We have recently reviewed other models from the recently launched QNAP TS-X79 model series, albeit all 8-bay and none with the Error Correcting Code (ECC) Memory feature as standard. The TS-EC1279U-RP and TS-EC879U-RP hardware specification consisting of the ECC and XEON platform would normally signify servers of this elk to be deployed as Application File Servers, and not NAS devices. QNAP has upped the ante by including these critical features thus sending a clear message of their technical prowess as well as emphatic affirmation of intent to capture some of the enterprise downsizing market.
Figure 1: QNAP TS-EC1279U-RP at a glance
The TS-EC1279U-RP has the exact same form factor as the 8-bay QNAP rack mount models, which may seem a little unbelievable when you look at the 8-bay and realize how well it is designed to fit everything in a well-designed compact case. Inevitably when designing the 12-bay something had to give and so it has. The well known LCD panel has given way and the space created has been used to house the extra row for the three drive bays. The LCD omission is not really the end of the world! When you consider a rack-mount is housed in a rack which is away from normal contact, the LCD becomes a superfluous requirement. All the information required can be found within the QNAP Storage Manager (QSM). Setting up the first time boot with RAID will no longer be an option but that is the only minor loss, this being an issue when one needed to set-up for the first time not one of continued maintenance.
Figure 2: QNAP Storage Manager (QSM) Login Page
As with nearly all the new TS-X79 product range the TS-EC1279U-RP is no exception in providing support for the 10GbE standard as an optional extra. This option is worth a second glance especially if the strategy incorporates a 10GbE backbone sooner than later. The difference in performance is impressive with an upward leap of approximately five times more than the standard 1GbE. This is more apparent when you pair two of the QNAP TS-EC1279U-RP’s and deploy these for replication over a direct 10GbE connection. Needless to say, the QNAP TS-EC1279U-RP also supports VMware, Hyper V, Citrix and other virtual modes.
Figure 3: QNAP TS-EC1279U-RP Dimensions
The QNAP TS-EC1279U-RP runs a Linux variant operating system which has evolved and been renamed to QNAP Storage Manager (QSM), currently at version 3.5 as used in our benchmark. The QSM can be invoked via a browser by simply inserting the IP address or electing to use the QNAP wizard which will locate the NAS on the relevant network, and all you need to do is select connect and continue. Internally, the TS-EC1279U-RP is well endowed with a powerful Quad Core Intel Xeon E3-1225 3.1GHz Processor, and 4GB DDR3 ECC RAM with the option to upgrade to 8GB if needed. In our last review for the TS-879U-RP we were able to upgrade all the way up to 8GB, and this model we had no issues getting the system to recognize a 4GB upgrade module. We tested with the added 4GB and experienced no issues whatsoever. NOTE: Memory upgrade must be done with ECC memory and not the standard specification. Our main tests were carried out with the standard 4GB ECC memory.
Editor's Note: click the photos below for larger images
NOTE: The system has two memory slots one is already populated with 4GB ECC RAM, so if you wanted to upgrade to 8GB ECC RAM we would strongly recommend removing the first one, and adding a pair of 4GB ECC RAM from the same manufacturer with the exact specification. This will go a long way to eliminate any compatibility issues that may occur with having differing specifications and manufacturers. If you are going to buy a unit that is already upgraded please ensure you specify this requirement.
Figure 5: QNAP TS-EC1279U-RP Memory Slots
The street price packed with 24TB is currently at $7,549.00 from leading QNAP reseller SimplyNAS.
The Inside Story
The QNAP TS-EC1279U-RP supports almost all the latest and greatest of specifications that one can imagine, Quad Core Intel Xeon E3-1225 3.1GHz Processor, with SATA 6Gb/s and 4GB ECC memory to ensure smooth operation and reduce memory based errors as much as possible and preserve data integrity. QNAP does provide a comprehensive list of hard disk drives currently supported on their compatibility list. Using non compatible drives may cause QNAP to possibly refuse to help and warrant the product and they would be within their warranty rights to do so. What caught our eye was the design of the mainboard that has all the SATA controllers on board and accessed neatly via a back panel. Installation and removal is a simple matter and this is a huge improvement to many other designs as well as on QNAP’s previous models. The mainboard PCB is a clean design and oozes quality. It’s designed and manufactured by QNAP from scratch. The utilization of strategy components from leading manufacturing partners is impressive, and bearing in mind this was designed specifically for deployment as a NAS. When you compare with one of its competitors, Netgear, whose claim to design is to use a Supermicro server mainboard and slightly change the drive caddies then re-badge and install its firmware, one can hardly credit them with using innovation or indeed lay claim on being a "manufacturer". More like a consumer company branding an OEM product.
NOTE: Using non-compatible drives can have a serious impact on reliability. Some of the symptoms include hard disks showing up as faulty in differing ports without any particular pattern. If you replace the drive then others show up as faulty. Other symptoms are more serious. You constantly keep losing files as if they were never saved. Is this familiar? Beware, you have been warned. Do not take this issue lightly if you have drives that are not compatible or are about to buy drives not listed on the compatibility list then stop, think and resolve. Don’t do it.
Connectivity is impressive with 4 x RJ45 (Ethernet) ports with optional dual-port 10GbE and 1Gb network cards are supported. USB 3.0 has been allowed for configured as 1 x back and 1 x front, USB 2.0 support is still maintained with 4 x ports at the back. At the rear are 2 x eSATA ports that round up the connectivity structure.
Open, Set, RAID and Store
The packaging is the same as the other X79 series rack mount units, except for the dimensions. The unit is housed well as a result of the well-designed base that provides adequate shielding from being damaged in transit. Unpacking and removing the unit, to installing all twelve drives took us less than forty minutes. The drive caddies are re-designed and win our vote of confidence, with a spring loaded switch they are easy to open and they slide without undue force. 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.
Editor's Note: click the photos below for larger images
If you are installing drives, please take the necessary anti-static precautions 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 for 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, that 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 it’s most prudent when purchasing systems of this caliber.
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-EC1279U-RP stand out from the crowd.
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’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.
NAS + iSCSI/IP-SAN Solution for Server Virtualization
With increasing virtualization of IT resources, the need for high performance storage is more essential than ever. The TS-EC1279U-RP 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.
Figure 10: QNAP TS-EC1279U-RP 10GbE
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.
New Hardware Add-On Accentuates Performance
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.
Figure 11: QNAP TS-EC1279U-RP LAN Expansion Capabilities
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.
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 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-EC1279U-RP 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-EC1279PRO 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 13: QNAP Disaster Recovery Solutions
NOTE: We would like to take this opportunity to thank QNAP for providing the TS-EC1279U-RP for this review.
The QNAP TS-EC1279U-RP is one of the first 12-bay NAS severs to be introduced and QNAP seems to have a keen eye on design and quality. Clearly aimed at the higher end of the SMB sector as well as being an excellent fit for the Enterprise space too. The only XEON based NAS server we reviewed was the Thecus N16000, so this one should not disappoint. The TS-EC1279U-RP did not and we do not expect any less from the TS-EC1279U-RP.
QNAP TS-EC1279U-RP installed with 3TB Seagate Barracuda XT 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-EC1279U-RP Read/Write Comparative Performance|
|Copy, Backup and Restore||97.57|
Figure 14: MB/s Read/Write Performance Test Results
Figure 15: Overall Read/Write Test Performance
It's fair to say that we had some pretty high expectations for the QNAP TS-EC1279U-RP NAS given its specifications and price tag. Consequently we were pleased to see that it was able to outclass every other NAS device we have reviewed before, as well as topping all of the individual test categories.
The QNAP TS-EC1279U-RP-US is a dark horse that comes galloping ahead of the bunch and is a clear winner, with no need for a photo finish. Smooth as silk without any hiccups, the TS-EC1279U-RP certainly takes the honors as the one to beat. There is little doubt the performance ratio is the fastest we have seen to date, and not just by a whisker but by a furlong. The quality and performance just oozes from this 12-bay NAS server with enterprise level features and with a price ticket of under $7k for a 36TB version, it will compete with any NAS server in this space. In terms of performance, the TS-EC1279U-RP didn't just meet our expectations, but far exceeded them. For businesses that need the highest levels of performance and capacity, the TS-EC1279U-RP will certainly deliver on all its promises. Once again, QNAP takes the honors and richly deserves our Excellence Award.