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NAS Reviews

{mospagebreak toctitle=Introduction, Features}
Quad-Core Multimedia NAS
At a glance
ProductQNAP Quad-Core Multimedia NAS (TS-453B-4G)   [Website]
SummaryFour bay RAID 5 NAS powered by quad-core Intel Celeron J3455 processor. Optional 10 GbE support via PCIe card.
Pros• PCIe expansion slot with multiple board options
• 5 USB 3.0 ports
• USB Type-C quick access port
• Dual-channel 4K H.265 hardware decoding and on-the-fly or offline transcoding
• IFTTT support
Cons• No eSATA port
• Relatively expensive
• 10GbE performance below entry-level TS-431X

Typical Price: $607  Buy From Amazon

Introduction

My recent review of the TS-431X, found a relatively inexpensive NAS, but with a built-in SFP+ 10 GbE port. In this review, we'll be moving up a class to the TS-453B-4G, a four-bay NAS in QNAP's middle-range SMB family.

The 453B shares that category with the TS-453A, which we haven't reviewed, along with the five bay TS-563 that we did. It's not clear whether QNAP plans to replace the TS-453A with the TS-453B; there are some differences that might justify keeping the TS-453A around for awhile. One reason is the TS-453A has specs similar to the TS-453B's, but is currently $140 cheaper on Amazon.

The TS453B is available in two models: TS-453B-4G with 4 GB of RAM installed and the TS-453-8G with 8 GB installed. QNAP supplied the TS-453-4G for our review.

The TS-453B has a fresh new look. Rather than having exposed drive bays found on most QNAP NASes, the TS-453B has a front panel that covers access to the drives. At first glance, it looks more like a Synology product than a QNAP. It features an OLED display rather than an LCD panel and has capacitive touch buttons.

With a built-in PCIe slot, the TS-453B has a number of upgrade options. There's a two-port USB3.1 expansion card, single and dual port 10 GbE network expansion cards, and the QM2 combo expansion card consisting of a single 10 GbE port along with support for two M2 SSDs. The PCIe slot also supports a number of TP-LINK's wireless cards which, in conjunction with the QNAP's WirelessAP Station app, can make your NAS do double duty as an AP.

This review will compare the TS-453B-4G, a quad-core Celeron-based NAS with the previously reviewed TS-431X, an Annapurna-based NAS that's about half of the price of the TS-453B-4G. QNAP also sent a LAN-10G2SF-MLX dual-port 10GbE SFP+ adapter ($399) so we could test 10GbE performance.

The chart below compares the major features of the TS-453B and the TS-431X. The feature list is extensive, but I only included the first screen covering the major features. You can see the full comparison here.

QNAP TS-453 and TS431X comparison

QNAP TS-453B and TS-431X comparison

The callouts below show the front and rear panel of the TS-453B. The front panel features a USB 3.0 Touch copy port used in conjunction with the USB One Touch copy button, a USB QuickAccess port (Type-C) and a USB Quick Access LED. There's also a convenient SD card slot and corresponding LED. The rear panel has two HDMI ports, dual gigabit Ethernet ports, four USB 3.0 ports, a microphone jack and a speaker jack. Clearly, the TS-453B was designed with home theaters in mind. QNAP even throws in an IR remote.

QNAP TS-453B front and rear callouts

TS-453B front and rear panel callouts

The table below summarizes the key components for the two NASes that we'll be using for our comparisons in the performance section of this review. We didn't open the NAS for board pictures; the information below comes from the datasheet.

  QNAP TS-453B-4G QNAP TS-431X-2G
CPU Intel Celeron J3455 quad-core @ 1.5 GHz Annapurna Labs Alpine dual-core AL-212 @ 1.7GHz
RAM 4 GB DDR3 SoDIMM (expandable to 8 GB) 2 GB DDR3 Transcend SoDIMM (expandable to 8 GB)
Flash ? 512 MB Macronix MX30UF4G18AB
Ethernet ? Atheros AR8035A Gigabit Ethernet PHY (x2)
USB 3.0 ? Etron Tech EJ188H USB 3.0 host controller
Table 1: Key component summary and comparison

Power consumption with four SmallNetBuilder-provided WD Red 1TB (WD10EFRX) drives was 28W (active) and 18 W power save. Fan and drive noise was rated as low (mostly drive noise).

Features

QNAP NASes share a common operating system, whose latest version is QTS 4.3. You can read or download a comprehensive brochure here. QTS 4.3 continues QTS 4.2.2's look and feel with some minor visual tweaks. You still can't resize many of the windows, whose default width is more than 1024px. The screenshot below shows the "hamburger" menu and dashboard flyouts exposed. If you want to experience QTS 4.3 for yourself, QNAP has a live demo available online. (Account name = qnap, Password = qnap)

QNAP QTS 4.3 desktop

QNAP QTS 4.3 desktop

Performance

Firmware version QTS 4.3.3.0188 was loaded onto the TS-453B-4G and performance tests were run using the Revision 5 NAS test process. All tests were run using Western Digital Red 1 TB (WD10EFRX) (x4 SNB supplied). For testing, the optional QNAP LAN-10G2SF-MLX adapter was installed in the TS-453B. A 10Gtek x520DAI card with Intel 3.9.58.9101 driver was added to the NAS testbed for the 10 GbE tests.

We're going to focus on the TS-453B's 10 GbE performance because most of today's NASes can saturate a single Gigabit Ethernet connection when transferring large sequential files and the TS-453B is no exception. Although 10 GbE will cost more for both NAS and client, this method supports higher throughput with a single client, with no link aggregation required.

The benchmark summary below shows the results for a single client using a Gigabit connection. As expected., the benchmark summary shows that both NASes came close to saturating the 1 GbE connection for file copy read and write operations. Interestingly, however, the TS-431X outperformed the TS-453B in both the NASPT Directory Copy to NAS and the NASPT Office Productivity tests for all RAID levels. In addition, the TS-453B underperformed the TS-431X for RAID 5 for both the HD Playback & Record and the 4X HD Playback tests.

Benchmark Summary Comparison

Benchmark Summary Comparison

Performance - 10 GbE

To get a feel for how the nine 10 GbE products in our charts performed, I created a chart for 10 GbE RAID 5 File Copy Write and 10 GbE RAID 5 File Copy read. For File Copy Write, the TS-453B was just slightly faster than the TS-431X. Both NASes fell well short of the 600+ MB/s performance turned in by the top four NASes. For File Copy Read, the QNAP TS-453B was about 10% faster than the TS-431X. Both placed at the bottom of the chart.

10 GbE RAID 5 File Copy Write and File Copy Read comparisons

10 GbE RAID 5 File Copy Write and File Copy Read comparisons

The benchmark summary composite chart below shows only the 10 GbE test results run using a single 10 GbE client. The chart shows both NASes turned in very similar results for all RAID levels for File Copy Write performance. In general, the TS-453B-4G outperformed the TS431X-2G with a couple of exceptions. For the RAID 0 and RAID 10, on the 10 GbE NASPT File Copy From NAS tests, the TS-431X-2G outperformed the TS-453B-4G. Additionally, the TS-431X outperformed the TS-453B for 10 GbE RAID 0 File Copy Read and Write tests.

10 GbE Benchmark Summary Comparison

Benchmark Summary Comparison - 10 GbE

NAS Ranking

10 GbE-capable NASes are now a part of their own class, so the products do not also appear in the RAID5 class for ranking with Gigabit Ethernet-only NASes.

The Total NAS ranking takes into consideration both performance on Gigabit Ethernet as well as 10 GbE. In addition, the charts now show a 10 GbE Total NAS ranking which takes into account only 10 GbE performance tests. As always, the full results of all tests for each individual product are available in the benchmark summary for each product.

Since there are only nine (eight shown) NASes that have been tested with 10 GbE so far, I decided to leave the results sorted by Rank. The NAS Ranker shows that based on performance, the QNAP TS-453B-4G ranks #6, just behind its less expensive TS-431X-2G sibling.

10 GbE Total NAS ranking

10 GbE Total NAS ranking

Turning to the Ranker Performance Summary, you'll find that there's lots of data in the composite chart below. Looking first at the Gigabit Ethernet results near the top of the chart, the TS-431X-2G had better category rankings than the TS-453B-4G for for Read/Write and video categories. The NASes had category ties for Backup and iSCSI.

For the 10 GbE only performance, the story is slightly different. The TS-453B-4G edged out the TS-431x-2G with a Total NAS ranking of #5. The TS-431X ranked #6. The TS-453B had better category scores for every category than the TS-431X.

Ranker Performance Comparison - 10 GbE

Ranker Performance Comparison - 10 GbE

Closing Thoughts

The TS-431X outperformed the TS-453B in most categories for benchmarks using a 1 gigabit connection. However, for 10 GbE performance, the TS453B had a slight edge in all categories. But there's a huge difference in pricing. The TS-431X-2G is currently $382 including 10 GbE (SFP+) capability, while the TS-453B-4G is $709 not including QNAP's optional LAN-10G2SF-MLX dual-port 10GbE SFP+ adapter ($399) card.

The real differences between the two NASes can be easily seen by looking at the feature chart at the top of the review. The TS-453B is designed to be used in a multimedia environment. It features two 4K HDMI ports, includes an IR remote and has the horsepower to do on-the-fly transcoding for 4K video. It also has an SD card slot, two more USB 3.0 ports than the TS-431X and a USB Type-C port. The PCIe slot on the TS-453B provides many options, including multiple 10 GbE connectivity options, SSD caching and even wireless connectivity. The TS-431X does not have a PCIe slot.

Bottom line, if you're just looking for a 10 GbE-capable NAS intend to use it only for storage and don't care about PCIe-based expansion options, the TS-431X is a much better value. If you plan to use your NAS for multimedia, the TS-453B is a good, although much more expensive, choice.

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