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Conclusion

Qnap TS-559 Pro: Do More Drives In Your NAS Mean More Speed?
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With the TS-459 Pro and TS-559 Pro, Qnap offers two NAS devices in the upper class of the enthusiast segment that are a attractive when it comes to build quality and equipment, as well as features. We are not surprised to find that the suggested target audience includes small and medium businesses, too. The range of products is nice and broad, as Qnap’s portfolio stretches from two-drive NAS models to heavyweight eight-drive models for business applications.

For enthusiasts and ambitious home users, the four- and five-drive bay NAS models are probably the most interesting ones. At around $900 and $1100, they are far from affordable for home users, but attractive for small businesses and enthusiasts on a larger budget. However, our question is whether you should spring for the model with four or five drive bays?

If you were speculating that the extra hard drive in the TS-559 Pro would bring some extra speed to its RAID array compared to the four-bay version, prepare to be disappointed. Our benchmarks only show performance differences in the RAID 5 degraded mode and RAID 6 mode.

But there are arguments for the TS-559 Pro other than faster transfer rates. It obviously has a higher maximum storage capacity and allows for more flexibility when it comes to the configuration of RAID modes. Depending on the requirements, the TS-559 Pro could be set to run two hard drives in RAID 1 mode, while operating the remaining three hard drives in a RAID 5 array. Security-conscious users should be particularly attracted by the possibility of running four drives as a RAID 5 array, ensuring a high storage capacity, and use the additional available hard drive as a hot spare drive or drive for temporary data. Speed is not the highest priority in that case, anyway.

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  • 0 Hide
    thomaseron , February 3, 2011 4:03 AM
    "We put four-bay and five-bad units..."
    Haha! ;-)


    EDIT: They have corrected it now... :-)
  • 0 Hide
    Zoidman , February 3, 2011 4:49 AM
    I set a TS-459 up at my work, and that machine is a piece of beauty! It runs a copy of linux on it which is root accessible by SSH thus unlocking all the potentials you could ever want! It adds a huge amount of value to the devices in my opinion and would recommend it to a business looking for a basic backup system.
  • 3 Hide
    Reynod , February 3, 2011 9:01 AM
    I would need to sell a kidney.

    /ponders
  • 3 Hide
    ProDigit10 , February 3, 2011 11:33 AM
    Who would want to pay that for a nas server?
    Just purchase a micro atx board + case + Atom N550/D525 and 2GB of ram, and install 2 or 4 harddrives in RAID.
    It'll cost you less than $400!

    5 drives and up is indeed harder to get, but definitely NOT worth trice the price!

    Besides, the Atom is a very small CPU which would bottleneck when 2 or 3 drives are copy/moving data. I don't think it's even wise from performance standpoint of view to buy any Atom NAS server with more than 3 or 4 drives!

    comment made before reading article.
  • 6 Hide
    Agges , February 3, 2011 11:42 AM
    Supporting ProDigit10's sentiment..

    How about adding a 'building your own NAS/server' guide, including testing the sweet-spot for price/performance for various set-ups..?
  • 2 Hide
    mjw , February 3, 2011 12:14 PM
    It looks like the network may be a bottleneck in a number of your tests. It would be interesting to see if the performance increases when the dual gigabit NICs are run in teaming mode.
  • 0 Hide
    KentC , February 3, 2011 1:41 PM
    I bought an Acer Home Server with 4 hot swap drive bays and one drive bay with a 1tb drive with the server OS for $350. It looks like these units provide less and cost almost three times as much. Why are they so expensive? What does 3x the cost buy me?
  • 1 Hide
    noblerabbit , February 3, 2011 2:35 PM
    I just shove 5 harddrives in my PC for my storage needs.
  • 0 Hide
    joex444 , February 3, 2011 3:32 PM
    I'm with mjw here. If the highest number you ever achieved is 116MB/s you're limited by GbE rather than anything else. When a 2 drive RAID1 performs the same as a 5 drive RAID5 you have some other problem.

    I run an external 8 bay unit, all drives filled with 2x250GB drives for OS and 6x750GB drives for RAID5. The biggest problem I have in terms of getting an idea of the true transfer rates capable is the fact that the RAID5 can write faster than the other array reads. And copying from an array to itself always has issues. So in real-world apps, my write speeds are limited by the read speed of other devices. The only logical way to untangle the two is to run a separate 6 drive RAID5 array, but I'm out of PCIe 8x slots to do so (as well as money).
  • -1 Hide
    mikem_90 , February 3, 2011 4:22 PM
    Part of what you pay for is the software development for all the features they give out of the box. Sure you could build your own, but it might not be as compact while offering hot swap and have an well designed interface with the well integrated features.

    These systems offer some very nice features I don't mind paying for.

    Keep in mind that this is the corporate version, it has a much beefier CPU than the cheaper ones that cost a few hundred dollars less. They don't offer the same performance, but not everyone needs to use volume based encryption and send the files back and forth over SSL encrypted links.
  • -1 Hide
    mikem_90 , February 3, 2011 4:34 PM
    mjwIt looks like the network may be a bottleneck in a number of your tests. It would be interesting to see if the performance increases when the dual gigabit NICs are run in teaming mode.


    I just noticed that. It looks like they only tested with one port, not both with port trunking. It would be a lot better and truer to the spirit of testing this for performance if they had bothered to get a port trunking switch and a workstation that could do the same. Dual port Intel boards are only around $150 or so.

    Its also handy to have two ports when you have a separate SAN. Keep data traffic away from regular traffic.

    But if you're needing more performance than dual Gigiabit ports can provide, you need to buy a larger SAN system.
  • 1 Hide
    KentC , February 3, 2011 5:34 PM
    Quote:
    Part of what you pay for is the software development for all the features they give out of the box. Sure you could build your own, but it might not be as compact while offering hot swap and have an well designed interface with the well integrated features.


    mikem_90, like I said, I paid $350 for a box that had 4 hot swappable drive bays and Windows Home Server included. So again, the value that one of these that costs almost 3 times as much as that escapes me.
  • 1 Hide
    chovav , February 3, 2011 6:35 PM
    I also don't understand why you didn't test is with the two Ethernet ports. If not teamed, at least as two separate networks running the test at the same time.

    Was it also not possible to connect the other esata ports and see if that makes any difference in transfer rates? be a bit more technical and try some tweaks, that's why we're here at Tom's!

    A system administrator in a small company might want to buy this nas if he knew that by using some sort of tweak or setup he can get much more out of it.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , February 3, 2011 8:37 PM
    Shouldn't you also see how additional drivers impact IOPS? This is a pretty naive conclusion = not the whole truth.
  • 2 Hide
    palladin9479 , February 4, 2011 2:20 AM
    "NAS" type devices are rarely worth it. Their nothing but linux file servers that try to disguise their front end so "anyone" can configure them. This works ~ok~ in a home environment where your average user doesn't know enough to properly configure a file server, but they cost so much money relative to what they offer that an "average" user wouldn't buy one. Business's would be better served by actually building a real file server and tailoring it to their needs. A NAS's security can not be integrated into an enterprise's security architecture, not without heavy rebuilding and modification which defeats the concept of a NAS to begin with. Go ahead, try to get a basic linux installation to work with AD security principles and use those permissions to apply access control of the files. Its possible, just not with the build your going to get on a COTS NAS device. And the moment you want to talk file encryption *boom* your performance on an Intel platform goes out the window.

    Ohh and network trunking of multiple ethernet ports requires an expensive (relatively speaking) managed switch. On the switch you must set the two (or four in my case) ports into bonded mode (not fcking trunk), then set the bonding on the host. Otherwise you only get port failover for when once cable gets unplugged.

    My suggestion if you want a network accessible linux based file server.

    MiniITX Via Nano / C7 + 2GB DDR2 memory. I suggest one of the Jetway boards coupled with a 3x1Gb daughter board, you can then bond the three ports together for 3Gbps data access and use the onboard port as a network management port. Appropriate expandable case, might have to acquire an external enclosure and use eSATA for access depending on how crazy you want to get.

    Then install CentOS 5 (Community ENTerprise OS) onto the system, CENTOS is the Open Source Red Hat Enterprise Linux distro without the propriety tools. It comes with just about everything you possible need for an Enterprise server including tools to integrate it into AD and read / write NTFS partitions. Also comes with clustering support if your into that kind of thing.

    After you build it, configure the device to use the padlock (Via integrated AES encryption) engine for cryptofs and suddenly you got full file system encryption without any performance penalty. The Via C7 / Nano can encrypt AES data in the Tbps range, easily enough to saturate any reasonable drive architecture. You can do all this for under the cost of the above four drive NAS, get much better performance, better security control, better integration tools, and more flexibility.
  • 1 Hide
    jblack , February 4, 2011 2:20 AM
    kentcmikem_90, like I said, I paid $350 for a box that had 4 hot swappable drive bays and Windows Home Server included. So again, the value that one of these that costs almost 3 times as much as that escapes me.



    Yah, but can you run Radius with that NAS and authenticate clients connecting to your WPA2-Enterprise wireless network?

    Can you run a DNS server on it, and have it serve as a slave to several other DNS servers you have running on the network? I bet you can't do iSCSI targets with that box either.
  • 0 Hide
    junixophobia , February 4, 2011 2:20 AM

    A real system admin would go for stability than overclocking capability.
    It may go very fast but it is a peace of shit if it ruins my holiday.

    Although the review is incomplete and lacking.

    1st, it did not use port trunking. two 1GB LAN port would really be a big difference
    2nd, it did not enable jumbo frame to crank out the real gig transfer that that Gig Lan port is capable of
  • 0 Hide
    palladin9479 , February 4, 2011 2:42 AM
    @junixophobia,

    Its port bonding not trunking. Trunking is when you have multiple VLAN's accessible / routeable through a single switching port. Bonding is when you have multiple switching ports configured to aggregate packets together, in essence they act as a single ethernet port. In both scenarios you require a managed switch configured for this, you can't just log into a box and check a box and it magically works.

    Yes jumbo frames would be amazing but somehow I doubt this box supports this out the box.
  • 0 Hide
    junixophobia , February 4, 2011 4:20 AM
    @palladin

    Well... That is what they said in the actual web config screen...
    Port trunking. They even define it.

    "Port Trunking provides network load balancing and fault tolerance by combining two Ethernet interfaces into one to increase the bandwidth beyond the limits of any one single interface at the same time offers the redundancy for higher availability when both interfaces are connected to the same switch that supports 'Port Trunking'."

    Additionally, you can increase the frames 1500/4074/7418/9000 and I have seen the benefits but never bothered to take statistical analysis.

    And it does have iscsi and download station aside from the usual upnp and itunes service and etc...
  • 0 Hide
    palladin9479 , February 4, 2011 4:26 AM
    Yeah their just taking liberties with marketing terms. Its just regular linux build, not even the custom ARM builds used for SOHO routers.
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