Conclusion and Final Thoughts
There are a few things to consider when looking to buy a NAS from home. How much storage space do you need or want? How many drives do you want to install? What extra features should come with the software. There are a variety of different NAS units on the market. They range from a basic box that you can stuff a bunch of drives in and configure a RAID array to a box that not only does RAID, but can act as a media center, transcode your videos on the fly, or house your entire iTunes library. Like I said, there are plenty of options on the market and it all depends on what you want and how much you can afford.
I feel that the QNAP TS-563 hits high marks in the Home User/SOHO market. It has a blistering amount of features and does in fact have the cabability of acting as complete media server with the right software (available from QNAP) installed. The TS-563’s media features work pretty well. I was able to get my Arris Media Gateway to pick it up as a media server and was able to stream movies and shows directly through the cable box to on of our TVs. The quality was spot on and we didn’t have any issues with quality loss. I used the Sintel (mkv)1080p test file to transcode on the fly. Transcoding on the fly allows the user to watch the video file as it is being transcoded. During the process I kept an eye on the CPU utilization and for a little while it jumped up around 50% then dropped back down. Most of the time CPU utilization was somewhere between 20-30%. The CPU temperature did manage to reach 144° F during some of the testing however, the fan was able to keep the CPU’s temperature from going any higher and with the NAS about 10 feet from me I did not notice the fan.
Or, you could go the other way and only have the file and folder sharing features that you’ll need to run your small office. Mapping a network drive is as simple as browsing the network, picking the NAS and mapping a share as a drive. When mapping a drive you will need to enter a username and password the first time. The NAS can also perform other network services such as acting as a domain controller for authentication services, SNMP server for monitoring alerts, or a Syslog server to capture logs from other network devices. The TS-563 can also be used as a virtualization platform. This means that you could run a virtual PC from the NAS and not need another PC. The limitations for the virtualization station is limited to the by the hardware of the NAS. However, I have used it to create a virtual PC or two that I didn’t want on the network for testing infected files.
Performance is on par with what I expected. The TS-653 is slightly slower in some tests and quite a bit faster in others. The speed increases could be attributed to the fact the QNAP TS-563 shipped with 8 gigabytes of RAM and has a maximum capacity of 16 gigabytes of RAM vs the maximum capacity of 4 or 8 on our comparison systems.
Having RAID at home is a nice feature. I find that with the hobbies that I have, I need ever increasing disk space, even if it is only temporary. It is a nice tool to have on the network to be able to share out files, folders, etc. with the rest of my family with very little management. However, any form of RAID is not a data protection plan; you will still need to back up your data in some fashion. The TS-563 has a quite a few apps available that will allow you to back up your data to some of the cloud service providers such as Microsoft, Amazon, and Google.
QNAP continues to improve and impress with a good hardware selection and a great UI. The layout of the UI makes everything easy to find. The UI is fast and responsive with very little waiting on the NAS. Price wise the QNAP TS-653 sits at $550.00 USD. I think that sits in the middle of the 5 bay market and is affordable. The features, functionality, and price earns the QNAP TS-563 NAS the Modders-Inc Must Have Hardware award. If you are looking to purchase a NAS with more than two bays, give the TS-563 a peek.