First Looks - QNAP TS-879U-RP eAegis Review

 

QNAP TS-879U-RP the 8-bay Rack-Mount Enterprise NAS server

Our previous first-looks featured the Thecus N8900 model that seem to have mirror specification for the newly launched QNAP TS-879U-RP 8-bay NAS server reviewed here. The TS-879U-RP is a direct replacement for the TS-809U-RP model that served QNAP well for just over two years, and incidentally was one of the successful models in QNAP’s NAS armor. The early demand indicators for the TS-879U-RP seem to clearly point towards a bright future for their X79 product range.

The prominent changes include improved features, coupled with the newly launched QNAP Storage Manager (QSM) revision 3.5, updated hardware specification now providing support for SATA 6Gb/s, USB 3.0 as well as the long awaited and most wished for feature the 10GbE PCI-e expansion slot for optional upgrade to 10GbE fiber optic /copper solution, which will compete firstly with the Thecus product range that had this option as late back as 2009. QNAP has instantly acquired a new breed of customer with this upgrade option as the trend is clearly towards improved bandwidth allowing large files to pass data quickly with a superior level of data protection, with new features as a result of improved hardware specification. QNAP currently makes available a handful of Intel cards 10GbE as officially supported, this list is not exhaustive as we are informed and more options will be shortly added including possible routers/switches supporting 10GbE standard.

QNAP has also improved its functionality for replication making it a little more easy to use and allow customers to replicate both locally and remotely, the downward spiral of prices has greatly helped users to buy a bunch of units for deploying replication thus adding an extra layer of protection for disaster recovery purposes. QNAP has clearly listened to not only its customer base with its most wanted feature on its wish list, but also working closely with its partners and heeding guidance and made a huge improvement in the replication module for accommodating all the newly added extra functionalities.

The QNAP TS-879U-RP does have a slightly different new case design, which includes a new power button position that has been camouflaged to reside behind a pull-back lever (rocker arm) avoiding any accidental illegal power down disasters.

The central core of the TS-879U-RP hosts the Intel Core i3-2120 processor integrates 2 cores at 3.3GHz and supported with 2GB of DDR3 memory allowing for a well rounded and structured specification. We are also duly informed that the memory can be upgraded to add a total of 8GB; this would entail removal of the 2GB module that is inside the unit. QNAP will shortly provide a full set of available memory modules for upgrades currently they only provide a 2GB memory module. The memory upgrade is only ever important in two instances. Firstly, is when large files are being transferred in single session, secondly the NAS is being used in a virtual mode that requires multiple sessions and memory is always a tremendous performance boost.

Out of the Box

The outer box is a retail affair and up to the usual QNAP standards and has excellent packaging. Considerable thought and effort has gone into the packaging to ensure prevention of transit damage. All the main accessory are packed in a separate box to avoid confusion inclusive of the screws required if you want to BYO disks and install in a diskless unit, as well as a getting started guide and a CD that contains everything including a User’s Manual. Packaging is more than adequate. The only negative pointer is the omission by QNAP for removing the Mounting Rails and offering these as an optional extra. We would have hoped and would indeed urge QNAP to reconsider providing these as standard as this becomes a source of hassle to many potential customers.

NOTE: Buying a system pre-populated with drives? Do not fret eAegis provides all its customers with a comprehensive QA checklist detailing all the product serial numbers for asset and warranty management. In addition to the system being prepared with the customer preferred RAID all tested and ready to use out of the Box

Usability and Esthetics

The TS-879U-RP case feels solid and the hot-swap trays are a new design with a spring loaded push back button to release the lever and allow removal, somewhat improvement over the old tug and pull affair. Overall, improved and more clinical then the previous revision as it also slides in more easily than the older version which had at times been very irritating. The unit seems more compact than normal 2U rack mount units and is not very heavy which could be a blessing in disguise to people with back problems. The unit is rather loud on boot-up, but settles to an adequate 2U rack mount standard. The design allows a sensible airflow and keeps all the drives and units to a sensible and acceptable temperature. Overall, a neat and compact looking unit that has all the necessary requirements to deliver a powerful storage solution, with the peaceful reassurance QNAP will be there if help and warranty is required.

The overall dimensions measures in at 3.46(H) x 17.28(W) x 20.47(D) inch.

Connectivity Suite

Connectivity is above average with 2 x RJ45 (Ethernet) ports using the Intel 82574L supporting 10/100/1000 modes with WOL supported, we would have preferred to see 3 ports allowing the ability to connect one exclusively for replication purposes as we see this increasing in section of business this unit is aimed at. This is coupled with 4 x USB 2.0 and 2 x USB 3.0 ports all located at the back of the unit. A neat password and network reset button is also provided for in case we fumble or lose our password settings and we can go back to point zero!, neat touch. Finally QNAP has allowed expansion slot upgrades and in particular for installing the optional 10GbE expansion port/s. Companies with higher-end needs can install 10GbE Ethernet adapters, allowing you to use either traditional fiber or high-performance/low-cost base-T cable solutions.

Notable Features

The QNAP TS-879U-RP is packed with features mainly for business but professional home users will not feel abandoned. The features have clearly been optimized to make full use of the new powerful hardware design. QNAP has an uncanny knack of being able to optimize thus ensuring we get more bang for our buck.

iSCSI and Virtualization support

The QNAP TS-879U-RP supports both iSCSI and NAS modes allowing multi-tasking storage repository with full VMware, Citrix ready and Windows Hyper-V compliancy. The built in iSCSI service also supports SPC-3 persistent reservation feature for clustering in VMware and Windows Server 2008. This is a useful service allowing setting up of Failover Cluster environments for that extra data protection.

Real-time Remote Replication

Real-time Remote Replication (RTRR) provides real-time or scheduled data replication between the TS-879U-RP and a remote QNAP NAS, an FTP server, or an external drive.

Cloud Storage

The TS-879U-RP supports Amazon S3 and ElephantDrive cloud storage backup that provides several backup modes inclusive of real-time, scheduled backup and versioning control so that the data can be restored from any point of time. We were unable to test this as it required account handlers and a valid user to test, no test area for reviewers! We are unable to verify the performance aspects of transferring large chunks of data back and forth.

Backup Server

The TS-879U-RP offers complete backup solutions with Apple Time Machine support, remote replication to an Rsync server, Windows client backup software QNAP NetBak Replicator, and third party backup software support.

Advanced RAID Management with Hot-swap Design

RAID is the main reason why a NAS is what it is, basically to be able to share, secure and store data, RAID is required to meet all those requirements, and being an 8-bay NAS it has to have a scalable design by supporting various RAID levels. The TS-879U-RP provides RAID 0, 1, 5, 5+hot spare, 6, 6+hot spare, 10, 10+hotspare, single disk, and JBOD support and these can be divided in Multiple Volumes if needed. Global Hot Spare feature allows the administrator to share spare drives with multiple RAID volumes on the TS-879U-RP. When a hard drive fails in any RAID volume, the global hot-spare drive will automatically replace the failed drive providing for a quick warranty replacement, without any downtime.

Performance

The anticipation was sometimes all too much for all of us, as this was the most major announcement that was to come from QNAP. With the rumor mill playing havoc we were able to glean the possible specification and the expectation for a high performance range of NAS servers commenced to formulate. It is with this heightened anticipation of the TS-879U-RP being the fastest NAS in its class. We do not expect the TS-879U-RP to disappoint.

Test Environment

QNAP TS-879U-RP (4x1000GB – Enterprise Class)
Firmware Revision: Version: v 3.5.0 Build0816
RAID set to Level 5 (RAID 5)

Network

HP ProCurve 1810G-24 Managed Switch

Test Method

There are two tests that we used to measure performance on the Windows platform: Real-World testing utility that consist of workload traces gathered from typical digital home applications, traces of high definition video playback and recording, office productivity applications, video rendering/content creation as well as a broad range of different applications, using 1024 KB sequential block reads and writes on a 2 GB test file, as well as Drag & Drop of a 2 GB file over CIFS, Windows default network protocol.

RWT results for TS-879U0RP

RWT-RAID 5 – Write MB/s 127.2 – Read – 129.1

The Real World Test performances results are an average of twelve full test cycles. The QNAP TS-879U-RP just pips the Thecus N8900 it is very negligible but it is as is, faster by a whisker. Read and Write speeds are a credible 129.1 MB/s and 127.2 MB/s respectively.

DRAG & DROP – RAID 5 - Write MB/s 109.3 – Read – 111.2

drag and drop results for TS-879U-RP

Drag and Drop is a methodology used by a majority of users to move data back and forth on their individual systems. As such, we feel this method should form an integral part of our testing of products and to ensure a return in results depict realistic processes. Drag and Drop results for the QNAP are most impressive, even though the unit has only 2GB of memory and not 8GB as is in the Thecus N8900. We were suitably impressed with the QNAP TS-879U-RP and with a 3-year warranty it will take some beating.

Overall Conclusion

The QNAP TS-879U-RP performance was outstanding as was the ease of use, the two factors that are major indicators of a quality server. The feature set is vastly improved and will be a boon for QNAP in their quest to steal the march in the market share tussle. QNAP continues to reinvent by constantly upping the ante and with the new range having a 3 year warranty, it really does round off an excellent unit that has come home to roost, and produce the golden egg for QNAP.

This review is courtesy of eAegis.com Product Testing and Evaluation Division. Please email reviews@eaegis.com for any comments you may wish to share with us. We welcome customer feedback. September 23, 2011.

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