Page 2 - A Closer Look - Hardware (External)
My first impression of the QNAP TVS-463 was it took a page out of Apple's design book. Sure, the QNAP TS-463's external design is practically identical everything in the same line of products we have reviewed from company in the past. This means it carries a strong family resemblance to everything ranging from the QNAP TS-439 Pro to the TS-470. However, instead of the standard black design, the TVS-463 is available in only gold. At least here in North America, gold colored devices have largely made way for black, silver, or chrome finishes since the late nineties. Why the resurgence? According to an article I have read recently, the gold iPhones and MacBooks were a result of demand driven by the mainland China market.
Other than that, from the angle of our photo above, the TVS-463 is your quintessential QNAP NAS, with its industrial/datacenter look beneath the gold paint. It is not going to win any living room beauty contests like the HS-210, and frankly, if it is going to sit front and center underneath my TV, I think a facelift will do wonders. Meanwhile, the quad-bay TVS-463 measures in at 18.0cm wide, 23.5cm deep, and 17.7cm tall according to specifications -- just like the TS-470 and everything that came before. It features four prominent and easily accessible vertically mounted disk trays, and a small, dual-line LCD display placed near the top for the user's convenience. An infrared receiver is found above the fourth drive bay, used for MCE remote controls. As always, each disk tray is individually lockable, but they all use the same provided key (Actually, you can use the same key for all QNAP products, haha). Drive number order is reiterated by a diagram sticker placed at the top of the unit. The ventilated disk trays provide excellent airflow over the hard drives driven by the rear mounted cooling fan inside the QNAP TVS-463.
QNAP's embossed logo is finished in brushed dark colored metal, and placed near the top left corner; whereas a gold, textured hard plastic surface occupies the rest of the front face. Two cleanly finished buttons are placed at the bottom left corner -- where one is a power button, and under it is another button labeled "Copy". This is to be used with the USB 3.0 port placed neatly in the middle of the Copy button for quick backup processes. Having the USB port in the middle of the button looks pretty cool, but you will sacrifice some usability. Both of the buttons protrudes slightly, so there is a slight chance that someone may accidentally knock the power button. Fortunately, the system will prompt you on the LCD screen to initiate the shutdown procedure after depressing the power button, so it is not really an issue with regards to accidentally powering off the machine. Like the last few generations of QNAP business class network attached storage systems, the QNAP TVS-463 features an internal power supply rather than a power brick; we will cover that in detail in just a moment.
The QNAP TS-463's display is identical to the TS-470. It is navigated by two simple buttons adjacent to it: The Enter key, and the Select key. There is more than sufficient room for more, especially something like a D-pad may greatly enhance navigation. Fortunately, this screen is not necessarily used all the time. When on, its LCD screen features a blue backlight; and displays large, clear text in white to contrast with its background. The LCD display allows the user to monitor quick information, as well as easily perform some configuration and maintenance tasks. An array of LEDs can be seen under it to indicate system status, USB status, as well as LAN status, respectively. The system status LED will turn off when the hard disks are on standby. Each independent hard drive has its own status LED as well, which are cleverly placed on the system itself, on the clear strip near the top of each hard drive tray. This can be seen if you look carefully at the photo above. The drive status LEDs flashes when there is disk activity, and remains on when it is idling. It turns red if the system determines the corresponding hard drive is in trouble. The easy to access drive bays in conjunction with convenience added by the simple LCD screen really added to the overall usage experience of these excellent network appliances on my network. By retaining its excellent design, there is absolutely no learning curve for users who are familiar with using QNAP NAS systems -- it is all plug and play.
While the QNAP TVS-463 is constructed on a steel frame, its shell that covers three sides of the system is composed of brushed metal in gold, just like the rest of the NAS. It looks pretty good in my opinion, but it is nothing we have not seen before from the company. For most business users, the NAS will be placed in a room where no one will bother spending time admiring your equipment. But for others, this may end up being in their living room, so appearance is important, although I still do not think the TVS-463 will blend in too well with your home theater receiver and Blu-ray player. At the top, a label is there to show the user how to quickly get myQNAPcloud up and running quickly. A key unique to your specific box is provided to streamline to the setup process.
What we have at the back of the system are enough ports to function as a personal computer, rather than a simple network storage device as NAS devices are back in the days. It is not quite a TS-470, but the midrange TVS-463 still holds plenty of merit on its own. Not only can this system act as your media center computer. If you plug in a keyboard, mouse, and monitor, you can literally use it as your PC -- more on this later. Unfortunately, there is no S/PDIF output; the only way to get digital audio is via HDMI passthrough. The connection array is simple but standard; where you are provided four USB 3.0 ports for storage, up to three printers, or peripherals. Two HDMI 1.4a ports are present, but the second one is only used for mirroring the first. Also, while they do support 4K output, you cannot use it to play 4K videos, which is quite the bummer. Two integrated Gigabit LAN ports reside next to the USB ports. You can configure them for maximum performance, network redundancy, load balancing, and even multiple independent networks. If you add a 10GbE card, you can pull up to 1481MB/s in throughput, according to the company's internal testing. Of course, this is under a very specific configuration. QNAP used a dual port LAN-10G2T-D 10GbE adapter on both the client and the server via a direct connection, and four Plextor PX-256M5Pro SSDs in RAID 5 in the NAS. IOMeter is set to transfer an 8GB file at 64KB block size.
A large single 120mm YS Tech FD121225LB exhaust fan pulls heat out of your NAS server, with its exhaust vents cut into the steel panel. A proper fan grille would be better for airflow in my opinion. The 120mm fan is specified at 1800rpm, 73 CFM airflow, 2.6mm-H2O static pressure, and 34 dB noise. A small opening at the top provides ventilation for its internal power supply's 40mm fan. A vertically oriented power input male connector is logically placed at the top left corner. Since the power supply unit automatically selects input voltage, there is no need for the old fashioned voltage selector switch.
The shell is attached by three screws. Removing it may require some prying; more on this later. Notably missing as shown in our photo above is the dreaded warranty seal we have all come to hate, because with the promised user upgradeable network interface card, you are now given limited access to the QNAP TVS-463's interior. We will show you where the seal went in just a moment. Additionally, you are also no longer forced to void your warranty if you need to open the unit just to clean out some dust off its fan.
There is nothing particularly exciting at the bottom of the QNAP TVS-463's chassis; what you will see here are four large legs affixed on top of its steel frame panel. As always, they are installed to reduce vibration noise, increase grip, and prevent surface scratching. The left side of the network attached storage system features a neat array of small openings on its brushed aluminum shell. It is placed right next to where the motherboard is inside, to make sure hot air does not get congested within.
Removing its vertically mounted 3.5" SATA disk trays reveals the connector backpanel. The SATA backplane ports are powered by an external Marvell controller, connected to the AMD SoC on the PCIe bus. Since this is a SATA system, all hard drives are hot swappable. Removing the hard drive tray is very simple -- just pull on a lever at the top, and it is out. The disk trays are not labeled. Functionally, the installation order does not matter in a RAID system, but I think being able to discern which disk is which by a physical label can be very useful. Obviously, you can grab a permanent marker and mark them by hand, but labeling them "Disk 1" to "Disk 4" from the factory is probably not too hard. Each tray can accommodate a 2.5" or 3.5" drive, along with a maximum amount of ventilation openings at the bottom for improved heat dissipation. The latest trays are inner lined with a clear plastic layer to prevent short circuiting. The QNAP TVS-463 supports single disk, RAID 0 (Disk Striping), RAID 1 (Disk Mirroring), RAID 5, RAID 5 plus spare, RAID 6, RAID 10, and JBOD (Linear Disk Volume). If you want to encrypt your data, you have the option to enable its FIPS 140-2 validated AES 256-bit volume-based encryption.
1. Introduction, Packaging, Specifications
2. A Closer Look - Hardware (External)
3. A Closer Look - Hardware (Internal)
4. Configuration and User Interface, Part I
5. Configuration and User Interface, Part II
6. Configuration and User Interface, Part III
7. Performance and Power Consumption