We’ve seen a few NAS boxes recently that are primarily aimed at the home and SOHO user market and have been very impressed with what there is on offer. Naturally following on from the home and SOHO environment, we take a step up in size and move onto the SMB (Small and Medium Business) market and with this comes bigger NAS solutions. Typically we still find a number of these being self concealed, free standing units but there are small number at the top of this category that differ in their design and functionality in that they are rack mountable.
QNAP as we have seen before are one of the big players in the UK NAS market and since 2004 when they were founded, they have built up a catalogue of products that span across all the markets from the home and SOHO users right up through the SMB sector to the high end enterprise markets where the need for on demand data is not only necessary, its vital for the smooth and efficient running of any business.
Fitting into the middle of the three markets, the SMB sector the TS869 Pro is QNAP’s top product that they offer for SMB users, offering up an 8 bay solution that meets the demands of a large number of growing businesses in a free standing easy to install chassis. Those of you out there that have read our review on the TS419P II earlier in the year will note how we liked the user interface both front and back end and the clean conservative looks that are on offer. The TS869 Pro is very much the same and we will see, it bares an uncanny resemblance to its little brother in the SOHO sector. On that note, lets get tucked into some more NAS goodness with the TS869 Pro from QNAP.
QNAP like to present all their products with a clean front with a white side to the box. Here we find right in the middle a shot of the NAS with multiple features and highlights noted at both above and below the photo. Theres no confusion to which model this is either with a huge section taken out with the model name clearly on display.
Over on the rear of the box we get a run down on centralising data, network deployment, data backup and iSCSI data management.
For reference, we find a quick installation guide, companion CD with the manuals on and some QNAP system software. Last of all we find a small piece of card that highlights the free firmware updates that are available for the QNAP systems. At first boot the system will automatically search for any updated firmware and prompt the user that they can upgrade.
Naturally, you need cables and screws to connect everything up and inside a smaller box we find two CAT5e cables, a UK kettle lead, two bags of screws – the black smaller ones for 2.5″ drives and the larger screws for 3.5″ drives and last of all a pair of keys to lock the drives bays into the NAS housing.
Our first look at the TS869 Pro gives a slight sense of deja vu over the smaller TS-419P II that we looked at earlier in the year and in essence they’re both the same chassis, with this effectively being a stretch version of with twice the drive bays. Naturally there are a couple of smaller features that are different, but this is to be expected when you get a bigger and slightly updated NAS.
To the top right of the front panel is the blue lit LCD hidden behind the smoked plastic front. Next to the display are two button for scrolling through the OSD and menu.
Above the first and second drive bays are the four system LEDs, on for its current status and then LAN, USB and eSATA activity.
The eight drive bays run along with the first drive to the left of the NAS and the last on the right hand side. Each of the drive trays are labelled corresponding to their drive bay in order to help keep things organised. A new feature that we see here over the TS 419P II is the inclusion of drive locks to prevented unauthorised removal of individual drive trays.
Looking inside the drive bays, we can see the eight pairs of rails that the trays run in and at the back, the PCB with all the SATA headers on. Looking further, we can just get a glimpse of the two fans that keep the system cool.
With the cover to the system removed, in the top nestled above the drive bays we find a 350W PSU with an 80 Plus Bronze rating.
Tucked into the far left hand side of the chassis is the motherboard for the system. Powered by an Intel Atom 2.13GHz Dual core CPU, the system also features 1GB of pre-installed RAM that can be upgraded to 3GB and a 512MB DOM boot module.
In general a NAS box is just an external hard drive caddy that is attached to your network rather than by USB or even Firewire. Because of this we can find a whole host of other features and utilities bundled into them giving them the leading edge over the other options available on the market.
|CPU||Intel® Atom™ 2.13GHz Dual-core Processor|
|DRAM||1GB RAM (Expandable RAM, up to 3GB)
1. The system memory can be increased to 3GB by installing an additional 1GB/2GB SO-DIMM RAM module.
2. For the information of RAM module installation and compatible NAS models, please refer to the QNAP RAM Module Installation Guide
|Flash Memory||512MB DOM|
|Hard Disk Drive||2.5/ 3.5″ SATA x8
1. The system is shipped without HDD.
2. For the HDD compatibility list, please visithttp://www.qnap.com/en/index.php?sn=3877&lang=en
|Hard Disk Tray||8 x Hot-swappable and lockable tray|
|LAN Port||2 x Gigabit RJ-45 Ethernet port|
|LED Indicators||Status, LAN, USB, eSATA, Power, HDD 1, HDD 2, HDD 3, HDD 4, HDD 5, HDD 6, HDD 7, HDD 8|
|USB||2x USB 3.0 port (Back: 2)
5x USB 2.0 port (Front: 1; Back: 4)
Support USB printer, pen drive, USB hub, and USB UPS etc.
|eSATA||2 x eSATA port (Back)|
|Buttons||Power button, USB One-Touch-Backup Button, Reset button|
|LCD panel||Mono-LCD display with backlight
Enter button, Select button for configuration
|Alarm Buzzer||System warning|
|Dimensions||185.2 (H) x 298.2 (W) x 235.4 (D) mm
7.29 (H) x 11.74 (W) x 9.27 (D) inch
|Weight||Net weight: 7.3 kg (16.08 lbs)
Gross weight: 8.6 kg (18.94 lbs)
|Sound Level (dB)||w/o HDD installed: 40.0 dB
Stand by: 40.4 dB
In operation: 40.8 dB
(with 8 x 750GB HDD installed)
|Power Consumption (W)||Sleep mode: 30W
In Operation: 59W
Power-off (in WOL mode): 1W
(with 8 x 1.5TB HDD installed)
|Power Supply||Input: 100-240V AC, 50/60Hz, Output: 350W|
|Secure Design||K-lock security slot for theft prevention|
|VGA||Reserved VGA interface for maintenance|
|Fan||2 x quiet cooling fan (12 cm, 12V DC)|
|Powerful All-in-one server|
- Supported Audio Formats:
- MP3, MP4, OGG, WAV, AIFF, AU, FLAC, M4A, APE, AAC
- Local Playback with USB Speaker/Sound Card
- Browse Other UPnP Media Servers on Local Network
- Internet Radio (MP3)
- Music Alarm (up to 8 Alarms)
- Playback Control by QNAP Mobile App: QMobile Music Remote
- PC-less BT, FTP, HTTP Download (up to 500 Tasks)
- BT Download
- Supports TCP/ UDP Tracker Protocol
- Schedule Download
- Configurable Port Range
- Bandwidth Control
- UPnP NAT Port Forwarding
- RSS Subscription and Download (Broadcatching)
- Selectable Download Files
- HTTP/ FTP Download
- Configurable Saving Directory
- Bulk Download with Wildcard Setting
- RapidShare Download Support
- QNAP Download Management Software: QGet
- For Both Windows & Mac OS
- Manage the Download Tasks of Multiple QNAP NAS Remotely over LAN or WAN
Supports 1~24** IP Cameras (Optional Purchase) for Network Surveillance
- Supports 1 Webcam via QPKG Add-on: QUSBCam
- Protection against the Latest Known Viruses, Trojans, and Other Threats
- Free Virus Databases Update on Manual or Scheduled Basis
- Multiple Scan Tasks (Max: 64, Concurrent: 5) with Custom Folder Selection and Scheduled
- E-mail Notification upon Task Completion or Virus Detection
- Quarantines or Deletes Infected Files
- Expands Application Services by Easy Online Installation
- A Wide Variety of Official and Community QPKG Add-ons
The actual available QPKGs may vary depending on the NAS platform.
- Squid Proxy Server
- Vtiger CRM
- Plex Media Server
- PS3 Media Server
- SqueezeBox Server
- Optware IPKG
- Java Runtime Environment
……… and more.
When testing a device of this sort, the system that we use to test with is not a major factor in its performance. The performance of the NAS box comes down to the network its running on and its own internal hardware. With a device of this sort having so many different applications, Intel’s NASPT software covers all the bases and also gives us a set of results that we will be able to utilise and therefore give a benchmark against other similar systems in the future.
Intel NASPT (Network Attached Storage Performance Toolkit) performs its test by transferring varying sizes and quantities of data to and from the device based on twelve different scenarios.
To eliminate any bottlenecks that would occur during testing on our gigabit switch, we bridge the LAN connections on one of our test benches and connect the NAS box into the secondary LAN isolating it from the main network and giving it the most bandwidth we can.
The system that we use to run the Intel NASPT software does require us to drop the memory right down to 2GB as any more than this leads to data caching and therefore skews the results from the NAS box.
Following on from this we test the NAS box performance under each of the RAID options that it has available, to show, depending on the end users needs, the relational differences in speed from the drive and thus one can decide which particular RAID configuration will be best for them.
HD Video playback is a read test, where a single 2Gb file is read in 256kB blocks sequentially from the drive. This simulates where a 720p HD video is being watched across the network to a media player on the other end.
Across the board, there was a relative balance of speed, however in the first of a few surprises, RAID10 was able to just push ahead with 92.2MB/s.
2x HD Video Playback works with exactly the same data set as the first HD Video test, however this time the same content is streamed twice from the NAS box simulating two simultaneous streams being made to external media players.
We normally see close results from single playback to 2x then 4x, however we have clear evidence that JBOD is not able to handle the data throughput to the same extent and thus RAID shows its advantages and worth with RAID10 again topping the chart with 104.8MB/s.
In the same way that the 2x Video Playback streams to the equivalent of 2 external media players at the same time, the test here doubles that again upto a simulated 4 media players.
Taking the number of consecutive reads to the top level in the NASPT suite, we find RAID0 shows its speed advantages with 106.9MB/s.
The HD Video Record test is as the name suggests a write test to the NAS box. A single 2GB file is written to the device in 256kB blocks sequentially to the disk.
We found recently when we tested the Thecus N5550 NAS that the theoretical maximum bandwidth of Gigabit LAN was there to be pushed and the TS869 Pro has done exactly the same with RAID0 able to transfer data at just under 130MB/s.
The HD playback and record test now put the drive under the same single record and playback tests as before, but now at the same time. This will factor for the quick changes needed to switch between reading and writing two large blocks of data across the network to the device.
Multitasking with both read and write operations as we know will slow down the overall speed of the drive, however RAID0 was still able to sustain a speed of 100MB/s.
For content creation, Intel have simulated access to via video creation applications. This is made up of 98 files with 12MB reads and 14MB writes in varying sizes of blocks. The activity is predominantly non-sequential with the majority of access time made up of writing to the drives. There are quiet periods of read/write activity interrupted with busy periods to present a difficult workload on the drives.
We’ve always found that parity based arrays suffer in this type of test environment, however the biggest difference we found was between RAID0 and RAID1 with over twice the speed achieved in RAID0 at 13.4MB/s.
The office productivity simulation is very similar to the content creation, with a total of 607 files written to and read from the drive. A total of 1.4GB of data is written to and read from the drive with a close balance between each made – the majority of write access is made up of 1kB writes.
Office productivity gave another balanced set of results with the advantage (only just) given to the RAID0 array with 53.5MB/s.
This test quite simply put copies a single large file from the test system to the NAS box to show how well the system can sustain a single write speed. The 1.4GB file is copied to the drive and written in 64kB blocks.
Pushing the boundaries of theoretical bandwidth yet again, we find the RAID0 array topping out at 133.1MB/s
File copy from the NAS works in exactly the same way as the copy test, however it works in the opposite direction. The single 1.4GB file is read off the NAS in 64kB blocks.
When pulling back data from the NAS, the test results were as we expected relatively close with speeds varying between 78.3MB/s under RAID6 and 90.3MB/s under RAID1.
In the directory copy to NAS test, a directory tree representing that of a typical commercially available office suite is copied to the NAS to trace the bulk copy of a complex directory. A total of 2833 files making up 247MB are moved but the file sizes vary considerably with an average size of 41.4kB. Due to the varying sizes of the files, only around 50% of the writes are sequential.
The increased number of drives here helps the RAID0 array with the larger number of small writes that are made to the file system with speeds just under 25MB/s.
In the same way that the file copy from NAS traces the same file back across to the test system, the directory copy from NAS does exactly the same but to the entire directory that it copied across previously.
Similarly to when writing data to the NAS, when pulling it back, the increased number of drives allows for a boost in speed with speeds topping out at around 23MB/s.
Last of all is a test based around a photo album. When a photo album is viewed on screen, only the images that you see are loaded from the drive and so when you scroll through the album, the new images have to be fetched and read. The album here contains 169 photos with varying file sizes based on the size, quality and detail in the image. Reading the files in a photo album puts an unusual read load upon the drive as the metadata is read, a thumbnail constructed and finally the image viewed.
RAID arrays typically work better with larger amounts of read data and not smaller files and reads so as expected the test results are very similar across the range.
When we move into the SMB market after looking at a few SOHO sector products, there is a natural presumption that there will be a higher level of performance on offer and rightly so as you’re buying a system that can cope with a higher level of demand, provide a higher level of functionality and more noticeably costing more money. As we said right back at the start of the review, the TS869 Pro holds a very close resemblance to the TS419P II that we looked at earlier in the year and when you look at the range of systems that QNAP have on offer right through from the SOHO market up to the enterprise level offerings, there is a clear similarity in design in the free standing (non-rackmount) systems. By doing this, brand recognition is easier and also for those that are looking to upgrade through the range, the transition is easier – especially for the not-so-advanced users that are out there.
The big thing we have to shout about with the TS869 Pro is going to be its performance. When we looked at the N5550 from Thecus last month, we praised it for its ability to push the limits of what can be done through a single Gigabit LAN connection and likewise to that, we have to praise this system for doing exactly the same and at the same time pushing the bar up a little bit higher. With this in mind we are curious as to how far we REALLY can push the Gigabit boundaries and after a little bit of delving around it appears that we are oh so close to the stage where no matter what we throw at it, we won’t be able to raise the bar any higher. Without digressing from this particular NAS too far, for the vast majority of users that are going to incorporate one of these systems into their network infrastructure, the performance that we have seen in the past and particularly here is going to be a huge welcome especially when we take into account the vast amount of server features that the system has to offer. Naturally some individuals and larger business with more connected users (and ourselves in particular) are going to want a bit more from the system if they can, but this can lead to more expenditure on the network infrastructure to get it ready for the next level which, we ourselves will be doing at a later stage.
Getting back on track with the TS869 Pro, the system is very user friendly and easy to setup, even on the very first boot. This feature took me by surprise a little as I was expecting it to start displaying the system status on the front panel display, however to aid setup, after all the drives have been installed and the system powered up for the first time, you are now able to configure the first storage array build right from the front panel buttons. For those that are wanting to get the system up and running as quick as possible so that they can start getting data on as soon as possible then worry about the finer points later on.
In the different market sectors, the monetary cost of anything is always a factor when building up an infrastructure although we find cost a bigger player on the lower end of the market where budgets are not as great in the larger scale of things. As we know the TS869 Pro is aimed at the middle market, the SMB sector and priced in at around the £950 mark, we do have to acknowledge that it is a fair chuck of money to fork out, what ever level you’re working at, especially when drives are added on top. What we do have to consider though, is that in this kind of market, this is a relational cost and you won’t get the best gear for pennies, hence why fully fledged servers and even rackmount NAS can and do cost more.
So the bottom line with the TS869 Pro from QNAP. Its paved its way to the top of the list that I’ve got running here at HQ with its pure speed capabilities. The new feature of the first time quick RAID setup from the front panel is a great thing to see and supposedly the performance is set to get better with the firmware upgrade the is available, but that bit is for another article. If you’re in the SMB sector and need a NAS that can deliver no matter what and a rackmount solution is either not on the option list for one reason or another then this offering that we have here is one to add to the short list.