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Qnap TS-332X-4G Review

Qnap’s TS-332X is a NAS with a difference as it’s the first 3-bay appliance on the market to feature a built-in 10GbE port. Aimed at home offices and SMBs, it’s designed to team up high-speed networking with RAID5 data protection at a very affordable price point.

Two base models are available with the 2GB version priced at only $363 while the 4GB model on review costs $419. Both can be upgraded to a maximum 16GB of 2,400MHz DDR4 but the appliance only has one SO-DIMM slot so you’ll have to replace the resident module.

The TS-332X is powered by a quad-core 1.7GHz Amazon Alpine AL-324 ARM Cortex-A57 CPU. This SoC (System on Chip) is responsible for the embedded 10GbE port but bear in mind this is the SFP+ fibre variety and the price doesn’t include a transceiver.

The appliance also provides dual Gigabit plus triple USB 3 ports and there’s a lot more lurking underneath its clinical white exterior as it has three embedded M.2 SATA SSD slots. These provide a high performance SSD caching facility and also support Qnap’s QTier feature which manages two storage tiers, monitors storage pool activity and migrates data blocks across them based on usage.

Design and deployment

The TS-332X supports SSD caching plus NAS volume and iSCSI LUN scheduled snapshots

For testing, we used a triplet of 8TB Seagate NAS HDDs and found drive installation a bit fiddly as the tool-free carriers are a little flimsy. To access the carriers, you remove the three screws at the rear and slide the main cover off and the kit includes one SFF drive insert should you wish to install an SSD.

The three M.2 slots are located on the vertically mounted motherboard and support 2280 length cards. With the hard disks removed, we had no problems fitting a couple of 256GB SSD modules.

Considering its target environments, the TS-332X needs to be seen and not heard and it doesn’t disappoint. All cooling is handled by a single 9cms diameter fan and the SPLnFTT iOS app on our iPad recorded only 36dB from one meter in front although noise levels do increase slightly when the drives are being accessed.

Installation is a cinch as Qnap’s free QFinder Pro app discovered the appliance on our network and presented a wizard-based installation routine. This downloaded the latest QTS software and on completion, we created a RAID5 array giving us a single 14.5TB storage pool.

10GbE performance and caching

The Hybrid Backup Sync app allows you to secure appliance data to remote Qnap NAS appliances

With a 10GbE SFP+ transceiver plugged into the appliance, we hooked it up over a direct fiber connection to a Dell PowerEdge T640 Xeon Scalable tower server running Windows Server 2016. Raw NAS performance is a real mixture with a mapped share returning very high Iometer sequential read rates of 9.2Gbits/sec but lower write rates of 4.6Gbits/sec.

Real world test speeds are quite creditable with drag and drop copies of a 25GB file delivering average sustained read and write speeds of 3.2Gbits/sec and 3Gbits/sec. Our general backup test delivered more modest results as securing a 22.4GB folder and its 10,500 small files to the share averaged 1.3Gbits/sec.

Encryption performance was surprisingly good as copying our 25GB test file to a share on an encrypted volume averaged 2.9Gbits/sec. During this test we recorded an average CPU utilisation of around 83%.

IP SAN performance was in the same ball park as NAS speeds with a 500GB target returning sequential Iometer read and write rates of 9.2Gbits/sec and 4.6Gbits/sec. To test overall caching efficacy we created a mirrored read/write cache with our two M.2 SSDs.

Cache performance benefits are relatively small as Iometer NAS read speeds held steady at 9.2Gbits/sec while write rates increased to 5.2Gbits/sec. For our iSCSI target, there was no increase in read rates but write rates also jumped slightly to 5.1Gbits/sec.

App choices

The ARM-based CPU may support fewer apps but there’s still a lot to choose from

Many of Qnap’s apps have been written for x86 CPUs so the ARM-based CPU in the TS-332X supports a reduced feature set. To summarize, there is currently a total of 164 apps available for the Intel Celeron-based TS-351 and 77 for the TS-332X.

That said, the TS-332X supports all the important ones with the Storage and Snapshots app managing scheduled point-in-time snapshots of NAS volumes and iSCSI LUNs. NAS share data recovery is swift as you choose a snapshot, view its contents and copy selected folders and files back to their original location on the appliance or download them to your PC.

The Hyper Backup Sync app provides a wealth of data protection features and can copy folders to a local destination, a wide range of cloud storage providers or a remote Qnap appliance. The latter will be useful to businesses that want to secure remote office storage to a central location as you can schedule folder backups to the remote appliance or use Qnap’s RTRR (real-time remote replication) to run one- and two-way sync jobs.

The Qsync Central apps lets you create private storage clouds and use the Qsync Windows and Mac agents plus iOS and Android mobile apps to secure user data to them. Multimedia features are plentiful as you have the Music, Photo and Video Stations providing quick access to tunes, photos and films stored on the appliance.

It can run the Container Station for hosting lightweight LXC and Docker apps while the Network & Virtual Switch app can isolate them on selected network ports. The new Notification Center and Security Counselor apps in QTS 4.3.5 are also available as is the QRM+ app which can be used to monitor other network devices.

Conclusion

The TS-332X is a great choice for small businesses that want a budget-priced 10GbE-enabled NAS appliance with RAID5 support. App choices are more limited and you’ll have to factor in the cost of a transceiver but it still offers plenty of features teamed up with great value and surprisingly good 10GbE performance.

8.5 Total Score

The TS-332X is a great choice for small businesses that want a budget-priced 10GbE-enabled NAS appliance with RAID5 support. App choices are more limited and you’ll have to factor in the cost of a transceiver but it still offers plenty of features teamed up with great value and surprisingly good 10GbE performance.

Performance
8
Features
8
Build quality
9
Usability
8.5
Value
9
PROS
  • 10GbE port
  • Good overall 10GbE performance
  • Very quiet
  • Great value
  • Plenty of data protection features
CONS
  • 10GbE transceiver not included
  • Fewer app choices for ARM CPU
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