QNAP TS-509 Pro Turbo NAS

Nov 24th, 2008 | By

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QNAP TS-509 Pro Turbo NAS


Date
: 11/24/08 – 03:40:33 AM

Author
:

Category
: Storage


Page 1 : Index

Manufacturer
QNAP

Storage space has simply gotten cheaper and cheaper as the years go by. It was maybe a decade ago when 20 GB was considered a lot of space, now we'll find people sporting more than 2 TB on their personal network. I'm no exception with 3.5 TB at home. As the prices of hard drives continue to drop, we tend to buy more and more hard drives. But what do you do when your case is full? Enter the QNAP TS-509 Pro.

logo

QNAP has only been around since this decade but they have specialized on 30 products delivering Linux embedded platforms for network storage and digital network surveillance. They have a whole list of features available on their NAS units that sets them apart from the rest. The TS-509 Pro is no exception and today we'll take a look at some of the features and how well it'll perform for you.

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Page 2 : Package

The TS-509 Pro may be a compact unit, but QNAP spares no expense on the packaging. The box is at least four times larger than the NAS itself and every inch of the surface area is put to good use. The front of the box shows a large picture of exactly what the TS-509 Pro looks like. It lists several key features and applications and QNAP proudly boasts the fact that they use an Intel (Celeron) 1.6 GHz processor with 1 GB of memory. The back of the box highlights performance details and other details on the different features available.

pkg pkg

The side of the package shows some additional specifications and key features in different languages.

pkg pkg

The box comes with two fold out lids and both hold a little bit of information. The outer lid provides technical support contacts and various serial numbers and UPC labels. The cover below outlines a three step process of setting up the NAS. We'll be covering this in much more detail but the option is available if you're in a hurry.

pkg pkg


Page 3 : Specifications

There is an unbelievable amount of information on the QNAP TS-509 Pro available on the QNAP website, go check it out if you're in the market for a NAS. If this unit is overkill, there are many more units you can choose from. Here's how QNAP introduces the TS-509 Pro:

Powered by Intel Celeron 1.6 GHz CPU, 1GB DDRII memory, the TS-509 Pro delivers superior performance for multiple business applications and intensive concurrent data access. The Linux OS and applications of the NAS are embedded in the flash DOM that higher stability is guaranteed. Moreover, the dual Gigabit LAN ports can be configured as Failover, Load balancing, or serving two different subnets which enables more deployment options in a business network environment. With versatile server features, best-in-class RAID data protection, and rock-solid hot swappable hard drive design, the TS-509 Pro brings business nowadays a truly new experience of instant data access and sharing, a protected mass storage, value-plus server features at the lowest maintenance cost.

From a hardware perspective, and this is what interests me the most, here's a copy of what the TS-509 Pro has under the shell.

spec

The TS-509 Pro supports a maximum of 5 TB which is an astronomical amount of data but I do hope a firmware can be released to support 7.5 TB as Seagate has released a 1.5 TB drive. The average price for that drive is 190USD which isn't too expensive given the market value of the TS-509 Pro.

Another feature supported by the TS-509 Pro is the dual Gigabit Ethernet ports. This opens up the option of allowing different work groups to access certain folders or allow the second network port to jump into action should the first go down.

In addition to the 5 internal hard drives, QNAP provides you with 1 eSATA port and 5 USB ports with the option of doing a one-touch backup in case RAID 5 isn't enough for you.

From the software perspective, you basically have a small computer packaged together and operated from a simple web interface. All the basic features of a Linux server are available: File Server, FTP Server, Backup Server, Printer Server, Web Server, Remote replication and access, MySQL, Media Server, iTunes Server, Multimedia Station and Download Station. All of this is possible through the Linux operating system. All the management features you thought you would want to monitor your own server is available, this includes temperatures, system logs, access logs, disk management, software updates and network settings.

spec pkg

Given all the flexibility of the QNAP TS-509 Pro the number of features are almost endless.


Page 4 : Package Content & Internals

I mentioned earlier in the review that the TS-509 Pro arrived in a very large box and inside, every square inch is put to good use. When you invest $900 USD on a piece of equipment, you want it to arrive in one piece. Cracking open the box we see an accessories box sandwiched between 2 inches of foam.

pc pc

Inside the accessories box we have a manual, driver CD, power cord, Cat 5e cable, a pair of keys to lock the drives in place and a bag full of screws to mount each hard drive.

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Pulling out the TS-509 and packing, you see how much protection the TS-509 Pro gets. The unit is bagged in addition to being floated in foam. The only way QNAP can beef up this unit is if they sent it to me with the secret service! After removing the layers of protection, it's amazing how simple the TS-509 Pro looks.

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A majority of the front is taken up by the 5 hot-swappable drive bays. Above the drive bays we have the LCD display and to the left we have the power button followed by a series of LEDs, the one-touch backup button and a USB port.

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The rest of the chassis resembles a small PC. The case is pretty plain with no side fans or ventilation grills.

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Towards the back we have a single 12cm exhaust fan, a 40mm exhaust fan for the power supply, 4 USB ports, 1 eSATA port, 2 Gigabit Ethernet connections and RS-232 and VGA ports both of which are blocked off.

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Towards the bottom of the TS-509 Pro we have 4 rubber feet. There's a little bit of traction to keep the NAS from sliding around but the sheer weight with five hard drives installed should prevent the NAS from moving short of being picked up by someone.

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Voiding the warranty and opening up the case I was able to poke around and see what was inside.

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QNAP has done an excellent job with the wiring and maximizing airflow through the unit. Cables are bunched up and zip tied together in addition to being as short as possible.

pc pc

QNAP has used every SATA port available on this motherboard, however you can see in the photo above that 3 more ports could have been added!

We already know that a Celeron 1.6 GHz processor is the brains behind the unit and to fill in some specification gaps, I'm happy to report that QNAP has a stick of Transcend memory and a 128 MB Apacer ADMII flash drive to hold operating data.

pc pc

The specifications also list a 250W power supply and I'm extremely happy to report that a Seasonic power supply was installed in my sample. Seasonic makes fabulous power supplies and you shouldn't have to worry about poor quality or short shelf life.

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I attempted to take the motherboard out but didn't have any success in that so we'll move onto installing some hard drives.


Page 5 : Installation

The installation portion of this review will be covered in two sections. We begin with the installation of the hardware. To demo the installation I'll use a Seagate 80 GB hard drive but for testing purposes I'll be using five Seagate 7200.11 500 GB, 32 MB cache, NCQ drives. Before you go out and buy your hard drives, you should check the compatibilty page to ensure the drives are compatible. Most new drives can be used without any problem.

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Hard drive installation is quite simple, first pull out the drive cage and with each drive, thread in 4 screws to attach the drive to the bottom of the drive cage. To pull the drive cage out, you'll need to flip the hinge to pop the cage out. After that, you can pull it out. I don't recommend pulling the cage out by the handle as it's not sturdiest piece of hardware.

install install

install install

Once the drive is secured to the cage, you'll want to insert it back into the TS-509 Pro. By pushing the drive all the way in, the hard drive will make contact with the power and SATA ports.

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The drive gets locked once you push the lever back down. As added security, you can lock the drive in with the supplied key.

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Once your drives have been installed, connect the TS-509 Pro to your router/switch, plug in a power cord and boot the unit up. The drive will start some diagnostics and ask if you would like to configure the hard drives. I skipped all these steps and went directly to the supplied CD.

The CD auto-played in Windows XP SP2 and selecting the TS-509 Pro as my NAS unit I got the option to install several applications. The first one you'll want to install is the NAS finder. This will scan your network and detect the name and IP of your TS-509 Pro.

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Once the TS-509 Pro has been detected, you can view the device details or proceed to set up the NAS.

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The default login and username is ‘admin’. On the next page we'll go over the individual setup steps.


Page 6 : Web Interface

The web interface is very self explanatory. As you work your way through, you can quickly setup the NAS through the 6 step quick configuration or you can work your way through the details of: System Setting, Network Setting, Device Configuration, User Management, Network Share Management, System Tools and System Logs. I first went through the Quick Configuration and then tweaked the setup by going through each individual settings page. Depending on your needs, there will be a lot of things you can just skip. Below you will find a photo gallery of the web interface.

webadmin webadmin webadmin webadmin webadmin webadmin webadmin webadmin webadmin


Page 7 : Test Setup

Depending on your hard drive configuration and hard drives selected, your performance will very greatly with the QNAP TS-509 Pro. As I mentioned earlier, I'm using five Seagate 7200.11 500 GB, 32 MB cache, NCQ hard drives. The NAS was connected up to my network through a D-Link DIR-655 Xtreme N Gigabit router. Also connected to this router is my primary test bed from which files will be copied to and from. My test bed consists of:

The primary benchmarking application will be Iozone followed by a quick run with Nodesoft Diskbench. Here's a blurb on Iozone and how it works:

IOzone is a file system benchmark tool. The benchmark generates and measures a variety of file operations. IOzone has been ported to many machines and runs under many operating systems. IOzone is useful for performing a broad file system analysis of a vendor's computer platform. While computers are typically purchased with an application in mind it is also likely that over time the application mix will change. Many vendors have enhanced their operating systems to perform well for some frequently used applications. Although this accelerates the I/O for those few applications it is also likely that the system may not perform well for other applications that were not targeted by the operating system. An example of this type of enhancement is: Database. Many operating systems vendors have tested and tuned the file system so it works well with databases. While the database users are happy, the other users may not be so happy as the entire system may be giving all of the system resources to the database users at the expense of all other users. As time rolls on the system administrator may decide that a few more office automation tasks could be shifted to this machine. The load may now shift from a random reader application (database) to a sequential reader. The users may discover that the machine is very slow when running this new application and become dissatisfied with the decision to purchase this platform. By using IOzone to get a broad file system performance coverage the buyer is much more likely to see any hot or cold spots and pick a platform and operating system that is more well balanced.

IOzone is a command line operated testing utility; we will be using the following command.
iozone -Rab [filename] -i 0 -i 1 -q 64K -n 32M -g 5G -f [test location]

'-i 0 -i 1'
Write/ Re-Write, Read/ Re-Read tests
Read: Performance measured by reading an existing file
Re-Read: Reading a file which has already been read, tests the utilization of cache
Write: Performance of writing a file to the disk
Re-Write: Re- Writes a file that already exists on the disk

'-q 64k'
Maximum record size of 64Kb, 4Kb, 8Kb, 16Kb, 32Kb, 64Kb

'-n 32M -g 4G'
Minimum file size of 32MB and maximum file size of 4GB

'[file name].xls'
Location where to write test results

'[test location]'
Target of tests


Page 8 : Iozone Performance

Just a Bunch of Disks
(JBOD) is probably going to be the least used configuration setup with the QNAP TS-509. You wouldn't buy an expensive networking device only to do what a regular PC slapped together could handle. While the performance of JBOD isn't bad, it offers no advantages of redundancy that an enterprise user would want. The only time JBOD has an advantage is when you have drives of different sizes.

results

results

From the results above, you can see that I averaged a read rate of 50 MB/s and a read and write rate around the 50 MB/s mark.

RAID 0
is the most popular amongst enthusiasts. RAID 0 splits data across usually two and occasionally more disks. Because of this, RAID 0, like JBOD is left without data redundancy. With each additional disk attached to a RAID 0 setup, failure rate is increased. Any individual disk failing in a RAID 0 setup causes the entire array to fail. I don't recommend RAID 0 for anyone with information they wouldn't want to lose.

results

results

The write performance with RAID 0 sits in the mid 50 MB/s and the read performance also hovers in the 50 MB/s mark. I would have thought the performance gain with RAID 0 over JBOD would be more than 10%.

RAID 1
mirrors your hard drives so each stores the same information. If one drive fails, the second drive will still have your data. This test was only conducted with two drives in use. As you can expect, the performance will decrease to allow for mirroring.

results

results

As predicted, the RAID 1 performance drops for both read and write. For write, we see a typical speed of 30 MB/s. The read speed hits a maximum of 50 MB/s and drops dramatically once the file size increases above 512 MB.

RAID 5
combines both speed and redundancy, a combination of RAID 1 and 0 so to speak but not like RAID 10. Total storage is the combined total number of all disks, minus one, as redundancy where parity is distributed over all disks in the array. RAID 5 is perhaps the cheapest way to boost hard disk performance while keeping data relatively safe.

results

results

When combining both speed and redundancy, you're left with a performance somewhere in-between RAID 0 and RAID 1. It turns out that you'll average 40 MB/s for writing on RAID 5. That's 10 MB/s below RAID 0 and 10 MB/s above RAID 1 – funny how that worked out. The read speed maxed out just over 50 MB/s, no performance drop there.


Page 9 : Nodesoft DiskBench

Nodesoft is probably a little easier for everyone to understand. I simply took a 4.68 GB file and copied it from my secondary hard drive to the NAS. Nodesoft times the transfer and spits out a transfer rate. You can see that the write performance I obtained from Iozone is similar to performance of Nodesoft. You can consider this as a type of validation. It's never enough to judge a product from just one benchmark.

results


Page 10 : Conclusion

I must admit that the QNAP TS-509 Pro has certainly been a handy device to have around the home. I'm able to dump all my files onto the drive and be able to access it anywhere. With up to 5 TB of storage, the saying ‘you can never have enough hard drive space’ might actually come to an end at my house.

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From start to finish, QNAP has done everything right with the TS-509 Pro. The packaging is simple and filled with useful information for the customer looking at one at a store. The product is packaged securely with no place to go and well protected from any possible scratches or dents during shipment. The specifications scream high end with dual gigabit networking, RAID 0, 1, 5 and 6 for five hot-swappable SATA II drives.

To top it all off, the software configuration allows it to be a media center, file server and a web and dataserver all in one. If anything, the only downfall is the short 1 year warranty offered by QNAP. Regardless, this is one device that deserves our Power Award.

power

Advantages

  • Endless features with simple configuration

  • Five drive support with additional USB support
  • Gigabit performance
  • Durable and elegant enclosure

Disadvantages

  • One year warranty

  • Priced for businesses and enterprises

Overclockers Online would like to thank QNAP for making this review possible.

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