Qnap TS-1635AX Review

When Qnap launched the TS-1635 around 18 months ago, it was the first 16-bay desktop appliance on the NAS market. The new TS-1635AX steps up as its successor and employs the same mighty cuboid chassis but with a few hardware tweaks inside.

Out goes the 1.7GHz Alpine AL-514 from the TS-1635 and in comes a 1.6GHz Marvell Armada 8040 CPU. Both are quad-core models but the Marvell is 64-bit and supports DDR4 memory.

We have the 8GB model on review and you can save around $200 with the 4GB version. The TS-1635AX motherboard only has a single DIMM slot so if you want to upgrade to 16GB, you’ll need to write off the existing memory module.

Network options stay the same as both the TS-1635 and TS-1635AX offer pairs of Gigabit and 10GbE SFP+ fiber ports. The only other significant differences are the TS-1635AX has two internal 2280 M.2 SATA SSD slots and two PCI-Express expansion slots.

Design and hardware features

Backup apps are fewer for ARM-based CPUs but all the important ones are available for the TS-1635AX

The TS-1635AX is solidly built with its twelve LFF and four SFF hot-swap drive bays using tool-free carriers. The SFF bays can be populated with SSDs for use as a cache or with Qnap’s QTier data migration feature.

The motherboard is a sparse affair with the Marvell CPU mounted near the bottom and topped off with a small active heatsink. The single DDR4 DIMM slot sits below with the two M.2 slots to one side.

The expansion slots are located on either side at the top of the motherboard and a big advantage of its design is there are no restrictions on card lengths. The AMD Ryzen–based TS-1677X has a large blower fan assembly on its motherboard which limits card lengths for its two outer slots to 156mm.

The TS-1635AX has three internal 9cms cooling fans and we found it to be extremely quiet with the SPLnFTT iOS app on our iPad recording only 35.5dB at one meter in front. The spacious chassis does amplify hard disk noise and we found sound levels went up to 38.2dB during periods of intense drive activity.

Reduced app choices

You can use SFF or M.2 SSDs and upgrade storage pools on-demand with QTier 2.0

Qnap’s QFinder Pro discovery utility makes light work of installation and for testing, we loaded four 10TB Seagate IronWolf drives and configured them as a large 27TB RAID5 array. The QTS web interface offers easy access to all features but you will find apps in short supply as Qnap has written many of them for x86 CPUs.

Qnap’s Virtualization and Linux Stations are off the menu, as are the VJBOD storage expansion feature and the new QRM+ network monitoring app. Backup choices are also reduced as the TS-1635AX only supports seven apps whereas the TS-1677X has 31 to play with.

On a brighter note, the TS-1635AX gets the slick Storage and Snapshots app which supports manual and scheduled snapshot services on EXT4 file systems. This includes QTier 2.0 which allows you to add SFF or M.2 SSDs later on and upgrade to a two-tier storage pool on demand.

Virtualization is still possible with the Container Station app which runs multiple LXC and Docker apps in lightweight containers. You can also isolate containers on separate networks as the Network & Virtual Switch app is supported by the TS-1635AX.

Mixed performance

The TS-1635AX supports the Container Station and can run multiple LXC and Docker apps

For performance testing, we used a Dell PowerEdge T640 tower server equipped with two Xeon Gold 5120 CPUs, 64GB of DDR4 plus an Intel dual-port 10GbE fibre adapter and running Windows Server 2016. With a mapped NAS share, we watched Iometer report fast sequential read rates of 9.2Gbits/sec but a noticeably lower 6.9Gbits/sec for write operations.

Real world performance is reasonable with file copies of a 25GB test file delivering read and write averages of 4.6Gbits/sec and 4Gbits/sec. Our backup test secured a 22.4GB folder containing 10,500 small files to the share at a modest 1.4Gbits/sec – Qnap’s TS-1677X returned 2.2Gbits/sec for this test.

Encryption performance is acceptable as copying the 25GB test file to an encrypted volume averaged 2.5Gbits/sec although CPU utilization peaked at 82%. The TS-1677X returned 2.8Gbits/sec for this test with its Ryzen CPU snoozing at only 16% utilization.

IP SAN performance is also a mixed bag with a 500GB target delivering sequential read and write speeds of 9.2Gbits/sec and 6.3Gbits/sec. We ramped up the pressure with a dual 10GbE MPIO link and saw read speeds increase nicely to 15.5Gbits/sec but write speeds only improve to 7.8Gbits/sec.

Data protection features

Backup app choices may be reduced but all the important ones are available for the TS-1635AX. The Hybrid Backup Sync app simplifies backup management as it controls all your local, remote, Rsync, and iSCSI LUN backups from a single interface.

Installing the Hybrid Backup Sync app also loads the Cloud Drive Sync add-on allowing you to connect to cloud providers such as Amazon Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive and Citrix FileShare to run one- and two-way file syncing jobs. Off-site backup is handled by Qnap’s RTRR (real-time remote replication) which syncs data between folders on local and remote Qnap NAS appliances.

Creating a private backup cloud is a cinch with the Qsync Central Station 2.0 app. You can use this to sync folders and files on Windows and Mac systems along with iOS and Android mobiles, centrally manage client settings and create team folders to share files between multiple users.

Conclusion

The TS-1635AX is a worthy contender for businesses that want a big NAS appliance that puts a pile of storage on their desktop at an affordable price. There are compromises as 10GbE performance is a mixed bag and app availability for Qnap’s ARM-based appliances is reduced. Nevertheless, this 16-bay appliance delivers a great range of storage features, is noticeably faster than the TS-1635 it’s replacing and costs around the same price.

7.5 Total Score

The TS-1635AX is a worthy contender for businesses that want a big NAS appliance that puts a pile of storage on their desktop at an affordable price. There are compromises as 10GbE performance is a mixed bag and app availability for Qnap’s ARM-based appliances is reduced. Nevertheless, this 16-bay appliance delivers a great range of storage features, is noticeably faster than the TS-1635 it’s replacing and costs around the same price.

Performance
6
Features
7
Build quality
9
Usability
8.5
Value
8.5
PROS
  • Good price
  • High storage capacity
  • Integral 10GbE fiber ports
  • Extremely quiet
  • Ideal as a big backup vault
CONS
  • App shortage for ARM-based CPU
  • Below par write speeds
  • 10GbE transceivers not included
User Rating: 4 (1 votes)

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