Because of its bold, often more conservative hardware and software innovations, well ahead of its more conservative competitors, Qnap has a large fan base, but oddly enough, the company hasn’t built a router so far. This changes with the QHora-301W, and in fact, an exciting, gap-filling, or perhaps even more category-creating model has been unveiled. Let’s just say once fixed that the router won’t win the beauty contest and gamers won’t dream of this box at night either.
Qnap has hidden its first network router in a plastic box that is restrained, clean and even boring for medium-sized gamer routers. It may immediately appear that
there is no question of a spider lurking on its back this time,
the QHora-301W did not receive an external antenna. Instead, the engineers hid 8 5 dBi antennas inside and around, which provide good signal strength in a horizontal circle, but unfortunately this is no longer the case in other directions. On the front panel, only the most important LEDs flash discreetly, half-hidden under the lower handle, which is not intrusive but informative enough.
There are plenty of connections on the back wall . In addition to the 4 gigabit LAN ports, there are two 10 GbE RJ45 connections (10GBASE-T), 2 USB 3.2 Gen1 and one WPS button. If you take full advantage of these connections, you can certainly pass massive amounts of data through the router, which is why Qnap chose a fairly powerful 4-core Qualcomm chip as the CPU with an unusually high-capacity 4GB flash attached to 1GB of RAM. accompanied by storage space. Under such a load, cooling is also a priority, which Qnap solved in a completely passive way, with fins and vents.
Of course, clients are received not only by cable but also wirelessly by the QHora-301W, namely the AX3600 Wi-Fi with 6 modules capable of total speed. Here, the router supports all 802.11ax-compliant features, and even 160 MHz channels for a 5 GHz ax connection since the last update.
Friendly, yet professional
To control, you need to log in to a fast and well-organized, Hungarian interface in any browser. Here, the developers tried to combine ease of use with a wide range of functionality – because the router is capable of a lot of things and new options appear with each update. For example, cable connections can be arbitrarily paired, controlled, or restricted. Professional use is also aided by support for 3 VLAN groups, into which you can separate wired and wireless devices with separate SSIDs and rules (Virtual Access Points). You can use any RJ45 connection as a WAN port, or even pair them for teaming or even a failover WAN connection.
USB ports accept external storage, which you can also easily share on the network, but 4G Software support for / 5G modems is yet to come. An important factor is that Qnap strives to fully integrate the router into its own ecosystem, as evidenced by the fact that several Qnap mobile applications (e.g. QFile, QFinder Pro) already support it as if it were just one NAS, but of course with different functionality.
Office all over the world
So far only one ugly but a knowledgeable router might have formed in you about the QHora-301W, but we haven’t talked about its most important and surprising feature yet (intentionally). This is a special QuWAN service that has a unique SD-WAN (Software Defined Wide Area Network) function. This combines the benefits of cloud-based systems with the security of secure and encrypted private networks.
It is conceivable that office, business use may not require a central, high-performance VPN server that many, many employee outsourcing, but the outsourced QHora-301W units together form a common, large VPN private network that includes the control panel and each employee or smaller office.
Data can travel on this private network in any way, the load is distributed and the central VPN server is not loaded. The administrator can see and manage all the units connected to the QuWAN together and can assign permissions, control traffic, etc. much more easily. All of this with cloud-based control, which is completely free to use with the purchase of devices, has no additional operating cost to maintain this QuWAN. With this solution, for example, a multi-site enterprise VPN network can be built with a mesh topology for a fraction of the previous costs.
Between two camps
Strange is a monk in the QHora-301W, which is already well shown by its unique appearance. It’s not exactly a cheap router, but when you look at its features, VLAN management, and advanced SD-WAN functionality, it’s orders of magnitude cheaper than any other network hub with similar capabilities. The router is powerful enough to build a robust home network and even has enough knowledge for small businesses. Larger companies can build more QHora to build a professional, secure, private QuWAN (SD-WAN) network for a fraction of the cost so far.
However, the software (firmware, mobile apps and QuWAN cloud ) is still worth the development – this is well illustrated by the fact that Qnap is producing newer control software with steam power and is trying to implement new, missing options in addition to the discovered bugs. After Qnap is a newcomer to the world of routers, some may think that traffic management, load balancing, packet management, and many other small software modules within the router firmware are at best just v0.1, meaning beta, but let’s not forget that that Qnap has been developing network products since the beginning, so it has some (i.e. rather extensive) experience in this field.
If small and medium-sized companies bite into QuWAN, it could be the first product in a huge series of successes. the QHora-301W, however, if the model has to fight the traditional network hub in the home and small business router market, hard days await it. The lack of support for 4G / 5G modems is not good, the interface still needs to be improved, and unfortunately, despite the 160 MHz channel width enabled, the performance of Wi-Fi 6 does not compete with the experience of mid-range Wi-Fi 6 routers.
The internal antennas may have seemed a good decision from an aesthetic point of view, but the signal level and with it the speed have dropped noticeably through 2 walls. This is a weakness that needs to be highlighted in the case of such an enterprise solution, even if the concept is otherwise appealing.
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