Introduction and Testbed Setup

The launch of the QNAP TS-x51 series was covered in detail last month. Its introduction has revitalized the premium NAS market for SOHO and power users by providing a powerful enough alternative to the Atom D270x-based NAS units. The 22nm Celeron J1800 in the TS-x51 is a SoC (obviates the necessity for a platform controller hub) and brings a revamped Atom microarchitecture (Silvermont) to the NAS market. QNAP is, to our knowledge, the first off-the-shelf NAS vendor to bring a Bay Trail-based NAS unit to the market. The Celeron J1800 is also one of the few Bay Trail parts to come with the Intel Quick Sync transcoder engine as well as VT-x capabilities. QNAP takes advantage of both in their firmware to provide hardware transcoding capabilities (both offline and real-time) as well as support for virtual machines (i.e, their OS, QTS, can act as a host OS).

The virtualization and multimedia capabilities of the firmware deserve detailed analysis and will not be part of this review. Instead, we will solely concentrate on performance numbers under various scenarios. We have already looked into the market that QNAP is trying to target with this lineup in our launch piece. So, without further digression, let us take a look at the specifications of our TS-451 review unit.

QNAP TS-451-4G Review Unit Specifications
Processor Intel Celeron J1800 (2C/2T @ 2.41 GHz)
RAM 4 GB DDR3L RAM
Drive Bays 4x 3.5"/2.5" SATA 6 Gbps HDD / SSD (Hot-Swappable)
Network Links 2x 1 GbE
External I/O Peripherals 2x USB 3.0, 2x USB 2.0
Expansion Slots None
VGA / Display Out HDMI 1.4a
Full Specifications Link QNAP TS-451 Specifications
Price $759

Note that the $759 price point reflects the additional 3 GB of RAM over the baseline 1 GB model (which will retail for $700).

The TS-451 runs Linux (kernel version 3.12.6). Other aspects of the platform can be gleaned by accessing the unit over SSH.

Testbed Setup and Testing Methodology

The QNAP TS-451 can take up to four drives. Users can opt for either JBOD, RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, RAID 6 or RAID 10 configurations. We benchmarked the unit in RAID 5 with four Western Digital WD4000FYYZ RE drives as the test disks. Our testbed configuration is outlined below.

AnandTech NAS Testbed Configuration
Motherboard Asus Z9PE-D8 WS Dual LGA2011 SSI-EEB
CPU 2 x Intel Xeon E5-2630L
Coolers 2 x Dynatron R17
Memory G.Skill RipjawsZ F3-12800CL10Q2-64GBZL (8x8GB) CAS 10-10-10-30
OS Drive OCZ Technology Vertex 4 128GB
Secondary Drive OCZ Technology Vertex 4 128GB
Tertiary Drive OCZ Z-Drive R4 CM88 (1.6TB PCIe SSD)
Other Drives 12 x OCZ Technology Vertex 4 64GB (Offline in the Host OS)
Network Cards 6 x Intel ESA I-340 Quad-GbE Port Network Adapter
Chassis SilverStoneTek Raven RV03
PSU SilverStoneTek Strider Plus Gold Evolution 850W
OS Windows Server 2008 R2
Network Switch Netgear ProSafe GSM7352S-200

Thank You!

We thank the following companies for helping us out with our NAS testbed:

Hardware Platform and Setup Impressions
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  • DanNeely - Monday, July 28, 2014 - link

    I currently retire my old computers by making an image of their HD and parking it on my NAS so I can recover files and (theoretically) bring the whole system up as a VM or on spare hardware if I needed access to some software on it. As a result, I'd be interested in seeing how well it can run an image of a well used working computer in addition to the standard stripped down OS with a single application setup that a conventional VM hosts. I know Baytrail is much slower than the i7 of my main system; but knowing that all the cruft that accumulates after using a system for a half dozen years won't strangle the NAS would be reassuring. Reply
  • eliluong - Monday, July 28, 2014 - link

    What software do you use to image your old drives? And what VM software do you boot it up in? Is the image usable, given that in the VM all the hardware will be different? Reply
  • Samus - Monday, July 28, 2014 - link

    I just sysprep and capture the image with WDS which can redeploy using WinPE via PXE (network) or USB. I still use a Windows 2008 server for this, but 2012 with Hyper-V gives the flexibility of snapshots before/after sysprepping which helps prevent running into that sealing limitation (3 syspreps before it craps out) of images. I typically refresh my corporate image quarterly with Windows Updates, Office Updates, Adobe Updates, Driver Updates, and profile tweaks.

    Hyper-V definitely has the edge on VMware for imaging because of how easy it is to convert a VXD to a universal image. You can go straight from Hyper-V to WDS, and vice versa (I can turn any PC on the network into a VXD through WDS capture, and virtualize, say, a legacy PC running legacy software that's currently on a KVM and annoying someone as they have to switch between it and their main PC. This is still preferable over XP Mode in Windows 7 because of XP Modes lack of snapshots, poor remote management and inability to backup while the machine is running.
    Reply
  • eliluong - Monday, July 28, 2014 - link

    Thanks for the informative reply. I'm not in the IT field so this new to me. I've dabbled with virtual machines, but not in this manner. For a home-use case, where I have a 500GB system running XP that I want to have accessible in a virtualized environment, is this something what you described is capable of, or is it intended to just run one or two applications? Reply
  • Samus - Monday, July 28, 2014 - link

    You could use VMware, XP Mode or Hyper-V (Windows 2012 Server) to completely emulate a PC. VMWare and Hyper-V both offer tools to take an image of a physical machine and turn it into a virtual machine. They do this by stripping the HAL (hardware layer) and generalizing the image, so the next time it boots up, whether it be on different physical hardware are emulated virtual hardware, it rebuilds the HAL. In Windows 7, you'll see "detecting hardware" on the first boot, in Windows XP, it actually just goes through the second-phase of the XP setup again.

    Vista and Windows 7 brought Windows PE (preexecution environment) into the picture which makes low-level Windows deployment easier. For example, if your XP machine is running IDE mode (not AHCI) it's pretty tricky to get it to run in a Hyper-V machine, but there is a lengthy process for doing so. Windows Vista and newer can dynamically boot between SATA controllers, command configurations, etc. Windows 8 is even better, having the most feature-rich WinPE environment, with native bare-metal recovery (easily restore any system image to any hardware configuration without generalizing) but Windows 8 is hated on in corporate sectors, so us IT engineers are stuck dealing with Winodws 7's inferior manageability.
    Reply
  • blaktron - Tuesday, July 29, 2014 - link

    Hey, if you do this often enough, what you should do is just run your system off a vhdx right from the get go. Its actually pretty good for a couple of reasons if you don't mind losing a % or 2 of random performance and total space.

    Here is a link that explains what I am talking about, but Windows 7 and 8 support this, and it works pretty well:

    http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/hh82569...
    Reply
  • Oyster - Monday, July 28, 2014 - link

    Since you asked for feedback, Ganesh:

    1) It goes without saying that all your reviews focus too heavily on the hardware. You need to dedicate more time to the software/OS and the app ecosystem for these offerings. I personally have a QNAP TS 470, and can't see myself switching to a competitor unless their offerings consist of basic functionality like "ipkg", myQNAPcloud, Qsync, etc. There's no way for me to reach a decision unless you cover these areas :).
    2) For VM performance, I realize that most of the NAS vendors are going to want you to benchmark under ideal conditions (e.g. iSCSI only). But it would be awesome if you can cover non-iSCSI performance.
    3) Please, please add an additional test to cover the effectiveness of these devices to recover from failures. This would allow us to figure out how effective the RAID software implementation is.

    Thanks.
    Reply
  • Kevin G - Monday, July 28, 2014 - link

    I'll second the request for some more attention to software and failure recovery. Reply
  • ganeshts - Monday, July 28, 2014 - link

    I already do testing for RAID rebuild after simulating a drive failure by just yanking out one of the disks at random. Rebuild times as well as power consumption numbers for that operation are reported in the review. In case of any issues, I do make a note of what was encountered (for example, in this review, I noted that reinserting a disk with pre-existing partitions might sometime cause the 'hot-swap' rebuild to not take effect.

    What other 'failure recovery' testing do you want to see?
    Reply
  • lorribot - Monday, July 28, 2014 - link

    How badly is performance affected when running VMs or CIFS with a fialed drive? How badly is drive rebuild impacted when running a VM? I guess a test load for a 24 hour period replayed against the NAS box whislt a rebuild was under taken to see how far it had got would be a good test also testing response times during a rebuild and with a failed disk running of of parity. Reply

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