NAS drives have evolved into more than just a way to share a few files and folders. These days, many are able to transcode and stream media to multiple device at once, and they can become a surveillance station, a download centre or one of the most powerful media centres you’re likely to ever use.
Four-bay NAS drives offer all this, plus the many benefits of RAID setups. David Hayward hooked up six of them to his network to see what they’re made of.
The modern home NAS solution has evolved over the last couple of years into something rather extraordinary. No longer are they simply networked boxes housing a hard drive and serving your collection of media; there’s considerably more that the home and small office user demands from their networked storage solution.
QNAP has therefore pulled out all the stops and is now offering a complete package in the form of the TS-451. This is an extremely high-performance and high-capacity networked storage solution that takes the traditional operation of the NAS device and turns it on its head.
Inside this four-bay NAS you’ll find a 2.41GHz dual-core Intel Celeron CPU and either 1GB of DDR3L RAM or 4GB in the 4G version – both of which are expandable up to 8GB – along with 512MB of flash memory. You can fit four 3.5” or 2.5” SATA-3 drives in the hot swap cradles, which slide into the unit and lock into position.
The rear of the TS-451 features a HDMI port, a pair of gigabit Ethernet ports, two USB 2.0 ports and a single USB 3.0 port, along with the power and a pin-hole reset. The front contains a further single USB 3.0 port, the power button, one-touch copy button, a strip of LED indicators and of course the four-drive bay slots.
Driving all this is a customised embedded Linux operating system called QTS 4.1. We’ve mentioned the QTS OS before in various reviews of QNAP NAS drives, and it’s as solid as ever. The number of available apps increases almost daily and cover a wealth of useful system, media, entertainment and server orientated functions. It’s basically an extremely capable and smart interface, which makes it easy to configure and use.
The services the TS-451 offers via the NAS Management facility includes the usual DLNA server, ut with the added ability to hardware transcode video in real time to up to five different devices simultaneously. In addition to the DLNA side of things, the HDMI port enables the TS-451 to become a dedicated media machine, capable of hooking up directly to a TV and using XBMC v12 through the QNAP HD Station app; you can even use your phone or tablet as a remote.
In addition to all that, there’s also a VPN service, MySQL server, network based surveillance station and server, and many more services via the QNAP App Centre, such as virtualisation, Dropbox support, Google Drive sync, Drupal and even an app version of Super Mario Bros.
The installation of the TS-451, with four drives fitted, is very quick indeed. Within a matter of five minutes we had a set of 1TB drives wiped and RAIDed and were back on the login screen ready for a system update and the installation of some selected apps. Obviously the Celeron CPU and 1GB RAM help push the TS-451 along at a reasonable speed and keep that performance up even when the device is pushed to the limit through serving media, transcoding and when being used as a web and backup server.
The QNAP TS-451 is an immensely impressive NAS drive. There’s far too much going on to mention in a single page, but suffice to say it’s ideal for the home or office.
• Price: £385.39.
• Manufacturer QNAP.
• Website: goo.gl/jtT1Y6.
• Required spec Up to four SATA-3 drives, gigabit network for best results, any modem.