QNAP TS-470 Review (Page 2 of 8)

Page 2 - A Closer Look - Hardware (External)

The QNAP TS-470'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-559 Pro II. From the angle of our photo above, the only thing that has changed is an infrared receiver above the fourth drive bay, used for MCE remote controls. This can be a pretty useful feature, especially considering QNAP wants to move their NAS into your living room as a media center system. On the other hand, if QNAP wants to be taken seriously as an entertainment device, I think its industrial/datacenter appearance will need a makeover -- it looks too businessy for home users. I am sure there is a way to please both groups.

The quad-bay TS-470 measures in at 18.0cm wide, 23.5cm deep, and 17.7cm tall according to specifications -- just like the TS-439 Pro and everything that came in between. Like the last few generations of QNAP network attached storage systems, the QNAP TS-470 features an internal power supply rather than a power brick; we will cover that in detail in just a moment. The current QNAP NAS design is focused on a more industrial/datacenter look than preceding models such as the QNAP TS-409 from 2008. 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. 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 TS-470. QNAP's embossed logo is finished in brushed silver-colored metal, and placed near the top left corner; whereas a black, 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'll sacrifice some usability. Both of the buttons protrudes slightly, so there's 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.

The QNAP TS-470's LCD display is navigated by two simple buttons adjacent to it: The Enter key, and the Select key. There's more than sufficient room for more, especially something like a D-pad may greatly enhance navigation. Fortunately, this screen isn't 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 black 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 TS-470 is constructed on a steel frame, its shell that covers three sides of the system is composed of brushed aluminum in gunmetal with a black overtone. This not only improves heat dissipation due to thermal properties of aluminum, but also makes it look incredibly attractive in my opinion. 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 don't think the TS-470 will blend in too well with your home theater receiver and Bluray 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 more or less resemble a real computer, rather than a simple network storage device as NAS devices are back in the days. This is quite an upgrade from previous QNAP devices. The reason is because the TS-470 can serve as a media center computer -- the HDMI port at the bottom right corner and 3.5mm audio at the top right corner should tell you quite a bit. Unfortunately, there is no S/PDIF output; the only way to get digital audio is via HDMI passthrough. The rest of the connection array is quite standard; where you are provided with ports for two eSATA devices, plus two USB 2.0 and two USB 3.0 ports for storage or up to three USB printers. Two integrated Gigabit LAN ports reside next to the USB ports, and two more modular ones reside at the top. You can configure them for maximum performance, network redundancy, load balancing, and even multiple independent networks. If you replace the non-integrated solution with a 10GbE card, you can pull up to 450MB/s read and 423MB/s write, according to the company's internal testing. Of course, this is under a very specific configuration. QNAP used a dual port Intel X520-SR2 10GbE server adapter on the client side, and an Intel X-520-DA2 + 802.3ad trunking mode with Intel 510 SSDs in RAID 5 on the server side.

A single 92mm YS Tech FD129225LB 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 92mm fan is specified at 1900rpm, 40.2 CFM airflow, 1.7mm-H2O static pressure, and 25.0dB 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's 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 TS-470'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 TS-470'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 controller, connected to the motherboard 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. All recent QNAP devices in the past few years have each hard disk tray is labeled "Disk 1" to "Disk 4" consecutively, so you will not mix up which one is which when you have a bunch of them disconnected. For some reason, the TS-470 went back a step, and the included trays are no longer labeled. Obviously, you can grab a permanent marker and mark them by hand, but you get my point. 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 TS-470 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.

Page Index
1. Introduction and 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. Final Thoughts and Conclusion