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QNAP TS-453mini NAS Review

Qnap takes a vertical approach to reduce noise, and making for a small office NAS that fits in tighter spaces.

Conclusion

QNAP doesn't lead the NAS category in market share, but if shoppers were educated, the company would be on top. QNAP offers a wide range of products that scale from two drive bays to 24 drive bays, and it doesn't miss any marks in between. The QTS software offers the most options for configuration and features, and while it's not the easiest to use, it's still easy enough to navigate for first-time NAS buyers. Moving beyond the basic configuration, QNAP has the most applications, some developed in house and others from third-party developers. Even though the NAS market-share leader now sells applications though an online portal in the OS, QNAP still offers them for free.

Of course, having the widest product range and the best software doesn't make QNAP the best at this time. The hardware plays a significant role here as well. QNAP isn't afraid to mix things up. The TS-453mini we tested today must have taken the product manager out of his or her comfort zone. The fresh design moves away from the traditional front-drive-bay, metal look found in most of QNAP's products. This isn't the first time QNAP has sidestepped tradition in search of something different. What really stands out on the hardware front are the new options for the hardware, with two choices of RAM levels. Other products in the company's lineup go much further. Some of the newer models ship with the same design, but users can choose the processor — Core i3, i5 or i7 — along with the amount of system memory. Users no longer have to push a square peg into a round hole, simply accepting the base products as is.

Still, with all of the options, the innovative designs and accessories included, it still comes down to software. The QTS operating system is the same for the most part across the product range. Some features are hardware-specific, like the transcoding function on the TS-453mini, but for the most part the software and the applications are the same. This is the base for all QNAP NAS products, and when compared to everything else on the market, QNAP stands at the top with a very wide gap to second place.

Looking specifically at the TS-453mini now, this model is like a designated hitter: You can put it anywhere in the lineup. QNAP placed this model in the SMB class, but it's just as comfortable in a small office as it is under your television. You are not going to run serious databases off of it, but it's powerful enough to run several applications when outfitted with 8 GB of DRAM.

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Chris Ramseyer is a Contributing Editor for Tom's Hardware, covering Storage. Follow him on Twitter and on Facebook.

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  • thebigt42
    $140 just for 8 gig of ram vs 2. That is nuts! I bet they lock down the 2g version so you cant change the ram yourself too.
    Reply
  • astonerii
    You keep changing the GB on these things. The 8GB is 4GB several times and the 2GB is 4GB at least once.
    Really too bad the prices are so high for these things, but they are niche items I guess. I would like to have one, but prices are too high for my want.
    Reply
  • Haravikk
    Every time a NAS ships with an external power brick of dubious origin I just can't fathom why; while a power brick is a bit easier to replace if it fails than an internal PSU, if they used a standard PC type (e.g- an SFX PSU) then it needn't be that hard. Better yet, a device in this size could easily stand to be a little taller if it meant it could accommodate a pair of slim PSUs such as those common in servers (for redundancy).

    Aside from often coming from an unknown source, and being easily the most commonly failing component (more so than hard-drives in my experience), power bricks just destroy any aesthetics that a company tries to put into their "small" devices; hint, if a device is only small because you've made components external, then it's not small, it's badly designed.

    Sorry, but it's a real annoyance for me, and the reason I'd rather build a NAS in a small(-ish) PC case as I just don't trust power bricks at all, and for an always-on data storage device that's a pretty big negative.
    Reply
  • Uneventful
    I am would really like to know more about the Home Theater possibilities of this NAS. The article mentioned that it came with a remote, but that was all. I would like to know a couple of different things: What application or interface it uses if you hook it up to a TV via HDMI and use the remote? What sort of files can it play back? Does the HDMI 1.4a port support 4K?

    I have a older QNAP NAS myself and I know that it can run the Plex Server, but is the TS-453mini able to transcode fast enough with the hardware transcoding for watching 1080p on a client? Can you run it as a Plex server and have it playback on the TV at the same time? Does it have support for outputting DTS or DD streams? I would really like more details about how this NAS could be used in a home theater.
    Reply
  • CRamseyer
    I'm working on a software overview article for each of the major NAS companies right now. There is a lot to go over for each.

    The two most common for home theater use are XBMC and KODI. KODI is just the newer version of XBMC. The software supports 7.1, DTS, Dolby, the HD versions and so on. I use KODI to play back 1:1 Blu-Ray ISOs and it works great.

    The system can run Plex Server and it's fast enough to transcode on the fly.
    Reply
  • jakjawagon
    $140 just for 8 gig of ram vs 2. That is nuts! I bet they lock down the 2g version so you cant change the ram yourself too.
    Actually they don't. While they recommend you only upgrade using the overpriced kit they'll sell you, it is compatible with standard laptop DDR3 RAM and easily upgradeable.

    I bought a TS-451 a few months ago (pretty much the same specs but half the RAM and a CPU with fewer but higher clocked cores, and a more traditional design), and am mainly using it as a media server. Apart from one squeaky drive (salvaged from an old laptop and due to be replaced when I can afford it), I'm very happy with it. Fast enough for my needs, and very configurable even though default settings work well.
    Reply
  • Dyason
    I'm working on a software overview article for each of the major NAS companies right now. There is a lot to go over for each.

    The two most common for home theater use are XBMC and KODI. KODI is just the newer version of XBMC. The software supports 7.1, DTS, Dolby, the HD versions and so on. I use KODI to play back 1:1 Blu-Ray ISOs and it works great.

    The system can run Plex Server and it's fast enough to transcode on the fly.

    Fantastic to hear it runs Plex Server. Curious if it will run Plex Theatre for playback as I prefer this over XBMC and KODI. Does it just run normal linux apps for playback?
    Reply
  • CRamseyer
    https://www.qnap.com/i/en/app_center/

    The link goes to a list of applications that are already in the App Manager. Plex Theater is on the list.
    Reply
  • mwituni
    As an existing QNAP user, I don't know how any QNAP NAS's can be seriously considered for any awards, nor why they do so well on reviews They entice buyers with fancy options, but are not interested in developing applications users need.

    SVN (Subversion Source Control) is the most popular and source control software in use, yet QNAP have been promising a proper SVN-server application since 2009, and still not delivered! How can users take them seriously - they're obviously not interested in developing applications the community needs, only the minimum needed to trick buyers into purchasing and evaluators to award prizes. They claim you can install SVN by an outdated method - which is very risky and outdated by a few years, and in my experience does not work at all.

    They have a GIT client, so can claim they "have" source control applications. But no SVN support.
    Their marketing department needs to kick the development team into gear.
    Reply
  • Rop
    Hi guys, i own a 453 Mini and it works great for my needs.
    Wish to know if anyone can explain in better detail about why there are so many reports on the Intel Celeron J1900 accesing more then the 8GB ram that are in the spec sheet for the procesor, as many haave installed 16GB and claim it to be fully accesable and usable. And has anyone actaully tested this to be 100% certain that i can in fact accesss more ram then Intel states?

    Thanks in advance for you contribution.

    Reply