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QNAP TS-531X 5-Bay NAS with Dual 10GbE SFP+ Ports Reviewed

QNAP TS-531X

QNAP TS-531X

QNAP are getting pretty serious in the small/medium enterprise market with the TS-531X. The QNAP TS-531X is a 5-bay NAS powered by Amazon’s Annapurna Labs Alpine AL-341 quad-core 1.4 GHz processor. But this isn’t what sets it apart, the TS-531X also comes with dual 10GbE SFP+ ports.

QNAP have released a 2GB and 8GB variant, both upgradable to 8GB of DDR3 RAM. We are going to take a closer look at the 8GB version.

QNAP TS-531X specifications:
ProcessorAnnapurnaLabs, an Amazon company Alpine AL-314 Quad-core 1.4GHz ARM® Cortex-A15 Processor
Operating SystemQTS 4.2 (embedded Linux)
System MemoryTS-531X-2G: 2GB DDR3 (1 x 2GB)
TS-531X-8G: 8GB DDR3 (1 x 8GB)
Maximum Memory16GB
Memory Slots2 x SODIMM DDR3 (Note: For dual-DIMM configurations, you must use a pair of identical DDR3 RAM modules.)
Flash Memory512MB
Drive Type5 x 3.5"/2.5" SATA 6Gb/s HDDs/SSDs
10GbE LAN2 x 10 Gigabit SFP+ LAN Ports
GbE LAN2 x Gigabit RJ45 LAN Ports
USB3 x USB 3.0 ports
PCIe Slot1 x PCIe Gen2 (x2)
LEDStatus/Power, LAN, USB, HDD 1-5
ButtonPower, USB One-touch-copy,Reset
OtherKensington security slot,console port
Dimension185 (H) x 210.6 (W) x 235.4 (D) mm
WeightTS-531X-2G: 5.8kg (Net)
TS-531X-8G: 5.9kg (Net)
Operating Temperature0-40˚C
Relative Humidity5~95% RH non-condensing, wet bulb: 27˚C
Noise Level22.4 dB(A)
Refer to ISO 7779 ; Maximum HDD loaded ; Bystander Position ; Average data from 1 meter in front of operating NAS
Power ConsumptionHDD standby: 17.01W (with 5 x 1TB HDDs installed)
In operation: 29.31W (with 5 x 1TB HDDs installed)
PowerATX 240W, 100-240V AC, 50-60Hz, 3.5A
Fan1 x 12cm fan (12V DC)

A quick CPU check via SSH confirms the inclusion of the Alpine processor as described in the specs.

[~] # head -5 /proc/cpuinfo ; echo ; uname -a ; echo
processor : 0
model name : ARMv7 Processor rev 4 (v7l)
Speed : 1.4GHz
Features : swp half thumb fastmult vfp edsp neon vfpv3 tls vfpv4 idiva idivt
CPU implementer : 0x41

Linux DRWHO 3.10.20-al-2.5.3_sa #2 SMP Wed Nov 2 11:05:19 CST 2016 armv7l unknown

Design & Build

QNAP have been fairly consistent with their design and build quality across their range. I won’t repeat what I’ve written in the past but here are a few gallery images of the TS-531X, the key difference to other models is the inclusion of 2 x SFP+ ports.

Software

Like other QNAP models, the TS-531X features QTS 4.2 which is a custom embedded Linux install. The QTS interface has a modern flat design and fairly straightforward to use.

The supplied Container Station enables your users to build and deploy IoT (Internet of Things) applications quickly and easily. According to QNAP, the Container Station combines LXC and Docker’s virtualisation technologies to allow users to run multiple Linux systems in a sandpit environment as well as other systems downloadable from the Docker Hub registry.  Creating IoT applications is as easy as searching for a suitable container, installing and creating the application.

The TS-531X supports a range of file sharing options via SMB/CIFS, NFS and AFP file protocols making it easy to share data across Windows, Mac OS and Linux/UNIX platforms. You can either configure access permissions locally or use existing Windows AD (Active Directory) server or LDAP service. In addition, you can use SAMBA v4 on the TS-531X to act as a Windows domain controller to manage privileges.

A range of backup options are available on the QNAP TS-531X. The best method is to use the Hybrid Backup Sync app which combines real-time replication, rsync, FTP and CIFS/SMB protocols into a single QTS application. The solution allows you to transfer data locally, to another NAS or to the cloud. This can be done at a scheduled time or in real-time. Supported cloud service providers include: Amazon® Glacier, Azure™ Storage, Google Cloud Storage™, Google Drive™, Microsoft® OneDrive®, Dropbox®, Amazon® Drive, Yandex® Disk, Box®, Amazon® S3, OpenStack Swift and WebDAV.

Performance

The QNAP TS-531X was configured as follows:

  • RAM – 8GB
  • HDD #1 – Samsung 850 EVO 250GB SSD
  • HDD #2 – Samsung 850 EVO 250GB SSD

Hdparm was used to see how the unit performed with buffered and cached disk read speeds under RAID1:

[~] # hdparm -Tt /dev/sda
/dev/sda:
 Timing cached reads: 7348 MB in 2.00 seconds = 3679.24 MB/sec
 Timing buffered disk reads: 1520 MB in 3.00 seconds = 506.27 MB/sec

[~] # hdparm -Tt /dev/sda
/dev/sda:
 Timing cached reads: 7196 MB in 2.00 seconds = 3602.39 MB/sec
 Timing buffered disk reads: 1528 MB in 3.00 seconds = 509.30 MB/sec

[~] # hdparm -Tt /dev/sda
/dev/sda:
 Timing cached reads: 7228 MB in 2.00 seconds = 3618.64 MB/sec
 Timing buffered disk reads: 1500 MB in 3.00 seconds = 499.65 MB/sec

The second test was a NAS to NAS file copy using a QNAP TS-563 and the SFP+ interface on both units. You can see the limitations of 7200RPM platter based HDDs when using the TS-563 as the source drive.

Copying a file from the QNAP TS-563 to the QNAP TS-531X

Copying a file from the QNAP TS-563 to the QNAP TS-531X

Copying a file from the QNAP TS-531X to the QNAP TS-563

Copying a file from the QNAP TS-531X to the QNAP TS-563

The final test was with a HDD benchmark app on Mac OS X:

Speed test QNAP TS-531X under Mac OS

Speed test QNAP TS-531X under Mac OS

As expected, we saturated the gigabit link on the Apple iMac.

Final Thoughts

The QNAP TS-531X is a solid NAS that will only be let down by the quality of drives you use with it. Given the unit supports 10GbE, you will need to use something a little faster than a 7200RPM HDD to get the maximum benefit. The TS-531X performed well with 1Gbps devices with our test desktop able to saturate its link on every test. It also performed well with a second 10GbE device, in our case, the QNAP TS-563 where we were only let down with speeds due to the slow HDDs in the TS-563.

If you are looking for a new NAS and have SFP+ support on your current switch/router, the QNAP TS-531X is definitely one to consider. Even if SFP+ support is a future upgrade in your environment, the QNAP TS-531X does also include dual gigabit LAN.

Highly Recommended

Highly Recommended

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