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QNAP TS-853U-RP Review

TS-853U-RP front viewIf you want variety in your network storage then QNAP is the place to go as no other NAS vendor offers as wide a range of appliances. The latest TS-853U-RP on review brings the family up to nearly 100 models and is aimed at SMBs that want an affordable high capacity solution with future expansion in mind.

With a price tag under $1,700, this 2U rack appliance hits the spot for value and supports eight 3.5in/2.5in drives. It’s certified for Hitachi’s 8TB helium drives so capacity can be pushed to a very usable 64TB.

Costs are cut by using a simple 2GHz quad-core J1900 Celeron CPU partnered by 4GB of non-ECC low-voltage DDR3. However, memory can be expanded to the maximum 8GB supported by the Celeron by adding an extra 4GB SO-DIMM module.

The appliance supports the 8-bay UX-800U-RP and 12-bay UX-1200U-RP expansion units but only one of these can be connected. At $1,899, the UX-1200-RP is expensive but it allows you to scale up to 144TB and links up with the head unit via a USB 3 cable.

Better build

Build quality of the TS-853U-RP is typical of QNAP’s rack appliances with a solid metal chassis and sturdy lockable drive carriers. The black full-width panel above the drive bays serves no purpose other than to look nice with three status LEDs on the right-hand rack ear showing faults plus disk and network activity.

The lid is easily removed and underneath is a compact motherboard with the embedded Celeron mounted by a fixed heatsink. The base 4GB of memory sits in one SO-DIMM slot and the spare slot alongside is easily accessible for upgrades.

It doesn’t have the internal mSATA ports of its bigger brothers but can use standard SSDs as read caches. The appliance supports up to two SSDs which must be installed in trays 3 and 4 – we tried fitting SSDs in trays 7 and 8 and the cache creation tool ignored them.

QNAP TS-853U-RP Rear view

No expansion slots are available for 10GbE upgrades but the appliance does have four Gigabit ports which can be aggregated into fault tolerant or load balanced links. It also provides four USB 3 ports and an HDMI port so you can play with QNAP’s QvPC technology and use it as a PC.

Installation

Installation initially faltered as our appliance was so new QNAP didn’t have an entry for it in its quick-start cloud portal. Not a problem, though, as we used the standard QNAP Finder utility to locate it on our network and download the latest QTS 4.1.3 firmware.

The Finder’s Storage Plug and Connect tool makes it easy for users to create and map NAS shares. It’ll also configure iSCSI targets and handle the initiator login processes and virtual drive formatting.

We loaded up four 4TB WD Red drives and used the QTS Storage Manager to create a RAID5 storage pool. This provide the most flexible means of managing storage as we could expand pool capacity into new drives and create multiple thin and thickly provisioned volumes inside it for our NAS shares and iSCSI targets.

Top performance

TS-853U-RP Celeron Processor

It may be small but the appliance’s 2GHz Celeron J1900 CPU held up very well under heavy load

The TS-853U-RP posted very good speeds with copies of a 50GB file to and from a network share returning sustained read and write averages of 113MB/sec. It also handled our backup test well with a 22.4GB folder of 10,500 small files secured to a share at a speedy 87MB/sec.

We also tested maximum throughput with four E5-2600 v3 servers connected to separate shares on the RAID5 volume over dedicated Gigabit connections. Running Iometer on each one returned cumulative read and write speeds of 428MB/sec and 426MB/sec and confirming QNAP’s speed claims.

The J1900 Celeron doesn’t have an integral AES-NI engine but did a remarkably good job in our tests as a 50GB file copy to an encrypted volume averaged 103MB/sec. Under heavy load, the CPU can boost its core speed to 2.4GHz and we saw this test was utilising around 50% of all four cores.

Workstation backup

TS-853U-RP NetBak Replicator

QNAP’s NetBak Replicator is a handy backup tool for workstations and servers

The latest QTS software sees a number of improvements for workstation backup with the Qsync app offering a very similar feature set to Synology’s Cloud Station. We installed the Qsync utility on a Windows 7 desktop and used it to provide real-time file syncing of a local folder with a predefined folder on the appliance.

Whereas Synology dropped its Data Protector Windows utility in favour of cloud syncing, QNAP still provides the free NetBak Replicator software. A bonus is unlike the freebie backup utilities bundled with other NAS appliances, this also supports Windows Server systems.

It’s easy to use although the first backup run to secure 22.4GB of data to shared folder averaged only 40MB/sec. However, all subsequent runs are incremental and after adding another 4GB of data to our test folder, the next job took 201 seconds for an average of 144MB/sec.

QNAP TS-853U-RP new Gmail app

Currently in beta, the Gmail app can secure your Google Mail accounts to a folder on the appliance

The appliance runs exactly the same QTS software as QNAP’s bigger appliances so cloud support is huge with options for Amazon S3 and Glacier, ElephantDrive, Microsoft Azure, HP Cloud and many more. An app is available for IDrive cloud backup while others provide file syncing services for Dropbox and Google Drive.

We like the beta Gmail backup app as it allowed us to secure our Google Mail account mailboxes to a folder on the appliance. Individual emails can be viewed, restored back to the source account or migrated to another mail account.

PROS:
  • Good value
  • Quiet
  • Top encryption speeds
  • Plenty of backup tools

CONS:
  • No 10GbE expansion
  • Disk expansion units are expensive

Summary

The TS-853U-RP offers a high capacity for a price small businesses will approve of. The expansion units are expensive and you can’t upgrade to 10GbE but it includes dual redundant PSUs, can’t be faulted for software features and its little Celeron CPU delivers a surprisingly good performance.

8.5 Total Score
Surprisingly Good Performance

The TS-853U-RP offers a high capacity for a price small businesses will approve of. The expansion units are expensive and you can’t upgrade to 10GbE but it includes dual redundant PSUs, can’t be faulted for software features and its little Celeron CPU delivers a surprisingly good performance.

Performance
9
Features
7.5
Build Quality
8.5
Usability
9
Value
8.5
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