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Qnap TS-559 Pro+: Familiar Network Storage With A New CPU

Qnap TS-x59 Pro+ Series: Incremental Improvements

For a long time, mass-produced network-attached storage devices have given our readers a mixed impression of what they can do (and why they cost so much, frankly).

The included software often only includes basic functions like network file sharing via SMB/CIFS protocols. Moreover, the data transfer rates for important tasks like writing file backups fall disappointingly in the low double-digit MB/s range. Performance is, to a great degree, dependent on the processor built into the device. And most of the time, those processors are pretty darned anemic.

That's one reason why NAS manufacturers tend to focus on other value adds. Over time, they optimize their respective firmwares, rework the hardware internals (while still abiding by strict thermal and power requirements), and equip them with as many convenience convenience-oriented features as possible. For instance, it's difficult to find a NAS device these days that doesn't function as a media server, as well as a data storage unit, delivering multimedia content via UPnP DLNA. Firmware with integrated Web serving capabilities, including a PHP interpreter and MySQL database, is equally widespread. And there are still other differentiators cropping up all over.

Bear in mind that most of the value-adds tacked onto each vendor's firmware is enabled by adequate processing power. While many devices use ARM- and PowerPC-based processors due to their efficiency (for example, the Synology DS408j, which is based on an 800 MHz Marvell Kirkwood 88F6281 ARM processor and ranked in the top third of our NAS Charts), a significant increase in performance is generally achieved by using Intel's Atom processors.

Historically, most NAS manufacturers used the Atom D510, which is equipped with two cores and runs at a clock speed of 1.66 GHz. This CPU was released in the first quarter of 2010. A further evolution of the Atom processor lineup was presented in the second quarter with the D525 model. This one has the same two cores and four threads (enabled by Hyper-Threading), but runs at 1.8 GHz. Not only does it support DDR2-667/800 memory, but it also accommodates DDR3-800 RAM. The benefit of higher clocks and faster memory support are reasons enough for appliance engineers to rework and refresh their products.

At the end of December 2010, Synology released its DS1511+, based on the Atom D525, while Thecus introduced the N4200 Pro, also using the 1.8 GHz processor. A third popular NAS vendor, Qnap, also has devices using the same generation of low-power processor. It released products ranging from two-bay to eight-bay products, all of them equipped with Intel’s Atom D525 processor, as indicated by the plus in this family's nomenclature.

We were curious whether the "+" would be represented by an increase in data transfer rates. Therefore, we asked for a test sample, which found its way to our lab in the form of a Qnap TS-559 Pro+. Our findings are summarized on the following pages.

  • hmp_goose
    I remember a time when teh Internet was going to have hyperlinks embedded in articles for clowns like me to look stuff up with.

    C'mon! I'm a knuckle-dragging FPS-player: I don't know what "SMB/CIFS protocols" stands for, let alone good for! Isn't there at lest a related article?
    Reply
  • barmaley
    Ok, I don't get it. Can someone explain to me why this $1000 device that comes with no storage is better than a $500 Linux box you can build yourself that will do everything this does and more plus it will come with tons of storage too...
    Reply
  • Did you do Gbit Link Aggregation for the tests? Seeing as it has 2 of'em?
    Reply
  • sharpless78
    barmaleyOk, I don't get it. Can someone explain to me why this $1000 device that comes with no storage is better than a $500 Linux box you can build yourself that will do everything this does and more plus it will come with tons of storage too...
    Ease of use. Very few users have the time, will and knowledge to build a NAS.
    Reply
  • aaron88_7
    barmaleyOk, I don't get it. Can someone explain to me why this $1000 device that comes with no storage is better than a $500 Linux box you can build yourself that will do everything this does and more plus it will come with tons of storage too...First off, it isn't better than a $500 Linux box. Linux requires Linux knowledge and you have to provide the software you need yourself - that costs small businesses money. This also offers failover and load balancing with its dual NIC card that you wouldn't have in a $500 Linux box.

    The main thing is ease of installation. You don't need a highly technical person to get this box up and running and quickly backing up your companies data, whereas a Linux machine will require additional staff that a small business normally would not have on hand and have to pay to come onsite.

    For $1000 I'd like one just to play around with myself, though it clearly is not targeted for home users.
    Reply
  • aaron88_7
    Oops, I meant to write this is better than a $500 Linux box
    Reply
  • dealcorn
    I am not aware of any 5 bay hot swap itx case that could be used as a basis for a diy project with comparable functionality. Chenbro can get you to 4 at the cost of no pcie support. No pcie means no esata with a supermicro atom itx board.

    There are ways to go with ATX cases, but that is not really comparable.
    Reply
  • radiumburn
    but with that $500 linux box you will force yourself to learn something.. and in the end isn't it all about the pursuit of knowledge! haha well I admin a few linux servers so I'd save the cash and make my own for myself/work instead. On that note if you want I will make them for $999 and free shipping with initial phone setup!!! save a dollar!
    Reply
  • a-nano-moose
    How can you compare them when you are using different hard drives than the earlier tests?
    Reply
  • cknobman
    Sharpless78Ease of use. Very few users have the time, will and knowledge to build a NAS.
    A NAS is a computer. Heck you can even build a PC put Windows 7/XP Home edition on it and turn it into a NAS all for ~$500 (and thats even with 2tb storage in raid 1, heck that is what I have done and it works great and I am even using a low power AMD CPU that is powerful enough to actually be useful rather than a pathetic atom cpu).

    There is no ease of use factor or amount of time on earth that is worth $500+ dollars.
    Reply