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QNAP TS-h1290FX Review

QNAP made a bold move into the enterprise all-Flash storage market with its classy TS-h2490FU as this 2U rack mount array delivers a high-performance, high-capacity NVMe SSD solution at a competitive price. Now QNAP wants SMBs to enjoy the same benefits but at an even more tempting price, as the TS-h1290FX is its first desktop U.2 NVMe SSD array.

Targeting heavy-duty workloads such as real-time 4K/8K video editing and content creation, the TS-h1290FX offers 12 SFF storage bays. QNAP adds even more flexibility as unlike the TS-h2490FU, this desktop version supports both Gen 4 U.2 NVMe SSDs and lower-cost SATA devices.

It looks capable of handling a high demand and is offered with a choice of two AMD EPYC CPUs. We review the entry-level model which is powered by 8-core 3.1GHz AMD EPYC 7232P partnered by 64GB of DDR4 memory which can be expanded to a massive 1TB.

Network connections are plentiful as the TS-h1290FX includes dual embedded 2.5GbE multi-Gigabit and 25GbE SFP28 ports. There’s room to add a lot more as you have four free expansion slots and they are all the high-performance PCI-E Gen 4 variety.

TS-h1290FX Build quality and design

TS-h1290FX supports 12 U.2 NVME SSDs or SATA HDDs and SSDs

TS-h1290FX supports 12 U.2 NVME SSDs or SATA HDDs and SSDs – Click to enlarge

Build quality is excellent with the TS-h1290FX presented in a solid pressed steel chassis with an equally sturdy metal lid. The front bays use metal carriers and each can be locked in place with a special key.

Underneath the lid, you’ll find a tidy interior with easy access afforded to all key components for swift upgrade maneuvers. The only issue we have is that QNAP has decided to populate all eight DIMM slots with 8GB sticks so any upgrades will mean losing existing modules.

The expansion slots can be used for fitting additional GPGPU cards and QNAP includes two extra cables for providing additional power. External storage expansion is very good as the rear USB 3.2 ports support QNAP’s optional expansion tower and rack units and you can fit SATA or SAS expansion cards.

Content creators that want the TS-h1290FX next to them on their desk will approve of QNAP’s cooling arrangements. Along with a big 750W internal power supply, a pair of 9cms diameter fans are used for general chassis cooling and during testing, we found the appliance to be remarkably quiet.

QNAP TS-h1290FX – A speedy 25GbE performer

To test 25GbE performance, we installed QNAP’s QuTS on the appliance, loaded twelve 1.6TB WD DC SN640 U.2 NVMe SSDs, and created a single RAID5 array. For our host system, we used a Dell EMC PowerEdge R650xs rack server equipped with two 28-core Xeon Scalable Gold 6330 CPUs, 256GB of DDR4, and two dual-port 25GbE network cards with Windows Server 2022 at the helm.

The TS-h1290FX has excellent IP SAN performance

The appliance delivered excellent IP SAN performance over a quad 25GbE MPIO link – click to enlarge

We found 25GbE NAS performance to be superb as a share mapped to our server over a single DAC (direct access cable) connection delivered top sequential read and write speeds both of 23.1Gbits/sec. Swapping to random read and write operations saw Iometer report 23Gbits/sec and 22.8Gbits/sec.

The TS-h1290FX didn’t falter with IP SANs either as a 1TB iSCSI target delivered sequential read and write speeds of 22.8Gbits/sec and 23.1Gbits/sec with I/O throughputs using 4KB block sizes measured at 163,200 and 142,200 IOPS. Random operations were very good too, with Iometer reporting speeds of 22.3Gbits/sec and 22.8Gbits/sec and I/O throughputs of 162,800 and 99,800 IOPS.

Increasing the pressure with a dual 25GbE MPIO connection to the target saw Iometer report sequential and random read and write speeds of 37.7Gbits/sec and 41.1Gbits/sec and 37.4Gbits/sec and 39Gbits/sec respectively. Throughput rates for sequential and random operations increased to 215,300 and 205,210 and 206,300 and 115,100 IOPS.

For our final tests, we fitted a QNAP dual-port SmartNIC 25GbE PCI-E card in the appliance and created a quad-port MPIO connection to the iSCSI target. The appliance continued to deliver as we recorded sequential and random read and write speeds of 58.9Gbits/sec and 59.5Gbits/sec and 50.2Gbits/sec and 51.5Gbits/sec. Sequential and random IOPS throughput rates also saw noticeable improvements to 307,500 and 310,200 and 304,300 and 135,400.

QNAP QuTS features

As with the TS-h2490FU, you can choose from QNAP’s QTS or QuTS operating systems when you deploy the TS-h1290FX. We think the latter is the better choice as this 128-bit ZFS-based OS offers valuable enterprise features such as near unlimited NAS share and iSCSI LUN snapshots, end-to-end checksums, encryption, inline data deduplication and compression.

There’s more as along with the standard RAID array types, QuTS supports triple parity RAID to protect against three drive failures and triple mirroring which stores identical copies of your data on three drives. QuTS can also protect NAS share data from tampering as it offers two WORM (write once read many) policies.

QuTS OS

The QuTS OS provides an excellent range of storage features including WORM protection for NAS shares

The Enterprise WORM policy allows a protected folder to be deleted but stops anything in it from being individually modified or removed. The stronger Compliance policy blocks folder deletion and only allows it to be removed by deleting the entire storage pool.

QuTS matches QTS for app availability with both offering plenty of backup and file syncing apps to protect and share your precious videos. These include Hybrid Backup Sync (HBS) 3 for securing data to other NAS appliances or the cloud, Qsync Central and HybridMount.

 QNAP TS-h1290FX Diskless NAS
QNAP TS-h1290FX Diskless NAS
12-Bay all-flash desktop NAS - In stock and shipping now.
$8,339.00
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Conclusion

The TS-h12980FX is a great choice for SMBs and lone content creators that thought they couldn’t afford an NVMe all-Flash storage system. Costing less than $5,000 for a base unit, the appliance is good value and although you’ll need to factor in the costs of U.2 NVMe SSDs, the Western Digital DC SN640 devices we used are available in a wide range of capacities to suit different budgets.

The appliance is well designed and incredibly quiet, it includes dual high-speed 25GbE ports and has heaps of room to expand. Its powerful AMD EPYC CPU and DDR4 memory deliver great NAS and IP SAN performance over multiple 25GbE connections while QNAP’s QuTS software offers an impressive range of NAS and IP SAN storage and data protection services.

9.1Expert Score
TS-h12980FX is a great choice for SMBs

The TS-h12980FX is a great choice for SMBs and lone content creators that thought they couldn’t afford an NVMe all-Flash storage system. Costing less than $5,000 for a base unit, the appliance is good value.

Performance
9
Features
9.5
Build quality
9.5
Usability
9
Value
8.5
PROS
  • Good value
  • U.2 NVMe and SATA SSD support
  • AMD EPYC CPU
  • Dual embedded 25GbE ports
  • Great 25GbE performance
  • Smart design
  • Super quiet
CONS
  • No free DIMM slots

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