively modest Pentium D1517 CPU, and comes with a base 8GB of RAM. As with the XN8012S (see above) there’s also only a small selection of ten installable apps. Still, the core OS supports unlimited snapshots, deduplication and real-time data tiering – and your data can be easily replicated to a variety of cloud providers for offsite protection.

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CPU Quad-core 1.6GHz Intel Pentium D1517
RAM 8GB ECC DDR4 (max 128GB)
Drive bays16 x SAS3/SATA LFF/SFF
RAID optionsRAID0, 1, 5, 6, 10, Z3, JBOD

Price when reviewed: £3,565 exc VAT (diskless)

Read our full Qsan XCubeNAS XN7016R review for more information.

Synology RackStation RS2421RP+

Best for smaller businesses seeking a user-friendly do-it-all NAS

The front and back end of the Synology RackStation RS2421RP+

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+ Powerful for the price- No embedded 10GbE
+ Very capable system software- Restrictive list of supported drives
+ PCI-E expansion slotRow 3 - Cell 1

If you’re focused on value, the 12-bay RackStation RS2421RP+ demands serious consideration: its AMD Ryzen processor keeps the price low, while supporting all the features of Synology’s excellent DSM software. This means the appliance can happily take care of a whole slew of jobs, from regular file sharing to backup duties, virtualisation and even managing surveillance cameras – although for the best performance consider upgrading from the supplied 4GB of RAM to the maximum 32GB.

Be aware that Synology strongly encourages you to use its branded drives, rather than sourcing your own, but after installing these we had no complaints. The server delivered very competitive speeds for regular read and write operations, and is quick with encrypted storage too. For greater bandwidth, a PCI-E slot allows you to supplement the four integrated gigabit Ethernet ports with 10GbE or even 25GbE connectors.

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CPU Quad-core 2.2GHz AMD Ryzen V1500B
RAM 4GB ECC DDR4 (max 32GB)
Drive bays12 x SATA LFF/SFF
RAID optionsRAID0, 1, 5, 6, 10, JBOD, SHR

Price when reviewed: £1,822 exc VAT (diskless)

Read our full Synology RackStation RS2421RP+ review for more information.

Infortrend EonStor CS 3016G

Best for established businesses with an eye on growth

The front and back of the Infortrend EonStor CS 3016G

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+ Supports clustering for immense scalability- Management console could be more intuitive
+ Great connectivity optionsRow 2 - Cell 1
+ No restrictions on supported drivesRow 3 - Cell 1

The EonStor CS 3016G is a 3U appliance whose front bays can take up to 16 SAS3 or SATA drives – but that’s by no means the limit to your storage options. Up to 144 units can be linked together for easy clustering, data replication and even erasure coding, to protect against large-scale data loss.

This naturally calls for a healthy chunk of connectivity, and the CS 3016G unit comes with four 10GbE SFP+ ports built in, along with twin expansion slots that can be used to add 25GbE or 40GbE connectors. It’s all powered by a trusty quad-core Xeon D-2123IT CPU and 64GB of RAM, which is battery-backed-up for extra stability. The price is high, but the EonStor CS 3016G is a fantastically scalable solution for businesses looking to grow and grow.

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CPU Quad-core 2.2GHz Intel Xeon D-2123IT
RAM 64GB DDR4 (max 256GB)
Drive bays16 x SAS3/SATA LFF/SFF
RAID optionsRAID5, 5+hot spare, 6

Price when reviewed: £12,167 exc VAT (diskless)

Read our full Infortrend EonStor CS 3016G review for more information.


Why does my business need a NAS appliance?

A NAS drive’s purpose is very simple: provide storage that can be accessed by users and services via the corporate network. Each user can be assigned their own private folder, and administrators can also set up shared drives across the whole company or limit access to defined groups.

This approach is preferable to allowing users to store everything on their own hard drives. It also means businesses can be certain all vital information is backed up, and that  if a device fails or is stolen, the risk of files being lost or falling into the wrong hands is minimized. 

NAS also boasts some advantages when compared to cloud storage options. It is far faster to access files on your local network than going through the process of uploading and downloading files to and from the cloud. There are also security benefits, where administrators have full control over security policies, upgrades, and backups when using a NAS drive.

Although the upfront investment for operating a NAS drive is higher, it means businesses own their own infrastructure and have much more control over the system’s ongoing costs

What benefits does a NAS have?

The majority of NAS appliances offer advanced features for backing up files, protecting files that are still stored on local machines. With the aid of versioning and snapshots, businesses can browse their archive and restore older versions of specific files – meaning mistakes can be easily redressed and progress can be tracked

Many NAS storage solutions also offer handy data security features. For example, some allow admins to create encrypted volumes that can’t be accessed without a keys. Many NAS systems also support WORM policies (write once, read many) that help admins configure files where files can be saved but never altered or deleted – perfect for compliance with retention responsibilities.

Keep an eye out for spacing-saving capabilities too. Prevent your disks filling up too quickly with inline compression that can reduce the amount of disk space user files take up. Deduplication is another helpful feature some of the more premium solutions offer, which scans for files containing the same data and only stores one copy of it. Some solutions only offer this capacity as an optional extra, but it can quickly pay for itself by drastically reducing your storage needs.

Do I need a NAS that runs apps?

A number of NAS manufacturers provide their own marketplace from which you can install apps that offer extra functionality. You could, for instance, install a cloud synchronization module that seamlessly mirrors your data to an offset provider like AWS or Google Drive, or another app that meticulously scans all stored files for malicious software.

The absence of an app store shouldn’t be a deal breaker, however. Typically, these platforms come with a fairly comprehensive set of built-in features, so you just need to make sure your fundamental requirements are met.

Many available apps extend beyond pure storage capabilities. They allow you to perform tasks like running a web server, managing a CCTV system, or even launching virtual machines directly on your NAS. We recommend you exercise caution, however, as these functionalities can significantly impact performance if your device lacks a robust CPU and ample RAM.

A standard rackmount NAS usually offers anywhere between four and 18 front-facing drive bays. The actual storage capacity ultimately depends on the size of the drives you install. With 16TB or 18TB drives, you can pack a remarkable amount of storage into a relatively small number of bays.

How many drive bays should I look for in a NAS appliance?

Make sure to remember it is important you use a RAID configuration in order to mirror your files across multiple disks and mitigate against the risk of permanently losing data in the event of a hardware failure. As a result, you will need more bays (and drives)  than you probably realize. For example, four 8TB drives doesn’t equate to 32TB of usable space: in fact, you would get 18TB if you configure the drives a RAID 1 array, or 24TB with RAID 5.

It's good to have plenty of bays anyway; this allows you to easily expand your storage by adding more drives in the future. However, many appliances can be connected to external drive enclosures, so you can connect more disks to your NAS and manage them as if they were internal.

Just keep an eye on the size: some bays only take 2.5in drives – also known as small-form-factor, or SFF – while regular 3.5in drives require large-form-factor (LFF) bays.

What sort of network connection do I need for a NAS appliance?

The most lightweight NAS models have one or two gigabit Ethernet ports; that’s fine if only a few people need access, but if dozens of users want to share and browse files at the same time, they’re liable to run into bandwidth bottlenecks. That’s especially the case if there are backup tasks running in the background, or other services running on the NAS.

Most business-class appliances therefore come with two or more 10GbE connectors. This should be ample for a mid-sized office; larger companies should consider looking for a model that can be upgraded with a 25GbE or 40GbE expansion card. Of course, this isn’t a one-stop upgrade: you’ll need to connect your NAS to a gateway or switch that’s able to take advantage of these huge speeds.

Darien Graham-Smith

Darien began his IT career in the 1990s as a systems engineer, later becoming an IT project manager. His formative experiences included upgrading a major multinational from token-ring networking to Ethernet, and migrating a travelling sales force from Windows 3.1 to Windows 95.

He subsequently spent some years acting as a one-man IT department for a small publishing company, before moving into journalism himself. He is now a regular contributor to IT Pro, specialising in networking and security, and serves as associate editor of PC Pro magazine with particular responsibility for business reviews and features.

You can email Darien at, or follow him on Twitter at @dariengs.