Reviews | QNAP TS-439 Pro (Page 5 of 5)

Page 5 - Final Thoughts and Conclusion

At this point, you may already notice a few things the QNAP TS-439 Pro: It's a power efficient, high performance, and fully featured file server that occupies a small footprint for its ability to accommodate four hard disks with hot swap trays. It's also very easy to setup and use out of the box, as well as maintaining it after deployment, through QNAP's excellent web configuration interface. These are the attributes that make a network attached storage system so desirable to consumers and SOHO users alike.

You may also notice that the QNAP TS-439 Pro uses pretty much standard x86 hardware from Intel for its basis. From the Intel Atom N270 processor, to the 945GSE chipset and ICH7M Southbridge that controls its USB, eSATA, and network ports, it quickly becomes apparent to us that the QNAP TS-439 Pro is not only restricted to being just a standard network attached storage device -- it can actually run Windows or any compatible x86 operating system!

This is especially convenient because not only does the QNAP TS-439 Pro have standard core hardware, it also has a standard VGA video output and four USB ports at the back to connect all the necessarily peripherals and hardware. While the internal hard drives are unfortunately unbootable because it is connected to the motherboard via an external Marvell controller on the PCIe bus, the oh-so-familiar American Megetrends BIOS is easy to configure. Since eSATA is identical to the internal SATA interface, a quick setting in the BIOS to swap the interface precedence order allows you to install a bootable OS on an eSATA drive. You can also boot from USB (So you can plug in a USB DVD-ROM, for example); USB external drives are acceptable for installing your OS, but for operating systems like Windows, you'll need to employ some modifications. eSATA will probably save you a lot of headaches down the road. It is important to remember that the embedded operating system for QNAP's TS-439 Pro is stored on an IDE44 128MB flash chip, which can be very easily removed if it causes any boot problems.

So if you ever do plan to install something like Windows Server 2003 or 2008 onto the QNAP TS-439 Pro, you can reap the benefits of a small footprint server with the features of a full featured server that far exceeds beyond its ability as a standard file server (Although the QNAP TS-439 Pro does already feature tons of features out of the box, it's always fun to play around with it haha).

As far as hardware goes, as always I am not a fan of the warranty to seal, as I've mentioned earlier in this review. That aside, the build quality of QNAP's TS-439 Pro is excellent. Its solid construction and attention to build quality detail is very commendable, as we would always expect from QNAP. The internal 92mm fan is also very quiet during normal operating; even with its default Smart fan setting I can hear my hard drives clearly over the fan in the background. The fan spins at around 1100rpm; room temperature is kept at approximately 22c and all my hard drives hover around 32c. Its low noise emission is definitely appreciated, as we've came to expect from the QNAP TS-409 as well. While I personally don't recommend running the server in your bedroom or similar, most people shouldn't have any problems -- it all boils down to how loud your hard drives are!

Performance is also strong across the board in our tests -- with a whopping 60MB/s peak performance over a single Gigabit LAN, single disk configuration, and Windows copy; the QNAP TS-439 Pro simply screams fast for a network attached storage! Performance dropped with our small file benchmark, but this is more or less limited by the hard drive as well. Most standard NAS devices I've tested in the past is considered 'fast' as the meter moves past 25MB/s maximum throughput -- usually I'm a bit hesitant to call them "fast" -- but it's all relative, right? The QNAP TS-439 Pro proves to be different -- it's just "fast", period -- as its performance completely blew me away! Generally speaking, the performance is also very consistent as far as sustained data rate goes. There are no sudden data rate spikes, whether up or down. Consistent data delivery is always important, and the QNAP TS-439 is certainly designed properly in this area!

However, while its 1GB of RAM is definitely adequate according to the data provided by the system even under full speed simultaneous connections -- its embedded operating system is relatively lightweight; usually uses no more than 80MB idling -- I feel that the Atom processor suffers in this situation. With one or two users at full load, the performance is consistent and very impressive, as seen in the previous page. But once you add more users, it will max out the CPU load and performance will start to go down from there. For a network attached storage that costs approximately $750 USD retail at press time, it's definitely priced in the higher range segment of network attached storage systems. There's no reason why QNAP couldn't use a dual core Atom 330 rather than the current single core Atom N270, because if cost is an issue, the QNAP TS-439 Pro is already relatively expensive. The former would significantly improve performance when you have a few more users accessing the device all at the same time. It might not happen all too often for most home and SOHO users (How often do you have three or four people mass loading data into the box, while another is trying to stream videos off it?); but factually speaking an Atom N330 isn't that much more expensive compared to an N270. For a product that charges a premium for performance and features, I would definitely expect it to provide a full degree of such. The QNAP TS-439 Pro certainly does not lack features, nor its benchmarking performance as we've seen in the previous page -- but an Atom N330 would dramatically increase its multiple user, high bandwidth performance to justify its current cost.

While I've complained about the previous QNAP web user interface, I really have nothing much to complain about the latest QNAP V3 GUI. The brilliant AJAX powered web configuration interface is not only pretty, but it's also very functional. Its clean and smooth design is visually very appealing and modern. Additionally, it's fast and intuitive. It makes the abundance of built in features and encompasses them in a very easy to use fashion. That's not to mention it's not resource intensive at all. I am a big fan of this brilliant web configuration system, and I think I gave it a lot of praise already haha.

As expected from excellent QNAP hardware in conjunction with its embedded Linux based operating system, we expect no problems with regards to its stability in the long run. Our projected score, based on QNAP's excellent track record, is also very high for these listed reasons. With our previous QNAP TS-409 test unit exceeding 221 days in continuous, uninterrupted service, QNAP has managed to make products that are an absolute breeze to use in everyday life -- literally trouble-free service throughout my one year of usage -- our expectations are no less with the new TS-439 Pro. My experience with the TS-439 Pro in everyday usage is so far very positive; I've got this unit for approximately one month already at the time of review. We will update this article, and any associated uptime information, when sufficient data can be obtained down the road.

Update September 18, 2010: Other than suffering from one or two power failures in the house, the QNAP TS-439 Pro has never crashed on me from one full year of long term testing. Not even once. Used on a daily basis. It is yet another proven stable and reliable system from QNAP!

Special thanks to QNAP for making this review possible.

APH:Renewal Award | APH Review Focus Summary:
7/10 means Great product with many advantages and certain insignificant drawbacks; but should be considered before purchasing.
8/10 means Definitely a very good product with drawbacks that aren't likely going to matter to the end user.
-- Final APH Numeric Rating is 7.6/10
Please note that the APH Numeric Rating system is based off our proprietary guidelines in the Review Focus, and should not be compared to other sites.

The QNAP TS-439 Pro is a fast, fast, fast NAS that provides accommodation for four drives in a high quality, compact, power efficient, and easy to use package. However, it commands a price premium that should justify for a dual-core Atom CPU for improved scalability performance in a high bandwidth multi-user network.

Page Index
1. Introduction and Specifications
2. A Closer Look
3. Configuration and User Interface
4. Performance Benchmarks
5. Final Thoughts and Conclusion