Introduction and Testbed Setup

QNAP has focused on Intel's Bay Trail platform for this generation of NAS units (compared to Synology's efforts with Intel Rangeley). While the choice made sense for the home users / prosumer-targeted TS-x51 series, we were a bit surprised to see the TS-x53 Pro series (targeting business users) also use the same Bay Trail platform. Having evaluated 8-bay solutions from Synology (the DS1815+) and Asustor (the AS7008T), we requested QNAP to send over their 8-bay solution, the TS-853 Pro-8G. Hardware-wise, the main difference between the three units lie in the host processor and the amount of RAM.

The specifications of our sample of the QNAP TS-853 Pro are provided in the table below

QNAP TS-853 Pro-8G Specifications
Processor Intel Celeron J1900 (4C/4T Silvermont x86 @ 2.0 GHz)
Drive Bays 8x 3.5"/2.5" SATA II / III HDD / SSD (Hot-Swappable)
Network Links 4x 1 GbE
External I/O Peripherals 3x USB 3.0, 2x USB 2.0
Expansion Slots None
VGA / Display Out HDMI (with HD Audio Bitstreaming)
Full Specifications Link QNAP TS-853 Pro-8G Specifications
Price USD 1195

Note that the $1195 price point is for the 8GB RAM version. The default 2 GB version retails for $986. The extra RAM is important if the end user wishes to take advantage of the unit as a VM host using the Virtualization Station package.

The TS-853 Pro runs Linux (kernel version 3.12.6). Other aspects of the platform can be gleaned by accessing the unit over SSH.

Compared to the TS-451, we find that the host CPU is now a quad-core Celeron (J1900) instead of a dual-core one (J1800). The amount of RAM is doubled. However, the platform and setup impressions are otherwise similar to the TS-451. Hence, we won't go into those details in our review.

One of the main limitations of the TS-x51 units is the fact that it can have only one virtual machine (VM) active at a time. The TS-x53 Pro relaxes that restriction and allows two simultaneous VMs. Between our review of the TS-x51 and this piece, QNAP introduced QvPC, a unique way to use the display output from the TS-x51 and TS-x53 Pro series. We will first take a look at the technology and how it shaped our evaluation strategy.

Beyond QvPC, we follow our standard NAS evaluation routine - benchmark numbers for both single and multi-client scenarios across a number of different client platforms as well as access protocols. We have a separate section devoted to the performance of the NAS with encrypted shared folders, as well as RAID operation parameters (rebuild durations and power consumption). Prior to all that, we will take a look at our testbed setup and testing methodology.

Testbed Setup and Testing Methodology

The QNAP TS-853 Pro can take up to 8 drives. Users can opt for either JBOD, RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, RAID 6 or RAID 10 configurations. We expect typical usage to be with multiple volumes in a RAID-5 or RAID-6 disk group. However, to keep things consistent across different NAS units, we benchmarked a single RAID-5 volume across all disks. Eight Western Digital WD4000FYYZ RE drives were used as the test disks. Our testbed configuration is outlined below.

AnandTech NAS Testbed Configuration
Motherboard Asus Z9PE-D8 WS Dual LGA2011 SSI-EEB
CPU 2 x Intel Xeon E5-2630L
Coolers 2 x Dynatron R17
Memory G.Skill RipjawsZ F3-12800CL10Q2-64GBZL (8x8GB) CAS 10-10-10-30
OS Drive OCZ Technology Vertex 4 128GB
Secondary Drive OCZ Technology Vertex 4 128GB
Tertiary Drive OCZ Z-Drive R4 CM88 (1.6TB PCIe SSD)
Other Drives 12 x OCZ Technology Vertex 4 64GB (Offline in the Host OS)
Network Cards 6 x Intel ESA I-340 Quad-GbE Port Network Adapter
Chassis SilverStoneTek Raven RV03
PSU SilverStoneTek Strider Plus Gold Evolution 850W
OS Windows Server 2008 R2
Network Switch Netgear ProSafe GSM7352S-200

The above testbed runs 25 Windows 7 VMs simultaneously, each with a dedicated 1 Gbps network interface. This simulates a real-life workload of up to 25 clients for the NAS being evaluated. All the VMs connect to the network switch to which the NAS is also connected (with link aggregation, as applicable). The VMs generate the NAS traffic for performance evaluation.

Thank You!

We thank the following companies for helping us out with our NAS testbed:

QNAP's HD Station - QvPC Explored
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  • Adrian3 - Tuesday, December 30, 2014 - link

    This guy mentions a special transcoding chip:

    ..and that it's only usable by Qnap's own software - and I wouldn't be using that anyway.

    Still not a deal breaker for me - but maybe I should consider some other options.
  • nathanddrews - Tuesday, December 30, 2014 - link

    I browsed the manual and they have special drivers and software to enable the hardware transcoding. The transcoding software has two functions: "real-time for up to five devices" but doesn't specify at what resolution, then also an pre-transcoded option where it will make up to five .MP4 versions of the source video at different resolutions (240/360/480/720/1080) that are simply streamed "as is". The manual is clear enough though that this specific model has dedicated transcoding hardware that uses its own software/drivers to operate. You should probably contact them first if you plan on using Plex or something.
  • ganeshts - Tuesday, December 30, 2014 - link

    It can definitely do five stream simultaneous hardware accelerated transcoding using the built-in Quick Sync engine.

    I have tested it and it works beautifully, but only with QNAP's own mobile apps for real-time processing. You can also set up offline accelerated transcoding if you want to use other playback apps / have plenty of disk space to spare.

    I do have a small piece coming up talking about hardware accelerated transcoding in NAS units.
  • nathanddrews - Tuesday, December 30, 2014 - link

    I'd love to see that piece, I can't get QS to do more than one Blu-ray transcode.
  • Gigaplex - Wednesday, December 31, 2014 - link

    Are you sure it's using Quick Sync? If it is, then 3rd party software shouldn't have much trouble making use of it.
  • ganeshts - Wednesday, December 31, 2014 - link

    I am quite confident that it uses Quick Sync - in particular, it just uses a customized build of ffmpeg with Quick Sync support [ ]
  • mhaubr2 - Monday, December 29, 2014 - link

    I like the idea of a shoot-out or comparison with DYI solutions.
  • ap90033 - Friday, January 2, 2015 - link

    Yes please!
  • ap90033 - Friday, January 2, 2015 - link

    I have been trying to figure out a good fast ZFS NAS but cant come close to the price tag of this. Am I missing something? I am trying to build something that would hold at least 8 drives (like this unit). ECC Ram and controllers, etc jack the price up a bit...
  • fmaxwell - Sunday, April 30, 2017 - link

    IT professionals buy NASs just like they buy any other server. Any corporate IT director earning his pay knows that it's idiotic to have his staff building an 8-bay NAS when he can buy one this cheaply. If he's got any experience, he's seen ballooning costs and missed deadlines when some in-house, build-it-yourself project runs into trouble. By the time you add burdened labor on top of the parts cost, most companies recognize that having the IT staff build a NAS makes about as much sense as having the cafeteria staff start a dairy farm.

    As for home users, get some perspective. When I started out in computers, a single hard drive or a dumb terminal cost more than this. I swear to God that computer prices could drop to an average of $10 for a home-built desktop PC and someone would be posting that it's "madness" for a home user to spend $14 for a pre-built system with a warranty.

    I bought this NAS and loaded it up with 8 3TB WD Red drives for my home network. The whole thing cost me under $1,800. How can anyone get all riled up about that when it gives them 18TB of RAID 6 network storage and can act as a server for Wordpress, email, media, etc.? Doesn't your time have any value at all?

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