A versatile, powerful system for storage.
Once upon a time, I worked in video production. If you’ve ever read any of my reviews about data storage, you will know this about me. My time in video production taught me one very important lesson: back-up projects often. We had a pretty precise system for creating archives of our finished projects, but we also saved constantly throughout the process. At the time, we had no network-attached storage (NAS) option available. We simply plugged in an external hard drive and carefully named our projects. We ‘shared’ our storage between editors and quite literally picked up a drive off of a shelf and moved it from one office to the next. Knowing what I know now about NAS devices, I shake my head at our archaic method of archiving data. Nowadays, there is no shortage of options for shared network storage and I’ve been lucky enough to be able to test some of them out. One such option — and it’s one that I’m particularly fond of for creative content creators — is the TVS-951X 9-bay NAS system from QNAP.
DETAILS & FEATURES
The TVS-951X 9-bay NAS system is an award-winning device that provides a high-capacity storage option with 10GbE connectivity. The device is powered by a 7th-generation Intel Celeron 3865U low-power, dual-core processor. It has a 2GB/8GB DDR4 dual-channel memory (up to 32GB) and features a hybrid drive bay design. It supports five 3.5-inch drive bays and four 2.5-inch SSD bays for a total of nine drives in the same physical space as a 5-bay NAS. When 2.5-inch SSDs are installed in their dedicated bays, you can enable SSD caching and Qtier auto-tiering technologies to boost overall system performance. The NAS also features a built-in 10GBASE-T/NBASE-T port for a high-speed network environment.
- Intel Celeron 3865U dual-core 1.8 GHz, 2GB DDR4 (1 x 2GB) SODIMM RAM ( 2 slots, Max 32GB)
- 5 x 3.5″ And 4 x 2.5″ Drive slots, 1 x 10GbE NBASE-T LAN, 1 x GbE LAN, 1 x HDMI V1.4B, 3 x USB 3.0, hardware encryption, built-in speaker
- A single 10GBase-T/NBASE-T port provides 10GbE connectivity for accelerating virtualization tasks and file sharing
- Qtier technology and SSD caching enable 24/7 optimized storage efficiency
- Snapshots fully record the system status and data, allowing you to protect files and data from accidental deletion and malware attacks
- Dimensions: 8.8 x 8.9 x 7.2 inches
- Weight: 7.78 pounds (without drives)
One of the first things I noticed about the QNAP system was its size. It’s quite a bit larger than most desktop PCs I’ve used in the past. It’s not an exact cube, but pretty close to that shape. So, even though it’s not ‘enormous’ by any means, it’s size and shape warrant some planning for its permanent location. If you plan on using it as a media server, then making sure your entertainment center can handle the robust device is a must.
Next, I took note of how hard drives are installed. The 5 drive bays that house the 3.5-inch drives sit on top of the four 2.5-inch drive bays. The 3.5-inch bays are vertically oriented while the 2.5-inch ones are horizontal. To open the bay doors, you snap the locking mechanism downward and then flip the main door open. Then, the bay housing pulls out. There are rails on either side of the drive tray that pop off of the tray in order for you to secure your hard drive with screws (provided). When you have a hard drive in place, you slide the tray back into place and lock it in the NAS by clipping the lock upward.
Since the device does not come with hard drives included, I used two 4TB Seagate Ironwolf NAS hard drives as my testing drives. I recommend using some sort of NAS-optimized hard drives instead of standard hard drives since they are designed to withstand the constant computing activity of a server. The Ironwolf drives are solid, but another good option is the RED Pro NAS Hard Drives from Western Digital.
For me the most valuable feature of the QNAP TVS-951X 9-bay NAS system is the user interface. I’ve tried out several different NAS servers and I really love the way the QNAP interface looks and works. QNAP makes logging on quite easy. There is a sticker on the top of the unit that provides the quick setup instructions. Once you log in, you can start customizing the server however you may need. QNAP provides a wealth of app options that can help you create the system you want based on your needs. I set up the TVS-951X as if it were going to be used as a shared file system. The process is fairly self-explanatory and I didn’t really need to look up any supporting information to get the shared file system up and running.
As the admin, you have the ability to set-up users and control all their rights and privileges to the system. I like having that type of control for a shared system so that you can section off everything away from prying eyes if you have secured data located somewhere else on the system.
When I was setting this system up, I happened to have a hard drive that I knew had gone bad. So, I slipped it into the 3rd drive bay. The QNAP automatically noticed that something was wrong with it and threw up some errors. A big orange ‘warning’ badge appeared and the summary stated, “One or more disk S.M.A.R.T. normalized attributes are below than the manufacturer’s threshold. Please consider replacing the disk.” I did this for two reasons. First, I was actually testing the drive to see if it was indeed ‘bad’ as the other NAS system reported that it was. Second, I wanted to see how the QNAP would react to a bad disk and what sort of reporting I would get with it. I was pleasantly surprised to get the information summary I did and was happy to see that the QNAP was thorough when it came to testing disks that are in place in the unit. The QNAP software also provides an at-a-glance system health dashboard.
I also love that this unit can be easily connected directly to a computer. True, the TVS-951X can act as an excellent cloud-based server, I can’t ignore that with the system having a 10GBase-T/NBASE-T port that you can connect a PC or MAC directly to it using an Ethernet cable. This is monumental if the user wants to use this for nonlinear editing.
The QNAP TVS-951X 9-bay NAS system is designed for flexibility. QNAP did an excellent job creating a powerful, but easy to use NAS system that is quiet, functional, and versatile. Thanks to QNAP’s internal user interface, users have the ability to design a server specifically for their needs. While some users will find this system to be ideal as an entertainment hub, others will see its usefulness realized with the management of video surveillance or as a production manager. With a suggested retail price of $699 (at the time of this review), this 9-bay NAS has a lot of potential.