Qnap TS-EC879U-RP (2014) review

Qnap’s 8-bay NAS appliance offers top speed and has interesting virtualisation features on the horizon.

Performance and SSD caching

To test performance we used a Broadberry Data Systems rack server equipped with dual 2.6GHz E5-2670 Xeons plus 48GB of DDR3 and running Windows Server 2012 R2. We then mapped a NAS share to it and assigned an iSCSI target as well.

Real world NAS speeds over Gigabit are excellent with copies of a 2.52GB video file returning read and write rates of 107MB/sec. FTP speeds using the FileZilla utility were in the same ball park and our 22.4GB collection of 10,500 small files was secured at a very respectable 90MB/sec.

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Prior to cache testing we ran Iometer configured for 4K random reads on the iSCSI target and saw 1,000 IOPS. We then assigned both SSDs to the target and with the cache enabled and filled with hot data, Iometer reported an average of 11,300 IOPS.

The new Qsync app provides a simple local Dropbox-like file syncing service

Virtualisation Station

Once our tests were completed we upgraded the appliance with the QTS 4.1 beta. This promises a heap of new features with the Virtualisation Station app being the highlight.

This is supported by Qnap's Intel-based appliances and requires a minimum of 4GB of memory. Prior to using it you need to attach a local monitor and USB keyboard, access the system's BIOS and enable Intel's VT-x.

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You can create VMs using configuration templates, download predefined VMs from VMware and BitNami and take VM snapshots. We booted a new VM from a Windows Server 2012 R2 ISO file stored on the appliance and had the new system ready for action in less than 30 minutes.

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VMs can be remotely accessed directly from app's interface and you can control power too. This app adds another dimension to this appliance but if you're planning on running multiple Windows VMs, you'll need more than the basic 4GB of RAM.

Conclusion

For an 8-bay rack NAS appliance, the TS-EC879U-RP is a pricey but it makes up for this with a superb range of features and top performance. It also has a huge storage expansion potential, it's 10GbE ready and the soon to be launched QTS 4.1 will bring additional functionality.

Verdict

The TS-EC879U-RP offers a multitude of features, top performance and SSD read caching. Expansion potential is massive, it supports 10GbE upgrades plus the next QTS version will increase versatility.

Chassis: 2U rack  CPU: 3.1GHz Intel E3-1225 Xeon Memory: 4GB DDR3 (max. 32GB), 512MB DOM Storage: 8 x hot-swap 3.5in/2.5in SATA II/III drive bays  Array support: RAID0, 1, 10, 5, 6, Global Hot Spare, JBOD  Network: 4 x Gigabit Other ports: 2 x USB 3, 4 x USB 2, 2 x eSATA  Expansion: 2 x PCI-Express slots Power: 2 x 300W hot-plug PSUs Management: Web browser Warranty: 3yrs RTB

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