QNAP TVS-863+ vNAS Server Review


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1GB RAID 5 Test Results

If you’ve got more than three HDD spindle to put in play, it makes sense to use one of the more advanced RAID configurations. RAID 5 is one of the most popular setups, primarily due to the balance it exhibits between capacity and redundancy. Not surprisingly, most NAS units that can support more than three HDDs also support RAID 5, so it makes sense to use it for test purposes. Most NAS products that can support RAID 5 go beyond the minimum number of drive bays, to a total of four, so that is the number of drives that I typically use to test with, even though I could get by with only three.

The unit that’s the subject of this review is shown as the first set of results, right on top where they’re easier to find. All these results are based on a single workstation interfacing with the NAS, and the larger models in this group are designed to handle data requests from multiple servers at one time. That doesn’t invalidate these results, because it’s still important to know what level of performance is available for a single user, as well as the overall aggregate. Before we look at the benchmark results, I want to show you the typical NAS CPU and Memory loading that occurred during these timed file transfer tests. As you can see they are both quite low, particularly the memory, and they stayed that way throughout the whole test. This chart is from a new widget that’s been included since the QTS 4.0 application, which you can put on your desktop to monitor system resources, network activity, etc. The old resource monitor screens are still available in the main software, and offer run charts instead of real-time “meters”.

QNAP TVS-863+ Turbo vNAS Server TVS-863+_CPU_Load_01

Given all the behind-the-scenes processing that goes on to calculate parity bits for RAID 5, these results show that the QNAP TVS-863+ Turbo NAS has more than enough power under the hood to keep the drives performing at their potential during read and write operations. All of the NAS models I’ve tested with a 10GbE interface had results that easily tripled the performance available with the GbE interface. CPU and memory utilization on the TVS-863+ were always quite low during READ tests. Read performance is very strong with this system, which is a real bonus if you plan to use it as frontline storage. You can have network storage performance that’s almost on par with the local SSD in a high-end PC, in the range of 900 MB/s. That is very fast, and it leaves the competition in the dust. If you’re going to use it primarily as a backup system, you also want top-notch write performance, and we’ll test that next.

QNAP TVS-863+ Turbo vNAS Server TVS_863+_RAID5_1_GB_READ_01

The 1 GB RAID 5 disk write test shows strong results as well, but not in the same league as the read benchmarks. The TVS-863+ still puts in a chart-topping result at 359 MB/s without the SSD cache and 357 MB/s with it enabled. It’s well known that RAID 5 write performance can be a weak point, with all the computation overhead involved and the extra parity bits that need to be calculated and written to each of the drives. The primary way to overcome that is with raw computational horsepower, and there may have been concerns that the AMD GX424CC SOC in the TVS-863+ wouldn’t be up to the task. These results clearly show that AMD has no reason to take a back seat to Intel in the NAS market. All those years when we were waiting for a powerful replacement for the Atom in low-power NAS devices, who would have thought that AMD would fill the gap?

QNAP TVS-863+ Turbo vNAS Server TVS_863+_RAID5_1_GB_WRITE_01

Next up is 10 GB (1000 metric megabytes / 10,000,000,000 bytes) file transfer testing. Using the 4-disk RAID 5 configuration in each NAS, and a single 10 Gigabit connection, network throughput will be put to the test, and the effect of any system or hardware caches will be minimized. This is almost pure sequential disk access testing, combined with a real-world application that gets repeated millions of times a day – file transfer.

10GB RAID 5 Test Results

Looking at Read tests with a single 10GB file, the TVS-863+ crushes the competition and wins top place in Read performance with an average Read speed of over 1,000 MB/s, with or without the SSD cache. No worries about the new AMD CPU in the TVS-x63 series not having enough performance, that’s for sure. The performance of most of these NAS products is still constrained by their GbE connections. This chart looks a whole lot different, because some of the devices are equipped with 10GbE network interfaces. For 99% of home scenarios though, Gigabit Ethernet is the top transfer speed that will be supported by the rest of the networking equipment. This NAS makes a good case for getting a network switch with at least one 10GbE port on it.

QNAP TVS-863+ Turbo vNAS Server TVS_863+_RAID5_10_GB_READ_01

Looking at write tests with a single 10GB file, the TVS-863+ comes out on top again, by a smaller margin, with an average Write speed of more than 372 MB/s. I used to say that if you’re writing large files to a NAS running RAID 5, you can’t afford to scrimp on system hardware; you need the biggest, baddest CPU you can afford. This AMD SOC-based NAS has made me re-think that a bit, in favor of a more optimized systems approach. In this case, the SOC approach eliminates the Platform Controller Hub from the mix, and the direct connection of the CPU/SOC to the SATA 6Gb/s controllers works very well. The TVS-x63 series has a unique blend of internal components to maximize the performance v. cost equation. Kudos to QNAP for fighting conventional wisdom and trying a new approach based on an AMD platform. The lower cost of the tower configuration hardware, compared to a rack mount form factor, helps improve the cost-benefit ration even further. This definitely helps if you need the additional capacity of one of the larger models in the TVS-x63 lineup, with six or eight bays.

QNAP TVS-863+ Turbo vNAS Server TVS_863+_RAID5_10_GB_WRITE_01

All in all, after these series of file transfer benchmarks, I have to give a lot of credit to QNAP for delivering even more performance than some of their high-end business class tower models, in a lower cost format. Yes, the chassis is cheaper, and the CPU is a new breed of animal, but that’s still a smashing recipe for NAS success. Once again, the cost barrier to overwhelming performance with a 10GbE interface has been lowered. I realize most homes are going to remain in a GbE network environment for the next five years or so, but if you are ready to make that leap, this new family of storage servers will provide more usable throughput than any GbE system can hope to achieve. With half a dozen network devices now pretty much the lower limit for most homes, it might make sense to plan for effectively delivering higher performance to a larger number of users on the rest of the network.

Next, let’s take a look at test results from a benchmark suite that’s specifically designed to measure NAS performance, using test scenarios that cover a wide range of use cases. I’m talking about the NASPT tool from Intel.

NAS Comparison Products


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