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Qnap TS-853A Review

If versatility features highly on your list of NAS priorities then one of Qnaps latest TS-x53A family could be the perfect choice. Along with a superb hardware specification, Qnap claims this is the worlds first QTS/Linux dual system NAS series.

In this review we test the flagship TS-853A 8-bay desktop appliance and also put Seagate’s latest monster 8TB NAS HDD hard disks through their paces. As the industry’s first high-capacity drive for consumers, SOHOs and SMBs, they are designed to provide affordable and reliable storage for NAS appliances of up to 8 bays.

There’s much more on Qnaps tasty menu as the TS-x53A family showcases Intel’s new Celeron N3150 SoC (System on Chip). Also aimed at mobile applications, this 14nm quad-core chip has a tiny 6W TDP, runs at 1.6GHz and can step up to 2.08GHz in times of great need.

Along with an AES-NI hardware encryption engine, the N3150 incorporates Intel’s 8th Gen HD Graphics processor. This allows the TS-853A to offer dual 4K HDMI ports and provide 4K H.264 video transcoding and playback.

TS-853A rear view

Seagates 8TB NAS HDD drives

Seagate-8TB-NAS-HDD

Seagates new 8TB NAS HHD drives delivered an impressive performance

Costing $399 each, Seagates new high-capacity drives look perfect partners for the TS-853A. For testing, we used a quartet of ST8000VN002 models and being fully certified with Qnaps appliances, we had no problems installing them and creating a massive RAID5 storage pool.

The drives use a dual-plane balance mechanism making them more vibration tolerant than cheaper desktop drives. With their big 256MB cache, performance has been boosted over the previous generation with Seagate claiming a maximum sustainable transfer rate of 216MB/sec.

The drives have six platters, reliability is improved by retaining a spin speed of 7.2K RPM and their average operating power consumption of only 8.8W is low as well. The 180TB per year workload rate limit means theyre well suited to some heavy duty storage action.

Breakneck performance

For performance testing, we mapped a share over Gigabit to an HP ProLiant DL380 Gen9 rack server running Windows Server 2012 R2. With Jumbo frames rampaging across the network, we saw Iometer report raw sequential read and write rates 117MB/sec and 113MB/sec – the fastest weve ever seen for this test.

It was the same story in our real world tests with drag and drop copies of a 25GB test file returning 114MB/sec and 111MB/sec average read and write speeds. Our backup test was also handled efficiently with a 22.4GB folder with 10,500 small files secured to the share at an average of 88MB/sec.

Even under extreme pressure, the N3150 CPU still had some spare gas in the tank

Even under extreme pressure, the N3150 CPU still had some spare gas in the tank

To test maximum NAS performance we hooked up three more Xeon E5-2600 v3 servers each with a dedicated Gigabit link and network share. With Iometer running on all four servers, we recorded cumulative raw read and write speeds of 457MB/sec and 440MB/sec and also noted the N3150 CPU was only at around 75% utilization.

IP SAN performance was equally good with a 600GB target returning Iometer raw read and write speeds of 116MB/sec. We went further and created a quad-Gigabit MPIO link on the HP server and watched Iometer record a stunning sequential read speed of 465MB/sec and a slightly less impressive 330MB/sec write rate.

Features galore

If storage features are more your cup of tea you wont be disappointed as the TS-853A has them by the bucketful. Backup options are exemplary with apps provided for securing data across local folders, to external devices, Rsync compatible remote appliances and more.

Support for cloud storage providers doesn’t get any better with apps available for Amazon Glacier, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Storage, OpenStack Swift and iDrive. Amazon S3 is accessed from the slick Backup Station app and we had no problems running scheduled jobs to secure data to our cloud account.

File syncing services just got even better as we used the new Connect to Cloud Drive app to link with our Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive and Dropbox accounts. They’re all accessed from the File Manager app where we viewed their contents, downloaded files and uploaded new ones to selected accounts.

Outstanding stations

ts-853a-linux-station

The new Linux Station can run Ubuntu Desktop alongside QTS and output to the appliances HDMI ports

The new Linux Station allows the TS-853A to run Ubuntu alongside QTS with support for Debian and Fedora coming soon. Its easy to use as we had Ubuntu Desktop downloaded and installed in ten minutes and could choose the HDMI port we wanted its video and audio to be output to.

A key difference between this and Qnaps Container Station is it provides Ubuntu with direct access to all storage and shares on the appliance. We could also enable remote desktop and VNC to the Ubuntu Desktop directly from a web browser.

Note that the Linux Station requires access to a network port on the appliance and although its easy to do through the new Network and Virtual Switch app, we did notice a minor hit on general storage performance through this port. It will also disable the HD Station app as they cant both use the HDMI ports although you can swap between them and for HD Station access, the appliance comes with a handy remote control handset.

The Virtualization Station is another favorite as this allows the appliance to host VMs running virtually any OS we wanted. The Network and Virtual Switch app also comes into play here as we no longer had to dedicate network ports to VM usage.

PROS:
  • An ideal partner for Seagate’s new 8TB drives
  • Stunning NAS and IP SAN performance
  • Excellent hardware spec
  • Linux Station
  • Tons of cloud backup features

CONS:
  • No expansion slot

Conclusion

The TS-853A delivers a remarkable range of storage features with some of the best cloud backup provider support around. Its very versatile and the new Linux Station adds yet another dimension to its capabilities.

We were also impressed with Seagate’s new 8TB NAS HDD drives as they worked well with the appliance and delivered a remarkable performance. There’s no doubt about it – this Qnap and Seagate storage combo is blisteringly fast.

9.3 Total Score
Dynamic Duo

The TS-853A delivers a remarkable range of storage features with some of the best cloud backup provider support around. It’s very versatile and the new Linux Station adds yet another dimension to its capabilities. We were also impressed with Seagate’s new 8TB NAS HDD drives as they worked well with the appliance and delivered a remarkable performance. There’s no doubt about it – this Qnap and Seagate storage combo is blisteringly fast.

Performance
10
Features
9.5
Build Quality
9
Usability
9
Value
9
User Rating: 3.07 (15 votes)