Introduction and Testbed Setup

QNAP is one of the leading vendors in the COTS NAS (commercial off-the-shelf network attached storage) space. They have a wide variety of hardware platforms to choose from, ranging from ARM-based single-bay systems to Xeon-based rackmounts. Earlier this week, they launched the Bay Trail-based TS-x51+ series for home and SOHO users.

Despite Intel having launched the Braswell platform for storage applications, QNAP has opted to remain with Bay Trail for the TS-x51+ series. A look at the specifications reveals that the core SoC and memory capacity seem to be similar to the TS-x53 Pro launched last year. However, while the TS-x53 Pro targets the mid-end SMB market, the focus of the TS-x51 is more towards the home consumer side. The differences between the TS-453 Pro and the TS-451+ are listed below:

  • 3x USB 3.0 ports on the TS-453 Pro vs. 2x USB 3.0 ports on the TS-451+
  • 4x GbE LAN ports on the TS-453 Pro vs. 2x GbE LAN ports on the TS-451+
  • No LCD display / local hands-on control on the TS-451+
  • Internal 250W PSU in the TS-453 Pro vs. External 90W power brick in the TS-451+
  • IR remote controller (MCE compatible) included in the TS-451+, optional with the TS-453 Pro
  • Industrial design differences in the chassis and drive trays

The specifications of our review sample of the QNAP TS-451+ are provided in the table below

QNAP TS-451+ Specifications
Processor Intel Celeron J1900 (4C/4T Silvermont x86 @ 2.0 GHz)
RAM 8 GB
Drive Bays 4x 3.5"/2.5" SATA II / III 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 (with HD Audio Bitstreaming)
Full Specifications Link QNAP TS-451+ Specifications
Price USD 649

The various specifications of the NAS are backed up by the data gleaned via SSH access to the unit.

Having reviewed QNAP's SMB-targeted NAS units for the last couple of years, I was a bit put off by the industrial design of the unit. The drive caddies of the TS-451+ are plastic and flimsy. Despite the home consumer / SOHO focus, I would prefer that the caddies be the same as the ones used in the Pro series at this price point. Otherwise, the local control / LCD display panel is not going to be missed much (I rarely used that feature even in the Pro series). An in-built PSU would be good, but most SOHO NAS units come with power bricks and it is something difficult to get rid of in the units targeting this price point / market segment.

Our review unit initially shipped with QTS 4.1.4, but we upgraded to QTS 4.2 for our evaluation. The setup process itself is quite straightforward. Upon connection to the network, the QNAP TS-451+ receives a DHCP address even in a diskless state. The IP address can be determined either from the DHCP provider in the system or via the Qfinder utility. Accessing the IP address with the default admin/admin login credentials got us going with the setup process. We started off with one disk in the unit, and it was configured as a JBOD volume. Disks were added one by one, migrating in the process from JBOD to RAID-1 and on to RAID-5. The QTS OS handled the RAID migration and expansion without any issues. A detailed discussion of QTS 4.2 and the QNAP mobile apps will be done in an upcoming review.

In the rest of the review, we will take a look at the benchmark numbers for both single and multi-client scenarios across a number of different client platforms as well as access protocols. We also have a separate section devoted to the performance of the NAS with encrypted shared folders. Prior to all that, we will take a look at our testbed setup and testing methodology.

Testbed Setup and Testing Methodology

The QNAP TS-451+ can take up to 4 drives. Users can opt for either JBOD, RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, RAID 6 or RAID 10 configurations. We expect typical usage to be with a single RAID-5 volume. To keep things consistent across different NAS units, we benchmarked a RAID-5 volume. Four Western Digital WD4000FYYZ RE drives were used 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

The above testbed can run up to 25 Windows 7 or CentOS VMs simultaneously, each with a dedicated 1 Gbps network interface. This simulates a real-life workload of up to 25 clients for the NAS being evaluated. All the VMs connect to the network switch to which the NAS is also connected (with link aggregation, as applicable). The VMs generate the NAS traffic for performance evaluation. However, keeping in mind the nature of this unit, we restricted ourselves to a maximum of 10 simultaneous clients. A detailed explanation of our solution-based benchmarking approach is available here.

Thank You!

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

Single Client Performance - CIFS & iSCSI on Windows
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  • BedfordTim - Friday, February 19, 2016 - link

    If you look at Amazon reviews you will find that there is no customer support for a NAS either. At least with off the shelf parts if your power brick fails you can just buy another one. If your proprietary Netgear power brick fails you are facing hours on a premium rate phone line as they don't respond to web requests. Reply
  • kmmatney - Sunday, November 01, 2015 - link

    I never got over the pricing either, and went the WHS route. I started out with a machine built with spare parts 6 years ago, and added hard drives to the system as I went, and now have 9 drives in it. I use Stablebit drivepool for drive pooling and redundancy, which I like better than using RAID. It started out with a Sempron processor which was fine in the beginning, but upgraded to a core i5 Devil's Canyon so I could run several minecraft servers. Too bad they stopped support for WHS. I'll probably just move to Windows 10 in the future. Reply
  • bsd228 - Friday, November 06, 2015 - link

    That's a list price. The predecessor (the 451 non plus - essentially the same but with a 2.4ghz dual core instead of this 2ghz quad core) sells in the 300 (great sale) to 450 range. Amazon already lists the 451+ at 529 for the 2gig memory model.

    If size doesn't matter, and you're up to the task on the software side, then yeah, you can make something better for the same money. Or do it slightly cheaper. And I've done that many times with HP Microservers, and might again with a Fractal Design 304 case. But if it's not your expertise or your time is better spent elsewhere, these turnkey solutions are great. Qnap and Synology have a lot of applets, and now even the ability to run a VM for additional wants.
    Reply
  • Oscarcharliezulu - Friday, October 30, 2015 - link

    Article mentions raid rebuild is fast but if I'm reading it right rebuilds take 8 hours plus! Why do they (all) take so long? QNAP needs to support btrfs or ZfS so we can have a file system that properly protects against file corruption not just disk failure. Reply
  • Sivar - Friday, October 30, 2015 - link

    An important and oft-overlooked issue with most home NAS units (QNAP, Drobo, Synology) is that if your unit dies out of warranty, that's it -- these companies offer no repair option or support.

    This is a problem with Drobo especially because they use a proprietary file system. You can of course buy another unit, if available, and move the drives over, or buy a newer model and hope for turnkey compatibility.

    With a custom home NAS, well within the capabilities (if not spare time) of most Anandtech readers, you can upgrade and repair parts easily.
    Reply
  • DanNeely - Friday, October 30, 2015 - link

    Linux based NASes - like almost everything but the Drobo - use standard Filesystems, and can be recovered by sticking the drives in a normal Linux box. Reply
  • BedfordTim - Friday, February 19, 2016 - link

    It isn't much better if they die in warranty. All NAS makers have dire reviews for customer support. Netgear has a premium number for support and a healthy queue length (30-60 minutes this morning) to maximise revenue. Reply
  • Navvie - Monday, November 02, 2015 - link

    What would be nice is a comparison with a roll-your-own NAS solution. For example, a HP Microserver G2020T running FreeNAS or nas4free. Reply
  • colonelclaw - Tuesday, November 03, 2015 - link

    We've been running a QNAP box that's extremely similar to this one in our office for the last couple of years, and I have to say we're extremely happy with it. We use it as an online archive of completed projects that have already been backed up, so it doesn't get a huge amount of use, but it probably shunts a terabyte or two around every week.
    My one criticism is that it feels like every time I log onto the admin console via a web browser it asks to install a new firmware update, but I can put up with this (mainly by not needing to log in that often).
    Reply
  • akdubya - Wednesday, November 04, 2015 - link

    "For the TS-451+ to become a compelling choice, the pricing aspect needs to be addressed."

    You aren't kidding. I recently put together a comparable Braswell (N3700) system for under $250. And the Braswell SoC's feature AES NI, 4K and HEVC. Yikes! Between the anemic warranties and the severely underpowered and/or overpriced hardware I'm just not seeing the value in these proprietary SOHO NAS boxes. Is it really so hard to jam PLEX/Kodi/Samba on an Ubuntu server these days? And no need to jump through hoops to "use it like a PC" because it is a PC.
    Reply

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