Initial Thoughts – QNAP TS-h973AX
We’ve recently transitioned our local storage repositories to a new QNAP TS-h973AX NAS. This unit is nothing short of a pint-sized powerhouse. The tandem of a low-power AMD Ryzen SoC, 2.5Gb and 10Gb networking provisions, and support for U.2 drives provides the means to implement a highly performant storage solution in the footprint of a small yet elegant cube. With (5) 3.5″ hard drive bays and provisions for (2) SATA SSD and (2) U.2 drives, the capability to assemble a high-performance local data storage offering can be achieved at a fairly reasonable price point. The use of the QuTS Hero operating system provides ZFS on Linux support, which is fantastic for protecting against the potential for data corruption while simultaneously optimizing usable capacity through compression and deduplication capabilities.
Guidance found within the QNAP Reddit recommended establishing the initial system drive using a pair of SSDs. We achieved this with a pair of 512GB Intel 545 SATA SSDs that we had sitting around. The bottom two SSD bays on the unit are designed specifically for this purpose. After a week of data shuffling between the prior NAS and a myriad of redundant external storage devices, the 3.5″ bays were fully populated with Seagate Ironwolf 10TB drives. Finally, the implementation of cache acceleration involved procuring a pair of SK Hynix Gold P31 1TB NVMe drives along with a pair of Icy Dock M.2 to U.2 enclosures. Overall performance has surpassed prior FreeNAS, QNAP, and Synology solutions that have provided local file services.
Prior risks related to the Hybrid Backup Sync 3 application have been remediated. From a price-to-performance perspective, the TS-h973AX provides a sweet spot for SMB and home use cases. It’s rather unfortunate that QNAP isn’t expanding the rollout of QuTS Hero to prior prosumer NAS devices in their portfolio. Units with sufficient resources and expansion slots would benefit from the effort required to move data off the NAS prior to reloading it with the newer operating system. Offering to rollout QuTS Hero to prior solutions within their portfolio would also drive sales of the company’s expansion cards for NVMe caching and greater-than-1Gb network connectivity. This would also aid in eliminating the potential for an increase in electronic was if an established customer determines that their use case benefits from the feature set contained within QuTS Hero.