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)
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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  • ant6n - Thursday, October 29, 2015 - link

    I know this is a common kind of complaint under these reviews; but I often poke at NAS reviews as something that would be a nice-to-have, and then can't get myself to read past the price tag. I know these aren't really home devices. But aren't there multi-bay (4+) NAS systems with, say, an arm, for less than 300$?
  • DanNeely - Thursday, October 29, 2015 - link

    A quick search on Amazon and Google shows that there are a number of entry level 4 bay NASes for $250-300. Filtering solely by brand name, the $282 QNAP TS-431 would be my initial recommendation. Synology, the other nas maker (along with QNAP) with what's generally regarded as top flight software wants over a hundred more for the DS414j; which appears to be their cheapest 4x3.5" drive model.
  • Savardm - Thursday, October 29, 2015 - link

    I own a T-431 and so I'm always interested in these reviews because I find there isn't that many NAS reviews around. This particular review seems way more advanced then what I actually do with mine. I use mine to download/seed torrents and hold my Library of content which I access from several devices. I also really like the personal cloud features. I was worried when I bought my unit that the RAM and processor would be a major issue but it never lags. I'm not sure how it could get any better really. I think this must be because I am not using it as a typical NAS user? Anyway, all this to say, the TS-431 is the best gadget purchase I have ever made, I really do love it.
  • ivyanev - Friday, October 30, 2015 - link

    You could build a dedicated NAS for less than 300$ with the capability of 4+ drives. It is easy, and you may already have the parts. The question is do you NEED 4 drives? Why don't you get basic 1 drive unit and test if you need one. If you love it but still want redundancy you can later upgrade.
  • random2 - Wednesday, November 4, 2015 - link

    "Why don't you get basic 1 drive unit and test if you need one."

    Oh, you mean an external drive? I think you might be missing the whole point of redundant storage.
  • Moishe - Wednesday, November 4, 2015 - link

    The cost is certainly high for a diskless system. Crazy.
  • manly - Monday, November 23, 2015 - link

    With all the consolidation in the hard disk industry, I think the price curve is still somewhat dominated by the cost of 4 hard drives with TLER support. 3 TB NAS drives are somewhat affordable, but 4 TB is still a bit pricey in my opinion even for consumer NAS drives. "Enterprise" SATA drives are flat out pricey at higher capacities, because the last few manufacturers can absolutely get away with it.

    The QNAP TS-451 (apparently now an older model) was on sale numerous times over the past 12 months for $350 + tax. I think that's a pretty attractive price point considering the performance. IIRC, Synology's somewhat comparable units were at least $100 higher although until recently DSM had always been favored by reviewers.

    The sale price may have been in anticipation of the release of the TS-451+ but since it happened somewhat frequently over the course of an entire year-long period, it was a commonly available deal here in the U.S. Not sure how aggressive QNAP will be for the year ahead though.
  • Dunkurs1987 - Tuesday, January 5, 2016 - link

    This is the price you can expect from 8GB version. There is 2GB option available too. Should be ok with limited tasks.
  • Der2 - Thursday, October 29, 2015 - link

    Very nice NAS review.
  • Reflex - Thursday, October 29, 2015 - link

    One feature that I really want to see is Sync to OneDrive and other cloud providers. These days a lot of these services offer unlimited or incredibly large backups for free, and being able to sync to them frees a SOHO environment from having to find an offsite backup solution.

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