Articles: Networking

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High-performance network attached storage equipment is currently based on the x86 platform whereas simpler products use ARM processors from Marvell. Although the latter do not differ much in terms of clock rate or system memory support, they are viewed as inferior to the classic x86 architecture. The performance of the ARM platform can be scaled up easily by increasing the processor’s clock rate, though. So, it was just a matter of time for a Marvell-based NAS with the maximum clock rate of 2 GHz to come about.

It is the TS-419P II model from QNAP, one of the leaders of this market. It is only the processor frequency that sets it apart from its predecessor TS-419P+. The extra 25% of clock rate can hardly be a strong argument in favor of an upgrade but should certainly be considered if you are shopping for a new NAS. Another innovation in this model, QNAP’s firmware has been updated to version 3.5. It has introduced a number of exciting features like full compatibility with Mac OS X 10.7, antivirus software, RADIUS and TFTP servers, and much more!

Package and Accessories

The TS-419P II is shipped in a nice-looking and robust box. There is a lot of information on the packaging: photos of the product, its technical specs, usage scenarios, etc. The accessories are standard and include an external 12V/10A power adapter with cord, two Ethernet cables, mounting screws for HDDs, a brief installation guide and a CD with software and user manuals. HDDs are not included.

The external 120-watt power adapter is large and heavy. I don't think that modern HDDs can consume up to 30 watts to make it necessary, but the manufacturer may know something about upcoming high-capacity HDDs that I do not.

The included CD contains electronic user manuals, the QFinder tool for searching for and setting the NAS up, QGet for managing downloads, and a simple backup tool called QNAP NetBack Replication. The first two utilities are available for both Windows and Mac OS X. You can find latest updates for the software and documentation at the manufacturer's website.

Exterior Design

QNAP has been unwaveringly following the same design guidelines in its midrange and top-end products: a stern-looking dark case with a plastic face panel and an aluminum top. There is a dual-line dot-matrix display at the top of the front panel. The two buttons nearby are supposed to be used for changing some of the NAS’s settings but I guess a full-featured navigation block with several buttons would be much handier, especially as there's a lot of space for it here. There are LED indicators below: system status, LAN, USB, eSATA and one indicator per each HDD.

To the left of the disk bays there are Power and Copy buttons. The latter is combined with a USB port, which is a questionable solution in terms of ergonomics. The disk bays are compatible with both 3.5-inch and 2.5-inch devices. They lack the lock which is present on QNAP’s top-end models.

The back panel is dominated by the fan grid. There are two eSATA, three USB 2.0 and two Gigabit Ethernet ports here. You can also see a power connector, a Kensington security slot and a Reset button.

Although the power adapter is external, the TS-419P II has the standard dimensions of a four-disk QNAP NAS: 18.0 x 23.5 x 17.7 centimeters. The overall impression from the exterior design is good but the buttons near the display aren't handy.

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