The QNAP TVS-h874 NAS Drive Review
Labelling the QNAP TVS-h874 as the ‘ULTIMATE NAS’ is quite a big claim, right? I mean, we are still talking about the same formula as another desktop NAS right? Well, yes and no. I think it would be fair to say that I have seen ALOT of different NAS systems over the years. In my time in this industry, I have seen a lot of different brands make alot of different attempts to release the ‘ULTIMATE’ desktop NAS. Although NAS software has constantly been evolving these past two decades, there has always been one nagging barrier for many users – the standard of hardware of most NAS devices always seems to lag behind the standard of most standard/prosumer PCs. This leads to the more IT-aware to wonder why they are paying so much for an ‘Intel Celeron’ sometimes, or that “I could build this myself for cheaper”. Now, the big hurdle has always been about power efficiency. A NAS is designed to be a 24×7 device, rarely off and having to withstand the rigours of constant and consistent access, whilst maintaining peak performance. Therefore domestic components (that require additional cooling and lack the endurance of server-grade parts) aren’t wholly NAS appropriate – the same goes for the construction of these devices to hold as much storage as possible, whilst still keeping things cool, efficient and compact. Why am I telling you all this? Well, because the QNAP TVS-h874 NAS is by FAR the most POWERFUL desktop NAS device I have ever had to review, whilst STILL maintaining those principles of efficiency, sustained performance and still maintaining high capacity potential. The TVS-h874 is the follow-up to the now 4.5 years old QNAP TVS-872XT reviewed here, a NAS device that was already fantastically future-proof and even now, at the end of 2022, can still hold it’s own)and saw several revisions in it’s time with the TVS-872N 5GbE version and TVS-872X 10GbE version. However, the TVS-h874 might well be one of the biggest jumps in desktop NAS architecture that I have ever seen, using a bleeding edge 12th Gen Intel Core family of processors (TVS-x72 Series was 8th Gen), PCIe Gen 4 Architecture, ZFS System software and tremendous scalability in storage, Memory and Upgrades – THIS has all the building blocks to be my ULTIMATE NAS! So, let’s review the QNAP TVS-h874 NAS and see if it deserves your data.
QNAP TVS-h874 NAS Highlights
- Intel 12th Gen i5, i7 or i9 Configuration Options, in 6 Core, 12 Core and 16 Core Versions (12/20/24 Thread Respectively) with Integrated UHD Graphics 770
- 16/32GB DDR4 Memory (128GB in Testing)
- PCIe Gen 4 Architecture (PCIe 4×6 PCIe Upgrade Slot and PCIe 4×4 M.2 NVMe)
- 8x SATA Bays, Supporting the latest 20TB & 22TB Hard Drives
- 2x 10GbE Copper Option and 2x 2.5GbE Connectivity
- 350W Internal PSU (Graphics Cards Supported)
- HDMI/KVM Support with USB 3.2 Gen 2 10Gb Connections, Type C and Type A
- Choice of ZFS or EXT4 System Software and File System
- Potential for Thunderbolt 3/4 Upgradability Down the Line
QNAP TVS-h874 NAS Review – Quick Conclusion
The QNAP TVS-h874 NAS is easily one of the most hardware-capable desktop NAS systems that I have ever seen (as you would expect for £2500+) and has clearly been designed with phenomenal future proofing in mind! If you are concerned about the longevity of this NAS, this hardware architecture will still be top tier 5 years from now, with the added support of PCIe 4 meaning that high capacity and performing micro upgrades throughout its life also ensuring it remains relevant long after. It’s price tag clearly moves this purchase out of the home and squarely into the business market (though likely those that take their media seriously will add it to the cart) and the TVS-h874 will function as a solid solution for Video editing (even at 8K), high frequency and performing VMs, large scale AI powered Surveillance setup, hybrid cloud/on-prem alternative to Office 365/Google Workspace services and as the center point for all your data storage operations. Crucially though, it is that the hardware on offer here will be able to do ALL of these at the same time, therefore maximising the investment for most businesses that want to move aware from their cloud dependant ops. In terms of software,t things are a little less absolute, with QTS and QuTS still getting a little busy at times, with a steeper learning curve than its big rival DSM from Synology. That said, die-hard fans of ZFS (Zettabyte File System) will adore the inclusion of benefits in RAID handling, management and recovery that are exclusive to that platform, whilst enjoying the wide range of applications and service benefits in QuTS that are often restricted to Linux platforms. The slightly conveluded approach to release hardware that does complicate the selection process (different CPUs in the Intel 12th Gen family changing the rest of the system architecture) is something that I hoped this brand would graduate from (for the sake of simplicity), but for many, this level of choice in hardware and budget will be welcome. As is QNAP’s position on the support of 3rd party hardware (drives, PCIe upgrades, etc) and software, something that we have seen a worrying trend in the last few years against elsewhere in the industry but some other brands, to err towards 1st party/proprietary compatibility more and more. There are still lingering doubts by some on the security of NAS, with ransomware attacks on the rise and ALL brands and ALL platforms being targetted (NAS, Cloud ,etc), finding a middle ground between ease of use and depth of security being a tricky tie rope walk indeed. The TVS-h874 arrives with a wide range of Day 1 tools, further rigid defaults in QTS/QuTS in 2022/2023, considerable security settings to configure and multiple system scan tools for recommendations & preventative measures available. The QNAP TVS-h874 is probably the most powerful desktop/tower NAS drive I have ever reviewed and if you are looking for a system that can legitimately do anything server-side, but you are also willing to put in the time to configure it correctly – you will genuinely be hard pushed to find a better system in 2022, 2023 and likely 2024 at this price point and scale.
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QNAP TVS-h874 NAS Review – PACKAGING & ACCESSORIES
The retail box of the QNAP TVS-874 NAS is fairly standard and pretty much the same as the bulk of other devices in this tier of storage. Large brown box, big sticker denoting the device inside and it’s architecture – all pretty normal (if a little dull) stuff. That said, I am always very interested in the actual protection that is afforded to these devices in transit in terms of protection from shock, motion and pressure damage. Despite the QNAP TVS-874 NAS arriving unpopulated (i.e. no drive media included), there are still quite fragile devices that are susceptible to silent damage (cracks on the internal boards, loosening of connectors internally, dislodging of transistors or chips that often you do not realise happened till months/years down the line). In the case of the QNAP TVS-874 NAS, this device has a fantastically dense level of protection.
The unit is encased in a rigid hard foam that 100% prevents the device moving in transit, as well as absorbing the bulk of any physical or shock-based impact when in transit (built in Taiwan, these devices will travel more than half the globe easily). The accessories kit is held tightly in a pre-cut panel in the foam and that is pretty much it! Unless a forklift truck arm manages to punch a pallet of these in a warehouse, this is pretty much as good a level of protection as you can get. Indeed, there is enough protection here that I would ship this fully populated with little to no concern frankly. Let’s discuss what is included in the QNAP TVS-874 retail kit.
There is actually not too much in the way of accessories included with the QNAP TVS-874 NAS. No external PSU (it is a chunky internal 350W), only one ethernet cable (CAT 5e), screws for 3.5 and 2.5″ media (despite the trays being click-and-load), keys for the bays, external mains lead and docs related to the product. Not a vast amount, but pretty much everything you are going to need.
The included documents are a first-time setup manual (very light on details and far more recommended to use online resources), information on the included 3 years warranty and details on how to extend that warranty to 5 years. The cost of adding two additional years of warranty is typically relative to the cost of the device. So, for example, a TS-464 that costs around £550 will cost around £89 to add 2 more years, whereas the £2500 TVS-H874 i7 version will cost you £549. The extra warranty is purely optional and although it took QNAP longer than many wanted to create a much more user-friendly warranty support system (they now have the colour-coded system), its good to have that choice available. Extra warranty used to only be an option that could be applied in the first 60 days of ownership, but has been extended recently to within the first 9 months for a limited time. Otherwise, you still have the 3 years of hardware warranty and effective product-lifespan support in software (generally around 8-10 years depending on the device) in firmware updates that include security and service extras.
Another very, very small extra in the accessories pack that I am both happy (and sad) about is the inclusion of a couple of adhesive heatsinks that you can attach to drives installed in the two M.2 NVMe 2280 bays. Now, on the one hand, this is good because it is surprising how few brands/devices that feature M.2 NVMe SSD bays (most NAS’ these days actually) do NOT include heatsinks in the NAS retail kit, despite M.2 NVMe SSDs getting very hot during sustained access – something that forms a big part of SSD caching. So, I AM chuffed they are included (they are not expensive and show the brand is aware of this temp factor), however they are pretty small! I know that the only component you should worry about really is the SSD Controller (it will bottleneck/throttle when too hot), as the storage NAND works better when warm – but it would have been nice if QNAP included full-length 2280 Hheatsinks (they are like $10) instead. Still, better to have them than not at all!
The accessories included with the QNAP TVS-874 are fairly standard stuff, which is not a bad thing. The protection afforded to it in transit is first class and although the retail packaging itself is a bit bland (again, enterprise product that is bought over the internet – so why make it ‘snazzy’), overall QNAP TVS-874 NAS presentation is pretty spot on. Let’s discuss the design of the system itself.
QNAP TVS-h874 NAS Review – Design
The design of the QNAP TVS-h874 chassis is very similar to that of the TVS-872XT, which is unsurprising as that was the debut for this NAS design and one that has continued in most of the brand’s high-profile releases in the 5 years. It is pretty much the classic 8 SATA bay shape you would expect, but there are a few elements that are seemingly still quite unique to QNAP. As you might expect, the chassis design is largely metal throughout (with areas of the front panel and trays in plastic) that aids heat dissipation in this 24×7 server, with ventilation on practically all sides working in conjunction with a more enterprise internal fan arrangement (more on that later). Although the bulk of the physical space is dedicated to those storage bays, this system is still a bit deeper than many 8-Bay devices on the market (such as the Synology DS1821+ and Lockerstor 8), which is largely down to a larger degree of internal cooling, aggressively sized CPU heatsink and larger PCIe expandability.
Of course, one physical design feature on the TVS-h874 that is slowly growing out of fashion (but still, in my opinion, has tremendous utility) is the front visible LCD panel that gives you realtime information about the system operation, along with navigation buttons. Now, on the face of it, an LCD panel on a network/remote access storage device seems a bit redundant. However, speaking on behalf of the IT storage community, having that extra option to visible SEE the nature of an alert (RAID degradation, temp sensor, etc) without the need to log in, go through 2-step authentication and access the logs is a nice extra feature. The same goes for the ability to cycle through the device’s LCD options to find out the IP and identity of the device, so you can go straight in without having to use network scanners to locate the device. It’s a small extra and although it is by no means worth the price of admission on this £2.5K NAS, I am glad it is still there in the 2023 generation.
Another thing this device needs to take ALOT more seriously than many other NAS devices of the same storage scale is ventilation. The system TECHNICALLY has 4 fans! 1 PSU fan (doesn’t really count), two large 120m fans on the rear and an additional 80mm fan beside them. This large arrangement of fans runs in conjunction with heatsinks that are arranged across the main controller boards (with the CPU heatsink being especially large). Given this system will be running a hugely powerful CPU, PCIe 4 M.2 SSDs (notorious for getting quite hit in operation at peak), those two PCIe slots (Gen 4 and Gen 3) AND 8 bays of SATA storage – cooling in 24×7 deployment is going to be CRUCIAL! I was always impressed by the cooling system on the TVS-872XT/X, but there is no avoiding that this is not exactly going to be a whisper-quiet system! Indeed, those content creators and editors in post-production that are considering this system for editing on PCIe4 Storage over 10GbE (or scaling up towards 25/40Gb on SFP or Thunderbolt) should be aware that close proximity to the device is going to be hard going! Again, at this scale of storage and level of design, this should come as no surprise – but it is still worth noting.
The eight storage bays of the TVS-h874 use QNAP’s plastic click-n-load plastic trays. Nicely designed, rigid and is not going to be affected by heat. The trays support toolless 3.5″ media installation (as well as holes for screwing in 2.5″ media). The TVS-h874 can be populated with a little as a single HDD/SSD if you choose (which would be odd!), but partial population is growing in popularity these days, thanks to larger 20TB, 22TB and even 24TB NAS Hard Drives arriving.
On that subject, the QNAP TVS-h874 does not have any perceived unreasonable limitations on hard drive compatibility and support (something, their biggest rival Synology has been debating with its user base about throughout 2022), meaning that by current commercial HDD compatibility in December 2022, the TVS-h874 can support (in it’s base, not expanded form) 176TB of raw storage. I mention expandability because the TVS-h874 can be expanded using two of any of the range of QNAP expansion devices (scaling from 2-Bays all the way to 12/16-Bays), as well as more if you use the SAS expander options. Expansion on the software side is a little less comprehensive, with your native storage expansion method (i.e just increasing the storage pool with more drives and expanding volumes) still being less smooth/possible in the ZFS QuTS setup than on the EXT4 QTS setup (which you cannot switch between after initialization without formatting the system). Still, this si a huge amount of storage expandability to have, whether you are considering Day 1 partial population or adding new expansion chassis’ later.
Each of the bays is SATA 6Gb/s, with most current enterprise-gen HDDs hitting 260-270MB/s or so (which promised 400-450MB/s HDDs from Seagate in their Mach2 still being rolled out slowly, plus their NVMe HDD EXO series still at the private testing phase at larger data centers at the time of writing). The connections are clean, wire-free combined DATA+Power connectors inside an aluminium cage. The system (depending on whether you opt for QuTS ZFS or QTS EXT4 at start up) supports numerous RAID configurations in RAID 0, 1, 5, 6, 10, 50 and 60, as well as RAIDZ and especially business-centric triple parity configs. Opting for ZFS as your file system at initialization also allows you to benefit from considerably faster RAID build speeds (as the traditional volume layer is absent), RAID resilvering (ie re-introducing drives that have the same party/raid-group data that were cloned or accidentally ejected, is dramatically reduced in rebuild time to minutes, not hours), and other benefits towards inline data compression and deduplication (covered later).
Whereas the EXT4 setup, though lacking these ZFS advantages, DOES allow you to expand storage on the fly more easily and also allows you to take advantage of the QTier combined storage media pools (again, more on that later). The only thing missing for me is a fluid RAID system (such as Synology’s SHR, Drobo’s BeyondRAID or Terramaster’s TRAID) that allows you to use HDD/SSDs of different capacities in a single RAID and be able to take advantage of the higher capacities. I am still kinda surprised that they have yet to introduce this in their software and services. Still, this is a very minor blip on an otherwise great selection of storage services and support.
Alongside the LCD Panel mentioned earlier, the TVS-h874 also has numerous LEDs that denote system activity (much like other NAS brands that ditched LCD panels) These cover the individual eight storage bays health and activity, the system access activity, network status, USB access and even dedicated LEDs for the M.2 NVMe SSD Bays inside. These LEDs (and the LCD in fact) can have their brightness decreased or deactivated if you want.
The system also has a front-mounted USB Copy Button and USB 3.2 Gen 2 (10Gb/s) port for local backups. QNAP was the first to include these faster USB 10Gb ports to their systems (as far back as 2017 in fact), and alongside the port, there are also two more on the rear of the device. QNAP also has one of the broadest ranges of compatible USB devices (storage, 2.5/5G network adapters, wireless adapters, office peripherals, remote controls, tuners and more), as well as allowing you to assign them to virtual machines. I know one-touch copy buttons are a little old hat (local in a remote access world), but speaking as someone who have never REALLY trusted ‘autosave’ in software, the idea that my local USB backups can be triggered automatically, on a schedule OR MANUALLY by hand, is a range of choice I will always appreciate!
Overall, although very little has changed in the external design of the TVS-h874 compared with the 4-5 years older TVS-872XT, that is not a bad thing. They have clearly refined the cooling in this time, adapted a few new hardware upgrades into an existing framework and it still continues to be a remarkably well-built chassis in 2022/2023. Let’s discuss the external connectivity of the TVS-h874 NAS.
QNAP TVS-h874 NAS Review – Ports & Connections
The connectivity that the QNAP TVS-h874 NAS arrives with is all good, if fairly standard stuff (unless you opt for the Intel i9 version – more on that later). As mentioned earlier, there are a plethora of fans on the rear of this 8-Bay, but when it comes to the default connections on offer, there is only really three. It is in it’s long term scalability that the connections of the QNAP TVS-h874 that things start to get a little spicy.
Despite this being a desktop NAS, an external PSU Is completely out of the question. Even if you only factor in the eight SATA bays and core CPU/Memory setup, this would still push the required base power needed to make an internal PSU largely inevitable. However, once you factor in the Gen 4 PCIe slots and Gen 4 M.2 NVMe slots, we are talking hundreds of watts potentially being needed. The QNAP TVS-h874 NAS has an internal chunky 350W PSU that, although relatively easy to replace later down the line through QNAP or 3rd parties, is going to be a small pain to actually get to. Not a big issue, but one worth factoring in, as the PSU is the 2nd most fragile part of any NAS system. This system also has the support of some GPU cards, though the PSU lacks any additional power connectors for beefier upgrade cards.
The default network ports of the QNAP TVS-h874 NAS are 2.5GbE, with the system arriving with two ports. Using Link Aggregation/Port Trunking or SMB Multichannel in supported setups to hit between 279MB/s and 558MB/s. This eight-bay NAS will EASILY saturate this kind of bandwidth (even with rather domestic class storage media), but it is when you start to factor in upgrades towards 10GbE and 25GbE ports on this system that you will really see it stretch it’s muscles!
The QNAP TVS-h874-i9-64G version of this series arrives with two 10GbE ports by default (something that I think is a bit of an oversight on the i5 and i7 models) but even then, the combination of 8 bays of SATA storage, 2x M.2 NVMe PCIe Gen 4 Bays and potential to add PCIe 4 NVMe storage and/or Network combo cards means that this system has TENS OF THOUSANDS of Megabytes of internal performance potential. So how much of that can actually be realized externally? Well, going by QNAP’s published performance figures (as I personally simply do not have the hardware environment to simulate this), we can see the following:
- 2.5GbE x1 = 295MB/s Sequential Read, 295MB/s Sequential Write
- 2.5GbE x2 = 590MB/s Sequential Read, 590MB/s Sequential Write
- 10GbE x1 = 1179MB/s Sequential Read, 21179MB/s Sequential Write
- 10GbE x2 = 2344MB/s Sequential Read, 2344MB/s Sequential Write
- 25GbE x1 = 2948MB/s Sequential Read, 2954MB/s Sequential Write
- 25GbE x2 = 3313MB/s Sequential Read, 3231MB/s Sequential Write
Note – RAID Volume: RAID 50 (8 bay and above), RAID 5 (4 bay to 6-bay), RAID 1 (2 bay), Single (1 bay). SSD / HDD : Fully populated, Samsung 860 EVO 1TB SATA SSD / Seagate ST1000NM0033 1TB HDD / Samsung PM9A1 960GB M.2 NVMe PCIe Gen4 / Samsung PM9A3 (MZQL2960HCJR-00A07) 960GB U.2 NVMe PCIe Gen4
Obviously, these are official stats and your own individual performance is going to be different (different storage media, RAID config, client hardware, file sizes, etc), but given these figures are based on SATA storage and do not even factor in the performance of storage pools made of those M.2 NVMe SSDs over PCIe 4×4 (so 6-7GB performance potential, which is where 100GbE cards start to become useful), these are still incredible performance figures!
The QNAP TVS-h874 also arrives with an HDMI output that can be used in conjunction with QNAP HD Station to create a completely parallel external GUI. This GUI has its own range of 1st and 3d party applications available that span a large number of services – Multimedia, office work, surveillance, standalone PC use and more. All the while, with QuTS/QTS running on the NAS with ALL its services still running. Oddly, the HDMI port is HDMI 1.4b, which means that although it will output 1080p at 60FPS, it will cap 4K at 30FPS. This aside, the QNAP TVS-h874 also benefits from HD Station, a parallel GUI that runs with QTS/QUTS to deploy numerous applications with a visual output. There are several key applications in the QNAP lineup that can take advantage of this feature, such as Photo, Music and Video station, as well as allowing a standalone Surveillance station with KVM support and even running a standalone PC with a connected keyboard and mouse. This is joined with several 3rd party apps for multimedia, office tools and communication. This combined with the wide range of unofficial third-party tools in the homebrew site ‘QNAP Club’ results in a tremendously versatile additional use for your NAS.
That said, HD Station in QTS/QuTS has received fewer improvements in recent years compared with other apps in the brand’s lineup, leading to several apps becoming less stable or simply unusable when connected with QTS/QuTS (eg QuMagie on QuTS and Photo Station on HD Station being largely uncommunicative). Its a shame, because aside from Asustor, QNAP is still one of the few brands to offer this feature on their platform and for those of you looking to directly output the media to a 4K TV (with a remote control over IR, USB or over the network with QRemote) it will result in a less polished experience. Alongside the HDMI output, the NAS also features USB 3.2 Gen 2 (10Gb/s) ports. This means that alongside the support of a wide range of accessories and expansion devices, you can connect 1,000MB/s external storage – VERY useful for those that want to add a convenient and affordable USB backup to their existing multi-tier backup strategy. Indeed, the range of expansions that are supported by the QNAP TVS-h874 NAS are pretty broad, ranging from 2-Bays, all the way upto mixed media 16-Bays!
However, the biggest potential upgrade/scalability element of the QNAP TVS-h874 NAS that we still need to discuss is the PCIe Upgrade slots. Thanks to the 12th gen Intel Core that this NAS arrives with, the main PCIe upgrade slots are PCIe Gen 4×4 and (wait for it) PCIe Gen 4 x16!!! This means that one slot has a potential 8,000MB/s of bandwidth available to a connected card, and the other has a staggering 32,000MB/s available. Just to put that in perspective, a 10GbE will need 1000MB/s of bandwidth to allow full saturation. You could install a dual port 100GbE network upgrade card in this slot and there would STILL be more than a third of the available bandwidth potential remaining untapped!
The support of PCIe Gen 4 in the QNAP TVS-h874 NAS is something that puts this system into a whole different tier of storage compared with all other 8-Bay Desktop NAS systems right now, with the bulk of them arriving with PCIe Gen 3 or even PCIe Gen 2. These two PCIe 4 upgrade slots AND the two M.2 NVMe PCIe4 M.2 NVMe slots mean that you have the potential to comfortably hit internal performance numbers with those two SSD drives that dwarf anything the eight SATA drives (even with SSDs) could ever hit. For video editors that are considering a NAS for post-production in multiple 4K video edits and/or beginning with 8K in their workflow, this is the kind of setup that you need to be looking at!
This is made even easier to achieve when you loo through the official QNAP QM2 upgrade card range. The cards, with several new PCIe4 entries, allow to to scale things up in your storage even further with some featuring 4x PCIe 4×4 M.2 NVMe SSD bays or even a 2x 10GbE and 2x PCIe4 M.2 NVMe SSD Combo card. Currently there is no sign of a Thunderbolt 3 or Thunderbolt 4 Card (as seen in the TVS-872XT or TVS-h1288X), but this might well be down to the continued shortage of Thunderbolt components right now (as the Intel Core 12th Gen family has complete TB4 Compatibility).
Overall, when it comes to the connectivity of the QNAP TVS-h874 NAS, the default range of external connections are actually quite pedestrian when compared against other QNAP NAS released in the last 1-2 years, with the lack of 10GbE on the default model (aside from the Intel i9 having 2x 10GBASE-T at a premium) is pretty surprising/disappointing. That said, the scalability and upgradability that the QNAP TVS-h874 affords the end user are pretty incredible and unparalleled on ANY other desktop NAS right now. Let’s get our screwdriver and take a good look at the inside of this NAS.
QNAP TVS-h874 NAS Review – Internal Hardware
The internal arrangement of the QNAP TVS-h874 NAS is actually surprisingly spacious for an 8-Bay desktop NAS with so much hardware potential. The main 8 bays obviously take up the bulk of the available space, but the first thing that strikes you is that there is a great deal more spacing between the components for that airflow.
The rear fans lead to a completely open area behind the main storage bays that takes up around 30-35% of the available chassis space and there is an additional side fan that blows air directly onto the massive silver CPU heatsink at all times. The main SATA bays are held in an aluminium cage and the PSU is pretty far away from the main PCIe upgrade slots (something of a problem in the older TVS-1282 and TVS-h1288X that made card installation and maintaining cool running a little more challenging).
That silver heatsink (common in 24×7 server systems as opposed to direct CPU fans) is pretty vast and (especially in the case of the 12 Core i7 and 16 Core i9) very much needed! It is also directly vented in line with the separate rear fan, ensuring that it is taking maximum advantage of the active airflow.
Now, as good and fast as the CPU and architecture inside the QNAP TVS-874 NAS is, the way that the specs and choice of hardware in the greater TVS-hx74 range has been distributed is a little less smooth. With a 4-Bay, 6-Bay and 8-Bay version available, you would be forgiven for thinking that it is just three separate configurations on offer. However, the reality is that there are SIX different hardware versions available (spanning five different CPUs, scaling in clock speed, cores and threads) with differing default memory quantities. We already covered that the Intel i9 version also arrives with 2x 10GbE connectivity (absent in other devices and using a PCIe slot). Normally, I would be a fan of the buyer’s option to scale their budget between storage bays and power, but despite all these systems using 12th Gen Intel Processors, each processor has a different level of PCI lanes afforded to it and this then impacts the rest of the system architecture. Let’s quickly compare the hardware architecture of the three NAS systems and their sub-versions:
|# of SATA Bays||4x SATA||6x SATA||8x SATA|
|M.2 NVMe Bays||2x M.2 (Gen 3×2)||2x M.2 (Gen 4×4)||2x M.2 (Gen 4×4)|
|CPU||Intel Pentium Gold G7400||Intel i5 12th Gen i5-12400
Intel i3 12th Gen i7-12100
|Intel i9 12th Gen i9-12900
Intel i7 12th Gen i7-12700
Intel i5 12th Gen i7-12400
|Cores||2-Core / 4 Thread||i5 6 Core / 12 Thread
i3 4 Core / 8 Thread
|i9 16 Core / 24 Thread
i7 12 Core / 20 Thread
i5 6 Core / 12 Thread
|CPU Speed||3.7 Ghz||i5 Max 4.4Ghz
i3 Max 4.3Ghz
|i9 Max 5.1Ghz
i7 Max 4.9Ghz
i5 Max 4.4Ghz
|Graphics||Intel UHD Graphics 710||Intel UHD Graphics 770
Intel UHD Graphics 730
|Intel UHD Graphics 770|
|Memory Max||128GB SODIMM DDR4 (2 Slot)||128GB SODIMM DDR4 (2 Slot)||128GB SODIMM DDR4 (2 Slot)|
If we skip over the difference in the actual traditional CPU power (which is expected if you were comparing a Pentium and i3 versus an i9), the hurdles start when you notice that the TVS-h474 has Gen 3×2 M.2 slots, whereas the 6-Bay and 8-Bay have Gen 4×4 – so potential bandwidth of 2,000MB vs 8,000MB/s. The same goes for the main PCIe upgrade lanes, with the 4 Bay having that massive PCIe 4 x 16 slot, but the 2nd slot is another Gen 3 x2 2,000MB/s slot. These are very small details, but they could have been easily avoided by either fixing the TVS-h474 with an i3 minimum OR just releasing the series in a fixed CPU=Bay standard (as observed in the TVS-X72 and TVS-1282 ranges). With 3 version of the 8-Bay, two of the 6 Bay and the 4-Bay being very overshadows, the narrative and presentation of the range gets a little messy. Then you can take a closer look at the CPUs themselves and how they scale up.
As you can see, even ignoring the frequency differences (whooah, the Pentium dual core at 3.7Ghz and the i9 at 16 Core 5.1Ghz when pushed to burst), even CPU Benchmark’s scoring of these processors is pretty vast, with the Intel Pentium Gold G7400 in the TVS-h474 scoring 6804, and every other CPU several times higher! Yes, we also need to factor in the running costs of these SSDs (24×7 use on such high-end CPUs is going to add up on the electricity bill), but I would argue that when you are looking at systems like these, you have long since given up aspirations of power saving! The memory that the TVS-h874 arrives with is DDR4 3200Mhz SODIMM and can be upgraded towards 64GB officially, though the CPUs (for the most part) all support up to 128GB on two channels. Sadly, ECC memory is not supported, which is one of the few counter-arguments out there (IMO) for opting for a XEON over an Intel Core in a system like this one. That said, this is still a great level of memory supported by the system and although the base amount changes depending on the system bay number and CPU type you choose (grumble, grumble), I cannot really fault it!
Now, the big guns! Those M.2 NVMe SSD Bays. M.2 NVMe SSD bays on NAS devices are not a ‘new thing’. Indeed, these have been a staple of desktop NAS devices now for a few years and something of an expected minimum. However, the development that has been going on with M.2 NVMes from SSD brands such as WD, Seagate and Samsung has been rather fierce (with the tiniest pinch of slow down caused by the pandemic and hardware shortages relating to semiconductors). Pretty much 99% of all NAS devices that have M.2 NVMe SSD bays are using PCIe Gen 3 (or even PCIe Gen2) slots. This is down to only CPUs that were released commercially in the last 2-3 years having support of PCIe Gen 4 lanes. As the TVS-x874 series and it’s 12th Gen Intel Core architecture have Gen 4 support, the M.2 slots (with the exception of the TVS-h474) are Gen 4×4 – so 8GB/s (not Gigabit, GigaByte) of bandwidth each! This is a huge deal, as that means you can install these super fast SSDs in these bays for your QNAP QuTS ZFS Operating System, for individual Apps/Services (VMs, Databases, etc) and even as your general storage!
The good news is that unlike Synology and its inclusion of M.2 NVMe SSD slots, the 2280 slots inside the QNAP can be used for more than just read/write caching. The use of SSD caching to provide performance benefits to a slower, but larger and more affordable Hard Drive RAID away are quite well established in the NAS industry, using the SSD space to either write files to the system faster (acting as the primary write area, before moving the data) or increase the speed of accessing commonly requested files on the NAS (making copies of those files onto the SSDs, though largely tiny files are optimized and do not really affect larger block/sequential data). So, if you are looking to use this drive in the centre of your content creation workflow or in post production, you could use the 2 M.2 NVMe SSD Bays as your editing space (acting the NAS over 10-25-100GbE via an upgrade card – perhaps even Thunderbolt 3/4 if/when QNAP release one), and the HDD RAID array as your archive that products back up/archive onto. You can even create individual ZFS RAID pools for warm-cold storage, then also use a remote NAS, USB or Cloud space to sync/backup with too. Thanks to features like WORM, Non-Linear Editing (NLE) and locking, you can ensure that data is not edited by more than one user, with the added benefits of using the QNAP programs such as QSync to create native synced NAS folders on your client devices (iOs, Mac, Windows, Android, Linux – with cross-platform sharing) so that other teams of people can work with the data on the NAS. In testing on the TVS-h874 with a Seagate Firecuda 530 and WD Black SN850 M.2 SSD (both Gen 4) we were able to hit 6.49GB/s and 6.18GB/s Sequential Read respectively in the QNAP Storage Manager Benchmark Tool. That is approx 27 TIMES the speed of a conventional NAS hard drive!
However, though the QNAP TVS-h874 supports SSD caching on these bays, it also supports their use in QTier (if you opt for QTS / EXT4 at initialization). This is similar to caching but in QTier the available HDD and SSDs are combined into a single storage area and it intelligently moves files periodically to the appropriate storage media as it analyzes their access and requests. Finally, if you wish, you can use the NVMe SSD bays for just a fast accessing and performing storage pool and volumes of it’s own. These two bays, plus the main SATA HDD bays, plus adding a PCIe SSD storage card in an available slot means that the TVS-h874 has enormous storage potential. These m.2 bays can also be used for system upgrades, but these are still quite few in reality and it is only the google TPU m.2 upgrade that increases AI system processes that are recommended in 2022/2023 so far.
I am well aware of how much I have been ‘banging the drum’ about PCIe 4 architecture in this review, but I cannot overstate how future-proof this makes the QNAP TVS-h874 NAS! It is a shame that the TVS-h874 suffers something of a presentation hurdle for the less technically versed who need to take some time to bone up on the range of specs before choosing the right model, but that does not really detur from the fact that the TVS-h874 NAS arrives with the best desktop NAS hardware I have ever seen! Let’s discuss those software and services found in QuTS and QTS 5 that are included with this NAS server.
QNAP TVS-h874 NAS Review – Software & Services
Alongside the hardware of the TVS-h874 NAS, you also receive the complete software and services package of QNAP QTS or QuTS (currently in version 5.0.1) that can be selected at the initialization. This is a complete operating system. similar in design and presentation to Windows 11 and Android OS, it runs hundreds of applications, services and functions, as well as arriving with many mobile and desktop client applications that allow you to interact with the data on your NAS in a much more tailored way. Alongside this, the QNAP QuTS/QTS software on the TVS-h874 also includes a few extra SSD tools for anti-wearing on SSDs, better ZFS-HDD/SSD profiling and even options to separate the media into storage, caching or tiered storage where appropriate. The performance and services of QTS have been covered many times on this channel, so reviewing it’s individual performance on the TVS-h874 NAS is a difficult task, as we have to look at two key things. Is QTS/QuTS a good software platform and is QTS/QuTS going to give you support of the full range of services that you intend to use this NAS for, in both 1st and 3rd party?
On the first score, I can comfortably say that QNAP NAS software and services have truly come into their own and the balancing act of supplying the end-user with the flexibility to use the system ‘their way’, whilst still keeping it user-friendly is the best it has ever been. Is it perfect, no. In its efforts to make itself customizable in every way possible, QTS/QuTS develops an inadvertent learning curve that may catch some novice users unaware. Likewise, although QTS/QuTS 5 has done a lot of work on its presentation of information and notifications, there is still the odd moment of ‘TMI’ when switching between services on the fly. QNAP’s NAS software is still easily one of the most adaptable in the market right now and allows users to have a truly unique storage environment if they choose and although not quite as user-friendly as Synology DSM, it counters this by being fantastically flexible by comparison (from file/folder structure to 3rd party services support and connectivity). That said, 2022 had a bumpy start for the brand when a series of ransomware attacks were targetted at the brand (them and several other NAS brands) that was caused by a combination of vulnerabilities in Linux (which practically all NAS and Android software is built upon) but also in how applications in the QNAP platform were allowed to have external access. In previous revisions of QTS/QuTS, customization and guidance for changing settings on the system was made very easy and open but lacked a lot of the gravitas and significance that these changes made to the system being highlighted to less experienced users (such as allowing the QNAP to adapt remote ports on your router over UPnP and how the HBS3 program allowed remote access. These omissions, vulnerabilities and communication issues in QTS have seemingly been resolved and QTS/QuTS 5 seems to be a much tighter system on the whole (as much as anything can be once you open it to the internet). But many users still feel that the brand needs to do more and therefore until QNAP can remove the lingering stories of ransomware and malware over time, this is always going to be an existing sensitive issue for buyers. In order to see the extent of the latest version of QNAP TS 5.0 use the links below to the written review and video below released in late 2021 (QuTS 5.1 Review coming in the next week or so):
|FULL Written QNAP QTS 5 Review||FULL Video Review of QNAP QTS 5|
Although the full review of QNAP QTS is available in the article and video linked above, let’s discuss the highlights of the platform. First off there are the software and services for managing files and folders on the fly. QTS/QuTS includes several tools for managing files in your web browser (with full copy, paste, archive, extract, sharing, etc options built-in), as well as smart system/file search functionality. It is worth noting that 95% of the apps and services in either QuTS and QTS are identical, but there are a few exceptions that are restricted to either version for reasons of file system architecture and end-user. For example, as QuTS is ZFS based, it does not require the volume layer and writes are committed directly to the storage pool of drives.
The security when using your TVS-h874 NAS (again, a continued area of contention and criticism for QNAP in the past) in terms of customization and alerts have been noticeably improved and upgraded in both their deployment and presentation in QTS. These range from a multi-layered security advisor to control anti-malware scans, anti-virus schedules, firewall monitoring and more. There is also a range of access and security credential tools that are quite far-reaching all built-in. With QNAP having to prove its platform is safe more than most, there is a bit shift positively in this direction in the latest versions of QTS.
Overall storage management, access, mounting and how this factors into backups have also been massively diversified in QTS and along with numerous means to create a very unique storage system (factoring RAID, multi-stage 1-2-3 backups, connecting with cloud drive/objects and how this is presented to the end-users are incredibly deep. It can lead to a situation in which the end-user is a pinch overwhelmed, but you cannot say that QNAP is not providing the tools – they are just almost TOO numerous in their presentation.
The same goes for multimedia handling on the QNAP TVS-h874, with a wide range of tools for handing photos, music and video in a tailored GUI to each media type. This is made considerably easier with QNAP’s multimedia console tool that provides a single GUI that can be used to handle all the backend setup of all your individual media apps. QNAP also provides AI photo recognition to allow decades of photos to be searched intelligently for people and subjects to quite an impressively deep degree (not needing internet access to do so, with the AI onboard the system). Then you have support for a wide range of 3rd party multimedia tools such as Plex media server, Emby, Twinky and Kodi (unofficially).
Then you have business tools (small, medium or even enterprise) included that can range from the deployment of multiple virtual machines across many platforms and a dedicated 1st party container deployment tool. One very unique feature of QNAP QTS compared with other NAS brands in their deployment of VMs is that they include 2-3 click download options in their respective applications that allow you to download ready to use VM in Windows 7,8 and 10, as well as a VM market place for more enterprise virtual clients and even a Ubuntu 18/19/20 VM deployment tool that allows you to quickly set up a VM and then access remotely OR use the HDMI+KVM set up locally. The container station tool also has its own pre-built tool repository too.
Finally, for surveillance use, the TVS-h874 arrives with QVR Pro which allows you to have a business-class surveillance platform hosted on your NAS. This platform has its very own GUI that supports thousands of IP Camera brands, as well as the software arriving with 8 camera licenses with the TVS-h874, a multi-camera feed display, intelligent alerts, AI services (hardware appropriate), multiple client tools for mobile/desktop clients, integration of 3rd party system management tools and you can even attach USB cameras to your QNAP NAS and have local cameras fed into the NAS too. HOWEVER, if you want to use the QuTS ZFS platform, you will need to use the QVR Elite program which is much more hardware efficient and allows bigger surveillance setups BUT reduces the included Camera licences from 8x to 2x. Additionally, the approach towards the camera licence validity period in QVR Elite is different to that of QVR PRO.
So, software on the QNAP TVS-h874 is pretty diverse and although the brand has seen its fair share of security complaints in the past, I think that it would be hard for me to ignore the range of NAS hardware configuration, services and tools that are included. Tests of the QNAP TVS-h874 on how it performs as a Plex Media Server, host for Virtual Machines and more will be conducted shortly over on NASCompares YouTube channel. I recommend visiting there to learn more. Below is the video review for the QNAP TVS-h874 NAS
QNAP TVS-h874 NAS Review – Conclusion & Verdict
The QNAP TVS-h874 NAS is easily one of the most hardware-capable desktop NAS systems that I have ever seen (as you would expect for £2500+) and has clearly been designed with phenomenal future proofing in mind! If you are concerned about the longevity of this NAS, this hardware architecture will still be top tier 5 years from now, with the added support of PCIe 4 meaning that high capacity and performing micro upgrades throughout its life also ensure it remains relevant long after. Its price tag clearly moves this purchase out of the home and squarely into the business market (though likely those that take their media seriously will add it to the cart) and the TVS-h874 will function as a solid solution for Video editing (even at 8K), high frequency and performing VMs, large scale AI powered Surveillance setup, hybrid cloud/on-prem alternative to Office 365/Google Workspace services and as the center point for all your data storage operations. Crucially though, it is that the hardware on offer here will be able to do ALL of these at the same time, therefore maximising the investment for most businesses that want to move aware from their cloud dependant ops. In terms of software,t things are a little less absolute, with QTS and QuTS still getting a little busy at times, with a steeper learning curve than its big rival DSM from Synology. That said, die-hard fans of ZFS (Zettabyte File System) will adore the inclusion of benefits in RAID handling, management and recovery that are exclusive to that platform, whilst enjoying the wide range of applications and service benefits in QuTS that are often restricted to Linux platforms. The slightly conveluded approach to release hardware that does complicate the selection process (different CPUs in the Intel 12th Gen family changing the rest of the system architecture) is something that I hoped this brand would graduate from (for the sake of simplicity), but for many, this level of choice in hardware and budget will be welcome. As is QNAP’s position on the support of 3rd party hardware (drives, PCIe upgrades, etc) and software, something that we have seen a worrying trend in the last few years against elsewhere in the industry but some other brands, to err towards 1st party/proprietary compatibility more and more. There are still lingering doubts by some on the security of NAS, with ransomware attacks on the rise and ALL brands and ALL platforms being targetted (NAS, Cloud ,etc), finding a middle ground between ease of use and depth of security being a tricky tie rope walk indeed. The TVS-h874 arrives with a wide range of Day 1 tools, further rigid defaults in QTS/QuTS in 2022/2023, considerable security settings to configure and multiple system scan tools for recommendations & preventative measures available. The QNAP TVS-h874 is probably the most powerful desktop/tower NAS drive I have ever reviewed and if you are looking for a system that can legitimately do anything server-side, but you are also willing to put in the time to configure it correctly – you will genuinely be hard pushed to find a better system in 2022, 2023 and likely 2024 at this price point and scale.
|PROs of the QNAP TVS-h874 NAS||CONs of the QNAP TVS-h874 NAS|
|First Commercial Intel Core 12th Gen i5, i7 and i9 NAS Drive
Upto 20 Cores, 24 Threads and High End Integrated Graphics
PCIe Gen 4 x16 Upgrade Slot for 10/25/100GbE Cards and 2x PCIe Gen 4 x4 M.2 NVMe Slots for 7GB SSDs
No Obstinant 3rd Party Hardware Limitations on Support or Compatibility
Much larger support of 3rd Party Software Services than most other NAS Brands
10Gb/s USB Connectivity, in Type A and Type C
Upto 64GB of Memory and Potential for 128GB
ZFS or EXT 4 File System Choice
M.2 NVMe SSD Bays can be used for Storage or Caching
Volume Encryption, SED SSD Support and WORM
Enhanced AI Surveillance Services, with opt to upgrade with $30 Google TPU
AI Photo Management Tool (QuMagie) Includes Thing Recognition and works offline
ALL the ZFS Benefits, whilst also the GUI and App benefits of a Linux Software Platform in one
|Available Versions/Configs of the 4/6/8-Bay are confusing
QVR Elite (not QVR Pro) only has 2 Cam Licences
HDMI Output is 1.4b
10Gbe is ONLY included with the most expensive Intel i9 Model
Noisy when in operation when fully populated
Too Many licenses on Enterprise Tools (Drive Analyzer, Face Tiger, etc) with too few free licenses
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