Editor choice

Qnap TS-328 Review

Qnap’s latest TS-328 is designed for home and small business users that want essential RAID5 protection at a pocket-friendly price. This sleek white desktop unit is Qnap’s first triple-drive NAS appliance and with a price tag of only $249, looks to have achieved its goal.

It employs a quad-core 1.4GHz Realtek RTD1296 64-bit CPU which is a slightly improved version of the RTD1295 version found in Qnap’s 2-bay TS-228A. Key differences are the RTD1296 has two Gigabit Ethernet interfaces, one more USB 3 port and, crucially, an extra SATA interface.

The TS-328 has 2GB of non-upgradeable DDR4 memory which will be enough to run most common storage-related tasks. The two Gigabit ports lurk at the rear and are partnered by USB 3 and USB 2 ports while the second USB 3 port sits at the front inside the one-touch copy button.

Along with file sharing and data backup functions, the TS-328 is aimed at multimedia services with the Realtek SoC (System on Chip) supporting 4K H.264/H.265 hardware decoding and real-time transcoding. However, it doesn’t have an HDMI port so if you want this plus RAID5 capabilities, the next Qnap appliance in the price chain is the four-bay TS-453B or slightly cheaper TS-453Be which both have dual HDMI ports.

Build quality and deployment

The three drive bays deliver RAID5 teamed up with great snapshot data protection features

For testing, we used a triplet of 8TB Seagate NAS HDDs and found drive installation a little fiddly. The appliance uses tool-free drive carriers and to access them, you remove the three screws at the rear and slide the main cover off.

The drives are held in the carriers by four caddy pins but care is needed during fitting as it’s easy for the carriers to bend and the drive to fall out. We found it easier to upend the appliance and insert the carriers vertically into their bays. The box also includes an SFF drive insert should you wish to install an SSD.

For cooling, the TS-328 employs a single 9cms diameter fan which we found to be very quiet with the SPLnFTT iOS app on our iPad recording only 35dB from one meter in front. The plastic chassis cover doesn’t provide much sound insulation so noise levels do increase when the hard disks are being accessed.

NAS newbies won’t have any problems deploying the TS-328 as Qnap’s free QFinder Pro app locates it on the network and provides a wizard-based installation routine. This downloaded the latest QTS software and offered three volume options where we chose RAID5 giving us a single 14.5TB storage pool.

Top performance

We connected our iPad to the appliance’s USB port and viewed its photos and videos from the File Station app

For performance testing, we used a Window 10 PC equipped with a 3.5GHz Core i7-5930K CPU and 16GB of DDR4 memory. With a share mapped to the PC over Gigabit, Iometer recorded top raw sequential read and write speeds of 113MB/sec and 112MB/sec.

Real world performance was equally good with drag and drop copies of a 25GB test file delivering sustained read and write rates of 112MB/sec and 110MB/sec. It also handled our general backup test well with our 22.4GB test folder and its 10,500 small files secured to the share at a speedy 79MB/sec.

We upped the pressure by mapping a dedicated share to another Windows 10 workstation connected directly to the appliance’s second Gigabit port. With Iometer running on both hosts, we recorded top-notch cumulative read and write rates of 224MB/sec and 214MB/sec showing the TS-328 is capable of handling heavy workloads.

Encryption performance is also great. Copying our 25GB test file to a share on an encrypted volume averaged an impressive 109MB/sec with appliance CPU utilization peaking at 75%.

IP SAN performance is another winner with a 500GB target returning sequential Iometer rates of 112MB/sec for both read and write operations. We then tested with a dual Gigabit MPIO link and saw speeds increase to 224Mbits/sec and 180MB/sec.

Backup and entertain

Qnap provides plenty of multimedia features to keep you entertained outside working hours

The new Storage & Snapshots app makes light work of storage management and supports ‘point-in-time’ backups of volumes that can be run as often as every five minutes. NAS share data recovery is a cinch as you choose a snapshot, view its contents and copy selected folders and files back to their original location on the appliance or download them to your PC.

The Hyper Backup Sync app takes data protection even further with facilities for copying folders to a local backup repository, the cloud or a remote Qnap appliance. Install the Cloud Backup Sync add-on activates one and two-way sync jobs with cloud providers including Amazon Drive, OneDrive, Dropbox, and Google Drive while the Connect to Cloud Drive app allows the File Station to connect directly to these providers.

Private clouds are easy to create using the Qsync Central app. After loading the Qsync Windows app on our PCs, we could run real-time file syncing jobs between selected pairs of folders.

Multimedia features are in abundance with the Music, Photo and Video Stations providing easy access to all your tunes, pictures and films stored on the appliance. We particularly liked Qnap’s Qphoto iOS app as it linked up with the appliance and uploaded photos and videos to the Multimedia folder as soon as they were taken thus saving valuable space on our iPad.

Another smart feature is the facility to connect our iPad directly to the appliance’s USB port. Once accepted, we could load the File Station and view all photos and videos stored on the device.

Conclusion

The TS-328 is perfect for home users and small offices that want the benefits of RAID5 protection but without having to pay extra for a 4-bay appliance. Along with a superb performance, it’s packed to the gills with data backup, file sharing, cloud services plus multimedia features and all at a very affordable price.

8.7 Total Score

The TS-328 is perfect for home users and small offices that want the benefits of RAID5 protection but without having to pay extra for a 4-bay appliance. Along with a superb performance, it’s packed to the gills with data backup, file sharing, cloud services plus multimedia features and all at a very affordable price.

Performance
9
Features
8.5
Build quality
7.5
Usability
9
Value
9.5
PROS
  • Impressive performance
  • Excellent value
  • RAID5 support
  • Masses of data protection features
  • Versatile mobile apps
CONS
  • Fiddly drive carriers
  • No HDMI port
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