|At a glance
|Buffalo Technology TeraStation Pro Quad (TS-QVH4.0TL/R6) [Website]
|Four-drive Intel Atom D510 business NAS with NFS and AD support and remote, secure web access. No iSCSI support.
|• NFS and DFS support
• Dual Gigabit Ethernet with failover, aggregation
• Dual USB 3.0 ports
|• Slow admin GUI
• Relatively low performance for a D510 Atom NAS
• Network backup only to Buffalo NASes
• Poor documentation
Seems like every NAS maker with an eye on capturing small business buyers is Atom-izing its product line. Hence, Buffalo’s refresh of its TeraStation line, announced at January’s CES.
But with perhaps an eye toward price, Buffalo hasn’t gone all-in for Atom and has equipped its new TeraStation Pro line with D510 Atoms vs. the more powerful D525s. The Pro line includes Pro Duo, Pro Rackmount (four-bay), Pro 6, Pro 8 and the four bay desktop Pro Quad that this review is about.
Buffalo hasn’t attempted to dress up the Pro Quad with a fancy new case. In fact, from the front at least, there is nothing to distinguish it from the TeraStation ES reviewed last year. That is, if you don’t count the TS-QVHL designation that rotates through the front LCD panel when the Pro Quad is booted.
A glance at the rear panel view below shows a key Pro Quad differentiator: two USB 3.0 ports. And unlike the USB 3.0 ports on the Thecus N4200, the Buffalo’s worked fine. There are also two USB 2.0 ports so that you have plenty to go around for UPS sync, storage expansion and backup and print serving.
Front and rear panels
That #12 Factory Use Only port behind the front door is a standard VGA port. So when you connect a monitor and USB keyboard mouse, you can just fire up a server console and have at it.
The Pro Quad was easy to get apart to remove the main board for its beauty shot, although I had to remove the back panel to unplug the board from the drive backplane. The Intel D510 Atom and Intel 82801IR I/O Controller are under the single piece black heatsink.
Buffalo Pro Quad board
Other key devices include a 2 GB of SoDIMM RAM, 2 MB of flash, dual Marvell 88E8059 Yukon PCI-e Gigabit Ethernet controllers that can be configured for failover and aggregation, NEC D720200F USB 3.0 controller, NEC D78F0513A microcontroller and ITE IT8721F fan, temperature and voltage controller.
The review unit came with four Samsung Eco Green F2 1 TB (HD103SI) drives installed, which brought the total power consumption to 42 W. There is no idle drive spindown feature, but you can program three sleep / wake schedules to save some power.
The system generally ran quietly. But the almost 4" fan would rev up to an level audible in my quiet home office from time to time during testing.
Buffalo has packed a lot of features into the Pro Quad. Unfortunately, you’ll be on your own to figure out how to set up and use many of them since the documentation is sorely lacking and poorly organized. The Read Manual link in the admin GUI takes you to the web page below where you download the various PDFs.
Buffalo Pro Quad documentation
But even after figuring out which document holds what, you’ll find the functional descriptions are more "what" than "how". I also could not find any documentation on the MediaServer, BitTorrent or Time Machine Extensions.
The Pro Quad uses the AJAX-based web admin GUI found on other current Buffalo models. But, even though it has been a year since I last remarked about this on the ES, it’s still slow. I also had the GUI just hang on me for nearly a minute from time to time when moving from screen to screen. I’m also not a fan of the expandable sections, some of which still require scrolling when you expand them.
Shutting down the system by a long press on the front panel power button also seemed like a crapshoot. I got a reassuring short beep after a second or so press, only once. One other time I risked a hard shutdown via a longer button press and finally got a beep and normal shutdown. And another time I never got a beep and the system appeared to shut down, but the LCD panel was still lit. Pressing the button again then initiated a boot! Go figure. The User manual provides no guidance on proper shutdown procedures, at least not that I could find.
Features – more
Here’s the feature rundown:
- Individual drive, RAID 0, 1, 5, 10 modes (no JBOD)
- Two RAID arrays can be created
- RAID expansion and migration
- Multiple expandable volumes can be created via LVM
- Optional AES-128 drive encryption
- Network file sharing via SMB/CIFS, AFP and NFS
- NT Domain and AD support
- Users and Group creation w/ Quotas for both
- FTP / FTP-S server
- HTTP / HTTPs file and admin access (not auto-forwarded)
- Email alerts
- Logging: Syslog and viewable / downloadable system, SMB and FTP logs
- Backup: Schedulable and immediate to other Buffalo NASes only (no non-Buffalo rsync support) and attached USB drive. 10 licenses of NovaBACKUP Business Essentials Backup Included:
- FAT, NTFS, EXT3, XFS write/read USB drive support
- Apple Time Machine backup support
- Secure Web-based remote access (hosted at buffalonas.com)
- USB printer serving
- UPnP AV / DLNA media server (Twonky Media)
- iTunes server
- Web server w/ MySQL
- BitTorrent downloader
- UPS shutdown sync (via USB or serial)
- DFS support
- File / folder name search
Those with their pants on fire for IPv6 support will find that there is none and iSCSI and virtualization support is still lacking. But Buffalo has added many features missing from the ES.
You can create only two RAID arrays, but they can be partitioned into expandable logical volumes via the Logical Volume Manager (LVM). But when you enable this feature, you’re warned that it will bring a performance hit. Given the Pro Quad’s relatively low performance among D510-based NASes as we’ll see shortly, that’s not a good thing.
There is also now a RAID Mode Manager (RMM) to support RAID level migration and expansion. You can even start out with all the drives as separate volumes and create a RAID 1 array (assuming you have a drive with nothing on it). JBOD, however, is still not supported.
While taking the screenshots for the gallery below, I was shocked to find a link to enable a Squeezebox Server! Once I defined a folder and aimed the server at it, lo and behold, a full-fledged Squeezebox server appeared.
The screenshot shown in the gallery shows that it’s version 7.5.1, which is much newer than the version 7.4.0 I have running on my aged QNAP TS-101 Pro. And it’s certainly better than the 7.3.2 version that is used in the D-Link DNS-325 add-in, that doesn’t support playing non copy-protected.m4a (iTunes) files.
There are more screenshots of some of the new features in the gallery.
The built-in webserver doesn’t have a default page. You have to point it to a folder that has something servable. You can modify the php.ini file.
You can enable the built-in MySQL server. But Buffalo doesn’t include the popular phpMyAdmin tool for database creation and management.
The Media Server includes UPnP/DLNA and iTunes serving. There is no web interface exposed for the media server.
Finding the version 7.5.1 Squeezebox Server was a nice surprise!
You can access your NAS via a custom subdomain on buffalonas.com. But if your router doesn’t support UPnP NAT Traversal, you manually have to set up port forwarding.
A portion of the system log directly viewable from the admin interface. It’s one long file with new entries added to the bottom. You can’t clear or page it.
Shot of a logical volume being created using the LVM.
I tested the Pro Quad with its factory-installed 1.01 firmware using our NAS test process to run tests with RAID 0, 5 and 10 volumes using all four drives.
The Benchmark summary below shows Windows File copy write with a RAID 0 array measured 54 MB/s, dropping to 34 MB/s for RAID 5 and bumping up a bit to 45 MB/s for RAID 10. File copy read for RAID 0 was higher at 80 MB/s, about the same for RAID 5 at 81 MB/s and dropping slightly for RAID 10 to 77 MB/s.
Pro Duo WVL Benchmark Summary
NASPT File Copy write benchmarks were lower across the board for RAID 0, 5 and 10 at 30 MB/s, 20 MB/s and 25 MB/s respectively, as were reads at 63 MB/s, 67 MB/s and 65 MB/s for RAID 0, 5 and 10, respectively.
The tougher NASPT Directory Copy tests for RAID 0 barely made it to 10 MB/s, while RAID 5 and 10 stayed in the mid single digits.
I ran backup tests using the USB 2 and USB 3 ports with a Buffalo DriveStation Axis USB 3.0 drive. I’ll be using this instead of the dual-drive Iomega UltraMax Pro for future USB backup testing.
I was able to use the built-in formatter to run tests using FAT32, EXT3 and NTFS formats. USB 2 performance was in the mid 20 MB/s range for FAT and EXT3, with NTFS maxing out the bus capacity at 28 MB/s. So, like QNAP, Buffalo must be not using an open source NTFS driver.
For USB 3, I again got the highest backup speed of 46 MB/s using NTFS and lowest with EXT3 at 37 MB/s.
There are no iSCSI or network backup results because iSCSI isn’t supported and I didn’t have another Buffalo NAS to use as a network backup partner.
The RAID 5 File Copy Write and Read charts below are filtered to show only four-bay NASes. The products you see toward the top of the chart include both D525 and D510-based NASes. The highest-ranking D510 NASes are the Synology DS411+ and Cisco NSS324 and damned if I know how they get them to be that fast! The QNAP TS-459 Pro + uses the D525.
RAID 5 File Copy Write Comparison
Rankings move around a bit for RAID 5 read and the Buffalo moves out of the cellar. But it still tends to rank lower than other recent-generation NASes.
RAID 5 File Copy Read Comparison
Unlike some other Buffalo NASes, the Pro Quad doesn’t make up in value what it lacks in performance. The 4 TB TS-QVH4.0TL/R6 model reviewed is just over $1000 when shipping is included. The best alternative would be Synology’s DS411+, which at $924 ($680 + 4 X $61 for the same Samsung HD103SI Eco Green F2 1 TB drives) leaves you with more money and much higher performance.
It’s certainly good to see Buffalo improve the feature set on its business-class NASes. But they need to improve performance, documentation and value to stay with their competition.