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QNAP TS-EC880 Pro NAS Review

TS-EC880PRO frontIf you thought desktop NAS appliances are underpowered think again as the new QNAP TS-EC880 Pro delivers a hardware package that’ll be the envy of high-end rack systems. Inside this compact 8-bay system beats a quad-core 3.4GHz Xeon E3-1245 v3 processor which means it can handle any storage duty most small businesses could throw at it.

TS-EC880 PRO rear view

TS-EC880 PRO rear view

There’s more as its base 2GB of ECC DDR3 memory can be upgraded to 32GB and it has four embedded Gigabit ports. Port permutations look even better as QNAP has squeezed in six USB 2 at the rear and teamed them up with three USB 3 and two eSATA ports as well.

The TS-EC880 Pro offers some interesting expansion options as you can use its 8X PCI-Express slot to fit QNAP’s SAS-6G2E-D dual-port 6Gbps SAS card (costing around $430). With this in place, you can daisy-chain two of QNAP’s REXP-1000 Pro 10-bay expansion units and if you bump memory up to 4GB, you can add a total of four units supporting up to 48 hard disks.

Naturally, 10-Gigabit is on the menu as the expansion slot also supports industry standard single and dual-port 10GbE cards from Emulex and Intel. QNAP gets in on the act as well with its own dual-port 10GBase-T card although at $629, it’s a shade pricey.

Build quality

The TS-EC880 Pro is well constructed with a solid metal cover over its chassis. Two large fans at the back handle all cooling duties and we found them to be very quiet.

For testing, we fitted a quartet of 4TB WD Enterprise SATA hard disks in the sturdy metal carriers. These slide easily into the hot-plug bays and the levers have small locking tabs to prevent them being accidentally popped open.

We used QNAP’s Finder utility to discover the appliance and let its wizard download the latest QTS software and create a RAID5 protected storage pool using all four drives. A handy feature of Finder is its Storage Plug and Connect tool which makes light work of creating and mapping NAS shares. You can also configure iSCSI targets from the same interface where it handles the initiator login processes and virtual drive formatting.

Speedy performance

We opted to go straight to 10GbE testing and installed an Emulex OCE11102-NT dual-port adapter in the appliance. The lid is removed easily but to fit the card, we had to swap its standard mounting bracket with QNAP’s proprietary version which costs an extra $30.

For our host system we called up an Intel rack server platform equipped with dual 2.6GHz E5-2670 Xeons plus 48GB of DDR3 and running Windows Server 2012 R2. Iometer returned excellent throughput speeds for NAS shares with it registering raw read and write rates of 998MB/sec and 995MB/sec which both equate to nearly 8Gbits/sec.

To test sustained copy speeds we used our 50GB Iometer test file and saw drag and drop copies return averages for read and write operations of 393MB/sec and 269MB/sec. We also measured general backup operations by copying a 22.4GB folder containing 10,500 small files to a share over 10GbE and watched this return an average of 203MB/sec.

Storage Pools and caching

The QTS Storage Manager app provides all access to storage configurations so we could easily create new RAID protected storage pools and increase their size by adding new drives and expanding the pool into these. Pools can be expanded into drives on QNAP’s external expansion units and their fast 6Gbps SAS interconnects means performance won’t suffer.

All QNAP enterprise NAS appliances support its optional read caching feature and the TS-EC880 Pro offers you two choices. Drive bays 5 to 8 support standard SATA SSDs but if you would prefer to keep these for hard disks, you can fit QNAP’s mSATA modules.

The appliance’s motherboard has two mSATA slots which we found easily accessible at the side. The cache is configured from the Storage Manager where we could assign it to selected NAS volumes and iSCSI LUNs and monitor its performance.

For IP SANs note that the latest QTS only allows block-level iSCSI targets to be created so the LUN backup and snapshot features are currently off the menu. QNAP advised us that these will be reinstated in the QTS 4.1.2 update due out later this year.

Apps galore

QTS web console

The QTS web console is very user-friendly and QNAP offers an impressive range of apps.

The list of apps available for QNAP appliances is growing exponentially and one that really makes it stand out is the Virtualization Station. This allows you to create virtual machines on the appliance and run other operating systems inside them but to use it you will need to upgrade the TS-EC880 Pro to 4GB of memory.

The Backup Station app provides a heap of data protection tools including QNAP’s own RRTR synchronization and replication to other Rsync compatible NAS appliances. The same interface provides tools for cloud backup to Amazon S3 and Symform, there’s an app for Microsoft’s Azure and another on the horizon that supports Amazon’s lower-cost Glacier service.

There’s an app for that.

You want support for Amazon’s Glacier service? There’s an app for that.

Businesses won’t be swayed by the plethora of multimedia apps but they’ll like the Surveillance Station. This supports over 1,400 IP camera models and offers facilities such as motion detection and scheduled recording along with the VMobile app for remote viewing from iOS and Android devices.

Qmanager iOS

QNAP provides plenty of mobile apps and we used the Qmanager iOS version to remotely monitor our appliance.

Free anti-virus scanning is available with an app that uses ClamAV to run on-demand and scheduled scans on selected folders. The TS-EC880 Pro gets even more versatile as QNAP offers an ever expanding range of server apps including ones for RADIUS, TFTP, Syslog, VPNs and LDAP.

PROS:
  • Storming 10GbE performance
  • Potent hardware spec
  • Big expansion potential
  • Optional read cache

CONS:
  • iSCSI snapshots not currently supported
  • Lack of LUN backup

Conclusion

QNAP’s new TS-EC880 Pro combines an impressive range of storage features with some potent hardware. QNAP has an app for everything, it delivers top performance over 10GbE and the high expansion capabilities make it a solid, long-term investment.

7 Total Score
Solid Long Term Investment in Storage

QNAP’s new TS-EC880 Pro combines an impressive range of storage features with some potent hardware. QNAP has an app for everything, it delivers top performance over 10GbE and the high expansion capabilities make it a solid, long-term investment.

Performance
9.5
Features
9
Build Quality
10
Usability
9
Value
9
User Rating: 2.67 (9 votes)