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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  • CalaverasGrande - Friday, March 28, 2014 - link

    For my presonal NAS I simply can't afford to pay for the amount of backup that would entail. Instead I replicate the core of the data between two units at different locations.
    The stuff that I work with/use on a regular basis is not replicated. If I did it would replicate accidental deletions and changes.
    I'm working on getting some of my friends and family on board with this arrangement so that we are replicating each others data. Hence preserving it in case of theft fire or disaster.
    Reply
  • freespace303 - Tuesday, April 1, 2014 - link

    Have you heard of Backblaze? Unlimited backup for $5 a month. I heard about it on a TwiCH podcast. Reply
  • patu - Thursday, March 27, 2014 - link

    What mount options did CentOS use? Distro can change the default mount options. Reply
  • Hrel - Thursday, April 3, 2014 - link

    Can someone please explain to me why all NAS enclosures that have more than 2 bays are SO expensive? I mean, for $500 I can build a full power desktop and just install FreeNAS on it. At the same time I can buy a 2-bay NAS spec'd like this one for around $100. Then make the case twice as large and the price jumps up $400?!?! I am thoroughly confused by this phenomena.

    Shouldn't a 4 bay enclosure be, at most, $200?
    Reply

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