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Maximum PC Staff Dec 09, 2010

NAS : Qnap TS-459 Pro+

At A Glance

THE FOUNTAIN

Tremendous amount of easy-to-configure features, ample connectivity, crazy speeds, informative LCD panel, lockable hard drive bays, automated firmware updates

THE FOUNTAINHEAD

Slow to boot up, slightly bulky size (and weight) for bookshelf use, duplicated features like two similar multimedia-serving web interfaces, very high price

For the price of this NAS Box, it had better be fast!

How do we love thee, Qnap?  Let us count the ways.

We say that not to be facetious, or even because we’re closet Qnap fanboys who refuse to accept any other product in our personal home networking setup. We must admit, however, that we are running a super-old version of a Qnap storage product—and, to be honest, it’s virtually the same in function as Qnap’s recent TS-459 Pro+ release.

But that’s not really a problem.

It’s a credit to Qnap’s engineering that the firmware updates the company has released for its various assortments of network-attached storage devices can deliver the same kind of functionality regardless of the actual construction of said devices.  Or, to put it another way, you’ll find the same, delightful load-out of things to do, tweak, and configure on the previously reviewed TS-239 Pro Turbo NAS as the currently reviewed TS-459 Pro+ device... with a few minor exceptions, of course.

For starters, the TS-459 Pro+ (hereafter referred to as simply the “TS-459”) is a dual-gigabit device. It’s a nice little touch for more complicated networking environments like, say, a small business setting. Most homes networks will not run two distinct, separate LANs within their own home or apartment, but if you just so happen to, know that you can easily connect your TS-459 up to both networks for access by users on either network. The device also supports port trunking for increased networking redundancy. Again however, this is another feature that you’ll end up skipping within the TS-459’s simple configuration screens.



The true name of the TS-459’s game is speed. This is one of the fastest network-attached-storage devices we’ve tested, period—and that’s just using the TS-459’s factory default setting of a RAID 5 array split across four 750GB Western Digital Caviar Black drives (not included, alas). Transferring a single 2.7-gigabyte file from our test system to the NAS box took less time than an average television commercial at nearly 30 seconds on the dot. Copying over a 659-megabyte chunk of 180 files took about the same time as a good yawn: ten seconds or less.

We’d expect nothing but the best, however, for a networking device that hits an MSRP of $850, not including the drives.  But it does beg a question: With its included Intel Atom 1.8-GHz CPU and 1 gigabyte of DRAM, at what point does this device merit consideration as a full-fledged (albeit netbook-comparable) system or server? It’s awesome that the TS-459 comes with two eSATA ports on its rear and a total of five USB ports across its front and back—so does a conventional desktop system, of course. We can certainly assure you that the Qnap is nothing less than a fully featured, working network storage product. And all you need to do to gain access to this glory is to gently slide a hard drive into one of its four, front-facing trays.

Amongst the TS-459’s many consumer-grade features are the inclusion of standard iTunes and Twonky Media-based media streaming services that make it super-easy to stream files of all kinds to the various devices littered about your house and/or living room. The good ol’ BitTorrent downloader is here as well, forever eliminating your need to keep your main PC on at night when grabbing or sharing Linux distros.

A fun little QPKG feature allows you to install new data packages directly onto the device, just in case you want a means for automatically setting up, say, a Wordpress installation on the Qnap’s built-in Web server, or if you want to open up your transcoding abilities with PS3 Media Server instead of the TS-459’s proprietary multimedia station.  It’s like an App Store for your NAS box!

The same kind of access limitations are present in this incarnation of Qnap’s configuration screen as any other—just as before, we appreciate the ability to meticulously set up share rights for users (or groups thereof), to best ensure that friends on your apartment network can’t access your critical data unless you want them to.

We could go on, but doing so would exceed this article’s capacity to be interesting—the TS-459 has that many different bells and whistles nestled beneath its slick gray exterior. It's worth mentioning that s peed freaks get RAID 1, 0, 5, and 6 support to best balance your need for fast transfers with your fear of data loss.  For IT managers, you get the aforementioned dual-networking setup alongside remote power scheduling, iSCSI support, virtual disk integration, and the typical FTP, SSH, and UPNP (or Bonjour) connection options you’d expect from a full-featured device like this.

And, for consumers, you simply get one of the fastest NAS boxes on the planet, one that that allows you to connect an obscene number of external devices to for easy backups, file sharing, and media streaming.

While I would warn Qnap to resist bloat within its software (do we really need a Multimedia Station and a UPnP Media Server?) and to find a way to improve the bootup time of the TS-459 itself, which is four minutes and counting, its other tweaks, like the ability to set up RAID volumes straight from the TS-459’s front-panel LCD screen are just downright cool.

Qnap’s TS-459 Pro+ is worth its weight in gold—and it costs just about that much, too.

THE VERDICT

NAS : Qnap TS-459 Pro+

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