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Hardware Review QNAP TS-853 Pro NAS & Media Player Review

Discussion in 'Home Theater PCs' started by Dave Upton, Aug 7, 2015.

  1. Dave Upton

    Dave Upton Audiophile
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    QNAP TS-853 Pro Review

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    Hi, my name is Dave and I’m a dataholic. I’ve had this problem for several years now, and it seems like no matter how many hard drives I buy to store my Blu-ray collection, enough is never enough. I can’t browse past the hard drive sales on Amazon without getting the itch to Add to Cart. I was so tired of installing drives, moving data and fixing my collection that I hit rock bottom and seriously considered going back to optical media.

    Thankfully, I met a nice guy named Erick from QNAP and arranged to review a Network Attached Storage (NAS) appliance, the TS-853 Pro. A tier above your standard NAS, the TS-853 Pro is an 8 bay storage unit with a beefy 2GB of RAM and a Celeron 2.0GHz processor with a street price of about $920.0. What this means in layman’s terms is that the TS-853 Pro is really fast, and has the ability to protect an awful lot of data. In my case, I installed 7 4TB drives and utilized RAID 6 for data protection, resulting in 16TB of usable space.

    Setup & Installation

    Setting up a NAS is pretty simple when it comes down to it. Most of your time will be spent installing hard drives in hot-swap cages, which can be slightly annoying since each have 4 screws. Once you get this done with, you need to carefully insert each drive into a bay in the NAS, and ensure it clicks home when you close the lever. At this stage, the NAS just needs power and an Ethernet cable connected to your home router or switch before turning it on.

    QNAP provides a nice piece of software called QFinder, which searches your network for QNAP products from any PC. I ran QFinder on my machine, and it located my TS-853 Pro in about 5 seconds. From here, it’s as simple as clicking a button to start initial setup on the unit, which will open in your web browser.

    Other than setting a static IP address (Recommended), defining how you want your hard drives laid out and setting up a password, the process is pretty much automated. Once complete, you’ll be in the QTS web interface, where you can do many, many things that I’ll cover below.

    Here’s a great video from QNAP of the setup process which is a lot more informative than a few paragraphs of text:
    [media]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kua7F5vvCLE]

    Use & Configuration

    As you can see in the below screenshot, the UI of QNAP’s QTS operating system is really slick and easy to use. Being web based, it’s also accessible from any device with a browser. If you’re not a techie, QNAP still makes the process of building a NAS relatively painless. The initial guided setup will walk you through creating a volume (collection of disks in RAID) and getting the unit up and running. At that stage, all that’s left to do is create any shares and set permissions, which is easily accomplished in the Shared Folders screen. As you can see, I granted everyone read/write access to my Multimedia folder. It may be less secure, but this lets any PC on my network read and write from the share without any username or password – perfect for media players like Kodi and Plex also.


    Once this stage is done, the real purpose of the NAS is to store and share files. Over my 1 Gigabit home network, the performance was spectacular, as you can see in the below graphs from the Intel NAS Performance Toolkit. 100 megabyte per second reads and writes are more than sufficient for any media use, including playback from multiple devices simultaneously.


    Value Added Features

    The TS-853 Pro has a variety of extra features for the media lover. Among these is HD Station, which utilizes the built in HDMI output on the NAS and allows the easy use of media players like Kodi right from the unit.
    In my case this wasn’t particularly useful, as I have started using Chromebox units running OpenELEC as my primary media consumption endpoints, but it’s a great feature for those who need it.

    If you are running all your AV gear in a rack, it would actually be incredibly convenient to put the TS-853 Pro into the same rack and devote an HDMI port to it, if only for the value of saving you the cost of a media player.

    DLNA Support & iTunes Server

    The vast majority of smart TV sets, game consoles and other devices now support streaming over the network via these technologies. QNAP’s new NAS products all support both DLNA and UPnP, enabling easy consumption of photos, videos, music and streaming audio over the network.

    In addition, you can download QAirplay & Chromecast to enable streaming to Apple TV and Chromecast devices.
    As an additional value, QNAP NAS devices can also act as iTunes servers, storing and streaming your music collection to any supported iTunes player.

    Other Features:

    QNAP has many features in its Station suite, including Photo Station, Music Station, Video Station, Download Station and Digital TV Station which supports recording to the NAS via USB tuner. These are all usable organization and media management apps and are quite functional, especially if you like to access your content via web over your home network.

    One app worth mentioning is Qsirch, which allows you to effectively search the contents of your NAS based on any attribute or type of meta data, just like Windows search. The list of available apps is extremely long, suffice to say that any feature you could conceivably want is available through the App ecosystem.

    Conclusion:

    In the TS-853 Pro QNAP has built a screaming fast NAS with many features that business and home users will appreciate. While the product may be targeted primarily to the business user, there is no question that the home entertainment enthusiast will find a great deal to enjoy. For those of us looking for a home solution that combines media management, storage, utilities and can perform at extremely high levels supporting playback on multiple TV’s at once, the TS-853Pro is without a doubt a fantastic choice. Recommended.
     
  2. Peter Apruzzese

    Peter Apruzzese Producer

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    Nice review - but missing one bit of info. How much is it?
     
  3. Dave Upton

    Dave Upton Audiophile
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    Thanks - i've fixed it. It streets for about $920.00
     
  4. Peter Apruzzese

    Peter Apruzzese Producer

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    Thanks!
     
  5. Al.Anderson

    Al.Anderson Cinematographer

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    Thanks Dave, I appreciate NAS reviews (although I'm not at 8 bays ... yet).


    Any feedback on the transcoding performance you've seen?


    I foolishly went with a low end QNAP. It works great, but no transcoding; so I'm looking to upgrade as soon as my wife forgets I bought the last one.
     
    John Dirk and charleyp1 like this.
  6. Dave Upton

    Dave Upton Audiophile
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    The processor on this unit is pretty beefy, so i was able to play back transcoded 1080p mkv's without a problem.

    I have moved away from transcoding for the most part now that Chromebox computers can run OpenELEC/Kodi for so little money, but I did test it briefly on my trusty smart TV.
     
  7. bigshot

    bigshot Cinematographer

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    Is it expandable to add more drives than just 8?
     
  8. Al.Anderson

    Al.Anderson Cinematographer

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    Oops, forgot to say thanks for the info.


    The problem, for me, with Kodi is it's a direct connection, so it only works to one device. I'm streaming to 5 TVs. Still, the next NAS I get will definitely have an HDMI port.
     
  9. Dave Upton

    Dave Upton Audiophile
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    Using the NAS as file storage, you can run Kodi on as many endpoints as you want. I have done 4 at the same time.
     
  10. Dave Upton

    Dave Upton Audiophile
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    Yes, but the storage is external. You can add up to 8 more drives using QNAP's UX-800 expansion unit.
     
  11. Al.Anderson

    Al.Anderson Cinematographer

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    Damn, I thought it only ran on the NAS. My quick lunchtime search points to Chromebox as a good host; would you mind telling me what device(s) you're running Kodi on?
     
  12. Stephen_J_H

    Stephen_J_H All Things Film Junkie

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    The whole point of NAS is that anything that is on the network can connect to the NAS. If you are a little more tech-literate, you may want to consider building your own media box from a Raspberry Pi, which can run both PLEX and Kodi and at about 1/3 the cost of an Android box.
     
  13. Al.Anderson

    Al.Anderson Cinematographer

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    Thanks Steven. I do now have a Pi, although I've only played with it a bit. And that's mostly because after I moved my Plex server from the NAS to my computer (and only used the NAS for storage), my Roku's are working well enough that I lost the drive to muck around. At the time I thought Kodi ran on the NAS itself (I was seeing a lot of NAS's with HDMI outs and misunderstood conversations on random forums). (And I'm a programmer, so I have to at least pretend to be tech literate.)
     
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  14. Dave Upton

    Dave Upton Audiophile
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    I blame the NAS makers for this. They started to throw HDMI outputs on board because they thought they could supplant the HTPC/NMT market - which didn't really pan out.

    I'm now streaming a lot of 4K content from my NAS also and it's working like a champ.
     
    Stephen_J_H likes this.
  15. Al.Anderson

    Al.Anderson Cinematographer

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    >> I blame the NAS makers for this. ...

    That makes sense. And I didn't pick up on the fact that the market was trying to shake itself out.
     
    Stephen_J_H likes this.
  16. Russell G

    Russell G Fake Shemp

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    Thanks for this. Thinking about gettng the Qnap TS-453Be as a plex server since with the plexpass it supports transcoding for when I need it.

    Dumb newb question: When a nas is set-up with RAID 5 or whatever, can you basically treat it like another windows hard drive, creating folders and whatnot?
     
  17. Dave Upton

    Dave Upton Audiophile
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    Yes, you just map a network drive from Windows and it will be like any other storage. You can also use UNC paths such as: \\NasName\SharedFolder
     
  18. Russell G

    Russell G Fake Shemp

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    Beauty, eh! Thanks!
     

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