|QNAP TS-509 Pro Gigabit 5-Bay SATA NAS Server|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Network|
|Written by Olin Coles|
|Friday, 07 November 2008|
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Closer Look: Turbo Station
Benchmark Reviews has done well to provide readers with an in-depth performance test for each product size that QNAP offers. Our Featured Reviews: Network section is filled with many different NAS products, and this article will add the largest network attached storage server yet: the QNAP TS-590 Pro. QNAP has offered high-performance server alternatives for many years now, and they have refined their craft with each new generation.
The Turbo Station series has become a large family of multi-bay SATA NAS servers with straight-forward approach to delivering functionality comparable to most Windows Server platforms right out of the box. Usually this is merit enough to consider a NAS for your work environment, the real determining factor in this economic climate is price. Thankfully for consumers, every single NAS server Benchmark Reviews has tested all cost remarkably less than the alternative.
Times are changing, and the way IT professionals have solved problems in the past will not make economic sense into the future. The corporate server landscape has become much more simplistic over the past few years. After visiting the recent SuperComputing Conference SC07 event I was surprised by how dull some of the server designs were. Server tasks are about the same, but the large cluster arrangement and daunting maintenance routines have created a demand for something much easier on the administrator - and budget.
The image above shows the front view of QNAP's Turbo Station TS-509 Pro, which comes available in one color: titanium grey with black face bezel. The TS-509 Pro is a 5-Bay hot-swappable SATA network attached storage server (NAS) which offers everything from single basic-disk arrangement, to mission-critical data security RAID configurations. The disk array capability alone may be enough to sell this product, but you would be cheating yourself if you didn't learn about the many other features it offers.
To begin our first look, you will notice that the QNAP TS-509 Pro features an LCD display at the top of this tall unit. The indigo-blue backlit screen makes it very easy to see any displayed white text, even in brightly lit environments. I found the two-button menu system adequate for retrieving configuration information from the TS-590 Pro, but with a little more engineering it appeared that this could one day become an alternate instruction interface for the NAS. The gloss-black bezel face of the TS-509 Pro NAS is simple and straightforward, but offers enough information to keep the most anxious Network Administrator content with status detail.
Beneath the main power button is a series of eight colored LED lights, followed by a one-touch backup button, and a USB 2.0 port. The first LED lights green with a specific information pattern, showing a general status for the unit. The next five green LEDs indicate respective drive access. An orange LED indicates network access, followed by a blue LED for USB activity.
Each of the five drive bays is removable. A lockable tray comes away from the TS-509 Pro by pulling the swing-arm lever out and towards the power button side of the unit. You can get away with not securing drives into the tray, but when the tray is pulled from the NAS it will probably leave the SATA drive firmly attached to the NAS backplane connection. To the left of the drive bays is a mesh grill for mainboard and CPU cooling air intake, which works in conjunction with the vented drive trays to help circulate cool air over the components.
The QNAP TS-509 Pro measures 10.28" long x 7.42" wide x 10.28" tall, and weighs just over 14 LBS. Since the standard rack unit ('U') measures 1.75" tall by 19.0" wide per unit, the TS-509 Pro is just slightly shorter than a 6U height rack case, and could accommodate two units inside the 6U workspace. With roughly four inches of spare space between two units, other network appliances could be fit inside of the footprint.
At the back of the TS-509 Pro is a busy arsenal of connections and two cooling exhaust vents. QNAP is one of the few manufacturers to incorporate the eSATA interface into their product, which will offer 1.5 GBps bandwidth to connected storage devices (such as an external drive enclosure). Four additional USB 2.0 connectors are available at the back of the TS-509 Pro, which can be used for external storage (including flash drives), print servers (the TS-509 Pro can manage three USB-based printers), or for connection to a compatible UPS (APC USB auto detect, APC with SMNP management, or MGE Ellipse premium UPS support). A Kensington Security Slot and reset pinhole are also present.
Two separate Broadcom BCM5787 NetLink Gigabit (10/100/1000 Base-T) Ethernet NICs lend themselves to unique IP addresses, and can be teamed as for a redundant fail-safe connection or a load-balancing connection. I tested the teaming functionality, and whenever a patch cable was pulled from one of the ports during a large file transfer there was no sign of interruption. QNAP decided to utilize the BCM5787 controller because of its high-performance throughput; even though it doesn't offer Jumbo Frame support.
The 120mm thermistor cooling fan is temperature controlled and runs at low speed whenever the NAS is operating below 40°C by default, but picks up speed (and some noise)above 48°C. Of course, the Turbo Station software interface allows you to manually configure both the low- and high-speed temperature thresholds and work in either Celsius or Fahrenheit.
Unlike most of the NAS products we've tested here at Benchmark Reviews, the QNAP TS-509 Pro Gigabit 5-Bay SATA NAS Server is the first to have an integrated power supply unit. QNAP specifications indicate an 250W ATX PSU integrated into the TS-509 Pro's frame. QNAP claims the power consumption in sleep mode is 47.3W, which operational consumption is 84.7W. Clearly, QNAP takes pride in the low power consumption of the Turbo Station TS-509 Pro NAS.
By using the Kill A Watt EZ model P4460 power meter by P3 International, I was able to determine exactly how much electrical power the TS-509 Pro consumed in empty, idle, and active modes. With no drives installed, the TS-509 Pro consumed a mere 52W, and once loaded with four 1.5 Terabyte Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 SATA Desktop Hard Drives (ST31500341AS) the idle (not standby) power draw was steady at 73W. Once the drives were configured into a RAID-5 array and file transfers began, the power demand increased to only 77W. It's evident that going green isn't difficult with these NAS products; something administrators should keep in mind.
In our detailed features section on the next page, the TS-509 Pro will be disassembled and inspected for design flaws before we test for performance. Please continue on to learn more about this powerful little product.