QNAP TS-269 Pro review: A fast and powerful NAS box with a steep learning curve
Few would dispute that QNAP makes very fast NAS hardware—the company's boxes are consistently at the top of PCWorld's performance charts. The TS-269 Pro is no exception, being the overall fastest two-bay NAS box that we've scrutinized on our new test platform. The margin of victory, however, wasn’t that great. What really sets this $600 (unpopulated) unit apart from the crowd is its slew of software features and its superior connectivity.
The TS-269 Pro features a 2.13GHz, dual-core Intel Atom D2700 CPU and 1GB of memory (which you can expand up to 3GB, using the single free SODIMM slot). One of my few complaints about the TS-269 Pro is that removing the case cover to access said memory slot was a bit of a chore the enclosure is baby smooth with nothing to grip. QNAP populated our test unit with two 1TB Western Digital WD10EFRX hard drives mirrored in RAID 1. The drive normally ships without drives.
My other minor gripe concerns the TS-269 Pro's otherwise top-tier port array. The front USB port, normally used for quickly copying the contents of a USB flash drive, is only USB 2.0. I'm now using USB 3.0 thumb drives almost exclusively and reaching behind the unit to access the two significantly faster USB 3.0 ports is a bit of a pain. Otherwise it's all good: dual gigabit Ethernet ports with failover and binding, an eSATA port, and two additional USB 2.0 ports. There's also a Kensington lock port for securing the unit to your workbench or rack, and an HDMI port for outputting HD content and surveillance to a monitor or TV.
QNAP outshines everyone but Synology in the breadth of software features n its Linux-based operating system. These go way beyond simple file-sharing, administration, and backup to include iSCSI, iTunes and DLNA servers, direct photo/music/video viewing in your browser, and video surveillance support. You also get a VPN, FTP, and TFTP servers; full domain and LDAP support; and more. Check the company’s website for the full list, where you can also play with the operating system via an online demo. QNAP matches—and in some small ways beats—Synology in operating system features, QNAP’s OS is generally not as easy to use; it takes a fair amount of knowledge to implement many of its features.
As I mentioned up front, the TS-269 Pro is very fast, although it’s not as fast writing data as previous QNAP models we've tested. It wrote our large 10GB file at 85.8MBps, read it at 94.2.4MBps, and wrote 10GB of smaller files and folders at 66MBps. For some reason, the TS-269 Pro read the smaller files and folders slower than it wrote them, at 41MBps. Overall, those are first-place numbers, and very good for a box running in mirrored mode, though Iomega's px2-300d is a faster reader. Note that we tested using only one Ethernet port.
All in all, the TS-269 Pro is a very good NAS box—arguably the best in its class. It's not remotely budget-priced, and you’ll need decent IT chops to get the most out of it, but more advanced users and IT personnel will love it.