A NAS is a ‘Network Attached Storage’ system. With data playing such a pivotal role in so many businesses, it’s becoming increasingly important to find ways to keep it safe and secure. Loss of data or data breaches can result in poor customer service, legal problems and loss of intellectual property or sensitive personal information.
A NAS offers one solution to this. It is a device that connects to a network and allows for the storage and retrieval of data from a single location for authorised network users and heterogeneous clients only. This not only offers obvious security and backup benefits but also ensures that data remains in-sync, that it is reliably accessible and that it is always available.
The QNAP TS-873U-RP is one such NAS that aims to provide all these benefits and more for small and large businesses. In this review, we’ll be looking at whether it is a good choice for your organization.
Design and Build
The TS-873U-RP is a well-made unit. Network solutions are not generally designed with aesthetics in mind and this is no different. However, it has a solid and premium feel, an executive black colouring and a solid, weighty construction. Large numbers of ports are available at the rear and there are plenty of vents for cooling to prevent overheating. Specifically, there are dual 10GbE SFP+ ports and two M.2 SATA 6GB/s SSD slots.
This is an example of how the design is focusing primarily on reliability and continuity. Cooling ensures minimal downtime. Maintenance is kept easy, with hot swapping supported for replacing hard drives without service interruption.
Features and Specifications
The TS-873U-RP comes feature-packed and offers anything that your organization might need. As mentioned, it supports hot swapping which allows the exchange of drives without interruption in service. It also has a redundant power supply to help ensure maximum up time. This acts as a backup and kicks in case of power loss.
Hardware specifications of the QNAP TS-873U-RP-8G include:
|CPU||AMD R-Series RX-421ND quad-core 2.1 GHz processor, turbo core up to 3.4 GHz|
|Hardware Encryption Engine||AES-NI|
|Memory||Supplied: 8GB DDR4 (2 x 4GB)
Maximum: 64GB DDR4 (4 x 18GB)
Type: UDIMM DDR4
|Flash Memory||512MB DOM|
|Drive||8 x 3.5"/2.5" SATA 6Gb/s HDDs/SSDs|
|M.2 SSD Slot||2 x M.2 2280 SATA 6Gb/s SSDs|
|10Gigabit LAN Port||2 x 10GbE SFP+ port via a preinstalled PCIe network card|
|Gigabit LAN Port||4 x Gigabit RJ45 LAN ports|
|PCIe Slot||1 x PCIe Gen 3 (x4), pre-installed with a dual-port 10GbE SFP+ LAN card|
|External Ports||2 x USB 3.0 port
4 x USB 2.0 port
1 x 3.5mm console port
Drives 1 - 8
|Form Factor||2U Rackmount|
|Dimension (H x W X D)||89 x 482 x 534 mm|
|Net Weight||10.93 kg|
|Power Suply||2 x 250W, 100-240V AC, 50/60 Hz|
|Fan||2 x 70mm (12V DC)|
We used SSH to quickly confirm the hardware in the unit:
# head -5 /proc/cpuinfo ; echo ; uname -a ; echo info processor : 0 vendor_id : AuthenticAMD cpu family : 21 model : 96 model name : AMD Embedded R-Series RX-421ND Linux TS873URP 4.2.8 #1 SMP Thu Jul 27 06:12:06 CST 2017 x86_64 GNU/Linux info
The software is here to back-up the impressive hardware. The TS-873U-RP runs QTS, which is largely considered to be the most intuitive and powerful NAS operating system. This is simple and easy to use, making adoption simple for employees. In fact, the interface looks like iOS at first glance!
The system is constantly being improved and upgraded. New intelligent agent services have been added to make system operations and management simpler and easier. Key features include an intelligent desktop for quickly finding necessary functions and monitoring key system information in real time. Multiple application windows can be opened simultaneously for true multitasking and greater work efficiency. The ‘App Center’ makes it easy to browse and install new applications to meet changing demands.
Integrated Virtualization and Container Solutions
Virtualization Station 3 is a virtualization solution for x86-based QNAP NAS, allowing you to run and manage multiple VMs (virtual machines) on the same NAS simultaneously. This greatly enhances the versatility and power of your system and even allows users to connect a mouse, keyboard and HDMI display. USB and GPU pass-through allows you to add even more functionality and performance too!
Collaboration with Cross Platform File Sharing
TS-873U-RP works across all platforms. So, if colleagues or clients are using different operating systems and machines, you can still invite them to access, edit and store files on your NAS. This is crucial in a world of increasing fragmentation.
Backup and Disaster Recovery Solutions
Does your business have backup and disaster recovery protocols in place yet? If not, then your business is at incredible risk and could potentially be taken out of commission in a single day. The TS-873U-RP offers a great solution and could save you millions.
TS-873U-RP uses snapshots for folders, LUN and more and supports Hybrid Backup Sync to consolidate backup, restoration, and synchronization in a single package. This intuitive setup allows you to forget about backing up but to maintain peace of mind always.
TS-873U-RP includes comprehensive security features to ensure that all data is securely protected and that you will be able to keep sensitive and personal information safe behind lock and key.
There are numerous security options including antivirus, encrypted access, IP blocking, 2-step verification and administration rights.
Fast Data Filing and Searching
Data filing and searching are kept simple and powerful to allow you to quickly retrieve the documents, data base entries and other files that you need. By default, file organization is offered through Qfiling which allows you to categorize, schedule and search using powerful cross searching functionality.
Using the app store, you can, of course, install other management systems if you prefer.
QVR Pro Surveillance Solution
The TS-873U-RP also offers support for surveillance systems. QVR Pro Beta offers recording environments that are separate from QTS with their own storage expandability and flexible storage space management functions.
The 8G in QNAP TS-873U-RP-8G signifies that this is the 8GB of RAM version of the TS-873U. A convenient feature of the TS-873U is the inclusion of thumbscrews allowing for toolless memory upgrades. Swapping the supplied UDIMM modules out couldn’t be any easier. For this review, we chose to go with the Ballistix Elite 32GB Kit (8GBx4) memory kit that recently looked at. The Ballistix Elite range is designed for hard core top end machines and built to push the envelope so was a perfect choice for the TS-873U.
The QNAP TS-873U-RP makes it very easy to swap out hard drives without needing to interrupt service and this gives more incentive to invest in extra drives for expanding capacity, keeping back-ups and keeping data as secure as possible.
Readers wondering which hard drives to invest in should consider what tasks they will be used for. For pure storage, you can’t go past tradition hard disk drives as they offer the best value in terms of GB/$. For applications, such as running virtual machines, you want to consider solid state drives as they provide superior speeds.
Hard Disk Drives (HDD)
In our test unit, we chose 2 Seagate IronWolf 4TB ST4000VN008 HDDs. This offers reasonable storage, is tough and fully featured for NAS use. Utilising SATA III (6GB/S), it promises to offer good performance for transfer of data. The 3.5inch form factor with just 26.1mm height also helps to improve performance as well as having a number of practical benefits. The 64MB cache further improves speed.
Configured in RAID1, these drives will give us roughly 4TB (4,000GB) to play with. While IronWolf does go up to a huge 10TB, 4TB should offer a good balance of price to capacity for most businesses. You can invest in as many as you need and scale up as your organization grows.
The IronWolf uses AgileArray technology, which offers improved reliability and agility. Multi-user technology meanwhile helps keep things speedy even when lots of people are accessing the same drive at once (a must for a NAS solution). A built in RV sensor (rotational vibration) helps to manage multi-bay vibration and can extend the lifespan of your drive. You can expect consistent and reliable performance for many years.
Of course, there are a variety of different hard drives that are suitable for use with the QNAP TS-873U-RP and users are free to make their own choice. We have gone with the IronWolf 4TB because of its reputation for being reliable and a fast performer. Hdparm was used to see how the IronWolf performed with buffered and cached disk read speeds:
# hdparm -i /dev/sda | grep -i serial Model=ST4000VN008-2DR166 , FwRev=SC60 , SerialNo= <removed> # hdparm -Tt /dev/sda /dev/sda: Timing cached reads: 8700 MB in 2.00 seconds = 4351.57 MB/sec Timing buffered disk reads: 412 MB in 3.04 seconds = 135.53 MB/sec
Solid State Drives (SSD)
On the SSD front, we used the same pair of Samsung 850 EVO 250GB SSDs that we have used in previous tests.
Like the Seagate IronWolf, these drives have a great reputation as solid performers amongst the SSDs. Hdparm was used to see how the EVOs performed with buffered and cached disk read speeds:
# hdparm -i /dev/sdc | grep -i serial Model=Samsung SSD 850 EVO 250GB , FwRev=EMT01B6Q, SerialNo= <removed> # hdparm -Tt /dev/sdc /dev/sdc: Timing cached reads: 8572 MB in 2.00 seconds = 4286.34 MB/sec Timing buffered disk reads: 1424 MB in 3.00 seconds = 474.40 MB/sec
Performance is top of the range thanks to top tier specifications and a range of design choices.
An SSD cache, for instance, will significantly boost read and write speeds and will ensure rapid and easy workflow of random IOPS demanding applications (for example, virtualization). QNAP’s Qtier Technology offers Auto Tiering to help optimize storage efficiency across M.2SSD. 2.5” SSD and SATA drives.
In terms of performance of the system itself, we configured 5 clients to send traffic non-stop and monitored the results.
There are many more features here too, which include centralized email and contact management solutions and more. Ultimately, the TS-873U-RP can act like a powerful extra computer for countless applications accessible to the entire team and even collaborators that aren’t on the network. Primarily, of course, it is a place to store files, keep them up to date and secure and backup crucial information. However, it can also be much more than that.
Whatever you intend to use it for though, the TS-873U-RP is a highly capable device and can handle anything you can throw at it. If you are looking for a premium and future-proof solution, then you can’t go wrong with this one.