QNAP TS-870U-RP NAS Network Storage Server Review
By Bruce Normann
Full disclosure: The product used in this review was supplied by QNAP Systems
There’s a new Ethernet in town; its called 10GbE, and its blazing fast. Benchmark Reviews gave you the inside scoop on the newest 10GbE networking hardware recently, with our review of the NETGEAR XS708E ProSAFE Plus Switch. In that article I mentioned that the first thing I did when I unboxed the switch was to hook it up a 10GbE-capable NAS. Plain old Gigabit Ethernet has been holding back the performance of mid-range NAS devices for a while now. Almost every modern 4-bay NAS has the capability to overwhelm the bandwidth of that one Gigabit pipe, that has been the de-facto standard for networking since the beginning of the new Millennium. The major players in the NAS market know this, and for several years now their high-end models have been designed to accept 10GbE NICs. With 10GbE starting to enter the mainstream, QNAP is now working on making their 10GbE-capable products more affordable.
The QNAP TS-870U-RP Turbo NAS is part of a new model line that trades off some internal processing power and a couple of build features in order to lower the cost of entry for a 10GbE NAS. It’s just the first step in what I can only imagine will be a continuing drive to push 10GbE further down into the product line, so we’re still talking about a business-class NAS server here. With eight 3.5″ drive bays available, there is a potential for 32TB of storage; this is for people who have serious data appetites and deep pockets. The cost to fill this unit up with 4TB HDDs is enough to give some people pause, but for most SMB owners, it’s the cost of doing business.
The TS-870U-RP is aimed a little higher than the typical small business needs, both by virtue of its size and its form factor. If both capacity and redundancy are needed, RAID 5 is a minimum. If you want to go to RAID 6 or RAID 10, you need a minimum of four disks, with two spindles completely occupied by providing multiple levels of redundancy for your data. A four-bay device is really the bare minimum for a high availability NAS appliance, and you’re left with only two drive bays worth of storage capacity. That’s not enough for many businesses. As far as the form factor goes, 90% of the networking, storage and server hardware in use by SMBs today is designed to be rack mounted, and that figure’s going to be 100% at the enterprise level.
The TS-870U-RP NAS server is a couple steps up from a typical four or six-bay device. While it’s not the biggest NAS device QNAP offers (that’s the TS-1679U-RP, a 16-bay unit), it’s got enough storage space and enough CPU horsepower to do the job. It also has the option to use multiple 10GbE network interfaces, and that feature makes a huge difference in real-world performance. Even a single Seagate Barracuda 3TB Hard Drive ST3000DM001 can push 160MB/s through its SATA 6Gb/s interface. That’s about 25% more data throughput than a standard 1000BASE-T network is capable of handling. That’s just a single mechanical hard drive; think about what eight SSDs in RAID 5 can do! QNAP has, and they’ve demonstrated read and write speeds well over 1500MB/s with this model. Those are insane speeds for most of us, but its mighty good news for any room full of CADD designers or video editors.
Benchmark Reviews has tested quite a few NAS products, ranging from the QNAP TS-119 NAS single-disk offering made for home users, to the Goliath QNAP TS-879U-RP 8-Bay NAS for the storage needs of large businesses. We’ve also tested the Thecus N5550 NAS server recently, which falls in the middle between those two extremes. Let’s see how this 8-bay NAS compares to its competitors.