Storage, storage, storage… can we ever have too much of it? With all our devices (often with quite limited internal drives) consuming and creating content on a daily basis many users need something to manage their storage needs and thats what QNAP offer in todays review. The TS-451 is a 4bay NAS with storage, media and cloud functionality which looks to offer an all in one solution for the modern consumer. QNAP TS-451 Review.
QNAP TS-451 Review – Packaging and Bundle
QNAP package their TS-451 in a fairly large box featuring a nice clear image of the product. There is plenty of feature information on the other sides and inside the NAS is protected by a plastic bag and suspended in foam. Off to the side in a separate box we find out bundled items which start with product documentation. Also included are screws to install 2.5″ and 3.5″ drives, two network cables, mains cable and 90w PSU.
QNAP TS-451 Review – The NAS
QNAP go with a predominantly white design for the TS-451 with a simple metallic band down the left side where we find our status LEDs, power button, USB copy/backup button and USB 3.0 port. Four drive bays are also located on the front and a handy sticker tells us which order to install our storage. Hidden behind the panel is an IR receiver for media remotes, on the left side of the NAS there are perforations to promote airflow and our side and top are blank. As far as dimensions go we have 177x180x235mm (HxWxD) and the TS-451 weighs 3kg.
Turning the TS-451 over we find that there is a sticker on the side which gives us quick-start info, that the base has four rubber feet to keep the NAS steady and there are further holes for airflow present. On the back we get a kensington lock slot, large cooling fan grill (12cm fan) and our main connectivity. That is power in, two GB LAN ports, 2x USB 2.0, a second USB 3.0 and HDMI out.
Whats going on inside? First up we have a dual core Intel Celeron CPU running at 2.41GHz with the ability to increase to 2.58GHz if required by the workload. With this being the TS-451-4G model we get 4GB of DDR3L (2x2GB) and a 1GB alternative is available. Flash memory is 512MB (DOM).
QNAP TS-451 Review – Installation
As noted earlier, the drive bays are all front facing and simply pull out and slide in. Four screws are required for each drive and we have the option to install 4x8TB for a total of 32GB of internal storage. More can be added via USB/expansion devices and the system supports RAID 0,1,5,6,10 and 5+ hot spare.
When we have installed our drives, plugged in the network cable and powered on the system we head to start.qnap.com in our browser (or mobile app) and begin the software installation. This is a simple process which QNAP walk us through in easy steps. Choosing usernames/passwords, deciding on the basic options such as what media servers are enabled and downloading/updating to the latest OS.
QNAP TS-451 Review – OS
With the base install complete we are presented with a login screen. Here we enter our new details and if appropriate sign up for QNAPs account which allows for enhanced remote access (and support). On first login the system also checks for the latest firmware and prompts to install before also checking for the latest App updates.
The OS uses a fairly standard desktop like interface with icons present for the main basic functions (e.g. media playback, shared folders etc). Menus can be found along the top of the screen which give us access to options such as power/reset and a selection of tabs on the base offer links to the QNAP apps and feedback.
Most users will want to head to the App Centre though and that is where we can begin to tailor the device to our needs.
Looking around the base options we find everything we need for media playback (including the ability to transcode file formats), download manager (inc Bittorrent) and cloud access. Anti-virus protection is built in and our control panel allows easy administration of the device including user accounts, storage, shared folders, ftp and power. There is also a handy resource manager on the right of the screen which pops out to reveal information on key aspects of our NAS.
Also worthy of note is a wide range of extra software which QNAP offer to enhance the user experience. These apps, some for smartphones/tablets and some for Windows/MAC allow us to perform useful tasks such as quick/easy syncing of data from multiple systems and perform full system backups.
QNAP TS-451 Review – Conclusion
Starting with the build quality and design of the QNAP TS-451 we have a unit which is fairly compact for a 4-bay model. It looks good with the white finish and we are pleased to see that QNAP have gone for a matt coating, rather than glossy which would just attract fingerprints/dust. The LEDS are nicely located and easy to read from a distance and that front mounted USB 3.0 port ensures we have quick access to the fastest transfer rates. The port layout on the back is decent and we appreciate the dual GB LAN ports.
Looking at the specifications, this is a well kitted out NAS. 4Gb of DDR3L should ensure compatibility with future OS updates, as well as maximising performance. A dual core 2.4GHz Celeron CPU is very competitive in this marketplace and the ability to accept 32TB as standard with further storage through expansion devices is easily enough for most home/small office needs.
As far as features go, the TS-451 is right up there with the best… all the basics such as print server, ftp, download manager, shared folders and media sharing (iTunes/DNLA) are all present. Then we get a great bunch of high end features such as VPN server, cloud backup support (inc Amazon/Microsoft), HDMI out (7.1 audio too), Virtualisation/VM machine, transcoding and surveillance (2 camera ip’s included). The virtualisation in particular is very useful, allowing us to run (as an example) a Windows based environment within the NAS. Ideal for getting access to enhanced apps, running a Windows Server or playing with Windows 10 betas… as just a few examples. It is also worth saying that the HDMI out (and ability to use a remote) is a real bonus for anyone who struggles with low Wi-Fi signal, or maybe has a TV with low speed network connection. Mix that with HDStation which offers a massive suite of media apps (inc Spotify, YouTube, XBMC, etc) and we have more than just a NAS, its a stand alone media hub. Did we mention it even has a browser (Firefox/Chrome)… who needs a PC???
Moving around the OS is an intuitive experience, anyone who has used a decent modern NAS should be fairly at home here and first time users will easily navigate the basic desktop/menu/icon interface. We noted no lag in our time using the OS and HD video files played without issue, transcoding on the fly to ensure our devices played them, regardless of the format… it really is as simple as opening the file and the TS-451 does the rest! The NAS automatically configured its basic sharing folders ensuring they immediately showed up on systems connected to the same network and power use was also impressive. In sleep mode, we noted negligible power draw with power settling around 12-14w when idle and 30w under heavy load with multiple drives installed (well within the PSUs rated spec). Write performance hit approximately 100MB/s in our transfer tests with read speed topping out at 127mb/s.
Summary: Solid build quality, nice design, feature packed and good potential for expanding. This future proof NAS with intuitive OS wins our gold award.