Qnap TVS-EC1280U-SAS-RP review

Stunning storage features and performance with a price that’s right for storage-hungry SMBs

IT Pro Verdict

The top-notch features and performance, SAS 3 support, expansion potential and price tag makes this 2U rack NAS the perfect A-Lister.


  • +

    Excellent performance; Good feature-set; Tempting price


  • -

    Noisy fans;

Qnap's TVS-EC1280U-SAS-RP shoots for the enterprise, but delivers a remarkable range of features at a price SMBs will also find very palatable. This 12-bay 2U rack NAS has a fast 3.5GHz Intel Xeon E3-1246 v3 CPU teamed with 16GB of DDR3 RAM, and it supports SAS and SATA drives, yet a diskless system costs 3,556 exc VAT.

This is the first appliance from Qnap that supports 12Gbits/sec SAS 3 drives, and it has an embedded SAS 3 expansion port. You can connect up to eight of Qnap's new 16-bay and 12-bay disk shelves for a total of 140 drives and a maximum capacity of over 1.1PB.

­Quad Gigabit ports come as standard, and two PCI Express expansion slots are available for multiple 10GbE upgrades. The price even includes dual 128GB mSATA modules for read or read/write cache duties.

The "RP" in the model name indicates that dual hotplug PSUs are also included. Ignore the BBU slot at the rear, though, because Nap's C2F (cache-2-flash) battery backup feature still isn't available.

Installation using Qnap's discovery web portal took 15 minutes. It ran through installing the latest QTS 4.2 software and set up our quartet of 4TB WD SAS drives in a RAID5 array. Just released from beta, this QTS version adds a superb range of welcome new features.

The management web console gets a fresh design, while the Q'center app provides a central console for monitoring multiple NAS appliances. Using its customisable dashboard, we were able to create views of the appliance with graphs of storage pool and volume usage, plus appliance hardware utilisation.

Qnap's Virtualization Station is a favourite of ours as it lets us run other operating systems in virtual machines on the appliance. Previously, we had to dedicate network ports to each VM, but the new virtual switch does away with the need for this.

The Web File Manager app now supports direct links to cloud storage. We used it to view our Dropbox and Google Drive accounts and copy files directly between these and the appliance. The Qsirch text-based search app made light work of finding files on the NAS, and Docker support allows the appliance to host Linux apps in containers.

Cloud backup apps are in abundance, with options for Amazon S3 and Glacier, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Storage. Syncing services such as Dropbox and Google Drive is deftly handled by the Cloud Drive Sync app. We also created a private storage cloud and used the Qsync app on our Windows 10 desktops for syncing local folders in real-time with the appliance.

For testing, we slotted in an Emulex dual-port 10GBase-T adapter and linked to an HP ProLiant DL380 Gen9 server running Windows Server 2012 R2. NAS performance is very impressive, with copies of our 25GB test file delivering sustained read and write speeds of 465MB/sec and 426MB/sec.

The IP SAN performance is even better: a 500GB target returned a consistent 9.2Gbits/sec Iometer throughput for both read and write operations. With a dual 10GbE MPIO link, speeds increased to 17.3Gbits/sec and 15.4Gbits/sec.

The mSATA cache also delivered the goods. Running our Iometer SQL database load on an uncached target returned 21,000 IOPS, which then rose to 55,000 IOPS with a read/write cache in action. But the good news doesn't stop there: testing an iSCSI target on a 400GB HGST MLC SAS 3 SSD saw our database load produce a stunning uncached 86,000 IOPS.

Apart from the noisy cooling fans, there's much to like about the TVS-EC1280U-SAS-RP. The top-notch features and performance, SAS 3 support, expansion potential and price tag makes this 2U rack NAS the perfect A-Lister.


The top-notch features and performance, SAS 3 support, expansion potential and price tag makes this 2U rack NAS the perfect A-Lister.

2U rack

3.5GHz Intel Xeon E3-1246 v3

16GB DDR3 RAM (max 32GB)

12 x hot-swap SAS 3/SATA 3 LFF/SFF drive bays

supports RAID0, 1, 5, 6, 10, hot-spare, JBODs

2 x 128GB mSATA modules

SAS 3 expansion port

2 x PCI Express slots

4 x USB 3

4 x USB 2


2 x 400W PSUs

3yr limited 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.