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Software & Wrap Up
At the time of testing, the latest firmware version available for the TS-1635 was QTS 4.2.3, which was released in late January. This build offers a few minor bug fixes and changes over the previous version 4.2.2.
QTS is an extremely well-polished operating system with features include the 'Linux Station' app. As we saw with the TS-853A this app essentially converts your QNAP NAS into a Linux workstation/desktop computer by installing Ubuntu. This feature tied in nicely with the TS-853A's ability to accept a mouse, keyboard and monitor.
That said this is a feature TS-1635 users won't be looking at taking advantage of, namely because this model lacks a display output and more importantly doesn't work with ARM-base processors. Linux Station isn't the only app that requires an x86 processor, the same is true for Virtualization Station, Network & Virtual Switch and SAN Snapshots.
As a more business-centric device, most will want to take advantage of features such as the SSD cache. Although we didn't see huge gains in all of our tests that's not to say they aren't there. We weren't able to benchmark the impact this feature might have on virtualization or database applications and we also weren't able to test the 10GbE performance.
Still what we were able to experience is just how easy the SSD cache was to enable and configure. The user simply needs to enter the storage manager, hit the 'cache acceleration' tab and then create. From there the QNAP wizard guides the user though the quick and simple process with the option for detailed explanations of what certain settings do.
There are countless other software features embedded in the QTS 4.2 OS and covering them all simply isn't possible. For more information and even a live online demo, visit QNAP's website.
Both the TS-853A 8GB and TS-1635 4GB come in at $1,150, with the former having better general performance courtesy of its 1.6GHz quad-core Intel Celeron N3160 SoC and the latter having more room thanks to its dozen 3.5" drive bays and four 2.5" bays. Whereas the previously reviewed eight-bay TS-853A was a jack of all trades ideal for home users, the ARM-based Alpine AL-514 inside the TS-1635 makes it more appropriate for duty in small to medium businesses.
The most immediate competition to QNAP's TS-1635 appears to be Synology's own Alpine AL-514-powered NAS, the eight-bay DiskStation DS2015xs, which costs a cool $1,550 and yet remains no match for the TS-1635 in terms of features.
So on the subject of pricing, I think QNAP has nailed it with the TS-1635 and while getting the price right is a key ingredient to launching a successful product, this unit does have a few shortcomings that may or may not be an issue depending on your needs.
Although the TS-1635 supports dual 10GbE SFP+ ports which is a big plus for the price, the package doesn't include transceivers. That's a bit of a blow but at least there are some cost-effective options available so overall this shouldn't add too much on top of the initial purchase price.
The other issue is the limited application support for the ARM-based processor. For a business-class NAS, giving up virtualization support seems disappointing. If this is a deal-breaker for you then we suggest checking out one of QNAP's many business-oriented models with an Intel processor.
If you want a NAS with big storage capabilities, 10GbE SFP+ support out of the box with the possibility of adding say a 10G BASE-T expansion card, then the TS-1635 is the ultimate solution. Value-wise, we currently feel that the TS-1635 is the go-to big storage NAS.
Pros: A dozen 3.5" drive bays plus four 2.5" SSD cache bays, unbeatable value for big NAS storage, dual 10GbE SFP+ ports with the option for expansion, refined QTS 4.2 operating system.
Cons: 10GbE SFP+ transceiver modules not included, ARM SoC limits the amount of apps avalible (loss of virtualization support is a big one), weaker than expected encrypted performance.