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Qnap TVS-951X Review

Continuing Qnap’s fascination with hybrid NAS appliances, the latest TVS-951X delivers an interesting mix of LFF and SFF drive bays in a very compact desktop box. It also goes one step beyond its other 9-bay brethren – the TS-963X and TS-932X – as the ‘V’ in its model name indicates it sports an HDMI port for multimedia duties.

Under its hood lurks a 1.8GHz Intel Celeron 3865U CPU partnered by 8GB of DDR4 memory expandable to 32GB. The CPU may only be a dual-core model but its 15W TDP rating is low and it incorporates Intel’s HD Graphics 610 to deliver dual-channel 4K H.264/H.265 hardware decoding and real-time transcoding.

Storage capacity looks good as it offers five LFF and four SFF hot-swap drive bays at the front. The SFF bays are primarily designed to provide a high performance SSD caching facility and also support Qnap’s QTier feature which manages two storage tiers, monitors storage pool activity and migrates data blocks across them based on usage.

High-speed networking is now the norm as along with a single Gigabit, the TVS-951X has an embedded 10GBase-T port which supports NBase-T technology. This allows it to handle multi-Gigabit speeds of 5GbE, 2.5GbE, 1GbE and 100Mbits/sec allowing businesses to step up to 5GBase-T without having to rip and replace their existing Cat5e/Cat6 wiring.

Build and installation

The appliance’s Celeron CPU supports all of Qnap’s excellent backup apps

The plastic chassis feels sturdy enough and the appliance is very quiet as we measured sounds levels from one meter in front of only 36.2dB in idle rising to 40-41dB during periods of heavy disk activity. The plastic tool-free drive carriers are a little flimsy but we had no problems snapping in a quartet of 10TB Seagate IronWolf NAS drives.

The 8GB of memory is supplied on two 4GB sticks which you’ll have to ditch if you want to upgrade as the appliance only has two SO-DIMM slots. They are easy to access though, as you simply remove the five LFF drive carriers to reveal both slots in the left side.

Four USB 3 ports are provided and the rear ones can be used to expand capacity outside the box using Qnap’s 5-bay UX-500P or 8-bay UX-800P desktop enclosures. The single USB 3 port at the front teams up with Qnap’s One-Touch Copy button for quickly copying the contents of an inserted USB device to a predefined local folder.

Installation is pleasantly swift as Qnap’s QFinder app discovered the appliance on the network, loaded the latest QTS 4.3.5 production software and offered good advice on the various types of storage pools available. We opted for a thick storage pool which supports multiple volumes without thin provisioning but offers better performance than a thin pool.

10GbE performance

Encryption performance is good but it takes a heavy toll on the CPU

To test NAS and IP SAN speeds over 10GbE, we hooked the appliance up to a Dell PowerEdge T640 Xeon Scalable tower server running Windows Server 2016. With a share mapped to the server, Iometer reported sequential read and write speeds of 6.6Gbits/sec and 6.2Gbits/sec.

Real world performance was good with copies of a 25GB test file delivering average read and write rates of 4.8Gbits/sec and 3.5Gbits/sec. The TS-951X also handled our backup test well with a 22.4GB folder and 10,500 small files copied to the appliance at 1.9Gbits/sec.

Encryption performance was surprisingly good as copying our 25GB test file to a share on an encrypted volume averaged 2.5Gbits/sec. This speed does come at a high cost though, as encryption hammered the CPU at a full 100% utilization.

IP SANS are simple to create and delivered a similar performance to NAS shares. With the server connected to a 500GB iSCSI target over 10GbE, we watched Iometer report average sequential read and write rates of 6.6Gbits/sec and 5.6Gbits/sec.

QTS 4.3.5

The latest QTS 4.3.5 allows you to add an SSD tier to a storage pool on demand

If you like the look of Qnap’s 9-bay hybrid appliances but aren’t sure which one to go for, bear in mind that the cheaper TS-932X and its ARM-based Alpine CPU can’t run some of Qnap’s apps as a lot only support x86 CPUs. No such problems with the TVS-951X as its Celeron supports everything on Qnap’s books.

Flagship backup apps include Storage & Snapshots, Hybrid Backup Sync, Cloud Backup Sync and Qsync Central. Virtualization options don’t get any better as the TVS-951X can run the Linux Station, Container Station and the slick Virtualization Station 3 which allows the appliance to host VMs running virtually any OS you please.

The latest QTS 4.3.5 official release introduces the updated Network & Virtual Switch app which supports software-defined networks while QTier now allows you to add an SSD tier to existing storage pools on demand. Other valuable new features include the Security Counselor app, a new Notification Center and full support for Seagate’s IronWolf Health Management (IHM).

Naturally, multimedia is a top priority with the Music, Video and Photo Stations turning the appliance into a complete entertainment center. We could browse our music and films, create playlists and select the speaker-out socket on the appliance for sending audio to.

Connecting a USB mouse and keyboard and an HD TV to the HDMI port displays an option to install the HybridDesk Station app where we used the HD Player app to view our movie, music and photo collections. Playback controls for movies are good and after installing the PhotoStation HD plug-in, we accessed the Photo Station app remotely and created slideshows from selected albums complete with background music.

Conclusion

Of Qnap’s three 9-bay appliance models, we recommend the TVS-951X as it’s the most versatile and is faster than the TS-963X over 10GbE. It is the most expensive of the range but only by a few dollars more, it’s multimedia-ready and the Intel Celeron CPU allows it to support all of Qnap’s vast range of apps.

8.2 Total Score

Of Qnap’s three 9-bay appliance models, we recommend the TVS-951X as it’s the most versatile and is faster than the TS-963X over 10GbE. It is the most expensive of the range but only by a few dollars more, it’s multimedia-ready and the Intel Celeron CPU allows it to support all of Qnap’s vast range of apps.

Performance
7.5
Features
8.5
Build quality
8.5
Usability
8.5
Value
8
PROS
  • Good value
  • Multi-Gigabit 10GBase-T port
  • Reasonable 10GbE performance
  • Versatile mix of LFF and SFF bays
  • Great backup apps
  • HDMI port
CONS
  • Encryption hits the CPU hard
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