Value

Qnap TS-932PX Review

This can’t be right – a NAS appliance with nine drive bays plus dual 2.5GbE and 10GbE ports for only $549. You read it right as Qnap’s TS-932PX really does deliver all these features for such a remarkably low price.

It’s a compact desktop appliance that presents a smart combination of five LFF and four SFF hot-swap SATA bays. You can dedicate the LFF bays to high-capacity drives and use the SFF bays with SSDs for high-speed storage pools, a read/write cache or as a performance tier for Qnap’s Qtier 2 data migration feature.

TS-932PX hero shot

Click to enlarge

Powered by a quad-core 1.7GHz Amazon Alpine AL-324 ARM CPU, the TS-932PX comes with 4GB of DDR4 memory which can be expanded to 16GB. Note that the 10GbE ports are the SFP+ fibre variety so you’ll need to factor in the cost of laser transceivers as these aren’t included.

Along with the network ports, you have dual USB 3.2 Gen 1 ports at the rear which can be used to attach external storage devices or up to two of Qnap’s USB disk expansion enclosures. The USB 3.2 port at the front links up with the Backup button surrounding it for instant copies of data between an inserted storage device and a predefined folder on the appliance.

TS-932PX rear view

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TS-932PX Build quality and limitations

The TS-932PX is clothed in a sturdy plastic chassis which uses tool-free carriers for all bays. Cooling is handled by a large 14cms diameter rear fan which we found ran very quietly.

High performance networking comes as standard with dual 2.5GbE and 10GbE SFP+ fibre ports

For memory upgrades, removing the five LFF drive carriers gives access to the SO-DIMM slot located in the side of the chassis. Qnap doesn’t offer any models with more memory as standard so an upgrade will mean losing the existing 4GB stick.

If you plan on using SSDs for caching don’t waste your money on large capacity models. Unlike Qnap’s Intel and AMD appliances which support up to 4TB caches, all ARM-based models only allow a maximum cache size of 1TB.

There are a number of software limitations too, as ARM-based appliances can’t run apps such as the Virtualization Station and the new Hyper Data Protector. The TS-932PX does support all key backup and data protection apps along with snapshots but if you’re unsure, we recommend checking Qnap’s support site to see what apps are available.

2.5GbE and 10GbE performance

To test performance, we installed three 16TB Seagate IronWolf NAS drives and used the Storage & Snapshots app to create a big 32TB RAID5 storage pool. Our test host was an HPE ProLiant DL180 Gen10 rack server equipped with dual Xeon Scalable Platinum 8153 CPUs plus a dual-port Emulex 10GbE fibre adapter and running Windows Server 2019.

You are limited to a 1TB cache size but it will make big improvements to random write performance

When we started our tests, we found the appliance occasionally complained about insufficient cache memory which had an impact on performance. We chose to upgrade the appliance to 8GB of DDR4 and found this issue didn’t occur again.

For 2.5GbE testing, we hooked the appliance up to the lab’s Netgear MS510TX multi-Gigabit switch and saw nothing to be concerned about. For a mapped share, Iometer recorded good sequential read and write rates both of 2.3Gbits/sec with our 25GB file copies averaging the same speeds.

Swapping over to direct 10GbE fibre connections, we saw Iometer report very good sequential read rates for our NAS share of 9.2Gbits/sec but a noticeably lower 6.3Gbits/sec for write operations. Our large file copies averaged read and write rates of 3.7Gbits.sec and 3.3Gbits/sec while our data backup test returned a respectable 2.1Gbits/sec.

IP SAN performance was in the same ballpark with a 500GB iSCSI target returning Iometer read and write speeds of 9.2Gbits/sec and 3.6Gbits/sec. We increased the pressure with a dual 10GbE MPIO link to the target and watched read and write speeds increase to 16.3Gbits/sec and 5.8Gbits/sec.

TS-932PX Caching and tiering

SSD caches are easy to create from the Storage & Snapshots app where you choose your storage pool and devices, opt for a read-only or read-write cache and decide whether to accelerate all I/O or only random operations. For testing, we fitted a pair of 1TB SSDs and created a mirrored read/write cache with all I/O accelerated.

SSDs of any size can be used to create a tiered storage pool with automatic data migration

Using a 10GbE MPIO link to our 500GB iSCSI target, we found caching made very little difference to sequential and random read operations. Sequential write operations improved marginally but the biggest difference was with random writes as the cache boosted Iometer rates from 0.5Gbits/sec to 3.4Gbits.sec – an increase of over 630%.

It was the same story for I/O throughput with sequential read and write rates for our iSCSI target showing no significant improvements. Random reads increased from 79,100 IOPS to 85,000 IOPS while random writes rose magnificently from only 575 IOPS to 14,900 IOPS.

Adding SSDs as tiered storage is swift as Qtier 2 provides a wizard which identifies newly installed devices, offers to create a high-performance tier and upgrades the storage pool on the fly. Cache size limits don’t apply here as the high-performance SSD tier is essentially a standard storage pool with RAID applied so we used three 1.92TB Seagate IronWolf 110 SSDs in a RAID5 array.

Data migration between tiers can be fully automated where the appliance monitors usage and migrates data during quiet periods. It can also be controlled by applying a schedule and you can choose which tier new data should be first placed in.

 Conclusion

The TS-932PX is a tempting proposition for budget-conscious remote workers and small businesses as it delivers an impressive range of features. The mix of LFF and SFF drive bays makes it very versatile and it teams them up with high-performance multi-Gigabit and 10GbE ports.

There are some limitations such as a maximum 1TB cache size plus reduced QTS app support and we would also suggest that power users upgrade memory to at least 8GB to get the best from it. That said, this 9-bay desktop appliance is ideal for those that want a high capacity backup and file sharing vault with integral multi-Gigabit and 10GbE support at a give-away price.

TS-932PX
QNAP TS-932PX 5 (+4) Bay 4G 64-bit NAS
$549.00
Qnap TS-932PX Review
8 Total Score
Budget Friendly NAS

The TS-932PX is a tempting proposition for budget-conscious remote workers and small businesses as it delivers an impressive range of features. The mix of LFF and SFF drive bays makes it very versatile and it teams them up with high-performance multi-Gigabit and 10GbE ports.

Performance
8.5
Features
7
Build quality
8.5
Usability
7
Value
9
PROS
  • Excellent value
  • Small footprint chassis
  • Dual 2.5GbE and 10GbE ports
  • Good overall performance
  • Supports all key QTS backup apps
CONS
  • Single memory slot
  • Some apps not supported by ARM CPU
  • Maximum 1TB SSD cache size

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