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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  • 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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