QNAP TS-253E

QNAP TS-253E review: Just how powerful is this thing?

QNAP seems to have thrown just about everything at the new QNAP TS-253E. It’s a two-bay enclosure with plenty of features for more advanced users and the ability to connect external enclosures and expand the number of available drive bays make this one of the best storage foundations for those looking to test the waters of NAS.

NAS Master Recommended Award

The QNAP TS-253E comes with the latest version of QNAP’s QTS operating system, which is a highlight in itself. This is a powerful piece of kit that can handle everything from simple backup and file storage to virtualization and surveillance deployment. With dedicated HDMI ports, you can even run Plex Media Server on this little NAS, enjoying 4K content on the big screen.

Utilizing the Intel Celeron J6412 processor and 8GB of preinstalled DDR4 RAM, this NAS punches way above its weight and is more than adequately supplied with features to take on the competition.

QNAP TS-253E
QNAP TS-253E. (Source: QNAP)

QNAP TS-253E

Running the latest version of QNAP’s OS, there’s plenty to love about the TS-253E. If you’re seeking a two-bay NAS with an Intel processor and features for running a media server, you’ve just found it.

  • Intel Celeron J6412 CPU
  • 8GB of DDR4 RAM preinstalled
  • M.2 SSD bays
  • HDMI ports and IR receiver
  • Good-looking NAS
  • No PCIe slot
  • RAM not expandable

QNAP TS-253E: Price and specs

QNAP TS-253E
Side view of the QNAP TS-253E. (Source: NM)

We’ve only just reviewed the mighty QNAP TS-464 and the TS-253E feels like a slightly smaller sibling with similar internals. Let’s start with the impressive Intel Celeron J6412 CPU. We’ve seen this in other NAS enclosures and it performs very well even when running heavier software. 8GB of preinstalled DDR4 RAM is also more than enough for most people.

SpecificationQNAP TS-253E
CPUIntel Celeron J6412
GPUIntel UHD Graphics
RAM8GB DDR4 (max: 8GB)
Drive bays2x (SSD/HDD)
2x M.2 SSD
Capacity40TB
ExpansionDrives: Yes
Cooling1x 70mm
Ports2x 2.5Gb LAN
2x USB 3.2 Gen 2
2x USB 2.0
2x HDMI 1.4b
Power draw~18.1W
Dimensions168.5 x 102 x 225 mm
Weight1.28 kg

Intel UHD graphics are along for the ride with the J6412, which makes it possible to transcode 4K content on this NAS if you’re unable to utilize the HDMI port. But QNAP designed this NAS for high performance across a wide range of applications, which is why you’ll find not one, but two 2.5Gb LAN ports.

Two drive bays allow for up to 40TB of capacity to be loaded on the TS-253E, though specific QNAP expansion units are supported (more details to follow). A single 70mm fan keeps everything adequately cooled when under load. Overall, this is an impressive piece of kit for the price, coming in at $509.

QNAP TS-253E: Design and features

QNAP TS-253E
Front of the QNAP TS-253E. (Source: NM)

If you’ve used a QNAP NAS before, you’ll be familiar with the design of the QNAP TS-253E. It’s a small, compact NAS with a sleek, understated look. Up front is the main panel with the company’s logo, the two drive bays, a few physical buttons, a single USB port, and some LED indicators.

The two sides of the enclosure are bare aside from small ventilation vents toward the front. The top has removable stickers and the bottom of the TS-253E has nothing at all. The rear is where the magic happens in terms of connectivity. As well as the single front-facing USB-A 3.2 Gen 2 port, the rear panel has the other one, as well as two 2.5Gb LAN ports, two USB-A 2.0 ports, and two HDMI 1.4b ports.

The two HDMI ports are brilliant for using this NAS for media consumption or in a KVM setup. The two drive trays are toolless, allowing you to quickly remove them and install your drives in a few moments. The only time you will require a screwdriver is for accessing the internals of the NAS, including the two M.2 slots.

The two M.2 PCI SSD slots are rated for 3.0 but such drives are still capable of hitting speeds of up to around 4GB/s (or 4,000MB/s). QNAP allows you to run M.2 drives for caching or storage. You could even configure one for caching and the other for storage, depending on the needs of the NAS.

Couple all of these features with the QNAP QTS operating system and you’ve got one powerful compact NAS.

QNAP TS-253E: Performance

QNAP TS-253E
Easily removing the two QNAP TS-253E bays. (Source: NM)

Let’s move on to the internal components inside the QNAP TS-253E. The Intel Celeron J6412 is a mighty low-power processor, consisting of four cores, and is capable of boosting up to 2.6GHz. It’s more than enough for most NAS use, including running Plex Media Server. If you’re needing an enclosure for file storage and running some apps, this CPU will be rock solid.

The TS-253E may only have two drive bays, but you can connect external expansion units to the NAS and QNAP states the following will work without issue:

ModelForm FactorBaysMaximum NumberInterface
TL-D800CTower82USB-C 3.2 Gen 2
TL-R1200C-RPRackmount122USB-C 3.2 Gen 2
TR-002Tower22USB-C 3.2 Gen 2
TR-004Tower42USB-C 3.2 Gen 2
TR-004URackmount42USB-C 3.2 Gen 2

Back to the Intel Celeron J6412 processor. We ran a few tests to see just how good this thing is with two 4TB Seagate IronWolf NAS hard drives. Hitting 289MB/s read using CrystalDiskMark is a solid score for an HDD and NAS enclosure. You’re not going to need more bandwidth unless there are hundreds of users or big data to play with.

BenchmarkQNAP TS-253E
CrystalDiskMark (Sequential)289 MB/s read
288 MB/s write
PCMark10 (Data Drive)96.9 MB/s
283 ms
File transfer (15GB folder)269 MB/s

Other benchmarks showed just how capable this QNAP TS-253E is. QNAP really did throw a lot at this small enclosure. The two M.2 slots are excellent for providing a boost to the overall QTS system performance, especially when used as rapid storage. Being able to connect additional expansion units only sweetens the deal.

It’s a shame we cannot upgrade the 8GB DDR4 RAM, but this amount should suffice for most use cases. It also would have been good to see a PCI slot, but now we’re dreaming about the absolute best two-bay NAS QNAP could make.

QNAP TS-253E: Competition

TerraMaster F4-423
TerraMaster F4-423. (Source: NAS Master)

Competition is fierce in the two- and four-bay NAS segments. The QNAP TS-253E and TS-453E find themselves up against some excellent NAS from ASUSTOR, TerraMaster, and Synology. The TerraMaster F2-423 would be a close NAS to consider against the QNAP TS-253E.

The TerraMaster F2-423 undercuts the QNAP TS-253E considerably, costing just $380. It also supports up to 32GB of DDR4 RAM, has two M.2 slots, and two 2.5Gb LAN ports. Where the QNAP NAS comes out on top is with the two HDMI ports whereas TerraMaster “only” installed one on the F2-423.

ASUSTOR’s Lockerstor 2 (AS6602T) is another two-bay NAS that’s worth considering against the QNAP TS-253E. It costs $400 and finds itself in between the TerraMaster F2-423 and QNAP NAS we’re reviewing today. The AS6602T has the same CPU, RAM support, M.2 slots, and LAN ports, but only comes with a single HDMI port.

Out of the three NAS, the QNAP TS-253E is the better-looking NAS that doesn’t look too cheap, unlike the ASUSTOR and TerraMaster enclosures. You won’t notice much of a performance difference moving between the NAS, however.

QNAP TS-253E: Should you buy?

QNAP TS-253E
Front of the QNAP TS-253E. (Source: NM)

Who should buy this?

  • Those who want to build a compact Plex media server.
  • Those who want to use M.2 SSDs and upgrade RAM.
  • Those who want an Intel-powered NAS enclosure.

Who shouldn’t buy this?

  • Those who don’t want to spend a considerable sum of money.
  • Those who won’t utilize the available performance.

Even though QNAP is using its more budget-friendly design here, the QNAP TS-253E has enough internal horsepower to make it one of the best QNAP NAS you can buy. The Intel processor is fantastic for running Plex Media Server and other intensive applications, and you could easily have multiple people access data on the enclosure.

The two HDMI ports are handy for media deployment, but things really come alive with the dual 2.5Gb networking link setup. This allows for some impressive bandwidth, especially when you attach an expansion unit to the TS-253E to make this a crucial element in your household or business data growth.

There’s really not much to dislike with the QNAP TS-253E aside from the lack of a PCI slot, but that’s nitpicking and is usually reserved for more expensive enclosures. This is a brilliant NAS and one we’d highly recommend you’d consider if you want better bang for your buck.

QNAP TS-253E
QNAP TS-253E. (Source: QNAP)

QNAP TS-253E

QNAP designed the TS-253E with Plex in mind. There’s a dedicated HDMI port for video output, as well as an IR receiver for using a remote. It’s also powered by an Intel CPU.

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