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Qnap TS-351 Review

We were impressed with Qnap’s 3-bay TS-328 NAS appliance when we reviewed it as it offers small businesses an affordable RAID5 solution with plenty of features and performance. The latest TS-351 looks almost identical but its additional HDMI port moves the focus more towards home users and small offices that want a low-cost combination of storage capacity, data protection and multimedia services.

There’s nothing radical under the hood as the TS-315 is powered by an elderly dual-core 2.41GHz Intel Celeron J1800 CPU. This model is five years old now but as you’ll see in our speed tests, it does muster a very creditable performance.

The TS-351 is available with 2GB or 4GB of DDR3L memory which can upgraded to a maximum of 8GB. The port count is minimal as along with HDMI v1.4 it offers a single Gigabit, dual USB 2 and one USB 3.

An unusual feature is the dual high-performance M.2 NVMe SSD slots on the motherboard. Designed to be used as a speed boosting cache or with Qnap QTier data migration feature, we can’t see many scenarios for the TS-351 where these would be worth the extra expense.

Build quality and installation

The HybridDesk Station app presents a smart user interface on a locally attached HD TV

Drives are installed by removing the three thumb screws at the rear and sliding the main cover off. We fitted three 8TB Seagate NAS hard disks using the simple tool-free carriers which slide into the metal cage and lock in place.

The motherboard has two SO-DIMM slots and if you’re thinking of upgrading memory to the max, we recommend the 4GB model on review as you won’t need to trash the existing module. The two M.2 NVMe SSD slots are located next to the memory slots and are also easy to access.

As with all of Qnap’s 3-bay appliances, cooling is handled by a single 9cms diameter fan at the rear and we found noise levels to be pleasantly low. Using the SPLnFFT iOS app on our iPad, we recorded only 36dB from one meter in front which rose to a peak of 42dB during periods of disk activity.

Home users will find the TS-351 easy to get running as Qnap’s QFinder Pro discovers it on the network, provides quick access to its web interface and runs a wizard to get the latest QTS software loaded and the drives configured for RAID. It also provides a handy Storage Plug and Connect tool which makes light work of creating and mapping NAS shares and connecting iSCSI targets.

Fair performance

QTS multimedia features include the Music, Photo and Video Station apps

To test performance, we used a Window 10 PC equipped with a 3.5GHz Core i7-5930K CPU and 16GB of DDR4 memory. With a share mapped to the PC over Gigabit, Iometer recorded top raw sequential read and write speeds both of 112MB/sec.

Real world performance was great with drag and drop copies of a 25GB test file also returning average read and write rates of 112MB/sec. Our backup test posed no problems either with our 22.4GB test folder and its 10,500 small files secured to the share at a speedy 80MB/sec. IP SAN performance was up there too, with a 500GB target returning sequential Iometer read and write rates of 113MB/sec and 112MB/sec.

If you want to protect data with encryption choose carefully as QTS supports encrypted folders and volumes. Copying our 25GB test folder to an encrypted folder returned a pedestrian 41MB/sec while running the same test using a share on an encrypted volume saw this increase massively to 108MB/sec.

Multimedia apps

Mobile apps include the handy Qmonitor which we used on our iPad to keep an eye on appliance activity

Qnap’s QTS offers a good choice of multimedia apps with the Music, Video and Photo Stations providing plenty of useful features. We used them to browse our photos, music and films, create playlists and select the speaker-out socket on the appliance for piping audio to.

After connecting an HD TV to the appliance’s HDMI port, we installed the HybridDesk Station app, logged on to the local interface, opened the HD Player app and viewed our movie, music and photo collections. The HybridDesk Station presents a desktop on your HD TV where you can load Chrome or Firefox browsers and use plug-ins for direct access to YouTube and Facebook.

Playback controls for movies are provided and after installing the PhotoStation HD plug-in, we accessed the Photo Station app remotely, created slideshows from selected albums and accompanied them with background music. Plenty of free mobile apps are provided and on our iPad, we used Qfile to remotely access data and upload photos to the appliance, Qmusic to reach our tunes, Qvideo to play our movies and Qmonitor to keep an eye on NAS performance.

Data protection

QTS offers great data protection tools – the Storage & Snapshots app manages snapshots of NAS volumes and iSCSI targets for instant ‘point-in-time’ backups while the Hyper Backup Sync app runs local backup jobs and secures data to the cloud or to a remote NAS appliance. Qsync Central looks after workstation and mobile backup and after loading the Qsync Windows app on our PCs, we could run real-time file syncing jobs between selected pairs of folders.

The USB 3 port at the front teams up with Qnap’s One-Touch Copy button for quickly copying the contents of an inserted USB device to a predefined local folder. Your data will be even safer with the new Security Counselor app which scans the appliance for vulnerabilities and provides sage advice on locking it down against external threats.

Conclusion

Costing only $339 for the 4GB model, the TS-351 offers home users and small businesses an affordable NAS solution that combines RAID-5 redundancy with HDMI-ready multimedia services. We can’t see many uses for the dual M.2 NVMe SSD slots but with the QTS software on board, the TS-351 won’t be faulted for its wealth of data protection and multimedia apps.

7.8 Total Score
Affordable for Small Businesses

Costing only $339 for the 4GB model, the TS-351 offers home users and small businesses an affordable NAS solution that combines RAID-5 redundancy with HDMI-ready multimedia services. We can’t see many uses for the dual M.2 NVMe SSD slots but with the QTS software on board, the TS-351 won’t be faulted for its wealth of data protection and multimedia apps.

Performance
7.5
Features
7
Build quality
8
Usability
8
Value
8.5
PROS
  • Low price
  • Good Gigabit performance
  • RAID5 support
  • HDMI port
  • Great multimedia and data protection apps
CONS
  • Single Gigabit port
  • M.2 NVMe SSD slots unnecessary

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