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NAS Reviews

 4-bay Personal Cloud NAS
At a glance
ProductQNAP TS-431P 4-bay Personal Cloud NAS   [Website]
SummaryFour-bay RAID5 class NAS with dual Gigabit Ethernet ports. Powered by dual-core Annapurna Labs CPU.
Pros• Good price performance
• Consistent File Copy Read and Write performance for all RAID levels
• Three USB 3.0 ports
• Dual Gigabit Ethernet ports support failover and load balancing and aggregation
Cons• Relatively slow network backup performance

Typical Price: $271  Shop Amazon

Introduction

We recently looked at three entry-level NASes from Synology, the two-bay DS216j and four-bay DS416 and DS416j. So we figured we should give QNAP the same opportunity and asked them for their least expensive two and four bay options. The TS-431P was their choice for four-bay and the TS-228, which I'll review next, was their dual-bay pick.

QNAP's entry-level four-bays are currently the TS-431, TS-431+, and TS-431P. The chart below shows the major differences between the three with the specification differences highlighted. Both the TS-431P and TS-431+ are powered by an Annapurna Labs Alpine AL-212 dual core processor, but the TS-431P is clocked slightly faster.

Both of these NASes support jumbo frames and have 1 GB of RAM, compared to the 512 MB in the TS-431. The TS-431 does not support jumbo frames but does have an eSATA port. All three have three USB 3.0 ports and hot swappable HDD trays. The TS-431 is slightly more power hungry than the other two, but all three have very low noise ratings.

QNAP TS-431, TS-431+ and TS-431P comparison

QNAP TS-431, TS-431+ and TS-431P comparison

The reason QNAP sent the TS-431P is that they'll soon be discontinuing the other two TS-431s. Given the spec and price similarities, that's probably a good move.

This review will compare the performance of the TS-431P with the recently reviewed Synology DS416 Disk Station. That review also included the Synology DS416j, a somewhat less-expensive Marvell-based 4-bay NAS. I chose the DS416 Disk Station for comparison because the processor and memory are very similar to those in the QNAP TS-431P.

The chart below, generated from our NAS Finder, compares the major features of the TS-431P and DS416. You can see the full feature comparison here. Though both NASes use the same Annapurna Labs CPU, the major difference is that the TS-431P's CPU is clocked at 1.7GHz - slightly faster than the 1.4 GHz clock speed used in the DS-416. We'll see if that translates into a performance edge later.

QNAP TS-431P and Synology DS416 feature comparison

QNAP TS-431P and Synology DS416 feature comparison

The callouts below show the front and rear panel of the TS-431P. The front panel has a single USB 3.0 port and a One Touch Copy button that lets you easily copy files to/from a flash drive. Located just above the copy button is the Power switch - not specifically called out.

The rear panel has a reset button and dual Gigabit Ethernet ports that support link aggregation, fail over and load balancing. There are two additional USB 3.0 ports for external storage or printers. Missing on the TS-431P is the HDMI port that is found on more powerful QNAP products.

QNAP TS-431P callouts

QNAP TS-431P callouts

The chart below shows the description of the LED color and flash sequences used by the TS-431P. Note: This is a generic chart that applies to all models, so there might be some variation from product to product.

QNAP TS-431P LED descriptions

QNAP TS-431P LED descriptions

Inside

It was fairly easy to disassemble the case to get at the circuit board. Four screws secured the case and approximately eight screws secured the HDD cage. The image below shows the component side of the main board. The Annapurna CPU is covered by the heatsink. The connector near the fan is for the drive backplane.

QNAP TS-431P board

QNAP TS-431P board

The Table below shows the key component summary for the QNAP TS-431P and the Synology DS416.

QNAP TS-431P Synology DS416
CPU Annapurna Labs Alpine AL-212 @ 1.7 GHz dual-core Annapurna Labs Alpine AL-212 @ 1.4 GHz dual-core
RAM 1 GB DDR3 Micron MT41K256M8DA-125 (x4) 1 GB
Flash 512 MB Macronix MX30UF4G18AB 8 MB
Ethernet Atheros AR8035A Gigabit Ethernet PHY (x2) Marvell 88E1512 or 88E1514
USB 3.0 Etron Tech EJ188H USB 3.0 host controller In CPU
Table 1: Key component summary

The TS-431P drew 24 W with four of our stock WD Red 1 TB (WD10EFRX) spun up and 10 W in power save mode with the drives spun down. Fan and drive noise was rated low (mostly drive noise). RAID 5 and RAID 10 build time was ~ 3.5 hours.

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