Introduction

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
eSATA Slots None
Expansion Slots None
VGA / Display Out HDMI / 3.5mm Audio Jack
Full Specifications Link Asustor AS-304T Specifications
Retail Price $478

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

Thank You!

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

Hardware Aspects & Usage Impressions
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  • bernstein - Wednesday, March 26, 2014 - link

    Does this NAS finally have ECC?? (like for instance an ECC enabled ZFS linux fileserver)
    do people actually know how many digital photos get corrupted in 20years of not using ECC?
    Reply
  • protomech - Wednesday, March 26, 2014 - link

    No. How many digital photos are corrupted due to lack of ECC?

    I assume you're talking about ECC on the storage pools, not ECC in the computer main memory..
    Reply
  • manmax - Wednesday, March 26, 2014 - link

    He mentions ZFS so I guess he means the data integrity checking and self-healing of corrupted data features of ZFS and Btrfs. This is probably my main reason to go with ZFS or Btrfs for NAS devices especially when used for backup purposes.

    Overtime, bits can just randomly flip on a hard drive (the drive is still perfectly fine). For example, old photos, music and videos all of sudden don't open or are distorted. RAID (at least most implementations I've seen) doesn't save you from random bit flipping. It's mainly for keeping a server up if a drive completely fails, not from file corruption.
    Reply
  • Gigaplex - Saturday, March 29, 2014 - link

    I've had file system corruption because a stick of RAM went bad, affecting the file system cache. My next build will have ECC RAM. Reply
  • hoboville - Thursday, March 27, 2014 - link

    Without ECC, a scrub of a ZFS pool can corrupt your entire dataset. It happens, a lot. Regardless, ZFS provides better features like ARC, and full CoW. Ext4 RAID would be viable too, but for an average home user, ZFS is going to be too much because it has higher hardware requirements, requires a more advanced user, and will generally cost more money. Like Ganesh said, these cheapo units are good for simple HTPC stuff. Reply
  • Oyster - Wednesday, March 26, 2014 - link

    Good work, Ganesh. Thanks for incorporating our feedback and including competitor benchmarks as standalone performance graphs. Reply
  • ganeshts - Wednesday, March 26, 2014 - link

    Thanks! The suggestion made sense, but we were waiting till we got enough units reviewed with the new methodology in each category (splitting by number of bays) Reply
  • Flunk - Wednesday, March 26, 2014 - link

    Is Asustor in any way related to ASUS? Reply
  • ganeshts - Wednesday, March 26, 2014 - link

    Yes, they are a subsidiary of Asus Reply
  • Director12 - Wednesday, March 26, 2014 - link

    How does it stack against the Asustor 604T? Reply

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