QNAP TS-653A 6-Bay NAS Reviewed with 16GB RAM and SSD RAID

93.333333333333

Build Quality

10/10

    Performance

    9/10

      Features

      10/10

        Pros

        • QTS software
        • IoT support
        • Dual OS with Linux

        Cons

        • Price
        • 8GB max RAM
        QNAP TS-653A 6-Bay NAS
        QNAP TS-653A 6-Bay NAS

        Announced in December 2015, the QNAP TS-653A (or any TS-x53A series) brings us the worlds first dual OS NAS powered by the Intel Celeron N3150 quad-core 1.6Ghz processor. In addition to supporting hardware encryption, the included 8th generation Intel HD graphics processor enables the TS-653A to provide 4K UHD output via HDMI and 4K H.264 hardware accelerated transcoding and playback.

        The dual OS capability combines QNAP’s QTS OS with open-source Linux in a response to the emerging Internet of Things (IoT) solutions. Users will have access to feature rich Linux applications and developers will be able to build and deploy IoT applications directly on the TS-653A.

        Additional images courtesy of QNAP:

        The QNAP TS-653A is being reviewed as a worthy successor to the TS-653 Pro. Whilst the look and build quality has remained the same, a few noteworthy changes have been included in the new model:

        • A more efficient quad core processor
        • More powerful graphics to support 4K media
        • Faster memory speeds
        • Dual OS capability
        • Increased surveillance camera licenses
        How the QNAP TS-653A compares to the older TS-653 Pro:
         TS-653ATS-653 Pro
        OSEmbedded LinuxEmbedded Linux
        CPU14 nm Intel® Celeron® N3150 1.6GHz quad-core processor (burst up to 2.08GHz)Intel® Celeron® 2.0GHz quad-core processor (burst up to 2.41GHz)
        System MemoryTS-653A-4G: 4GB (2 x 2GB - expandable up to 8GB)
        TS-653A-8G: 8GB (2 x 4GB)
        TS-653 Pro: 2GB DDR3L RAM (expandable up to 8GB)
        TS-653 Pro-8G: 8GB DDR3L RAM (4GB x 2)
        Memory TypeSO-DIMM DDR3L-1600SO-DIMM DDR3L-1333
        Flash512MB (DOM)512MB (DOM)
        Hard Disk Drive6 x 3.5” or 2.5” SATA 6Gb/s, SATA 3Gb/s HDD or SSD6 x 3.5” or 2.5” SATA 6Gb/s, SATA 3Gb/s HDD or SSD
        Hardware Encryption EngineYesNo
        HDD Expansion Support1 x UX-800P or UX-500P1 x UX-800P or UX-500P
        LAN Port4 x Gigabit RJ-45 Ethernet port4 x Gigabit RJ-45 Ethernet (supports trunking)
        LED IndicatorsPower/Status, LAN, USB, HDD1-6Power/Status, LAN, USB, HDD1-6
        LCD PanelMono-LCD display with backlightMono-LCD display with backlight
        USB4 x USB 3.0 port (Front:1, Rear:3)
        Support USB printer, pen drive, and USB UPS etc.
        3 x USB 3.0 port (Front: 1, Rear: 2)
        2 x USB 2.0 port (Rear: 2)
        Support USB printer, pen drive, and USB UPS etc.
        Video Output2 x HDMI, up to 4K 2160P Ultra HD support1 x HDMI
        Audio Input2 x 6.3mm microphone jacks (dynamic microphones only)-
        Audio OutputLine Out Jack (for amplifier or headphone amplifier)-
        IR ReceiverSupports QNAP RM-IR002, RM-IR003 Remote Control and MCE-compatible remotesSupports QNAP RM-IR002 Remote Control and MCE-compatible remotes
        Surveillance Station SoftwareYesYes
        Max Number of CamerasLicense for 4 included
        Maximum supported is 40 (via optional license purchase)
        License for 2 included
        Maximum supported is 24 (via optional license purchase)
        Cooling Fan2 x 9cm quiet cooling fan (12V DC)2 x 9cm quiet cooling fan (12V DC)
        Power SupplyATX 240W, Input: 110-240 Vac~, 50-60Hz, 5AATX 250W, Input: 110-240 Vac~, 50-60Hz, 5A
        Power Consumption (W)System sleep mode: 1.7W
        HDD standby 32.02W
        In operation: 51.16W
        S3 sleep: 1.09W
        HDD standby: 22.95 W
        In use: 41.65W
        Dimensions175mm (H) x 257mm (W) x 235mm (D)175mm (H) x 257mm (W) x 235mm (D)

        A quick CPU check via SSH confirms the processor information above:

        [~] # head -5 /proc/cpuinfo ; echo ; uname -a ; echo
        processor : 0
        vendor_id : GenuineIntel
        cpu family : 6
        model : 76
        model name : Intel(R) Celeron(R) CPU N3150 @ 1.60GHz
        Linux TS-653A 3.19.8 #1 SMP Sat Dec 26 05:39:29 CST 2015 x86_64 unknown

        Installation

        We typically go through the installation process with the NAS devices we review but as the steps and screens were no different to the QNAP TS-451+ we won’t go through them here again. Instead I’ll highlight a few noteworthy items.

        Unlike the the QNAP TS-451+, the hard drive caddy that comes with the TS-653A has a build quality similar to that of the TS-653 Pro.

        The QNAP TS-653A comes with the metal made caddy that we love from their Pro series
        The QNAP TS-653A comes with the metal made caddy that we love from their Pro series

        On the topic of drives, QNAP have used Marvell’s 88SE9215 SATA controller with the unit. The 88SE9215 is a good choice as it supports up to 1GB/s (Gigabyte/sec) bandwidth for connecting SATA III devices to a PCI Express 2.0 host. Each host is capable of supporting up to four 6Gb/s SATA drives.

        The Marvell 88SE9215 SATA 6Gb/s embedded host controller is used with the 6 SATA ports
        The Marvell 88SE9215 SATA 6Gb/s embedded host controller is used with the 6 SATA ports

        QNAP haven’t cut corners with providing quality audio support either. We found the Realtek ALC262 audio chip which provides a 4-channel HD audio codec typically found in some high performance multimedia systems.

        The Realtek ALC262 is a 4-Channel High Definition Audio Codec with Universal Audio Architecture
        The Realtek ALC262 is a 4-Channel High Definition Audio Codec with Universal Audio Architecture

        Memory

        The QNAP TS-653A ships with either 4GB or 8GB of DDR3 SO-DIMM RAM. If you are going to be running Virtualization Station or dual OS with Linux, you will probably want to get the 8GB version. If you do get 4GB and need to upgrade later, it is very easy to do. Like its predecessor, the SO-DIMM slots are easily accessible once the lid is off.

        As with the previous model, the QNAP TS-653A has the same easy access to the SO-DIMM slots
        As with the previous model, the QNAP TS-653A has the same easy access to the SO-DIMM slots

        Before you dash out and buy some RAM, check first on the QNAP website or forums that the model you are looking at is compatible with the TS-653A. You need low voltage DDR3 SO-DIMM, Kingston and Crucial have a few models that will work. Whilst checking QNAP’s support forum for RAM compatibility, I noticed a few users discussing the use of 16GB (2 x 8GB) in their older model devices. Curiosity getting the better of me and having fond memories of doing something similar with the old HP Microservers, I grabbed a couple of the Kingston modules (KVR16LS11/8 1.35V 8GB 1600MHz DDR3 SODIMM).

        Please note: Whilst 16GB may work, we still recommend sticking to the maximum of 8GB as specified by QNAP. You may find yourself with no official support if you go beyond what QNAP recommends.

        Kingston KVR16LS11/8 1.35V 8GB 1600MHz DDR3 SODIMMs are going to be used for this review
        Kingston KVR16LS11/8 1.35V 8GB 1600MHz DDR3 SODIMMs are going to be used for this review
        The 16GB being recognised is a good start
        The 16GB being recognised is a good start

        RAM capacity also confirmed via shell console to the TS-653A:

        [~] # head -5 /proc/meminfo
        MemTotal: 16327636 kB
        MemFree: 7017336 kB
        MemAvailable: 15210688 kB
        Buffers: 226236 kB
        Cached: 7996484 kB

        Running trusty old memtest+ to ensure we don’t see any memory related errors. I ended up running this overnight with no issues.

        After an hour and a bit, Memtest+ resulted in no errors so I left it running overnight.
        After an hour and a bit, Memtest+ resulted in no errors so I left it running overnight.

        SSD Performance

        The QNAP TS-653A was configured with 2 x 250GB Samsung EVO 850 SSDs in RAID1 configuration. Speed comparison was against a QNAP TS-653Pro with configured with 3 x 5TB Toshiba SATA3 HDDs (7200RPM) with a 128GB SSD as cache. Note that we were expecting higher results with the SSD configuration, the TS-653Pro was used more as a baseline rather than a NAS competing on performance.

        2 x 250GB Samsung 850 EVO SSDs were used in this review
        2 x 250GB Samsung 850 EVO SSDs were used in this review

        First up was a basic transfer test performed on the device via SSH.

        /dev/sda:
         Timing buffered disk reads: 1538 MB in 3.00 seconds = 512.12 MB/sec
        [~] # hdparm -t /dev/sda
        /dev/sda:
         Timing buffered disk reads: 1538 MB in 3.00 seconds = 512.01 MB/sec
        [~] # hdparm -t /dev/sda
        /dev/sda:
         Timing buffered disk reads: 1538 MB in 3.00 seconds = 512.34 MB/sec
        [~] # hdparm -t /dev/sda
        /dev/sda:
         Timing buffered disk reads: 1538 MB in 3.00 seconds = 512.36 MB/sec

        In comparison, 7200RPM HDDs in RAID5

        [~] # hdparm -t /dev/sda
        /dev/sda:
         Timing buffered disk reads: 640 MB in 3.00 seconds = 213.11 MB/sec

        Next up was some data transfer without using the drive cache.

        [~] # hdparm -t --direct /dev/sda
        /dev/sda:
         Timing O_DIRECT disk reads: 1476 MB in 3.00 seconds = 491.83 MB/sec
        [~] # hdparm -t --direct /dev/sda
        /dev/sda:
         Timing O_DIRECT disk reads: 1474 MB in 3.00 seconds = 491.15 MB/sec
        [~] # hdparm -t --direct /dev/sda
        /dev/sda:
         Timing O_DIRECT disk reads: 1474 MB in 3.00 seconds = 491.15 MB/sec
        [~] # hdparm -t --direct /dev/sda
        /dev/sda:
         Timing O_DIRECT disk reads: 1476 MB in 3.00 seconds = 491.71 MB/sec

        Slightly slower speeds without the drive cache but as we see below, the SSDs are still well ahead than platter based drives.

        [~] # hdparm -t --direct /dev/sda
        /dev/sda:
         Timing O_DIRECT disk reads: 612 MB in 3.01 seconds = 203.38 MB/sec
        [~] # hdparm -t --direct /dev/sda
        /dev/sda:
         Timing O_DIRECT disk reads: 642 MB in 3.01 seconds = 213.37 MB/sec

        The figures we saw were nothing surprising but the exercise was still worthwhile just to remind us of how much faster SSDs are. We tend to forget when spoilt with speed but unfortunately, traditional drives will always be the first choice for many as they still ahead on a $/GB measure. Performance over gigabit ethernet via an Intel NUC wasn’t too bad either.

        Running CrystalDiskMark with the 50MB transfer option to simulate lots of little files
        Running CrystalDiskMark with the 50MB transfer option to simulate lots of little files
        Running CrystalDiskMark with the 1GB transfer option to simulate transfer of larger files
        Running CrystalDiskMark with the 1GB transfer option to simulate transfer of larger files

        Virtualization Station

        Virtualization Station is included with QTS as an additional free download. Image courtesy of QNAP.
        Virtualization Station is included with QTS as an additional free download. Image courtesy of QNAP.

        We first came across QNAP’s Virtualization Station during our TS-x51 series NAS review. Virtualization Station enables the creation and management of a number of virtual machines that are stored on the NAS. It currently supports a range of operating systems including Linux, Unix, Windows and Android.

        If you are migrating from other virtualization technologies such as VMware, importing tools are available to easily import into the station. The import feature gives you the added benefit of being able to download more VMs in the various marketplaces (e.g. VMware and BitNami) for a complex-free install. Similarly, you can export your VMs to work on other platforms.

        Accessing your virtual machines can be done in a range of different ways. If you have a browser with HTML5/JAVA support (all mainstream modern day browsers do) you can access the machine console via Virtualization Station. Similarly, you can setup remote desktop and use a RDP client on your device of choice. Alternatively, if you attach a keyboard and mouse to the TS-653A and have a HDMI connection, you can install the QVM application to HD Station and output the VM console to an external monitor or TV. This is handy if you are having network disruptions and can’t gain remote access to the NAS.

        Installation of the Virtualization Station was no different to what we saw in our earlier reviews. Performance and USB pass-through functionality was more or less the same as the 653 Pro, but it did feel a little more snappy in speed. This could have been due to the newer processor, additional RAM or most likely, a combination of both.

        HD Station

        The HD Station has had a number of updates since we last reviewed it. Now supporting a range of media rich applications such as Kodi, Plex Home Theatre, Spotify and YouTube, the HD Station helps the TS-653A appeal to those media savvy users needing another machine in the media room. With its storage capabilities, the TS-653A will have an advantage against other media players. The included QNAP remote control can also be used to pair up to 3 TV or stereo IR remote controls for frequently used functions. This functionality is also replicated on mobile devices via the Qremote application.

        Use the QNAP TS-653A with the QNAP remote control as a powerful media centre. Image courtesy of QNAP.
        Use the QNAP TS-653A with the QNAP remote control as a powerful media centre. Image courtesy of QNAP.

        Getting Ready for IoT

        In preparation for the IoT era, the TS-653A utilizes QNAP’s advanced virtualization technologies to support a dual QTS & Linux system. This new architecture provides the benefits of installing applications via the QTS App Center as well as developing your own IoT solutions for Linux and storing them centrally and securely on the TS-653A.

        Dual OS Architecture on the TS-x53A series QNAP NAS. Image courtesy of QNAP.
        Dual OS Architecture on the TS-x53A series QNAP NAS. Image courtesy of QNAP.

        With the aid of a keyboard, mouse and monitor (via HDMI), the QNAP TS-653A can operate the Linux Station like a regular PC. The unit has dual HDMI ports that can support dual monitors in duplicated or extended mode for greater flexibility and convenience.

        Running the HDMI ports in extended mode. Image courtesy of QNAP.
        Running the HDMI ports in extended mode. Image courtesy of QNAP.

        Installation of the Linux Station was done in a handful of steps.

        When you first run Linux Station, you need to choose which Linux package to install. At the time of writing only Ubuntu was available.
        When you first run Linux Station, you need to choose which Linux package to install. At the time of writing only Ubuntu was available.
        If only I had the NBN, this is going to be a long night
        If only I had the NBN, this is going to be a long night
        When you enable Linux Station, the TS-653A turns off HD Station
        When you enable Linux Station, the TS-653A turns off HD Station
        Additional configuration options that are available for Linux Station
        Additional configuration options that are available for Linux Station
        Ubuntu Login page where you use your admin credentials to do the first login if you don't have other users setup
        Ubuntu Login page where you use your admin credentials to do the first login if you don’t have other users setup
        The Ubuntu desktop that is presented along with a list of keyboard shortcuts
        The Ubuntu desktop that is presented along with a list of keyboard shortcuts

        I spent a bit of time playing around with Ubuntu on the TS-653A and it works extremely well.

        Final Thoughts

        The QNAP TS-653A as you would expect is a very polished NAS capable of handling a typical small to medium enterprise workload. It’s simple to setup and use making it a great alternative for many businesses and power users at home. Running virtual machines on the Virtual Station was comparable to the TS-653 Pro. Similarly, HD Station was up to the task with video streaming and transcoding across a range of different formats. In general, the overall performance of the TS-653A was very good.

        The TS-653A is available in a 4GB or 8GB configuration but highly recommend 8GB if you are wanting to run the Virtual Station. Likewise, if you start with the 4GB model, the memory is user upgradeable and fairly easy to do as we showed above. Just remember to check compatibility first.

        QNAP has found a nice little niche in the crowded NAS market segment by differentiating itself through the provision of capabilities such as virtualization and dual OS. If you are after a polished NAS that offers something a little different, the TS-653A is one that you need to consider. If you don’t need 6 bays, QNAP have you covered with 2 (TS-253A), 4 (TS-453A) and 8 (TS-853A) bay models also available that are based on the same hardware.

        QNAP TS-653A (8GB RAM version) 6-Bay Professional-Grade Network Attached Storage, Supports 4K Playback (TS-653A-8G-US)


        Features: Intel Celeron N3150 Quad Core 1.6GHz (up to 2.08GHz), 8GB DDR3L RAM, SATA 6Gb/s, 4xGbE, AES-NI hardware encryption, hardware transcoding up to 4K H.264, 4K HDMI with Kodi player, 2xHDMI, Virtualization Station, Surveillance Station, max 1 UX expansion unit, 2x 6.3mmMIC In, 1x Line out, QTS & Ubuntu dual systems for developing and running IoT applications ; AES-NI hardware-accelerated encryption for efficient cryptographic performance up to 416 MB/s, Dual HDMI outputs for switching between mirroring and extended desktop options, Supports 4K hardware decoding, and transcodes 4K (H.264) videos on-the-fly or offline, Build a personal karaoke system with high-quality audio output and the new OceanKTV app, Quickly find specific files by real-time, natural search with Qsirch 2.1, A hybrid approach to virtualization in one NAS: Virtualization Station & Container Station

        New From: $849.00 USD In Stock

        Post Author: Noeneel Sharma

        Australian born tech expert, Noeneel, is the founder of the GeekLingo. He has over 20 years of experience in the Information Technology (IT) world. As an Information Technologist, he has a Bachelor in Information Technology, MBA and a Master of Business Process Management. He has professional working experience working across reputable industries including telecommunication, legal, accounting, banking, and most recently electricity. He spends most of his time with his gadgets as he enjoys photography, researching and runs the popular aquatic forum SKF Aquatics. Connect with Noeneel on Google+, Twitter, and Facebook.

        2 thoughts on “QNAP TS-653A 6-Bay NAS Reviewed with 16GB RAM and SSD RAID

          Mario Burgos Zúñiga

          (November 17, 2016 - 7:55 pm)

          Recently I’ve bought a QNAP TS-453A, I want to mount RAID 5 with 3 HD of
          4TB and a SSD to take advantage of cache acceleration. My question are next:

          1. What’s the SSD size I need to use cache acceleration?, I know it depends
          of the RAM memory, but I don’t know what size to choose, 256 GB, 512 GB, ..
          to use it with 2 or 3 virtual machines

          2. Does HD Station and Linux Station run quickly with cache acceleration?

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