The four- and five-bay NAS market is saturated with options. This is the entry point for enthusiasts serious about storing copious data. QNAP alone offers 18 products in this segment, and there's no shortage of models from competing manufacturers. With so much competition out there, you'll find lots of value and innovative functionality. Even products like the TS-563, devoid of multimedia I/O, deliver plenty of differentiation to set stand out in a crowded field.
We've tested appliances with built-in battery backup, exceptional SMB performance and even an advanced file system and cache. QNAP's killer feature is its operating system with support for more than 100 applications. To be fair, other manufacturers also publish add-on libraries, though only a few offer more than a handful. What makes QNAP really stand out is the quality and uniqueness of its software features. Old favorites include the ability to run a guest operating system in a VMware-like environment; that's still unmatched more than a year after release.
QNAP also breaks ground on the hardware side. Its TS-563 uses an AMD G-series SoC, and we've yet to identify an issue with the new processor. Beyond its host platform, QNAP was one of the first companies to offer 10GbE-attached appliances. That support is trickling down to lower-cost devices like the one we tested today.
You can see that QNAP's pace on new features is aggressive. Two years ago, a 10GbE network card sold for as much as the TS-563 itself. When QNAP started pushing 10GbE, building up the network was very expensive. The switches still aren't cheap by any measure. Fortunately, the add-in cards are much more affordable (including Intel's X520, a supported model in the QTS operating system). What you'll pay today is more a less a third of what it would have taken to construct a 10GbE network two years ago. What we're trying to convey is that QNAP may seem ahead of its time─the company has everything in place before you know you need it. Another example of that is SSD caching; QNAP had it before most other manufacturers.
I'm impressed with the TS-563. Home users may prefer a NAS with multimedia functionality. But small businesses rarely use those features. The system is priced competitively with other products in its class. However, it offers an upgrade path through 10GbE and USB-based expansion. Both considerations make the TS-563 more attractive than many four- and five-bay appliances selling next to it.