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NAS Reviews

QNAP TS-x21 NAS series

At a Glance
Product QNAP TS-x21 Turbo NAS Series [Website]
Summary Marvell-powered Home and SOHO NAS line
Pros • USB 3.0 & eSATA ports
• Cloud backup to Amazon S3, ElephantDrive, Symform
Cons • No significant performance advantage vs. TS-x20 family

Introduction

This is a quick companion review to the TS-x20 family review posted last week. If you've read that review, you can probably skip this one, since most of what I'm going to say you'll already know. But if you've arrived here fresh from your favorite search engine seeking the poop on QNAP's TS-121, TS-221 or TS-421 NASes, read on. There is also a full review of the TS-421 for your edification.

All four members of the TS-x21 series have 2.0 GHz single-core Marvell CPUs with 1 GB of DDR3 RAM and 16 MB of flash. (The fourth family member is a TS-421U four-bay rackmount.)

For the most part, the TS-x21s look similar to their TS-x20 cousins. The differences are that the TS-421 has an LCD status panel and the TS-221 and TS-121 are black instead of white.

Front and rear panel callouts

QNAP TS-421 Front and rear panel callouts

The TS-421's callouts are in the image above and the rear panels of the three models are arranged side-by-side below.

QNAP TS-x20 & x21 series rear panels

QNAP TS-x20 & x21 series rear panels

A summary of the each model's ports is in Table 1.

  TS-120 / 121 TS-220 / 221 TS-420 / 421
USB 2.0 1 1 2
USB 3.0 2 2 2
eSATA 1 2 2
Ethernet 1 1 2
Table 1: Port summary

Inside

The partial view of the TS-421's main board below didn't allow positive identification of the Marvell SoC. But we know it has a 2.0 GHz Marvell 88F6282 Kirkwood SoC substituted for the 1.6 GHz version used in the x20 models and 1 GB of onboard DDR3 RAM vs. the 512 MB in the x20s.

Partial view of QNAP TS-421 / TS-420 board

Partial view of QNAP TS-421 / TS-420 board

Both the TS-420 and TS-421's CPUs have a heatsink. Table 2 summarizes key components for the TS-420, TS-421 and older TS-412.

  TS-421 TS-420 TS-412
CPU Marvell 88F6282 Kirkwood SoC @ 2 GHz Marvell 88F6282 Kirkwood SoC @ 1.6 GHz Marvell 88F6281 Kirkwood SoC @ 1.2 GHz
RAM 1 GB DDR3 512 MB DDR3 256 MB DDR2
Flash 16 MB 16 MB 16 MB
Ethernet Marvell Alaska 88E1318 (x2) Marvell Alaska 88E1318 (x2) Marvell Alaska 88E1116R (x2)
USB 3.0 Etron Tech EJ168A Etron Tech EJ168A N/A
SATA Marvell 88SX7042 Marvell 88SX7042 Marvell 88SX7042
Table 2: Key component summary and comparison

The NAS was equipped for testing with our standard four Western Digital Red 3TB drives (WD30EFRX). Power consumption measured 27 W with the 4 drives spun up and 13 W with them spun down. Fan and drive noise could be classified as low, i.e. barely audible in my quiet home office.

Features

See the TS-421 review and Craig's in-depth look at QTS 4.0.

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