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

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

Even though solid-state storage offers excellent performance, this isn’t necessarily in the context of adding them to NAS drives. SSD drives don’t generally offer much of an advantage, especially when you take into account the gigabit Ethernet connections that are only capable of transfer speeds of up to 110MB/sec, whereas faster options like 10GbE hardware require serious investment.

This doesn’t mean, however, that adding SSDs will be completely useless. IT Pro tested the Qnap TS-453B which has four 2.5in SATA SSDs and we recorded a small boost in 4K read speeds. This was a jump from 10.4MB/sec to 11.4MB/sec.

Anyone who has been near a four-bay NAS appliance will know that the noise collectively produced by four mechanical hard disks can be deafening. Alternatively, SSDs don’t have any moving parts, and so run silently, with the only sound from your NAS being its internal fan.

An additional benefit of SSDs is that they usually use less power than mechanical disks. The four-bay Qnap TS-453B we tested was full of four 1TB Seagate Barracuda 3.4in hard disks which used up 32w from the mains while not in use. When streaming videos, it took 38w from the mains. When we changed this to four SSDs, this number fell to 14w when idle and 16w while streaming.

In the past there was a major drawback to SSDs which was their comparable price to HDDs. A 1TB mechanical disk can be purchased for £40, which means you can set up a 3TB RAID 5 array for a total of £160. However, SSDs have now started to close the gap. Up until a few years ago, a 1TB SSD would have set you back around £250, whereas now prices have begun to drop, so you can buy one for approximately £100.

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