Qnap’s previous forays into network switching have been limited to the entry-level market but its latest QGD-1600P hybrid device signals a completely new and very innovative direction. As the first member of Qnap’s Guardian Series, the QGD-1600P presents a smart combination of NAS appliance and 16 port, PoE-enabled, fully managed Gigabit switch.
No other vendor has done this before and although it may seem an odd combination, Qnap’s thinking behind it is quite rational. Amongst the plethora of apps in its QTS software are ones for surveillance, virtualization, routing and security.
Running the QTS Surveillance Station app on the appliance provides a centralized monitoring and video recording solution that can power all your PoE-enabled IP cameras. You can use the Virtualization Station app to run a VM with the OpenWRT Linux distribution to turn the QGD-1600P into a fully-fledged router and create another VM for pfSense to add enterprise-class firewall services.
One capability that piqued our curiosity is the option use the QTS Container Station app to run a virtualized instance of Ubiquiti’s UniFi Network Controller (UNC) software. The lab’s wireless services are dished out by our UniFi NanoHD APs so it would be interesting to use the appliance to power and manage them.
Powered by a 1.8GHz quad-core Intel Celeron J4115 CPU, the QGD-1600P is available with 4GB or 8GB of DDR4 memory with the latter on review. The motherboard has two SO-DIMM slots both populated by 4GB modules and this is the maximum the QGD-1600P is certified to support.
The 16 Gigabit ports are split into two groups with the first four 802.3bt PoE++ compliant and providing 60W of power while the rest are 802.3at PoE+ compliant and each provide up to 30W. The last two copper ports are dual personality and share their backplane links with the two non-PoE SFP+ fibre ports alongside.
General storage is handled by two SATA SSF bays with a small cooling fan attached to the internal drive cage. Two Gen2 X2 PCIe expansion slots are available for adding 10GbE adapters and you can expand outside the box as the appliance supports two of Qnap’s USB disk shelves.
A key feature is the NAS and switch components are independently powered. This matters when you run a QTS update which will require a reboot, as it means all connected devices powered by the switch won’t be affected.
Gigabit and 10GbE performance
For testing, we fitted two enterprise-class 1.92TB Micron 5200 Max SATA SSDs and used the QTS Storage Manager to create a mirrored storage pool. Gigabit performance is great with a NAS share connected to a Dell T640 Windows Server 2019 system returning Iometer sequential read and write speeds of 113MB/sec and 112MB/sec.
Results for our real world tests were equally good with drag and drop copies of a 25GB test file averaging read and write rates both of 112MB/sec. Backup performance is fine with a 22.4GB folder containing 10,500 small files secured to the share at a speedy 82MB/sec.
The appliance’s slower Gen2 X2 PCIe slots will limit 10GbE performance. With an Emulex 10GbE adapter installed in the appliance, we saw Iometer report comparatively low read and write speeds of 4.8Gbits/sec and 3.5Gbits/sec.
It didn’t affect real world speed too much though, with the 25GB file copy returning read and write averages of 4.7Gbits/sec and 3.3Gbits/sec. One minor issue is the switch isn’t aware of network expansion cards so they can only be managed from the Network & Virtual Switch app.
QTS management is no different to Qnap’s standard NAS appliances but you also get the QuNetSwitch app for configuring switch features from within the same interface. The switch can also be managed independently from its own QSS Management web interface and it supports all the Layer 2 features you’d expect to see including VLANs, ACLs (access control lists), port and VLAN QoS (quality of service), link aggregation and much more.
The overview page presents a smart status view where all ports have colour-coded icons showing their connection speed while those providing power get an orange lightning bolt overlay. A graph at the bottom shows the power in Watts being provided by each port and there is plenty of information about total used and available power.
The latter is important as the switch’s power budget is 370W so you’ll need to know if you’re reaching this limit. Usefully, you can apply one of three power priorities to each port so if the drain reaches the switch’s threshold, the ports with the lowest priority will be automatically switched off first.
PoE schedules can be used to define what days the ports are active on and whether they apply power on or off actions. Profiles are assigned to selected ports so you can precisely control when attached devices such as wireless APs are active.
Qnap and Ubiquiti
Ubiquiti’s UNC software is freely available and we installed the Linux version on a Container Station VM. The UNC web console can be loaded directly from Container Station and we linked it to our Ubiquiti cloud portal account.
From this point onwards, all wireless network management is carried out from the UNC web interface so we could connect our NanoHD APs to the switch, adopt them in UNC and create managed wireless networks. We could see from the switch’s web console how much power they were using and apply power schedules to turn our wireless networks on and off as required.
The QGD-1600P has versatility as its middle name as this smart NAS/PoE switch combo delivers a remarkable range of features. Only having two SFF drive bays and a maximum power budget of 370W may present some limitations its price tag of $699 makes it far more cost-effective than buying a NAS and managed PoE switch separately.
- Great value
- Very clever NAS/switch partnership
- PoE++ and PoE+ support
- Extremely versatile
- Only two SFF drive bays
- Gen2 X2 PCIe slots limit 10GbE performance