Most NAS systems are built around the same basic design, but not all of them. Once in a while a device comes along that is something just a little bit special and today I’m taking a closer look at just one of them.
I got the new and innovative QNAP TS-453 mini on the testbench, an NAS that features the easy-to-use QTS operating system, powerful hardware, and a unique top-loading mechanism for the drives. It also comes with one of the easiest and most convenient ways to replace or upgrade the memory. Thanks to the innovative design, the TS-453 mini has a very small footprint for a 4-bay NAS unit. It takes up 29% less space than a normal QNAP 4-bay unit such as the TS-453 Pro that we recently took a look at.
The glossy black design looks great, but it isn’t so great for photos. You can clearly see my camera in most shots and in some you’ll even be able to see the reflection of my monitor that is a good 5 meters away. This is mainly based on the photo lighting and won’t be as extreme in your own setup. You’ll have to take my word for it, it is gorgeous.
The TS-453 mini also comes with QNAP’s relative new myQNAPcloud key that allows for incredible easy setup as I’ll be showing you later.
You can even use the TS-453 mini as full-fledged PC thanks to the virtualization support in QvPC. It allows you to install basically any operating system from Windows to Android in a virtual environment and run it directly from the NAS. That is simply an epic feature.
The NAS has dual Gigabit LAN, USB 2.0, USB 3.0, and an HDMI out. This setup and QNAP’s QvPC technology allows you can use it directly with a VM setup or as HTPC. Connect the NAS to your TV or monitor, attach a mouse and keyboard, and you got a media station without the need for another PC.
You can adjust the LED indicators’ brightness in 5 steps from the dashboard so you don’t need to worry about them shining up your entire living room. The skyline LED indication will also remind you when the system is in sleep mode and you can schedule the times where it needs to be on and off.
The top of the NAS lifts off for easy drive access and it secures just as easy again. The powerful magnets in the top will pull the lid right into place and make sure it stays there.
The best feature is hidden on the bottom of the NAS, a single screw to remove a lid is all it takes to upgrade the memory in this system. It couldn’t be easier to upgrade the RAM in your NAS than this, although it isn’t really needed in this case as it is the model with 8GB RAM. Models with less RAM are also available.
As this is the TS-453 mini model with 8GB of RAM, we see that two modules are pre-mounted. You could still replace them, but there really isn’t any need here. The basic model comes with 2GB RAM.
The drive trays are very convenient to use and don’t require any tools or screws for 3.5-inch drives. You’ll need screws if you want to mount 2.5-inch drives in the caddies. Just pull the sides off the caddy, insert the drive and put the sides back on – all done. In fact, you can set up the entire NAS with a single tool and the only place you’ll need a screwdriver at all is if you wish to upgrade the RAM.
I’ve talked a lot about this NAS and I have barely touched the hardware yet. At the heart of the TS-453 mini you’ll find a quad-core Intel Celeron 2.0GHz processor with boost up to 2.41GHz.
This CPU will bring a lot more power to the table than seen from most ARM based NAS devices and it should be something that really shows a difference when dealing with the AES 256-bit volume encryption and comparing the benchmarks to non-encrypted drives. As previously mentioned, you can get this NAS with either 2GB or 8Gb DDR3 memory.
Within the package you find everything you need to get started. The NAS itself is protected with an adhesive film all the way around and you get two LAN cables, a PSU brick, easy setup guide, and an infrared remote control.
The QTS system is a great operating system that provides all the basics features natively. Anything that isn’t found among the basic features can be installed via add-on packages directly from within the management system.
The TS-453 mini is a little marvelous wonder with everything it can do. I’ve already mentioned some of the features, but there is so much more. Next to the QvPC technology for virtualization and HTPC usage it also features RTRR for easy data management and backup, NAS and iSCSI-SAN unified storage solution for server virtualization. It also supports VMware, Citrix, and Hyper-V and you can easy expand the raw storage capacity up to 96TB with the optional UX-800P QNAP expansion enclosure.
Security is an important feature and next to the AES 256-bit hardware encryption engine it also offers anti-virus and a multitude of backup solutions as well as cloud integration – both personal and public clouds. On the front you’ll find a USB 3.0 port with quick copy button that can be configured to work the way you’ll like it best and the system supports everything from third-party backup software such as Acronis True Image and Symantec Backup Exec as well as Real-Time Remote Replication, Rsync, and Amazon S3, Amazon Glacier, Microsoft Azure, ElephantDrive, Dropbox and Google Cloud Storage.
On-the-fly and offline transcoding help to create the best possible media experiences no matter what device you connect from and the SSD cache acceleration can be used to speed up the IOPS in environments where that is needed, which mostly will be enterprise scenarios.
Qsirch is a new google-like search feature that recently was added to QNAPs products. It requires some resources, but nothing this system can’t handle. In return, you get the probably fastest and best search solution found in any NAS system. A few keywords from meta-data, file content, or name and Qsirch will find your files.
Mobile devices are covered just as well as PC systems. There are a lot of apps available providing a direct connection to you NAS as well as synchronization options for your mobile devices.
The comprehensive Surveillance Station is of course also present and allows you to connect over 2700 different certified IP cameras to the NAS and monitor it in real time, record, and anything else you’ll want in a security station. Two camera channel are included and it can be expanded up to 24 channels.