QNAP seem to be sharing the love across multiple processor manufacturers by pairing them with products that match their capability. In their latest lineup, the TVS-x73 series, QNAP have partnered with AMD to deliver a NAS solution based on the AMD R-Series Quad-core SoC. We take a look at the 4 disk model which comes in 3 variants:
- TVS-473-8G – 8GB entry level
- TVS-473-16G – 16GB mid-range (reviewed edition)
- TVS-473-64G – 64GB flagship
Some of the key features we noted:
- 4 x Gigabit LAN ports
- 2 x M.2 SATA SSD
- Support for SSD cache
- USB 3.1 support
- Dual HDMI out
|CPU||AMD R-Series RX-421BD quad-core 2.1 GHz processor, burst up to 3.4 GHz|
|Hardware Encryption Acceleration||Yes, AES-NI|
|Graphics||Embedded Radeon™ R7 Graphics Processor|
|System Memory||TVS-473-64G: 64GB DDR4 (4 x 16GB)
TVS-473-16G: 16GB DDR4 (2 x 8GB)
TVS-473-8G: 8GB DDR4 (2 x 4GB)
|Memory Slot||4 x SODIMM DDR4
(For dual- or quad-DIMM configurations, you must use a pair of identical DDR4 modules.)
|Flash Memory||512MB DOM|
|Hard Disk Drive||4 x 3.5"/2.5" SATA 6Gb/s HDDs/SSDs|
|M.2 SSD Slot||2 x 2280/2260 SATA 6Gb/s
Note: M.2 SSD operations can easily generate excessive heat. It is recommended to install a heatsink (from QNAP or a third-party provider) on the M.2 SSD.
|LAN Port||4 x Gigabit RJ45 LAN ports|
|PCIe Slot||2 x PCIe Gen 3 (x4), one slot is pre-installed with a dual-port USB 3.1 Type-A card|
|LCD Panel||Mono-LCD display with backlight, Enter and Select buttons for configuration|
|USB||2 x USB 3.1 port, and 4 x USB 3.0 Type-A port|
|HDMI||2, up to 3840 x 2160 @ 30Hz resolution|
|LED Indicator||Status/Power, USB, LAN, Drive 1-4, M.2 SSD 1-2|
|Button||Power/Status, USB one-touch-backup, Reset|
|IR Receiver||Yes, support QNAP RM-IR004 and MCE-compatible remotes|
|Others||Kensington security slot, system maintenance port|
|Dimension (H x W x D)||188.2 mm x 199.3 mm x 279.6 mm|
|Relative Humidity||5~95% RH non-condensing, wet bulb: 27˚C|
|Power||ATX 240W, 100-240V AC, 50-60Hz, 3.5A|
|Fan||1 x 12cm|
A quick CPU check via SSH confirms the inclusion of the AMD processor as described in the specs:
[~] # head -5 /proc/cpuinfo ; echo ; uname -a ; echo processor : 0 vendor_id : AuthenticAMD cpu family : 21 model : 96 model name : AMD Embedded R-Series RX-421BD Radeon R7 Linux NAS0DCC98 4.2.8 #1 SMP Thu Feb 16 05:47:24 CST 2017 x86_64 GNU/Linux
Design & Build
One thing we can count on with QNAP is a consistent design from model to model and apart from some minor additions, not much else has changed on the exterior:
- New colour
- Increase in length
- Additional ports in the rear
- Caddy eject process
The same applies for the internals.
Unfortunately, QNAP have gone with the plastic HDD caddy design on the TVS-x73 series. I personally prefer the aluminium caddies QNAP use on the Pro series as the plastic models feel too flimsy.
As I noted above, QNAP have changed the caddy ejection process slightly with the new model. It’s no longer a push in and pull out process:
One nice little change was the voice feedback the unit now provides instead of the old “beeeep”:
We are all fairly familiar with QTS now so I decided to run their latest 4.3 beta firmware instead (4.2 is the current stable release). There were some performance issues initially but things seemed to have settled down towards the end of our testing. We did have to reinstall a couple of the additional applications though. QTS 4.3 brings with it a refreshed design and a few extra goodies:
A new feature that QNAP have introduced is the WirelessAP Station. WirelessAP is capable of turning your QNAP TVS-x73 NAS into a wireless access point. The advantage of using WirelessAP is that it allows you to shift data heavy transactions from your regular Wireless router to the more powerful processor on the NAS. Bypassing the traditional wireless router provides a more optimal data route when devices connect directly to the QNAP NAS.
In addition to improving performance for wireless devices connected to the QNAP NAS, WirelessAP can also allow administrators to assign individual wireless NICs to different services or containers. In a practical sense, this means that you can setup a secure/private Internet of Things (IoT) environment that is fully independent of the network the NAS resides in.
Hardware Required for WirelessAP
A list of compatible wireless network cards is available on the QNAP website. For this review, we used the TP-Link TL-WDN4800, a N900 Wireless Dual Band PCI Express Adapter.
Installing the card was a straightforward process. The only annoyance was the need to remove the TVS-473 powersupply in order to gain access to the PCI Express slot.
Configuring WirelessAP Station
To complete the setup of WirelessAP, we needed to install the application from the QNAP App Center and finish a few additional configuration steps.
To test our newly created wireless access point, we used an iPhone 7 plus. The network that the TVS-473 has a capped download limit of 10Mbps.
The QNAP TVS-473 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: 11164 MB in 2.00 seconds = 5582.47 MB/sec Timing buffered disk reads: 1150 MB in 3.01 seconds = 382.43 MB/sec [~] # hdparm -Tt /dev/sda /dev/sda: Timing cached reads: 11824 MB in 2.00 seconds = 5912.73 MB/sec Timing buffered disk reads: 1156 MB in 3.00 seconds = 384.85 MB/sec [~] # hdparm -Tt /dev/sda /dev/sda: Timing cached reads: 11752 MB in 2.00 seconds = 5876.91 MB/sec Timing buffered disk reads: 1158 MB in 3.01 seconds = 385.31 MB/sec [~] #
I also configured a remote mount to the QNAP TS-563 and copied data to the TVS-473:
Finally, a disk benchmark performed under Mac OS X:
QNAP continue to impress us with the performance, ongoing development and addition of new features with their NAS products. The TVS-473 was no different, a solid performer that continued to work flawlessly under a heavy network load. I could saturate the gigabit links consistently on the client devices and the TVS-473, combined with port trunking, continued to hum along without missing a beat.
Similarly, QTS 4.3, despite being beta, was a refreshing update to its predecessor. It continues to be simple yet powerful to use with access to an abundance of 3rd party enhancements in the App Center. I did encounter a couple of minor performance issues initially but these cleared themselves out. As I was unable to replicate the issues again, I am putting this down to it being a beta version.
Lastly, WirelessAP. QNAP did this with Virtualisation Station, and they have done it again with the WirelessAP Station. The lines are truly blurred when it comes to a NAS being just a NAS. With the addition of WirelessAP, the TVS-473 becomes more than just a “NAS” in the traditional sense. It’s now an integral part of the household entertainment eco system serving both content and access. WirelessAP was easy to install and worked well. The only disadvantage is that if you go down this route, to add 10Gbps capability you will need to decide between WirelessAP and USB 3.1 to free up a PCI Express slot.
Overall, the QNAP TVS-473 was a great product. If you are in the market for a NAS with additional features such as 10Gbps or Wireless capabilities (via optional cards), you will want to have this one on your shortlist.
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