Upgrading memory on the QNAP TS-873

Since May of 2019, I’ve been toying and using the QNAP TS-873 at home. I haven’t pushed its limits due to my heavy work schedule and after work projects but I’m starting to play with it more and more as of recent.

When I purchased the TS-873, I opted to go with the lower spec memory configuration of 4GB DDR4, knowing that I would eventually get the upgrade bug.

I looked at the utilization of the CPU and memory in default configurations and although it was not terrible, the memory utilization could sit at medium-high depending on what was being performed on the NAS.

At first I wanted to eventually max out the 64GB memory configuration on this QNAP. I wanted to buy 2x16gb sticks first and then buy another pair down the road. But I stopped myself. I spent some time reading the QNAP forums and reflecting on my plan and decided that for my use case, it was overkill. Severely overkill. At t his time, I don’t have any intentions of running VMs off the QNAP and I don’t see any plans for that in the future. That is not what I purchase it for. If you recall my previous post back in May, I never intended to run VMs on this. I want the QNAP for it’s NAS duties, data storage and VM storage with iSCSI and NFS.

Reviewing my decision, I opted to purchase 2x8GB sticks from Amazon.ca. The memory is: HyperX HX424S14IB2K2/16 Impact Black 16GB Kit of 2 (2x8GB) 2400MHz DDR4 Non-ECC CL14 260-pin Unbuffered SODIMM Internal Memory Black.

The reviews overall are very strong and positive and the pricing is reasonable. This prepares me to eventually move towards a max capacity of 32GB and that is fine with me. At most, I may dabble with Docker and containers but that won’t be much of a memory hog. I have my HP ML150 G6 Server to do any server related/virtualization duties.

Anyways, the memory was purchased and delivered. Here are a few pictures of said hardware.

Unfortunately I didn’t take any screenshots of the QTS operating system showing the previous memory utilization.

Here are a few photos of the unit and the insides.

If you have a keen eye, you will spot the official QNAP 10GBe card installed 😉

When I purchase the unit, I also found a fantastic deal on eBay for the official/original QNAP 10GBe card so I scooped it up. I’ll discuss 10GBe in the future. I’m not there yet nor testing it.

Anyways, those few photos give you an idea of how the unit looks like inside. Nothing overly complex.
When I went to install the 16GB of memory, I choose to retain my 4GB (2x2gb) so that I would have 20GB of memory recognized.

Before installing the memory, I wanted to confirm with QNAP about memory placement. I followed QNAPs official user guide located here.

QNAP States the following:

• A module is installed in slot 1.

• Modules are installed in pairs. When installing two modules, use slots 1 and 3

Being careful and identifying the slots properly, I installed my memory as shown below.

After powering up the QNAP, the memory was as expected, working and recognized.

Here is what I currently see for the hardware and resource monitor. My memory currently is sitting at 12% as I write this.

That really covers the extent of my memory upgrade. I have yet to run memtest or some kind of memory test application to make sure everything is fine but the NAS has been operating without any issues.

Last thing I want to briefly mention and this is regarding the installed AMD processor and ECC memory.

Referencing this website and it’s information on the AMD R-Series RX-421ND specs, it shows under Integrated Peripherals / Components:

Memory Controller

Memory controllerThe number of controllers: 1
Memory channels: 2
Supported memory: DDR3-2133, DDR4-2400
Maximum memory bandwidth (GB/s): 38.4
ECC supported: Yes

Interesting, ECC supported!?!??!!?!??!?!

Looking at AMD’s’ website regarding the AMD Embedded R-Series SoC, I see a similar mention of ECC memory under their Overview heading:

  • DDR4 / DDR3 up to 2400 MT/s with ECC

Under Additional Key Benefits:

  • AMD’s first embedded processor with dual-channel 64-bit DDR4 or DDR3 with Error-Correction Code (ECC), with speeds up to DDR4-2400 and DDR3-2133, and support for 1.2V DDR4 and 1.5V/1.35V DDR3 

See for yourself here.

I’d love to test this out but I can’t justify the cost of DDR4 ECC memory right now, especially for a test. If this finding would be actual, this would really win many user’s towards this QNAP/AMD box. From what I’ve read online, the TS-x73 series is great but some users want their NAS to accept ECC memory. I’m not going to debate if it’s needed or not for a NAS but I’ve seen user’s online mention that due to the lack of ECC memory in the QNAP line, they will pursue other options. *Cough* Synology DS1618+ *Cough*

If this TS-x73 line is ECC capable, I think that’s a fantastic find and something that will make this even more appealing to other users.

Thanks for reading 🙂

Farewell HP, Hello QNAP

Well I am back. Not that I went anywhere but life is busy and I’m trying to dedicate more time to document what I’m currently tinkering with.

Back in May 2019, I wrote a post about me looking to replace my old HP EX490 Media server. I’ve had this server since new and for many years and it was time to move on. The HP EX490 performed great over the years but it was time to shift focus onto a newer platform. I advertised the EX490 for sale locally and after the typical lowballers and ill advised parents, it sold to somebody who knew what the server was and how to use it. It went to a good home 🙂

Mid May 2019, I received a delivery.

I was ecstatic! I received my new QNAP TS-873. I don’t often buy new items as I’m always on a hunt for a deal but this was the rare occasion that I wanted to buy something new and quality.

Inside the box, this is what I found.

I was and am pleasantly surprised at the nice fit and finish of the QNAP unit. Although my opinion of QNAP is 50/50 since experiencing a motherboard failure with an enterprise level unit in my datacenter, I was going to give QNAP at home a try.

One thing I really don’t like about QNAP is that the extended warranty has to be purchased within the first 90 days of ownership I believe. I do see this kind of policy in the enterprise but for QNAP, I would have hoped that the extended warranties could be purchased within the 1st year of ownership.

It is hard to tell how the unit will perform. Will it be a dud? will it crash often or have hardware malfunctions in the first 6 months? If I had a semi-problematic unit, I would be obliged to purchase the warranty at month 9-12. Anyways, fingers crossed that everything works out fine.

Since receiving the QNAP, I installed 2TB x 4 into the unit and created one volume. I installed a 5th drive to be a hot spare. I have in bays 6 and 7, Samsung 960GB SSD Enterprise drives that I will play around with.

Overall, this is a solid upgrade over my old media server and it’s grown on me since receiving it.

What’s planned for it? Once I can afford new drives, I’ll be moving towards Toshiba N300 4TB. I plan to purchase 4 of them to replace my aging WD Green 2TB drives.

Also a memory upgrade. Stay tuned!

What I’ve been up to recently

Since my last relevant post regarding the HP ML150 G6, I’ve been thinking about how to tackle my education on iSCSI/NFS in my home lab environment and also replace my againg 10 year old NAS.

Lets take a step back and let me explain my storage history. About 10 years ago when I beginning to get into IT career wise, I decided to purchase an HP EX490 Mediasmart Server. This little nifty box was one of HP’s products to get their foot into the door of the home NAS market, but the EX490 was a bit more than just a regular NAS.

The EX490 had:

  • Socketed CPU, so upgrading the processor was possible (Intel Celeron 450 2.2Ghz)
  • Upgradable memory (2GB DDR2 but still…)
  • Windows Home Server v1 (based on Server 2003)
  • Toolless drive cages
  • 4 drive bays
  • 10/100/1000 Ethernet
  • 4 USB 2.0 ports and 1 eSATA port

This unit was great when it launched and I did enjoy it what it did for me. Although, the OS was already outdated on the launch of the server, shortly after WHS v2 was released. I didn’t bother changing the OS due to the hassle and my data so stuck with the ancient v1 release.

I’ve kept this little box full with Western Digital Green 2TB drives, which have performed flawlessly over 10 years without any failures. I still have them and will post SMART data in anther post.

The EX490 was and still is a great little unit for the tasks it was designed for but we can all agree that those specs are on the light side even a few years ago. It can still handle file serving needs in 2019 for somebody that doesn’t have high requirement so I will try to find a new owner for this little box.

About a year or two after owning this HP EX490, I did upgrade the EX490 from 2GB to 4GB of memory, using the following make and model RAM: Patriot Memory PSD24G8002 Signature DDR2 4GB CL6 800MHz DIMM, PC2 6400

I also had the EX490 upgraded from it’s slow Intel Celeron 450 to a Intel E8400 CPU around that time. Look at how both CPUs compare using CPU-World here. I’ve always wanted to purchase the Intel Q9550s but back then the CPU was fairly pricey and the E8400 I had laying around from past desktop builds.

With the memory and cpu upgraded, I did notice the increase in performance and continued using the NAS for a few more years.

About 4 years ago, bored and having the want to tinker with the EX490, I finally decided to purchase the Intel Q9550s from eBay. The processor arrived and it was immediately installed. The performance bump from the E8400 to the Intel Q9550s wasn’t very noticeable for me but I was able to check that off my list. See the comparison here.

Anyways, that is my real first exposure to a home NAS/server unit, purchased sometime around 2009-2010. I have since collected more data and I’ve been on the hunt to replace the aging EX490.

I’ve toyed with the idea of a custom NAS or enterprise SAN (LOLZ) since that is really the closest thing I can somewhat relate to from my work enviroment. I didn’t know much about Terramaster, QNAP or Synology so I started searching around to try and find out which manufacturer will provide me a scalable yet powerful and quality unit. My needs were quite basic really;

  • Store my personal data, photos and videos from over the years. No brainer
  • Storage for all my Linux ISOs…
  • Capable of iSCSI and NFS storage that I could integrate with my HP ML150 G6 to practice storage configurations.
  • 2-4 NICs so I could do NIC teaming and practice failover.

So on April 12th, I purchased the Synology DS1618+. The fancy matte black unit arrived and I was really excited. I compared many of the Synology units, from the DS918+ all the way to the ridiculously priced DS1819+.

I’ve played around with the DS1618+, setting a 4x2TB SHR1, Btrfs configuration for my personal data and 2x3TB RAID-1 EXT4 for what I wanted to use for datastores for VMware. I liked the OS, it was nice and basic. I was a bit surprised that enabling ‘advanced’ mode in the Synology control panel seemed to have displayed up a few more items, but everything still looked fairly basic. Regardless, it looks like a polished OS overall.

What sat wrong with me was the hardware. The processor was decent and the memory capability with ECC capable RAM is fantastic but I didn’t feel that what I paid (1100.00 CAD) was worth it. About two weeks after receiving the Synology, I noticed QNAP had a few nicer offerings. I looked at a few modes and noticed that the hardware features of QNAP are much better than Synology. Doing some searches on Google, most user’s that have used both platforms have the same opinion. Synology for the OS and updates, QNAP for the hardware. Multiple QNAP units incoporate PCIe slots (one or two) but also have intergrated 10Gb NICs. I wanted to like the Synology, so I looked at the bigger brother, the DS1819+. I don’t really want 8 bays but for scalability and being able to have a hot spare and SSD for caching (or SSD’s for VM’s) is a benefit.

The DS1618+ was starting to look like something I was going to return. Browsing on Amazon, I was surprised to see the massive total price difference between the DS1618+ and the DS1819+. My DS1618+ cost me about $1107.xx Canadian currency. The DS1819+ sells for about $1333.xx + tax, which brings it to a total of about $15xx.xx Canadian dollars.

$400.00 bucks for another 2 bays? No way Jose.

So I actively searched for a comparable but better(in my eyes) QNAP unit. I’ve looked at a few which met some of my requirements, such as the QNAP TS-932x, TVS-951X or the TS-963X. I love how they are 9-bay, have 10Gb integrated but for some reason something didn’t appeal to me.

I kept searching and I found one that looked like a small price increase over the DS1618+ but still cheaper than the DS1819+ and had more capabilities and features. The QNAP TS-873. This seems to tick off all my wants. 4 NICs, 8-bay, lower cost than the Synology unit but much better in hardware. The only real downfall I see is that the CPU uses a bit more power (15W more normal use vs the DS1618+) but the overall gains from it at the price point leave Synology in the dust (IMO of course).

Now people will say that the QNAP OS isn’t as refined as the Synology unit. Sure I get that, but that is something that QNAP can improve over the years. The hardware, well I’m stuck with for the period I plan to keep this unit for.

I am not purchasing a NAS to use at home for 2-3 years. I am looking to get something for the long haul. My HP EX490 operated pretty reliably for nearly 10 years and thankfully I had no failures.

Last night I placed an order for the TS-873 and I am excited to see what this unit holds. I did have two QNAP NAS (TS-EC879U-RP) at work so I have some familiarity of the OS already. I say did because one of them randomly failed out of the sudden. Thankfully I was able to use the other one to retrieve my data from the drives. Qnap support was pretty poor and slow. Oh well.

Anyways, that’s the gist of my storage history for the past 9-10 years. I know RAID and the number of bays are NOT backup, so fear not. Any critical data will be uploaded to Backblaze under a personal account. Their pricing seems fairly good and the general feedback about them looks to be positive.

What do you think? Do you think I made a wise choice? What do you look for when purchasing a NAS?