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Qnap TS-453mini

TS-453miniThe new TS-453mini is one of QNAP’s smallest four-bay NAS appliances but it aims to stand proud in your office or home for a number of good reasons. Its high-gloss, piano black chassis looks very sleek and its integral HDMI port allows it to function as a PC or a media center as well as a network storage repository.

It’s no lightweight either as it uses a 2GHz quad-core Intel Celeron J1900 CPU which supports burst speeds of up to 2.41GHz. Two models are available with either 2GB or 8GB of DDR3L memory and we have the latter on review.

The 2GB model saves around $140 and can be upgraded to the maximum 8GB supported by the CPU. This is easily achieved by flipping the appliance on its head and removing the small panel in the base.

Beneath this are two SO-DIMM slots with the primary one holding a 2GB module. Obviously, you’ll need to replace the existing 2GB module but the upgrade process is very easy.

Installation options

Hard disk loading is simple as the lid is held on with magnetic catches and popping it off reveals four hot-plug carriers underneath. These use the same tool-less side latches as Synology’s appliances and we had four 4TB WD Red drives loaded in minutes.

You have two installation modes where you can connect the appliance to the network, fire up QNAP’s web discovery portal and use the unique cloud key printed on a label on the side. However, QNAP is very proud of its PC-less installation routine so we thought we’d give it a go.

After connecting an HDMI monitor plus USB mouse and keyboard, we fired the appliance up. The monitor displayed a wizard which offers to enable multimedia apps such as the Photo and Music Stations plus the HybridDesk Station which you’ll need to be able to use it as a PC.

We chose from single or multiple storage volumes and QNAP provides a clear explanation of each option. After picking RAID5 from array list, we declined volume encryption and left the appliance to set itself up – simple.

Excellent performance

The TS-453mini delivers on its speed promises with Iometer reporting fast raw read and write speeds for a network share of 113MB/sec and 112MB/sec. General backup performance is just as good with our 22.4GB folder of 10,500 small files copied over at an average of 86MB/sec.

The appliance has dual Gigabit ports and QNAP claims top read and write speeds of 220MB/sec. To test this, we used a pair of Xeon E5-2600 v3 servers connected to dedicated shares on the RAID-5 volume over their own Gigabit connection.

We fired up Iometer on both servers and watched it return cumulative read and write speeds of 226MB/sec and 224MB/sec with CPU utilization rarely going above 45%. This isn’t surprising as the J1900 is the same CPU as used in QNAP’s TS-853U-RP rack appliance which mustered cumulative read and write speeds of 428MB/sec and 426MB/sec over its four Gigabit ports.

QvPC technology

CAPTION

The Virtualization Station allows the appliance to run other operating systems inside VMs

QNAP’s QvPC technology lets you use the appliance as a PC but you need to ensure both the HybridDesk Station and Virtualization Station components are installed. The latter is a smart feature which allows the TS-453mini to act as a virtual machine (VM) host where it can run operating systems within VMs.

We created a medium sized VM using the wizard and installed Windows Server 2012 R2 from an ISO file on the appliance in less than 20 minutes. Bear in mind the Virtualization Station requires one network port dedicated to VM usage.

To access the VM locally, we logged in from the monitor, mouse and keyboard attached to the appliance and selected the QTS option which took us to the main administrative web interface. After loading the Virtualization Station app, we selected the VM, opened up its console and accessed the Windows OS in the VM as normal.

You’ll need the HybridDesk Station installed to use the appliance as a media server or PC

HybridDesk Station has a lot of other uses as you can put an HD TV on the appliance and watch video feeds. It provides a wide range of other apps including the latest Kodi HD media player and QNAP even includes its RM-IR002 remote control handset.

More features

CAPTION

Qnap has an app for every occasion and the TS-435mini can run them all

There’s nothing in QNAP’s QTS software the TS-453mini can’t run so you have heaps of apps to play with including its Backup Station. The RTRR (real time remote replication) feature lets you synchronize folders with other QNAP appliances or you can use the standard Rsync option with other vendor’s compliant products.

Data can be backed up to the Amazon S3, Amazon Glacier, Microsoft Azure and ElephantDrive cloud storage hosts. File synching apps aren’t as extensive as those offered by Synology but we found QNAP’s Dropbox app very easy to set up and use.

The Surveillance Station comes with two recording channel licenses included, supports a wide range of IP cameras and provides live views, motion detection and scheduled recording facilities. If you have a fancy for IP SANs, the TS-453mini can do that as you can use volumes to create multiple iSCSI targets.

The appliance is ideally suited to home and small office environments as we found it was virtually silent. It has a blue LED indicator across the front to advise when it’s gone to sleep and if you run out of storage space, the appliance accepts two 5-bay UX-500 or two 8-bay UX-800 USB 3 desktop expansion units.

PROS:
  • Sleek design
  • Big memory capacity
  • Very good performance
  • QvPC technology
  • Near silent operation

CONS:
  • Shiny chassis is easily marked

Summary

The TS-453mini surprises on a number of counts as it’s packed with features and delivers a performance that belies its compact dimensions. The 8GB model is good value as well but keep a polishing cloth handy as the shiny black exterior shows every fingerprint.

8.8 Total Score
Packed With Features and Performance

The TS-453mini surprises on a number of counts as it’s packed with features and delivers a performance that belies its compact dimensions. The 8GB model is good value as well but keep a polishing cloth handy as the shiny black exterior shows every fingerprint.

Performance
9
Features
9
Build Quality
8.5
Usability
9
Value
8.5
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