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QNAP TVS-863+ vNAS Server Review

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QNAP TVS-863+ Turbo vNAS Server 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 TVS-863+ Turbo vNAS server was eye-opening for me. The AMD GX-424CC CPU and the system architecture that surrounds it makes a huge difference here, and one that I wasn’t really prepared for. The quad-core member of the 28nm “Jaguar” APU family, architected as a System-On-A-Chip (SOC) with the peripheral interfaces like USB and SATA built right into the die, leapfrogs the performance of any device built on the old Intel Atom platform and many others. Although my benchmarks are heavily weighted towards file transfer, the AMD G-Series APU typically has a 5x advantage over Intel Atom when running graphics-intensive benchmarks. There is a similar performance advantage when handling AES-256 bit full volume encryption, again courtesy of AMD. This is a breakthrough for NAS users who have wanted to use encryption, but couldn’t afford the high-dollar enterprise boxes that featured Intel’s hardware acceleration for the AES-NI instruction set. If there’s a downside to all this performance that the AMD platform brings to the table, I don’t see it. I’ve wondered for a long time why no one built a NAS around an AMD CPU, I mean it’s all x86 code after all. Now that QNAP has let the genie out of the bottle, I guarantee the TVS-x63 series won’t be the last!

The front panel of this new AMD-based has a new face, with a golden glow that is very easy on the eyes if you have it out in the open. Color schemes come and go, and in 10 years, champagne and gold will be out of style, but in 2015 it makes a nice change from the black and white options that dominate the landscape. We all know that AMD’s predominate color scheme for the last several years has been red, red dragons at that, but QNAP’s selection of gold to distinguish their AMD-based servers is probably the better choice. Status LEDs for System Status, USB, LAN, and activity on each HDD are integrated along the black acrylic header on the front panel. The USB 3.0 port, quick backup button and the power switch are on the left, towards the bottom. There is no front door, or cover on the front of the unit, but the exposed drive trays are nicely finished and integrate well with the remainder of the front panel; all the plastic parts are well matched in terms of color and texture. All in all, it’s easy to recognize the trademark QNAP style, and that’s a good thing IMHO.

QNAP TVS-863+ Turbo vNAS Server Front_01

The construction quality of the TVS-863+ reflects a device that 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, despite the fact that this represents a very mature platform for QNAP. There has been plenty of time for them to revisit the design and do a little value engineering to reduce costs, but they haven’t done it on this series as far as I can see. Take a look at the TS-451 article I did recently for an example of their latest cost-cutting design, which to my eyes, sacrificed very little in terms of durability and overall quality. QNAP chose to retain the heavy-duty steel chassis for the TVS-x63 series, perhaps because the 8-bay models need that level of structural rigidity, and then decided to keep the same chassis design for all the variants. QNAP has an enviable reputation for quality and reliability, both very important qualities for a NAS server, and the TVS-863+ design doesn’t mess with success.

The QNAP TVS-863+ Turbo NAS network storage server is clearly aimed at small and medium businesses. There are dozens of models in the QNAP storage product line, and this one has been tailored for a specific application. It’s not that it can’t be used in the home, but very few home networks is going to be able to effectively take full advantage of the 10GbE connection that comes standard on this model. A business class switch with plenty of I/O is needed to utilize all of the capabilities that come standard with the TVS-863+. So for the home user, it’s a matter of why pay for features that don’t provide any benefits… On the flip side, the two HDMI output probably won’t see much use in the business environment. The addition of an IR receiver on the front panel does make all the multimedia features easier to access though, just in case you do need them. The breakout move, of putting an AMD CPU in a series of small NAS servers, benefits almost all users. The performance improvements are truly groundbreaking. What a welcome relief from the Atom-based models that used to dominate the market. The large number of apps that are available and the cloud services that extend the reach of NAS storage, all contribute to a versatile system that does more than you could ever imagine a NAS server was intended to do. Some of the high-end routers are attempting to edge their way into this solution space, but for the moment the prize for the most functionality in one small net-centric box goes to the Turbo NAS server.

Before we discuss the pricing in detail, remember that these systems are not discretionary items for most businesses; they are a necessary expense to ensure business continuity (AKA not going out of business). 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 June 2015 the diskless TVS-863+ model was listed online for $1499 (Newegg | B&H | Amazon). Given the extremely high level of performance of this unit, its large capacity, the included 10GbE network interface, and the maxed-out internal memory (16GB), this is a very reasonable price. Four, five, and six bay models are available for those that don’t need the additional capacity. Keep in mind that just recently this kind of performance used to cost $3,000 or more. I’m not immune to sticker shock, but the amount of performance and functionality that the TVS-863+ brings to the table is impressive, and most small or medium businesses will consider the cost to be completely reasonable.

Benchmark Reviews has enjoyed testing all of these 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 TVS-863+ Turbo vNAS server may be overkill for the SOHO user, but it looks like a great fit for the SMB market. Just make sure the networking infrastructure is in place to maximize the overall performance.

Pros:Benchmark Reviews Golden Tachometer Award Logo (Small)

+ 1235 / 640 MBps best read/write performance with ATTO
+ Huge performance improvement for encrypted volumes
+ 10GbE network interface is preinstalled as standard
+ System software is SOTA and continually updated
+ Virtualization is more viable with Quad-Core CPU
+ Transcoding services run faster on Radeon GPU
+ SSD Cache acceleration is easy to configure
+ Lower price, better performance with AMD platform
+ iSCSI certified for several virtualization platforms
+ Storage pools in a Linux environment
+ Flexible RAID error recovery
+ 2x integrated Gigabit Ethernet ports with teaming, failover
+ Five USB 3.0 ports – one in front and four on rear panel
+ High quality construction

Cons:

– I wish all GbE networks could be replaced overnight with 10GbE
– RAID synchronization process takes a long time (~8 hrs w/4 HDD)
– Non-business users will compare to low-end consumer devices (<<$$$)

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 environment would use use a network storage server in?

NewEgg.com

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