As the latest member of Qnap’s burgeoning enterprise NAS appliance family, the TS-883XU delivers the hardware features you’d expect to see in a business server. Fired up by a 3.3GHz Xeon E-2124 quad-core CPU, this 8-bay rack mount appliance uses server-grade DDR4 ECC memory and sports a PCIe card with dual 10GbE SFP+ fibre ports.
The appliance comes with 8GB of memory as standard although considering the price, we would have expected at least 16GB to be included. Nevertheless, its four standard DIMM slots allow memory to be pushed to the maximum 64GB supported by the Xeon E CPU.
Along with the dual 10GbE ports, you get four embedded Gigabit ports and wealth of USB options. The appliance offers four Type A and two Type C USB 3.1 10Gbits/sec ports which can be used to attach high-speed storage devices or to expand capacity using Qnap’s 8 and 12-bay USB-enabled expansion shelves.
Hardware and expansion
The appliance presents a tidy interior with easy access afforded to the three free PCIe expansion slots for future upgrades. Qnap offers plenty of 10GbE adapter card choices along with 40/56GbE Mellanox models and it’s also pushing its own 16/32Gbps Fibre Channel cards, although we can confirm that the lab’s ATTO Celerity FC-164P quad-port 16Gbps FC cards worked fine with this appliance.
The CPU is covered by a passive aluminum heatsink and all cooling is handled by two small and reasonably quiet 6cms diameter fans mounted behind the drive backplane. The four DIMM slots are easily accessed but the 8GB of memory is supplied on two 4GB modules which will have be ditched if you want to go beyond 16GB.
The appliance uses the same motherboard as the TVS-872XU model but with the HDMI port removed. You don’t get any embedded M.2 NVMe SSD slots but this can be remedied by fitting Qnap’s dual or quad-slot M.2 expansion cards.
10GbE, FC and SSD caching performance
For testing, we loaded up four 16TB Seagate IronWolf NAS drive and created a big 44TB RAID5 storage pool. With the lab’s Dell PowerEdge T640 Windows server connected over 10GbE fibre and mapped to a NAS share, we saw top Iometer sequential read and write rates both of 9.2Gbits/sec.
Real world speeds are equally impressive with drag and drop copies of a 25GB file returning average read and write speeds of 5.3Gbit/sec and 4.3Gbits/sec. Copying the 25GB test file to an encrypted folder averaged a very creditable 3.1Gbits/sec and our backup test was also handled well with a 22.4GB folder containing 10,500 small files secured to the share at 2.7Gbits/sec.
IP SAN performance is also great with a 500GB iSCSI target returning Iometer read and write rates of 9.2Gbits/sec and 9.1Gbits/sec. We heaped the pressure on with a dual 10GbE MPIO link and saw speeds increase nicely to 18Gbits/sec and 17.7Gbits/sec.
Swapping over to our ATTO Celerity FC-164P quad-port 16Gbps FC cards, we can report that FC performance is impeccable. With a single fibre link to a 750GB LUN, we saw Iometer report rock-steady sequential read and write rates of 12.3Gbits/sec and 12.1Gbits/sec while a dual MPIO link to the LUN saw speeds ramp up to 24.6Gbits/sec and 24.2Gbits/sec.
Qnap’s caching can make a big difference to random write performance and we tested this with a mirrored cache comprising two enterprise-class 1.92TB Micron 5200 Max SATA SSDs. Prior to assigning it to the HDD storage pool, we recorded only 0.8Gbits/sec on our iSCSI MPIO link but with the cache assigned, this jumped by 337% to 3.5Gbits/sec.
Qnap’s latest QTS 4.4.1 software has a sharp focus on improved storage and backup features. You can now use Samsung’s new SED (self-encrypting drive) SSDs and happily add, remove or modify SSD RAID arrays on the fly in the Qtier 2 storage auto-tiering feature.
Along with the aforementioned support for FC adapters, Qnap provides the separate iSCSI & Fibre Channel app for creating and mapping storage. Its simple console makes it easy to create thick and thinly provisioned file or block-based LUNs and either map them to all FC ports or use groups to decide which ones the LUNs are presented on.
QTS is capable of boosting performance for cloud storage as the HybridMount app allows you to mount storage from providers such as Dropbox, OneDrive and Google Drive as NAS shares and assign a local cache to them. Bear in mind you only get licenses for two providers included with extra ones costing $20 each.
The VJBOD Cloud add-in snaps into the Storage & Snapshots app and allows cloud storage from providers including Amazon S3 and Microsoft Azure to be mounted locally. You get one provider license included with more costing $60 each, where you can present cloud storage as block-based NAS, iSCSI or Fibre Channel volumes and assign SSD caching to them.
Qnap is still the only NAS vendor that supports snapshots on standard EXT4 volumes and data protection gets an even bigger boost with the Hybrid Backup Sync (HBS) 3 app. Its central console aims to simplify the creation of business backup strategies where you create Storage Spaces to define multiple local, remote or cloud destinations and optionally use the built-in QuDedupe tool to apply source-based deduplication and compression to reduce the amount backup storage space used.
The TS-883XU is a powerful rack NAS appliance capable of delivering excellent performance for NAS, IP SAN and FC SAN applications while the new QTS 4.4.1 software adds extra levels of storage versatility. This is clearly a very capable NAS with plenty of room to expand but even with the inclusion of the dual 10GbE ports, the high price tag of $3,200 makes this an expensive option for SMBs.
- Excellent all-round performer
- Xeon E-2100 CPU
- Dual 10GbE ports
- FC adapter support
- Feature-rich QTS 4.4.1 software
- No embedded M.2 NVMe SSD slots
- Only 8GB of memory included