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  • DanNeely - Monday, August 18, 2014 - link

    Could you add the power level with the NAS idle and no VM running to the table on the last page of the article? Reply
  • ganeshts - Monday, August 18, 2014 - link

    I have updated the article with the latest power numbers. Reply
  • iAPX - Monday, August 18, 2014 - link

    It's not a NAS, it's a server that host up to 4-drives, and is clearly not targeted at data centers.
    Too expensive for SOHO, and anyway not good as a Virtualization platform (4GB or 8GB RAM max is really ridiculous to aggregate many little servers into a box), nor good as a NAS for enterprise (due to the encryption bandwidth cap), and worse when doing both of them (no more bandwidth aggregation!).

    I wonder where is the market for such an hybrid, when I will instead use a simpler less expansive NAS on one side, and a dedicated VM server on the other (many cores and 32GB+ RAM) ?!?
    Reply
  • ganeshts - Monday, August 18, 2014 - link

    The target market is home users (power users / enthusiasts). Note that I haven't talked about the unit's transcoding capabilities (I mentioned it in the first review). QTS is a popular COTS NAS OS.

    I do agree on the expensiveness part - but, most other COTS NAS are in the same price range. QNAP is demanding a slight premium because of the virtualization and extensive transcoding features which no other COTS NAS has, as of now.

    Btw, this unit has the capability to run only 1 VM. If you want multiple servers in a 'box', then, the higher end solutions such as the TS-EC1279U-RP are your best bet.

    QNAP doesn't expect the TS-451 to be used as an Exchange server. The four use cases are meant for the rackmount units mostly.

    I have already covered why the combo concept could be a better bet in many circumstances - data traffic doesn't clog up the network, power consumption with one physical machine is better than two. Again, it depends on how many VMs you want to run at the same time. The TS-451 is suitable for home use.
    Reply
  • iAPX - Monday, August 18, 2014 - link

    I understand your point, but in this case, a simpler NAS, with one or two Intel NUC wouldn't be better (and load-balanced to be crash-prone) ?
    And anyway more expandable, on the VM side, both in available CPU, RAM, or by adding simple inexpensive units?
    Reply
  • ganeshts - Monday, August 18, 2014 - link

    Taken standalone (just talking about virtualization features), you are definitely right about what provides more flexibility.

    However, when people look at the TS-451 as an 'appliance', they see the virtualization aspect as just one of the features. Transcoding is another major aspect (and put in all the myriad QTS applications like QSync, cloud access etc.). The whole is greater than the sum of the parts.
    Reply
  • iAPX - Monday, August 18, 2014 - link

    I don't buy it, because to use all of that you need to be a linux sysadmin wannabee, to install and run Linux VM (at least, or BSD, or ...). At this point you might be able to control your own set of dedicated servers.

    Anyway, I appreciated your follow-up to this article, and your point-of-view, it's great to have this level of commitment, and to be able to have insights when there's remaining questions. Kind regards.
    Reply
  • ganeshts - Monday, August 18, 2014 - link

    I am not sure I follow the 'linux sysadmin wannabee' aspect. You can install any type of VM you want - Windows or Linux or even Android.

    Transcoding - This is plug and play. After installing the NAS, accessing the video files in it through QNAP's mobile app - Qfile - can trigger the transcoding depending on what quality level is chosen. This is orthogonal to the VM feature. You don't need any VMs running to use the transcoding feature.

    All QTS apps - These provide additional features and are again not depending on the VM aspect.

    I fear I might not have effectively conveyed my points across.
    Reply
  • bsd228 - Monday, August 18, 2014 - link

    you'd need to be that sysadmin wannabee to deploy the NUC solution you suggest as well. Reply
  • iAPX - Monday, August 18, 2014 - link

    Exactly, in both case you might need to be a sysadmin (even a wannabe! lol!), wether it's windows or linux doesn't count, as Ganesh stated, but if you know hot to install and handle a VM with an OS, and remote access it correctly, you have it needs to handle Intel NUC (or whatever is your VM host of choice), and don't need a box that will make it easier to handle different services.

    In fact I think there's a much more larger market for a NAS that don't have virtualization, (thus a less expensive tag price, and lighter CPU/RAM configuration) but provides these services through "bundles" or "plug-in" (whatever you call them) hosted on their main Linux OS.
    Reply
  • bsd228 - Tuesday, August 19, 2014 - link

    The advantage of having the VM on the filer is that you're not transferring the data twice (not really a concern for the mtdaap server, but more so for the streaming HD video). And with Haswell cpus now taking the same sort of power draw as recent year Atoms and ARMs, you have this cpu capacity for nearly the same energy cost. But that makes more sense on a bigger box that this one. The only point to a single VM option is to support one app class/OS that QNAP doesn't offer natively. Reply
  • Solandri - Monday, August 18, 2014 - link

    I built my own combo NAS/VM server after a lot of research. After running it for 3 years, the two (opposing) key points to me are:

    - Starting with Sandy Bridge, the i5 and i7 Intel CPUs are extremely efficient at idle. You can put them into a 24/7 device like a NAS and they won't cost you substantially more in electricity than a regular NAS. Yet they will have lots of processing power on tap for the occasions when a VM needs it. The Celeron in the TS-451 really isn't appropriate for this type of device. Almost the same idle power, much less peak processing power.

    - There is something to be said for keeping your NAS separate from your VMs. It's rare, but I have had a VM crash or hang the hypervisor (ESXi). I only use this at home so it's no big deal when this happens. But in something like a small business environment, I would recommend they be separate devices. Just to be safe.

    Learning to use the hypervisor is a bit of a pain, but once you get it down you don't need to be a sysadmin wannabe. After the initial install, ESXi can be controlled entirely with a GUI. I only run one Linux VM (for playing around with), and a FreeNAS VM (FreeBSD) which quite frankly is fire and forget. The rest are Windows VMs (and one OS X VM) for various things I want to keep separate from my personal laptop. e.g. One VM is for CPU-heavy tasks like re-encoding videos, so I can encode "on my laptop" without killing my laptop's battery life. Another is for running my home business, which prevents exposing that VM to whatever malware I might accidentally pick up from browsing websites and trying out new software.

    This isn't the only way to skin this cat. I'm contemplating moving most of the VMs to my laptop. Do my general web browsing in one VM, my secure browsing like banking in another, and installing all my apps in another VM so I don't have to reinstall every time I upgrade laptops. Games would be the only apps which run natively. So I'm not saying a combo NAS/VM server is the be-all end-all solution. It's just an option which may suit some people better than others.
    Reply
  • deeceefar2 - Monday, August 18, 2014 - link

    As someone who is a linux sys admin and a small business owner. I can testify that this product is pretty much right on the money. Time is VERY limited when you run a small business and there is very little time to do IT even when you know how to do it. In the time it would take for me to configure any OS to do what this has out of the box, it would cost me far more in billable time then I would ever make up in cost savings. I used 2 of these to make sure our files would always be operational, and then we used dropbox syncing. There are more ways I could have accomplished that now. This has a virtual machine which can be used to provide a domain server for the network. I use it for visual studio development from my laptop at home so I don't have to deal with switching context on my macbook. SOO many uses for this out of the box. In a corporate environment it may not fit, but anything smaller this is a huge cost savings, and just works. Reply
  • mattlach - Tuesday, August 19, 2014 - link

    If it only has the capability to run 1 VM (and with this little RAM, thats really all it can handle), then what is the point? Run bare metal. This is just silly.

    I'm sorry, but only misguided home/power users are going to buy something like this. If you are a power user you know your stuff, and instead you'll build a real capable ESXi whitebox to use for NAS and virtualization and forgo this cute little consumer style prepackaged crap.

    Heck, for about the price of this thing, I just bought a used 12 bay HP ProLiant DL180 G6 with dual 6 core Xeon L5640's and 64GB of registered ECC ram to use as my new basement NAS/Virtualized server.

    This thing is completely pointless IMHO.
    Reply
  • ganeshts - Tuesday, August 19, 2014 - link

    Power consumption? Transcoding capabilities? As I said in another comment, you have to consider the whole package together when deciding on whether to go with the TS-x51 series, not just its virtualization features.

    I definitely agree with the sentiment that this is not for everyone, but will definitely not say that there is no target market for this. I am quite sure there are plenty of prospective consumers who haven't even cared about what virtualization is, or how to use it to their benefit - For those users, this definitely is a gentle introduction into that world.

    Btw, for your used unit - do you have support personnel? RMA capabilities? All those are major factors in pricing a COTS NAS. In my opinion, you are comparing apples and oranges.
    Reply
  • beginner99 - Tuesday, August 19, 2014 - link

    Target market? I could use it as a NAS and a web server for example. No need to get 2 devices. That would cost more no doubt. Reply
  • nafhan - Tuesday, August 19, 2014 - link

    Actually, it'd probably do pretty well in a SOHO environment, especially running several smaller (maybe Linux?) VM's. The thing with servers in a smaller environment is they are often ripe for consolidation as they are almost never fully utilized. You could probably over-provision the memory and CPU resources on this thing (in many use cases) and it probably be completely transparent to the end users. And if office space is at a premium, you'd be taking 4 or 5 boxes and turning it into one.

    The real question in my mind is why you'd pick this over doing something similar with cloud services...
    Reply
  • Gigaplex - Monday, August 18, 2014 - link

    SMB 3.0 support? Do they use a patched Samba or do they have a fully custom stack? I'd like to get my hands on the SMB 3.0 multichannel feature on my homebrew "NAS". Reply
  • npz - Monday, August 18, 2014 - link

    Samba v4.1+ already supports SMB3 Reply
  • npz - Monday, August 18, 2014 - link

    Thanks for the tests. The drop in performance running a VM is not bad at all and quite acceptable.

    But I am assuming that the linux/samba code to support SMB3 encryption does not yet make use of AES-NI
    Reply
  • ganeshts - Monday, August 18, 2014 - link

    The Celeron J1800 doesn't have AES-NI capabilities. I am not sure if the code does take advantage of AES-NI in higher end boxes - Let me check with QNAP on that. Reply
  • deeceefar2 - Monday, August 18, 2014 - link

    Interestingly I'm actually using mine for both Power Users Application Scenarios: 1 & 3.

    I have a TS-460-pro and I upgraded the processor to
    Intel Core i7-3770S and the ram to 16 GB KVR16S11K2/16. I can't say enough great things about the QNAP boxes I've had. From a small business perspective it can do pretty much everything you might ask of it.
    Reply
  • Marthisdil - Monday, August 18, 2014 - link

    Except be cheap - when you could build a "server" out of a desktop PC that can do a lot of the same stuff, for less money. Reply
  • deeceefar2 - Monday, August 18, 2014 - link

    I could, and have done that in the past. But for MUCH more time invested and with many more support head aches. I use at least 1/2 of all of the features of this box, and I challenge you to build a system that does that for significantly less money using similar power draw without spending months configuring and maintaining it. Reply
  • isa - Monday, August 18, 2014 - link

    A thoughtful article overall, so thank you Ganesh. I especially focused on the "power user application scenarios". I get #3 and #1, but #2 baffles me. Why must I run ubiquity's apps in a VM? Since that app comes in apple/win/linux flavors, can't one just download the appropriate version for one's NAS and run it without a VM? Why is a VM required to run Ubiquity or any other home automation app if it's offered in a version compatible with my NAS's OS? Reply
  • ganeshts - Monday, August 18, 2014 - link

    Does the NAS vendor provide support for unofficial packages? Most vendors I have talked to wash their hands off all warranties / support once you start messing around in SSH. To be frank, for the average user, it is quite easy to mess up the NAS installation (particularly when the extraneous package they want to install comes with a big train of dependencies). Reply
  • isa - Monday, August 18, 2014 - link

    Good points, and I agree. Reply
  • Oyster - Monday, August 18, 2014 - link

    Ganesh, awesome work. Thanks for listening to the feedback and covering these details. Very well done article.

    For your next, can you please cover a showdown between Synology and QNAP OSes (including features like apps, VPN, etc.)?
    Reply
  • shodanshok - Monday, August 18, 2014 - link

    Hi Ganesh, thank you for the good review.

    However, I strongly disagree on the chosen Raid level: if you want to run a virtual machine at full speed, you should really use Raid10 rather then Raid5. The problem with Raid5 is that typical 4KB random writes will trigger full stripe read/modify/write, which will lead noticeable slower VM performance.

    I personally faced off this very problem some time ago, with a custom Linux mdraid build running some (5+) VMs: switching to Raid10 drastically boosted performance.

    Regards.
    Reply
  • ganeshts - Monday, August 18, 2014 - link

    Thanks for the note. Most consumers buying the TS-451 are looking for optimal balance of performance and capacity. With 4x 4 TB drives, RAID-5 gives 12 TB of effective storage, while RAID-10 gives 8 TB. I agree that in performance sensitive use-cases, the appropriate RAID level must be chosen.

    Another reason for choosing RAID-5 is that it typically has the worst performance (along with RAID-6) making it a good test of stressing the I/O and other platform capabilities of different NAS models. All our NAS reviews use RAID-5 for comparative benchmarking even though it might not be a suitable RAID level for a particular application.
    Reply
  • tuxRoller - Monday, August 18, 2014 - link

    So, xen but not kvm? You're doing your reader a disservice by ignoring the third most popular virt platform. Reply
  • kmob - Monday, August 18, 2014 - link

    Ganesh, thanks is as always for a very thorough yet readable feature.

    To consolidate some of my machines, I was weighing purchasing a 'dumb' NAS (like the QNAP or Synology) and a small i7 or Xeon box running ESXi. Digging into your research on this QNAP, I stumbled on articles about people upgrading the QNAP x70 series boxes with i7 or Xeon 1265 processors and RAM for some beastly VM performance on the NAS. This seems like an outstanding application of this QNAP Virtualization Station on more robust hardware at a reasonable price (for one box).

    Thanks for getting my gears turning! I just ordered a QNAP 670 and a Xeon 1265L v2.
    Reply
  • coburn_c - Tuesday, August 19, 2014 - link

    This article is confusing and poorly written. You start off with paragraphs of patronizing explanation on virtual machines but never discuss this NAS box you are testing. The first hardware specs I see are of a test machine? I had to go to the manufacturer website to see what abysmal specs the NAS box actually had.

    As for the substance.. I've run ESXi on a nettop before.. it's great. I wouldn't run it on a nettop that's also running my net shares, especially not a SOHO one. More importantly, I wouldn't run some off-brand crap, I'd install ESXi.
    Reply
  • ganeshts - Tuesday, August 19, 2014 - link

    Thanks for the note. Majority of the other comments on this review don't echo your sentiments (probably because they have already been through the first part of the TS-451 review where I had indicated that the review would be in three parts - and specifically mentioned that discussion of the virtualization aspects would be the second piece).

    I do agree that new readers might find it a bit confusing as to what the exact specs and performance of the TS-451 are. I have added this statement in the initial section for this purpose: We have already looked at the performance aspects of the TS-451 in an earlier review [ http://anandtech.com/show/8298/qnap-ts451-bay-trai... ].
    Reply
  • wintermute000 - Tuesday, August 19, 2014 - link

    Its neat but I think its aiming for a pretty niche market.
    - want virt
    - dont want 'real' virt host
    - only want 1 low spec VM
    Reply
  • DanNeely - Wednesday, August 20, 2014 - link

    With the single VM limit, IMO it's more about being able to run unofficial packages without risking your warranty by SSHing past the vendors front end interface and safeguards. Other than potentially trying to stop users from shooting themselves in the foot, the hard single VM limit doesn't make a lot of sense. While there's not enough hardware to run multiple heavy client OSes; you could run a several small headless *nix images to isolate applications before maxing the system out. Reply
  • Wisefoxx - Wednesday, August 20, 2014 - link

    Virtualisation station from Qnap is my first foray into VM's, I found it to be a fantastic addition to QTS. What's more with the 470 pro (4,6 or 8 bay) you can upgrade the processor to give you that little extra. I have a 45w i7 pro + 16gb ram installed and run multiple VM's. Such an upgrade path works well and gives you more confidence in the V-station platform. Reply
  • Insomniac - Thursday, November 27, 2014 - link

    Some people are reporting that they are able to run 16 GB of RAM (8 GB x 2) in the x51 series. Can you confirm that is true? Reply

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