Construction and Form Factor
Qnap is one of the vendors that builds high-dollar NAS devices--and you see that heritage in the TS-509 Pro. This device comes equipped with a 1.6 GHz Intel Celeron M420 CPU, as well as 1 GB DDR2-667 RAM, which also makes it a pretty snappy performer. But of course you must pay for such performance. If you search around, you can find one for under $900 (not including hard disks), but that's a valid ballpark price as we write this story.
For this tidy sum, you get a NAS device with five drive bays, lots of ports and connections, and a well-built solid steel case (even if the front panel of this NAS device is made of plastic).
Qnap includes a transparent panel at the very front to secure the removable drives under lock and key. An LCD display at the top of the unit with control buttons at the right is attractive and functional, much like the one in the Thecus N5200 Pro. The display also serves much the same functions for initial installation and configuration of the TS-509 Pro.
A total of eight front-panel LEDs provide status info about attached USB devices, internal hard disks, network activity, and the device itself. The unit includes a total of five USB ports in all, to which additional external drives or printers may be attached. Four of these are on the rear of the enclosures, beneath an eSATA port and two Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) ports. The fifth USB port may be used for an independent drive or used for load-balancing or failover modes. The 120 mm internal fan is a nice touch, which delivers good ventilation and helps ensure stable, acceptable operating temperatures for the TS-590 Pro. Fan speed is temperature-controlled, and the unit can sometimes generate substantial sound (which may be significant for those who insist on a quiet office environment).
Features and Functions
In addition to the ports and connectors already mentioned, you'll also find an RS232 port and a 15-pin VGA port on the rear of the unit (both come covered with plastic caps, which are visible at center right). If you hook up a VGA monitor to the unit, you'll be able to watch boot-up activity right up to the login prompt. You could also hook up a USB keyboard without difficulty to enable administration of the TS-590 Pro without a network and a remote SSH session. A quick glance at the /proc/version directory on a running system showed us that Qnap uses an Ubuntu Linux distribution for the TS-590 Pro.
If this NAS device is network-accessible, it's easy to manage installation and configuration using the obligatory Web-based admin interface. The Qnap version isn't quite as well-organized, nor as user friendly, as the Promise NS3200N, but it does offer a great many more configuration options. Alongside RAID 0, 1, 5, and 6 modes, you'll also find that the TS-509 Pro offers Web, MySQL, FTP, and iTunes servers as well. Installation of a UPnP Multimedia Server and download station is also fairly easy to accomplish. This system's built-in support for network file system (NFS) and AppleShare filing protocol (AFP) also enables easy integration into heterogeneous networks, where Windows clients work alongside Linux and/or Mac computers.
Comprehensive installation options for access controls and support for Microsoft's Active Directory give administrators lots of toys to play with and many ways to integrate the TS-590 Pro into the local network environment.
The technical specifications for the Qnap TS-509 Pro make it obvious that this NAS device was not designed for energy conservation. Our measurements confirmed this initial impression. We observed peak power consumption of 172 W as the unit was powered up, which quickly went down to around 83 W during the boot-up phase. At idle, this unit consumed almost 73 W, but if you let the internal drives spin themselves down to a well-earned rest, power consumption drops to 43 W. During normal operation, power consumption peaked at 89 W during a RAID 5 rebuild.