QNAP TVS-463 Review (Page 3 of 8)

Page 3 - A Closer Look - Hardware (Internal)

There is no wasted room inside the QNAP TVS-463 network attached storage. Actually, if you have seen any of our business class four bay NAS reviews from QNAP since 2009, the TVS-463 is no different. It is also built nearly the exact same way as ASUSTOR boxes like the AS7004T, from the way components are mounted to the way panels are interlocked. We can see the LCD controller module at the front, its four 3.5" drive bays occupying majority of the area, as well as the power supply located right above the drive bays. A few centimeters of clearance room can be seen between the rear 120mm fan and the hard drive bays. This allows some space between components to reduce heat congestion. Its well-placed rear exhaust fan can then easily take out the warm air, and allow cooler air to flow over the mounted hard drives with minimal turbulence noise. A tower heatsink with heatpipes connected to the CPU is placed between the fan and the hard drive bays to cool the processor. The motherboard is mounted with its components facing inwards to take advantage of the airflow generated by the sole rear fan as well, with the entire back covered by a piece of clear plastic, just in case anything makes contact with the shell and short circuits. Generally speaking, it is pretty packed inside the QNAP TVS-463, but everything is neatly placed and cabled to maximize cooling efficiency.

The power supply is a Delta Electronics DPS-250AB-44D power supply rated at 250W maximum. Sustained power output is set as 240W when all three rails are active -- distributed as 6A on +3.3V, 12A on +5V, and 17A on +12V. There is no mention of such being an 80 Plus certified power supply, but other variants of Delta's DPS-250AB series power supplies are 80 Plus Bronze certified.

Unless you are someone determined to void your warranty and persistent enough to rip your new $800 file server apart, it is actually quite a challenge to dig into the further details on this product. I bet the guy who designed the chassis was probably thinking to himself, "No one is going to take this product apart, but if someone tries, I will make their life as hard as possible." As it has always been, QNAP has 'conveniently' made everything interlocking -- for example, the motherboard cannot be removed unless you release a screw hidden behind the front panel as well as the SATA backplane, which the latter cannot be taken out by itself, since it is blocked off by the chassis frame and power supply. But if you are as inclined as I have, then a bit of persistence and thirty minutes of time will prove to be quite rewarding. (It took me almost two hours with my first QNAP, but with some experience, half an hour was good enough this time around.) After removing the power supply and disengaging the chassis back panel, remove six screws on the SATA backplane. You can now slide it out by moving it to the left. Take out all the screws at the back of the motherboard, disconnect all the cables, and remove six more screws to take out the front panel. A screw next to the front panel controls will allow you to take the motherboard out entirely. Now we can finally really take a closer look at the hardware under the hood.

QNAP's TVS-463 NAS features an AMD GX-424CC system on a chip. The AMD SoC features four cores running at 2.4GHz, 2MB L2 cache, and is rated at 25W TDP. An integrated Radeon R5E GPU is clocked at 497MHz, and utilizes 1GB of system memory for graphics. There is a large heatsink near the center of the motherboard with a heatpipe connected to a tower fin array in order to cool down the AMD GX-424CC. It is attached by four plastic clips. Intel's WGI210AT Gigabit LAN controller powers its two Gigabit Ethernet ports at the back. USB 3.0 is supplied by ASMedia's ASM1074 controller. One PCI Express slot is powered by the ASMedia ASM1182e. Hardware is monitored by a Fintek F71869AD. All of these mentioned ports are soldered directly to the motherboard, which is labeled "TVS-863 PRO" on the silkscreen, indicating this is the same PCB found in its higher end brethren.

QNAP's embedded Linux based operating system is installed on an Apacer AP-UM512MR13CS-2MST 512MB SLC flash memory chip on a module.

The user upgradeable memory slot can be seen on the left. Since this is the back of the motherboard, you can easily add extra RAM to the system immediately after taking the shell off, which means you will not void your warranty. Even the clear plastic sheet that covers the back of the motherboard has a small cutout for easy RAM installation. Our NAS came with 4GB of DDR3L-1600 SODIMM memory featuring eight Micron MT41K512M8RH-125 ICs. The TVS-463 is also available with 8GB of RAM, but at press time, there is a price difference of $60 between the two models. A 4GB SODIMM is only about $30, and you can easily upgrade it yourself in less than five minutes. From my experience, I never needed any more memory than my QNAP NAS already came with, but user upgradeable memory is always a good thing for more RAM intensive applications. This is especially useful if you are planning to use it as a virtualization box.

Lastly, we have the SATA backplane, and the rear 120mm fan. All of them are SATA 6Gb/s ports supplied by a pair of Marvell 88SE9215 controllers. On the right, the YS Tech FD121225LB is a 120mm ball bearing PWM fan specified at 0.18A for a maximum of speed of 1800 rpm. The rated airflow is 73 CFM and 2.6 mm-H2O static pressure at 34 dB of noise.

We can see QNAP used excellent hardware for their network attached storage system. But we must understand the sum of the system is not limited to just the hardware, but also the software. Over the years, network attached storage systems have evolved from relatively simple file servers to fully fledged network appliances with more features than I can keep track of. As such, we will take a look at the latest operating system update from the company, QTS 4.1. After putting everything back together, and praying that my TVS-463 still starts, we hit the power button to fire it up.

Page Index
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
8. Conclusion