Miscellaneous Aspects & Final Words

The Asustor AS-304T is a 4-bay NAS, and most users are going to use it in a RAID-5 configuration for optimal balance of redundancy and capacity. Hence, we performed all our expansion / rebuild testing as well as power consumption evaluation with the unit configured in RAID-5. The disks used for benchmarking (Western Digital WD4000FYYZ) were also used in this section. The table below presents the average power consumption of the unit as well as time taken for various RAID-related activities.

Asustor AS-304T RAID Expansion and Rebuild / Power Consumption
Activity Duration Avg. Power
Idle (No Disks)   17.02 W
Single Disk Init (4TB in JBOD) 18m 28.03 W
4 TB JBOD (1D) to 4 TB RAID-1 (2D) 10h 12m 39.15 W
4 TB RAID-1 (2D) to 8 TB RAID-5 (3D) 1d 0h 13m 49.64 W
8 TB RAID-5 (3D) to 12 TB RAID-5 (4D) 1d 8h 11m 59.61 W
12 TB RAID-5 Rebuild (4D) 15h 19m 59.91 W

Coming to the business end of the review, the performance of the AS-304T is more than acceptable given the target market (home consumers / power users) and the single GbE link. The only complaints we have about the unit are the fact that the firmware doesn't seem to take advantage of all the fancy features that are provided by the Evansport SoC. In particular, we don't have any mobile apps that can make use of the SoC's transcoding capabilities. The security engine is also not utilized to provide better performance with encrypted folders. XBMC and related media functionality are nice features to have (they perform in an excellent manner for the average consumer's media collection comprised of photographs / video from smartphones and camcorders). However, they are not going to satisfy advanced HTPC users (no HD audio bitstreaming support, for example).

On the positive side, Asustor's ecosystem of NAS applications (App Central) is much better than some of other new entrants to the NAS market. The Asustor AS-304T is one of the better designed NAS units (in terms of both hardware and software) that we have come across. The unit made it through all our tests without any hiccups.

During the review process, I happened to install the beta version of ADM 2.1 (since the firmware that was originally shipped with the review unit didn't support encrypted folders properly). There was a little bit of trouble (nothing major, considering that it was a beta firmware), and I filed a bug report using the UI. The prompt attention to the questions / issues from the support engineers was very welcome. The resolution came very soon in the form of a new build. Again, this is much better than the experience I had with the support teams of other NAS vendors.

Asustor initially targeted the EU and Asian markets. They have shifted attention to the US market very recently. Today, Amazon carries the unit for a retail price of $478. While this would have been a very acceptable price for a full-fledged x86-based 4-bay NAS appliance, the fact that the unit only carries a single GbE link makes the price a little difficult to swallow.

From our experience with the unit, we can say without doubt that Asustor is a very effective and welcome addition to the list of SOHO / SMB NAS vendors. We look forward to evaluating more Asustor units that present a better price to features/performance ratio than what is provided by the AS-304T.

Multi-Client Performance - CIFS
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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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