QNAP TS-253B ......................................................

AS POW­ER­FUL AS IT IS VER­SA­TILE

PC & Tech Authority - - CONTENTS - Ben­nett Ring

F or a twin bay NAS, this is one se­verely ex­pen­sive de­vice. We’re ac­cus­tomed to four bays at this price point, so to charge $800 for a twin bay drive, QNAP has to have done some­thing rather spe­cial with its lat­est home con­sumer NAS. The good news is that it has.

Most twin-bay NAS de­vices don’t come with a lot of grunt un­der the hood, but that can’t be said of this pow­er­ful lit­tle box. Be­fore we delve in­side, let’s take a look at the sleek new look that QNAP has gone for. An all-black fin­ish is high­lighted by a me­tal­lic blue plate on the front right face which houses sev­eral in­puts. There’s an OLED dis­play at the top that shows you the ba­sic info, while two ca­pac­i­tive but­tons al­low you to scroll through the de­tails. To ac­cess the drive bays, the front panel slides to the left, and each drive bay can be re­moved with­out any tools. Each bay can han­dle 3.5in and 2.5in drives.

On the front there’s also an SD slot for up­load­ing cam­era or video footage, as well as a USB 3.0 Type-A and USB 3.0 Type-C con­nec­tor, mak­ing file trans­fers from your PC su­per-fast. There’s also a small but­ton un­der­neath the USB con­nec­tor; sim­ply plug in your USB disk, hit the but­ton, and ev­ery­thing is au­to­mat­i­cally copied o’ the USB drive to the NAS.

Head­ing to the rear re­veals that this is ba­si­cally a mini-PC. There are twin Gi­ga­bit Eth­er­net ports, which both sup­port Link Ag­gre­ga­tion for 2Gbit/sec speeds. It has twin HDMI 1.4 out­puts, four USB 3.0 Type A ports, two mi­cro­phone in and one head­phone out. We’re not quite sure why they went with twin mic in­puts, but we’re sure some­body will find a way to use the ex­tra one. A tiny speaker is also in­cluded, and the unit uses voice prompts to let you know when cer­tain ac­tions are tak­ing place, such as pow­er­ing up or down. A Real­tek sound codec is also in­cluded so you can con­nect it di­rectly to your TV, though it’s rather low-end; we’d much rather plug it into a qual­ity AV re­ceiver in­stead.

There’s even a PCIe ex­pan­sion slot, which can be used to house QNAP’s twin 10GbE card, or a twin M.2 card. The SSDs can be used for caching, sim­i­lar to In­tel’s Op­tane tech­nol­ogy. If you’d only like to use one M.2 SSD, there’s a card for that too, which in­cludes a 10GbE con­nec­tion. There’s also a USB 3.1 10Gbps card for even faster trans­fer speeds. Fi­nally, there’s a Wi-Fi card that can be used as a wire­less ac­cess point.

When it comes to the hard­ware that pow­ers all of this, QNAP has re­ally gone to town. At its heart is In­tel’s Celeron J3455 quad-core CPU, which has a de­fault speed of 1.5 GHz, but can boost up to 2.3 GHz. The de­fault me­mory op­tion is 4GB, but this can be up­graded to 8GB, but even with the min­i­mum, this NAS has the per­for­mance to power Plex live transcod­ing thanks to that speedy lit­tle CPU. This is one of the few NAS de­vices at this price point that can do so, go­ing a long way to jus­ti­fy­ing the rather high price. There’s even a re­mote so you can sit back on the couch and scroll through your movies with­out hav­ing to get up.

As ex­pected, the in­ter­face is im­mac­u­late, al­beit al­most iden­ti­cal to Synol­ogy’s. We love the sup­port for ad­di­tional plug-ins that en­able far more func­tion­al­ity. There are now dozens of apps avail­able in the app store, and they’re all free. A few key ex­am­ples are DJ2 stream­ing soft­ware, Vir­tu­al­i­sa­tion Sta­tion to op­er­ate sev­eral VMs on the NAS and QmailA­gent, which al­lows you to cen­tralise all of your various email ac­counts (G-mail, out­look, etc) into one cen­tral ac­count.

While the price might be high, so too is the fea­ture set. It’s re­ally aimed at the home me­dia NAS mar­ket, but it also has the grunt to be a nice lit­tle NAS for a small home o£ce. If only it had four bays in­stead of two, it’d be per­fect – but that’s the next in the range, which costs con­sid­er­ably more. Over­all: It’s not cheap, but it sure is ver­sa­tile and pow­er­ful.

“QNAP has re­ally gone to town with the hard­ware that pow­ers all of this”

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