Model: QNAP TS-269L 2-Bay Turbo NAS Server
Provided By: QNAP
QNAP Systems, Inc. aims to deliver comprehensive offerings of cutting edge network attached storage (NAS) and network video recorder (NVR) solutions with ease-of-use, robust operation, large storage capacity and trustworthy reliability. The company integrates technologies and designs to bring forth quality products that effectively improve business efficiency on file sharing, virtualization applications, storage management and surveillance in the business environments. It also enriches entertainment life for home users with the offering of a fun multimedia center experience. Headquartered in Taipei, QNAP delivers its solutions to the global market with nonstop innovation and passion.
This past fall, QNAP launched its TS-x69L series Turbo NAS. Available in 2, 4, 5, 6, and 8-drive versions, the TS-x69L series is designed to meet the needs of home and small office users. Along with a high performance, dual-core Intel Atom processor, the NAS is equipped with 1GB of DDR3 RAM, dual Gigabit Ethernet ports, two USB 3.0 ports and a 512MB DOM (Disk on Module) with dual firmware image design for system downtime prevention. Like QNAP's other Turbo NAS servers, the TS-x69L series offers a long list of features including cross-platform file sharing, centralized storage and backups for Windows, Mac and Linux users. It can also stream multimedia content to network media players and be accessed via a web browser or mobile device using QNAP's MyCloudNAS service.
Despite its already impressive capabilities, QNAP wasn't done with the TS-x69L series quite yet. A few months after its launch, QNAP released an update that enabled its built-in HDMI port and added a new feature called HD Station. By installing the various HD Station applications and connecting the Turbo NAS to their TV, TS-x69L owners could now surf the web, enjoy photos, listen to music and watch movies on the big screen in their living room.
For this review, QNAP sent us the TS-269L. This Turbo NAS has two hot-swappable trays and is powered by an Intel Atom 1.86 GHz processor.
|QNAP TS-269L 2-Bay Turbo NAS Server|
Needless to say, this is only a taste of what QNAP's TS-x69L series has to offer. To give you an idea of what to expect, we'll take a look at the TS-269L's features and then put it through its paces to see how it performs. Does QNAP's new NAS have what it takes? Keep reading as we find out.
The Turbo NAS TS-269L comes in a stylish white, grey and blue box. Along with a picture of the unit, the front advertises many of its key features including its Intel Atom processor, expandable DDR3 memory, USB 3.0 ports and file sharing capabilities. Oddly enough, it makes no mention of its built-in HDMI port. The back of the box provides a bit more information regarding the TS-269L's file sharing, iSCSI and backup features.
Inside the box you'll find the TS-269L as well as an AC power cord and adapter, two ethernet cables, quick installation guide, two bags of screws and the NAS companion CD which contains documentation and software.
QNAP also included an infrared remote control for this review. It does not normally come with the TS-269L but can be purchased separately and used to control its HD Station feature.
While there are a few cosmetic differences, the TS-269L looks very similar to QNAP's other 2-bay NAS servers. Aside from the front panel, which is a mix of glossy and black plastic, the device is made almost entirely of metal. The TS-269L measures 150 x 102 x 216 mm (5.91 x 4.02 x 8.5 in) and weighs in at 1.74 kg (3.84 lbs) without any hard drives installed.
Along with the two drive bays, the front of the TS-269L has a series of LED indicators. These LED's are used to show the current state of the hard drives, network and eSATA port. Also on the front is the TS-269L's power button, one touch copy button and one of its many USB ports.
The rear of the TS-269L is pretty straight forward. Along with the DC power connection, there is a 70mm fan. This fan is temperature controlled and only spins as fast as needed to keep the system cool. To the right of the fan you can see the TS-269L's HDMI port, settings reset button, dual gigabit ethernet ports, two USB 3.0 ports, two USB 2.0 ports and a single eSATA port.
While intended for home use, the TS-269L has many of the same features as QNAP's higher end offerings. Its embedded Linux-based operating system offers cross platform file sharing over various network protocols including CIFS/SMB, AFP and NFS. The TS-269L also offers support for RAID, iSCSI, server virtualization, data backups and domain authentication.
|iSCSI (IP SAN)
Server Virtualization & Clustering
Access Right Management
Domain Authentication Integration
Storage Plug & Play
The TS-269L includes a number of built in services for file sharing, backups and web serving. It can also function as a print server, download station or as a media center to stream music and videos to other devices in your home. If this still isn't enough, the TS-269L's capabilities can be expanded even further by downloading add-ons through the QPKG center.
TFTP Server with PXE Booting
Surveillance Station Pro
DLNA Media Server
The actual available QPKGs may vary depending on the NAS platform.
Before using the TS-269L you will need to install a couple of hard drives or SSDs. To begin, remove the two trays from the TS-269L and mount the drives to them using the included screws. When you are done, slide the trays back into their corresponding slots on the TS-269L and lock them into place by pushing down firmly on the levers.
With the hard drives installed, you can now connect the network cable and power cord and turn the TS-269L on. The server will beep once and then after another 2-3 minutes it will beep again, indicating that it has started up successfully.
Once the TS-269L is up and running, its network connection will need to be configured. If you have a DHCP server on your network and you know what IP the NAS is using, you can skip the next few steps and connect directly to the web administration. Otherwise, you'll need to pop the NAS companion CD into your computer and install the QNAP Finder software.
Like its name suggests, the QNAP Finder searches the network looking for QNAP NAS devices. When it finds one, it will display its name, IP address, firmware version, server type, firmware status and MAC address. If your device is not configured, QNAP Finder will prompt you to do a quick setup. The quick configuration wizard takes you step by step through the setup process. From here you can specify the server name, change the administrator password, configure the network, enable services and select the disk configuration. All of these settings can be changed later from within the administrator page.
With the network interface configured, you can access the web administration by entering the TS-269L's IP address into your web browser's address bar. Initially, you will need to login using the default administrator account.
Using the web administration, you can view information about the system and change its settings. You can also manage the disks and access rights, configure the network services and applications, and even perform backups to another server, external hard drive or cloud based service.
QNAP is continuously improving their NAS operating system. To take advantage of the latest fixes and features like HD Station, you will need to update the TS-269L's firmware. This can be done by uploading a firmware image file or through the server's live update feature.
As I mentioned earlier, the TS-269L is unique in that it is equipped with an HDMI port. The Turbo NAS can be connected directly to a widescreen TV and, using the free HD Station application, be used like a media player. With HD Station, TS-269L owners can surf the web, enjoy YouTube content and even view their video, music and photo collections on TV in the comfort of their home.
Before using HD Station, you will need to upgrade the TS-269L's firmware. Our unit shipped with firmware version 3.7.2 and we had to upgrade to 3.8.2 to take advantage of this feature. Once updated, you will see an HD Station icon in the web administration. From here you can download and install the HD Station portal as well as applications like Chrome, XBMC and YouTube.
When the applications are done installing, you should be able to turn on your TV, switch to the HDMI input and see a screen similar to what you see below. To navigate between the icons, you can use the optional remote or connect a keyboard and mouse to the TS-269L's USB ports. If you're planning on typing a lot, I suggest investing in a MCE compatible remote with a built in keyboard or set it up so that you can control the NAS with your phone using QNAP's Qremote app.
Along with the ability to administer the TS-269L, you can access Chrome and YouTube directly from HD Station. Both apps worked surprisingly well and, unlike most built in browsers, Chrome was snappy and responsive.
The application you'll probably use most from within HD Station is XBMC. This open source media player is capable of playing almost all popular audio and video formats. Along with the ability to play content stored on your NAS, XBMC lets you stream videos and music from anywhere in the house or directly from the internet. You can even use it to check what your local weather will be.
Using XBMC, the TS-269L had no problems playing the videos I had uploaded. Even with only 1GB of memory, video playback was surprisingly smooth. The video add-ons also worked quite well. At the click of a button I was able to stream content directly from Engadget, ESPN, TWiT and more.
The test system used in this review was an HP 8200 Elite. The computer came equipped with an Intel Core i5-2400 CPU, 4GB of DDR3 1333MHz memory, Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 ST3250312AS 250GB SATA 6 Gb/s hard drive, NVIDIA Quadro FX580 512MB PCIe graphics card and an Intel 82579-LM gigabit network card. For the operating system, I installed a fresh copy of Windows 7 Enterprise.
To test the performance of the QNAP TS-269L, I ran a series of benchmarks using CrystalDiskMark 3.0, ATTO Disk Benchmark 2.46, Iometer and the Intel NAS Performance Toolkit. The tests were first run using a pair of Seagate Barracuda 1TB (ST1000DM003) hard drives configured as RAID 0 and RAID 1 volumes and then again with them as two individual disks. To eliminate any network bottlenecks, the TS-269L was connected directly to the computer using a CAT6 ethernet cable.
First, I ran a few quick tests using CrystalDiskMark. This benchmark tool measures the performance of a storage device by testing its sequential read and write speeds as well as its random read and write speeds using blocks 4KB and 512KB in size.
According to QNAP, the TS-269L is able to read at 221.8 MB/s and write at 220.8 MB/s when both networks ports are bonded. Using only one of the gigabit network ports, the NAS was able to read at 62 MB/s and write at about 103 MB/s.
ATTO Disk Benchmark 2.46:
I also used ATTO Disk Benchmark to test the TS-269L's sequential read and write speeds. The tests are run using blocks ranging in size from 0.5KB to 8192KB and the total length set to 32MB and 256MB.
The TS-269L performed better when tested with ATTO. With the two hard drives in a RAID 0 array, the unit topped out at 117 MB/s when reading and 112 MB/s when writing.
Next, I ran a series of tests using Iometer. This tool can be configured to benchmark a number of things. In this case, I used it to measure the TS-269L's sequential read and write speeds using blocks ranging from 512B to 2MB in size.
The TS-269L performed very well when tested with Iometer. When configured for RAID 0, the NAS was able to read at speeds as high as 112 MB/s and write at more than 107 MB/s.
Intel NAS Performance Toolkit:
The Intel NAS Performance Toolkit (Intel NASPT) is a file system exerciser and analysis tool designed to enable performance comparisons between network attached storage (NAS) devices. Intel NASPT focuses on user level performance using real world workload traces gathered from typical digital home applications: HD video playback and record, data backup and restore utilities, office productivity applications, video rendering/content creation and more.
The TS-269L reached some respectable speeds when streaming HD video and copying large files to and from the server. Unfortunately, its transfer rates dropped considerably when creating content and copying directories full of small files to the NAS.
The TS-269L is the first storage solution from QNAP to come through the 'Labs and to be honest, they could not have made a better first impression. This Intel Atom powered NAS delivers great performance as well as a multitude of features for both home and small office users. Along with an easy to use web interface, the TS-269L offers centralized, cross platform storage and backups, media streaming and remote access via QNAP's mobile apps and MyCloudNAS service. For a 2-bay NAS, the TS-269L also performed surprisingly well in our tests, reading and writing at more than 110 MB/s. This should be more than enough for home or office use but, if you plan to use the NAS in a virtualized or clustered environment, the two gigabit network ports can be bonded for even greater speeds.
Out of its many features, the one that makes the TS-269L truly stand out is HD Station. While not the first attempt to add media player capabilities to a NAS, it is one of the better solutions I've seen. The TS-269L's built-in HDMI port lets users connect the NAS directly to their TV and, using applications like Chrome and XBMC, they can surf the web, watch YouTube videos and enjoy their photo, music and video collections from the comfort of their living room. All this can be controlled using the optional IR remote or from a smart phone with QNAP's Qremote app.
- Powered by dual-core Intel Atom processor
- Built-in HDMI interface
- Direct media playback with HD Station and XBMC
- Two hot-swap drive bays
- Supports RAID 0, 1, JBOD and single disk configurations
- File sharing and backups for Windows, Mac and Linux clients
- iTunes, DLNA and Squeezebox media servers
- Web, database, print and FTP servers
- PC-less BitTorrent, FTP and HTTP downloads
- Supports iSCSI protocol for virtualized and clustered environments
- Two Gigabit Ethernet ports
- Supports USB 3.0
- Easy to use web interface
- Remotely accessible from web browsers and mobile devices
- Good looking and well constructed design
- Quiet operation
- Does not come with any hard drives
- Only a 1 year warranty