QNAP TVS-h1288X 12-bay NAS Review

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QNAP TVS-h1288X Internal Overview

Getting inside the server requires removing several screws, but the lid comes off quickly. Inside, we can see that QNAP has done a lot of work customizing this system.

QNAP TVS H1288X Internal View PSU Side
QNAP TVS H1288X Internal View PSU Side

The power supply appears to be a fairly standard unit, but our first clue that something has been customized is that the motherboard has connectivity on both sides. Here we can see the 10Gbase-T adapter slot on the bottom side of the motherboard along with the ATX power supply input.

QNAP TVS H1288X Power Input And 10GbE Card
QNAP TVS H1288X Power Input And 10GbE Card

As we move to the other side of the system we can see why. QNAP effectively has a dual-chamber design. One chamber is for cooling the 10Gbase-T NIC and drives. The other is for the CPU, memory, NVMe SSDs, and other components. Compared to some of the other units on the market that suffer from cooling challenges, this is a great way to design the system.

QNAP TVS H1288X Motherboard Side 2
QNAP TVS H1288X Motherboard Side 2

Perhaps the biggest feature is the CPU. We have a massive CPU heatsink to cool the Intel Xeon W-1250 6-core/ 12-thread CPU. QNAP is not using an old embedded part. This is a current-generation Xeon W launched a few months ago. By using a more modern platform, we get features like the USB 3.2 Gen2 ports.

QNAP TVS H1288X Motherboard Side 1
QNAP TVS H1288X Motherboard Side 1

Underneath the two big blower fans, we have features we would normally expect on a NAS motherboard, but some surprises as well.

QNAP TVS H1288X Motherboard Components
QNAP TVS H1288X Motherboard Components

First, we have a DOM. This is common for NAS units. This one appears to be made by ADATA. Next to the DOM, we have a black heatsink that is cooling the Intel PCH.

QNAP TVS H1288X DOM
QNAP TVS H1288X DOM

In terms of memory, we have two 8GB DDR4 ECC SODIMMs. The Xeon W-1200 series only supports UDIMMs, but QNAP supports upgrades of up to 4x 32GB for 128GB total. We wish QNAP had 32GB of memory at this price point, but the larger 16-bay option has 32GB installed.

QNAP TVS H1288X 2x 8GB ECC Memory
QNAP TVS H1288X 2x 8GB ECC Memory

Even though this is marketed as a 12-bay NAS, those are just the hot-swap bays. There are two more internal drive spots and the highest performing ones. These two M.2 slots can handle M.2 2280 (80mm) or 22110 (110mm) NVMe drives using PCIe Gen3 x4. One technically can put 14 drives inside this 12-bay NAS. We like that QNAP is using a tool-less option here as well.

QNAP TVS H1288X M.2 Memory
QNAP TVS H1288X M.2 Memory

As you have probably seen, this massive cooling solution that QNAP has just for this compartment in the NAS is designed to move a lot of air while keeping the system quiet. There are a few other notable points inside as well. First, we have the four 2.5GbE NIC chips on this side of the chassis. One will notice that while the controllers are on the side with all of this cooling airflow, the RJ45 ports are on the opposite side of the motherboard. This is another impact of having a custom-designed solution.

QNAP TVS H1288X 2.5GbE NICs
QNAP TVS H1288X 2.5GbE NICs

One may have also noticed the two slots at the top of the system, and noted that they look a bit different. These slots have a specific purpose.

QNAP TVS H1288X Motherboard Thunderbolt Expansion Slots
QNAP TVS H1288X Motherboard Thunderbolt Expansion Slots

This NAS has a Thunderbolt 3 option for direct connectivity as well.

QNAP TVS H1288X Thunderbolt 3 Card Installed 1
QNAP TVS H1288X Thunderbolt 3 Card Installed 1

This is an optional feature but one can add up to two QNAP TBT3-40G2P cards to this system, each in one of these slots.

QNAP TVS H1288X Thunderbolt 3 Card 1
QNAP TVS H1288X Thunderbolt 3 Card 1

Each card has two Thunderbolt 3 ports which means while we only had a single card/ 2-ports to test, one can have up to four Thunderbolt 3 ports.

QNAP TVS H1288X Thunderbolt 3 Card 2
QNAP TVS H1288X Thunderbolt 3 Card 2

This adds to the expandability of the system significantly and offers a high-speed DAS option as well.

QNAP TVS H1288X Thunderbolt 3 Card Installed Rear
QNAP TVS H1288X Thunderbolt 3 Card Installed Rear

Something we did not know prior to the review was that this functionality on QNAP runs basically with an IP network. When one inserts a Thunderbolt cable connected to another system (we tried theĀ Intel NUC 11 Pro, the Mac Mini M1’s, and a MacBook Pro M1) the QNAP software detects the new device. It then displays IP information on the system.

QNAP TVS H1288X Thunderbolt 3 Card Isntalled 4
QNAP TVS H1288X Thunderbolt 3 Card Installed 4

One of the interesting “tricks” one can use is that QNAP’s software can route traffic through Thunderbolt and use the 10Gbase-T NICs. In effect, one can connect a Mac Mini M1 that has only a 1GbE network port, or a notebook, and use Thunderbolt to access the higher-speed 10Gbase-T ports. That is significantly more complex than just using a Thunderbolt 10GbE adapter, but it is possible. If there were multiple video editors connected to the device via Thunderbolt, as an example, they could have a high-speed link to the DAS/NAS while also getting a high-speed link to the LAN.

Overall, the key takeaway for us is that QNAP did a great job on the hardware. It is abundantly clear that QNAP is designing hardware that differentiates it from both systems built using off-the-shelf components. It is also now far ahead of what Synology offers in this price bracket. There is no doubt QNAP is ahead on a hardware value per dollar in the QNAP v. Synology discussion.

Hardware is only part of the equation. Next, we are going to look at the QuTS hero ZFS-based software solution.

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REVIEW OVERVIEW
Design & Aesthetics
9.0
Performance
9.2
Feature Set
9.6
Value
9.0
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Patrick has been running STH since 2009 and covers a wide variety of SME, SMB, and SOHO IT topics. Patrick is a consultant in the technology industry and has worked with numerous large hardware and storage vendors in the Silicon Valley. The goal of STH is simply to help users find some information about server, storage and networking, building blocks. If you have any helpful information please feel free to post on the forums.

9 COMMENTS

  1. I have the 9 bay TS-h973AX AMD Ryzen NAS, running QuTS Hero. My first QNAP NAS after a couple of Synology. I specifically bought it for the mix of ZFS NAS dedup and compression with the nice addition of the app ecosystem. Mine stores multiple, very similar linux VDI VMs on an iSCSI connected datastore and is achieving impressive data storage reductions, and I am really happy with the storage performance across the inbuilt 10 and 2.5GBe network ports. I am using 5 Ironwolf HDDs and 2 intel enterprise NVME drive for caching and ZIL log.

    I used to work in the enterprise server/storage areas, and this really seems to perform as well as some of the old HP/EMC storage systems I worked with. As well as being my PLEX media server…

    I really think this is a significant step-change for SMB/homelab setups, after a good few years of ‘meh’ NAS device updates. I had my last Synology for 5 years, never saw a reason to update it until I saw the QNAP/ZFS solution…

  2. Not so much about this product but the state of the market:

    * While I’m glad to see 2.5 Gbps appearing, NBase-T would be preferable. Do you know why it’s shipping on so few products, I assume cost?

    * Is there any indication of a next-rev Xeon-D?

  3. 100W “Idle” seems a bit excessive, does this have a BMC? Is it possible to simply install Linux on it since it’s all standard components?

  4. Great review, but it lacks recent news regarding Qnap devices around the world facing ransomeware:

    https://www.bleepingcomputer.com/news/security/massive-qlocker-ransomware-attack-uses-7zip-to-encrypt-qnap-devices/

    Appears to be a pattern of failed security, including hard-coded passwords in backdoors:
    https://www.reddit.com/r/qnap/comments/mwo72h/with_all_the_ransomware_attacks_i_highly/

    I was close to buying this new unit with 16-drives. Perhaps after some significant improvement!

  5. Thanks for the great Large QNAP NAS review. STH is comprehensive and just plain forthright and honest every time.
    For my SOHO my 1st NAS I is a Synology DS-218+. A little great 2-bay. I upgraded May 2020 to a QNAP TS-253D (another 2 bay). That little TS-X53D family NAS has a few pre-view features its much large big brother. It has multiple 2.5GB ports (easy to port aggregate), many USB ports (compatible with all of the 2.5 & 5Gb Adapters reviewed by STH), and a full PCIe slot (to use any of the many QNAP PCIe 10Gb NIC & NIC/Memory cards).
    The QNAP QTS OS does take a long while to boot and shutdown. To me along with the size of the hard drives the up & down times also appears to be related to the number of Apps installed, Snapshots & Virtual machines configured, etc. The variable speed fan is pretty quiet but the constant HD noise along with the Synology NAS HD’s clearly is annoying in a quiet office space.
    Synology & QNAP have regular OS software updates and frequent App updates.

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