Qnap TS-863XU Review

Stepping in to Qnap’s mid-range NAS appliance family, the TS-863XU offers SMBs a high storage density at a tempting price. Value looks even better as along with 8 hot-swap drive bays currently certified for 12TB SATA hard disks, this 2U rack appliance is 10GbE ready out of the box.

The TS-863XU strengthens Qnap’s flourishing relationship with AMD as it’s powered by a quad-core 2GHz G-Series GX-420MC SoC (system on chip). The price includes 4GB of memory which can be upgraded to a maximum of 16GB but this is the slower DDR3L variety.

The AMD SoC also lacks integrated graphics making the TS-863XU better suited to storage-centric duties rather than multimedia. Port options look good though, as along with Qnap’s 10GbE single-port PCI-Express card, the appliance offers quad embedded Gigabit plus dual USB 3 and USB 2 ports.

Capacity can be increased massively as the appliance supports Qnap’s 8-bay UX-800U-RP and 12-bay UX-1200U-RP USB 3-connected rack expansion shelves. The TS-863XU is endowed with a fixed 250W PSU but for an extra $236, there’s the TS-863XU-RP model which offers dual hot-plug 250W PSUs.

Build quality and deployment

Qnap’s QFinder streamlines deployment and provides tools for quickly mapping drives

The appliance is well built and employs sturdy metal drive carriers although these are not the lockable variety. The lid is easily removed and underneath you’ll find a small motherboard with a passive heatsink on top of the AMD SoC.

Two SO-DIMM slots sit to the right and the 4GB of base memory is supplied on a single stick. Cooling is handled by two cold-swap 7cms diameter fans and the SPLnFTT iOS app on our iPad recorded pleasantly low noise levels of 40.5dB from one meter in front of the appliance.

Qnap’s Qfinder utility makes light work of installation as it discovered the appliance on our lab network and provided quick access to its web browser setup wizard. After installing four 10TB Seagate IronWolf NAS hard disks, we selected a RAID5 storage pool and left it to download and install the latest QTS 4.3.5 software.

Qfinder offers a number of other useful features as its Storage Plug and Connect option streamlines setting up and mapping NAS shares or creating, discovering and connecting to iSCSI targets. It provides direct access to shares via Windows Explorer or an FTP session, controls for remotely rebooting or powering off the appliance and a handy media upload tool.

Mixed 10GbE performance

QTS 4.3.5 presents the new Security Counselor and Notification Center apps

We connected the appliance over 10GbE to a Dell EMC PowerEdge T640 Xeon Scalable server running Windows Server 2016 and saw a real mixed bag of NAS and IP SAN speeds. With a share mapped to the server, Iometer reported excellent sequential read speeds of 9.2Gbits/sec but considerably lower write speeds of 4.3Gbits/sec.

It was the same story for our real world tests with drag and drop copies of a 25GB test file returning read and write rates of 5Gbits/sec and 2.4Gbits/sec. Likewise with our backup test, which saw our 22.4GB folder and its 10,500 small files secured to the share at only 1.1Gbits/sec.

IP SANs are easy to create from the Storage & Snapshots app and delivered a slightly lower performance. A 500GB target mapped to the server mustered Iometer sequential read and write rates of 7.7Gbits/sec and only 3.4Gbits/sec.

Watching the QTS resource monitor revealed write operations taking a heavy toll on the AMD SoC with utilization hitting 97% for some tests. Encryption had the same impact as although copies of our 25GB file to an encrypted volume returned a reasonable 1.9Gbits/sec, SoC utilization hit 99.5%.

QTS 4.3.5 new features

The Surveillance Station app makes the TS-863XU a great security monitoring and video recording vault

Qnap’s latest QTS 4.3.5 software delivers a wealth of new features with the revamped Network & Virtual Switch app supporting software-defined networks and providing facilities for isolating virtualized OSes and containers on dedicated network ports.

SSDs can be used as a high-speed read or read/write cache on selected NAS volumes and iSCSI targets while QTier now provides an upgrade wizard that guides you through adding an SSD tier to existing storage pools on demand. Seagate’s IronWolf Health Management (IHM) is supported allowing us to run on-demand and scheduled health checks on our hard disks and download the test logs.

The Security Counselor app is a valuable addition as it scans the appliance for vulnerabilities and provides good advice on locking it down against external threats. It applies one of three default security policies (or a custom one) with differing levels of protection and links up with the on-board anti-virus scanner and malware remover apps and ensures they are used regularly.

Best of the rest

Qnap’s snapshot technology is a winner as it supports standard EXT4 file systems and doesn’t require BTRFS. Snapshots are easy to create and manage as you choose a NAS share or iSCSI LUN, take them on-demand or schedule them to run regularly from the Storage & Snapshot app.

The appliance’s maximum 16GB of memory is a tad low for virtualization duties but should you decide to use them, you won’t be disappointed. The TS-863XU can run the Linux Station, Container Station and Qnap’s flagship Virtualization Station 3 which allows the appliance to host VMs running virtually any OS.

The appliance’s high storage capacity makes it a fine candidate as a video recording vault and Qnap’s Surveillance Station 5.1 provides plenty of features. It isn’t as slick as Synology’s version but does support a wide range of IP cameras including the latest 4K models, offers good recording facilities plus event management and for the TS-863XU, includes four free channel licenses.

Conclusion

The TS-863XU delivers a high storage capacity and 10GbE-readiness at a very good price. Its AMD SoC does suffer under intensive write operations but our performance tests show it can handle light to medium duties while Qnap’s excellent QTS 4.3.5 software is packed to the rafters with useful features including a great selection of data protection apps.

7.7 Total Score

The TS-863XU delivers a high storage capacity and 10GbE-readiness at a very good price. Its AMD SoC does suffer under intensive write operations but our performance tests show it can handle light to medium duties while Qnap’s excellent QTS 4.3.5 software is packed to the rafters with useful features including a great selection of data protection apps.

Performance
6
Features
8
Build quality
8.5
Usability
8
Value
8
PROS
  • Good value
  • 10GbE ready
  • High storage capacity
  • Feature-rich QTS 4.3.5 software
  • Great data protection apps
CONS
  • Underwhelming 10GbE write speeds
  • Slower DDR3 memory
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