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Qnap TS-983XU-E2124-8G Review

Qnap has always been an innovator for NAS appliance design and its latest TS-x83XU family takes this to the next level. Not only are these the first on the market to sport Intel’s new Xeon E (Entry) CPUs but they also support server-grade DDR4 ECC memory and come 10GbE-ready out of the box.

On review, we have the 1U TS-983XU-E2124-8G which at first glance, looks like a standard 4-bay rack NAS. However, what lies beneath is of more interest as the ‘9’ in its model name indicates that it supports 9 drives.

It’s a real powerhouse as it comes with a fast 3.3GHz quad-core Intel Xeon E-2124 CPU and a generous 8GB of DDR4 ECC memory expandable to 64GB. Port permutations are quite remarkable as you have two Type-C 10Gbps Gen2 USB 3.1, four Type-A 5Gbps Gen1 USB 3.1, dual copper Gigabit and a pair of 10GbE SFP+ fiber ports.

There’s room for more as the appliance has a free PCI-Express slot which supports Qnap’s dual-port copper 10GbE card, its SAS3 storage expansion card or a GPGPU adapter. We have the single 250W PSU model but the RP version comes with dual redundant 300W PSUs.

Design inside

The TS-983XU and its Xeon E CPU delivers excellent IP SAN performance

Qnap has been very clever with the appliance’s internal design as lifting the lid reveals a row of five SFF trays above the four standard LFF hot-swap bays. Installing SSDs is simple as you remove the tray, load an SSD, pop the tray back in and secure it with the single carrier screw.

Unlike Intel’s low-power Atom CPUs, the Xeon E-2124 has a comparatively high 71W TDP but rest assured, Qnap has taken cooling very seriously. The Xeon E CPU is covered by a massive finned aluminum heatsink measuring over 8in. in length and teamed up with two dual-rotor fans positioned in front.

Even with the third internal cooling fan and the PSU fans running, we found the appliance to be pleasantly quiet. Using the excellent SPLnFFT iOS app on our iPad, we recorded noise levels of only 38.2dB from one meter in front.

Four standard DIMM slots sit to the side of the CPU heatsink and the appliance is supplied with two 4GB modules. For 10GbE operations you will need to factor in the cost of additional transceivers which are not included and we had no problems using standard Finisar and Avago 10Gbase-SR 850nm modules.

The need for speed

Up to five SSDs are supported and can be used to create a high-performance data tier on demand

For performance testing, we installed four 10TB Seagate IronWolf NAS drives in the appliance and created a big RAID5 storage pool. We then hooked it up over 10GbE to a Dell EMC PowerEdge T640 Xeon Scalable tower server running Windows Server 2016 and equipped with an Emulex dual-port 10GbE fiber adapter.

Raw NAS speeds are exceptional with Iometer reporting sequential read and write rates for a mapped share both of 9.2Gbits/sec. We increased the pressure by mapping a second share to another Xeon Scalable server and saw cumulative Iometer read and write rates of 18.3Gbits/sec and 15.4Gbits/sec.

It didn’t falter in our real world tests with drag and drop copies of a 25GB test file returning read and write rates of 5.3Gbits/sec and 4.9Gbits/sec. Our backup test to secure a 22.4GB folder and its 10,500 small files averaged a speedy 2.6Gbits/sec.

Encryption performance is another winner as copying our 25GB test file to an encrypted share averaged a fast 3.5Gbits/sec. We also noted that during this test, appliance CPU utilization only ramped up to 38%.

IP SAN performance is equally good with a 500GB target returning top Iometer sequential read and write rates both of 9.2Gbits/sec. We then created a dual 10GbE MPIO link to the target and recorded average read and write rates of 18.4Gbits/sec and 11Gbits/sec.

Storage services and virtualization

The appliance is a great candidate for virtualization duties and Qnap offers plenty of apps to manage VMs

You have two main options for the internal SFF bays as you can use SSDs to provide a high speed caching facility. We installed three 1TB SATA SSDs and had no problems creating a RAID5 read/write cache which could be assigned to selected NAS volumes and iSCSI LUNs.

The Qtier 2.0 feature in the Storage & Snapshots app offers tiering on demand where a wizard identifies spare SSDs, offers to create a new high-performance tier and upgrades the selected storage pool on the fly. Data migration between the two tiers can be controlled with a schedule and you can decide which tier new data should be first placed in but bear in mind that once Qtier has been applied to a storage pool, it can’t be removed.

Qnap’s snapshot services are excellent and unlike most competing NAS vendors, they support standard EXT4 file systems and don’t require BTRFS-formatted volumes. 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 & Snapshots app. NAS snapshots can also be browsed using the File Station 5 app so you can restore individual folders and files.

Qnap provides plenty of valuable backup apps for appliance and workstation data protection and the appliance’s high memory capacity and fast CPU makes it a good choice for virtualization duties. The Linux Station can be used to run Ubuntu alongside QTS, the Container Station supports LXC and Docker apps in lightweight containers while the Virtualization Station 3 can host pretty much any OS you want.

Conclusion

Big on performance and features, Qnap’s TS-983XU scores over the competition for its innovative design which squeezes 4 LFF HDD and 5 SFF SSD bays into a 1U chassis. You are paying a premium for the privilege of owning one of the first Xeon E-equipped NAS appliances but it delivers on all counts with Qnap’s QTS software offering a wealth of valuable storage, virtualization and data protection services.

8.9 Total Score

Big on performance and features, Qnap’s TS-983XU scores over the competition for its innovative design which squeezes 4 LFF HDD and 5 SFF SSD bays into a 1U chassis. You are paying a premium for the privilege of owning one of the first Xeon E-equipped NAS appliances but it delivers on all counts with Qnap’s QTS software offering a wealth of valuable storage, virtualization and data protection services.

Performance
9.5
Features
9.5
Build quality
9
Usability
9
Value
7.5
PROS
  • Fast Xeon E CPU
  • Server grade memory
  • Clever internal storage design
  • Dual 10GbE SFP+ ports
  • Feature-heavy QTS 4.3.5 software
CONS
  • A little pricey
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