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NAS Reviews

Performance - Four Bay

For four drive NAS comparisons, I included the original TS-451 as well as the ASUSTOR AS5004T. I included the AS5004T it has a price point that is similar to that of the TS-451A-4G and is also based on a dual-core Intel Celeron processor. However, the processor in the ASUSTOR NAS is an earlier generation J1800.

The chart below compares the three. File copy Write and File Copy Read results were consistent across all RAID levels (RAID 0, 5, & 10) for all NASes with the exception of the relatively low performance of RAID 10 File Copy Read performance on the TS-451A-4G. RAID 5 NASPT File Copy Read results were lower for both of the QNAP NASes, and as we'll see from the category performance chart below, helped to lower the ranking for the Read category. The ASUSTOR AS5004T outperformed both of the QNAP NASes for both iSCSI read and iSCSI write tests.

Four bay Benchmark summary compariso

Four bay Benchmark summary comparison

As with the RAID1 rankings above, I used the NAS Ranker to filter for RAID 5 class products, test method 5 and sorted by ascending price. Since two of our three NASes used in the four-bay comparison didn't appear on the first page I created a composite image showing the results in a two-column format.

Of the three products compared in this review, the TS-451A-4G, ranked #17, had the lowest ranking. Interestingly, the original TS-451 had a better Total NAS score and was one of the lesser expensive NASes (and the cheapest of the three compared) in the Ranker chart. As with the two-bay NASes, there are five NASes that were cheaper than the TS-451A-4G but had better Total NAS rankings. (#10 ASUSTOR AS5004T, #9 ASUSTOR AS6104T, #14 Western Digital DL4100 My Cloud, #12 NETGEAR RN21400-100E ReadyNAS 214 and QNAP TS-451)

TOTAL NAS Rank for RAID5 test method Revision 5 NASes

TOTAL NAS Rank for RAID5 test method Revision 5 NASes

Looking at the Ranker subcategories, the results were pretty much as expected. For Write Benchmarks, the QNAP TS451 and TS-451A-4G tied for #13, just behind the AS5004T at #12. But for the Read Benchmarks, both QNAP NASes took a hit - largely because of their low rankings for RAID 5 NASPT File Copy Read results. The original QNAP TS-451 actually outperformed the TS-451A-4G in Mixed Read, Video and Backup. Both QNAP NASes had #5 category rankings for iSCSI - just behind the #3 ranked AS5004T.

Ranker Performance Summary comparison of the QNAP TS-451A-4G, QNAP TS-451 and ASUSTOR AS5004

Ranker Performance Summary comparison of the QNAP TS-451A-4G, QNAP TS-451 and ASUSTOR AS5004

USB QuickAccess

This feature takes a little figuring out. Although you can use it, you don't need to run the Qfinder Pro app to use USB QuickAccess. However, with its default settings, you won't find it via Windows Network browser, nor will it appear as a USB drive in Windows Explorer. The reason for the latter is that the QuickAccess drive isn't a USB device, it's a network device.

If you find your way to the NAS Network and Virtual Switch settings, you'll see a new USB QuickAccess tab. The screen below doesn't show the original IP address settings, which were not in my LAN's 10.168.3.X subnet.

Once I assigned an unused IP address in my subnet, I was able to connect to the NAS using that new QuickAccess IP address. I also ended up installing Realtek's USB QuickAccess driver on the Windows 8 test machine to get it to work. QuickAccess driver installers for Windows, Mac OS and Linux are available on the TS-251A and TS-451A Support pages under the Firmware section.

USB QuickAccess Network Settings

USB QuickAccess Network Settings

The QuickAccess connection is for all intents and purposes, a Gigabit Ethernet connection that works through the 251A and 451A's front-panel USB 3.0 Micro-B port. It's not just for storage access; you can log into the administration interface and manage the NAS, too. If you also have Ethernet connected, you'll be able to access the NAS via that IP address also.

When I say QuickAccess acts like a Gigabit Ethernet connection, that's true for performance, too. To test QuickAccess performance I ran the same Windows robocopy filecopy test run as part of the normal NAS test suite. Results using a RAID 5 volume were virtually identical to Ethernet-connected results. I measured 109.19 MB/s write and 101.48 MB/s read using QuickAccess and 109.74 MB/s write and 102.77 MB/s read using Ethernet.

Closing Thoughts

The new QNAP TS-x51A series is a welcome product refresh that adds some unique features not seen on other NASes - at least not yet. The ability to connect a TS-x51 NAS as a direct attached storage using USB QuickConnect is a feature that I'm guessing that will appeal to a lot of people. Who wouldn't want terabytes of fault tolerant storage attached directly to their computer? And while you can argue whether using your NAS for karaoke is a good or bad thing, the microphone input could be useful for other applications as well.

Unfortunately, the TS-x51A series seems to give up some performance even with more RAM than the original TS-x51's. For two-bay NASes, the TS-251 ranks #9, just edging out the TS-251A-4G. But the TS-251 is more than $100 cheaper than the new model. In between the price points of the two models, there is some very stiff competition including the #2 ranked Synology DS216+, and the #4 ranked Synology DS216.

For four-bay NASes, the story is much the same. The original TS-451 ranks #13 and the TS-451A-4G ranks #17. Originally, I chose to include the ASUSTOR AS5004T for comparison since it was so close in price to the TS-451A-4G. But looking at the charts, the ASUSTOR AS6104T, the four-bay version of the AS6102T that we used for the two-bay comparisons, is an even better bargain. It uses an N3050 Celeron processor and offers the same hardware-assisted encryption as the TS-451A-4G.

QNAP's marketing materials tout the TS-x51A NASes have a hardware encryption engine that excels at reading and writing encrypted data with little performance impact. We don't test encrypted volume performance, but we'll pass along QNAP's results below.

  Unencrypted AES 256 bit encrypted
  Write Read Write Read
TS-251A 213 192 205 188
TS-451A 212 194 209 195
Performance tests for AES 256 bit Windows Read/Write from QNAP's website

Depending on how you plan to use your NAS, the TS-x51A's new features, including USB QuickAccess, 4K real-time video transcoding, hardware assisted encryption and, yes, even karaoke, may be a compelling mix that will tilt the balance in favor of the new TS-x51A NASes. But there are five two-bay and five four-bay NASes that offer more performance for less money.

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