Our SwitchNAServer or QNAP QGD-1600P Review

15
QNAP QGD 1600P Front 10x 1GbE PoE Plus Ports
QNAP QGD 1600P Front 10x 1GbE PoE Plus Ports

When we were testing the QNAP QGD-1600P we developed a fitting nickname for it: the SwitchNAServer. This is partly due to a lack of creativity since that is exactly what the machine is. It is a 16 port gigabit PoE(+/++) switch. It has internal storage so that it can act as a NAS. Finally, it runs QNAP’s QTS operating system, so one can run virtualized applications directly on it like a server. If you want a single device capable of replacing multiple common edge devices, this may just be it. With that preview, let us get to our review.

SwitchNAServer QNAP QGD-1600P Overview Video

As with many of our articles this year, we have a video overview of this review that you can find on the STH YouTube channel:

Feel free to listen along as you read or go through this review.

QNAP QGD-1600P Hardware Overview

Since this section is fairly long, we wanted to split it up into two segments. First, we are going to cover the external overview, then the internal hardware overview.

QNAP QGD-1600P External Hardware Overview

The unit itself is a short-depth 1U chassis. QNAP has both traditional rack ears for mounting as well as rubber feet for desktop operation. This is certainly small enough to fit in the majority of racks.

QNAP QGD 1600P Front
QNAP QGD 1600P Front

The front of the unit has some rather unusual I/O that one does not commonly find on a switch, a NAS, or a server’s front I/O alone. On the left side, there is a LCD panel that displays status information. It can, for example, tell you what the management IP address is for installation.

QNAP QGD 1600P Front LCD HDMI USB And Host Port
QNAP QGD 1600P Front LCD HDMI USB And Host Port

There is a HDMI port, a USB 3.0 Type-A, and two USB 2.0 Type-A ports along with a network port that does not belong to the block next to it. This port is what QNAP calls the “host port” which one can use to set up the switch and have an out-of-band management experience. This is a great feature.

QNAP QGD 1600P Front 10x 1GbE PoE Plus Ports
QNAP QGD 1600P Front 10x 1GbE PoE Plus Ports

Across the front, we find sixteen gigabit Ethernet ports. These are the PoE ports on the switch. The first four ports are PoE++ Type 3 ports that are 60W PoE ports. The next ten are PoE+ 30W ports. Finally, the last two ports are PoE+ 30W ports that have another feature, they can instead be used with SFP cages for optical 1Gbps networking. We are going to discuss this later, but one use case for the QGD-1600P is as a converged appliance so one could use these for SFP optical WAN connectivity as an example.

There is a power button on the front. A slight oddity with this unit is that our QGD-1600P did not boot upon plugging in the power cable and ensuring the PSU was switched on. Instead, one needed to turn on the unit via the power button.

QNAP QGD 1600P Front Reset Switches LED Indicators And Power Button
QNAP QGD 1600P Front Reset Switches LED Indicators And Power Button

One can see two reset buttons. The left button is the QTS reset button while the right is the QSS or switch reset button. Since it handles so many functions, the PoE switch can remain on while the QTS QNAP OS that services, for example, the file shares is reset. This is useful if one is upgrading QTS and does not want other equipment to lose power while the NAS reboots.

QNAP QGD 1600P Rear
QNAP QGD 1600P Rear

On the rear of the chassis, one can see the PSU power input. There is even a switch for that so one can switch this unit off manually at the PSU. That is actually not a very common feature in this price range.

QNAP QGD 1600P Rear PSU
QNAP QGD 1600P Rear PSU

The three fan grills are not populated so they are just vents.

QNAP QGD 1600P Rear Vent
QNAP QGD 1600P Rear Vent

On the right rear we see the I/O plates for the expansion slots.

QNAP QGD 1600P Rear PCIe Expansion Slots
QNAP QGD 1600P Rear PCIe Expansion Slots

We are going to discuss these slots in more detail as we get to the internal overview.

Next, we are going to get into detail about the hardware that underpins the SwitchNAServer solution.

15 COMMENTS

  1. No (hot) swap bays. Hmm…

    Allow me to wager a bet about common future configurations involving this device: Once the internal storage drive(s) fail(s), nobody wants to unplug all the network cables and pull the thing out of the rack just to be able to open it and swap the drives. Instead, in this situation probably many owners of this device will curse the day they decided to buy this device, buy another cheap-ish NAS (with new drives), and demote the “SwitchNAServer” to a “simple” switch. 😛

  2. As I was reading, I kept thinking that I want one, but I really want a more powerful one. It’s too bad QNAP doesn’t just license MikroTik outright and do the integration that way.

    Manhattan I think that’s why they’re using SSDs. HDDs and 2.5″ HDDs no less in there will be awful.

  3. At first glance looks very promising, however some critical non-starters in my mind. No ECC memory? A C3000 Soc would be much better cpu as you state, 1Gbps SFPs? SPF+ would make this much better, Gen2 x2 is quite limiting for expansion, pairing this up with a SAS HBA and DAS chassis is an interesting use case but not with G2x2 PCIe. Those Fans look very cheap and no redundancy on any of them, sigh. So what’s the Server-Switch connectivity? I’m assuming there is at least a 1gbps internal conenction to the switch, right?

  4. We are obviously talking totally different price points; but if Cisco offered UCS stuff in “cheap and cheerful” I’m pretty sure this is what it would end up looking like.

  5. This is one of those products that has a lot of nice ideas: NAS, integrated switch, able to host a few small VMs but has a few too many compromises to be a recommended jack-of-all-trades product for most. Still I do see this device seeing some limited success in a unique niche: production outfits that need compactness and density. I know a few people would also enjoy this for personal lab usage for similar reasons. This is one of those products I see on paper and while I won’t recommend it for most, I hope it has enough success for a more polished second generation as it is has my attention.

  6. I am definitely interested in loading PBX software on here for small businesses. The retail price of this thing is below that of decent on-premise PBX hardware + POE switch. Gonna try it out as soon as Patrick gets me access!

  7. QTS Hero was probably the most interesting thing I learned about from this article. However the CPU is still a strange choice. Intel Ark lists the memory limit as 8GB also. That’s probably why higher is ‘not supported’. At least it has AES-NI unlike the earlier J-series Celerons. Lack of ECC does seem like a loss.

  8. Jimbo S – This is what we could get. I do agree the QGD-1602P would be an interesting option.

    Will – I know, hopefully, tomorrow.

    HedRat – The 8GB limit is an Intel limit. Atom chips have often done higher actual limits. We still wanted to test 2x8GB to see if it would take more even though we suspected it would.

  9. NASSwitchServer is like Apple’s TimeCapsule or Synology’s Router which has NAS function as well, but aimed more at SOHO.

    But OMG! By far the most interesting thing to me was QTS Hero. It is the thing I have been looking for. Consumer Accessible ZFS Storage. I wonder how I missed this pcs of news.

  10. Thanks for the review!
    QNAP was my entry into NAS, containers and VM servers some years ago.
    Sadly both QNAP and Synology have pushed out new features in warp speed, but the quality of their software has gone from okay to outright frightening.

    I have moved from QNAP to FreeNAS, and now to Ubuntu + ZFS + Docker + KVM/QEMU personally about 2 years ago because of this.

    But my Old QNAPs i have given to family members i still have to administrate are driving me mad. The software is getting vulnerabilities and bugs that need fixing faster than i have ever seen in 25 years working with computers.
    QNAP seems understaffed, or just not up to the task to make security and stability a priority.
    They seem desperate to push out new half-baked apps, to get their name into the news cycle.

    On paper, they are producing interesting and often innovative solutions. But all that is worth nothing, if the security side looks like a Swiss cheese and the supposedly innovative features are half-baked attempts to stay in the news cycle.

    Again: Synology has the same software quality problem. It seems the margins in this business is getting ever smaller, and competition pushed both companies onto an unhealthy path.

    I can only recommend to use FreeNAS or Linux directly, without the shiny but compromising QTS or Synology GUI. I had no prior experience with both FreeNAS or Linux, but the time invested pays off. And with projects like “Cockpit”, “Portainer” “Vagrant” one can manage everything from a Web-GUI anyway. Only stable, secure and FOSS.

    No half-baked solution hacked together in alpha quality just to reach a deadline.

    I do hope they can turn this around, because QNAP and the like bring the possibility of self hosting to consumers that would otherwise not be able to get rid of big tech and big data behemoths like Google and Microsoft.
    But especially those consumers need to rely on the quality of the software and the security. They are the most endangered group for those attacks, it is them that are exposed by this crappy software quality.

  11. I see this as a good PVR solution (or, as Will states, a PBX one)
    Maybe the 1602P should be even better.

    – plenty of PoE powered ports (for powering and resetting IP cameras)
    – local storage (although I would prefer big fat old HDDs which are still better if you need big storage at a reasonable price: recording 10 cameras for 7 days would cost an arm and a leg)
    – an integrated videosurveillance software (never tried QNAP one, guess is not so bad) supporting several off-the-shelf IP cameras

    the cold-swap issue is a non-issue IMHO: I see this device as targeted to SOHO user who don’t strictly need hot-swap.
    Bigger firms would use a dedicated full-fledged NAS instead of this thing.

  12. Interesting product idea, but how long will it last in the marketplace? Maybe a few years at most. Maybe it will evolve into something better?

    The motherboard seems like a custom job. Will anyone have any luck loading their favorite flavor of Linux?

    The switch management software appears to be built into the QNAP software. Will anyone have any luck loading their favorite flavor of Linux?

    All of the whining about lack of ECC support simply demonstrates a lack of understanding of product-market segmentation. This Intel SoC series is designed to be useful without being expensive so it can be used in embedded or super low-end desktop scenarios. Asking for ECC immediately jumps you into C3xxx Atom series chips due to Intel market segmentation efforts. Come on STH readers, I mean that’s like DOH!

    I do agree with other posters concerning the complexity of replacing the internal drives. IMHO excessive maintenance effort leads to poor product acceptance and-or relegation of such a product to the most minimal of service, like “fancy low-end NAS only” or “fancy low-end POE switch only” in this case.

    The onboard internal USB port is a good idea.

    Nice try QNAP, but I think you will strike out in the long run with this product design.

    [I needed a baseball analogy…it’ been too long without that relaxing sport.]

  13. I wonder if there is a way to do VM PCI passthrough. If so, I have a very specific and very useful for me use case.

  14. Purchased my QGD-1600P in April, but have only recently been able to power it up and do some preliminary evaluation for my home PFsense firewall use case .. and maybe to replace a Raspberry Pi3B running LMS music server for our Squeezeboxes.

    I did install 2×16 gigs of DDR4 memory simms which the QTS nas side of the house lists properly as 32gigs with approx 31gB available for use. I think the simms are Kingston brand. For anyone wanting more info I will followup with the exact specs. Be advised I have only done a minimal powerup evaluation so far: updated the most recent QTS offered to –> v4.4.3(?), established basic IP config for my home network..etc. Have not created Volumes from the two Iron Wolf SSD’s installed yet, so you can see my reporting is very prelim. After initializing the SSD’s and installing the switch software I would like to test whether the 31 gigs of RAM space listed is actual or only the system’s own wishful thinking.

    Would like any suggestions from this forum on how best to verify the stability of the full 31gigs of listed RAM space and your thoughts regarding PFsense installation tips for home network use behind a fiber to the home 100Mb ISP link with no HTTP server exposure required as yet.

    As this wonderful review mentions: gosh the tiny PSU fan is noisy and in an especially annoying high frequency audible band as well. I have partially disassembled the PSU to evaluate whether I might be able to remove the internal PSU fan pushing air out, with an external 120mm squirrel cage blower fan mounted on the outside of the QGD-1600P case pushing air into the PSU fan opening. The original tiny highspeed fan has so little rotating blade cross-sectional area actually moving air compared to the cross-section of the fan motor disk, that I am amazed it does much useful to cool the PSU electronics at all. Must be way the blades have to rotate at such a high RPM. Removing this tiny fan, 80% of which is motor disk blockage opens up much more area for an externally mounted centrifugal blower fan to push air into the PSU. The other end of the PSU metal case for air to exit thru seems to have better cross-section than where the original fan was. I realize it is not a great solution to push colder external air thru the PSU body exiting into to QGD-1600 case, but I am not planning on attaching more than perhaps (7) POE devices: 3 IP cameras and 3 Umbiquiti Nano AP’s, 1 small outdoor WiFi router. So I hope the PSU load will be moderate.

    Will report back as time and tasks permit.
    Thanks again for the excellent review.

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