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

Page 5 - Final Thoughts and Conclusion

Like its predecessors, the QNAP TS-559 Pro+ is a high performance, fully featured file server that occupies a small footprint for its ability to accommodate five hard disks with hot swap trays -- yet retaining great power efficiency as demonstrated on the previous page. It is also very easy to setup and use out of the box, as well as maintaining it after deployment, by 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.

Many sophisticated users will be quick to point out that using consumer drives, such as the trio of Western Digital Caviar Blue 1TB hard disks as shown in the photo above, may be dropped out of a RAID array unexpectedly down the road, because it is not TLER enabled. TLER stands for 'Time Limited Error Recovery', which is Western Digital's name for a feature that limits a hard drive's error recovery time to seven seconds (Seagate calls it ERC; Samsung and Hitachi calls it CCTL). According to Western Digital, consumer hard drives may enter deep recovery mode, and could take up to two minutes to deal with a bad sector. During this time, the hard drive will not respond. Because of this, RAID controllers may mark the drive as unreliable, because it has failed to respond within a set period of time. Older Western Digital consumer drives can have TLER enabled using the WDTLER.EXE utility; unfortunately it no longer works on the latest models and revisions.

If you need hard disks that are guaranteed to play well in a RAID environment, enterprise grade or RAID edition drives are available from each respective drive manufacturer. This is where the problem comes in: Such products are usually two to three times the price of comparable consumer drives with the same capacity! Can the huge price difference be justified just for the SOHO user to get some data redundancy working with their small network file server?

For most users, the answer is 'no'. TLER and related RAID array configuration problems as aforementioned are more crucial with demanding business environments than a SOHO NAS setup. As far as your QNAP file server is concerned, the way RAID is implemented differs from dedicated hardware RAID controllers; Linux software RAID is much more lenient with consumer drives. Seagate and Western Digital lists possible usage of their consumer drives in consumer RAID environments on their website -- ie. software RAID -- and this is no different. QNAP claims that products contained in their hard drive compatibility list found on their website include RAID testing; both Western Digital's Caviar Green EARS and Blue EALS drives are found on there, and I have experienced no problems with either running in RAID 5 in my TS-559 Pro+. Additionally, many users have reported running non-TLER enabled drives in software RAID environments for extended periods of time with no problems at all. And to be honest, if your drive spends so much time dealing with bad sectors, chances are that you should put one through RMA anyway, haha. This is not to say that enterprise or RAID edition drives are completely unjustified, but unless you are in a more mission critical environment dependent on higher quality drives with longer warranties than their consumer counterpart, consumer drives offer significantly better bang for your buck. It would still be excellent if QNAP would offer user configurable drive timeout limit for the NAS, however.

You may also notice that the QNAP TS-559 Pro+ uses pretty much standard x86 hardware from Intel for the most part. From the Intel Atom D525 processor, to the NM10 chipset, it quickly becomes apparent to us that the QNAP TS-559 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-559 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 Megatrends 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.

Of course, this is just for fun -- in practical application, there is no real reason why you need to run anything other than QNAP's brilliant built in Linux based operating system. If you are in a business environment, software licensing issues and easy deployment with excellent compatibility easily justifies the cost of owning a QNAP NAS for file storage; especially considering its particularly loaded set of features in interfacing with your existing home, SOHO, or enterprise network. The TS-559 Pro+ can be utilized as the network shared storage of VMware and Citrix virtualization environments, as well as certified Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V and failover cluster compatibility. You can import Windows Active Directory user accounts, too.

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-559 Pro+ is excellent as always. Its solid construction and attention to detail is very commendable. The internal 120mm fan is also very quiet during normal operation; even with its default Smart Fan setting, I can hear my hard drives clearly over the fan in the background. The fan spins at 900rpm typically even with four hard drives installed; room temperature is kept at approximately 22c and all my hard drives hover around 35c. Its low noise emission is definitely appreciated, as we've came to expect from the QNAP TS-439 Pro and 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 pants peeing speed across the board in our benchmarks over Gigabit LAN, for most of us the problem is probably not going to be the NAS being slow -- it is most likely going to be either a slower hard drive or a low performing network adapter on the client computer. My QNAP TS-559 Pro+ with 3x Western Digital Caviar Blue EALS 1TB drives in RAID 5 is really fast, but I feel that the write speed can probably be improved a bit in this setup. As far as read is concerned, I can practically say that the QNAP TS-559 Pro+ pushes the limit of what Gigabit Ethernet can realistically carry; just slap some fast enough drives in there and you are good to go. Generally speaking, the performance is 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-559 Pro+ will strive to impress in performance and consistency, every single time.

You might think the QNAP TS-559 Pro+ having 1GB of RAM is a measly amount by today's standards -- but during our tests, it is definitely adequate according to the data provided by the system even under full speed simultaneous connections. QNAP's embedded operating system is relatively lightweight; our TS-559 Pro+ with three drives running in RAID 5 plus a separate single disk uses about 200MB on average. The dual core Atom D525 processor also kept up with our demands very well. When I migrated about 160GB of data from my old drive to the TS-559 Pro+ with three Caviar Blue 7200rpm drives in RAID 5, CPU load was about 10-15%, maybe 20% at the most. To simulate a more demanding multi-user SOHO environment, I've got two separate computers copying data in the RAID 5 array, another moving data on the single disk, in conjunction with our QNAP NMP-1000 and another computer streaming 1080p video all at the same time. CPU load was less than 50%. The TS-559 Pro+ did not even break a sweat. No streaming lag. Just a small slowdown in transfer rate (Considering how many computers can't even max out the bandwidth of the TS-559 Pro+ anyway)!

QNAP continues to use their excellent V3 firmware with an excellent frontend user interface. 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. With stuff like QMobile, I think QNAP has gone above and beyond what an average user expects from a network attached storage device as aforementioned -- the amount of features available on the QNAP TS-559 Pro+ for home and business users alike is impeccable.

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, and our TS-439 Pro haven't even crashed once in a full year of usage (It was only taken out by power failures in the house), 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-559 Pro+. My experience with every QNAP NAS I have used in the past is very positive. We will update this article, and any associated uptime information, when sufficient data on the performance and reliability of the TS-559 Pro+ can be obtained down the road. Carrying a retail price of around $1000 at press time, my advice to you is don't look at QNAP's network attached storage systems just by the hardware specifications on paper -- in application, the value offered in the combination of performance, quality, and the huge abundance of features -- especially for business -- certainly cannot be overlooked.

Update March 6, 2011: Other than a a time where I had to unplug my system to physically move it, my QNAP TS-559 Pro+ hasn't crashed once under my ownership. I wanted to try out QNAP's new v3.4 firmware at the time of writing this, but before we get to that, my current uptime is 155 days, 7 hours, and 5 minutes. That's 5.09 months! Unfortunately, a restart due to system software update will commence in a few minutes, breaking the 155 day uptime. I am sure if I don't update the system, it can go for a lot longer.

Update August 23, 2011: Other than suffering from one or two power failures in the house, the QNAP TS-559 Pro+ has never crashed on me from one full year of long term testing. Not even once. Used on a daily basis. With no exception, this is yet another proven stable and reliable system from QNAP!

Special thanks to Vera and Siimon over at QNAP for making this review possible.

APH Recommended Award | APH Review Focus Summary:
9/10 means Excellent product with very minor drawbacks that does not affect the overall product.
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 8.4/10
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-559 Pro+ is a brilliant 5-bay network attached storage that packs tons of oomph under the hood for the job, loaded with lots of features and an absolute pleasure to use, with excellent reliability to boot.

Do you have any comments or questions about the QNAP TS-559 Pro+? Drop by our Forums. Registration is free, and it only takes a minute!

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