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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  • jason42 - Wednesday, March 26, 2014 - link

    Anyone know of any small mini-ITX cases that allow for hotswapping hard drives and doesn't look cheap? I'd like to make my one home NAS/media transcoder/HTPC.

    Thanks!
    Reply
  • Aikouka - Thursday, March 27, 2014 - link

    I don't know if you need this many hotswappable bays, but there's the Silverstone DS380:
    http://www.silverstonetek.com/product.php?pid=452
    Reply
  • ganeshts - Thursday, March 27, 2014 - link

    Yes, the DS380 is pretty awesome-looking :) It keeps components cool.. only problem is footprint. The U-NAS NSC800 is pretty good too, smaller footprint - same as the DS1812+, but comes at the cost of airflow and cooling capability, obviously. Reply
  • signorRossi - Thursday, March 27, 2014 - link

    Lian-Li has various models, the PC-Q25 offers 7! 3.5" hard drive bays, with 5 of them hot-swap slots. Reply
  • buchhla - Friday, March 28, 2014 - link

    http://www.u-nas.com/xcart/product.php?productid=1... This is the 8 bay version, but they also make a 2 and 4. Reply
  • manmax - Wednesday, March 26, 2014 - link

    It looks like you're using the default mount options for NFS and CIFS mounts on a CentOS 6.2 VM. It would be nice if you actually show what the mount options CentOS uses. For example, using mount without passing any options via the -o parameter to mount a CIFS share could result in the following default options:
    rw,relatime,vers=1.0,cache=strict,uid=1000,forceuid,gid=1000,forcegid,addr=123.123.123.123,file_mode=0666,dir_mode=0777,rsize=61440,wsize=65536,actimeo=1

    rsize and wsize in particular could have a noticeable affect on performance.
    Reply
  • iwod - Wednesday, March 26, 2014 - link

    Let me get this one thing straight.
    Asustor wins Hands down in terms of performance compared to Synology or Qnap. So if performance is a concern you should get it. Purely because they are using much better hardware.

    However DONT expect its features and software work anywhere as well as Qnap or Synology. If you are after those features, dont get the ASUSTOR yet. Its software properly still needs some time ( a year ? ) to mature. I have heard they are working on it. But as far as i know it still isn't quite there yet.
    Reply
  • larkhon - Thursday, March 27, 2014 - link

    I think this is even more relevant when talking about the entry level NAS from those brands, Asustor is doing a good job there. But does this one compare to DS414 in terms of performance? price-wise it's the same but it's saturating a single GbE link in many situations hence the second link... Reply
  • beginner99 - Thursday, March 27, 2014 - link

    Why would you even use RAID in these? Look at the rebuild times (assuming it doesn't fail which however is pretty likes with 2 TB+ drives). It seems easier and faster to just copy back the data from your backup. Reply
  • fteoath64 - Thursday, March 27, 2014 - link

    You have a great point on those long rebuild times. It is during such stressing times that another drive might fail so with all eggs being put on the NAS is not such a good idea. Still people will backup periodically to a 4TB or bigger drive just to preserve some of their important data. It is a practise that cannot be forgotten even with a NAS. It STILL needs backup!. Reply

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