If you are looking for maximum performance, the path is clear. The iXsystems FreeNAS Mini delivers the big performance some users require, while staying within the same power envelope of the big box products. The FreeNAS Mini is a fairly small pedestal system, but other companies are using the same Intel Avoton processor and RAM combination in machines that hold up to 12 disk drives in software RAID. To say the least, the FreeNAS Mini is a small form factor version of a datacenter or cold storage product often sold to the enterprise market.
That linage also comes with drawbacks. Although iXsystems has done a lot to simplify the software for those of us living in a Windows world, users can expect to learn a thing or two about enterprise environments. Admittedly, I haven't taken iXsystems' FreeNAS training, but plan to do so, if only to become more proficient with my own storage server. It has to be better than the trial and error I went through.
Don't let my own experiences (or lack of) dissuade you from purchasing a great product that not only stacks up to, but exceeds what is possible from better-known products. The iXsystems FreeNAS Mini is worth every penny for your small to medium sized office and can deliver exceptional performance, even when asked to tackle multiple roles.
Home users simply looking for a low-cost box to store files can find any number of appropriate products for their needs. If performance is even a blip on the radar, then the FreeNAS Mini delivers as well. Available with up to 24TB of capacity (and compatible with the latest 8TB disks for up to 32TB of space), this model should be high on your list. This system also includes attractive Web 2.0 features like cloud storage, though setting them up is a bit more involved compared to what you get from QNAP, Thecus and Synology.