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QNAP TS-451+ NAS Review

Our Verdict

All things considered the QNAP TS-451+ is a complete solution that takes advantage of QNAP's QTS software, the best NAS OS available today. QNAP could do better with some of the design to make it feel like you are not buying $500 to $600 of plastic.

For

  • Strong SMB and iSCSI performance • Superior software feature set • Over 100 applications that run on the system

Against

  • Plastic everywhere • Lesser build quality and design than other QNAP products • MSRP of 8GB model is priced much higher than it should be

Specifications, Pricing, Warranty And Accessories

QNAP has two new NAS appliances designed for SOHO (small office/home office) customers: the TS-251+ and the TS-451+, and we have the latter in-house for testing. It's an updated model based loosely on the original TS-451, a dual-core Celeron-based system.

The TS-451+ adds a quad-core Intel Celeron J1900 at 2GHz and doubles the platform's RAM. The extra cores increase the NAS system's multimedia capabilities, while the memory upgrade allows more applications to run in the background. This is the new breed of network-attached devices that extends beyond storage. Many new home and small office QNAP systems fall into this category. Nobody has coined an official term for these systems, but someone really should. Continuing to call them NAS fails to capture everything they're capable of.

Many of the appliances we're seeing employ Intel's Celeron J1900 or a similar model from the Bay Trail family (with Silvermont-based cores). They're attractive processors because of their hardware-accelerated transcode engine and impressively low power consumption, which lowers cooling requirements.

QNAP recently introduced its QTS 4.2 operating system, which is backward-compatible with existing products. We installed the latest software package on a six-year-old TS-809 Pro during its beta phase and then when the release was finalized. We really like that QNAP steadily updates its OS, enabling new features. Not every capability works on the older systems since some are directly tied to hardware functionality, but that's inevitable. Fortunately, if a feature isn't supported, it doesn't show up in the software. In short, you can't do anything to get yourself in trouble.

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QNAP's TS-451+ ships in two configurations differentiated by memory capacity. We're testing the 8GB model. However, there's also a lower-priced 2GB version. Its Celeron J1900 SoC includes integrated HD Graphics and a hardware-accelerated transcoding engine. Some of the systems that cost less than the TS-451+ use AMD G-series and Marvell SoCs. Just above the Celeron J1900 are systems with Intel Core i3 processors based on the Haswell architecture. The TS-451+ falls in the upper-middle range, offering excellent single-user and moderate multi-client performance suitable for small offices.

There are four hot-swap drive bays, though you can expand to 12 with QNAP's UX-800P. While the system supports a typical assortment of RAID levels, most folks will opt for RAID 5 to balance user capacity and data redundancy. The TS-451+ also facilitates SSD caching. It's read-only with a single drive and read/write with a pair of them. The cache algorithm can be tuned for different workloads, but you'll probably go for storage and redundancy over better random-latency performance.

Moving data to and from the system takes place over gigabit Ethernet. A pair of ports allows access from two separate networks or just one in a teamed configuration. If your network can handle it, 802.11ad is supported. QNAP also enables a few specialty network functions that do not require specific hardware to increase performance or reliability.

There are five USB ports in total. The front USB 3.0 interface is enhanced by a feature called one-touch copy, and it works in conjunction with a button right above the port. Around back, one more USB 3.0 port sits just under two USB 2.0 connections that provide a number of additional features. You can quickly set up a print server or even connect a keyboard and mouse. With video output through HDMI 1.4a, you can use the TS-451+ like a virtualized computer running on top of the QTS operating system. That HDMI 1.4a output can also send video and audio signals to a home theater.

This system ships with a QNAP-branded remote control, and if you combine it with Kodi home theater software, you get a powerful combination. I have one friend who recently "cut the cord", but still enjoys live TV broadcasts from a number of Kodi plug-in packages over IP networks. Though that's not a QNAP-supported feature, you can still see how flexible the Kodi package and user-built plug-in system has become. To fully exploit the software's capabilities, you need a powerful processor. Intel's quad-core Celeron J1900 works nicely.

Pricing, Warranty & Accessories

The TS-451+ 8GB model has an MSRP of $649, while the 2GB TS-451 costs $529. Pricing is similar to competing products based on the same J1900 processor and system memory capacity.

QNAP's standard warranty lasts two years, but the company allows e-tailers to sell QNAP-backed warranties that extend coverage up to five years.

The system ships with two Ethernet cables, an external power brick, screws for mounting both 3.5-inch and 2.5-inch drives, a paper manual and a remote control.