Speed-wise, when the going gets tough, the TS-231 does struggle and this was evident in the quad-stream HD video playback, photo album and HD playback and record tests where it came last. It didn't do badly in the directory copy test but here the difference between the devices we've tested in MB/sec is relatively small.
The torturous photo album test is a tough one for any NAS, dealing with hundreds of small files and again the difference was small, although in percentage terms, the WD My Cloud EX2100 and Synology DS215j were noticeably quicker.
Click to enlarge
By far the biggest issue with the TS-231, though, was the noise, both of the cooling fan and from the hard disks, which were particularly noticeable while being accessed. As we mentioned earlier in the review, the lack of any anti-vibration mounts plus the fact the hard disks are essentially exposed means this NAS isn't going to be a welcome addition to an entertainment room, at least not in the open. On the plus side, a peak power draw of 21W, dipping to around 15W is right on the money - that's with two hard disks installed.
Click to enlarge
Something that's always surprised us with the likes of QNAP and Synology is that the vast majority of software-based features are available across their product spectrums. The operating systems are essentially one and the same on a £120 NAS as they are on a £500 unit, which does make the likes of the TS-231 somewhat of a bargain. However, in the overall scheme of things, you need to take other manufacturers' devices into account and unfortunately for QNAP, Synology's excellent DS241se
is still readily available and often for less than the TS-231 too.
We can't help thinking that the inclusion of link aggregation support with the additional ethernet port, plus USB 3 ports and largely redundant eSATA port push the price up needlessly too, for what is meant to be a budget NAS. As it stands, the DS241s is even more capable and Synology still has that little bit more polish when it comes to operating systems and an more extensive array of features. QNAP isn't far behind but combined with higher noise levels, it just pips the TS-231 to the post, although if there are QNAP-specific features you're after and you can cope with a moderately noisy NAS, the TS-231 is a solid effort.