Can you put SSDs in a NAS?

Most NAS drives will accept SSDs as well as mechanical hard drives - we look at whether it's a good idea

An SSD shown inside a PC system

It is entirely possible to populate NAS drives with SSDs, as they accept 2.5in drives, but the question is, should you?

Solid-state storage offers excellent performance, but not necessarily in the context of adding them to NAS drives. With gigabit Ethernet connections only capable of transfer speeds up to 110MB/sec, and faster options like 10GbE hardware requiring serious investment, SSD drives generally don't offer much of an advantage.

But, that doesn't mean adding SSDs will be completely useless. IT Pro tested the Qnap TS-453B  with four 2,5in SATA SSDs and recorded a minor boost in 4K read speeds. That was a jump from 10.4MB/sec to 11.4MB/sec.

As anyone who has been in the presence of a four-bay NAS appliance, the collective noise of four mechanical hard disks can be deafening. SSDs don't have any moving parts and therefore run silently, so the only sound from your NAS will its internal fan.

Abstract image of an SSD flying quickly through the air on a black background

Another benefit of SSDs is that they typically use less power than mechanical disks. Our four-bay Qnap TS-453B was populated with four 1TB Seagate Barracuda 3.4in hard disks which sapped 32w from the mains while not in use. It took 38w while streaming videos. That number fell to 14w when idle and 16w while streaming when we switched them out for four SSDs.

Beforehand, there was a major drawback with SSDs - the cost compared to HDDs; a 1TB mechanical disk can be bought for £40, so you can set up a 3TB RAID 5 array for £160. But SSDs have started to close the gap. While just a year or two ago, a 1TB SSD will have set you back around £250, prices have started to drop, and you can buy for around £100.

This article originally appeared in PC Pro issue 276

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