Qnap’s TVS-x72XU rack NAS appliances aim to be the best all-rounders on the market with a sharp focus on performance, reliability, scalability and business-class features. Driven by Intel’s 8th Gen Core CPUs, the family comprises five models and ranges from the mighty 24-bay TVS-2472XU-RP down to the slim-line TVS-972XU on review here.
The TVS-972XU may only be 1U high but actually offers nine storage bays – remove the lid and you’ll find five SFF trays sitting on top of the four LFF hot-swap bays. These accept SATA SSDs for general storage duties, as a performance enhancing cache or as part of a tier where they receive hot data from Qnap’s Qtier 2 feature.
The TVS-972XU is endowed with dual Gigabit and 10GbE SFP+ fibre ports plus two Type A and two Type C USB 3.1 10Gbits/sec ports. It has a spare PCI-e slot and the CPU’s embedded Intel UHD 630 graphics processor can pipe 4K video through to the rear HDMI 2.0 port.
Build and features
The appliance is powered by a quad-core 3.6GHz Core i3-8100 CPU partnered by 4GB of DDR4 memory. It has four standard length DIMM slots allowing memory to be pushed to 64GB making it a good choice for running Qnap’s virtualization apps.
CPU cooling is handled by Qnap’s standard 8in. long finned aluminum heatsink and triple internal fans. These are very efficient as the SPLnFFT iOS app on our iPad recorded sound levels of only 38.7dB from one meter in front.
The SSF bays are easily accessed where you remove a tray, install your SSD and secure the tray back in place with a single screw. Overall, the appliance’s interior is very tidy with the entire 9-bay backplane linked to the motherboard with a single connector board resulting in very little cable–related clutter.
For speed testing, we loaded up three 14TB Seagate IronWolf NAS drives and created a single RAID5 array using the QTS Storage and Snapshots app. With a NAS share mapped over a fibre 10GbE link to a Dell PowerEdge T640 Xeon Scalable Windows server, Iometer reported good raw sequential read rates of 9.2Gbits/sec but a slightly lower 8.4Gbits/sec for write operations.
IP SAN performance was in the same ballpark with a 500GB target returning Iometer read and write rates of 9.2Gbits/sec and 7.8Gbits/sec. Real world speeds were underwhelming with drag and drop copies of a 25GB test file to a NAS share returning comparatively low read and write rates of 3.8Gbits/sec and 3.1Gbits/sec.
It handled our backup test better with a 22.4GB folder containing 10,500 small files secured to a share at a respectable 2.2Gbits/sec. Encryption performance was also reasonable with our 25GB test file copied to an encrypted share at an average of 2.8Gbits/sec with CPU utilization peaking at 40%.
Real world performance can be improved hugely by using SSDs. With three low-cost 1TB Ortial SSDs configured as a RAID5 array, we saw NAS read and write speeds for our 25GB file copy more than double to 8.7Gbits/sec and 6.3Gbits/sec while our backup test increased significantly to 3.8Gbits/sec.
Data protection and backup
Qnap’s Storage & Snapshots app provides first line data protection features. It scores over the competition as it can run manual and scheduled snapshots of NAS shares plus iSCSI LUNs and is the only solution that supports EXT4 volumes.
Qnap can’t match Synology’s Active Backup for Business app which offers centrally managed workstation, server and VMware protection facilities. For the TVS-972XU, you get the Hybrid Backup Sync app which is similar to Synology’s Hyper Backup app and manages local, remote, Rsync, cloud and iSCSI LUN backups.
Other backup apps include the Cloud Backup Sync add-on which enables one and two-way sync jobs with a range of cloud storage providers while the Qsync Central app lets you create a private backup cloud. A new feature in the latest QTS 4.4 that improves appliance data security is support for SED (self-encrypting drive) SSDs.
Surveillance and multimedia
Qnap’s surveillance features see big improvements as it offers the QVR Pro app with the free version including an 8-channel license and supporting 14 days of video playback. You can purchase extension licenses up to a maximum of 128 channels but to get unlimited playback, you need a QVR Pro Gold license which costs $399.
The free version offers plenty of valuable features and its auto-discover feature found our D-Link and Axis IP cameras without any problems. You can create dedicated recording storage vaults on the appliance, set up rules to manage motion detection events and use the separate QVR Pro client to view live feeds which worked fine on our Windows 10 desktops.
The HDMI port adds an extra dimension to the appliance as you can connect a mouse, keyboard plus HD TV and directly access the HybridDesk Station app. The HD Player app provides local access to your movie, music and photo collections but the business case for the HDMI port is to display camera feeds on the local HD monitor.
Similar to the QTS Surveillance Station, QVR Pro provides an app within HybridDesk Station to allow all feeds to be displayed locally. Its interface is identical to the Windows client where you can select cameras to view in the main pane, create a video wall with multiple cameras, remotely control PTZ functions and playback recordings from your vault.
Of all Qnap’s 9-bay 1U rack appliances, the TVS-972XU is the cheapest and offers the same USB, Gigabit and 10GbE port combo as the high-end TS-983XU. The combination of LFF and SFF drive bays makes it very versatile, 10GbE performance is reasonable and the combination of Qnap’s QVR Pro app and the appliance’s HDMI port make it a great choice for surveillance duties.
- Good value
- Supports 64GB of memory
- 5 internal SSD bays
- Dual fiber 10GbE ports
- QVR Pro app
- HDMI port
- Modest real world 10GbE performance