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QNAP TS-870U-RP NAS Network Storage Server Review

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QNAP TS-870U-RP NAS Conclusion

Although the rating and final score mentioned in this conclusion are made to be as objective as possible, please be advised that every author perceives these factors differently at various points in time. As Albert Einstein said, “Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.” While we each do our best to ensure that all aspects of the product are considered, there are often times unforeseen market conditions and manufacturer changes which occur after publication that could render our rating obsolete. Please do not base any purchase solely on our conclusions, as they represent our product rating for the sample received which may differ from retail versions.

The performance of the QNAP TS-870U-RP Turbo NAS server was very impressive, and it certainly lived up to the marketing tagline for the new TS-x70 product line; “Economical yet Powerful 10GbE-capable NAS”. Recent upgrades to the networking side of my test bed allowed me to reach new highs in timed file transfers: 598 MB/s Read and 435 MB/s Write. The results in ATTO Disk Benchmark were even faster, with 683 MB/s in Read mode and 540 MB/s in Write. These are disk access speeds that meet or beat the best SSD products out there, and it did it with 7200 RPM desktop drives that are a tad slower than the latest generation of HDDs. Areal density keeps going up and these Western Digital 750 Black drives are a couple years old now. My performance rating of 9.75 is a rare sign of that outstanding performance.

The Celeron processer, a Dual Core G540 CPU, running at 2.4 GHz and addressing the base 4GB of DDR3, seemed to have all the power necessary to perform basic disk I/O functions. Compared to the Intel Atom and Marvell CPUs in many smaller units, the Celeron has roughly 4x the performance of a Dual-Core Atom. QNAP has wisely chosen to implement SATA 6Gb/s and USB 3.0 here. Yes, the newer and faster SATA interface has little practical impact on performance with traditional hard drives, but the TS-x70 series of NAS models actually have the CPU power and infrastructure to handle SSDs, if that kind of performance is required. A high volume transactional database is one example where the random R/W performance with small file sizes could be better served by SSDs. The USB 3.0 performance was a much needed shot in the arm for interfacing with portable devices, USB 2.0 was such a bottleneck and eSATA has been more expensive and difficult to implement for portable use.

The large, eight-bay form factor of the QNAP TS-870U-RP is the same size as the twelve-bay model. In this case, the top row is covered with a glossy black cover with the QNAP logo on it. There is no status display, and since its dark most of the time on units that do have one, the appearance doesn’t change much. The glossier finish adds a bit of elegance to the visual design, but it shows every fingerprint that comes within an inch of the front panel. Maybe that’s a security feature….?!? It fits in perfectly with its intended environment – the data center, and it would also look good in a very sophisticated home theater setup which, in the extreme, looks like a data center anyway.

The status LEDs for activity on each HDD are located on the right, at the front of each drive bay, the lights for 10GbE, Status, LAN, and eSATA are on the right-hand rack handle, right below the on/off button. There is no front door, or cover on the front of the unit and the exposed portion of the drive trays are nicely finished and blend well with the remainder of the front panel. Three different shades and textures of black can look busy if arranged poorly, but this NAS looks well suited for the business applications it will likely be used in. The side and top panels are well finished, but have an industrial look that is completely appropriate, given the fact that they will be hidden inside a 19″ rack for their entire service life.

QNAP_TS-870U-RP_NAS_Network_Storage_Server_51_Right_Front_34.jpg

The construction quality of the TS-870U-RP exceeds that of most computer-based appliance I’ve ever tested. The data center crews are all hardware junkies for the most part, and they like their gear to radiate superiority. I’ve seen some nice consumer hardware in the last twenty years, but nothing compares to the stuff that’s designed to go in the data center. QNAP understands this, and this product is built to run 24/7 indefinitely, plus look good doing it. I couldn’t find any place where cost had been reduced at the expense of quality, and I had the more expensive TS-879U-RP in house to compare it with, side by side.

The QNAP TS-870U-RP Turbo NAS network storage server is best suited to a very tech-capable IT organization that can take full advantage of all the capabilities and functions it offers. The applications are well designed and documented, to the point where most IT pros can easily handle setup and administration of even the most advanced capabilities. There’s a lot of functionality that’s important in a business environment, but the availability of more broad-based web applications is also impressive, with support for several consumer focused cloud-based services being a simple example. At this point, all the non-business features such as Multimedia Station, Download Station, iTunes server, and UPnP media servers have been implemented in V3.8 of the Turbo NAS firmware. Most of these consumer oriented features are easier to configure than the hardcore IT apps, like VMware and iSCSI, plus the documentation provided by QNAP is excellent.

Before we discuss the pricing in detail, remember that these systems are not discretionary items for most businesses, they are a necessary expense. The tragic and inevitable costs for not having a robust data management system in place are 10-100 times higher than any of the prices you will see in this paragraph. As of May 2013 the diskless TS-870U-RP model was listed for $2619.99 at Newegg, or $2,339.99 from Amazon. If you need the wealth of features and the higher RAID performance the top TS-x79 series provides, but want it for a lower price, the TS-x70 Turbo NAS is the product line for you. If you just need the storage capacity, and the throughput is of little importance, you might be able to get by with the TS-869U-RP, which sells for $1,956.99 at Newegg. It runs with an Intel Atom processor, and doesn’t have the option for 10GbE networking. I think the TS-870U-RP that I tested for this review is a better value, though. The extra $340 buys so much more performance capability that it definitely seems worth it, to me.

Benchmark Reviews has enjoyed testing all of these QNAP network storage solutions, and with the wide range of products on offer from them, anyone in need of a NAS server can find one to fit their current and future needs. The biggest problem is choosing one; that’s why we go into so much detail in our reviews, to help you figure out what level of performance and features is right for you. The TS-870U-RP Turbo NAS server seems like overkill for the enthusiast, or even the SOHO market, but there will be some obvious exceptions. Anyone doing a significant amount of video editing for instance will gladly pay the price, and will install (or already have in place) the 10GbE network that will make it fly.

Pros:Benchmark Reviews Golden Tachometer Award

+ 683 / 540 MBps best read/write performance
+ System software is SOTA and continually updated
+ Support Apps available for multiple cloud services
+ Dual 10GbE NICs supported (Multiple Vendors)
+ iSCSI certified for several virtualization platforms
+ Online RAID Capacity Expansion and Level Migration
+ Hot-swap RAID storage
+ Dual Gigabit Ethernet with teaming and failover
+ RAID 0/1/5/6/10/JBOD disk configurations
+ Two eSATA and two USB 3.0 ports on rear panel
+ High quality construction

Cons:

- Standard GbE interface is a bottleneck
– 10GbE NICs are still somewhat expensive
– A few advanced capabilities will be too daunting for most SOHO users
– Many consumer HDDs not suitable for RAID, and enterprise units are $$$

Ratings:

  • Performance: 9.75
  • Appearance: 9.25
  • Construction: 9.50
  • Functionality: 9.50
  • Value: 9.25

Final Score: 9.45 out of 10.

Excellence Achievement: Benchmark Reviews Golden Tachometer Award.

COMMENT QUESTION: What type of environment (work/home/enterprise) do you use a NAS server?


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