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QNAP TS-451 Turbo NAS Server Review

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Intel NASPT Test Results

NASPT brings an important perspective to our test protocol, as it is designed to measure the performance of a NAS system, as viewed from the end user’s perspective. Benchmarks like ATTO use Direct I/O Access to accurately measure disk performance with minimal influence from the OS and the host platform. This provides important, objective data that can be used to measure raw, physical performance. While it’s critical to measure the base performance, it’s also important to quantify what you can expect using real-world applications, and that’s exactly what NASPT does. In keeping with the real-world scenario, I only run these tests on the RAID 5 configurations, since that is what most users with a large or mid-size NAS are going to use. It just doesn’t make sense to run realistic test scenarios on unrealistic hardware configurations.

One of the disadvantages of NASPT is that it is influenced by the amount of memory installed on the client, and it was designed for systems that had 2-4 GB of RAM. Consequently, two of the tests give unrealistic results with modern systems, because they are measuring the speed of the buffer on the client, instead of the actual NAS performance. For that reason, we will completely ignore the results for “HD Video Record” and “File Copy to NAS”. Shown here is a batch run of 5 cycles through the tests, which turned out to be a bit slower than the individual runs. There seemed to be some wrinkles in the batch testing that don’t show up on individual test runs, which is a bit of a pain, to be honest. The numbers in the chart below are an average of five separate runs, which I believe are more accurate than results from a consolidated batch run.

With a single, 1 GbE interface in place, the results for the tests that are more sequential in nature are capped at somewhere south of 120 MB/s. Some of the tests have very low transfer rates, and that’s due to the nature of the data being transferred during the test. The Content Creation test for example, simulates a user creating a web page, accessing multiple sources for the content. The Directory Copy tests use several hundred directories and several thousand files to test a typical backup and restore scenario. That’s one of the most real-world types of test, and it’s useful for all of us to have a standard set of test data to use, because my directory of 1,000 random small files is never going to be the same as your directory of 1,000 random small files.

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To summarize things, here are consolidated charts of the “Fast” NASPT tests, the “Medium-Speed” tests, and finally the two “Slow” ones. I’ve regrouped these into four charts this time, in order to make them more legible.  As the number of entries grows, the text gets too small to read, at some point.  I’ve highlighted the text for the QNAP TS-451 by using red italic text for those test results. I did not include the marks for models with the faster 10GbE connection, because they make the chart harder to read when looking at the GbE results.  First, let’s look at the two tests with the highest transfer rates.  The TS-451 comes out on top for both the HD Video Playback trials and the 4X playback test.  It’s not a big margin between first through fourth, but a win is a win. With 1X Video Playback, the TS-451 hits an average rate of 107.5 MB/s, and in 4x Video Playback, the TS-451 hits a high of 121.7 MB/s. These results with the GbE connection are at the very high end of the pack, compared to other NAS servers, and are really pushing the GbE interface to the limit.

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The Medium-Speed tests show the QNAP TS-451 Turbo NAS putting in another very strong performance, relative to several comparable units. The HD Playback & Record test is an outright win with a result of 113.2 MB/s. The QNAP TS-470 nabs first place in the File Copy From NAS test, but the TS-451 hangs on with second place and a result of 89.8 MB/s. The mixture of Reads and Writes makes this set of charts a little topsy-turvy, but the TS-451 continues its very competitive performance. This is stellar performance from an unassuming 4-bay NAS device that is meant to be a low-cost solution in the product line.

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The “Slow” tests generally are slow because the file transfers are done with data sets that contain a bunch of small files of irregular size. In addition, the Directory Copy tests are accessing the file system index much more heavily than in the other tests. This adds a unique component that could be critically important for some users. The Directory Copy To NAS results show up one weak spot for the QNAP TS-451, where it falls to fourth place, albeit against some pretty stiff competition.  The DIR Copy to NAS result is only 22.0 MB/s, while the TS-470 manages to pull far ahead with a result of 42.3 MB/s. The TS-451 redeems itself in the Directory Copy From NAS benchmark, where it ekes out another victory over more powerful and more expensive machines with a result of 30.2 MB/s against the next closest finisher at 29.4 MB/s.

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The Office Productivity and Content Creation are my least favorite tests in the NASPT suite for two reasons.  One, I don’t see most NAS products being used in this fashion.  Maybe I’m behind the times, and desktop virtualization will make this a very important benchmark in the near future.  Second, the results never seemed to scale very well with the system performance that I was seeing on other tests. The Content Creation results, in particular make no sense to me, so I’ve stopped reporting them. This time, the TS-451 takes the third spot in the Office Productivity test, in a close fought battle where the top four performers are only 4% apart. The TS-451 doesn’t put in a very strong performance in the Photo Album benchmark, where six other NAS devices outperform it. There’s a fairly tight field here though, as the TS-451 is only 26% off the pace of the leader, even though it’s ranked seventh out of nine contestants. This test is a bunch of small files again, of varying sizes, arranged in a complex directory structure. This is a very common type of data set, and these results have always seemed more relevant than the Content Creation benchmark.

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The NASPT benchmark has showed some real world anomalies over time, some of which I wasn’t expecting. Beyond the simple sequential results that are easy to measure and very consistent, is a world of data that is immeasurably complex in its variations.  The Intel NASPT suite is one of the few that challenges NAS devices with realistic data sets. The results can be a bit messy to interpret, like they were in this case, but they’ve also provided the greatest potential insight into NAS performance of any commonly used benchmark.   Stay tuned to see if we have similar challenges on some non-traditional NAS tests, in the next section.

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3 comments

  1. Piotr Z.

    If I’ve read the screenshot of ATTO correcty, you’ve just measured your C drive on SSD 🙂 1Gbit interface is exactly that – 1Gbit = theoretical 125MB/s. With the overhead it will max out on 110-180MB/s which you got in other softwares. I would suggest fixing that part of otherwise great review 😀

  2. Bruce

    Well, that might explain the very strange results I got….. Thank you so much for pointing that out. I will redo that test and post the true results.

  3. jamief

    QNAP suggest 3 possible usb tv tuners for use with this model….namely UPMOST DVB192A HD; Hauppauge Win TV Nova_T Stick (Device: 70019;HW rev DiF4) or Asus My Cinema U3100 Mini. I mistakenly bought a QNAP USB tv Stick when I originally acquired the above unit, thinking that it would naturally be compatible. Some of the above sticks are difficult to either isolate or acquire in UK and I was wondering if anyone else with similar NAS has had any luck with any other usb stick.

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