QNAP released a pair of new NAS units, the dual-bay TS-253Be and the quad-bay TS-453Be. They feature a PCI-e slot that allows them to be upgraded with SSD caching, USB 3.1 Gen 2, or 10Gb Ethernet connectivity.
Compared to consumer or home NASes, SMB (small and medium-sized business) units usually include more advanced networking and RAID features. The TS-253Be’s and TS-453Be’s headline feature, PCI-e expandability, is an example of this. Even though a NAS is an embedded computer that should, provided it has the required software, be compatible with any device that complies with its standard interfaces, we wouldn’t bet on these NAS’ PCI-e slots being compatible with everything. QNAP markets it as a customizability feature with specific use-cases.
If you need faster transfer to direct storage, then you can add a USB 3.1 Gen 2 card. If you need faster drive performance over the network, and have the network back-end for it, then you can add QNAP’s QM2 card. It conveniently combines two PCI-e 2.0 x4 M.2 slots, which you’ll need for SSD caching to increase the drive performance, with a 10Gb Ethernet port. If you don’t need the SSD caching, presumably because your NAS is already completely filled with SSDs, then you can save a bit and opt for a 10Gb Ethernet-only card. If you want to bring Wi-Fi access to the proximity of your NAS, then you can add a wireless networking card. Again, to avoid a potential headache, we recommend sticking with QNAP’s list of compatible PCI-e devices.
Beyond advanced network features, businesses also more frequently need to expand their storage. The TS-253Be and TS-453Be has provisions for that both internally and externally. They support RAID 5, which allows for drives to be swapped for larger ones one at a time, but they’re also compatible with QNAP’s drive expansion stations. These NASes can even be hooked up to another compatible QNAP NAS to access its empty space.
Rounding out the business-focused feature set, the TS-253Be and TS-453Be support virtualized operating systems. This allows you to run multiple operating systems, such as Windows or Linux, on your NAS without having to actually replace the default OS with which it ships. Remote desktops on the virtual machines can be opened in the NAS’ standard browser interface.
Because SMB NASes aren’t purely for business, they still maintain standard consumer features. For the TS-253Be and TS-453Be, that includes hardware h.264/5 decoding, real-time video transcoding, support for video streaming to Android TV or Kodi, and one-touch USB storage copying. With only HDMI 1.4 ports, which are limited 4k @ 30Hz, these NASes won’t be doubling as your HTPC, however. Performance-wise, both units run on quad-core Intel Celeron JJ3455 CPUs and are available in configurations with 2GB or 4GB of DDR3L memory.
The QNAP TS-253Be and TS-453Be are available now, but their pricing wasn’t specified.
NAS units have never been cheap, and that is doubly so for SMB-targeted ones. Even without pricing, we don’t expect that these new QNAPs will be either. If you’re enticed by the potential of a 10Gb Ethernet-equipped NAS but don’t want to pay for middling HTPC features, then you can check out Asustor’s upcoming pure NAS units. If you’re just looking for a cheap, no-frills NAS for backup, then you can check out a pair from Thecus.