QNAP HS-453DX NAS box review: The most powerful multimedia NAS box that money can buy

QNAP’s HS-453DX two-bay NAS box weighs in at a hefty $699 MSRP without drives, but it’s a multimedia beast that will not only stream files, but play them directly onto your display or TV via HDMI. Throw in a tiered SSD/HDD structure and 10-gigabit ethernet, and the price starts to make sense, even if it remains daunting to the average user. Also challenging can be the configuration. But if the price and setup don’t phase you, you’ll like this box.

Design and specs

The HS-453DX, like its HS-251 predecessors, looks more like a cable box than your traditional NAS device. Largely because its two 3.5-inch drive bays are laid out horizontally, rather than in the usual vertical arrangement. The unit is also fan-less which makes it very, very quiet. It can also make it very hot, depending on usage and what you use for storage: SSDs or hard drives. As the brushed-metal top of the unit serves as a heat sink, with at least some air flow in the area, thermal problems should not occur. 

The HS-453DX is actually a four-drive unit if you count the two M.2 slots supporting SATA 6Gbps SSDs. The SSDs can be used for caching, or as normal volumes. The slots are accessed by removing the to top/cover, which is secured by seven short screws accessed from the bottom of the unit.

Tip: You don’t need to remove the screws entirely. If you’re gentle, you can stand the unit upright and add a drive without ever having the screws fall out, and then lay it back down and re-tighten them. 

QNAP

The port array on the back of the HS-453DX looks more like what you’d find on a smart TV than a NAS box’s.

Two ethernet ports are on the back of the unit, the second of which supports 10-gigabit ethernet (that drops to 2.5Gbps if you’re using less than CAT7 cable). There are also two USB 2.0 ports, two Type-A USB 3.0 ports, and a single Type-C USB 3.0 port. Multimedia I/O is supported by two 3.5mm analog audio inputs and a 3.5mm audio output, plus two HDMI 2.0 ports that support video resolution up to (3840 x 2160 pixels at a 60Hz refresh reate).

The HS-453DX is wider than the HS-251 that I’m used to—nearly 16 inches as opposed to just under 12 inches. Both the HS-251 and HS-453DX are about 9 inches deep and a little less than 2 inches tall. 

Unlike the largely black HS-251, the HS-453DX is done up in white and the aforementioned brushed metal. Personally, I liked the less obvious look of the older units, as well as the on/off button placement on the back. You must remove the magnetically attached front cover from the HS-453DX to access its on/off switch. Normally, this is not an issue, but I was never able to get the box to power up on a schedule. The HS-251 occasionally suffers this issue as well.

The HS-453DX is powered by an Intel Celeron J4105 quad-core processor 1.5GHz (with burst speeds up to 2.5GHz), which is in turn fed by either 4GB or 8GB of DDR4 memory depending on the configuration you order. The SODIMM slots, like the M.2 slots are also accessible with the top cover off.