Editor's Note: We have just been informed by QNAP that the X79 Series of products will now carry a 3 Year Manufacturer's Warranty
QNAP has revamped its bastion of products the 8-bay TS-809 range. It seems from the information provided to us by QNAP personnel the TS-809 product portfolio is being replaced by the TS-879 range. The X79 range also consist of a 10-bay and 12-bay unit, the former, we understand is also launched and shipping, the latter is still not shipped as yet.
Editor's Note: click the photos below for larger images
Figure 5: QNAP TS-879 PRO Dimensions
The X79 range receives a major boost with the inclusion of the Dual Core Intel® Core™ i3-2120 Processor with a frequency clock at 3.3GHz. One of the most noticeable additions is the availability of the 10GbE option which can be upgraded via the Expansion Slot provided. This then brings the QNAP inline with one of its competitors, Thecus Technology. This signals the advent of the adoption for the 10GbE standard becoming a reality sooner than later. The supported list of 10GbE cards are also available and consist mostly of the Intel variety.
The range should appeal to professional home users and businesses of all sizes, the product mix is no longer restricted to narrow market segmentation as the features will entice and appeal to large companies downsizing and using this as a replacement of the traditionally expensive Virtual servers and entry level SAN solutions. The advent of IP SAN and the availability of virtual client support (VMware, Hyper V and more), coupled with the ease of setting up replication for disaster recovery makes these devices ideal for any storage deployment.
The street price packed with 24TB is currently at $3707.00 averaged from a number of resellers.
The Inside Story
As previously mentioned, the QNAP TS-879PRO features the Intel i3-2102 3.3GHz processor and 2 GB DDR3-1333 NON-ECC RAM, and QNAP informs us this is not user upgradeable, so 2GB is all you have officially as confirmed by QNAP. That being the case we would strongly recommend our readers not to attempt and upgrade without first reverting back to QNAP for clarification. A system of this caliber should have at least 4GB DDR3 on board to allow a higher performance ratio in Virtual applications.
The QNAP TS-879PRO also supports the new SATA 6Gb/s specification adding that extra pizzazz in the hard disk area, although when we carried out individual 3Gb/s and 6Gb/s tests for performance differential, using the 6Gb/s was significantly low compared to the normal 3Gb/s drive. Do not be hoodwinked by the baseless argument that that the difference will have a critical impact on an increase in performance. QNAP does provide a comprehensive list of hard disk drives currently supported on their compatibility List. Using non compatible drive may cause QNAP to possibly refuse to help and warrant the product as they would be within their rights to do so. The QNAP TS-879PRO is integrated with 4 x Marvel 9125 controllers each representing 2 x SATA 6GB/s ports. The Marvel 9125 is an adequate controller design, certainly nothing earth shattering.
The Display is still LCD; however we would have liked to have seen the OLED design creeping into QNAP design. The display is clear and provides all the relevant HDD, RAID monitoring and connectivity information you would need, including setting up your RAID from first boot, and not having to go through its software. The Case of the TS-879pro is basically that of the TS-859 product range, with the drive trays changed.
Open, Set, RAID and Store
The packaging is standard QNAP style, meticulously packed with detail. Unpacking and removing the unit, to installing all eight drives took us less than twenty minutes... The drive caddies are installed and are of a totally new design, getting our vote of confidence, they are designed with a spring loaded switch, easy to use and the caddies glide in without much effort. The only thing we were a little disappointed with was the screws to secure the 3.5” drives are no longer at the bottom of the tray but to the side; this is a little finicky but not the end of the world.
If you are installing drives, please take the necessary steps for using anti-static precaution in case you accidentally touch the bare HDD controller located at the back of the drive. Everything needed to install drives is provided, and the process is not difficult it just needs care and attention when handling drives. We do advise all our readers to consider buying units ready assembled and tested by resellers who are specialists in the storage arena, who also carry out the required testing and burn in process. The important word here is “tested”; if the units are not tested with the hard drives installed to an accepted level to ensure a very low risk of Dead on Arrival (DOA), then don’t buy it with drives installed. Of course this comes at a small price premium and is most prudent when purchasing systems with these functionality.
Editor's Note: click the photos below for larger images
Once booted for the first time, you have the opportunity to set RAID via the display panel, something QNAP have been doing for a while now. This is all that is required and you may walk away until it’s done.
The RAID levels supported are impressive and more than sufficient. Single disk, RAID 0 (Disk Striping), RAID 1 (Disk Mirroring), RAID 5, RAID 5+ Hot spare, RAID 6, RAID 10, and JBOD (Linear Disk Volume). The RAIDs 5, 6, and 10, can all be configured with a Spare as well. In this model QNAP only supports software RAID. The IP address can be left as Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) for the unit to determine an automatic configuration protocol on the network, enabling locating the NAS on your network without?, having to mess about with settings.
It seems QNAP has totally revamped its Management Software as it has announced recently, the version is 3.5 and it has been renamed QNAP Storage Manager (QSM), and has subtle differences from its previous version, including the addition of a few new features that are discussed later. We have shared a few salient features that make the QNAP TS-879PRO stand out from the crowd.
Silence is Golden
The one outstanding aspect of the system that impressed upon us was the low noise level, despite the QNAP TS-879 having been fully populated at one stage with 3TB drives and the system still maintained a low noise level. This is an important factor for many when considering purchasing NAS devices. QNAP has excelled in this area.
With increasing virtualization of IT resources, the need for high performance storage is more essential than ever. The TS-879 Pro offers class-leading system architecture matched with 10 GbE networking performance designed to meet the needs of demanding server virtualization, such as VMware®, Citrix®, and Windows® Hyper-V. 10 GbE network speeds greatly increase the agility of data transmission in a virtualized environment intensifying NFS and iSCSI connection performance.
NAS + iSCSI/IP-SAN Solution for Server Virtualization
Many organizations are switching over to SMB based solutions for their virtualization needs, and they commence to downsize, and small businesses are moving up to virtualization as a solution to their growth and meeting budgetary requirements. QNAP is cognizant of this and is meeting these needs by providing support for demanding server virtualization, such as VMware®, Citrix®, and Windows® Hyper-V.
Figure 8: QNAP TS-879 PRO 10GbE
Figure 9: QNAP TS-879 PRO Management
QNAP has finally provided support for the 10GbE network standard, and allowed for external 10GbE card support mainly Intel based, and also provided the ability to add more 1GbE ports using its proprietary card. It’s a choice of either or, you may install a 10GbE or 1GbE upgrade but not both. This is a tremendous boost for future compatibility and leverages to aggregate and boost network performance. Adding to Network Bandwidth was only half the story, with 2 x eSATA ports the transfer rate of data to external sources is eased, as is with the addition of the new USB 3.0 standard ports and according to the company, the external hard disk drives support units with EXT3, EXT4, NTFS, and HFS+ file systems ensure compatibility with Windows, Mac® OS X, and Linux operating systems.
QNAP Adds Antivirus – Unique Feature
QNAP has for the first time in this SMB sector, added a feature that has often depended on being behind the router. Antivirus software is normally installed on servers and/or workstations, thus eliminating the need to have ported to NAS devices. Despite this, we do not see any harm to have it on NAS devices, except if it has a major impact on performance, as this is likely and one needs to examine this fact. Lack of time on our part prevented us to carry out this test. QNAP has documented its argument for having the Antivirus integral of the system and can be found here.
SPECIAL NOTE: In this special section WhichNAS has taken the liberty to scope and use some of the information provided by QNAP on their Website, we didn’t have the luxury of time to test these features and as such this must be viewed as using information provided directly by QNAP and not challenged by WhichNAS. We have not had the demo unit for long, and wanted this review to be published quickly so as to enable users to make learned decisions. Images were courtesy of QNAP website.
Backup, FTP, Add-ons and Remote Replication
QNAP quotes providing Business backup solutions with QNAP QBack / NetBak replicator which supports real-time and scheduled data backup from Windows PCs, Apple Time Machine backup from Mac OS, and third party backup software such as Acronis True Image, and Symantec Backup Exec. We are not sure why it emphasizes “business” and not all users, as professional home users will find this useful as well.
Figure 12: QNAP TS-879 PRO Backup
QNAP has further provided more business based features for Disaster Recovery Solutions, as it takes the form of Real-time Remote Replication (RTRR) which allows real-time or scheduled data replication between two TS-879 PRO devices and/or to any remote QNAP NAS, and FTP servers, or an external drive. Other options include the iSCSI LUN Backup and Restore that has now adopted snapshot technology, allowing point-in-time data backup, to any devices available at the time, for both remote and local devices. Cloud Storage Backup support for the TS-879PRO is in the form of Amazon S3 and Elephant Drive that support several backup modes including real-time, scheduled backup, and versioning control, allowing data to be restored from any point of time.
Figure 12: QNAP TS-879 PRO Disaster Recovery Solutions
NOTE: We would like to take this opportunity to thank QNAP for providing the TS-879PRO for this review, albeit at very short notice and for its arrival to our labs precisely on the date stipulated.
The QNAP TS-879PRO will establish itself very quickly as a new breed of NAS appliances that has finally enveloped and embraced the Enterprise user as the performance, quality, and price ratios are all in Sync. This is no small feat as the TS-879PRO is only the tip of the iceberg and will be followed by a 10-bay and 12-bay desktop and rack mount versions. The unit with its specification should perform well, and as far as compatibility is concerned, we encountered no errors during our testing routine.
QNAP TS-879 PRO installed with 2TB Hitachi Deskstar drives
Firmware Revision: QSM 3.5
RAID LEVEL TESTED: RAID 5
HP ProCurve 1810G-24 Managed Switch
We use a Real-World testing utility as well as a realistic Drag & Drop procedure as depicted in everyday normal operations.
Our tests are carried out with a combination of reads and writes, we do not separate the two, both are combined to produce an overall result that depicts the actual performance of the device tested.
This category is one of the most demanding from a file size perspective as the smallest size file is 2GB and the largest being 30GB.
A combination of demanding Video, Audio and Images files are combined to make this the most challenging category of them all.
The Office category is mainly for business users who may compare the typically used business applications, consisting of spreadsheets, databases, Word, PowerPoint, Visio, and email management. We have also combined Photoshop based images that are used to cut and paste within a document to make up a 30 page mailer as well as Visio templates used for presentation within a PowerPoint file that exceeds 15GB file size.
Our Third category is a combination of files from the previous two categories to initiate copying, backing up, deleting all content and then restoring from a backup made within the RAID array.
|QNAP TS-879 PRO Read/Write Comparative Performance|
|Copy, Backup and Restore||90.17|
Figure 13: MB/s Read/Write Performance Test Results
|QNAP TS-879 PRO|
Figure 14: Overall Read/Write Test Performance
The QNAP TS-879PRO seems clearly to be a new breed of NAS servers that will provide longevity and high performance with the addition of the 10GbE Ethernet standard. The TS-879PRO is most certainly a unified NAS server that will appease users of all class, with adept features, razor sharp speed, and value for money. It is surreal to accept the QNAP TS-879PRO tower NAS server can pack 24TB and hardly make a sound, quietly purring away, and crunching data in its path. The range including the TS-879PRO will quickly become the best buy for 2011, and propel QNAP to great heights if the range continues to maintain its reliability, compatibility, and value for money ratio.
The best street price we found for a QNAP TS-879PRO 24TB was $3,739.00.