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QNAP TBS-453A 4-Bay M.2 SSD NASbook Reviewed

QNAP TBS-453A with 2 x Samsung 850 EVO 250GB M.2 SSDs

QNAP TBS-453A with 2 x Samsung 850 EVO 250GB M.2 SSDs

When is a NAS no longer a NAS is the question that comes to mind when I look at the TBS-453A from QNAP. Dubbed “NASbook”, the TBS-453A is QNAP’s first slimline form factor storage appliance with gigabit switching and support for up to 4 M.2 SSDs.

The Intel quad-core 1.6Ghz processor bundled with the in-built 4-port gigabit network switch and storage support extends the use of a traditional NAS with redundancy to providing network connectivity as well. Like it’s older siblings, the TBS-453A includes dual HDMI output and 4K video abilities.

The key features of the TBS-453A are:

  • Powered by a 14nm Intel® Celeron® N3150 quad-core 1.6GHz processor (supports up to 2.08GHz burst modes)
  • Dual HDMI output that allows for desktop duplication or extension
  • 4-port gigabit LAN switch with advanced virtual switch functionality as seen on other QNAP products
  • Uses QvPC technology to provide PC like experience when connected to monitor and keyboard/mouse
  • Karaoke system with OceanKTV application

QNAP have released the TBS-453A in a number of variations. We are reviewing the TBS-453A-4G which is essentially the unit with BYOD M.2 storage and 4GB of RAM. The review unit was fitted with the Samsung 850 EVO M.2 250GB SSD.

QNAP TBS-453A specifications:
Ordering P/NTBS-453A-4G-960GBTBS-453A-4G-480GBTBS-453A-4GTBS-453A-8G-960GBTBS-453A-8G-480GBTBS-453A-8G
Processor14nm Intel® Celeron® N3150 quad-core 1.6GHz, burst up to 2.08GHz14nm Intel® Celeron® N3150 quad-core 1.6GHz, burst up to 2.08GHz14nm Intel® Celeron® N3150 quad-core 1.6GHz, burst up to 2.08GHz14nm Intel® Celeron® N3150 quad-core 1.6GHz, burst up to 2.08GHz14nm Intel® Celeron® N3150 quad-core 1.6GHz, burst up to 2.08GHz14nm Intel® Celeron® N3150 quad-core 1.6GHz, burst up to 2.08GHz
GPU8th generation Intel HD Graphics8th generation Intel HD Graphics8th generation Intel HD Graphics8th generation Intel HD Graphics8th generation Intel HD Graphics8th generation Intel HD Graphics
System Memory4GB (2 x 2GB)4GB (2 x 2GB)4GB (2 x 2GB)8GB (2 x 4GB)8GB (2 x 4GB)8GB (2 x 4GB)
Maximum Memory8GB8GB8GB8GB8GB8GB
Memory Slot2, SODIMM DDR3L-1600 (*For dual-DIMM configurations, you must use a pair of identical DDR3L RAM modules.)2, SODIMM DDR3L-1600 (*For dual-DIMM configurations, you must use a pair of identical DDR3L RAM modules.)2, SODIMM DDR3L-1600 (*For dual-DIMM configurations, you must use a pair of identical DDR3L RAM modules.)2, SODIMM DDR3L-1600 (*For dual-DIMM configurations, you must use a pair of identical DDR3L RAM modules.)2, SODIMM DDR3L-1600 (*For dual-DIMM configurations, you must use a pair of identical DDR3L RAM modules.)2, SODIMM DDR3L-1600 (*For dual-DIMM configurations, you must use a pair of identical DDR3L RAM modules.)
Flash4GB4GB4GB4GB4GB4GB
Drive Type4 x M.2 2280/2260/2242 SATA 6Gb/s SSDs4 x M.2 2280/2260/2242 SATA 6Gb/s SSDs4 x M.2 2280/2260/2242 SATA 6Gb/s SSDs4 x M.2 2280/2260/2242 SATA 6Gb/s SSDs4 x M.2 2280/2260/2242 SATA 6Gb/s SSDs4 x M.2 2280/2260/2242 SATA 6Gb/s SSDs
Pre-installed M.2 SSDs4 x 240GB2 x 240GB-4 x 240GB2 x 240GB-
Raw Capacity960GB (RAID 0)480GB (RAID 0)Optional purchase960GB (RAID 0)480GB (RAID 0)Optional purchase
Default Capacity (Factory Configuration)720GB (RAID 5)240GB (RAID 1)Optional purchase720GB (RAID 5)240GB (RAID 1)Optional purchase
Network5 x Gigabit LAN ports (Port 1 and any of the four ports from 2-1 to 2-4 are available to the 2 built-in network cards, and the remaining three ports can work as switch ports.)5 x Gigabit LAN ports (Port 1 and any of the four ports from 2-1 to 2-4 are available to the 2 built-in network cards, and the remaining three ports can work as switch ports.)5 x Gigabit LAN ports (Port 1 and any of the four ports from 2-1 to 2-4 are available to the 2 built-in network cards, and the remaining three ports can work as switch ports.)5 x Gigabit LAN ports (Port 1 and any of the four ports from 2-1 to 2-4 are available to the 2 built-in network cards, and the remaining three ports can work as switch ports.)5 x Gigabit LAN ports (Port 1 and any of the four ports from 2-1 to 2-4 are available to the 2 built-in network cards, and the remaining three ports can work as switch ports.)5 x Gigabit LAN ports (Port 1 and any of the four ports from 2-1 to 2-4 are available to the 2 built-in network cards, and the remaining three ports can work as switch ports.)
USB Port4 x USB 3.0 & 1 x USB 2.0 ports4 x USB 3.0 & 1 x USB 2.0 ports4 x USB 3.0 & 1 x USB 2.0 ports4 x USB 3.0 & 1 x USB 2.0 ports4 x USB 3.0 & 1 x USB 2.0 ports4 x USB 3.0 & 1 x USB 2.0 ports
Support USB printer, pen drive, and USB UPS, etc.Support USB printer, pen drive, and USB UPS, etc.Support USB printer, pen drive, and USB UPS, etc.Support USB printer, pen drive, and USB UPS, etc.Support USB printer, pen drive, and USB UPS, etc.Support USB printer, pen drive, and USB UPS, etc.
Video Output2 x HDMI, up to 4K 2160P Ultra HD support2 x HDMI, up to 4K 2160P Ultra HD support2 x HDMI, up to 4K 2160P Ultra HD support2 x HDMI, up to 4K 2160P Ultra HD support2 x HDMI, up to 4K 2160P Ultra HD support2 x HDMI, up to 4K 2160P Ultra HD support
Audio Input2 x 3.5mm microphone jack (dynamic microphone only)2 x 3.5mm microphone jack (dynamic microphone only)2 x 3.5mm microphone jack (dynamic microphone only)2 x 3.5mm microphone jack (dynamic microphone only)2 x 3.5mm microphone jack (dynamic microphone only)2 x 3.5mm microphone jack (dynamic microphone only)
Audio Output1 x built-in speaker, 1 x line out jack (for amplifier or headphone amplifier)1 x built-in speaker, 1 x line out jack (for amplifier or headphone amplifier)1 x built-in speaker, 1 x line out jack (for amplifier or headphone amplifier)1 x built-in speaker, 1 x line out jack (for amplifier or headphone amplifier)1 x built-in speaker, 1 x line out jack (for amplifier or headphone amplifier)1 x built-in speaker, 1 x line out jack (for amplifier or headphone amplifier)
LEDStatus/Power, USB, SSD 1-4Status/Power, USB, SSD 1-4Status/Power, USB, SSD 1-4Status/Power, USB, SSD 1-4Status/Power, USB, SSD 1-4Status/Power, USB, SSD 1-4
ButtonPower, USB one-touch-backup, Reset, Volume Up, Volume DownPower, USB one-touch-backup, Reset, Volume Up, Volume DownPower, USB one-touch-backup, Reset, Volume Up, Volume DownPower, USB one-touch-backup, Reset, Volume Up, Volume DownPower, USB one-touch-backup, Reset, Volume Up, Volume DownPower, USB one-touch-backup, Reset, Volume Up, Volume Down
IR Receiver
Power Consumption (W)System sleep mode: 0.98W
SSD standby: 13.05W
In operation: 15.2W
System sleep mode: 0.98W
SSD standby: 13.05W
In operation: 15.2W
System sleep mode: 0.98W
SSD standby: 13.05W
In operation: 15.2W
System sleep mode: 0.98W
SSD standby: 13.05W
In operation: 15.2W
System sleep mode: 0.98W
SSD standby: 13.05W
In operation: 15.2W
System sleep mode: 0.98W
SSD standby: 13.05W
In operation: 15.2W
Sound LevelSound pressure (LpAm) :10.8 dB(A)Sound pressure (LpAm) :10.8 dB(A)Sound pressure (LpAm) :10.8 dB(A)Sound pressure (LpAm) :10.8 dB(A)Sound pressure (LpAm) :10.8 dB(A)Sound pressure (LpAm) :10.8 dB(A)
Working Temperature0-40˚C0-40˚C0-40˚C0-40˚C0-40˚C0-40˚C
Relative Humidity5~95% RH non-condensing, wet bulb: 27˚C5~95% RH non-condensing, wet bulb: 27˚C5~95% RH non-condensing, wet bulb: 27˚C5~95% RH non-condensing, wet bulb: 27˚C5~95% RH non-condensing, wet bulb: 27˚C5~95% RH non-condensing, wet bulb: 27˚C
PowerDC10V-20V wide input rangeDC10V-20V wide input rangeDC10V-20V wide input rangeDC10V-20V wide input rangeDC10V-20V wide input rangeDC10V-20V wide input range
FanCompact internal fanCompact internal fanCompact internal fanCompact internal fanCompact internal fanCompact internal fan
Package ContentsNASbook, 65W 19V AC adapter, power cord, quick installation guide, Ethernet cable x 2, remote control, SSD installation kitNASbook, 65W 19V AC adapter, power cord, quick installation guide, Ethernet cable x 2, remote control, SSD installation kitNASbook, 65W 19V AC adapter, power cord, quick installation guide, Ethernet cable x 2, remote control, SSD installation kitNASbook, 65W 19V AC adapter, power cord, quick installation guide, Ethernet cable x 2, remote control, SSD installation kitNASbook, 65W 19V AC adapter, power cord, quick installation guide, Ethernet cable x 2, remote control, SSD installation kitNASbook, 65W 19V AC adapter, power cord, quick installation guide, Ethernet cable x 2, remote control, SSD installation kit
Dimension (HxWxD)25mm x 230mm x 165mm25mm x 230mm x 165mm25mm x 230mm x 165mm25mm x 230mm x 165mm25mm x 230mm x 165mm25mm x 230mm x 165mm
Weight760g742g724g760g742g724g

Design

The TBS-453A’s design resembles something in between a set-top box and a gaming system. It is definitely small, compact and portable making is useful for more than home media applications. For example, it’s size makes it great for office situations where you may need a temporary working area for staff to collaborate.

The front of the unit has the familiar “One Touch Copy” button as found on all their NAS products. The remaining items on the front are what you would expect on a media box: USB 3.0, SD card reader, volume controls, LEDs and a power button.

Front of the TBS-453A

Front of the QNAP TBS-453A

The rear of the unit is where you see the differences. The first thing that stands out are the 5 LAN ports. The isolated one is for connectivity back into the network whilst the grouped ports are for switching. There are also dual HDMI, USB 3.0 and microphone inputs. The microphone inputs are presumably for use with the provided karaoke application. All of the ports are supported by various media platforms including KODI.

Rear ports of the QNAP TBS-453A

Rear ports of the QNAP TBS-453A

Memory and storage is installed via the removable panel underneath the unit. Like everything else so far with the TBS-453A, a simple process to do.

Thumb screws on the QNAP TBS-453A

Thumb screws on the QNAP TBS-453A

Installing RAM and SSD in the QNAP TBS-453A

Installing RAM and SSD in the QNAP TBS-453A

M.2 SSD

The use of M.2 SSDs in the TBS-453A is a first for QNAP and allows the overall design of the unit to be quieter, cooler and significantly smaller than other models in their line-up. M.2 is the specification that will replace the older mSATA standard and provides a higher degree of flexibility in physical design. Their size makes them perfect for small form factor devices such as the TBS-453A. It was interesting to note that QNAP supplied mini heatsinks for the M.2 modules, I wonder if they are expected to run hot?

Network Switching

In additional to the gigabit LAN uplink port, the QNAP TBS-453A provides a four port gigabit LAN switch which supports private network mode among other advanced settings. By default, the switch will run in a basic mode allowing users to share Internet and NAS resources.

QNAP TBS-453A Network Interfaces

QNAP TBS-453A Network Interfaces

You are able to create a more secure and closed network through the private network configuration screens in the web console. This is useful if you want to also run IP surveillance cameras of the unit.

QNAP TBS-453A Network Configuration

QNAP TBS-453A Network Configuration

QcPV Technology

Another great feature we love with the QNAP media capable range is the QvPC technology and the dual HDMI output. When connected with a keyboard, mouse and HDMI monitor, the NAS can be used like a regular Linux desktop system. The dual HDMI outputs support a duplicated or extended desktop just like on a regular PC. This can be installed and configured through QNAP’s QTS system.

Install Ubuntu via the Linux Station

Install Ubuntu via the Linux Station

You can use the container installer to install other Linux distributions as well

You can use the container installer to install other Linux distributions as well

HD Station

If you are not wanting to use QvPC to install a media solution on Linux, the TBS-453A also supports HD Station which includes a range of applications that will work with the remote and HDMI outputs. Software available on HD Station to provide a rich media experience include Kodi, HD Player, Plex Home Theater, YouTube, Spotify and more.

QNAP HD Station's Applications

QNAP HD Station’s Applications

Karaoke with OceanKTV

QNAP have brought karaoke to the NAS as a world’s first through the OceanKTV application. OceanKTV, coupled with microphones connected to the 3.5mm jacks on the back of the unit, provides everything needed to have a great karaoke time. Also available is a mobile application that enables you to control the whole experience via a tablet.

Karaoke on the QNAP

Karaoke on the QNAP

Performance

To see how the unit performed with buffered and cached disk read speeds, the hdparm command was run via SSH:

[/dev] # hdparm -Tt /dev/sda

/dev/sda:
 Timing cached reads: 5244 MB in 2.00 seconds = 2623.03 MB/sec
 Timing buffered disk reads: 1446 MB in 3.01 seconds = 481.15 MB/sec
[/dev] # hdparm -Tt /dev/sda

/dev/sda:
 Timing cached reads: 5220 MB in 2.00 seconds = 2610.36 MB/sec
 Timing buffered disk reads: 1456 MB in 3.00 seconds = 485.00 MB/sec
[/dev] # hdparm -Tt /dev/sda

/dev/sda:
 Timing cached reads: 5224 MB in 2.00 seconds = 2612.69 MB/sec
 Timing buffered disk reads: 1490 MB in 3.00 seconds = 496.02 MB/sec
[/dev] # hdparm -Tt /dev/sda

/dev/sda:
 Timing cached reads: 5240 MB in 2.00 seconds = 2620.31 MB/sec
 Timing buffered disk reads: 1516 MB in 3.00 seconds = 504.95 MB/sec

These were respectful results considering that Samsung state the maximum read speeds for the EVO M.2’s as up to 540MB/sec.

Final Thoughts

Positioned as the centerpiece of your digital experience, the QNAP TBS-453A certainly doesn’t fail to deliver. It’s a NAS that has evolved to provide gigabit switching with dual OS capabilities that enable it to function extremely well as a media center. Even if you don’t want to use the Linux capabilities of this NAS, the QNAP supplied media applications should be more than sufficient for even the demanding of media users.

The form factor, ease of installation and use places this in the highly recommended category. So, if you are in the market for something a little more than a NAS and a little more than a media centre, consider taking a look at the QNAP TBS-453A as it has foot in both camps.

GeekLingo_Highly_Recommended

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