Qnap’s latest TVS-x73e family of NAS appliances are designed to offer a more economical option to the TVS-x73 products. They come with smaller amounts of starter memory and a few other components removed that some businesses may not want to pay for.
On review is the 6-bay TVS-673e which looks identical to the TVS-673 as both use the same gaudy golden chassis. The TVS-673e starts with 4GB of DDR4 memory (we review the 8GB model) and keeps the four SO-DIMM slots so you can still upgrade to the maximum 64GB if you wish.
The PCI-Express card with dual 10Gbits/sec USB 3.1 Type-A ports has also been removed. We can’t see many users needing this but you can add it later on for $65. The only other item that’s been left out of the box is Qnap’s IR remote control handset which cost around $30.
The TVS-673e uses the same embedded 2.1GHz AMD RX-421BD SoC (system on chip). Multimedia is still a priority as this quad-core chip also has an embedded Radeon R7 GPU.
Video is piped out to a pair of 4K HDMI outputs at the rear and the appliance also has a weedy little internal speaker, a 3.5mm audio-out socket and two 3.5mm audio-in microphone jacks. The appliance has quad embedded Gigabit ports and dispensing with the USB 3.1 card means both PCI-Express slots are free for future upgrades.
Everything else is easily accessible with the four SO-DIMM memory slots sitting comfortably on the side-mounted motherboard. Beneath these are dual M.2 SATA SSD slots that accept 2280/2260 modules (but not the longer 110mm cards) that can be teamed up with Qnap’s Qtier feature.
External expansion is impressive as the TVS-673e can handle two UX-500P or UX-800P USB desktop units. Add Qnap’s dual-port SAS adapter card and you can attach up to four 10-bay REXP-1000 Pro enclosures.
For 10GbE testing, we installed an Emulex dual-port 10GBase-T card but had some problems with the power supply unit. This blocks access to the back-plate mounting screws so you’ll either need an L-shaped screwdriver or remove the supply to gain full access.
The TVS-673e delivered good NAS speeds with a share mapped to a Lenovo dual Xeon E5-2600 v4 Windows rack server returning raw Iometer read and write speeds of 9.2Gbits/sec and 6.9Gbits/sec – slightly better than Qnap’s claims.
Drag and drop copies of a 25GB test file returned average read and write speeds of 5.7Gbits/sec and 3.8Gbits/sec. It handled our backup test well as securing a 22.4GB test folder and its 10,500 small files to the share averaged a very respectable 2Gbits/sec.
General IP SAN performance is good but the appliance’s CPU will falter under extreme pressure. A single link to a 500GB target returned raw read and write speeds of 8.6Gbit/sec and 7.9Gbits/sec whereas a dual 10GbE MPIO link saw read rates only increase to 12.3Gbits/sec and writes fall to 7.3Gbits/sec with CPU utilization peaking at 85%.
QTS 4.3.4 and snapshots
Qnap’s latest QTS 4.3.4 software delivers a wealth of new business-related features and one that makes Qnap stand out is its ability to snapshot EXT4 volumes. Unlike other vendors that had to implement BTRFS to achieve this, Qnap’s EXT4 snapshots work on all appliances regardless of their CPU architecture.
You’ll come across these in the Storage and Snapshots app which provides access to all storage configuration tools. NAS and IP SAN snapshots can be run on-demand or you can use the Snapshot Manager to schedule them as often as every 5 minutes.
Selecting scheduled smart snapshots saves on space as they’ll only be taken if data has changed since the last one. Data recovery is equally easy to use as we restored entire NAS shares or individual files and recovered iSCSI LUNs from selected snapshots.
Station to station
As a multimedia device the TVS-673e has a lot to offer and when we connected an HD TV to one of its HDMI ports, the welcome screen offered to load the HybridDesk Station app. With a keyboard and mouse also attached, we could run apps such as the HD Player and view our movie, music and photo collections.
The PhotoStation HD (Local Display) plug-in allowed us to access the Photo Station app remotely and create slideshows from selected albums complete with background music. The HybridDesk Station also presented a desktop on the TV where we could load Chrome or Firefox browsers and directly access the QTS management console.
The new File Station 5 app makes NAS data recovery even easier as you can use it browse share snapshots, choose folders or files and restore them with a few clicks. The Linux Station allows the TVS-673e to run Ubuntu alongside QTS and output its video and audio to a selected HDMI port.
The Virtualization Station allows the appliance to host VMs running virtually any OS you want. The Network and Virtual Switch app also comes into play here as it negates the need to dedicate network ports to VM usage.
This ‘economy’ version of the TVS-673 is a good choice for SMBs that want to save some cash and have the option to upgrade features later on if required. The 8GB model we have costs around $250 less than the TVS-673-8G version and only strips out non-essential features such as the USB 3.1 card and remote control handset.
The TVS-673e offers plenty of multimedia features for those that want them and can be easily upgraded to handle Qnap’s virtualization apps. Overall 10GbE performance is good enough for light to medium business usage and the latest QTS software delivers an abundance of storage and data protection features.