Our last few large capacity NAS server reviews were very high-end units that we tested with 10GbE Ethernet. 10GbE is a rapidly growing market, but due to the high cost of 10GbE switches and network adapters, it's still an enterprise option that most of us aren't ready for in our offices.
After that string of reviews you may be under the impression that all large capacity NAS servers have moved into this high-end class of products, but that isn't the case.
QNAP's TS-X69 series of products doesn't have the 10GbE capabilities as the higher spec models, but they do incorporate all of the other latest and greatest features. By eliminating 10GbE, QNAP was able to reduce the cost of the TS-X69 series. Instead users get dual gigabit Ethernet, USB 3.0, eSATA and QNAP's latest addition to the group, HDMI video out.
Today we're looking at QNAP's TS-869 Pro, an eight drive bay unit with more hardware and software bells and whistles than and medium sized office will ever use. You don't need to use all of the add-on features that go beyond data storage right away, the features are good for future use.
We'll look at the full gamut of features today, and then test the throughput of the TS-869 Pro.
Specifications, Availability and Pricing
Modern NAS servers have moved well beyond data storage through a network. In order to get the most out of a NAS you have and look at the extra hardware and software features. The QNAP TS-869 offers a good mix of features on both of these fronts.
Before we dive into the software let's cover the hardware. The QNAP TS-869 Pro uses an Intel Atom 2.13GHz processor and pairs it with 1GB of RAM. The RAM can be upgraded with an additional 1GB or 2GB stick, but this system is limited to 3GB total.
The primary method of transferring data to the TS-869 Pro is through dual gigabit Ethernet ports that can be 'teamed' to deliver up to around 220MB/s (peak burst rate) or configured in a round robin or even a single connection configuration. This unit also has dual USB 3.0 ports that are accompanied by four USB 2.0 ports and two eSATA ports.
After looking around online we managed to find the QNAP TS-869 Pro for less than $1100. This price includes the full two year warranty, but is for a diskless system, so you'll still have to purchase drives. Companies like AVADirect can offer you a turnkey system configured for plug in play to your existing network and with the drives installed and configured.
NAS products are an equal balance between hardware specifications and software features. Together, one compliments the other and a well-rounded product immerges.
In May we took a deep look at QNAP's software on the NAS and covered the ins and outs of the features.
The QNAP TS-869 Pro is more than just a place to safely store your files. The NAS is a full on server capable to several tasks at the same time while freeing your computer to run or in some cases be turned off while the NAS continues to perform a large number of tasks.
QNAP has a nice retail package that is informative and colorful. We've seen QNAP ship some of its higher spec models with brown box style boxes, but the TS-869 Pro gets the full retail treatment.
The retail package has useful information all over the package.
This is the same information you'll find on the official product located on QNAP's website.
The NAS is packed very well with more than two inches of foam protecting the corners.
QNAP includes two Ethernet cables, a power cable, keys for the drive locks, 3.5" HDD and 2.5" HDD/SSD screws, a nice Quick Installation Guide and an optical disk filled with software and manuals.
QNAP TS-869 Pro NAS
The QNAP TS-869 Pro uses a tabletop layout so it fits well on top of a filing cabinet, shelf or desk. On the outside the TS-869 Pro looks nearly identical to the TS-869L, but the L lacks the display screen and buttons at the top right for configuring the NAS without a PC.
On the front we see the eight drive sleds that are of the locking kind for increased security. The power button is on the lower left side and accompanied by a USB port surrounded by a copy button. When you install a USB drive in this special front USB port, you can hit the copy button and copy the data to the NAS.
Vents on the side allow air to pass over the internal components to keep them cool and to reduce any internal fan speeds.
The TS-869 Pro uses two massive 120mm fans to keep the entire system cool. Using large fans means the NAS can pull more air through the NAS while keeping the fans at a lower speed. This reduces audible noise coming from the NAS.
The QNAP TS-869 Pro is a feature rich NAS with several ports on the back. At the top is QNAP's newest feature, HDMI out. QNAP also includes six USB ports, two of which are USB 3.0. A pair of eSATA ports are also anchored to the back as well as dual gigabit Ethernet ports that can be teamed for increased redundancy or speed.
QNAP includes a sticker on the top of the NAS that labels the drive bays. It might seem simple, but when loading and unloading the NAS this is very useful.
Despite being a Pro model the TS-869 Pro does not accept SAS drives, the connectors are not SAS compliant.
QNAP has some of the best drive sleds on the market today. Each bay has a label with a drive number and can accept both 3.5" and 2.5" drives. The individual sled lock is something we're seeing less of this year, but we feel it is a superior method of securing your drives in the NAS.
Test System Setup
The Intel NAS Performance Toolkit (NASPT) is a file system exerciser and analysis tool designed to enable direct measurement of home network attached storage (NAS) performance. Designed to emulate the behavior of an actual application, NASPT uses a set of real world workload traces gathered from typical digital home applications.
Traces of high definition video playback and recording, office productivity applications, video rendering/content creation and more provide a broad range of different application behaviors.
TweakTown Custom 48-Client Enterprise Test
TweakTown's Custom 48-Client Enterprise Test uses NetBench 7.03 with two custom workstations running 24 Hyper-V installs of Windows 7 to simulate small office multiuser performance. Both throughput (in Mbits per second) and latency (in milliseconds) are measured.
The tests are conducted in RAID 6 mode with the maximum number of HDDs installed.
- RAID Level Description
JBOD: Combine multiple drives and capacities into one drive.
RAID 0: Normally used to increase performance and useful for setups such as large read-only NFS servers where mounting many disks is time-consuming or impossible and redundancy is irrelevant.
RAID 1: Create an exact copy (or mirror) of a set of data on two or more disks. This is useful when read performance or reliability are more important than data storage capacity.
RAID 5: Use block-level striping with parity data distributed across all member disks.
RAID 6: Extend RAID 5 by adding an additional parity block; thus it uses block-level striping with two parity blocks distributed across all member disks.
RAID 10: A Stripe of Mirrors. Multiple RAID 1 mirrors are created and a RAID 0 stripe is created over these.
RAID 50: Combines the straight block-level striping of RAID 0 with the distributed parity of RAID 5.
RAID 60: Combines the straight block-level striping of RAID 0 with the distributed double parity of RAID 6.
Western Digital RED - The NAS HDD
TweakTown uses Western Digital RED 1TB hard drives for all of our NAS server tests. You can read our full review of the Western Digital RED 1TB in this article.
Benchmarks - HD Playback
HD Video Play - 720p HD stream from Windows Media Player* 256kB reads
2HD Video Play - 2x playback
4HD Video Play - 4x playback
When rolling through the tests we found the 1GB of RAM to sufficient for a single user environment, but later we'll show that the TS-869 Pro as configured from the factory could use a boost in the RAM department.
The single drive JBOD results were also low across the board. This was something that caught us by surprise since QNAP products tend to do very well with just a single drive. I would also like to note that this was our second test with the TS-869 Pro.
The first time we ran through the unit the performance was down considerably, but after applying the latest firmware updates, the unit sparked to life and became the 100+ MB/s beast you see in the charts today.
Benchmarks - HD Record
HD Video Record - 720p HD stream, 256kB writes
HD Video Play & Record - 1 playback, 1 record simultaneously
2x HD Video Play & 2x Record - 2 playback, 2 record simultaneously
In the HD Record tests we start to see the 1GB of system RAM come into play as we move to more advanced RAID.
RAID 5 and RAID 6 performance declines quite a bit in several tests even though we're using eight drives. The high drive count normally counter acts the performance loss associated with redundant RAID.
Benchmarks - Content
Photo Album - All reads - wide distribution of sizes
Office Productivity - Reads and writes, 1kB & 4kB reads; Mostly 1kB writes
Content Creation - 95% writes; 1k, 4k & little reads; Writes up to 64kB
Here we see some of the most intense tests NASPT has to offer, the Content Creation and Photo Album tests.
Again the single drive performance is down, but you don't buy an 8-bay NAS to just install a single drive. The performance in the rest of the tests was average for a NAS in this price range.
Benchmarks - Copy
Directory Copy From NAS - 64kB reads
Directory Copy To NAS - Predominantly 64kB writes, wide scattering under 16kB
File Copy From NAS - 4GB file copy, 64kB reads
File Copy To NAS - 64kB writes
A majority of users copy data to and from their NAS, and in these tests we see the file and directory copy performance.
The QNAP TS-869 Pro delivers stunning file copy performance when working with large transfers.
Benchmarks - Multi User Environment
We're rolling out a new test that measures multiuser performance in an office setting. Once fully implemented, this test will scale to 60 users, but we're only working with 48 today.
The chart shows both throughput and latency as we scale through the users.
Of the five NAS products we've tested thus far, the TS-869 Pro is the least favorable. The TS-869 Pro doesn't show much of an improvement between single and dual (802.11ad) performance. While writing this we have a QNAP TS-EC1279U-RP on the test bench, and that'll tell us if the low multiuser performance has to do with the amount of system memory or a firmware issue.
We suspect the low performance comes from the 1GB of DRAM.
QNAP's TS-869 Pro improves upon the 859 Pro we reviewed last year and is a good small to medium size office NAS server. If you plan on using several of the built-in or add-on applications or have several users hitting the NAS at one time we'd strongly suggest increasing the amount of DRAM in the unit. The TS-869 Pro ships with only 1GB and can scale to 3GB so an additional 2GB is needed to achieve maximum capacity. These RAM sticks can be purchased for as low as $11 at Newegg. For such a low sum we really can't complain about the added expense, but we do wonder why QNAP didn't load 3GB in the unit from the factory.
The QNAP TS-869 Pro is a very quiet NAS. It's so quiet you could easily place the unit on your desk or close to your work area without interruption. The dual 120mm fans also keep the NAS and the drives inside cool without making a disturbance.
The real beauty of the TS-869 Pro is in the software. The menu system is easy to follow and within seconds your NAS is configured and working exactly how you want it. Prior to writing this page I browsed the QNAP Forums to see what add-on packages were being developed and the list was massive. These will eventually join the large number of already supported applications that run on the TS-869 Pro. QNAP recently included a number of new features in the new 3.7 firmware update. The 3.7 update also increased performance redundant RAID arrays.
We managed to find the QNAP TS-869 Pro online for less than $1100 in the US. The price is very competitive with other 8-bay NAS units on the market, even though without QNAP's many robust hardware and software features.
All things considered we really like the TS-869 Pro, even how it ships from QNAP with just 1GB of DRAM. Upgrading the unit to 3GB will increase performance and the number of applications you can run on the system while increasing your workgroups user experience.
PRICING: You can find products similar to this one for sale below.
United States: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.com
United Kingdom: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.co.uk
Australia: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.com.au
Canada: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.ca
Deutschland: Finde andere Technik- und Computerprodukte wie dieses auf Amazon.de