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NAS Reviews

Budget-friendly 3 bay 10GbE NAS
At a glance
ProductQNAP Budget-friendly 3 bay 10GbE NAS (TS-332X-4G)   [Website]
SummaryThree bay RAID 5 class NAS powered by quad-core Annapurna Labs processor.
Pros• Tool-free drive installation
• Quiet
• Built-in 10GbE SFP+ port
• Three M.2 SATA SSD slots for SSD Caching
• Memory expandable to 16 GB
Cons• Can't configure above RAID 5
• Slow 10GbE performance

Typical Price: $419  Buy From Amazon

Introduction

Last month, I reviewed the ASUSTOR AS4004T, a very capable 10GbE-enabled 4-bay NAS priced at $360. This review will focus on QNAP's new TS-332X. I'll be comparing it to the AS4004T.

The TS-332X has a bit of an odd configuration. Typically, most NAS vendors sell either two-bay or four-bay NASes into the Home/Soho market. While QNAP has plenty of two and four-bay models, they've also rolled out a trio of three-bay NASes.

The chart below from QNAP's website shows the top-of-line TS-332X (left), mid-level TS-351 (center) and entry-level TS-328 (right). Our review sample was the TS-332X-4G ($419) with 4 GB of RAM. QNAP also sells a 2GB version - the TS-332X-2G for $379.

QNAP 3-Bay NAS Comparison

QNAP 3-Bay NAS Comparison

Three-bay NASes have a few disadvantages, compared to four bays:

  • Less total capacity
  • Better storage efficiency - for RAID 5, four drive volumes 75% of the raw disk capacity as usable storage. For three drives, storage efficiency drops to 67%
  • Can't support RAID 5 plus spare, RAID 6 or 10 volumes

The only advantage with three bays should be lower cost. But since QNAP doesn't make two models on the 332X's platform that differ only in the number of bays, that's only conjecture.

For this review, I'll be looking performance with both 1 Gigabit and 10 Gigabit connections, comparing the QNAP TS-332X-4G with the ASUSTOR AS4004T. I chose the ASUSTOR NAS because it was similarly priced, though cheaper, than the TS-332X-4G.

The chart below, generated from our NAS Finder, shows a top-level comparison between the two NASes. Several differences immediately pop out. First, the TS-332X-4G has 4 GB of memory, upgradeable to 16 GB, while the AS4004T has only 2 GB and can't be upgraded.

The TS-332X also features three M.2 SATA SSD slots for SSD Caching. The ASUSTOR has no provision for SSD caching. In addition, the TS-332X has three USB 3.0 ports as compared to the two USB 3.0 ports found on the AS4004T. You can look at a complete features comparison here.

QNAP TS-332X-4G feature comparison

QNAP TS-332X-4G feature comparison

In the Ethernet department, both NASes support two aggregateable 10/100/1000 Gigabit Ethernet ports and a single 10GbE port. But ASUSTOR has opted to make its 10GbE port 10GBASE-T (aka "copper" 10GbE), which connects via a standard 8 pin RJ45 jack. QNAP instead made its 10GbE port SFP+, which requires a special cable and is better suited to point-to-point and switch uplink connections.

The callouts below show the front and rear panel of the TS-332X. There is a front panel USB 3.0 port with a USB copy button.

QNAP TS-332X Front and Rear Callouts

QNAP TS-332X Front and Rear Callouts

The rear panel has two Gigabit Ethernet ports, one 10 GbE, and two additional USB 3.0 port. Interestingly, there's also an audio 3.5mm line-out jack.

There's a hardware setup guide available for the TS-332X. It details how to install disk drives (no tools required for the disk trays), how to install the SSD modules, and how to change memory. The image below shows the location of the SSD modules and SODIMM memory with the chassis removed.

QNAP TS-332X Right Panel Callouts

QNAP TS-332X Right Panel Callouts

The 332X is easy to open (three thumbscrews on the rear panel) and you can get to all the memory slots easily. Of note is that QNAP specs the drives as hot-swappable. While it would be awkward to remove the cover with the drives spun up, it can be done.

Inside

The photo below shows the main board with the Annapurna Labs processor covered by a large heat sink. The SODIMM module is located in the lower right corner of the PCB. The flex circuits at photo left line up with the M.2 SSD connectors.

QNAP TS-332X main PCB

QNAP TS-332X main PCB

The table below summarizes the key components for the TS-332X-4G and the AS4004T. Note the 10GbE SFP+ interface is built into the Annapurna Labs device.

  QNAP TS-332X-4G ASUSTOR AS4004T
CPU Annapurna Labs AL-324 quad core, 64 bit ARM Cortex A57 @ 1.7 GHz Marvell ARMADA-7020 Dual-Core @ 1.6GHz
RAM 4 GB SODIMM (upgradeable to 16 GB max) 2 GB DDR4 (not upgradeable)
Flash 512 MB 512 MB ADATA IUM01-512MFHL
Ethernet Atheros AR-8035A Gigabit Ethernet PHY (x2) Marvell 88E1512 (guess) Gigabit Ethernet PHY (X2)
Table 1: Key component summary

Power consumption with three SmallNetBuilder-provided WD Red 1TB (WD10EFRX) drives was 24W (active) and 15W (power save). Fan and drive noise was rated as very low. RAID 5 rebuild for a 3 X 1TB volume was ~ 2hour and 45 minutes.

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