In the world of NAS appliances, competition is fierce, and the choice is amazing – so amazing, in fact, that choosing the right one requires some real effort. QNAP’s TS-269L, which found its way to our test bench, is designed for those who like everything from a home or SOHO NAS. Let’s find out if it delivers.
Introduction, A Tour of the Hardware
The last time we took a look at a QNAP NAS, Windows Vista’s first service pack had come out a month earlier. So, we’re overdue on taking a look at another, but we’re in luck: The TS-269L is a great model to end our drought with.
As a “Home & SOHO” NAS, the TS-269L is designed with entertainment, productivity, file sharing, and of course, effective backups, in mind.
What helps set one NAS vendor apart from another nowadays isn’t just the hardware features, but software features. When Greg took a look at QNAP’s TS-109 those six years ago, its Web interface was about as generic as one could get. At the time, no one thought anything of it, but as with the Web itself, evolution happens.
Today, NAS vendors take their Web interfaces – and software – very seriously. Once that box is plopped under a desk, it’s the software that gets the user’s full attention, and it has to look good. It has to be intuitive. Across the biggest NAS vendors, I believe Synology and QNAP produce the most appealing interfaces. From a usability standpoint, I’d rank a lot of them about the same. From a feature standpoint, that can of course change based on the NAS itself, as well as the vendor’s app selection (an area that’s hard to conclude-upon, given most of them offer a lot of apps).
But enough of that – let’s talk about the TS-269L in particular. The bulk of the NAS’ exterior is protected with a taupe-colored aluminium shell, while the front of the unit is plastic. As you might have surmised, the “2” in TS-269L refers to the NAS’ two-bay design. For those who are in need of more storage – or a lot more storage – the TS-469L, TS-669L, or TS869L can take care of that problem.
We’ll take a tour of the TS-269L in a few moments, but for now, here’s a rundown of its specifications:
QNAPTS-269L 2-bay NAS – Hardware
Intel Atom D2550 (2C/4T, 1MB L2 Cache, 1.86GHz)
1GB (Expandable to 3GB)
1Gbps x 2
2x USB 3.0 (Back)3x USB 2.0 (Front: 1, Back: 2) 1x eSATA (Back)
Right off the bat, the thing that stands out most to me about the TS-269L is that it features a desktop-targeted Atom D2550 SoC. That chip’s 1.86GHz clock speed is nice, but what makes it better is the fact that it supports HyperThreading. That provides this NAS with four CPU threads to work with. 1GB of RAM is nice to see as well, especially since it can be expanded to 3GB.
In total, the TS-269L has five USB ports; four of which are located at the back, and one 2.0 which can be found in front. Also at the back is an eSATA port, and as expected, any of these can be used in conjunction with QNAP’s backup solution.
Like all high-end NAS boxes, the TS-269L boasts a huge amount of software and features – at best, I’m going to be able to cover just a small fraction. For a full look at the software capabilities, check here.
QNAPTS-269L 2-bay NAS – Software
Single, JBOD, RAID 0, 1 RAID Recovery Hot-swap FIPS 140-2 256-bit AES Encryption Thin & Thick Provisioning SMART Support
Dual Gigabit w/ Jumbo Frames Fixed IP or Dynamic IP IPv4 & IPv6 SMB/CIFS, HTTP(S), (S)FTP, Telnet, NFS and AFP Protocols UPnP & Bonjour Discovery Link Aggregation for Load Balance, Failover, 802.3ad, Balance-XOR
Real-time Remote Replication USB One-touch Backup QNAP Windows Software Support for Apple Time Machine Data Backup to Cloud Storage
Over the course of the time I’ve been using this NAS, it’s had its software updated on multiple occasions. A couple of weeks ago, I updated to the latest firmware and had to retake some screenshots due to tweaks that were made, and just this past week, I was provided with another firmware that required me to do the same. QNAP is constantly evolving its QTS interface, and it’s good to see. Across all of the firmware releases I’ve used, the most recent one is the best, but the differences are so subtle in some cases, it’d make for some boring reading.
It’s time for the hardware tour, and because I tend to like fronts better than backs, let’s start there.
While the design here kind of makes it look like this front part lifts off, it doesn’t (I’m referring to the notch to the top-left). On this front-left portion, four status LEDs can be found, along with a two buttons: Power and One-touch Backup. After One-touch Backup is configured on the NAS, it can be used to backup data off of the USB device, or vice versa.
Turning the NAS around, we can see four of the five USB ports available, as well as an eSATA. There’s also an HDMI port for those who wish to use the NAS as a media-streamer. One of the perks this higher-end NAS model brings is dual LAN ports; these can be aggregated, or used for individual connections.
After removing a couple of small screws, the top of the chassis can be slid away from the front and then pulled up. Beyond taking this shroud off, I didn’t dismantle further; I knew I’d never be able to get it back together again. Overall, the internal design is clean.
Here’s the opposite side, showing off the available DIMM slot. As mentioned earlier, this NAS can be expanded to have 3GB of RAM. As logic implies, that’d require a 2GB stick to be installed here, which QNAP itself sells for an absurd $159 on its official shop. The upside of getting the stick through QNAP means that it’s guaranteed to work, but so should a 2GB Corsair DDR3-1333 SO-DIMM at Newegg that costs $35.
Nonetheless, been wondering where the original stick is? Why, it’s right on the opposite side:
Most NAS boxes offer no-brainer hard drive installation, and I can confirm that the TS-269L did in fact allow me to install the drives with almost no brain function. Lift up on the handle, pull it out, install the hard drive, and plug it back in.
QNAP has included two Ethernet cables with the TS-269L, appropriate for what I’m sure are obvious reasons. Perhaps even more appropriate, it’s also included a power adapter.
Not pictured, other accessories included are: CD-ROM, quick-install guide, and screws for 2.5-inch and 3.5-inch hard drives.
With that hardware tour behind us, let’s boot this thing up and check out its inner bits.