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QNAP shows off Atom-powered NAS boxes

QNAP shows off Atom-powered NAS boxes

QNAP, shows off its latest 2, 4, 5 and 6 bay Atom-based business servers.

Taiwanese maker of home and business storage and security products, QNAP, recently showed us its latest NAS boxes and mini home servers - some now featuring Intel's latest Atom dual-core N510 CPUs and an upgraded 1GB of DDR2 memory.

QNAP explained that while any company could bung half a dozen hard drives into a box and install Windows Home Server, it prides itself on its own custom Linux interface - which we have to admit is extremely snazzy and mostly intuitive to use (providing you’re versed in basic networking know-how).

The basic 2-bay model supports a standard JBOD and RAID 0/1, but the 4-bay upwards models can run all sorts of advanced RAID arrays including 5, 6 and 5+ or 6+ hot spares (depending on the bay capacity). Naturally the NAS boxes include the necessary online RAID migration and expansion, as well as comprehensive iSCSI features and support for a multitude of virtualised environments, virtualised disks and finally AES 256-bit drive encryption.

On the hardware front, the four, five, six and even eight-bay (not shown) models all feature an LCD display in the front and support for 2.5in and 3.5in drives. This means that if your need is either speed or I/O from SSDs or oodles of mass storage from large disks, they can handle it.

Every NAS we were shown comes with dual Gigabit Ethernet connectors for network load balancing and fall over support (including MPIO - Multi Path Input/Output - and MC/S - Multiple Connections Per Session), so if you do decide to bury it in the company basement and have subsequently developed an irrational fear of basement cats after many-an internet meme, then you should never need go near it.

Our two immediate concerns though are noise and possibly price. The boxes all come with quite large fans at 7-9cm (12cm is only saved for the 8-disk TS-859), but they could be larger to shift the same airflow with less noise. What's worse though is the tiny little 40mm PSU fan. Now the power supplies are built by Delta - so are very high quality - but QNAP claims the boxes only use, at most, around 60W. Despite this concern though, quality and reliability comes first and we'd rather see delta and have these will be buried in server rooms where they are unlikely to be the loudest object these by a factor of multitude.

They aren't cheap - the two bay TS-259 Pro will set your (company) budget back £450 – before drives - although for £1,200, the 8-bay TS-835 Pro doesn't seem that bad: at least it's not exponentially expensive. The company was keen to stress that it has no real interest in the much bigger, budget market – as its aims are to keep its brand quality strong and retain its “market leadership in technology”, while giving its products a long support and shelf life, which backs up the investment.

Are you interested in a serious NAS or is has a DIY job done this for you? How much value do you put on your data? Let us know in the forums.

QNAP shows off Atom-powered NAS boxes QNAP shows off its latest Atom home servers QNAP shows off Atom-powered NAS boxes QNAP shows off its latest Atom home servers
The hot-swap drive bays are all lockable for security. Click to enlarge

QNAP shows off Atom-powered NAS boxes QNAP shows off its latest Atom home servers QNAP shows off Atom-powered NAS boxes QNAP shows off its latest Atom home servers
Click to enlarge

QNAP shows off Atom-powered NAS boxes QNAP shows off its latest Atom home servers QNAP shows off Atom-powered NAS boxes QNAP shows off its latest Atom home servers
Despite being a grey steel frame underneath, the brushed aluminium shell is lovely. Click to enlarge

16 Comments

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eddtox 3rd May 2010, 12:55 Quote
They do look awesome, but £450 for 2-bay BYOD NAS is really steep. I recently picked up the (ageing but excellent) D-Link DNS-323 2-bay, BYOD, for £80. Granted it's not as feature packed, but even so it's almost overkill for my needs. I suppose q-nap is targeting business users more than home users with its offerings.
Bindibadgi 3rd May 2010, 14:33 Quote
Yep pretty much. I've just been playing with the TS-259 today and the interface is pretty damn tasty. Just a shame Windows iSCSI is so ****ing **** and can't connect to it.
HourBeforeDawn 3rd May 2010, 18:16 Quote
qnap hands down makes some of the best nas boxes around.
thehippoz 3rd May 2010, 19:22 Quote
nice
Elledan 3rd May 2010, 20:49 Quote
I'd probably still go for an ARM-powered NAS. Atom reminds me too much of cheap netbooks to want to have it as part of some critical piece of infrastructure.
Farting Bob 3rd May 2010, 22:27 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Elledan
I'd probably still go for an ARM-powered NAS. Atom reminds me too much of cheap netbooks to want to have it as part of some critical piece of infrastructure.

Do you have an inside scoop that Atom systems are more prone to failure than other options, or is this one of those irrational things?
TomH 3rd May 2010, 23:29 Quote
Chenbro Mini-ITX case, Jetway Mini-ITX Atom board, OpenFiler (which, yes, includes iSCSI target support.)

A lot cheaper than £450, and that's with 4 disk bays instead of two!
Bindibadgi 4th May 2010, 06:49 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Farting Bob
Quote:
Originally Posted by Elledan
I'd probably still go for an ARM-powered NAS. Atom reminds me too much of cheap netbooks to want to have it as part of some critical piece of infrastructure.

Do you have an inside scoop that Atom systems are more prone to failure than other options, or is this one of those irrational things?

Atom ITSELF is not more prone to failure - if anything BECAUSE the Intel chips are completely designed manufactured by Intel alone are more reliable [EDIT: TSMC did take over some Atom orders iirc actually]. ARM parts are almost always designed by one person, fabbed by another so by default there is more likelihood for issues.

Atom products fail because the manufacturing quality is low. They are priced low so the components used WITH them fail, not the hardware itself.

HourBeforeDawn - I am leaning that way, but haven't seen enough of the competition to warrant a full conclusion. Anyone can chuck any old **** hardware together and make their own NAS box. I have been through several (literally) DIY boxes and they all failed in software, somehow, eventually (except my parents FreeNAS box which lasted 4 years until last month). In contrast the software interface for this thing is fantastic, although I can't comment on long term use yet. In the two years since I last reviewed a QNAP product it's leaps and bounds ahead though. You'll get the most value providing you need ALL it has to offer - so a multi-user environment is certainly better because you buy it for many people = cost per use is low.

I still think QNAP is missing a trick by not slimming it down and cutting the price though. Also, these are pro-sumer/business parts - with consumer ones Marvell ARM based. I still don't think the Atom components are the best solution though for high throughput - if it's using the NM10 that has **** SATA performance, and the NM10 only has 4x PCI-E lanes. Once you take out two for each Gigabit Ethernet that leaves two more - you can't plug a RAID card into that. I think QNAP needs to concentrate on the internal hardware more, because it seems anemic. This is the only area where a DIY one is better, but try building a DIY on the cheap and tiny with two integrated network cards teamed up. I doubt you will easily - remember the Gigabit connection is still the biggest bottleneck once you start getting into multi-disk throughput.
MSHunter 4th May 2010, 09:49 Quote
Just use any decent Asus board which comes with 2 GB ethernet ports (i.e. 2 ports)
mi1ez 4th May 2010, 09:53 Quote
Tom's has a performance review of the TS-459 too.

http://www.tomshardware.co.uk/n4200-ts459-pro-intel-atom,review-31885.html
Meaty Pete 4th May 2010, 13:36 Quote
I have just finished building a home-made NAS box from parts of old PC's I have lying around and put freeNAS to use on it booting from a flash. It uses an old Pentium D 3.51 Ghz and with only 512mb of 233mhz RAM it still puts other NAS boxes to shame speed-wise.

So I ask you... Why spend money on something that you can make from that dusty metal box sitting under your stairs??

And also you have got to factor in the price of the hard drives themselves which in my scenario is the ONLY cost. So why buy your hdd's and then spend more? For the fun of it? Or because the NAS retailer has convinced you of a feature that you don't need and will probably never use?? Suffering from 'I'll get it just in case I need that feature' syndrome much??
eddtox 4th May 2010, 14:22 Quote
@meaty pete: you do have a point, and I was leaning in the same direction for a long time. Also, like others on these boards I considered buying miniitx hardware and rolling my own that way. However, no matter how I tried I could not match the pre-made offerings for size, features and noise/power consumption without spending massively more money than the £80 +disks I ended up paying for my DNS-323.
hexx 4th May 2010, 18:16 Quote
interesting device. still not sure what to get. NAS or MacMini + FW dual drive unit with RAID support
HourBeforeDawn 5th May 2010, 00:00 Quote
QNAP sent us the 8 bay model to review, its live on my site, IM me if you want the link I wont cross promote on here as that feel shady ^.^ we will be reviewing the 459 later and their media center with it. Overall fantastic NAS, we have many other models reviewed on my site as well.
hexx 5th May 2010, 13:48 Quote
now it's time to wait for the response from synology :)
The_Beast 5th May 2010, 21:35 Quote
Looks nice but I'd rather build one myself
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