Qsan XCubeNAS XN8008T review: A desktop dynamo

Short on apps but it’s fast over 10GbE and offers enterprise-quality data protection features

IT Pro Recommended
Price
£1,539
  • Excellent data protection features; Great value; Speedy performance
  • PCIe slot doesn't support third-party hardware; Not as feature-rich as rivals

Qsan has traditionally focused on delivering affordable SAN solutions to SMEs and enterprises and it now makes a serious foray into the NAS market. Its family of XCubeNAS appliances comprises plenty of desktop and rack models and all offer a range of enterprise features you'll be hard-pushed to find elsewhere.

We review the XCubeNAS XN8008T a 9-bay desktop appliance powered by a quad-core 2.7GHz Core i5-7500T CPU and 8GB of DDR4 memory. If you're wondering where the ninth bay is, you'll find it hidden behind a small hatch on the side.

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The hatch is easily removed with the supplied key and inside is an SFF bay designed to be used with an SSD for caching duties or as a read cache for Qsan's deduplication service. Memory can be expanded to 32GB using the two SO-DIMM slots which are also easily accessed from behind the hatch.

The XN8008T has a spare PCIe slot which supports Qsan's 10GbE, 40GbE, Thunderbolt 3 and dual-port SAS adapters. Don't use any other brand though, as the appliance doesn't support them. The adapters also require a flat mounting bracket.

We loaded four 12TB Seagate IronWolf NAS drives in the tool-free carriers, used the quick start wizard to load the latest QSM 3.1 software and created a RAID5 storage pool. The appliance employs ZFS and the new firmware supports RAID-Z3 so if you can take the hit on capacity, you can create a triple-drive redundant pool.

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To test performance, we fitted Qsan's dual-port 10GbE fibre adapter and hooked it up to a Dell PowerEdge T640 Xeon Scalable Windows 2016 server. Running Iometer on a mapped share saw impressive sequential read and write rates of 9.3Gbits/sec and 9.2Gbits/sec.

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Real world speeds are also excellent with copies of a 25GB test file returning fast read and write rates of 5.3Gbits/sec and 4.1Gbits/sec. Backups of small files proved more of a challenge though, with the appliance receiving our 22.4GB folder of 10,500 files at a more modest 1.5Gbits/sec.

Qsan has focused solely on business use and provides apps for backup, cloud syncing, antivirus, VPNs, MariaDB SQL and web services, as well as virtualisation. The Cloud Sync app supports Dropbox, OneDrive and Google Drive while Amazon S3 fans can use the Backup app to secure data to their cloud account.

Rsync support allowed us to backup data to a remote Synology appliance while QSM's Xmirror syncs data between two XCubeNAS appliances. The free Acronis-powered XReplicator software secures Windows workstation data to the appliance.

The Hypervisor Manager app hosts other OSes and provides direct access to the Bitnami, VMware and Turnkey app marketplaces. We used it to create a virtual switch using the second of the appliance's four Gigabit ports and had a Windows Server 2019 Preview VM running in 11 minutes.

A browse through the Storage app shows where the appliance's strengths lay as it supports AES 256-bit pool encryption, self-encrypting drives (SEDs) and Qsan's intelligent real-time data tiering. Data protection gets a boost as one of three WORM (write once read many) policies can be applied to NAS shares.

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A retention period in days can be set on a share, which guarantees nothing already in it will be modified - or you can set it so that files have the retention date applied after being copied to the share. The WORM forever policy stops the protected share from ever being modified or deleted.

For NAS and iSCSI LUN snapshots, we created schedules from the Backup app and could run them as often as every 5 minutes. Data restoration is a cinch; we could rollback entire snapshots or browse NAS snapshot contents and restore individual files or folders.

Pricewise, the XN8008T is reasonable value as it costs around the same as Qnap's Core i5 powered 8-bay TVS-871. It can't match Qnap's app-rich QTS software for features but it does deliver great 10GbE performance and is a good choice for SMEs that demand enterprise-class data security.

Verdict

The Qsan XCubeNAS XN8008T can’t match Qnap’s app-rich QTS software for features but it does deliver great 10GbE performance and is a good choice for SMEs that demand enterprise-class data security

2.7GHz Intel Core i5-7500T processor; 8GB DDR4 (max 32GB) 8 x LFF/SFF hot-swap SATA drive bays SFF internal bay supports RAID 0, 1, 5, 6, Z3, 10, JBOD 4 x Gigabit 5 x USB 3 PCI-Express x8 200W internal PSU 313 x 236 x 182mm (WDH) 2yr RTB warranty

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