Our SwitchNAServer or QNAP QGD-1600P Review

15

QNAP QGD-1600P Internal Hardware Overview

Internally, we see a system that has a fair bit of extra room, but the layout is very straightforward. The center of the system has the main PCB for the SwitchNAServer CPU and memory, along with the switch ports and the PoE power supply. We have a power supply on the right side and the drives plus expansion on the left.

QNAP QGD 1600P Internal Overview Ports Down
QNAP QGD 1600P Internal Overview Ports Down

QNAP is using an Intel Celeron J4115 quad-core 1.8 GHz processor. This is a Gemini Lake-based Atom design that can turbo boost up to 2.5 GHz.

QNAP QGD 1600P Internal Overview Side
QNAP QGD 1600P Internal Overview Side

As a result, we get unbuffered non-ECC memory support. Specs say up to 8GB and that is what our QNAP QGD-1600P came with installed via two 4GB ADATA SODIMMs. QNAP also sells a 4GB model for those who do not need this much memory.

QNAP QGD 1600P Internal Two 8GB SODIMM RAM
QNAP QGD 1600P Internal Two 8GB SODIMM RAM

Most Gemini Lake Atom processors actually will work with 16GB (2x 8GB) and should work with 32GB (2x 16GB) configurations. Our 16GB DDR4 SODIMMs were tied up, but we did test 2x 8GB for 16GB total and it worked without issue even though, again this is unsupported.

QNAP QGD 1600P With 2x8GB 16GB Installed
QNAP QGD 1600P With 2x8GB 16GB Installed

You can look up J4105 results with those configurations and find quite a few success stories. Call 16GB something that we found working, but is unsupported by QNAP/ Intel. 32GB has a good possibility of working as we see with other Gemini lake platforms. While that gives plenty of additional RAM for VMs and containers, one is still limited by the low-power quad-core CPU.

QNAP did not use the Intel Atom C3000 series. That is really interesting. Something like the Atom C3538 would have provided MACs for two 10GbE ports as well as more memory support. It would certainly have added cost to the solution, but 10GbE SFP+ ports could have been added relatively inexpensively in this manner. What QNAP gains from the Celeron J4115 is an integrated GPU that drives the HDMI port. One can use that HDMI port for setup, but potentially something like digital signage. Given the SMB/ SOHO focus of this product, the tradeoff is the right one, but we are left wondering what might have been.

QNAP QGD 1600P Internal Two Seagate IronWolf 110 With Fan
QNAP QGD 1600P Internal Two Seagate IronWolf 110 With Fan

There are two internal 2.5″ bays. These are not hot swap units. One must open the chassis (4 screws), unscrew the mounting bracket (3 screws), and then install or replace drives (4 screws.) Suffice to say that this is not something we would consider easy so if you need removable storage, USB 3.0 storage is your best bet. As a fun aside, the way the riser PCB is designed has the two 2.5″ drives with opposite orientations. What this means is that we see the bottom side of both drives yet the top side of neither. That makes checking/ verifying the drives via labels a fairly involved process. In our test configuration, we are using two Seagate IronWolf 110 480GB 2.5″ SATA NAS SSDs.

QNAP QGD 1600P Internal Two PCIe Slots
QNAP QGD 1600P Internal Two PCIe Slots

The two expansion slots are PCIe Gen2 x2. It is great that one can use expansion cards such as QNAP QM2-2S-220A or QNAP QM2-2P10G1TA adapters to add storage and potentially 10GbE networking to the unit (managed through the main NAS.) At the same time, PCIe Gen4 is already in many servers and PCIe Gen3 made its debut with the original Xeon E5-2600 series in 2012, or over eight years ago. Still, the ability to add M.2 storage and potentially 10GbE networking is a big deal in a device like this since it increases flexibility. QNAP has a technology called VJBOD which allows one to use iSCSI to attach additional storage over the network. Here, you are going to be practically limited to 10GbE speeds since higher-speed networking requires a higher-bandwidth PCIe slot.

QNAP QGD 1600P Internal USB Storage
QNAP QGD 1600P Internal USB Storage

A quick note on expansion is that there is also an internal USB 3.0 header. We tested and one can use a USB powered SSD such as the Seagate One Touch 500GB USB 3.0 SSD or a USB thumb drive here and it will be recognized in QTS and one can use it to provision storage. Add to this the front panel USB 3.0 port and there are possibilities to add additional USB storage.

Power is provided by a 418W Delta PSU. After accounting for the main system, QNAP specs PoE power budget over the 16-ports as 370W.

QNAP QGD 1600P Delta 418W PSU
QNAP QGD 1600P Delta 418W PSU

Just above the main PCB, one can see a second PCB that provides the 16 ports with power for the PoE functionality.

QNAP QGD 1600P PoE Expansion Board
QNAP QGD 1600P PoE Expansion Board

The switch itself is based on a Microsemi VSC7425 switch chip and utilizes a Microsemi PD69200 PoE controller for management. The Broadcom chip is a BCM5720 which is a dual 1GbE NIC that interfaces between the main NAServer and the switch giving 2Gbps of bandwidth between the two. You will notice the Microsemi switch chip being used is an 18-port model, 16x for the ports, leaving two to interface through this NIC to the QTS server. Onboard the switch chip there is a low-power MIPS processor.

There are a total of three fans inside the chassis. There is a small fan that cools the SATA drives and expansion cards. Along with the large heatsink, one finds a fan cooling the main chips such as the Celeron J4115 CPU. The third, and perhaps most important fan is in the Delta supply. This fan is loud even with just the host management port active, let alone with PoE devices plugged in. That fan will keep one from using the QNAP QGD-1600P anywhere near where someone is working.

QNAP QGD 1600P Internal Overview
QNAP QGD 1600P Internal Overview

One small item we would have expected to see here is a chassis intrusion switch. At the $700 price range, this is perhaps not a requirement. Still, for a business deploying these to remote branch offices or retail locations, there is no real tamper mechanism on the device. That is something we have seen from vendors producing much more costly edge boxes that do some of the same types of features. The Lenovo ThinkSystem SE350 we tested did not provide PoE, but it was designed to provide networking, compute, and storage for the edge, albeit at a significantly higher price point. QNAP has a much better solution for the SMB and value markets.

Next, we are going to take a look at the software tieing the solution together.

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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