QNAP TS-559 Pro+ Review (Page 2 of 5)

Page 2 - A Closer Look

The QNAP TS-559 Pro+'s external design remains largely unchanged from last year's line of network attached storage systems sold by the company. The penta-bay TS-559 Pro+ measures in at 21.1cm wide, 23.5cm deep, and 18.5cm tall according to specifications. Like the TS-439 Pro we have reviewed last year, the TS-559 Pro+ features an internal power supply rather than a power brick; in which we will cover 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 -- with five 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-559 Pro+. 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. An additional green power LED is found a distance below the logo. Meanwhile, 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 an USB 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-559 Pro+'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, LAN status, USB status, as well as eSATA 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.

Over time, I have really grown to appreciate the sleek industrial look of QNAP's current line of network attached storage systems. 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.

While the QNAP TS-559 Pro+ 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!

What we have at the back of the system is practically 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. As with its predecessors from last year, you can now connect two eSATA devices, and has four USB ports for storage or up to three USB printers! Two Gigabit LAN ports reside between the eSATA and USB ports that you can configure for network redundancy, load balancing, and even two independent networks. A VGA connector is also present if you want to just plug in a monitor, and an USB keyboard, to fire up its standard American Megatrends BIOS (And before you ask, no, there are no overclocking functions haha) and Linux console. Of course, most tasks can be done with QNAP's excellent new web interface remotely.

A single 120mm ADDA 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. 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 stuff haha.

Removing its shell is pretty simple -- simply remove three screws, and slide it out. Again, I don't appreciate the warranty seal that's placed so the user will void the warranty if it is opened. While there's nothing the user can do in particular to service its internal components, you will have no choice but to void your warranty if you need to open the unit just to clean out some dust off its fan. Or anything similar, for that matter!

There's nothing particularly exciting at the bottom of the QNAP TS-559 Pro+'s chassis; what you'll see here are four large legs affixed on top of its steel frame panel. As always, they're 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 doesn't get congested inside.

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. Because of this, it should be noted that these drives are not boot configurable in the BIOS. If you plan to hack your system later on, you'll need an USB or eSATA drive. We'll go over the exciting details on Page 5.

Since this is a SATA system, all hard drives are hot swappable. Removing the hard drive tray is very simple -- just release a lever at the top, and it is out. You can lock the levers with the included keys to discourage unintended disconnections. Each hard disk tray is labeled "Disk 1" to "Disk 5" consecutively, so you won't mix up which one is which when you have a bunch of them disconnected, as seen in the photo above. 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. For the purpose of this review, I have originally purchased three Western Digital Caviar Green EALS 1TB drives to go with this NAS. I later on swapped for three Western Digital Caviar Blue EARS 1TB drives instead -- more detail on this on Page 5 of this review.

The QNAP TS-559 Pro+ supports single disk, RAID 0 (Disk Striping), RAID 1 (Disk Mirroring), RAID 5, RAID 5 plus spare, RAID 6, RAID 6 plus spare, and JBOD (Linear Disk Volume). If you want to encrypt your data, you have the option to enable its AES 256-bit volume-based encryption.

There is no wasted room inside the QNAP TS-559 Pro+ network attached storage. In the photo above, we can see the LCD controller module at the front, its five 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 ADDA fan and the five hard drive bays. Again, 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. It is pretty packed inside the QNAP TS-559 Pro+, 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, 12.0A on +5V, 17.0A 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.

Unless you are a user determined to void your warranty and persistent enough to rip your new $1000 file server apart, it is actually quite a challenge to dig into the further details on this product. QNAP has 'conveniently' made everything interlocking -- for example, the motherboard cannot be removed unless you release the SATA backplane, which cannot be removed by itself since one of the many screws are blocked off by the chassis frame. You'll end up taking apart everything, haha. That said, as shown, the motherboard is mounted on the left side of the system, facing inwards, with its back covered entirely by a piece of clear plastic, just in case in makes contact with the shell and short circuits. QNAP's TS-559 Pro+ Turbo NAS features an Intel Atom D525 1.8GHz dual core processor with Hyper-Threading, along with 1GB of DDR2 SODIMM memory with eight Hynix H5PS1G83EFR ICs. This is the fastest Intel Atom processor available; identical to the one Kenneth benchmarked in the Jetway NC98-525-LF mini-ITX board review last month. QNAP's embedded Linux based operating system is installed on a 512MB Apacer flash memory chip, connected directly to the motherboard. There is a large black colored aluminum heatsink near the center of the motherboard to cool down the Intel Atom D525 processor and NM10 chipset.

Intel's NM10 chipset provides native support to its USB ports, as well as the two rear eSATA ports -- leaving an external Marvell controller to feed its five main drive bays, as aforementioned. Intel's 82574L Gigabit LAN controller powers its two Gigabit Ethernet ports at the back. All of these mentioned ports are soldered directly to the motherboard. Generally speaking, it is safe to say the QNAP TS-559 Pro+ is nearly a full-featured standard x86 system.

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