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NAS systems for small business use are becoming ever more complex, largely driven by the ill-defined overlap between consumer and small-business needs. This trend is perfectly illustrated by QNAP's new Turbo NAS TS-419P II four-bay desktop enclosure.
An upgraded version of the existing TS-419P+ model, this revision is physically identical but is powered by the 2GHz version of the Marvell 88F6282 system-on-a-chip (the previous models used the 1.2GHz or 1.6GHz variants). Commissioning was straightforward after installing disks into the hot-swappable drive carriers, then using the browser-based quick install procedure to set basic system and network parameters and create the RAID volume. For review purposes, we used the same three 250GB consumer models (Hitachi HCS725025VLA380V5DO) used in our review of the Thecus N4200PRO.
The Turbo NAS TS-419P II is powered by a 2GHz Marvell system-on-a-chip
It accepts the latest SATA-300 (6Gbps) 2.5in. or 3.5in. drives up to 3TB, giving a maximum capacity of 12TB. RAID levels 0, 1, 5, 6, 10 and JBOD are supported, using either the EXT3 or EXT4 file system (XFS and ZFS are not supported). A novel feature is the 'virtual disk' system, which can connect to remote iSCSI targets and present them as shares. Local volumes can also be configured as iSCSI targets.
The TS-419P II is quite a large metal enclosure (it measures 17.7cm by 18cm by 23.5cm) with a brushed silver finish and a black plastic fascia. The vertical drive carriers, which are latched in place but are not lockable, are located under the monochrome LCD status panel. On the left side is a USB port and copy button, plus the main power button. At the rear are three further USB ports for connecting printers, external drives and other peripherals (a limited selection of USB Wi-Fi adapters is also supported), plus two eSATA ports. It uses an external power supply and there's a single fairly quiet 8cm cooling fan. Dual Gigabit Ethernet ports allow a good variety of load-balancing and redundancy options, from simple broadcast and round-robin balancing up to full 803.3ad link aggregation on suitable switches.
The TS-419P II has a reasonably user-friendly Ajax-based web management interface
With the sheer number of available services and applications, the usability of the management interface is paramount. In this respect the TS-419P II doesn't do too badly with its Ajax-based interface, but it's nowhere near as simple and elegant as Synology's DSM — it's more akin to the UI in the Thecus N4200PRO, but a little more user-friendly. Basic configuration tasks (such as mapping shares, updating firmware or changing the LAN configuration) can be done using the QNAP Finder Windows application without launching the management interface.
The context-sensitive help is fairly comprehensive, but it's well worth spending an hour with the user manual if you're unfamiliar with the current generation of do-anything NAS devices. Wizards are available for many tasks, and they're usually easy to follow, although they do suffer from unavoidable jargon in places. Setting up users, groups and permissions is easy for workgroup operation, or it can authenticate using an Active Directory domain.
Measuring performance is obviously not particularly meaningful on a bare enclosure, but using the same disks and RAID-0 configuration as we used in our Thecus N4200PRO review was quite enlightening. Our test setup precluded trying out 802.3ad link aggregation, but using the adaptive load balancing setting we ran the Disk Test in Passmark's Performance Test 7.0. For sequential reads, it achieved a very respectable 85.2MB/sec; sequential writes managed 64.5MB/sec, while random read and writes topped out at 36.5MB/sec.
Disk performance under Passmark Performance Test 7.0's Advanced Disk tests using Web Server (top) and File Server (above) workloads
In the Advanced Disk Test using a Web Server workload (100% random reads) it managed an average of 84.1MB/sec, but with a File Server workload (80% random read, 20% random write) it only managed an unimpressive 17.4MB/sec average, with throughput tailing off rapidly after the first few seconds.
The TS-419P II comes with thirteen application servers preinstalled
Thirteen application servers are preinstalled, with a predominant consumer focus on media streaming, P2P file downloads and web-based media players. Several will be of interest to businesses, however, such as the the web server, RADIUS server and IP camera surveillance server. Additional plug-ins can be downloaded, including a Wordpress blog server. NAS backups to the cloud can be done via Amazon S3 or ElephantDrive storage services, and remote access is made simple by integration with the free MyCloudNAS dynamic DNS service.
To minimise energy usage, schedules can be created to power the NAS on and off, and there's an EuP (Energy-using Products) efficiency setting that disables Wake on LAN and schedule settings to ensure power-off energy consumption is under 1W.
The TS-419P II is an impressively capable device that comfortably holds its own in the ongoing NAS arms race. Despite a distinct consumer focus, there's plenty to make it worthy of consideration for smaller businesses needing a powerful general-purpose NAS.