Affordable RAID 5 NAS Storage, but is the QNAP TS-328 NAS worthy of your data?
The TS-328 NAS from QNAP is easily one of the most bizarre NAS devices I’ve seen of 2018 so far. The idea of a 3-bay Network Attached Storage device has been around for a great deal of time and in fact has been attempted briefly before. However, most users tend to focus on 2 Bay or 4 Bay NAS server devices when choosing the first network attached storage device, as the former has a low hardware cost overall and the latter provides excellent RAID protection and good storage overall. However, what if you could have a device that gives you both a low hardware cost and excellent RAID configuration options. This is why the QNAP TS-328 3 Bay NAS has come into being, arriving at around £200+ without tax or hard drives, this RAID 5 enabled NAS is easily one of the lowest price competitive RAID devices that have been released in recent years. But does the QNAP TS-328 live up to its promises, is there more to this device than simple RAID functionality or does it give you more in both software and hardware than a typical 2 bay device. Let’s find out.
The QNAP TS-328 3-Bay NAS – External Hardware
The external chassis of the QNAP TS-328 is a brand new NAS that has been developed especially for this 3 hard drive configuration. Hot swapping has not been enabled as the hard drives are internally installed without trays or external access. The front of the book The device features multiple LEDs for system health and access, Drive health and access, and network activity. Otherwise, the front panel only features minimum ventilation, a power button and the very useful USB 3.0 copy button.
That copy button was one of the first features of this NAS that really stood out for me at this price point. It is a minor feature but something that is rarely found on a cost-effective budget NAS at this price point. Its primary utility is to let you backup the content of your NAS to an external USB drive or viceaversa at the single touch of a button.
Included with the QNAP TS-328 are the usual accessories that arrived with a featured NAS. We find an instruction manual, warranty information, hard drive and SSD screws (despite the fact that hard drives can be installed without a screwdriver in individual bays) to two LAN cables in Cat6, and finally an external power supply unit which means that in the unlikely event of power failure it is easy to buy a replacement PSU, free of getting your hands dirty with an internal swap.
Returning to the chassis, we notice that the case although smaller in height than most NAS server chassis, is definitely longer than most NAS devices. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing but definitely something that caught me attach unawares as you will need to install this device at least two inches further forward than other NAS devices. On the base of the device, we find more ventilation to keep the internals cool, as well as a little more ventilation on the sides.
Turning the device around we find a couple of, especially at this price point. There is a single rear-mounted a fan to keep things cool that can be set to automatically adjust its rotations per minute based on system temperature or you can control it manually if you so choose.
We find a rear-mounted speaker that provide audio notifications or even let you play your music directly from the NAS via the QNAP QTS 4.3.4 interface and music station application. We find more USB 3.0 and a USB 2.0 port readily available, as well as audio in and out port to let you integrate this QNAPTS-328 3 Bay NAS into your existing multimedia setup.
Finally, I’d like to highlight the thing that stood out the most for me with regard to the external hardware of this device, namely the two gigabit LAN ports that can be linked aggregated to effectively double the upload and download within this device.
Once again, at this price point this is definitely an impressive feature and for those with a router or switch that supports link aggregation, you will see tremendous benefit of connecting this device via dual 1Gbe LAN. Of course, there is no HDMI or PCIe expansion slot, but at around £200 this isn’t exactly surprising.
The QNAP TS-328 3-Bay NAS – Internal Hardware
In order to install hard drives inside this device, we need to remove the external plastic chassis. This is done by removing 3 screws from the rear of the device and sliding half the chassis away. I’m not personally a big fan of devices that require hard drives installed internally, however, this is largely because I am a chap who likes to hot-swap and has many hard drives on the go at any given time. So I can appreciate them my opinion is pretty narrow on this score.
Once we remove the screws and half of the chassis of the QNAP TS-328, we find our 3 hard drive trays ready to populate. A simple yet reliable pin lock design to hold hard drives in their place is a nice touch and hard drive trays are removed by pushing on the springed clips on the front of each tray and sliding each tray out. One of the hard drive trays also features an SSD converter that let us install a 2.5 inch SSD drive into the QNAP TS-328 and take advantage of SSD cache benefits in the system.
The internal frame of the QNAP TS-328 3 Bay NAS is metal in design, so do not worry too much about the plastic chassis. With the trays removed, we can see that the Realtek RTD1296 CPU and 2GB of DDR4 memory are kept cool and ventilated at all times. Once hard drives are installed, reassembly is a quick and easy affair and your NAS is ready to go whether you install one hard drive or three.
In terms of noise, this device is pretty low and definitely quieter than a number of flagship Synology and QNAP NAS that I’ve seen in 2018. Additionally, as this device utilises 3 hard drives, noise levels are kept even lower with fewer vibrating parts generating noise. I am not going to say that this device is whisper quiet, however it is definitely less than more standard 4-Bay NAS devices from both QNAP and Synology.
The QNAP TS-328 3-Bay NAS – Software
You will need to give things like virtual machines, Plex and large-scale rendering/editing tasks amiss with this unit, but it can easily support and perform modern NAS tasks in the home and SMB market with ease. All these processes are supported by a further 2 or 4GB of DDR4 memory. These specs will easily provide you with a stable platform for common QNAP NAS software as:
Download Station for HTTP, BT, FTP and NZB downloads
Photo Station, Video Station and Music Station support, as well as large-scale thumbnail generation
The QNAP App center, with hundreds of apps
All the mobile applications for iOS and Android, such as Qfile, Qvideo, Qmanager and more
A host of applications for backing up, syncronising, backup and more
Apple Time Machine Multiple Image Support
Surveillance with the use of IP Cameras and the QNAP Surveillance Station Application
What are the Specifications and Release Date of the QNAP TS-328 NAS?
4K H.264 and H.265 Media Support and Hardware Transcoding
One-Touch USB 3.0 Copy Button
Single Rear Controllable Fan
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