Qnap TS-EC880 Pro
Qnap aims to put some serious storage muscle on to your desktop with this eight-bay NAS appliance that delivers more of everything. To whet your appetite, the new TS-EC880 Pro boasts a meaty 3.4GHz Xeon E3-1245 v3 and its base 2GB of RAM can be expanded to 32GB. See also: what to look for when buying a NAS for business.
That’s just for starters: its quartet of embedded Gigabit ports buddy up with six USB 2, three USB 3 and dual eSATA ports, while the PCI Express slot accepts industry standard single- and dual-port Gigabit and 10GbE cards from Intel and Emulex. Alternatively, you can slip in Qnap’s SAS-6G2E-D dual-port 6Gbits/sec SAS card and connect two ten-bay REXP-1000 Pro expansion units. Add a further 2GB of RAM, and two more units can be daisy-chained for a total of 48 hard disks.
We used Qnap’s Finder utility to discover the appliance and set up a RAID5 storage pool with our four 4TB WD Enterprise hard disks. The QTS 4.1 web interface is slick and its Storage Manager tool neatly amalgamates all storage-related operations. From here, we created further storage pools using selected drives, chose a RAID level, and expanded them into unused disk space as required.
Storage pools support NAS shares and iSCSI volumes; we specified thinly provisioned volumes for the latter. Four of the eight drive bays support SSDs for read caching, but if you’d rather keep them for general storage duties, you can use dual internal mSATA modules instead. With the lid removed, the two mSATA ports are easily accessible on the side of the main board. The cache is configured from the Storage Manager and applied to selected volumes and iSCSI LUNs.
Qnap deserves praise for its Virtualization Station, which can host multiple VMs and OSes on the appliance. To test it, we boosted memory to the required 4GB minimum, created a new VM from a Windows Server 2012 R2 ISO file and had it up and running inside 20 minutes. VMs are monitored from the QTS web console and can be powered up and down or remotely controlled. You can also take snapshots of selected VMs for backup purposes, but this is a manual affair.
For cloud syncing, the Google Drive app worked fine with our account, and there’s support for Dropbox and Microsoft Azure as well. Amazon S3 and ElephantDrive are supported by the Backup Station app, while Qnap’s myQNAPcloud provides secure remote access to selected services and folders.
Qnap can’t match Synology for its sheer number of mobile apps, but we used Qmanager on our iPad to monitor the appliance and access the Backup and Download Stations. The Surveillance Station includes four licences and worked fine with our D-Link DCS-7513 IP camera, which we could access remotely with Qnap’s VMobile iOS app.
For performance testing, we stepped up to 10GbE and fitted an Emulex OCe11102-NT dual-port fibre adapter using the proprietary bracket supplied by Qnap. NAS speeds are excellent, with Iometer reporting raw read and write speeds of 998MB/sec and 995MB/sec – close to 8Gbits/sec. This translates to fast real-world transfers, with copies of our 50GB test file achieving sustained read and write speeds of 391MB/sec and 271MB/sec. General backup operations are speedy, too, with a 22.4GB mix of 10,500 small files dragged to a share at 203MB/sec.
Qnap’s TS-EC880 Pro sets new standards for desktop NAS appliances by combining a hugely powerful hardware package with all conceivable storage features. Expansion potential is quite remarkable, and its top 10GbE performance seals the deal for a wholehearted recommendation.
|Price per gigabyte||N/A|
|Hard disk interface||SATA 3|
|3.5" hard disk bays (free)||8 (hot-swap)|
|RAID modes||RAID0, 1, 5, 6, 10, JBODs, hot-spare|
|Networking||4 x Gigabit Ethernet|
|Front USB ports||1 x USB 3|
|Rear USB ports||2 x USB 3, 6 x USB 2, 2 x eSATA|
|Other ports||PCI-E x8 expansion slot|
|Warranty||3yr limited warranty|
|Price||£1,737 exc VAT|