Tranquil PC SQA-5H Series 2 review
It stands for “Status Quo Ante”, and indeed the second version of Tranquil’s SQA-5H Home Server looks exactly the same as the company’s original design. So while the retro cubic case continues to divide opinion, all the familiar strengths are here too.
That means there’s still five screwless drive bays that let you slot 3.5in SATA hard disks in and out with ease (the 500GB model comes with the rightmost bay pre-populated with a WD Caviar Green drive). The connectors are hot-pluggable, so you don’t need to power down the server to install an upgrade, and while the differently coloured tabs at the front don’t reflect anything technical, they’re handy for keeping track of pairs of disks. As before, external drives are supported via six USB sockets – two at the front, four at the back – and one eSATA port.
The case is also dotted about with LEDs, conveying drive status and activity, backup and LAN status and error conditions at a glance. It’s the most comprehensive display we’ve seen on a home server, but again it’s unchanged from the original design.
What sets the Series 2 apart is what lurks within. The Atom 330 CPU used in the old SQA-5H has been upgraded to the new Atom D510, bringing reduced power consumption that sees the unit idle at 27W with one drive installed (down from 31W for the previous model). It’s passively cooled too, so the only fan in the system is the large, but quiet, rear-facing extractor.
Tranquil also now preinstalls its AVA Music Disc Copier add-in, which automatically copies CDs into shared lossless and MP3 libraries – though to use it you’ll need to hook up a USB optical drive. Additional modules by FireFly and Logitech Squeezebox let you stream your music to iTunes or to a Squeezebox device, supplementing Home Server’s built-in integration with Windows Media Center.
A final nice touch is the bootable USB flash drive that Tranquil supplies for rebuilding the operating system in case of disaster. It all adds up to an impressive package, and it’s just a shame it comes in at such an daunting price, especially with the Asus TS mini now offering the same basic functions for a whole lot less. All the same, the SQA-5H is attractive as a status symbol as much as a practical appliance, and if you’ve ever secretly wanted an enterprise-class server for your living room, this is probably as close as you’ll get.
|Total hard disk capacity||500|
|CPU family||Intel Atom|
|CPU nominal frequency||1.60GHz|
|Internal SATA connectors||5|
|Wired adapter speed||1,000Mbits/sec|
|Dimensions||214 x 220 x 193mm (WDH)|
|USB ports (downstream)||6|
Operating system and software
|OS family||Windows Home Server|