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NAS Reviews

Turbo NAS
At a glance
ProductQNAP TS-251A-4G Turbo NAS   [Website]
SummaryTwo-bay Intel dual-core Celeron-powered SATA NAS with dual Gigabit LAN, USB 3.0 and HDMI port. Also can be used as USB 3.0 DAS.
Pros• Can be used as USB 3.0 DAS
• First time configuration via USB
• Included remote control
• Supports real-time 4K and 1080p video transcoding
• Supports Hardware-accelerated AES 256 bit volume encryption
Cons• Competing products offer more performance for less money

Typical Price: $359  Shop Amazon

Turbo NAS
At a glance
ProductQNAP TS-451A-4G Turbo NAS   [Website]
SummaryFour-bay Intel dual-core Celeron-powered SATA NAS with dual Gigabit LAN, USB 3.0 and HDMI port. Also can be used as USB 3.0 DAS.
Pros• Can be used as USB 3.0 DAS
• First time configuration via USB
• Included remote control
• Supports real-time 4K and 1080p video transcoding
• Supports Hardware-accelerated AES 256 bit volume encryption
Cons• Competing products offer more performance for less money

Typical Price: $509  Shop Amazon

Introduction

QNAP's TS-x51 series is a mainstay of its Home and SOHO product family. We reviewed the original TS-x51 series around two years ago. Since then, QNAP followed up with the TS-x51+, based on a 2 GHz quad-core Intel Celeron J1900 processor, which we didn't review.

This brings us to the TS-x51A family we're looking at today. As in the past, we had QNAP send the four-bay TS-451A-4G, which we loaded with only two drives to generate data for the TS-251A. Both models use the same Intel N3060 Celeron dual core processor, are also available in a 2 GB versions (TS-251A-2G and TS-451A-2G) and can be upgraded to 8 GB of RAM total.

The big innovation the A series brings is what QNAP has dubbed a USB QuickAccess port. The blurb below snatched from the A series product page provides the gist of the feature. Essentially, you get a USB port that looks, behaves and performs like a Gigabit Ethernet port, but using USB 3.0, not Ethernet. This provides the convenience of direct-attach storage, but without DAS performance.

USB QuickAccess in a nutshell

USB QuickAccess in a nutshell

The chart below shows a comparison between the original TS-x51 series and the new TS-x51A models. Though the case sizes and configuration remain the same, the new models have a teal colored strip along the left side of the front panel.

QNAP TS-x51 and TS-X51A feature comparison

QNAP TS-x51 and TS-X51A feature comparison

The callouts below show the front and rear panel layouts for the TS-x51A models. The front panel now includes an SD card reader as well as the USB QuickAccess port. The rear panel now includes a 3.5mm microphone jack. This will allow audio to be ported to either the 3.5mm output jack or through the HDMI port and enables downloadable programs such as OceanKTV - a karaoke app that runs on your QNAP TS-x51A NAS.

On the TS-x51A models, all three USB ports are USB 3.0. The original TS-x51 models had two USB 2.0 ports and a single USB 3.0 port.

QNAP TS-x51A front and rear panel callouts

QNAP TS-x51A front and rear panel callouts

Inside

Analysis by Tim Higgins

TS-451A disassembly is similar to the TS-451; you remove the cover, remove the screws securing the drive cage and backplane and lift it off. I wasn't able to find any information on how to upgrade RAM, but this is how you get to the RAM, since it's not accessible otherwise.

Both the TS-251A and TS-451A are powered by a 1.6 GHz Intel Celeron N3060 dual-core processor, sitting under the heatsink in the photo below. Two Kingston DDR3L 2 GB SoDIMMs are used for memory. I couldn't find the flash DoM module QNAP typically uses.

QNAP TS-451A inside

QNAP TS-451A inside

The TS-451A's drive backplane holds a single Asmedia ASM1062 PCIe 2 port SATA controller, which is probably absent on the two-bay TS-251A. The USB QuickAccess port is generated by a Realtek RTL8153 Integrated 10/100/1000M Ethernet Controller for USB Applications. A Realtek RTL8111E Gigabit Ethernet controller sits close by it, so I'm guessing it's also involved in the QuickAccess port's function.

Table 1 summarizes key components for the TS-251A / TS-451A with those for the non-A versions.

  TS-251A / TS-451A TS-251 / TS-451
CPU Intel dual-core Celeron N3060 @ 1.6 GHz Intel Celeron J1800 dual-core processor @ 2.41 GHz (Bay Trail D)
RAM 2 GB DDR3 SoDIMM (x2) [expandable to 8 GB total] 1 GB DDR3 SoDIMM (expandable to 8 GB)
Flash None visible 512 MB DOM
Ethernet Realtek RTL8111E (x2) Intel WGI210TA (x2)
USB 3.0 In CPU
Asmedia 1074 USB 3.0 quad port hub
SATA Asmedia ASM1062 (x1 for TS-451 on drive backplane) Asmedia ASM1061 (x2 for TS-451)
HDMI TI DP138 DisplayPort to TMDS level shifter Asmedia ASM1442 level shifter
USB QuickAccess Realtek RTL8153 + Realtek RTL8111E N/A
Table 1: Key component summary and comparison

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