Editors Choice

Qnap TS-653B Review

SMBs and SOHOs that want a feature-packed desktop NAS appliance that can grow with them will find Qnap’s TS-653B a worthy contender. Its six hot-swap bays provide plenty of internal capacity and if that’s not enough, you can add two 5-bay or 8-bay USB 3 expansion enclosures.

The TS-653B showcases Intel’s ‘Apollo Lake’ Celeron J3455 SoC (System on Chip). Also aimed at desktop applications, this 14nm quad-core chip has a modest 10W TDP, runs at 1.5GHz and can boost itself up to 2.3GHz in times of high demand.

Multimedia fans won’t be disappointed as the J3455 incorporates Intel’s 9th Gen HD Graphics 500 GPU. This allows the TS-653B to offer dual 4K HDMI ports and provide 4K H.264 video transcoding and playback.

At the rear you also have dual Gigabit, four USB 3, dual 3.5mm audio-in and a 3.5mm audio-out while at the front there’s another USB 3, an SD Card slot and Qnap’s USB QuickAccess port. Remarkably, the entire TS-x53B family – including the 2-bay model – all have a PCI-Express slot for even more expansion options.

TS-653B Rear

Design and expansion

A smoked black plastic panel covers the drive bays and is easily removed by flicking down a locking tab at the side and sliding it off. A small OLED display provides plenty of system status information and two dust-proof capacitive touch buttons alongside can be used to scroll through the various details.

The drive carriers can’t be locked shut but their tool-less design makes it simple to fit hard disks. A small internal speaker announces operations such as system booting or firmware upgrades and can be used to play music if you’re not worried about audio quality.

The PCI-Express slot is accessed by removing four screws and sliding the main cover off sideways. Qnap offers plenty of upgrade options with a dual-port USB 3.1 card or a QM2 adapter which provides two actively cooled M.2 SATA SSD slots for use with Qnap’s Qtier storage management feature.

For 10GbE upgrades, you’re best sticking with Qnap’s own single and dual-port cards which include the low-profile flat bracket required by the appliance. We know Qnap supports Emulex and Intel 10GbE adapters but only consider them if you can find an appropriate flat bracket for them.

Fair performance

Qnap’s QTS software provides a wealth of data protection and backup features

Qnap’s QTS software provides a wealth of data protection and backup features

With a quartet of Seagate’s 8TB IronWolf drives configured as a single RAID5 storage pool, the TS-653B delivered good NAS speeds over Gigabit. A share mapped to a Windows server returned raw Iometer read and write speeds both of 113MB/sec and with two servers in the mix, these ramped up to 225MB/sec and 224MB/sec.

Real world speeds were also good with copies of a 25GB file averaging 110MB/sec read and write speeds while our 22.4GB backup folder and its 10,500 small files was secured at 82MB/sec.

Upgrading the appliance to 10GbE saw a big performance boost with Iometer reporting NAS read and write speeds of 615MB/sec and 440MB/sec. Our write speeds were lower than Qnap’s claims but it did use six high-performance SSDs to achieve these.

Real world speeds over 10GbE were pretty good with our 25GB file copy delivering average read and write rates of 522MB/sec and 394MB/sec. Our backup test wasn’t as fast as Qnap’s high-end appliances with this test averaging only 153MB/sec write speeds.

Super feature set

Multimedia options are very good with Station apps for video, music and photos

Multimedia options are very good with Station apps for video, music and photos

As a multimedia device the TS-653B ticks all the right boxes. With the HybridDesk Station app installed, we connected an HD TV to the appliance, logged on to the local interface, opened the HD Player app and viewed our movie, music and photo collections.

Playback controls for movies are comprehensive and after installing the PhotoStation HD plug-in, we could access the Photo Station app remotely and create slideshows from selected albums complete with background music. The HybridDesk Station goes further as it presented a desktop on our TV where we could load Chrome or Firefox browsers and use plug-ins to directly access services such as YouTube and Facebook.

Qnap’s QTS software is packed with backup tools as the Hybrid Backup Sync app manages all your data protection jobs while Storage Manager handles all NAS and iSCSI LUN snapshot schedules. The Qsync Central Station app provides remote real-time, two-way syncing with Windows and Mac clients and you can sync files with up to 11 cloud providers from the Cloud Backup Sync app.

Support for the IFTTT automation service adds extra levels of versatility

Support for the IFTTT automation service adds extra levels of versatility

If This Then That

Qnap’s latest IFTTT (If This Then That) app adds a new dimension to your NAS appliance as it allows it to be linked to custom ‘applets’ triggered by a sequence of events. An IFTTT agent runs on the appliance and requires it to be registered with Qnap’s MyQnapCloud service and also running the CloudLink app.

IFTTT is a separate automation service so you’ll need to create a free account and download the app to your mobile if you plan on using features such as your location to trigger actions.  Qnap currently provides over 30 applets on the IFTTT site with options ranging from downloading files from cloud storage accounts to telling Alexa to turn off the appliance or something as simple as receiving an email when a file is added or modified in a folder on the appliance.

Conclusion

The TS-653B packs a lot into its compact dimensions and offers a high capacity with plenty of room to expand. At $996 for the top 8GB model, it is comparatively good value although you can save around $142 and go for the 4GB version.

The appliance scores well for its multimedia capabilities and with its dual cooling fans emitting only 36.2dB, it’s quiet enough for small office and home environments. Qnap’s QTS software delivers an incredible range of storage features and support for IFTTT makes it even more versatile.

8.6 Total Score

The TS-653B packs a lot into its compact dimensions and offers a high capacity with plenty of room to expand. At $996 for the top 8GB model, it is comparatively good value although you can save around $142 and go for the 4GB version.

Performance
7.5
Features
9.5
Build Quality
8.5
Usability
9
Value
8.5
PROS
  • High capacity and expansion potential
  • PCI-Express slot
  • Good performance
  • Great multimedia apps
  • IFTTT support
CONS
  • Expansion slot limited to Qnap cards
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