[REVIEW] QNAP TS-469L 4-bay NAS
It had been a while since we last received a QNAP product to be reviewed. As it happens, last week the gods favored us and brought in one of QNAP’s recent additions in their 4-bay SOHO/SMB NAS segment: The TS-469L.
The TS-469L puts itself between its little sister, the TS-419P II and bigger brother, the TS-469 Pro. What sets it apart from “little sister” TS-419P II is the fact that the TS469L has about double the capacity in memory (and is expandable), has a much more potent CPU and comes with the VGA/HDMI outputs allowing for the brand now HD Station features. The “bigger brother” TS-469 Pro doesn’t have that many differences versus the “L” version, lockable trays and a list of certified server features printed on the box and most noticeably 2 extra buttons on the LED display for ‘touch-n-go’ configuration are the only things separating the Pro model from the L version.
QNAP TS-469L’s key features:
- Centralized Storage and backup
- Share and stream your media contents
- Access your files anywhere
- Direct video playback with XBMC
- Download BT and videos
- Mobile access
What we notice is that QNAP used to be the company putting their speed and built quality in the spotlight, now we see a company steering towards advertising the features that actually matter the most to your average day user. Backup, sharing, access features & cloud services, downloads and video playback are possibly the best way to sum up what most people do with their “black box”.
- CPU: Intel® Atom™ 2.13 GHz Dual-core Processor
- DRAM: 1GB RAM (Expandable RAM, up to 3GB) The system memory can be increased up to 3GB by installing an additional 1GB/2GB SO-DIMM RAM module.
- Flash Memory: 512MB DOM
- Hard Disk Drive: 4 x 3.5” or 2.5” SATA 3Gb/s hard drive or SSD
- Hard Disk Tray: 4 x Hot-swappable tray
- LAN Port: 2 x Gigabit RJ-45 Ethernet port
- LED Indicators: Status, LAN, USB, eSATA, Power, HDD 1, HDD 2, HDD 3,
- USB 2 x USB 3.0 port (Back: 2)
- 5x USB 2.0 port (Front: 1; Back: 4)
- Support USB printer, pen drive, USB hub, and USB UPS etc.
- eSATA: 2 x eSATA port (Back)
- Buttons: System: Power button, USB One-Touch-Backup Button, Reset button
- Alarm Buzzer / System warning
- Form Factor: Tower
- Dimensions: 177 (H) x 180 (W) x 235 (D) mm
- 6.97 (H) x 7.09 (W) x 9.25 (D) inch
- Net weight: 3.65 kg (8.04 lbs)
- Gross weight: 4.65 kg (10.24 lbs)
- Sound Level (dB) HDD sleep: 13.7 dB
- In operation: 22.4 dB (with 4 x 500GB HDDs installed)
- Power Consumption Sleep mode: 25W / In Operation:43W
- Power-off (in WOL mode): 1W (with 4 x 500GB HDD installed)
- Temperature : 0-40˚C
- Humidity: 0~95% R.H.
- Power Supply: Input: 100-240V AC, 50/60Hz, Output: 250W
- Secure Design: K-lock security slot for theft prevention
- VGA: Reserved VGA interface for maintenance
- Fan: 1 x quiet cooling fan (9 cm, 12V DC)
On the software side the most notable features are:
- Multi-LUNs per Target
- Up to 256 Targets/LUNs Combined
- Supports LUN Mapping & Masking
- Online LUN Capacity Expansion
- Supports SPC-3 Persistent Reservation
- Supports MPIO & MC/S
- iSCSI LUN Backup, One-time Snapshot, and Restore
- iSCSI Connection and Management by QNAP Finder (Windows)
- Virtual Disk Drive (via iSCSI Initiator)
- Stack Chaining Master
- Max No. of Virtual Disk Drives: 8
When it comes to server virtualization & clustering we see support for all of the 3 major standards: VMware vSphere, Citrix XenServer & Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V & Failover Clustering.
Security features integrated:
- IP Filter and Policy-based Automatic IP Blocking
- Network Access Protection with Auto-blocking: SSH, Telnet, HTTP(S), FTP, CIFS/SMB, AFP
- Encrypted Access: HTTPS, FTP with SSL/TLS (Explicit), SSH/SFTP (admin only), Encrypted Remote Replication between QNAP NAS Servers (Rsync over SSH)
- CIFS Host Access Control for Shared Folders
- Antivirus Protection
- FIPS 140-2 Validated AES 256-bit Volume-based Data Encryption*
- AES 256-bit External Drive Encryption*
- Importable SSL Certificate
- Instant Alert via E-mail, SMS, Instant Messaging (Windows Live), and Beep
For the full list of features (such as Backup, replication, photo station, itunes server, etc…) please click here.
Design wise QNAP’s TS-469L doesn’t really draw much attention to itself, and that’s not really a bad thing since most people put their NAS somewhere out of sight or don’t want it to be “too visual” in case they integrate as HTPC/DLNA home server.
The device comes in an all-black front (panel, brackets & buttons) and gunmetal grey enclosure. A nice feature are the status LEDs (Status, LAN, USB, eSATA) and the hard disk tray LEDs, both are made slightly matte, a good thing when being placed and used for the XMBC HD Station features. In previous product iterations the LED used to be brighter, to some user’s annoyance.
Built quality remains very much up to par to what we’ve seen in the past, QNAP never compromises. This one, just like any other unit, is solid rolled steel with PVC front bezel. Choice of internal components, the possibility to upgrade to 3GB SO-DIMM and now compatibility with the QNAP Remote control to get the best out of HD Station, shows QNAP is constantly innovating. Still, that said a QNAP unit always esthetically looks “like a QNAP unit”… Never change a winning design right?
This subject is a bit of a tricky one. QNAP could get away with a low-rpm 120mm fan in this device, yet they opted for a 92mm self-proclaimed ‘silent’ cooling fan. 22.4DB isn’t that particularly silent. It is in every respect taking proper care your internal disks will stay cool, however I have doubts the pitch will please users who have it in close working-environment proximity. That said, as a TV-XMBC solution you’ll rarely notice it being there.
For the people not liking the sound of the current 92mm, you can very easily replace the fan to a more-silent one and put silicon grommets between the fan and metal frame to eliminate any resonance from the spinning parts. QNAP is one of those few companies making good used of an exuberant amount of metal, in a perfect world they could start using copper/aluminum/nickel for the hard drive cages and create a totally fan-less NAS solution. Obviously we do understand this would seriously increase weight and have an impact on pricing. That said, I’m pretty convinced there is a niche out there to sell fan-less NAS units at a premium price. Especially the HTPC NAS adepts would crave such innovation.
The TS-469L does come with an internal 250W power supply, it seems however this particular one being a bit more silent than previous generations. There is still the mini cooling fan’s presence, this time it just isn’t that noticeably noisy anymore.
A word on power efficiency
The TS-469L has great potency, and is definitely a killer bee when it comes to defining what fast networking should look like. It does however come with a slight “consumption bump”; 43 Watts in operation is moderate, 25 Watts in sleep mode is rather on the high end compared to some of the recent models from competing brands we’ve seen.
We get the fact that the speeds this machine sets, don’t come hand in hand with world’s most efficient consumption, so we checked what can be done to get the best of both worlds:
There is the EuP feature available, preferred over WoL when you’re using it for a small home office. This feature gets the total consumption down by a large margin, actually up to 40% in our tests. In standy-by the TS-469L consumes a mere 1w, which is definitely more advised than 25 watts of “doing-nothing”.
The big difference between EuP and WoL, to put it down easy for you: WoL (or Wake On LAN) is more of a “dozing off” feature, the disks are in sleep mode but the unit keeps checking for active computers in your network who might need its services. So what WoL is doing, is every time it detects computer activity in your network, it will keep “the disks awake” to stay ready.
EuP is a more lazy-efficient protocol. What it does is put the device and disks to sleep, without caring much if there are 1 or 100 active computers in your network. Unless a computer specifically tiggers the NAS’s IP to ask for connection, the EuP feature would simple keep everything in deep sleep to save power wherever it can.
So are there disadvantages? Yes, the EuP requires the whole device to “awake”, where as WoL will keep an eye out for activity and be awake when you are. Thus, EuP will save power, but let you wait longer till the unit is fully active, WoL will consume more power, but is there when you are.
XBMC over HDMI, That’s HD Station for you
Well oh well, ever since one of the competitors came up with TV on your NAS, pretty much every serious manufacturer out there came up with their own native way to integrate TV features on their new devices. QNAP’s TS-469L is no exception. The unit has a HDMI out, allowing it to be connected to a HD TV.
Now what’s so thrilling with HD Station? Actually, plenty. QNAP provided us with a remote control for the NAS, this is an optional purchase in case you’re fond of getting one. There are plenty of apps from QNAP that allow you to use your smartphone to control HD Station. The mobile-way is a good idea, and really nice…. But we all know how fantastic your smartphone’s battery is, right? And those familiar with smartphone remotes know, when somebody calls you, you better rush to the TV remote, cause the app remote’s screen turned to the call app. So, yea, get the remote, it will save you battery life and avoid you rushing to the volume controle when the phone rings.
HD Station has some nice tricks up its sleeve. For one, it works based on XBMC, one of the most popular HTPC Linux solutions out there. Second it allows apps such as google chrome and YouTube to be installed, for easy couch surfing. Third, it has an administration app so you can browse and modify you NAS’s settings by just a push on the remote (no more need to get your computer near to log on to the web-admin panel, or use the mobile admin app).
As said before, the XBMC is a very popular award-winning distribution and received much praise for easy of use. The XBMC on your QNAP TS-469L is exactly the same as the one you are accustomed to from XBMC.ORG (in case you’ve tried the package before). For more info about XBMC please visit www.xmbc.org.
Surveillance, download, and various apps
Yes, QNAP definitely has them. Nowadays surveillance, download, DLNA, iTunes, advanced web & database server and various networking (Apple/Windows/Unix protocol supported) features are a common sight in the NAS landscape. For a full list of features and mobile apps we recommend you to check QNAP’s app list at www.qnap.com/qpkg.
Aside from the new HD Station app and various other QPKG’s available, there is one that popped our interest bubble, Google Drive Sync. This particular app can use a shared folder to sync your files from Google Drive locally on your NAS. I particularly liked this one because you don’t need to wait any longer for them to sync to your desktop/phone/tablet/Mac. Just drag and drop your files to the folder you have synced with the app and automatically everybody in the loop is up to date. Especially for small teams this can save a lot of time and effort since local users can still use the QNAP TS-469L locally, while external users can synchronize and benefit from the additional features Google Drive offers compared to the native NAS cloud services.
Speed & performance
We are providing you with a simple table of file read/write actions we performed and which represents a more real world model of what users actually do with their NAS devices. These test are averages from Windows (SMB) and Apple (AFP) systems in RAID 5 setup.
- A set of 100 HQ JPEG photos in folder
- A bulk of 1000 itunes audio files
- A 4GB folder containing mixed small files and folders
- A 8GB single file archive
- A 35GB folder with 10*3.5GB files inside
- An 800MB single file archive
- A 350MB episode
|QNAP TS-469L||Copy from NAS in MB/sec AVG – PEAK||Write to NAS in MB/Sec AVG – PEAK|
|1 (100 JPEG)||85 – 112||78 – 86|
|2 (1000 MP3)||68 – 91||75 – 88|
|3 (4GB Folder)||65 – 117||72 – 96|
|4 (8GB Archive)||116 – 118||87 – 96|
|5 (35GB Folder)||110 – 118||88 – 98|
|6 (800MB File)||116 – 118||88 – 96|
|7 (350MB File)||116 – 118||86 – 98|
|ATTO record R5||111 write @512Kb, 118 read @ 4Mb|
Default network cables supplied by the manufacturer have been used for testing. No Jumbo packages used, default MTU1500.
Because both run on similar hardware/CPU, it comes as a surprise to me that the TS-469L didn’t get the same write speeds as “bigger brother” TS-469 PRO which we reviewed a couple of months ago. However what is striking, is the way this unit doesn’t back down in sending data packets! Meaning: If you require ultra fast data upload to your QNAP NAS choose the PRO model, if you only focus on fast access/streaming from the NAS to your devices the L-version will do just as fine.
It has to be added that setting up your QNAP TS-469L is a breeze, you can either click the “one click” way or run through all the steps of the setup process manually (see screenshots below). Obviously we prefer the manual way, but the “one-click” solution does a great job and auto-detects what the optimal “fast yet safe” combination would be for you. No need to be a tech-guru!
When it comes to ease of use of upgrading (or repairing) the TS-469L is a “3 bolt solution”. Cause that’s the only thing you have to do to remove the top shell of this device. Once the lid is off, it’s a breeze to add a 1 or 2GB module of SODIMM memory.
QNAP supplied us a memory module for testing, and (see photo in the photo stream) you can buy those blue QNAP certified upgrade boxes online. This makes it particularly easy for the not-so tech-geek to upgrade the RAM memory them self. It doesn’t require more than lifting up the plastic cutout piece and plugging in the additional RAM module in the free slot. Optionally you can remove the white strip to make sure the plastic clip sticks into place.
Equally the PSU unit and rear fan can be very easily swapped in case of malfunctioning without the need of a technician. Unless you’re really really clumsy that is…
Overall, the QNAP TS-469L is a really solid performer. The only 2 drawbacks were it being rather on the loud end of “silent operation”; and the sleep mode power draw being significantly higher compared to its direct competitors.
Those 2 bits aside, the TS-469L is no slouch, big brother TS-469 PRO has a very potent offspring that’s pretty much capable of delivering almost the exact same network speeds, yet comes with a lower price tag. If you don’t need the management buttons and LED display, and you don’t care much for the advanced Citrix/VM & Windows certifications I very much dare say the TS-469L is a better buy.
Just like some of the competing NAS units who orient themselves in catering a home entertainment environment, we didn’t quite get the point why absolutely NONE of all the units available come with lockable drive trays and front panel power switch… Why, I hear you think? Well, as we notice, these units all have HDMI, so they’re put in close proximity to a TV set, right?
Now imagine people who have toddlers, kids or similar pets? How appealing would it be for those cute little gerbils to “try what daddy did” when they spot him replacing or adding a hard drive, and learn those fancy trays can snap out? Oh, and that power button gives a beep if you press it long enough…
As you can notice, the last thing you want is just adding a hard drive, creating a migration operation, and noticing your kid or girl/boyfriend discovered what “snapping trays” are. When that happens during a migration. You have my condolences. Been there, tried that… never again.
Finally, to round up, the QNAP TS-469L is very easy to upgrade/maintenance, has excellent (and constantly improving) apps that continuously crank the possibilities of your NAS. The built quality and components used are of a very high standard and make this unit pretty much flawless in durability.
On the software side we had been seeing issues in the past. This current firmware came as a serious surprise in ease of use, and it has to be said QNAP put a lot of time in redesigning and tweaking the settings to better-fit new users entering the NAS niche. HD Station (XBMC) is a very valuable add-on feature, which combined with the (optional) remote, turns your NAS into something we never could have imagines a few years back: a fully fledged home entertainment setup. Job well done, and at a MSRP of 599 EUR/USD it stays on the same lane with the competition.