Asustor AS-304T: 4-Bay Intel Evansport NAS Reviewby Ganesh T S on March 26, 2014 11:15 AM EST
NAS units targeting home consumers have traditionally been underpowered in terms of hardware as well as firmware features. Low power, reduced cost and media-centric features are primary requirements in this area. Intel has traditionally been loath to participate in this market segment, probably due to the obvious lack of high margins. However, the explosive growth potential in the consumer / SOHO NAS market has made Intel rethink its strategy.
The Atom CE5300 series was initially introduced as the Berryville set-top-box platform in March 2012. Almost a year later, the CE5300 series was re-launched in its Evansport avatar as a storage solution targeting home consumers (in particular, as a media server platform). Asustor, Synology and Thecus were touted as partners building NAS units based on this platform. We have already looked at the 2-bay Evansport model from Thecus, the N2560. How does the platform perform when scaled up to 4-bays? The Asustor AS-304T gives us a chance to find out.
Asustor places their two Evansport models under the 'Home to Power Users' category. Both of them are based on the Intel CE5335 CPU, and come with 1 GB of RAM. The specifications of the review unit are as below.
|Asustor AS-304T Specifications|
|Processor||Intel Evansport CE5335 (2C/4T Atom (Bonnell) CPU @ 1.6 GHz)|
|RAM||1GB DDR3 RAM|
|Drive Bays||4x 3.5 / 2.5" SATA HDD / SSD (Hot-swappable)|
|Network Links||1x 1 GbE|
|USB Slots||2x USB 3.0, 2x USB 2.0|
|VGA / Display Out||HDMI / 3.5mm Audio Jack|
|Full Specifications Link||Asustor AS-304T Specifications|
In the rest of the review, we will cover the hardware aspects of the AS-304T and provide some setup and usage impressions. This is followed by benchmarks in single and multi-client modes. For single client scenarios, we have both Windows and Linux benchmarks with CIFS and NFS shares. We will also have some performance numbers with encryption enabled. In the final section, power consumption numbers as well as RAID rebuild times will be covered along with some closing notes.
Testbed Setup and Testing Methodology
Our NAS reviews use either SSDs or hard drives depending on the unit under test. While rackmounts and units equipped with 10GbE capabilities use SSDs, the others use hard drives. The Asustor AS-304T was evaluated using four WD Re (WD4000FYYZ) drives to keep comparisons consistent across different NAS units. Evaluation of NAS performance under both single and multiple client scenarios was done using the SMB / SOHO NAS testbed we described earlier.
|AnandTech NAS Testbed Configuration|
|Motherboard||Asus Z9PE-D8 WS Dual LGA2011 SSI-EEB|
|CPU||2 x Intel Xeon E5-2630L|
|Coolers||2 x Dynatron R17|
|Memory||G.Skill RipjawsZ F3-12800CL10Q2-64GBZL (8x8GB) CAS 10-10-10-30|
|OS Drive||OCZ Technology Vertex 4 128GB|
|Secondary Drive||OCZ Technology Vertex 4 128GB|
|Tertiary Drive||OCZ RevoDrive Hybrid (1TB HDD + 100GB NAND)|
|Other Drives||12 x OCZ Technology Vertex 4 64GB (Offline in the Host OS)|
|Network Cards||6 x Intel ESA I-340 Quad-GbE Port Network Adapter|
|Chassis||SilverStoneTek Raven RV03|
|PSU||SilverStoneTek Strider Plus Gold Evoluion 850W|
|OS||Windows Server 2008 R2|
|Network Switch||Netgear ProSafe GSM7352S-200|
We thank the following companies for helping us out with our NAS testbed:
- Thanks to Intel for the Xeon E5-2630L CPUs and the ESA I-340 quad port network adapters
- Thanks to Asus for the Z9PE-D8 WS dual LGA 2011 workstation motherboard
- Thanks to Dynatron for the R17 coolers
- Thanks to G.Skill for the RipjawsZ 64GB DDR3 DRAM kit
- Thanks to OCZ Technology for the two 128GB Vertex 4 SSDs, twelve 64GB Vertex 4 SSDs and the RevoDrive Hybrid
- Thanks to SilverStone for the Raven RV03 chassis and the 850W Strider Gold Evolution PSU
- Thanks to Netgear for the ProSafe GSM7352S-200 L3 48-port Gigabit Switch with 10 GbE capabilities.
- Thanks to Western Digital for the two WD Re hard drives (WD4000FYYZ) to use in the NAS under test.
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EricZBA - Wednesday, March 26, 2014 - linkCan you install Plex on this unit?
ganeshts - Wednesday, March 26, 2014 - linkYes, available in App Central: http://www.asustor.com/apps/app_detail?id=142
However, like most platforms, there is no hardware accelerated transcode using Plex
imaheadcase - Sunday, March 30, 2014 - linkIsn't the 1gig of memory hard on apps though? Couchpotato/sickbeard/SABzbd would be a bad idea even if its available since they run as a service. Or am I thinking this wrong.,
LordConrad - Wednesday, March 26, 2014 - linkThe hardware specs on these Home/SOHO NAS units are rather anemic. I built my own a couple years ago based on an i3-2120, 8GB RAM, and NAS4free. Much better performance than any Atom-based NAS unit.
Beany2013 - Wednesday, March 26, 2014 - linkI used to agree with you, but I picked up a Synology DS214+ recently and realised that these days, if you just want to be able to saturate a gigabit link when shuffling files, and stream media (with the exception of hardware transcoding to non-PC devices, natch) then something like 'this' is a much, much easier path.
Especially as I build/fix/generally look after servers and general IT stuff for a living - last thing I want to be doing when I get home is build *another* RAID array...
It's getting to the stage where these devices are good enough for most of us - IE power users - and only edge cases (such as transcoded streaming) really need a dedicated, self-built server.
manmax - Wednesday, March 26, 2014 - linkWhat if the device decides to quit working and you're using RAID. You may not be able to recover your data by putting the drives in another server. Especially if the original NAS is using hardware RAID.
Zak - Thursday, March 27, 2014 - linkWell, you still need to have a backup.
ganeshts - Thursday, March 27, 2014 - linkMost of these COTS NAS units (Synology / QNAP / Asustor etc.) don't use hardware RAID. Just take off the drives, plug them into a PC, make images and mount them. Linux systems can auto-recognize these RAID volumes. If using Windows, use something like UFS Explorer to get your data off it. That is the reason I like software RAID more than hardware RAID.
CalaverasGrande - Friday, March 28, 2014 - linkI completely agree. I could really blow the doors off of a NAS custom build. But when I get home after a 12 hour day of Raid rebuilds, Backup restores and email issues, the last thin I want to do is build a boring little Linux storage box.
My next NAS will eitehr be Synology or Qnap. Good balance of features, performance and most relevantly, a MATURE OS and firmware.
Heck I may even throw performance out the window and pick up one of the hated DROBO NAS products. They aren't the fastest, and their 'beyondraid' is proprietary. But when I've used their products in professional environs they were easy to set up and worked. Albeit slooooowly.
Besides, I've yet to meet a raid array level 5 or hhigher that can be migrated between devices without backing it up and restoring it to the "new" raid.
Gigaplex - Saturday, March 29, 2014 - linkSoftware RAID on Linux is portable between devices.