Continuing with NAS coverage from Computes, QNAP had a few new products to show, including the new HS-251 silent NAS. However, I spent most of my time looking at their software and especially virtualization because that was a feature QNAP highlighted heavily, mostly because they now support virtualization even in lower-end models. 

The virtualization window is very simple to use and the software supports imported VMs from most virtualization software. Exporting is also possible in case you want or need to move the VM to another machine. There is also a snapshot feature that allows you to take a snapshot of the system state and then return to that state later in case a user manages to break something for instance. 

Permissions can be set for every user and VM individually to ensure that the users only have access to what they need.

Overall the software is very app-centric and more apps can be downloaded from QNAP's App Center. Cloud backups are of course supported as well with several service options. 

And now, the hardware. Another thing QNAP emphasized was their use of Intel Celeron CPUs instead of Atom that most of their competitors use. I think the specific SKU in this case is a Silvermont based Celeron J1750 (UPDATE: J1800), which should provide far better performance than the old Bonell based NAS-specific Atoms. QNAP said that this allows VMs to be run even in lower-end models, which is something that Atom doesn't support (at least not that well). Obviously you won't be able to run several VMs at once like in the pictures above but one VM should still be enough for home or even small business use. Moreover, Celeron CPUs are powerful enough to do transcoding on the fly, which can be beneficial in case you happen to use an Apple TV or other format picky media player. 

The HS-251 is successor to the popular HS-210 silent NAS. It features two 3.5" hard drive bays and is passively cooled, meaning that the only noise will be coming from the hard drives (or no noise at all if you are crazy enough to go with SSDs). It features the same Celeron CPU as the TS-x51 series along with 1080p video and 7.1 audio playback.

For connectivity there are two Gigabit Ethernet, two USB 3.0, HDMI and optical audio ports. I think the HS-251 should be a great fit for people who are looking for a NAS that functions as a media player because unlike with traditional NASs, there is no extra noise from the fans that could negatively impact the experience. 

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  • DanNeely - Friday, June 13, 2014 - link

    What virtualization platforms/disk image formats are supported?

    I've been retiring old computers by imaging the drive and storing it on my NAS so I can dig around inside if I need to recover something; being able to instead run them as VMs on the NAS instead sounds attractive. While I'm not planning on replacing my current server for another ~18 months, this feature is making QNAP look really attractive and (assuming it doesn't cause problems in the short term) switching my archival images to a format it can use sounds appealing.
  • isa - Friday, June 13, 2014 - link

    Awesome and timely article. It seems like the HS-251 could be a cost-effective combo NAS and HTPC, depending on how it actually performs. Can it handle running Windows 7 or 8 in a VM? Looking for a way to foobar2000.
  • Grit - Friday, June 13, 2014 - link

    I'd love to see a rough release date. I'm ready to purchase a NAS and the TS-451 seems like what I'd want. Did they give pricing?
  • wintermute000 - Friday, June 13, 2014 - link

    Neat, but I think its hamstrung by CPU / RAM. Don't know the pricing for sure but based on previous prices for ARM/Atom based solutions, getting only a celeron and up to 8Gb makes it close but no cigar compared to either a HP NL54 or a home built rig.

    And lets face it, anyone interested in virt is going to be in the enthusiast crowd, and more than capable of building their own NL54 and/or custom rig.

    Unless their pricing is very good - which, if going by previous pricing for atom / ARM based models - is not even in the same car park (let alone ball park) of the grunt you'd get from an equivalent custom build.

    For customers who want virt, click-click-click it-just-works is going to be less of a draw hence less willing to pay the premium IMO.
  • - Saturday, June 14, 2014 - link

    Why buy expensive QNAP or Synology, when there's intel NUC or cubietruck, where one could have a full-blown windows/linux. In fact, you get for ~140$ a NAS with a single-core 1 Ghz Marvell, 128-256 RAM, where cubie for 100$ has 2 GB RAM, dual-core 1 Ghz ARM, NUC - dula-core atom x86, other platforms - even celeron etc. etc.
  • Valleyforge - Wednesday, June 18, 2014 - link

    So, how, exactly do you fit 4x3.5" drives in a NUC or a Cubieboard? Oh, that's right, you don't.

    I used to run a home server, either Windows Server 2012 or FreeNAS. How I use a cheap Synology (213j) that stores all my files, serves my media, runs my SQL database fro XBMC, runs NZBDrone, NZBGet, Transmission, DNS, DHCP, Crashplan, and a few other things. All on a weedy single core CPU that fell out of a microwave. The good thing about it is, it just works. I never need to look at it, it just runs happily on a shelf in the hallway. It does all that using less than 20W, which is a hard ask for a homebuild server.

    I spend all day at work up to my elbows in server hardware and Windows and Linux server OS, when I get home I just want something that works, which my low-end consumer NAS does.
  • Jozzy - Monday, June 30, 2014 - link

    Thank's for your post, I have been looking at setting up my own HTPC and tossing up between these QNAP and NUC's. You post makes a lot of sense, so I think rather than fork out a bunch for one of these shiny new QNAP's that do look great and are an all in one package I think I will go along the lines of purchasing NUC and then setting up a cheap NAS with no lights and whistles.

    Recommendations are welcome!
  • tokyojerry - Tuesday, July 1, 2014 - link

    Jozzy, what equipment you ultimately decide upon is a very subjective process. Everyone has certain objectives they want to accomplish, and a budget limit to accomplish said objectives. For myself, as stated above, I want to have the dual function of a backup-NAS and HTPC. Being fanless and quiet too, this is perfect (for me).
  • tokyojerry - Tuesday, July 1, 2014 - link

    Completey agree, ValleyForge. I own the Synology 1513+ and also want something that just works. There are a lot of geek types that like to do their own BYO type of systems. But is seems those types are in it more for the tinkertoying aspect of a NAS rather then using it for what it is designed for. Namely, serve. Currently I back up to a second smaller 2-bay Synology (DS213) which I am now seriously thinking to replace with this HS-251. In addition to replacing my DS213 as a fallback, secondary NAS backup roll , I gain the plus-alpha of being able to place it in the fronteoom as an HTPC device as well. Does double duty.

    Checked it out at Amazon U.S. Price: $549.00 USD as of July 2, 2014 @ 11:35 AM
  • Eqweytr - Thursday, July 24, 2014 - link

    Any plans to review these units? Especially the HS-251; I'm really interested in buying one but noone has reviewed it yet (not even on Amazon) so I'm holding off my purchase until one arrives.

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