Unboxing the QNAP TS-453Be 4-Bay NAS for 2018

QNAP TS-453Be or TS-453B – Is this New NAS Still worth your data?

Last year when QNAP revealed the 4-Bay fully featured TS-453B NAS series, it was met with mostly positive feedback. The device featured excellent internal hardware, impressive and innovative external hardware and the QNAP QTS 4.3.3 software was leaps ahead of what it had been just 12 months before. However, there was one criticism of the QNAP TS-453B device that was mentioned by several reviewers when it was launched, namely the price. The QNAP TS-453B 4-bay arrived around 20% higher in cost than most of its NAS peers. There is no denying that the QNAP TS-453B was (and still is) an impressive device, but when it was released and close to £500+ without the tax or HDD media, it did make a number of buyers stop and think.

Fast forward to 2018 and QNAP have decided to re-release the B series 4-Bay, but in a new and more appealing way. Say hello to the QNAP TS-453Be, this device arrives more streamlined and with a far more attractive price point. So the question is, is this NAS worth your attention in 2018? And if you skipped the TS-453B be last year, is this new TS-453Be device worth your time, your money and your data?

The QNAP TS-453Be NAS – External Hardware

The external packaging and accessories are very similar indeed to the original NAS released in 2017, but with one small difference in 2018
The unit arrives with an external power brick, two RJ45 LAN cables, SSD and hard drive screws, and an instruction manual+warranty information. This is where we see the first difference between the TS-453B and TS-453Be NAS, namely the lack of the remote control that arrived with the original QNAP 453B Nas.

The QNAP TS-453B NAS Remote control (Not included with the TS-453Be):

new qnap remote control for NAS via HDMI IR

This is one of the ways in which this device has been brought down in cost for consumers. The remote control is still available to buy as an optional accessory and for those that would never have used it, it is a welcome choice to have.
Once we have unboxed the QNAP TS-453Be NAS, we find that the external chassis is near enough identical to that of the original TS-453B.
The device features hot swap and screwless design trays, an LCD panel giving real-time information about the device and it’s behaviour, there is a USB one-touch copy button on the front for backing up the contents of an external drive to the NAS or vice-versa and the front panel of the device although not lockable, does have a sliding removable front fascia.
This is where we find two more ways in which the TS-453be has economized on certain features found on its predecessor to bring that price down. The first one will not really affect most users, namely the SD card slot. I personally like that the TS-453B originally arrived with an SD card slot. As someone who takes many photos and videos frequently for YouTube and other services, it is of tremendous benefit to be able to quickly transfer and make network accessible recordings from my DSLR camera. However, for the most part, most users never really took advantage of an SD card slot on their NAS and therefore removing this slot is probably a clever move in economising on this device without compromising power or internal hardware.
However, another area they’ve changed on the front has upset a few more people. The original QNAP TS-453B unit arrived with a quick access USB port that allows users to upload and download files via the directly attached storage means of USB. This served as a useful backup or, for some, primary means to access data on the NAS without relying on network or internet alone. The new TS-453Be NAS does not feature this port at the front and of all the changes between the QNAP TS-453B and the TS-453Be, this is the hardest one to swallow. However once again if you never thought you would take advantage of this feature, then it is probably a good thing that you were not being expected to pay an extra £100 to £150 for a feature you’re not likely going to use.
If we turn the TS-453Be QNAP NAS around, we see that this device has maintained all of the ports access and features of its predecessor. There are standard features such as USB ports and the use for dual LAN functionality.
However, this is further bolstered by dual HDMI ports, a rear-mounted speaker that can issue alerts or even let you play your music from the NAS easily and a PCIe upgrade slot that let you add everything from 10-gigabit ethernet port to NVMe SSD cache as an optional extra.
The original TS-453B NAS is still in my top 5 NAS of 2017 and many reasons for this are thanks to fantastic hardware on this device and I’m glad that they have continued to keep most of these features in the be model

 The QNAP TS-453Be NAS – Internal Hardware

QNAP TS-453BT3 chassis removed (same as TS-453Be but without the 10Gbe Card
Internally I’m pleased to say that the majority of the features and functionality of this device are nearly identical to that of the original TS-453B 4-Bay NAS. This B series of NAS was one of the first to feature the Intel J3455 Celeron CPU, with a 1.6Ghz clock speed that can be posted to 2.3Ghz and in quad-core, this CPU can support many many features and functionality such as:
  • Host a Virtualisation or Container Platform – setup and run multiple VMs, supporting multiple Operating systems and enhanced by the Docker app, Container Station
  • Full access to your media from mobile devices, PC, Laptop and console devices
  • Serve as a cross-platform service – bridging connections and transfers of files between Mac and Windows systems over the network
  • Heavily support background data checks and comprehensive snapshot technology meaning you will have an equal amount of backup options whichever you go for. As well as migration, connection and interaction with existing cloud services like Dropbox, Google Drive ElephantDrive
  • QTS 4.3.4 provides excellent Photo Support with new features regularly added (facial recognition is the latest one)
  • Excellent Video SUpport with 360 degrees recorded playback and VLC Media playback optimization
  • Plex Media Server Support and Transcoding
  • 4K Playback (H.264 and H.265) over the network and via HDMI, with transcoding too.
  • Create comprehensive Surveillance solutions, supporting multiple IP cameras and even arriving with some licences included
  • Access exactly the same NAS OS that is updated regularly and has a huge app store to really customise your setup to make it your own
However, the last area that QNAP has made economies on this device in order to create distinct price differences between this and the TS-453B lies in the memory. The original TS-453B NAS arrived with either 4GB or 8GB of DDR3L memory. However, the new TS-453Be arrives with either 2GB or 4GB of memory. You can still buy the extra and upgrade this device to 8GB at a later date, however, if you order the 2GB model of this device the price is noticeably lower and arrives with 2x 1GB of DDR3L in the available slots.

The QNAP TS-453Be NAS – Software

Thanks to the QTS 4.3.4 software, the available applications and utilities of the TS-453Be has really evolved in a great way. Over the last 18 months, I used to refer to Synology NAS as the brand with the best software and QNAP NAS as the brand with the best hardware. However, both companies over the last year have managed to really blur those lines and the software improvements and new applications for QNAP QTS software cannot be overstated. The QNAP TS-453Be takes advantage of ALL of these. There is a new and improved surveillance platform known as QVR PRO, that is fully compatible with this device, there is enhanced video playback for 360-degree files in video station, photo station now supports AI and facial recognition, music station and a media environment manager called theatre Station can help you fully integrate your multimedia environment, and a host of IoT and development applications have arisen to meet public demand.
This all coupled with fantastic business features such as easier snapshot backups, a wider and more user friendly virtual machine creation interface with virtualisation station, enhanced CRM and CMS in first party and third party programs means that this device is more than a ‘one user-one system’ interface and finally this device has further tweaked other mainstream NAS tasks. The most popular demands being:
  • Used as an HD Plex media server with transcoding over the network or locally
  • Stand-alone PC (Android, Windows or Linux) or standalone surveillance station with the adding of Keyboard+Video+Mouse
  • Kodi plugins so you are able to share this media with your existing Kodi system, or install Kodi directly (but officially) with QNAP Club
  • Container station means that any novice or expert app developer can use this device to bench test a host of applications
  • RAID and tiered storage support mean that your data is both faster and safer than ever before
  • And even better integration with Cloud platforms such as Dropbox Google Drive and Amazon S3 mean the nurse doesn’t have to be your only backup.

The QNAP TS-453Be NAS – Conclusion

Ultimately I genuinely believe that the QNAP TS-453Be NAS model idea is a good thing. I will always want to get the most bang for my buck in any NAS purchase and although I intend to take advantage of any and all hardware capabilities of a NAS, I know that most users will rarely surpass 30 or 40% of a NAS devices potential. The TS-453Be simply gives you the choice to go big with the TS-453B or opt for TS-453Be with removed features and functionality that may only appeal to the specialist (thereby saving you money). And of course whatever makes this device more affordable to the market is only good for the NAS industry. Last year when TS-453B was released, it closest contenders were the likes of the Synology DS918+, the Drobo 5n2 and even the much older TS-453A. Back then, the fact that this device arrived so much more expensive definitely hurt its sales potential, with many users missing out the chance to take advantage of it hardware abilities. With any luck, the release of this new and more affordable TS-453Be will convince a wider range of NAS users to get their hands on this terrific piece of kit.

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