Qnap TVS-972XU review: Hassle-free hybrid storage

A high-performing hybrid storage solution with plenty of features, although it could use more base memory

IT Pro Verdict


  • +

    Heaps of storage options

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    Great buffet of data protection features

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    Awesome performance


  • -

    Default RAM allocation isn’t enough for write cacheing

Qnap’s TVS-972XU may look like an everyday rackmount NAS appliance, but it’s uncommonly versatile when it comes to local storage options: in addition to its four LFF hot-swap front bays, there’s also a row of five SFF drive bays tucked away underneath the lid. This gives you the option of dedicating the front bays to high-capacity LFF drives while fitting SSDs into the internal ones for high-speed storage, a read/write cache or as a performance tier for Qnap’s Qtier 2 data-migration feature. If that’s not enough, round the back you’ll also find a whopping six USB 3.2 ports, so you can connect a huge amount of high-speed external storage.

That’s not the only welcome sight on the backplate: alongside a pair of 10GbE SFP+ and Gigabit Ethernet connections, there’s an HDMI 2 socket, with full support for 4K video courtesy of the UHD 630 GPU that’s integrated into the Core i3-8100 processor – and a spare PCIe slot for further expansion potential.

To test the appliance, we installed four 16TB Seagate IronWolf NAS drives and used Qnap’s QTS Storage & Snapshots app to create a RAID5 array. It quickly became apparent that the TVS-972XU delivers great performance: after we’d connected it over 10GbE to an HPE ProLiant DL180 Gen10 Xeon Scalable host running Windows Server 2019, Iometer measured excellent read and write rates of 9.2Gbits/sec and 9.1Gbits/sec.

Real-world speeds are also on the money. Our drag-and-drop copies of a 25GB test file completed at average read and write rates of 5.7Gbits/sec and 4.4Gbits/sec, while our 22.4GB folder containing 10,500 small files was backed up at a rather creditable 2Gbits/sec.

To ensure peak performance, you can turn on write caching. This can make a big difference to certain operations, but when we tried to test this with a mirrored pair of 1TB SSDs, the QTS Resource Monitor app complained that there wasn’t enough RAM available for caching to work effectively. So, if you want to take advantage of this feature, you may want to budget to upgrade the memory from the supplied 4GB – or at least keep the number of apps you’re running to a minimum.

On the plus side, an outstanding spread of data-protection features is included as standard. As well as manual and scheduled snapshots of NAS volumes and iSCSI LUNs, the Hybrid Backup Sync 3 (HBS 3) app makes it terrifically easy to implement a business-class backup strategy. It uses Storage Spaces to define multiple local, remote or cloud destinations, and can help you create a full 3-2-1 backup strategy with only four clicks. That makes this a great choice for SMBs seeking a hassle-free hybrid storage solution.

The app also handles file versioning, which can provide protection against ransomware attacks, while the QuDedup feature helps you make the most of your storage by not storing multiple copies of identical files.

The cloud gets plenty of attention too, thanks to Qnap’s HybridMount app, which can mount storage on any of the 20 supported cloud providers as if they were local NAS shares, and boost performance with local caching.

A final strength of the TVS-972XU is the inclusion of the smart new QVR Pro video surveillance app, the free version of which includes an eight-channel licence and support for 14 days of video playback. This is where that HDMI port shows its worth, as you can simply plug in a monitor and display all camera feeds locally. Unlocking unlimited playback costs £80, or you can step up to QVR Pro Gold, which costs £316 for eight more camera channels.

The TVS-972XU is a highly versatile NAS appliance with a useful mix of LFF and SFF drive bays. You’ll want to upgrade the memory to get the best from it, but in all it’s a powerful 10GbE-ready package for the price, supported by an impressive range of storage, data-protection and surveillance features.

Qnap TVS-972XU specifications

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Chassis1U rack chassis
CPU3.6GHz Intel Core i3-8100 CPU
Memory4GB DDR4 UDIMM (max 64GB)
Storage bays4 x LFF hot-swap, 5 x internal SFF SATA drive bays
PSU250W internal PSU
RAID supportRAID0, 1, 5, 6, 10, 50, 60, JBOD
Network2 x Gigabit Ethernet, 2 x 10GbE SFP+
Other ports2 x USB 3.2 Gen 1, 4 x USB 3.2 Gen 2, HDMI 2.0, 1 x PCIe
Warranty3yr RTB warranty
Dave Mitchell

Dave is an IT consultant and freelance journalist specialising in hands-on reviews of computer networking products covering all market sectors from small businesses to enterprises. Founder of Binary Testing Ltd – the UK’s premier independent network testing laboratory - Dave has over 45 years of experience in the IT industry.

Dave has produced many thousands of in-depth business networking product reviews from his lab which have been reproduced globally. Writing for ITPro and its sister title, PC Pro, he covers all areas of business IT infrastructure, including servers, storage, network security, data protection, cloud, infrastructure and services.