Hardware Platform and Setup Impressions

The industrial design of the QNAP TS-451 is quite utilitarian. Despite the metal chassis, the drive caddies are themselves made of plastic and feel a bit more flimsy that what we would like. At the price point that QNAP wants to place the product, consumers would be looking for a premium product with proper metal caddies (like the ones that come along with the TS-x70 and the rackmount units). Apart from the main unit, the package consists of the following:

  • 2M Cat 5E Ethernet cable
  • 90 W external power supply with US power cord
  • Getting started guide / warranty card
  • Screws for hard drive installation

In terms of chassis I/O, we have a USB 3.0 port in front (beneath the power and backup buttons). On the rear side, we have the power inlet, a USB 3.0 port, two USB 2.0 ports, two GbE ports and a HDMI port. Since we are in the middle of a long-term evaluation (for the virtualization and multimedia capabilities), a teardown hasn't been performed yet, but Legion Hardware disassembled the unit and found two ASMedia ASM1061 SATA to PCIe bridges as well as an Etron EJ168A USB 3.0 host controller (two-port hub chip).

Platform Analysis

The various components of a Bay Trail-D part (the family to which the Celeron J1800 belongs) are provided in the diagram below.

Obviously, two cores are cut, as are a number of miscellaneous ports, in the Celeron part we are looking at.

As we already discussed in the launch coverage, the USB 3.0 port is connected the upstream port of the Etron EJ168A, while two PCIe 2.0 x1 lanes are connected to the two ASMedia ASM1061 ports. From Legion Hardware's disassembly, the other two PCIe 2.0 x1 lanes are connected to two Intel i210 Ethernet controllers.

Setup and Usage

QNAP's QTS is one of the more full-features NAS operating systems that we have seen from off-the-shelf NAS vendors. A diskless unit can be set up in three ways - the first one is to use QNAP's cloud service (at start.qnap.com) and enter the Cloud ID that comes in the getting started guide. The second one is to use QNAP's QFinder utility and set up the unit through that. The third one is to somehow determine the DHCP IP received by the unit and access the unit directly over the web browser. We chose the second option to get things up and running.

In terms of usage, the web interface allows multi-tasking and provides a desktop environment within the browser. It is a cross between a mobile OS-type app layout and a traditional desktop environment. From our experience, even though the features are awesome, we did find the UI responsiveness to be a bit on the slower side compared to, say, Asustor or Synology. Some of the relevant features are exposed in the gallery below.

We have not dealt with higher-level applications and the mobile app ecosystem in the above gallery. A discussion of those will be made in the upcoming coverage of the virtualization and multimedia capabilities.

The NAS's primary purpose is, of course, the handling of the storage aspects - RAID setup, migration and expansion. Our full test process of starting with one drive, migrating to RAID-1, adding another drive to migrate to RAID-5 and yet another one to expand the RAID-5 volume using a total of 4x 4 TB WD Re drives successfully completed with no issues whatsoever.

We simulated drive failure by yanking out one of the drives during data transfer. The operations from the client didn't face any hiccups, but the NAS UI immediately reported the trouble (alerts can be configured). Inserting a new drive allowed for rebuild. There was a bit of an issue with the NAS not allowing for the hot-swap because of some pre-existing partitions on the hard drive that was inserted as new, but the issue couldn't be reliably reproduced. QNAP suggested the use of drives free of partitions for the empty bays / replacements for reliable expansions / rebuilds.

Introduction and Testbed Setup Single Client Performance - CIFS on Windows
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  • BMNify - Monday, July 28, 2014 - link

    just to add "the hardware you're suggesting looks like DIY enterprise architecture" its also possible to actually buy NICE looking and cheap Free Standing Rack Cabinets for the home too now such as the Orion Free Standing Rack Cabinets with glass front for one

    http://www.rackcabinets.co.uk/cabinets/data-racks/...

    a 9U glass fronted cabinet for £240.00 (inc VAT) to sit next to your desk in the SOHO room or a cupboard if your not into showing off your home made rack... :)
    Reply
  • Trickie - Tuesday, July 29, 2014 - link

    Came across this when researching the x51 series last week. A x53 model is in the pipeline with a j1900 chip. Guessing they will be targeting small business with this model and be charging an even bigger premium as a result even though the chip cost $10 more.
    The extra grunt will suit my use case much better (vm's). What I need to make the jump to a NAS from a desktop is hardware transcoding support within plex. See http://forum.qnap.com/viewtopic.php?f=12&t=953...
    Reply
  • azazel1024 - Monday, July 28, 2014 - link

    That is interesting that the J1800 doesn't support AES-NI instructions. I was going to post a self righteous comment about "well of course it does!", and then I checked Intel ARK and saw they list it as not supporting it. My humble little z3740 in my tablet DOES support AES-NI though.

    I always find it odd what Intel choose to enable and disable on their various SKUs *shakes head slowly*
    Reply
  • takeshi7 - Monday, July 28, 2014 - link

    You should review the Seagate NAS Pro 4-bay next. I'm curious how the Intel based Seagate compares to this QNAP. Reply
  • halfflat - Monday, July 28, 2014 - link

    Still no ECC RAM? Can't really take it seriously. Reply
  • ganeshts - Monday, July 28, 2014 - link

    Look at the target market : Home media enthusiasts / power users - who want to stream their huge media collections / backup their smartphone photos / need a backup for small amounts of data that they generate on their laptops (say, tax returns or documents or similar things). Why go in for ECC RAM overkill (and associated increased platform cost?)

    ECC RAM is necessary only for mission-critical applications. If you feel ECC RAM is necessary for a non-ZFS mdadm-based software RAID system like the TS-451, I would love to hear the arguments in its favor.
    Reply
  • npz - Monday, July 28, 2014 - link

    That really depends on what you mean by "mission-critical". If you're using the TS-451 as backup, which I think is common scenario, and your main system's drives have died, and now you want to restore from the TS-451, then you'd have to ask yourself, could you afford to loose even one file on there?

    The chances are very low, but still, just 1 bit can cause irreversible corruption. After running a Xeon workstation with ECC 24/7 for a few years, I did encounter an uncorrectable (2 bits or more) memory error, upon which the machine reset telling me so, rather than continue on silently corrupting data.
    Reply
  • npz - Monday, July 28, 2014 - link

    Also, it's not just ZFS where ECC is critical. If you use TS-451's encrypted volumes, one bad bit would take out more than just one file ;-) Reply
  • darkfalz - Monday, July 28, 2014 - link

    Would prefer a 6 bay. At 25% space penalty, RAID-5 with 4 drives is a bit painful. With 6 bays you're down to at more acceptable 17% space penalty. Give me 6x6TB in RAID-5 NAS and I'll be happy (currenting running 5x4TB in a HTPC but feeling cramped already!) Reply
  • wintermute000 - Tuesday, July 29, 2014 - link

    there is a 6 bay model, its just not the one reviewed lol Reply

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