Holy TurboNAS, Batman! The Qnap TS-259 Pro Turbo NAS posted sky-high performance for a network-attached storage box. Granted, our test configuration of this two-bay NAS device includes two 750GB Western Digital Black Caviar drives in RAID 0, which is optimised for performance, not data redundancy. But that generally explains only a couple of percentage points of performance (depending on the specific test), and the TS-259 Pro was more than two times faster than the nearest competitor we've tested to date. This speed difference is visible. In my hands-on examination, directory windows snapped open with almost startling speed.
Qnap asserts that the unit's 1.66GHz Intel Atom N510 dual-core CPU is the primary reason for the unit's speed. Moreover, the company specialises in enterprise-level hardware, and this model is at the low end of its business line of NAS boxes. As such, it packs two gigabit-ethernet ports, which allows MPIO (Multi-Path IO) for failover or load balancing. This way, if one ethernet path dies, you're still connected via the other. And, unlike your average consumer box, the TS-259 Pro offers MC/S (Multiple Connections per Session) to increase throughput by using both ports for traffic (we tested with only one connected). It also fully supported iSCSI in my hands-on tests.
This compact black server has two slide-out, easy-install trays for use with SATA-300 drives; the trays have individual locks, for added security. At back are two eSATA ports and four USB ports (for connecting additional storage, a printer, or even a keyboard and mouse). At front, you'll find a USB port and a copy button, for copying directly from a USB drive.
With the kind of performance the TS-259 Pro offers, one might expect a utilitarian interface or a lack of multimedia options. Not so. The home page is as slick as it gets, with a slider that controls a 3D carousel of selections, and the rest of the interface is a joy as well. The box is a full-fledged universal plug-and-play media server (the server software is Twonky Media, the same as on many NAS boxes), and there's even a surveillance app for use with IP cameras. The web-based configuration interface and features (Download Station, Multimedia Station) are largely convenient and useful. This latest version (3.3) of the software adds automatic software updates and support for Qnap's QMobile app for remote access via Apple's iOS-based devices.
Other business-friendly perks of the TS-259 Pro are VMware certification, web server and FTP server functionality, and integrated backup for both the unit and remote PCs. Consumers, meanwhile, will appreciate the integrated BitTorrent and iTunes serving capabilities.
All of this performance comes at a price, though. A drive-less unit will set you back about £440, or £150 to £200 more than two-bay consumer-grade models. But as the saying goes, you get what you pay for, and we're talking Batmobile versus a bunch of mule carts. The TS-259's incredible performance is worth the extra cash for any small business running a high-demand data application or any user who simply wants the best.