There is a formula to building a successful NAS for system administrators. It's like a straight line from two points. The more a company deviates from the formula to improve the system; the line begins to blur from the ripple. We often see this happen from companies trying to incorporate consumer, business, and enterprise functions in the same system by simply tossing everything in and hoping the user finds something useful. The QSAN XCubeNAS is not a bucket of paint thrown at the user. This is a system with a targeted purpose and focused features designed to keep your business' storage secure.
Most of QSAN's product line targets large business storage needs with the flagship system incorporating up to 24 hard disk drives and Intel Xeon processors. The company has recently turned the dial down on some XCubeNAS series products to reach a wider market.
The XCubeNAS XN8008T we're testing today incorporates many of the features of the enterprise-scale products but puts them in an easier to manage small business-friendly form factor. This system uses a pedestal design as opposed to the beastly rackmount system.
The smaller size doesn't mean businesses have to compromise on features. The base XN8008T system brings ample processing power and system memory to power a large office right out of the box. Optional memory and connectivity options increase the number of simultaneous users the system can handle (10Gb and 40Gb Ethernet) and can even change the functionality (Thunderbolt 3 DAS).
The system's main purpose is to provide a reliable storage environment that protects against data corruption. The product uses QSAN Storage Management 3.0 (QSM 3.0) on a custom Linux kernel to run a 128-bit ZFS file system. QSM doesn't have many of the flashy features you would find on a QNAP, Thecus, or Asustor system but we're fine without the distractions on a true business-focused system. System administrators get core features often used today in production environments and enough icing to give a fulfilling sweet taste.
The QSAN XN8008T is the company's flagship pedestal NAS built for business use including applications that can run directly on the system. The XN8008T features a powerful 7th-generation Intel Core i5 processor running at 2.7GHz across four cores with a Turbo speed of 3.3GHz. Looking online, we found the system shipping with 8GB of system memory but ours arrived with 16GB packed into two DDR4 SODIMMs. The NAS supports up to 32GB of system memory and uses commodity non-registered, non-ECC DDR4 2400-class.
QSAN builds similar models with less drive bays, but this SN8008T features 8 3.5" and a single 2.5" used to build a read or write cache SSD that sits in front of the disk array. The system uses a ZFS files system on the disks, but users can virtually load drives with an assortment of other file systems.
Connectivity comes from five USB 3.0 ports with one on the front paired with a copy function button. The system does feature an HDMI port, but at this time, we didn't find any applications on the system to takes advantage of multi-media functions. The system runs Linux so it would be possible to implement software like KODI to take full advantage of the single HDMI port.
Network connectivity comes from four gigabit-Ethernet ports on the back of the system. The XN8008T features a single PCIe 3.0 x8 slot inside the system. Resellers can sell and configure the system with either a dual SFP+ 10GbE, or a Thunderbolt 3 card to increase network bandwidth or add direct-attached storage features to the system.
Cooling comes in the form of two large fans on the back of the system. In our testing, we never heard the system ramp up fan speeds to audible levels in our testing environment. At idle the system reports fan speed around 600 RPMs. Disk temperatures at idle using Seagate IronWolf Pro 12TB models reported between 39C and 47C with the highest measure coming from disk 1.
The system ships with some applications but the included list is scant compared to industry veterans QNAP, Thecus, and Asustor.
Users enjoy a full array of backup options that include snapshots, remote and rsync options. Users can also target Google, Dropbox, Amazon, and Microsoft cloud backup accounts with synchronizing from local storage to the cloud or the cloud service replicating to the NAS.
With a SSD installed in the system as a read cache, the XN8008T supports deduplication of data. We suspect there is a performance penalty from enabling the option but plan further tests later to examine the full impact.
Additional features include:
- Site Recovery Manager (SRM) certified
- vStorage APIs for Array Integration (VAAI) certified
- Windows Offloaded Data Transfer (ODX)
- Microsoft Hyper-V certified
- Citrix Ready
- Flash: 8GB USB DOM
- Hard Drive Interface: SATA 6Gb/s (backward compatible with SATA 3Gb/s)
- Expansion Slot: PCIe Gen3x8 for 10 GbE/ 40 GbE / Thunderbolt 3.0 / SAS adapter cards.
Pricing and Warranty
QSAN does not have the same robust distribution network as many of the established brands with consumer-focused product lines. In the US we found QSAN systems on Amazon, but this the model we plan to test today. PC Pitstop does carry the XN8008T with a base price of just over $2,800.
PC Pitstop also carries the 10GbE with dual SFP+ card for an additional $359.99. The Thunderbolt 3 adapter card also carries a $359.99 price. The site also shows a third option for the onboard PCie 3.0 x8 slot. Users can opt to load a dual-port SAS 12Gb JBOD expansion card, but it's a costly option at $509.99. We were not able to find an RJ45 10-gigabit Ethernet option for this series at this time. The XCubeNAS manual also lists a 40GbE card, but we didn't find one available at the time of writing.
QSAN backs the XCubeNAS series with a standard 2-year warranty.
A Closer Look
The system uses a sleek design that is both stylish and functional. Hidden status lights on the front keep users informed to disk, network, and connection activities. The single USB 3.0 port on the front of the system allows for easy device when users enable the one-touch-copy function.
The drive sleds are tool-less with easy to manage rails that lock into place for the 3.5" and form-fitting sides for the 2.5". The system does use a small tool to lock the front drive bays as well as the cover for the 2.5" drive location.
The same removable panel also exposes the DDR4 2400 SO-DIMM modules. In the image, you can see a small oval area hidden on the vertical black strip. This is where you press the tool into the NAS to unlock the hidden door. The same tool locks the drive sleds in place. An area on the back of the NAS holds the tool with a magnet if you want to keep the NAS and the unlocking system in close proximity.
The system uses a simple IO layout with the four USB 3.0 and four gigabit Ethernet ports clustered over a reset button and a Kensington Lock port used to secure the NAS to a solid structure.
The two massive fans keep the drives and other internal components cool. A series of screws on the upper portion of the system secure the top panel that you remove to install an add-in card. The card must use the flat style IO plate. Our sample system arrived with a dual port 10GbE adapter sporting SFP+ connectors.
The system does have an HDMI output for display connectivity, but we didn't have any software to run, like KODI, to use the port for advanced multimedia functions. Given this system's strong CPU performance and low noise, it would make an excellent system for movie enthusiasts if QSAN were to release applications for that purpose.
The system uses six vibration-dampening pads on the bottom to isolate vibrations from passing through to the desktop or other surface.
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