Best Value

Qnap TS-1253BU-RP-8G Review

Qnap’s latest TS-x53BU family of appliances bolster its mid-range offerings and deliver increased storage flexibility for busy SMBs and workgroups. All available with single or dual-redundant power supplies, these rack mounters are offered in 1U 4-bay and 2U 8-bay and 12-bay configurations.

CPU power gets a boost as they all employ a 1.5GHz quad-core Intel Celeron J3455 – a 14nm model with a very low 10W TDP. Memory starts at 4GB of DDR3L across the board and Qnap offers models with the maximum 8GB supported by the CPU.

Although multimedia is of less value on a rack mount appliance, the J3455 Celeron has an integrated Intel 9th Gen HD Graphics 500 GPU piped through to an HDMI 1.4b port at the rear. The standard port count is the same across all models and comprises quad Gigabit and USB 3.

On review we have the top-dog 12-bay TS-1253BU-RP-8G which, as the name suggests, has dual PSUs and 8GB of memory. With a price tag of $2,149 for a diskless model, it compares exceedingly well on value with Synology’s 12-bay RS3617RPxs dual-PSU model which costs around $1,100 more.

 Expansion and installation

A stand-out feature is the spare PCI-Express expansion slot on all TS-x53BU models. This adds the promised flexibility as it supports Qnap’s 10GbE adapters, a dual-port USB 3.1 card, a wireless card or a QM2 adapter which provides two actively cooled M.2 SATA SSD slots and an optional 10GBase-T port.

Both the 8-bay and 12-bay models accept industry standard 10GbE adapters as they use a vertical L-shaped mounting bracket. On the 4-bay model, you’re better off using Qnap’s own 10GbE adapters as it requires them to be fitted with a proprietary flat mounting bracket.

For testing, we loaded a quartet of 10TB Seagate IronWolf NAS hard disks, used the Qnap Finder utility to discover the appliance and left it to load the latest production QTS software. When prompted, we chose a four-drive RAID5 thin storage pool which enabled thin provisioning and allowed us to create multiple volumes inside it.

We also tested Qnap’s QM2-2S10G1T card which provides dual M.2 SSD slots and a 10Gbase-T port. Usefully, Qnap includes standard and flat brackets in the box so it’ll fit in the TS-453BU appliances as we

10GbE performance results

We used Qnap’s dual M.2 SSD/10GBase-T expansion card to test caching effectiveness

To test performance, we called up a Dell PowerEdge R640 Xeon Scalable rack server equipped with embedded 10GBase-T ports and running Windows Server 2016. NAS performance is reasonably good with a mapped share returning sequential Iometer read and write speeds of 5.5Gbits/sec and 5Gbits/sec.

It handled our real world tests well with copies of a 25GB file delivering average read and write speeds of 5Gbit/sec and 3.8Gbits/sec. Our backup test was more of a handful as securing a 22.4GB folder and its 10,500 small files to the share averaged a slightly below par 1.6Gbits/sec.

To test SSD caching for random operations, we used the QTS Storage Manager app to create a mirrored read/write cache with a pair of 240GB Kingston M.2 SSDs and assigned it to the NAS share. With Iometer dropped to small 4KB blocks, we saw uncached read and write throughputs of 33,500 IOPS and 10,000 IOPS which increased to 38,500 IOPS and 14,200 IOPS with the cache assigned.

QTS 4.3.3 features

The production QTS 4.3.3 offers a wealth of data protection features

You’re spoilt for choice with data protection features as QTS 4.3.3 is brimming with them. It supports on-demand and scheduled snapshots for NAS volumes and iSCSI LUNs all easily managed directly from the Storage Manager app which also provides a slick Snapshot Manager tool for swift data recovery.

The Hybrid Backup app looks after all your backup and file syncing tasks from one console and these include the RTRR (real-time remote replication) feature which offers one-way and two-way folder syncing with remote Qnap appliances. Cloud provider support isn’t as extensive as Synology’s but you still have options for backup and file syncing with 11 providers including Dropbox for Business, OneDrive and Amazon S3.

We like Qnap’s Virtualization Station 3 app as we created and hosted a Windows Server 2016 VM in under 20 minutes and used the VM snapshot feature to protect it. Recently added apps include one for the IFTTT (If This Then That) cloud service that uses sequences of events to trigger actions and the QIoT Suite Lite for creating and testing IoT applications for development boards connected to the NAS.

QTS 4.3.4 beta

The QTS 4.3.4 beta offers a slick new storage management app while the Qboost robot watches over you

We also upgraded the appliance with the QTS 4.3.4 beta and were bowled over by the range of upcoming features. The new Storage and Snapshot Manager app provide masses of details about storage configuration and utilization along with easier access to snapshot scheduling and recovery processes.

The Snapshot Manager can clone a NAS or iSCSI LUN snapshot and restore files and folders to remote locations such as another NAS appliance. The File Station 5 app displays the contents of NAS snapshots making file and folder recovery even easier while the Qtier 2 app now allows you to add a new tier to an existing volume.

Clippy lives on in the shape of Qnap’s Qboost robot which sits in the lower left area of the GUI, waves at you if system resources are OK and sulks if they aren’t. More usefully, it can optimize system memory if you’re running low and clear out junk files that may be wasting space.

Conclusion

The TS-1253BU-RP looks great value as you’ll be hard pushed to find a competitor’s 12-bay NAS appliance with dual redundant PSUs for less than this. Overall 10GbE performance won’t be worrying higher end appliances but it’s good enough for general SMB usage and Qnap’s QTS software is packed with features including great data backup tools.

8.6 Total Score

The TS-1253BU-RP looks great value as you’ll be hard pushed to find a competitor’s 12-bay NAS appliance with dual redundant PSUs for less than this. Overall 10GbE performance won’t be worrying higher end appliances but it’s good enough for general SMB usage and Qnap’s QTS software is packed with features including great data backup tools.

Performance
7
Features
8.5
Build Quality
9
Usability
9
Value
9.5
PROS
  • Excellent value
  • Dual power supplies
  • Great data protection tools
  • SSD cache boosts IOPS
  • QTS 4.3.4 beta shows plenty of promise
CONS
  • Average backup speeds over 10GbE
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