The QNAP TS-659 Pro Turbo NAS packs six drive bays and up to 12 terabytes of storage into a compact, energy-efficient box. Armed with Intel's Atom D510 processor and QNAP's latest firmware, this network-attached storage (NAS) device is a competent server, though its speed is disappointing.
QNAP TS-659 Pro Turbo: Enclosure
There are very few aesthetic differences between the QNAP TS-659 Pro Turbo and TS-639 Pro Turbo we reviewed last year. The QNAP TS-659 Pro Turbo NAS looks like an elongated TS-459 Pro Turbo NAS, but two fans on the back of the chassis should help keep the hard drives extra cool. The brushed metal enclosure makes the TS-659 Pro Turbo NAS more attractive than the vast majority of plastic NAS devices. The NAS device's drive bays are individually lockable but they aren't tool-less (you'll need to screw the drives in prior to inserting the trays).
The QNAP TS-659 Pro Turbo NAS has four USB ports on the back panel, and a fifth at the front. A one-touch copy button can be configured to back up to or from external hard drives. Two eSATA ports allow for fast transfers from external storage, though the NAS device only supports ext3, ext4, NTFS and FAT32 file systems. Hard drives with the HFS+ file system (used by Mac OS X) are not currently supported.
There are two Gigabit Ethernet ports on the back of the QNAP TS-659 Pro Turbo NAS device which support failover and load balancing. This means that both ports can balance network traffic over a single IP address; if one port fails, the other will simply continue operating as normal.
Intel's newest dual core Atom CPU, the D510, and 1GB of memory power the QNAP TS-659 Pro Turbo. Clocked at 1.66GHz, the processor is built for low-power desktops rather than netbooks, so it will provide better performance than older Atom processors while retaining relatively low power consumption.
Considering the QNAP TS-659 Pro Turbo runs the same basic hardware as the TS-459 Pro Turbo, it is no surprise that power consumption is about the same. With two Barracuda 7200.11 1.5TB hard drives running in a RAID 0 array, we found the NAS device consumed between 23.9 Watts and 42.8W.
QNAP TS-659 Pro Turbo: Performance
We test all NAS devices by connecting them through a Gigabit Ethernet network to a testbed PC with a 300GB Western Digital Velociraptor hard drive. We run Intel's NAS Performance Toolkit, which determines how the QNAP TS-659 Pro Turbo NAS device performs when streaming 720p high-definition media from the device as well as the ability to record the same video while performing backup operations.
We also run two file transfer tests to see how the NAS device performs in the real word. One file transfer test uses 3000 1MB files; this is intensive for both the hard drives and the embedded processor, and a good indication of how it will perform when backing up your computer. In addition, we transfer 20GB worth of 3-4GB files, a faster test that is similar to dealing with large videos, disk images or database files.
The QNAP TS-659 Pro Turbo NAS device's performance was in some instances half that of the cheaper, four-bay TS-459 Pro Turbo. Our benchmarks show that the NAS device falls behind similarly capable alternatives in Intel's NAS Performance Toolkit, while, surprisingly, reading data is slower than writing it. This is likely due to the SATA controller, which has to handle six drives simultaneously rather than four. Though the TS-659 Pro Turbo remains a reasonable performer, we would stick with the cheaper model for performance-intensive tasks.
QNAP TS-659 Pro Turbo: User interface
Setting up the QNAP TS-659 Pro Turbo is incredibly easy; the NAS device's LCD screen provides "touch-n-go PC-less installation", which lets you set up a RAID array and encrypt volumes without having to install firmware first or use a bundled utility on a client PC. Once set up is completed, you will have access to the same useful AJAX-based interface that we've seen on previous QNAP NAS devices.
The clean interface makes configuration easy and there are plenty of wizards to guide users through basic tasks like setting up network protocols and changing user access rights or quotas.
Drives can be configured in RAID levels 0, 1, 5 and 6, as well as single or linear JBOD volumes. There are network protocols to suit Microsoft (SMB), Apple (AFP/Bonjour) and Linux (NFS), as well as FTP and secure HTTP servers.
The QNAP TS-659 Pro Turbo NAS device offers an iTunes server, as well as a Twonky Media-powered UPnP server that can stream music, videos and photos over a network to DLNA-compliant devices such as networked DVD players, media players and even some televisions. You can access a separate media browser through the web interface, though this is little more than a file list; the audio and photo browsers available on Synology's NAS devices are much more useful.
Backups can be scheduled and configured to use external storage devices, remote servers and Amazon's S3 cloud storage platform. QNAP has also added direct compatibility with Apple's Time Machine, a feature which was previously difficult to set up on the company's NAS devices. Along with AES encryption for individual volumes, small businesses should benefit from an IP block-out system that can be configured for each network protocol, and a customisable firewall.
The iSCSI target feature isn't out of the ordinary, though we appreciate the ability to use the NAS device as an iSCSI server itself; simply enable the "Virtual Disk" feature to use other iSCSI targets as local storage.
The QNAP TS-659 Pro Turbo NAS device doesn't lack server features, but the data transfer and streaming performance is disappointing when compared to cheaper alternatives. If storage capacity takes precedence over speed, it is certainly worth a look.