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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  • chocosmith - Tuesday, December 30, 2014 - link

    just to add, as others stated its expensive for the "ram" upgrade. I took out the 2gb that came with it and install 8gb (2*4gb) much cheaper. a guy on the forums managed to get 16gb working (even though the intel chip says that it can't handle it)
  • Adrian3 - Tuesday, December 30, 2014 - link

    I'm using an Intel NUC as my Media Box - with MediaBrowser. It's fantastic (and tiny). The fan can get a bit loud if it's transcoding, but I have it behind a cabinet door, so I can't hear it. And anyway, 99% of the stuff I watch is direct played not transcoded, and it's very quiet when doing that.
  • ganeshts - Tuesday, December 30, 2014 - link

    I am also not bullish on using a NAS as a HTPC, which is why I don't give too much importance to the HTPC / XBMC aspect. A NAS should fulfil its primary duties - serving files well, and doing real-time transcoding if necessary. Anything else is just gravy on the top. VM capabilities are appreciated - particularly if the VM works on data that is on the NAS itself. Other HTPC aspects - not so much - this is why I think Synology is not missing much by avoiding HDMI output on their NAS units.
  • shaunpugh - Tuesday, December 30, 2014 - link

    The thing all of these types of review seem to miss is support. Try logging a support call and see what kind of response you get. Synology might have a perceived 'win' in this review but their support, at least in the UK, is non-existent.
  • Adrian3 - Tuesday, December 30, 2014 - link

    I had a problem with my current (older version) 8 bay Qnap which was causing a streaming pause when I started to copy new data to it. The support guys were great. They spent quite a bit of time troubleshooting with me logged in using Teamviewer. They eventually supplied a firmware patch, which was eventually incorporated into an official firmware release.
  • intiims - Tuesday, December 30, 2014 - link

    All of these devices are very expensive.. And all of them are almost the same..
    Read about Hard Drives on
  • CiccioB - Sunday, January 4, 2015 - link

    I would like to add my vote for an article of NAS targeted to home users.
    It is nice to read about these articles, but a review of a $1000 NAS, disks excluded, is quite useless for almost everyone.
    The market offers a lot of solutions for home users and it is not really easy to understand which is the one that is the right one for price/performance/features and most of all, easy of use.
    For example you have never reviewed a single WD cloud solution(1, 2 or 4 disks) that are cheap and may be enough for most of the users if they only knew what these devices can and cannot do.
    Comparing them directly with QNAP/Synology/Buffalo more expensive solutions may be an indication if all those added features and setup+maintenance time are really worth what they cost.

    Thanks in advance
  • Evadman - Monday, January 5, 2015 - link

    I have a TS-853 Pro 8G; currently populated with eight 3TB HGST drives; 7 in RAID6, one hot spare. I got it to replace a power hungry server that was using a Adaptec 52445 controller with 20 drives. I also used the server as a VM host for testing so finding a NAS that supported a VM really helped me choose the QNAP.

    My old server could transfer around 200MB/s while the QNAP is at around 115 MB/s which is acceptable for my use case. The VM setup is decent, but transferring a VM from a Windows Server to the QNAP box is a PITA. Not QNAP's fault really, that's a windows proprietary issue with the VHD setup. So far, no issues running a VM. As far as I can tell, the board will support another 8 GB of memory, but QNAP doesn't support it. I haven't yet purchased more memory to test that though. It would help with the VM hosting. The VM station only supports 2 administrator accounts which can be trouble for SMBs.

    As a note, this review lists the 853 can only support 2 VM's at a time. That is incorrect. In July Virtualisation Station 1.1v2088 and later no longer have a hard limitation for the number of concurrent active VMs. As long as there is memory and CPU available, have at creating more VM's. That's why I want more than 8GB of memory.

    The only worry I really have with QNAP is that their support seems not-so-good. If you read though the forum it is filled with issue reports without response from QNAP. As a power user, I suppose that is alright, but for a SMB, especially one without an IT professional, that would worry me greatly. What happens if the box breaks and you need to swap the drives to a replacement box? What if there is a config issue you can't fix? Defiantly worrying. The forum has a few non-QNAP people that really know what they are doing though.

    Also, something I researched and tried out was QNAP's hook into amazon Glacier. QNAP really messed up the beta of Glacier support for Amazon, which is probably why it isn't available in their app system yet. It is not optomized at all for Glacier. My NAS has something like 1.7 million files on it. Uploading them to Glacer in the way the app does it would cost $340 just to upoad. The app doesn't warn the user that it isn't optmimized or that it will cost so much. Download is even worse at something like a grand because of the coding. They really need to understand how to work with 3rd party groups because other apps have similar issues.

    the NAS itself has been great for the core features though. A bit pricy but so far I am happy with it.

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