Introduction and Testbed Setup

Seagate recently rebooted their NAS offerings, completely revamping their 2013 Business Storage lineup and dropping that software platform altogether. In its place, they adopted a Debian-based offering, NAS OS, development of which was started by LaCie prior to their acquisition by Seagate. In their 2014 lineup, Seagate has two classes of products, the NAS and the NAS Pro. While the former is suitable for workgroups of 1 to 25 clients, the Pro version pushes that up to 50.

Home consumers and power users form a rapidly growing market, signified by the wealth of features that Synology and QNAP are bringing to the table in their firmware / product line to target it. Knowing fully well that it takes time to tune the firmware to reach that market, Seagate has wisely decided to concentrate on the SOHO / SMB segment, which is also experiencing similar growth levels. In that segment, purchase decision-makers tend to prefer a single point of contact for the system as a whole, and this works to Seagate's advantage as a hard disk supplier.

We have already had a detailed look at the Marvell ARMADA-based NAS 4-bay, and today, we have results from our evaluation of the Intel Rangeley-based NAS Pro 4-bay. The NAS Pro 4-bay comes in five different SKUs, four of which are available for purchase right now. These are the diskless, 4 TB (2x 2 TB), 8 TB (4x 2 TB) and 16 TB (4x 4 TB) variants. There is also a 20 TB SKU (4x 5 TB), which will be made available after the launch of the 5 TB NAS HDDs (all the units with disks come populated with the Seagate NAS HDDs). We were sampled the 16 TB variant, but decided to evaluate the diskless configuration (since using the same disks across different NAS units ensures consistency in benchmarking). The specifications of the NAS Pro 4-bay are provided in the table below.

Seagate STDE100 NAS Pro 4-bay Specifications
Processor Intel Atom C2338 (2C/2T Silvermont x86 Cores @ 1.74 GHz)
Drive Bays 4x 3.5"/2.5" SATA 3 Gbps HDD / SSD (Hot-Swappable)
Network Links 2x 1 GbE
External I/O Peripherals 2x USB 3.0, 1x USB 2.0
Expansion Slots None
VGA / Display Out None
Full Specifications Link Seagate NAS Pro 4-bay Specifications
Price $500 (Seagate Store) / $561 (Amazon)

Visually, the main difference between the NAS 4-bay and the NAS Pro 4-bay is the presence of a LCM display above the drive bays on the front face in the latter. It provides helpful information about the status of the unit, as well as the DHCP IP. It also turns out to be quite useful when starting setup from a diskless configuration (there are slight differences between how the NAS and NAS Pro units behave in that case). Despite the initial differences, the NAS OS experience on both the NAS and NAS Pro units are essentially the same. The Sdrive mobile app / desktop program that Seagate provides for access to the NAS on-the-go has been talked about in our NAS 4-bay review. The same interface and functionality are available for the NAS Pro 4-bay also. These are aspects we will not deal with in this review.

In the rest of this article, we will first look at the Intel Rangeley platform in detail and how the NAS Pro 4-bay takes advantage of it. This is followed by benchmark numbers for both single and multi-client scenarios across a number of different client platforms as well as access protocols. One of the most important aspects that Intel Rangeley brings to the table is the AES-NI feature set, something which was not present in the last generation Atom-based storage platforms. We have a separate section devoted to the performance of the NAS Pro 4-bay with encrypted volumes. Prior to all that, we will take a look at our testbed setup and testing methodology.

Testbed Setup and Testing Methodology

The Seagate NAS Pro 4-bay can take up to four drives. Users can opt for either JBOD, RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, RAID 6 or RAID 10 configurations. We benchmarked the unit in RAID 5 with four Western Digital WD4000FYYZ RE drives as the test disks. Our testbed configuration is outlined below.

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 Z-Drive R4 CM88 (1.6TB PCIe SSD)
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 Evolution 850W
OS Windows Server 2008 R2
Network Switch Netgear ProSafe GSM7352S-200

The above testbed runs 25 Windows 7 VMs simultaneously, each with a dedicated 1 Gbps network interface. This simulates a real-life workload of up to 25 clients for the NAS being evaluated. All the VMs connect to the network switch to which the NAS is also connected (with link aggregation, as applicable). The VMs generate the NAS traffic for performance evaluation.

Thank You!

We thank the following companies for helping us out with our NAS testbed:

Platform Analysis
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  • StickyIcky - Wednesday, August 27, 2014 - link

    I still don't know if I'm sold on hardware RAID for these types of storage solutions. What if this thing dies in 5 years? Am I going hunting on eBay for an old unit and hope it can get my data back? It's too much data to not be so forward thinking.
  • ganeshts - Wednesday, August 27, 2014 - link

    This is not hardware RAID. It is mdadm-based, i.e, software RAID on Linux. If the unit dies, you can always connect the drives to a PC to recover the data (similar to what we did for with a Synology NAS last week).
  • StickyIcky - Wednesday, August 27, 2014 - link

    That is certainly a different story. Thanks so much Ganesh! Great work as always.
  • Samus - Wednesday, August 27, 2014 - link

    RAID is to protect from a disk failure (usually just one disk.) If your entire unit or multiple disks fail, you'd need to recover from a backup no matter what the solution (unless you want to spend $700+ per disk on RAID data recovery)

    Always have a backup. Just pickup a 5TB external for <$200 (or two for $400 and put them in a dual bay JBOD for 10TB) and plug it into the NAS USB port. All modern NAS devices have a USB port for backup.
  • Death666Angel - Wednesday, August 27, 2014 - link

    Hardware-RAID cards or mainboards with hardware RAID (do they still exist?) can fail and in contrast to software RAID make it harder to retrieve the data. But that has been a topic of hundreds of pages of heated debate on home server enthusiast websites, this isn't the place to have that discussion. :D
  • Gigaplex - Wednesday, August 27, 2014 - link

    If it's just the controller that's busted, you do not normally need to recover from backup.
  • creed3020 - Wednesday, August 27, 2014 - link

    Overall I am left very impressed with this NAS. It just makes me wonder where Synology is because they are really missing products with this Rangely SoC. I really do like DSM but I have to wonder what the future holds when I need to upgrade from my DS 212j. If anything I hope that this increased competition benefits us consumers.
  • Oyster - Wednesday, August 27, 2014 - link

    Ganesh, somewhat off-topic, but can you share what your scheduled tasks for SMART tests look like? I run a rapid test every night and a complete test on a weekly basis on my QNAP. I wonder if the SMART polls stress the disks? Maybe you can throw some light on this.
  • Laststop311 - Thursday, August 28, 2014 - link

    I have used a lot of hard drives in my day. I have personally sworn off seagate as a brand. I had 5 yes count em 5 seagate hard drives fail within 18 months of each other. I rma it and the new ones they send me continue to fail one after the other. I'm currently using 4x 1TB wd red drives in my nas but I am running out of space. I want to make 1 big upgrade to 4x 6TB drives. Are the HGST he6 helium filled drives all they are cracked up to be? Do they really run noticeably quieter and cooler? Are they worth it to spend 420 dollars each on them?
  • AntonyIndia - Friday, August 29, 2014 - link

    Having only one NAS system with any number of disks or RAID is not going to rescue you in case of trouble as the weakest chain is the mutual board / power supply/ fan in that box. better buy two identical single disk NAS boxes and back A up onto B once a day (or week) and keep B in another room offline even without power most of the time.

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